This is the time of the year for advancements and transition! Graduations are happening all over, from Kindergarten to College. Whether you've graduated from elementary school, a trade school or college, we salute you and bid everyone Congratulations!
Advancement is exciting and challenging at the same time. Henry S. Haskins* (American Author & Educator) once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Although one has obtained all the education needed to receive high degrees of honor, it's important to know that the character of a person is most significant. Proverbs 5:21, "For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the Lord, and He [Who would have us live soberly, chastely, and godly] carefully weighs all man’s goings." In today's society image has become more notable than character. Style is chosen as significant rather than integrity, morality, or a good reputation. Proverbs 22:1, "Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold." People look good on the outside, having the right clothes, shoes, handbag, or even the right educational degree, but their 'reputation' is less than ethical.
What is good character? Character is a distinctive trait, a pattern of behavior that shows moral strength, self-discipline and fortitude. It's revealed by what is said or done. Most of us have seen shameless indifferent demonstrations of misconduct. Sadly many believe that if it doesn't hurt anyone, it's alright! If you are a person of good character, it was possibly formed during your young age. Should there be one that is of questionable character reading this, and you want to change there is hope for success.
To improve your character skills you can:
1) Realize everyone is challenged everyday to make good or bad choices. The key to choosing right is to look past the options and regard the results you will gain. Jesus saw past the pain and shame of the cross and saw the effect of His sacrifice. Even though there were distractions and the choice to disobey, He chose to see the joy of His obedience. (Heb. 12:2) You too can consider and select the 'right' thing to do.
2) Be selective with whom you socialize. Proverbs 13:20 "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." It's true, we become like those with which we associate. Be sure to surround yourself with people of upstanding character, those that encourage and inspire, and who love God valuing His standards. By allowing yourself to interact with such individuals you will be motivated to make honorable choices.
3) Never give up! Although the trials of temptations come to fall back into an old habit or way of life, DON'T! Consider all those people that are superb examples of faith for an encouragement! Use every ounce of faith to push aside discouragement, old friends' enticement, or thoughts of past feelings. If all else fails, run, don't walk, away! Read your Bible to renew your mind to learning God's ways to choosing right. Pray! Have a friend that will be your prayer partner, that you can call upon in times of confrontation. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. (Rom. 8:37)
Proverbs 19:23 Amp. says, "The reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it rests satisfied; he cannot be visited with [actual] evil." Anyone who decides to live for the right character and not for image makes the right choice. Will it be easy? No, but anything in life worth achieving or obtaining is a value high above fame or fortune. We end with a charge from the writer of Hebrews "....don't become lazy, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Remember you have the power to choose!
Recently we got new cell phones and a new phone service. This was a long time coming for me. The phone service we had was less than adequate, and two of the phones on the service had serious working issues. So much so, that we were counting down the days, hours and minutes till we were able to update! And when that day arrived, it was a 'Hallelujah' moment! In fact we are still praising God multiple times daily for the convenience of new phones and a working service. Several times before the change took place, I almost got weary of waiting and frustrated at the situation. There were times I wanted to take my equipment and toss it in the trash, giving up. Now, I realize we're just talking about cell phones here. But have you ever felt that way about anything in your life? Have you ever dealt with something for a very long time, waiting for a change, and got to a point where you wanted to give up? Becoming exhausted or fed-up can cause one to stop believing that there will ever be a change. Whether we are trusting the Lord for finances, healing, direction or resolve, we become vulnerable to settle for defeat.
I'm reminded of Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart."
I know you're picturing your situation, trouble is coming from every direction. Just when you think it's going to get better, a similitude of hope, something else happens to make you feel more beat down. By this time, all you want to do is roll over in your bed, and pull up the covers. Weariness tries to enter in when the trials come hard and heavy. But Paul says, 'in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart'! The Amplified version says, "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint."
This Word tells us that if we remain steady, hang on to the hope of the promise of God at the determined time we WILL see the manifested blessing. Just like planting a seed in the ground, there is a 'due season' for harvest! The seed below the surface is growing roots and maturing before it breaks ground for us to see any result that it's developing. Eventually the plant matures and produces the fruit ready for harvest. Before that happens, it's not time to get impatient, loose hope, and pull up the seed, calling it quits.
Hebrews 10:35-36 GWT "So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised." This kind of hope is confident in what God said in His Word. It counts it all joy in the midst of the trials and tribulations and is expectant that God will keep or honor His promise. Resisting all weariness or defeat, never giving up, this faith is tirelessly and determinedly standing by and never lets go for what it is hoping.
The only way to acquire this kind of stamina in faith, is to renew the mind to the Word. Renewing the mind to God's Word, takes diligence. Determining to search the scriptures for the answer to our situation. Quoting, reading, and meditating on the Word. Josh. 1:8 GWT "Never stop reciting these teachings. You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed." Our dedication and faithfulness in the renewing of our mind, will produce a different way of thinking and believing. We will begin to see the plan of God unfold in our life as it emerges.
Applying the same scenario of the plant, we realize the prayers we've prayed, the faith and trust in God, is working in the Spirit to maturity. It won't be long, as we stand on the promise for our circumstance, we will begin to see the manifestation of that promise.
Whatever you do, don't loose hope, or become weary and give up! Keep faith alive!
We all know that heat is regulated by the fuel. Adding wood to the fire in the fireplace makes the fire last longer and become stronger. The more you add, the flames become extensive and enduring. And of course, if we fail to add the wood, the fire eventually dies.
Proverbs 26:20-21 GNT "Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarreling stops. Charcoal keeps the embers glowing, wood keeps the fire burning, and troublemakers keep arguments alive."
I came to realize, recently, this same scripture can apply to what we say over our circumstances. Facing a serious illness, extreme need for finances, conflict in major life decisions, or simple daily matters are powered by what we say repeatedly. In essence, we fuel the fire by our mouth and whatever we allow to build the fire the longest becomes the strongest! When we keep reciting the problem, it keeps growing.
Many people don't believe that words are forceful. But the Bible tells us differently. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof". (Pro. 18:21) And "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt. 12:37) This explains how important it is WHAT we say! Think about this, our words determine the outcome of our circumstance. Since it behooved God to create the World by what He spoke, it's also required of us to consider our creation by what we speak. Rom. 4:17b "...God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did."
What we say produces a consequence. Not only for others but for ourselves as well. Faith filled words are powerful and life giving. Fearful words bring failure and defeat. A person that voices the Word over something, then in their second breath is contradictory, is like the double minded man mentioned in James Chapter 1. Their allegiance is divided because of sincerity, conflicted between belief and unbelief, thinking God will help while at the same time giving up all hope. Truth is, they will get nothing! (Read James Chapter 3)
Smith Wigglesworth said, "Voice your position in God and you will be surrounded by all the resources of God in times of trial." Expression where we stand in God, in faith, determines whether or not we will be victorious. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Mat. 12:34) What we say reveals what we truly believe.
Today, evaluate your confession about your circumstance. Are you blaming God or are you praising Him for your deliverance? Are you talking about the report of your health or finances to everyone or confessing His supply to the need! Is your mouth a well spring of blessing or cursing? Your speech is prophetically declaring death or life! Make a decision today to watch the Words of your mouth. Speak what God says about you and your life! Take your God given authority in the Word of God creating His best. Let's fuel the fire of faith by confessing the Word of God! Hope says, I can have it. Faith says, I already have it!
Mother's Day is upon us. A time to reflect, honor and bless the Mother's in our life. We have Grandmothers, Mother In Law's, Aunts who are mother like, and of course our own Mother. Washington Irving said of Mothers, “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
Most women, when they become a Mom, want to know how to be a good one. Whether or not they've had good examples, the desire to be the best is deep within the heart. In their quest their Love speaks volumes. Throughout the Bible there are listed different women that have ideal characteristics for Mothers. Let's look at a few.
1) Mary the Mother of Jesus was a woman of great faith even in her youth. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary he said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28) Mary was very submitted to God, willing to accept His call at any cost. She demonstrated great strength and perseverance during her pregnancy and Christ's death. She followed and supported Him all the days of His life. Mother's today can learn from Mary's example of trusting the Lord with all their heart, and not leaning to their own understanding, but knowing He'll make and guide the path when trusting and obeying. Her faith in God even in sorrowful times proved God always provides.
2) Jochebed, the Mother of Moses was a woman willing to give up her child so his life would be spared. By trusting God, He made a way for her to be a nurse to her own child. She was able to teach him and set a foundation of belief in Almighty God enabling him to become a servant to help deliver Israel. Her example of faith and trust can help us realize God's plan is bigger than what we can think or see. Believing that He'll make a way even when there doesn't seem to be one, makes possible the supernatural.
3) Hannah the Mother of Samuel the prophet, is a woman who, regardless of the taunts of others, remained steadfast in prayer trusting God for a child. Although she was ridiculed and mocked, she pursued God with all her heart to become a mother. God answered her prayer giving her Samuel, which she gave back to the Lord to serve Him. Hannah's example teaches us dedication and commitment in prayer. Her devotion to honor God with her child, opened the windows of heaven and receive a blessing of five more children. Intentional fervent prayer of a righteous man will avail much.
Mothers impart many things into our lives. Her fortitude and tenacity enables us to be a strong and unshakable. As she exemplifies love and a tenderness, it empowers us to look past mistakes and be quick to forgive. Her faithfulness in service to the Lord in prayer, giving, and attending church leads us to be anchored in Christ. When she's obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, it shows us how to trust the Lord and believe His Word. A mother's dedication to nurture, instruct and correct, guides us in the paths of righteousness. These are just a few of the qualities demonstrated in the life of a Mom. Take a few moments to think about your mother and how she influenced you. Then give her honor on this coming special day! She deserves recognition after all, her love speaks volumes!
1 Cor. 13:1-8 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."