What Rings Out from You?

1 Thess 1 8

I Thessalonians 1-3

Apprentice: Learning from the Master was the theme for Family Camp 2015.  Our son suggested the theme while coming home from Family Camp the previous year.   And it stuck.  “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” I Corinthians 11:1.  We have a responsibility to be following our Master Jesus (who was following God’s will and direction every step of the way) – not only for our benefit – but to lead and guide and instruct others how to also follow Christ and become more and more like Jesus.

I see Apprentice all over these first three chapters of I Thessalonians.   When Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus he entered training to be an Apprentice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But he didn’t hide away with his new-found life – taking it out every Sunday to display at church.  It was his life and breath and joy and struggle – to be lived and fought for every day – to take people to Jesus that they might become apprentices as well – learning and teaching the craft of loving, serving, following, obeying Christ and His Father.  Listen again to some of these phrases:
“You became imitators of us and of our Lord: in spite of severe suffering” (1:6)
“And so you became a model to all the believers” (1:7)
“The Lord’s message rang out from you” (1:8)
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?  Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (2:19,20)
“For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” (3:8)

Do you want to be a better Apprentice?

First – check your walk – are you living what you’ve learned from Jesus the Master? Do you do the work that Jesus did?  How can you follow Jesus better?  More consistently?  Does the Lord’s message ring out from you?  Do you imitate the world or do you imitate Christ and Christian role-models?
How can you reach out to others as Jesus did?  And as Paul did?  Who do you pray earnestly for night and day – that their faith will be strong?
Who will be your hope, your joy or your crown in which you will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”  (3:12-13).

Marcia Railton

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How to Avoid Belly Aches

Prov 21 2

I’ve always worked around construction sites. From the age of 5, my dad would have me help where I could and talk to the workers. I remember when I was 8 I saw a brickmason with what I thought was candy and asked for a piece. What he had was a can of tobacco but as an 8 yr. old I was convinced I was right because I was 8 and knew everything. Some of us never grow out of this and religious people are no different.

The Pharisees, Saul, David, and others thought they were right. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All a person’s ways seem right to them but motives are weighed by God.” And just in case you’re like me, Solomon says something similar in 21:2. How do we, as believers, keep our motives pure. Proverbs 3:5,6 says to lean on God and not on our understanding and he will make straight paths for us. We do this by reading God’s words: Psalms 12:6 says God’s word is flawless. The Psalms and Proverbs are big on that theme. In Hebrews 4:12 we see God’s word is active and when used, judges our thoughts so that, if we aren’t stubborn, we can make Godly choices.

At 43, I can still channel my 8 yr. old self. After so many times of telling the brickmason I was right, my dad said let him have one. I swallowed that and got sick for the next 30 min, but never have tried that again. I pray that today we acknowledge God first and his word and live by the Spirit that brings life. Try his word today and avoid some of the “belly aches” that come from thinking we have the answers. God bless you.

-Joseph Partain

God’s Will in Just 6 Words

Phil 2 14 15

Have you noticed that there is a book about every subject. There are books on marriage, parenting, preaching, finding God’s will for our lives, etc. I listen to Christian talk radio and it seems like everyone that preaches or speaks has a book to sell or give you for a donation. What about the book that God wrote. Many people buy books on God’s will like: Do Something, God’s Will for your life, and any number of books promising to find that specific thing that is just for you.

Philippians 2 gives us a seemingly simple yet admittedly hard will that God has for all of our lives. In fact, if done, promises that our light for God will shine like the stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14 says to do everything without arguing or complaining. God’s word always seems to get to the point and save you hundreds at Barnes and Nobles. This verse, if followed, promises that we will not have labored in vain on the day of Christ.

Is God’s will for our life really just 6 words? Try it. Today just listen to what is going on around you. There is complaining and arguing on politics, religion, driving skills or lack thereof, and the speed at which we get our fast food and God hates it. In Numbers 14 this issue kept the children of Israel out of the promised land. The place that God had planned for them. What “promised lands” are we missing out on due to our attitude.

Just yesterday as our work crew pulled up to the construction site, one of the workers from the other crew met us and said, “The Christians are here”. He said he was listening to the preaching and music we were listening to and was enjoying it. You can shine in this world if we focus on God and his son. Like the song says, “The things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

-Joseph Partain

Love and Forgiveness

1 Corinthians 16 14

Throughout this week we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, our purpose in life, worshipping by singing, standing up for Christ, and thriving. Today we are going to discuss two important attributes and characteristics of Christians. We, as Christians, should love and forgive. Here’s why!

God’s Word, the Bible, sets the example of a Christian’s life. Throughout the Bible we find the word love. Love is a strong word. Right? A lot of times we use the word love without meaning.

To begin, I believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the Bible’s definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Here are other scriptures that reference love:

“Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:14

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

-1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

-1 Corinthians 13:13

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

God wants us to love Him, His Son, and each other. God loved us first! He loved us before we were born! He loved us so much, that He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. That’s pure love. Jesus Christ was obedient to His Father and followed His will. Jesus loves us too! We should love God with everything we have. We should display the love of God so others can know Him and receive His love. If we do not love one another, then we do not know God! God is love! Everything revolves around love.

Another important Christian characteristic is forgiving others. I understand, it’s hard to forgive people sometimes. It’s hard to forgive people who make fun of you, call you names, or just act rudely. But it’s something we have to do!

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus says that we should pray to our Heavenly Father, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

That’s huge! We are praying and asking God to forgive us of our debts and sins. After and only if we also forgive those who sin or have debts against us.

That’s right! You heard it! We have to forgive others so God will forgive us.

Jesus continues by saying in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

That is plain and simple to understand. We need to forgive one another, if we want to be forgiven by God.

Love and forgiveness flow together hand in hand. If we love one another, we will forgive one another. If we do not love one another, we will not forgive others. If we do not love, we do not know God, because God is love.

Because of God’s love, we have pathway to salvation. He gave His Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, died, was resurrected, and is coming back again! That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23

We all are sinners, and the price of sin is death. Sadly, because of sin, we all will die. Jesus gives us hope. Because of the shedding of Jesus’ blood, God has forgiven our sins. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are baptized, we will be saved. We have hope that when we die, we will be asleep in Christ, until He returns. When Jesus Christ returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and those who lived a righteous life will be resurrected to life eternal in the Kingdom of God. Don’t you want to be a part of that? I know I sure do!

Today I encourage you to live a Kingdom life. Love one another and forgive those who sin against you. God wants us to live according to His Word, His will, and His way. We are His children!

-Brenan Dominguez 

 

Hi everyone, 

I enjoyed sharing several topics with you all this week! I hope you have grown in your faith and learned something new this week from these devotions. I hope and pray that you will continue to grow and learn. I encourage you to read your Bible daily. Every time you read your Bible you will learn something new! Remember that God has a plan and a vision for your life. Find that vision, set a goal, and work toward achieving the goal. Our ultimate goal as Christians should be glorifying our Heavenly Father. 

If you need someone to talk to, you can always leave a comment here or find me on facebook.

Until next time, 

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” -Numbers 6:24-26

Regeneration and Renewal

titus 3 5

Titus 3    &    James 5

Two chapters?! They’re both short so I’m sure you’ll have no problem reading both.  I just couldn’t decide which of these chapters I wanted to use to discuss healing of the spirit, so I am going to use them both.

In Titus 3:3, Paul graciously gives us a list of things that we do wrong. There’s no doubt that every one of us can find a few of these words to associate with. These things are why I believe that we all need spiritual healing. You may have heard that term used before by non-Christians, but what I mean by spiritual healing is a little different. I mean the renewing of our minds through forgiveness. I mean the ability to turn away from our sins and start walking in the other direction.

Spiritual healing is easy in concept. We all know that Jesus died for our sins. There is grace overflowing for us. Titus 3:5 says “He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and it will be ours.

But spiritual healing is so hard in practice. So many times, we let our past selves become the master of our present selves. Two things can happen that get in the way of our healing.

First, the sins of our past enslave us and we can’t forgive ourselves. We beat ourselves up for things that we should be able to leave behind. John 8:32 says that the Truth will set you free. If that is true, then why is it so easy to feel tied down? Jesus gives a conditional before saying that you can be free. He says, “know the truth.” The truth can’t set you free if you don’t know the truth. You need to know who Jesus (the Truth) is and you need to know the truth of forgiveness. The truth is asking for forgiveness is easier than feeling forgiveness.

Second, we continue to live in our sin. Remember how Jesus said, “The truth will set you free”? He also said, “Continue in my word.”  If you haven’t truly turned away from your past sins, then of course they are going to continue to rule your life. Once again, this is easy to understand and hard to practice.

In my experience, there is a crucial step that is always overlooked when it comes to spiritual healing. Let’s look to James now, in 5:16. We need to confess our sins, not only to God, but also to each other. We need to hold each other accountable, and you can only do that if you know what your friend is struggling with. James also repeats something that I’ve been saying all week: pray. Pray together for healing because “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” James give us an example of an effective prayer. Elijah prayed that God withhold the rain and God did so. The key point of the example can be easy to miss though. Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours; he faced temptation and sinned just like us. He prayed earnestly, and through his prayer, he was able to do great deeds for God.

Don’t let your past enslave you. Turn from your sin. Confess your sin to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the Truth set you free.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

 

A Lesson from Haiti: Perseverance

haiti

Missions Spotlight: Haiti

Under the direction of Lesly Bertrand, our conference supports 24 orphans with shelter, food and an education.  In addition to tending to the children, Pastor Lesly shepherds one of the 25 Haitian churches that share our beliefs.  He also meets with 21 ministers in the region for Bible study and leadership training each month.

 

This past week, some of our beloved family from Ohio came to stay with us.  Among the company, was our adorable 4-year-old niece, Melody.  The thing about Melody is, from 8AM to 9PM, she does not slow down.   From visits to the playground, building box forts, and painting masterpieces, to singing, dancing and acting on the fireplace hearth, Melody is in constant motion.

 

As I am worn out and ready to head to sleep at 7PM, I am reminded of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18.  The disciples come to Jesus and ask him just “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

Melody is innocent, she trusts, she is content, and she makes friends at the Chick-Fil-A play-place within a matter of seconds.   Melody and her buddies fly through the play equipment and zip down the slide over and over and over again.  I get tired just watching her through the glass as I shove another french fry into my mouth.  Melody runs with perseverance.  As long as the sun is up, she never stops.  This zeal and energy brings me to 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

 

We are called to be children of God like Melody. We need to be going for his kingdom from sun up to sun down we can’t stop. I think that is what Jesus meant in Matt. 18. Children are fully reliant on their parents for everything. Like children, we need to be fully reliant on our heavenly father. Children trust without reservation. In the same way, we need to trust without reservation. Children are excited about life. Therefore, we need to be excited about this life and the life that we have to look forward to in the kingdom of God. If we can’t accept God in the simple way children accepts their parents, then we can’t live our Christian life the way Jesus wants.

 

Our conference supports 24 children in Haiti just like Melody.  While I have never met them, I can imagine they are full of energy and life.  When hurricane Matthew hit our brethren in Haiti a short time ago, they did not let the hurdles and obstacles of life defeat them as their churches and homes were crushed.  Instead, they had the mentality of a child.  They understood that their Creator provides for them, that He is always worthy of our praise.

 

Today, I am inspired by the orphans in Haiti to play harder.  I am inspired to take each step one at a time, and remember that God sees me through each situation, no matter how big or small.  I am inspired to run the race with perseverance and consistency; not just choose to serve Him or trust Him when it is easy.  I am inspired to live every moment, whether I am alone in my thoughts, or surrounded by friends and family, for the glory and honor of God.

 

If you would like to support an orphan in Haiti with food, shelter, and education or donate towards hurricane relief, please follow this link.  Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber

 

Have Confidence!

1 Corinthians 15 58

We have come to the end of I Corinthians 15, also known as the Resurrection Chapter. The last few days we’ve had chunkier denser passages but today we end with just one verse:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Paul has explained a lot in the previous 57 verses, such as:

  1. The resurrection appearances of the Lord to many groups and individuals including Paul himself (3-8)
  2. The absurdity of denying the resurrection if you hold to the faith (12-19)
  3. Jesus being the prototype of those who have fallen asleep in him. Just as Jesus was raised, so too you and I will also at his return (20, 23)
  4. All those “in Christ” can and will share in the victories of Jesus and have life (22)
  5. Our bodies will be raised completely transformed and glorified and we will receive the gift of immortality. Because of this transformation through Jesus we are able to have access to God and entrance into his kingdom (42-50)
  6. At the resurrection event sin and death will finally and completely be defeated and those “in Christ” will experience victory made possible by God in and through Jesus (54-57)

Then Paul concludes, “therefore”. In light of the resurrection and its implications, this is how you you should live. Paul says four things: be steadfast, be immovable, abound in the work of the Lord, and know your work is not in vain in Jesus. I want to take a moment to look at each one briefly.

To be steadfast is to hold onto something tightly and to be without waiver. In light of Jesus’ resurrection, no adversity we face in this life should have the power to keep us from remaining in the faith and and stop us from being obedient. In the same vein, we should be immovable. Our hope and faith in Christ should be immovable with the reality of Jesus rising from the dead and God’s promise to those who are in Christ. The next phrase is a call for action. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back we should strive to work for the Lord. One, because we want to share the good news with all people and disciple them, and two, he will hold us accountable for the works we have done in the body, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Cor. 5.10). Lastly, Paul offers encouragement. Being in ministry can be a grind and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference at all. Sometimes you won’t see the fruit of your labor and someone else will. But you know who won’t forget or miss all the work you do and the fruit that comes from it? God and Jesus. Because God is faithful and Jesus is returning we can have confidence and assurance that our work is not in vain because even though no one may remember the work we did or see anything come from it, God and Jesus see it. And you will be rewarded as such when Jesus returns and you are given life.

Thank you for reading and live life in light of the resurrection reality.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

(Photo by Alice Railton of Lake Waubee at Camp Mack in Milford, IN)