Jump into the Water…You must be ‘Born Again’

John 3”3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Jump into the water…You must be ‘Born Again’

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be
an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from
his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much
attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he
attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and
the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.

The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he
turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his
arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body, was in
the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally
asked God to save him from his sins and come into his life.

As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned
the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

How faithful are you in telling your friends about the most
important Person in your life? Remember your witness will take place
through His strength and not yours. But it must start on our end with a
submissive heart.

Mat 4:19 “And He said to them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

 John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

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How Big is the One True God…

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men…”

HOW BIG IS THE ONE TRUE GOD

A little girl, on the way home from church, turned to her mother and
said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”

The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?”

The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are.
Is that true?”

“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.

“He also said that God lives within us. Is that true, too?”

Again the mother replied, “Yes, He comes into us when we accept
Him as our Savior.”

“Well,” said the girl. “if God is bigger than us and he lives in us,
wouldn’t he show through?”

I like that little girl’s way of putting it. If God lives in us, then
there’s no way of keeping Him from “showing through”.

That’s the essence of Christian living-living in such a way that people
around will see God in our lives. He’ll show through.

A simple question for today: Is God “showing through” in your life?

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

CHRISTians look Strange to our World…Why is that…

In our world today if you are a true Christian you will be seen as a strange bird and even viewed as hateful and narrow minded. First we must understand that the worlds definition of a Christian and God’s definition as recorded in His word the Bible differ greatly.

The world sees a Christian as anyone attending a church with the name of Jesus in its teachings. Many do not proclaim the whole word of God. The bible says a Christian does not involve the denomination you attend. Check it out for yourself by doing a word search of the Bible and you find not one of the denominations of the world. God’s definition is anyone from any country or race who is ‘born again’. For help in understanding what it means to be ‘born again’ check out the following;

  • The Gospel of John where Jesus tells a religious leader what it means
  • Ephians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, Galatians 2:16-21 where God tells us how many of our good deeds are requird to ‘born again’. Just of few of God’s thoughts on our lives and our deeds needed to be ‘born again’.
  • So, why are CHRISTians seen as strange to this world?
    • Rom 1:21-23 “…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
    • John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
  • What is the ministry of Biblical Christainity while on this earth?
    • Matt 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
    • Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
      • Salt seasons and points out sin. Darkness does not like to be exposed.
    • We are to be different understanding the vast majority of our world will choose the ways of the world in an attempt to restore the broken relationship with God that sin causes;
    • Matt 7:13-14 “”Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
  • Our world will consider Christians ‘Strange’ if we point out sin for what it is and do not do the same.
    • 2 Tim 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
    • Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of ”

So, do not feel bad this morning if our world hates or persecutes you when you stand up for Jesus and His truths. It very well may mean you are a true ‘born again’ disciple of Jesus and suffering because of it. Be of good courage because;

Romans 5:3 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;”

James 4:14 “…whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

Then comes eternity……

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”

HE IS RISEN……..

Forrest Gump and the Pearly Gates of Heaven…

I John 5:11-13a “And this is the record that God has given us eternal life and that life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God
that you may KNOW that you have eternal life…”

Forrest Gump at the Pearly Gates of Heaven

The day finally arrives: Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is
at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. The gates are closed,
however, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter says
“Well, Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot
about you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and
we’ve been administering an entrance examination for everyone.
The test is fairly short, but you need to pass before you can get
into Heaven.

Forrest responds, “It shore is good to be here St. Peter. I was looking
forward to this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. Sure hope
the test ain’t too hard; life was a big enough test as it was.”

St. Peter goes on, “Yes, I know Forrest but the test I have for you is
only three questions.

Here is the first: What days of the week begin with the letter T?
Second: How many seconds are there in a year?

Third: What is God’s first name?”

Forrest goes away to think the questions over. He returns the next
day and goes up to St. Peter to try to answer the exam questions. St.
Peter waves him up and says, “Now that you have had a chance to think
the questions over, tell me your answers.”

Forrest says, “Well, the first one-how many days in the week begin
with the letter “T”? Shucks, that one’s easy. That’d be Today and
Tomorrow.”

The Saint’s eyes open wide and he exclaims, “Forrest! That’s not what
I was thinking, but…..you do have a point, and I guess I didn’t
specify, so I give you credit for that answer.”

“How about the next one?” asks St. Peter. “How many seconds in a year?”

“Now that one’s harder,” says Forrest, “but I thunk and thunk about
that and I guess the only answer can be twelve.”

Astounded, St. Peter says, “Twelve! Twelve??! Forrest, how in Heaven’s
name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?”

Forest says “Shucks, there gotta be twelve: January second, February
second, March second……”

“Hold it,” interrupts St. Peter. “I see where you’re going with this,
and I guess I see your point, though that wasn’t quite what I had
in mind, but I’ll give you credit for that one, too. Let’s go on with
the next and final question: Can you tell me God’s first name?”

Forrest replied, “Andy.”

“OK, OK,” said a frustrated St. Peter, “I can understand how you came
up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the
world did you come up with the name of ‘Andy’ as the first name of
God?”

“Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,” Forrest replied. “I learned
it from the song….”Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells
me I am His own…”

St. Peter opened the gate and said: “RUN FORREST, RUN!!”

That was the humor. For the truth side there is a heaven and there is a hell. We will all frequent one of them for eternity? And of course the exam to get in is based on what we did with following God’s truth while on this earth. There are no exceptions so be very sure you are passing the test…………….here it is.

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, except a man be born again he cannot see the
kingdom of God.”

Titus 3:5a “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but by His mercy He saved us….”

Ephesians 2:8, 9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone would boast.”

So, when you leave this life what will God say to you? Enter or I never knew you…………….

Keep your Fork, the Best is yet to come…

I Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…

Keep Your Fork – the Best is yet to come…
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal
illness and had been given three months to live. So, as
she was getting her things “in order”, she contacted her
pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain
aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs
she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would
like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite
Bible.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to
leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very
important to her.

”There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
” What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.
” This is very important,” the woman continued . . .
”I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing
quite what to say . . .

”That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked.
”Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,”
said the pastor.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending
church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember
that when the dishes of the main course were being
cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,
’keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I
knew that something better was coming . . . like
velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
Something wonderful, and with substance!

”So, I just want people to see me there in that casket
with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder
’What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them:
’Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!’”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he
hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one
of the last times he would see her before her death.

But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of
heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was
coming. At the funeral people were walking by the
woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was
wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in
her right hand.

Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with
the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his
message, the pastor told the people of the conversation
he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also
told them about the fork and about what it symbolized
to her.

The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking
about the fork and he told them that they probably would
not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it
remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come . . .!

Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Of anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

God’s eye is on the Sparrow and me…

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The SPARROW at STARBUCKS – The song that silenced the cappuccino machine.

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth. For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right.

Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig – I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in during our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?”

“Well. … do you know any hymns?” Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.” She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing, “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?”

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

“I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get something’ to drink, just like you!”

But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”

“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.

” Why is that?”

“Well,” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.” Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual… “She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. “Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, remember, Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, The Disciples fell asleep while praying, And Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren’t the message, you are just the messenger.

Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

REQUEST FOR TRANSFER to Commander of Spiritual Armed Forces…

John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not
greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also
persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

REQUEST FOR TRANSFER to Commander of Spiritual Armed Forces…

To: Commander and Chief Spiritual Armed Forces, Jesus Christ

Dear Lord:

I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job. I here
with present my reasons:

I began my career as a private, because of the intensity of the battle
You have quickly moved me up in the ranks. You have made me an officer
and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility. There are many
soldiers and recruits under my charge. I am constantly being called upon
to dispense wisdom, make judgments, and find solutions to complex
problems. You have placed me able to function as an officer,
when in my heart I know I have only the skills of a private. I realize
that You have promised to supply all I would need for the battle.

But Sir, I must present You a realistic picture of my equipment. My
uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with tears and blood
of those I have tried to assist. The soles of my boots are cracked and
worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and encourage the
instructed troops. My weapons are marred, tarnished and chipped from
constant battle against the enemy.

Even the Book of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered
from endless use. The words are now smeared. You have promised You
would be with me throughout, but when the noise of the battle is so loud
and the confusion is so great, I can neither see nor hear You.

I feel so alone. I’m tired. I’m discouraged. I have Battle Fatigue. I
would never ask You for a discharge. I love being in Your service. But I
humbly request a demotion and transfer. I’ll file papers or clean
latrines. Just get me out of the battle–please, Sir.

Your Faithful, but tired, Warrior.


To: Faithful, but tired, Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces
Location: The Battlefield

SUBJECT: Transfer

Dear Soldier:

Your request for transfer has been denied. I here with present My reasons:

You are needed in this battle. I have selected you, and I will keep My
Word to supply your need. You do not need a demotion and transfer.
(You’d never cut it on latrine duty.) You need a period of “R&R”
–Renewal and Rekindling. I am setting aside a place on the battlefield
that is insulated from all sound and fully protected from the enemy. I
will meet you there and I will give you rest. I will remove your old
equipment and “make all things new.” You have been wounded in the
battle, My soldier. Your wounds are not visible, but you have received
grave internal injuries. You need to be healed. I will heal you. You
have been weakened in the battle. You need to be strengthened. I will
strengthen you and be your strength. I will instill in you confidence
and ability. My Words will rekindle within you and renewed love, zeal
and enthusiasm.

Report to Me tattered and empty. I will refill you.

Compassionately,

Your Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ

Author Unknown

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”