Everyone loves music. There are so many genres, it gives the listener a plethora to choose from. Even small children move and groove with the sound of songs. People wear headsets or earphones to hear their special tunes. We've got smart phones, ipods, ipads and tablets, radios, and cd's. Music stimulates us in movies, soothes us as we drive, wakes us in alarms and inspires with creativity. But more than that it's is a way that we can praise and worship God. Ps. 57:7 "My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music." Ps. 33:2-3 "Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully [on the strings] with a loud joyful sound."
It is written throughout the Bible, noting people who played instruments in the house of God, or singers (praisers) that marched out before armies. (2 Chron. 20:21) We find in Genesis that Jubal was the father of all who played the harp and flute. It was written that Moses sang a song of praise after the Exodus of the Israelites. Even Deborah, the prophetess, sang a victory song of the defeat of Sisera. The boy David, played a harp that ministered peace to King Saul. Paul and Silas sang a song in the deepest of prisons during captivity. It's written in Revelation of angels who sing continually in heaven. So we can see the all through the Word of God music is important.
In some churches, people think music is a time filler, standing or sitting to watch the musicians, never participating. Praise is an audible expression or action acknowledging gratefulness to God. We must engage in the doing of it. Ps. 71:8 "My mouth is filled with your praise and glory all day long." Ps. 109:30 "With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord; And in the midst of many I will praise Him." Notice it's MY MOUTH that's participating. I WILL, is a decision WE make to be involved.
Praise becomes more than just singing songs. It works like a plow preparing the soil of our heart, making it soft and pliable to receive the Word and His instruction. We are saying to God, 'I lay down myself, my thoughts, my fears, and MY agenda, and place You first and foremost in my heart', releasing to You authority over my life.' Praise is a condition of the heart, exalting and magnifying Him not your problems.
It is suggested that people have become 'thrill' seekers, expecting church to bring all the bells, whistles, and fireworks that the world offers. And if the music isn't as electrifying, they lose interest and fade off into a lethargic trance. To experience the power of God in any service, thanksgiving and praise always proceed. This means we must be involved.
Let me just say the Bible says, we are to bless the Lord, O my soul and ALL that is within me! It also says, that He inhabits the praises of His people. When we decide that Jesus becomes the object of praise the church will change drastically. We will begin to see a true move of His Spirit, where He actually shows up and meets needs. This means you and I must 1) Not allow emotions to dictate whether or not we praise. (Praise and worship regardless of how you feel.) 2) Be constant in repentance and forgiveness. (Sin can keep you out of the presence of God) 3) Put down fear of what others will think. (Really, they shouldn't be watching you anyway!) And 4) Open your mouth and sing out, lift your hands. (God isn't going to make you His puppet.) YOU have to do it! Love must be verbalized to be complete. Declare the praises of Him, who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9-10) Let's Praise the Lord!
Some dads are funny, some are serious, others are matter of fact and yet regardless of their personality, they are DAD. No matter the kind of father you have or had, you have gained much from him. Some would say, "but mine wasn't around, they left when I was small". To you I would say, you learned how not to be and the importance of faithfulness. (It's important in the midst of 'life' situations, in spite of the good and bad and the ups and downs, to find the gain.)
Being a father is a big responsibility. First of all there's the task of being the provider for the entire family. He's accountable for making sure the bills are paid, food's in the cabinet, gas is in the car, there's money for extracurricular activities, as well as for clothes. Having and keeping a good job is very important to him. (Pro. 12:11) (Col. 3:23)
A dad also has to be the emotional strength in a family. Assuring that everything's going to be alright. He comforts the family in sad and difficult times and encourages each one according to their persona. Building up and cheering up attitudes. (Josh. 1:9)
He's the disciplinarian, helping to direct and lead in the right direction. As difficult as it may be for him to punish and correct, he does it because of love for his children. When a wrong decision was made, he's there to help, instruct and redirect. (Pro. 3:11-12)
The brunt of decisions lie in his lap, so he must stay tuned in to God, lending his ear to His instructions. He prays continually for each member of the family, lifting up their needs, desires and purpose before the Lord. His mouth daily confesses the Word over his children believing in faith for the manifestation of God's blessings in their lives. His faith is fortified by being faithful in his service to the Lord. And by this example he is showing his family how to be Godly. (Pro. 22:6)
He helps with scientific homework projects, math calculations, rescuing lost items or fixing broken things. Dads are known for making sure there's recreation, like picnics, camping trips, fishing excursions, trips to amusements parks, going to the movies and even birthday parties. Amidst the significant and important tasks, he still has time to laugh, and have fun doing silly things. Jumping into a pool with all his clothes on, letting the dog lick his face, having a tea party with his daughter, or playing games with his son are all part of being a Dad.
And just in case you didn't know or you forgot...... he attended your events, he cried when you got hurt, carried you to bed when you fell asleep in the car, kissed your boo boos, and stayed up praying over you when you were sick. You see a DAD is a lot of things to his family. He IS the extension of God's love! A wonderful gift from the Heavenly Father. And this Sunday is the day we take to say Thank You, and Honor him for his blessing our life. Take time to thank God for the man God gave you as DAD, whether he's your natural father, step-father, father-in-law, grandfather, uncle or a 'DAD like one' - let's give honor where honor is due. Give him your love and attention, after all he's given you his!
Eph. 6:1-4 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
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.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, I'm reminded of a children's song, "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." The chorus says, "He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good.." I'm by no means endorsing Santa. Yet it brings to mind something that deeply impacted me, after watching a specific online ministry broadcast. Something I already knew, but somehow, had vaguely disregarded awakened in my spirit. More importantly than Santa watching, Jesus is watching!
A scriptural reference to this is found in Mark 12:41-42 which says, "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents." And we know that Jesus stopped and pointed out to everyone there, that this woman's offering was more abundant than all that had been given. Jesus was not only observing the amount they were giving, but He was also considering the way they gave. The attitude of the heart is extremely important. Pr. 21:2NIV "A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart." God is looking on our hearts in all that we do, to see our motive. Are we doing our service because we want others to see us and think we are holy? Do we give in the offering because 'we're expected to'? Is our worship done for the sake of others watching? What is the true motive of our heart?
In Revelation when Jesus spoke to the seven churches, the very first thing He says to them is, "I know your works.." He knew their works, because He had visited their church. He walked up and down their services, He listened to their conversations and their hearts were revealed to Him. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then He's keeping an eye on us. He is paying attention to how we act in troublesome times, to our treatment of others, listening to our conversations, heeding our attitudes we have to the messages we receive from our Pastor. He's watching to see if we behave like He did because we love Him and want to, or if it's because we want to impress. Jesus is not just watching us when we're at church, but He's with us when we're home, at our job, at school, or where ever we may be.
Listen children of God, Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Reality set in for me today, God is with us, watching. No matter what we think, hide in our heart, speak, or conduct ourselves, God knows. And one day, very soon, just like the scripture says, we will give and account. I encourage you today to consider your attitude, your behavior, and your words. Are they glorifying the Lord? Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him."
We need to quit pretending we're one way, when our heart says another. Jesus is not only watching, but knows our heart. Make a decision today to practice the presence of God in every day life and activate Colossians 1:10. "That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]."
We've had people ask, why is it necessary to attend church? Can't we just watch a television evangelist, watch an internet minister or listen to a cd and get the same results? However good or educational these may be, there's just something about attending a corporate church service. Heb. 10:24 amp. "Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together (as believers) as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging and encouraging) one another and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching."
The church is a place where we learn and receive faith. (Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The Word here is preached Word) Being built up in faith ensures that when challenges arise, faith meets them rather than fear. Being separated and alone gives place to fearful thoughts and discouraging attitudes. Seeing other believers that are confronted with the same kinds of situations as yourself, and learning of their triumphs and victories builds faith! You can't get that from t.v., the internet or a c.d.
There are some who say: 'I'm not ready to go to church, I need to get myself together first before I go.' The local church will accept you just the way you are. But, if it's a faith filled, spirit filled, bible teaching church it will not leave you the same way you came. Your faithful attendance to listen to the message of the Word and apply it to you life daily, will cause you to change. (Rom. 10:14 "How can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?") You must come to hear and hear to believe.
One might say: 'I used to be in a church and worked so much I got burned out.' Let me say first, people who feel overworked are generally unorganized. Pressure comes because of the lack of organization, not because one has a role in serving in the local church. We can get 'burnt out' doing sports, hobbies, and the like, and quit as a result. Secondly, burn out comes because an ember is too far away from a flame. Our flame gets extinguished because we're doing 'works' without a relationship with Christ. The lack of organization gets us to working so much we neglect to spend quality time praising and praying. Plus when we're not scheduled to work, we stay away from service rather than come and get energized from the preached Word and fellowship, using the excuse 'I'm burned out.'
I've heard some say: 'There are just hypocrites in the church. They come to church but don't really act like they should.' My question to you would be, are you going to allow a 'hypocrite' come between you and your relationship with God? Because if you refrain from attending church, worshipping the Lord, or serving Him, then he just got between you and Christ and he's closer to Christ than you are. Besides what better place for a hypocrite than church? Just perhaps he'll hear the Word at one point and get his life changed. We should pray for them, not allow them to control what we do.
People have even said: 'I've gone but I just don't get it. I don't understand what's being taught.' If you're not 'getting it'. Then you need to put into operation Mark 4:14-20. Work on your (dirt) heart. What determines what your dirt is like is you. Cast your cares over on the Lord, walk in forgiveness, or put your sight on things above not on the earth. Become a spiritual man, because a 'natural man' can't receive spiritual things. (1 Cor 2:14-15) A change of heart will help you better comprehend the Word of God.
The case in point with not attending church, regardless of the reason you're being robbed of a blessing Christ intended for you to have. Eph. 4:11 Christ gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the church for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ. He purposes that our minds be renewed by the Word. He desires that we may better understand and know what promises are already ours so we can live victoriously. And the only way to do that is in the local church. Pray to make sure you attend the church of God's choice for you. Be certain the church you attend preaches/teaches and believes the uncompromised Word of God, not just what you want to hear. (Truth sometimes is uncomfortable.) Then be faithful, because faithful attenders understand and learn more swiftly than the non attenders. If you don't believe that, then only send your child to school one day a month.
Let me just end with this, it' easy to be thrilled with something, it's just difficult to stay thrilled. It takes diligence to remain excited about church. It's an attitude we must choose. Choose to be inspired at your local church!
Living in America brings forth a freedom that many nations do not experience. If we were to visit some of those places, we'd find the conveniences of super markets, shopping malls, or freedom of speech are not available. In many places people live in fear of their life with the threat of slavery or death. We're not tortured, or prisoners, nor are we forced to labor in camps for the country we abide. All in all, if we take a real good look at America we're free. Free to choose where we live, free to choose how many children we have, free to choose if we want to go to college, free to choose our profession, free to marry who we want, free to worship God Almighty. That freedom came with a price of peoples lives that fought to guarantee our liberty. There is much to be thankful!
1 Peter 2:16 says, "[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God.
Just because we're free, we should not use that 'freedom' as a means of justification to live foolishly or immoral. Wrong choices bring us to a place of oppression and in bondage to the worldly views and living. Bernard M. Baruch an American financier, stock investor, philanthropist, statesman and political consultant, once stated "The greatest blessing of our democracy is freedom. But in the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves."
Taking a look around we find that's where the 'rub' really is. People don't want to be disciplined. There's some that rebel from their youth and keep right on rebelling into adulthood. But the truth of the matter is that God gave us precepts and guidelines to live by. Why? To keep us safe and protected and to help us live in the blessings He intends for us to enjoy.
Freedom isn't just the fact that we can do what we want, when we want, where we want, to whom we want. Freedom is the benefit of having choice. And with that choice comes the responsibility of selecting RIGHT above WRONG. It's making the decision to not only live life to enjoy for yourself, but being the benefit to others. It's that place that God has called us to live as servants to Him, being the express of Him in our actions, our words and choices.
I urge you today to live in the freedom of the Word. Titus 2:14 AMP "(Jesus) Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly his own people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds" Live righteously! Be a doer of the Word!
Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, 'why am I still dealing with this problem' and 'when will it ever stop'? It probably seems like day after day, month after month, even year after year, you are faced with the same adversity, and nothing ever changes. If you're ready for a change read on!
We have to stop cooperating with the devil. Quit believing his lies, cease from listening to the words of defeat echoing in our thoughts and come to the place of freedom and peace.
Rom. 12:1-2 NKJ "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
#1) We need to present our bodies to God. Yielding the flesh to God, means we're in cooperation/agreement with Him. Submitting ourselves to God and His Word is a lifestyle that displays the attributes of God. It means we go to our local church, even when our body doesn't feel like it. Or although we're busy we make our attendance to church our priority, because the local church is God's priority. It means, we resist unrighteous or unholy actions. It's where we keep our conversation God like. That's presenting our body to God!
#2) We are to renew our mind by thinking the way He thinks. This is where we cast down any thoughts that's not God ordained. It's taking any opinion or a pondering and bringing them in line with the Word! That's making yourself think on things that are true, worthy of reverence, honorable, proper, whatever is just, pure, lovely and lovable, kind and winning, gracious, things of virtue and excellence, and anything worthy of praise. By that, we will begin to live/act/behave like the Word!
It won't matter how many times we quote the Word of God, if we're not exhibiting it everyday in our actions, the truth is, our mind is not renewed. Because a renewed person acts like it! Having a renewed mind, will make us a master over our situations, over our emotions, and even over the enemy. A mind that not renewed is immature, like a child, and is tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4:14)
Renewing the mind is a consistent process and will put you in the position of receiving from God wisdom and answers in the face of adversity and crisis.
So how can I get a renewed mind, you ask? First get into a good Faith, Word preaching church. Be faithful and committed to attend every service. Listen and then do what you're learning from the preached Word. Next as you continue to apply the Word to your daily living, remain constant in your personal Bible study. Reviewing the scriptures your Pastor has taught on. Then rejoice in the Lord.
Note: Having a renewed mind, does not mean you won't have fleshly desires - but what it does mean is that you won't run with them! Stay steady and faithful in the Word!
Mother's Day, May 12th. This is the day where we give honor to Mother's. Yes, I know there are people who haven't had a great relationship with their Mom. And there are some who have never felt the love of a Mother. Yet we, for the most part, still take this time of the year to reflect on Mothers. Maybe you had a terrific Mother. The ideal woman who did everything right. That's something to praise God about, and easy to honor.
Mom's are God's extension of Love to their children. It's customary for a mother to protect, care for, love, encourage, enjoy, and pray for her children. However, I have known of some mothers who didn't display those characteristics. It's sad to think there are women who do not love or want their children.
Yet today, as we reflect on our own Mom, let us thank the Lord for all she did for us. After all, she gave us life. We're here because she birthed us. There were probably times, she made sacrifices on our behalf, doing without something for herself, so we could have. She did the best she could with the knowledge she had. Maybe her mom wasn't all that keen of a mother. Remember, back in the day, people learned by example, and if the example wasn't too good, well.... just saying. Despite her selfish attitudes or behaviors, regardless of any anger displayed, forgive her. Pain, hurt and bitterness can cause a person to behave inappropriately.
Keep in mind mother's aren't perfect. They can miss the mark and make mistakes. They can get frustrated, tired, and discouraged, just like the rest of us. If your Mom was/is like this, forgive her for her shortcomings, encourage her in your love for her. Let her know that no matter what happened in the past, today's a new day. Let me remind you, that children aren't perfect either (no matter what age they are).
And if your mother is no longer here on earth, thank God for her life and the blessing she was to you. Then find someone else's mom and bless them with kind words, a card or a special gift, in the honor of your Mom.
For all the mothers - take this day to thank the Lord God for life, yours and your children. Have confidence "of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you." Phil. 1:6Amp (And in your children) God's still working - keep reminding yourself.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."