Think back to all the gifts you've ever received. This might be difficult for some. Like me, you've probably received many gifts over your lifetime. Can you remember the greatest gift you've ever received?
When I was a child, gifts were something only given on very special occasions, like Christmas or Birthdays. It was rare to get a gift for no apparent reason. My most memorable gift was a much wanted doll house. I lived with my grandparents when I was young, and they had a very meager life. They didn't put up a Christmas tree or buy Easter baskets or even bake birthday cakes. Yet on one Christmas I recall the metal doll house with furniture that they gave me. It wasn't sitting under a tree, but perched on a small table by the front door. I was a delighted at that gift.
Over the years, I've been given many wonderful gifts from friends and family. Many of which were very memorable and valuable. The value being, the heartfelt sentiment from the giver. If you were to consider the worth of a gift, how would you measure it? Some would probably say the significance would be in the cost. Others might say it would be calculated by the usefulness of that gift. For instance a person who was given a coat, who had no coat, would more likely value that gift better than one who had several coats. And of course, there are those who value a gift by the sincerity of the giver. Let me just say that, in whatever way you measure the value of a gift it's usually due to its importance at the time.
This Christmas season I would like to inspire you to consider in all the gifts you've ever been given, the Greatest Gift of all is Jesus Christ. Is. 9:6 (GNT) says, "A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
There is much value in the gift of this Savior. And, just as with any gift, it's worth is in the eye or the heart of the receiver. You choose how valuable He is to you. To me He is my peace in the midst of all troubles and turmoil. And my healer, Who heals ALL my diseases, infirmities, and sicknesses. Jesus is my provider for all my needs. He is my gift of eternal life. I'm assured I have a place with Him in Heaven. What does this Wonderful Gift of our Savior mean to you? Do you daily place value on this gift by giving Him priority in and over your life? Let this be a reminder of how great a gift we have been given.
Perhaps the most important question for some, have you personally accepted this gift of Jesus Christ, as Savior? To receive the Greatest Gift, repeat this prayer: "Lord Jesus, I ask You to come into my life and forgive me of all my sins. I confess my sins before You this day. I denounce Satan and all his works. I confess Jesus as the Lord of my life. Thank You for saving me. I believe with my heart and I confess with my mouth that You rose from the dead. I am saved. Write my name in the Lamb's book of life. Today is my God-day with the Lord Jesus! I pray this prayer to the Father in the name of Jesus. Amen."
If you just prayed this prayer, please e-mail, mail, or call us to let us know. We'd like to send you a free booklet to to help you understand a little more about this new life in Christ.
We had the privilege of visiting a Christian school and watching a program during their spiritual emphasis week. Being very impressed about the message that was shared, it came to mind that the subject was one that many struggle with daily. The message taken from Eph. 2:10 "For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]."
This verse is talking about us being God's 'masterpiece', His work of art, NOT being saved BY good works BUT saved TO DO good works. And walking in the paths He has already prepared for us so that we can complete our destiny, which is His purpose.
The issue at hand is that numerous people don't see themselves as God's masterpiece. They might refer to themselves as a 'real piece of work' in a derogatory way. Mainly because for years, they've listened to the lies of the devil; to things like, 'you're not very smart', 'you're not going to amount to anything', 'no one cares about you', or 'you're a problem - a mistake'. And whether it was from relatives, school mates, instructors or just self inflicted thoughts, they were still lies from the devil.
Eph. 2:10 says, "For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew]....." You are NOT a mistake! You were created to do good works that God predetermined for YOU! YOU were in the mind of God long before you were born. He intended for you to BE! He deliberately created YOU! YOU are His work of art, masterfully, wonderfully fashioned! When you come to realize that you were a deliberate creation, then you can comprehend the full scope of His purpose for you.
Take time today to say, "I am God's Masterpiece, His workmanship! I am recreated in Christ Jesus! I am part of God's plan. Lord I ask You to reveal the path You have ordained for me that I might live the good life and do good works to glorify You."
In our house we have an alarm system. To activate or deactivate that alarm, one must have right code. The proper numbers must be entered in proper sequence or the system won't work. Surprisingly there is a code to faith and the operation of it is just like working an alarm system. Unless you're willing to use the code the alarm is good but you'll never activate it. Most people would say, they have not yet found out how to operate their faith consistently and have trouble setting it in motion.
The Bible says, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17) However, faith does not operate by just hearing or just knowing. As in our previous blog (Fully Persuaded Faith 8/13/13), you have learned that just knowing something does not make it so in your life. The key to a successful and prosperous life is what we do with the Word! Look here at Joshua 1:8,9, "This Book of the Law shall not depart (cease) from your mouth, but you shall meditate (mutter) in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success." Notice a favorable outcome is determined by us! Saying the Word, and doing it is an activation of our faith! One can tell what one believes by what is said and done. Because people say what's in their heart and act out what they truly believe.
Everywhere individuals are confronted with problems that they wish would change. And generally instead of putting Godly faith on that situation, they just talk about it, complain about it, and think about it. In essence, you could say they put negative faith on it, believing it will be that way always. Emotions, such as anger, fear, sorrow, grief, or the like, will not activate faith. There's a 'code' to activating faith in your life and that's the only way to have a move of God in your situation.
Let's look at Mark 11:23,24 Amp. where Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whoever, says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will (get it)."
So what's the code of faith? Just like in Joshua 1:8,9 we must:
1) Find out what the Word says about our situation and for what we are believing. Write those scriptures down. It's important to know what's the basis of our faith, how it lines up with God's Word.
2) Meditate on that Word. Get it down in our heart to the point that the Word comes out instead of the complaint. Mutter it to ourself - remember faith comes by hearing.
3) Confess or say what we're believing, instead of what we're seeing. This will encourage our faith. How long do we say it? As long as it takes for it to manifest.
4) As in Mark 11:23-24 Believe we receive it as we say or pray for it, before it materializes. Faith without works is dead. Putting belief to our confession activates faith!
and 5) Praise and rejoice! True faith that believes the answer has shown up, rejoices and Praises the Lord before it actually arrives. (Read about Paul and Silas who were praying and praising before their answer came. Acts. 16:25-26)
These steps will help activate faith in your life if you exercise them regularly and consistently. Remember faith works by love, faith without works is dead and faith opens the door giving access to God's power.
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!
Believing for something, a financial increase, healing for the body, a restored relationship, even peace of mind, takes faith. It just depends where you place your faith. Some people place their faith in 'the worst thing that could happen'. These are the ones who believe that if anything bad can happen, it'll happen to them. Others, because of experienced faith, put their trust and belief in God, knowing that things are subject to change. The real problem with FAITH is, it must be consistent and people give up too soon. Since we live in a fast paced society, generally people believe situations should change NOW! And if it doesn't happen today or tomorrow, or even by next Friday, then they guess it's just not going to happen. As a result they draw back and cease believing, saying in their heart, "things will be this way always. I guess this was the way it was meant to be".
Hebrews 10: 38 says, "Now the just shall live by faith. But if anyone draws back. My soul has no pleasure in him." We all know that faith pleases God.
It is my firm belief and experience that to obtain, one must remain persistent reaching past unbelief and doubts. It's that never give up attitude, believing in the Word of God no matter what. We see this type of conviction displayed in athletes and people that have defeated overwhelming disabilities. And for the most part, we applaud them, with never the thought to apply that kind of certainty to our faith for our circumstance.
Abraham, when faced with the option of drawing back from faith, continued in hope believing that what God promised He would do. He was strong in faith, and he did not meditate on his predicament. Although he knew he and Sarah, in the law of nature, could not bring forth a son, he did not waver! Abraham remained committed in faith and gave glory to God for his son, whom he didn't see at that time. Now that's what I call confidence and persistence! Of course we know the rest of the story - Isaac was born!
It came to light yesterday, that when faced with believing for a particular situation to change, that it would be easy to give up. But you know what? I chose to extend my faith. Being fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform. Nothing, not circumstance, not pain, not anyones conversation can change my belief in the Word. No matter the hardship or difficulty I will not allow it to sway my faith. I am continually giving glory to God for the answer of His Word for my situation!
The challenges for most come in the fact that past incidents seem to outweigh trust or belief in God. Perhaps you've recently experienced a tragic fatality, a great financial loss, or a dreadful doctors report. As terrible as any of these may be the one thing I've realized is, that during any extreme severe situation we need the love of our Father God to help us get past the hurt and pain. (Romans 8:35-39)
Let me encourage you today, that with any circumstance you're addressing, remain determined to receive your answer from God. Resist becoming weary of waiting. Block the cries of defeat! "Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised." Heb. 10:35-36 amp. Remember FAITH tirelessly and determinedly stands by and never lets go of the things for which we hope! Then be relentless in giving glory to God for the answer to your faith.
I was recently meditating on the blessings of the Lord and reflected on a specific situation that flooded my heart with God's love and goodness. Please allow me to share this miraculous testimony. It was right after Christmas in 2003. Our youngest son, then 21, had returned home from being involved in an intern program at Washington D.C.
We had a great Christmas holiday and New Years Day was just around the corner. Early morning of New Year’s eve, he prepared to travel 2 1/2 hours to visit his then girlfriend (now wife), and her family. Being compelled of the Holy Spirit , I sat down and encouraged him to drive slower than he normally did. He indulged me and assured me he would be safe.
As our custom, we gathered around him to pray for God’s safety speaking the Word of God. We learned a long time ago, that the Word of God is powerful, stronger than any two edged sword. (Heb. 4:12) Waving goodbye, we were assured of God’s protection.
Close to the time he was to arrive, it was tempting to call his cell phone, but I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, he’s alright. I dismissed it and within ten minutes, we received startling news. Our son had been involved in a single car accident. Where the freeway split at an overpass, he had hit the divider barrels, bounced his car 18 feet in the air, flipped and landing upside down, sliding across four lanes of traffic. It's during these types of times, we are subject to questioning God and doubting our prayers. Yet, we must not allow any circumstance redefine what we know and believe in God's Word!
First of all it was amazing he had not hit any other cars. Secondly, it was remarkable, He was coherent and talking to the paramedics, telling them to call his dad and that everything would be alright. The paramedic, whose ambulance was 10 cars behind and seeing the accident, phoned and said he was going to be fine. Now here's where it gets interesting. Before they could arrive on the scene, our son said a man with a ball cap, helped him out of his car and sat him beside his car. When asked how he got out of his car, he explained a man helped him. However, there was no man to be seen. After hearing this, I was assured that God sent an angel to help my son. Heb. 1:14 “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
The hospital checked him thoroughly and found he need a total of 6 stitches in his head, where it was cut by glass. Praise the Lord!!!!
I just want to encourage you today to know what rightfully belongs to you. Whether it's health, safety, finances, peace, joy or whatever you need, God's Word has a promise for you. Paul wrote in 1 John 5:13-15 "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
Get in the Word - find out His will - healing, safety, peace, joy, abundant life now and eternal life! Then proclaim it! Declare it! Believe it! It's yours!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."