Once again it is the time of the year for advancements and transition! After just attending a RN pinning ceremony and with one more graduation to attend, we recognize and salute all those that are graduating. Whether you're celebrating Kindergarten, middle school, high school, trade school or college graduation - Congratulations and best wishes!
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." In obtaining all the education needed to receive high degrees of honor, the character of a person is most crucial. 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." Today, image has become more important than character. Style is chosen as valued 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 want to look good on the outside, having the right clothes, shoes, handbag, or even the right educational degree, but aren't nearly as interested in their 'reputation'.
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 shameful indifferent demonstrations of misconduct. Sadly many believe that if it doesn't hurt anyone, it's alright! A person of good character, can know it was formed during a very young age. Any one with questionable character can change.
Improving character skills is realizing everyone is challenged everyday to make good or bad choices. BUT the key to choosing right is to look past the options and regard the results that will be gained. 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) We can consider and select the 'right' thing to do.
It's important to be selective with whom we 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. Being surrounded by people of upstanding character, those that encourage and inspire, and who love God valuing His standards, will be motivate us to make honorable choices.
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! Reading our Bible to renew our mind to learning God's ways will help us to choose right. Be sure to pray! Having a friend that will be our prayer partner, that we can call upon in times of confrontation, helps make us accountable to right choices. Remember we 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!
Think about this: A piano, whether you pay $50 or $5000 is just a piano, until it's in the hands of one who's committed. One who's devoted to the dream, diligent to practice day after day, for hours on end. Someone that dedicated themselves to the rehearsal when they were 5 years old, when they were 10 years old...all through the years. Never giving up, not once forgoing the exercise of their dedication. But remaining stedfast, even when there was a temptation to abandon their desire.
Look around and I imagine you'll find many people that are passionate in their dream - golfers, musicians, teachers, athletes, and so many others. The reason for success is their tenacity. Each person resolved to stay patient, being steady even when they were tired and persistent when discouragement came. We all know it's easy to lay down our dream or belief when the circumstances get tough. But it takes the desire for the end result to be greater than disappointments. A specific individual once said, "The difference between a successful person and others is not lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of 'will'."
Ron Luce (of Teen Mania) once preached there are three kinds of Christians:
1) Quitter Christians: They don't want to do anything. They blame others for failure they seem to experience. All these people want is 'fire insurance', just making sure I'm going to get into heaven. And most of the time all they do is complain.
2) Camper Christians: These people get to a comfortable place and camp. Mediocrity is their satisfaction. Mostly they compare themselves with other to make themselves look good.
3) Climber Christians: Jesus has captured their heart! They are a slave for Christ. They keep pressing toward the mark for the prize in Christ Jesus no matter the obstacle! Nothing can stop them.
2 Peter 1:3 says, "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature......
5 but also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are in you and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure for if you do these things you will never stumble."
Question: How committed are you to standing in faith for your circumstance to change? How dedicated are you to hanging onto the promise even when discouragement comes? Are you passionate about the Word of the Lord to you regarding your call, your family, your finances, or your healing? Are you willing to stand your ground long enough to see it happen?
Hudson Taylor (a China Missionary 1832-1905) once said, "Many Christians estimate difficulty in light of their own resources and thus they attempt very little and always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God, because they believed on His power and His presence to be with them."
In view of your current situation, take a few minutes to evaluate your faith. To make sure you're staunch in your stand for the promise of God, keep your mind renewed to the Word, refreshing yourself daily. The Bible says in 2 Cor. 12:9-10, "And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
When you are feeling weak, receive His grace to remain strong. Trust Him with all your heart - be committed to stand - stand till you see the manifestation of the promise! Don't let fear or doubt steal your faith!
1 Cor. 16:13-14 Amp "Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us]."
Most of us are "Facebookers". We almost religiously read it everyday, and often several times a day. We follow all our friends and even their friends. Reading all the posts, looking at all the pictures, and watching the videos, we click 'like' and sometimes 'comment'. I am amazed at people who profess to be Christian on the one hand post a scripture or their Pastor's blog, then right after, post something indecent or with obscenities.
1 John 2:4 says, "He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." This is talking to those that are 'fence straddlers'. They say 'I know God, I love Him', but they do not do what He commands them to do!! What are His commandments? 1) "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ And 2) ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) Love is obedient and love is selfless.
And... Titus 1:16 says, "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." This scripture is telling us we 'deny' God by our awful rebellious deeds, doing things contrary to the Word of God.
Children of God, we cannot on the one hand give a testimony of God's grace and goodness then in the next minute exemplify the worlds view. Matt. 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other...." Are you a 'fence straddler', having one foot in your own yard and the other in your neighbors, and trying to convince other's on which side you're living? If......
1) one has a foul mouth (James 3:11, "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?"),
2) is harboring un-forgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."),
3) display actions unbecoming to a Christ like life (Col. 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."), or
4) does not express love (God's love) towards family & others (1 John 4:8, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.") YOU are 'straddling the fence'.
Ask yourself, does my witness clarify I'm totally 100% sold out to Christ? Am I living fully in the Spirit of God? Do my actions match the word of God I sometimes speak? Is what I'm doing and saying leading others closer to Jesus? These questions are not meant to bring condemnation - but a place of evaluation. ("Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Cor. 13:5) If you feel you have missed the mark - repent - turn around 180 degrees. Give yourself completely over to Him.. and let your life be a testimony of "It's no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me..." Don't straddle the fence.
You and I live in a troubled world. Jesus told us, in the world we will have tribulations. Paul wrote Timothy and said, in the last days perilous times will come. Facing the inevitable difficulties can bring much fear. So much so, that people will not leave their house, travel on a plane, or touch things for concern of catching a disease. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, "Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
The authority Jesus is talking about is available to every born again, spirit filled believer! You can, by submitting to God and His Word, knowing that the greater One abides in you, come against the wiles of the devil and his cohorts. Eph. 2:4-6 says, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." My NKJV Bible notes: "Three 'togethers' in verse 5 and 6 note our union with Christ 1) in His Resurrection, 2) in His Ascension, and 3) in His present rule at God's right hand. From this place of partnership, He grants that we share in the present works of His kingdom's power."
Child of God, YOU can operate in the authority of Jesus. YOU have jurisdiction "over ALL the power of the enemy AND NOTHING shall by any means hurt you"! Knowing this gives us the edge over principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places! With that in mind, we want to share the following testimony from Pastor Michael, to encourage your faith and walk in the Spirit of authority.
This week, running errands, I stopped at a Walmart on south part of town. After my shopping experience I exited to find my truck was no where in sight! It had been stolen. A rush of anxiety came over me, as I ran up and down each isle thinking it would be there. Assisting the aid of the Security man, we called the police and reported the theft. After phoning my wife, we both began to pray in the Spirit and contacted some prayer partners to pray as well. The Spirit of God prompted us to take our authority. He said to speak to the devil, and remind Him of our tither's rights and command him to bring the truck back with all it's contents untouched and unharmed. (I had several checkbooks, a computer in my truck, as well as some gift cards and presents). So at His urging we plead the Blood of Jesus over the vehicle and it's contents, claiming quick resolve and complete restoration.
Confusion and fear tried to grip me, and the Lord reminded me to cast down imaginations and take authority over the thoughts and panic the enemy was feeding me. I continued to quote the Word of God, remain in faith and speak my authority. Reminded of Mark 11:24 "...whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." Thirty minutes, after calling the police, and running up and down the isles, I thought I saw my truck driving in far side of the parking lot. I began to run after it, pressing my key entry button. I then saw the person park my truck, jump out and run leaving the door open. My truck was returned!!!! After searching the contents I found nothing was missing!! Hallelujah! Because of God's faithfulness to His Word and my obedience to act upon it, this situation turned around for my good!!
This is an awesome act of God's intervention in our behalf! Whatever your situation, God has given you a promise to protect and defend you. He has also given us power/authority in the name of Jesus and in His blood. In your obedience to declare the promise of God's Word over your circumstance - believe you receive and you shall have what you say! Don't listen to the lies of the devil fueling fear or doubts of alarm. Greater is He that's IN you than he that's in the world! (1 John 4:4) Below you'll find a prayer of authority you can pray over your circumstance.
Prayer: Father, in the Name of Jesus, It is written, that you have given us authority over ... all the power of the devil, therefore in that authority, we command satan to release his hold on my (state your circumstance). I serve the God of Restoration and I claim restoration of all my (circumstance). It is returned to me whole and complete. This matter is resolved quickly NOW, because God is my defender! I praise You Lord for complete resolve and restoration, and I receive it in Jesus Name. Amen!
Yes, Happy New Year! With each new year comes new commitments, new plans, 'do-overs', anticipation, and expectations. Everyone of us have the mind set to get better results than the previous year. The strategy is wipe the slate clean and begin a fresh! But if you're like most people, three months into the year, all the diligence towards the goals has been tossed by the wayside. Why? Because, it was too regular: we generally dislike that which requires consistency, due to the fact it becomes mundane.
Since the year of 2000, the average attention span has become less than 9 seconds. That's why technology has broadened to include all types of media to reach the senses. It's become faster, louder, and brighter to captivate the audience. So if our 'little' goal isn't complete with instantaneous, thunderous, and dazzling means to delight us, we push it aside. People have come to expect everything in life to have to be thrilling. They are looking for the phenomenal and breathtaking! Yet I believe with each 'awe-inspiring' expectation, it'll just have to get grander - because the latter became the usual. When will enough be enough?
Consistency doesn't have to be boring. The key to good results is doing the right things over and over and over and over again. For example, teaching a child to understand the difference between his toys and your priceless vase. One must constantly watch and correct the child for each attempt towards your treasure, refocusing on his treasures. This doesn't stop until he comprehends. End result: child respects pretty things without touching and you get to keep pretty things!
Galatians 5:16 says, "I say then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." This word "walk" comes from two words, around and a path. This is describing a person that walks a path so much they could do it blindfolded. Paul is instructing us to have a lifestyle, consistently, regularly, behaving the way the Spirit of God does. This involves, loving family, friends, and the unlovely, a joyful attitude, a peaceful countenance, exercising patience, being kind to your spouse, children, co-workers, and the unkind, being truthful, faithful, gentle, and exercising self control in our actions. Conducting ourself in this manner will keep us from developing a life led by the flesh. Yes, that's daily. (Read Gal. 5)
Diligently striving to attain this way of life, will bring challenges that keep us inspired. We hope this has motivated you to remain steady in your walk in the Spirit, and have a Happy New Year.
Christmas is nearly upon us. In the midst of all the Christmas festivities we want to bring our focus on the Birth of our Savior! Let's make sure that we exalt Him above all else. Share the Christmas story this Christmas eve to your family to reflect on the precious gift of life God gave. Thank you Lord God for Jesus Christ!
THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Tis the week before Christmas, and all through the town,
People are scurrying all around.
Decorations and ornaments were all hung,
With excitement encircling all of the young.
Presents were bought and wrapped real pretty,
Being delivered from city to city.
There’s festivities and feasting all around,
Caroling and joyful celebrations resound.
Yet amidst all this commotion,
There’s still a strong notion,
That Christmas is for Christ,
And not all the hype.
The birth of a baby, the Savior, A King,
Is the first and foremost reason we sing.
It’s time to celebrate and rejoice
Giving reason for Christmas a spiritual voice.
So when you’re gazing upon all the seasonal lights
with wonder, amazement and marvelous delight,
Remember to ponder, review and reflect,
On Jesus the Messiah, God’s present exact.
Is. 9:6 "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
It's December! Looking at the calendar, there are so many things scheduled, I'm challenged to get them all done. It's easy to overbook events, trying to fit them all in. And in the midst of these functions, there's the daily work load, as well as getting prepared for Christmas day. Stress comes easy if we're not watchful. The key: don't mentally assess it all....write things down and check off your list.
There are web sights, television programs, and books explaining how to have a calm and stress free holiday. The writers make it all seem effortless. However, it's often easier said than done. Getting caught up in juggling all the festivities can be exhausting, especially for a large family.
Phil. 4:6-7 says, "Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus."
Worry is prolonged fear Fear is the opposite of faith. So when we are worrying about anything, we are out of faith! Faith, regardless of the situation, is petitioning God through prayer giving thanks to Him for peace and provision. Taking our care and casting it over to Him. (1 Pet. 5:7) Believing that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20) Faith is knowing that you know, that you know, everything is going to work out for the good, because you believe when you ask according to His will, He hears you and, grants you your petitions. (1 John 5:14-15)
You may not be able to slow down the season, or even keep from overbooking. But you can trust God through it, and believe that all these things will work out. Just breathe, don't fret, know that through Christ all things are possible. And what doesn't get done, wasn't important anyway. As you do what Phil. 4:6 says, you can rest assured, Phil. 4:7, God's peace, will cover you. Have a delightful Merry Christmas!
Living in a world of troubles, hard-pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down, we must not lose heart! Through it all we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57
In spite of all that's going on in the world or in 'your' world, stop and give thanks to the Lord. 1 Thes. 5:18 "IN everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
When anxiety or fear come to torment your thoughts, stop and give thanks to the Lord. Phil. 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but IN everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
In case you're feeling unloved and discarded, stop and give thanks to the Lord. Ps. 107:1 "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His love endures forever."
At times of disappointments, frustrations, and exasperation, stop and give thanks to the Lord. Ps. 42:5 "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance."
If sickness, disease, pain, or infirmity attacks your body, stop and give thanks to the Lord. Ps. 103:1-3 "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases."
During times of challenges and difficulty, when you feel like giving up, or if it seems as if there's no hope.... Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise! (Ps. 100:4) Continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, with the fruit of your lips, giving thanks to His name. (Heb. 13:15)
Thanksgiving and praise always precedes His presence which precedes His power. In Acts 16:16-40 when Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they began to praise the Lord. God showed up and miracles happened! Adversity isn't fun, but when we're faced with it, stop and give thanks to God. When we do, we are expressing our trust and belief in Him which causes breakthrough miracles.
I love the fall. I love the time of harvest. Who doesn't? The weather gets a little cooler, the leaves turn beautiful colors, there's the smell of wood burning in fireplaces and holidays are just around the corner. The idea of family get togethers, eating pumpkin pie, and decorating for the season just seems so exciting. The smell of freshly baked cookies permeate the house and bring such a comforting feeling. All these events add joy to the season.
And although there are troubles or sad times in our journey, during this time, push them aside and allow the 'hope' of this season to infiltrate our heart. The important thing to remember that no matter what we're faced with or what we're going through, Life is on the other side! The darkness, the discouragement, or thoughts of defeat might be trying to beat us down. They may attempt to keep us from blasting our way through the door of victory. But Jesus said, "...with God all things are possible." (Mat. 19:26)
Just like the woman that had an issue of blood, who knew if she could touch the hem of Jesus' garment she'd be healed, pushed through the crowd, at risk for her life. (Luke 8:40-48) Or the persistence of blind Bartimaeus, despite the jeers of the crowd, yelled louder to get Jesus' attention. (Mark 10:46-52) It's time for us to rise up with a Spirit of faith and push past the disappointments, toss off the sorrow, or feelings of failure. Let faith be louder than fear. Press harder than we've ever pressed before, determined to receive our promise. Don't allow worry or the taunts of the devil hold us back.
Our help is in the Lord. Nothing is too hard for Him! (Jer. 32:27) Jesus said the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But, I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly! (John 10:10) Life is on the other side of our predicament! Jesus cancels out the devils schemes of stealing, killing and destruction when we exercise our faith for the victory. The devil is a liar! We ARE more than conquerors through Christ who loved us! (Rom. 8:37)
We let people talk us out of our faith all the time. We can be believing for a healing and hear Auntie Doom&Gloom tell how her sister's cousin's friend 'died' with a similar ailment. Right then and there our faith is now hindered, because we heard unbelief and doubt. It's at that very moment that we decide we're going to listen and believe who we think is the greater...God or the devil.
But I'm here to tell you friends...."Greater is He that's IN you than he that's in the world!" When we got born again, we invited Jesus to live IN us. When we got spirit filled, we welcomed the Holy Ghost, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, to abide within us. And IF He is IN us, then He is stronger and more powerful than any thing the devil can bring against us.
The Bible says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" and the Word is Jesus. It also says, "For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." This means God's Word is dominant. It's the beginning and the end. It's above and not beneath! When it's spoken, it is effective and brings about a change. (Is. 55:11)
But often, instead of being grounded in the Word, believing and trusting God's promise, we listen to the 'lies' of the devil. He tells us we're going to get worse, we might even die. He deceives us into thinking this 'thing' we're dealing with will never change and it's hopeless. His trickery is to get us to believe the worst of our problem. If he convinces us, then we have been duped, and he has stolen our faith. We fall into a trap, a mental stronghold, filled with torment, treachery, and distress.
But don't succumb to his scam! He's a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) There is NO truth in him or his words. The real Truth is in the Word of God. "...there is nothing too hard for God." (Jer. 32:27) He loves you and nothing can separate you from His love. (Rom. 8:31-39) Don't listen to people that that speak contrary to the promises of God. Tell Auntie Doom&Gloom thanks but no thanks. Let her know you are standing on the guarantee of your covenant with God. And He said, In all these things you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you. (Rom 8:37)
Then my friends, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might - keep on the armor of God, so that you can resist the strategy of the devils schemes. Remain steady and committed to prayer and renewing your mind to the Word. "....Meditate day and night on the Word, so that you may observe to do all that is written in it.....then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success." (Josh. 1:8) Keep the faith!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."