Sunday, March 31, 2013

Because of Your love

Happy Easter/Resurrection Sunday everyone!
I wanted to share with you my sermon notes from the Good Friday (the day when we remember Jesus' crucifixion) service.
I think we've all asked the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
We all hear stories about tragic things happening to people that just don't "deserve" it and maybe we've been those people. We just can't seem to understand why.
Pastor Brian said we should first divide that question into 2 questions...
Why do bad things happen?
To good people?
Let's find the answer for the first question...
Bad things happen because we live in a sinful world.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God because they wanted to be all powerful, sin entered the world. God didn't intend for it to be that way. He didn't want them to eat from the tree, but they did and that's when "bad things" made it's big entrance into this world.
Now for the second question...
Well this may come as a shock to you but there are no good people. Okay, so maybe you've never stolen or committed murder, that's great. However, I'm almost positive you have committed other sins like saying God's name in vain or dishonoring your father and mother. You know why I'm so sure of it? Because we are sinful creatures. We aren't perfect. We mess up. We may donate to charities and use our manners, but that doesn't mean we are "good". The only person who is good...truly good... is Jesus Christ.
Now that we've answered those questions, we can understand why bad things happen to "good"/or I'll say "decent" people, but what about Jesus?
Why did Jesus have to suffer such a painful death even though He was perfect?
One word...
He loves us so much that He sacrificed His life for us.
He was wrongly accused.
He was mocked.
He was beaten.
He was hung on a cross.
Not because it was fair (because it wasn't), but because He loves us.
This was His way of saving us. He put Himself in a place where we deserve to be...on the cross.
He didn't do it to manipulate us. He did it because He loves us.
What's even more amazing than the sacrifice and pain He endured for you and me is that He didn't stop there.
3 days after He was tortured, hung on a cross, and placed in a tomb, He rose again. So much is to be said for this amazing act of love...
He rose from the dead to show us that...
death has no power over Him
We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. ~Romans 6:9
nothing is impossible 
For nothing is impossible with God. ~Luke 1:37
He remembers our sins no more and forgives us
And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.~Hebrews 8:12
no matter our sins, He can make us new
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!~2 Corinthians 5:17
whoever believes will live forever with Him in paradise the way He intended
 I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?~John 11:25-26
This should make us want to jump up and down, praising God for the sacrifice and love He has covered us in.
Check out this song by Phil Wickham - "Because of Your Love"
 Don't forget to pray for the unreached people group of the day!
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

lost dog

You ever feel like a lost dog?
Alone and scared with no place to go?
Longing for food and shelter?
Or maybe you just don't feel wanted...even loved?

Check this story out...
Luke 15:1-7
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him (Jesus) to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So He told them this parable, saying, What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." 

The point is, you may feel like a lost dog/sheep, but the good news is, you don't have to have a sad ending, you can have a happy ending to your story.

Some people have kicked you to the side and have forgotten you, 
but Jesus has not forgotten you.
Some people may not want to be your friend, 
but Jesus wants you.
He didn't choose the popular crowd over you,
 but He's looking for you.
He's searching for you. 
He isn't going to give up after a few minutes or a few hours or a few days.
He won't give up ever because He wants to bring you home where you belong...with Him in Heaven.

So what do you do?
Are you going to run away from Him? That would be silly.
Are you going to run toward Him? That would be the best decision you could make.

The truth is, Jesus isn't coming back until all His sheep have heard about Him.
Matthew 24:14 says, " This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come."

If you are lost, I suggest that you run to Jesus.
He's waiting with open arms.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."

If you aren't lost and are secure in your faith in Christ, please tell people about it.
Invite them to church. Eat lunch with them. Give them a Bible. Pray.
Don't let lost sheep continue to be lost. Help them to find their way to the Shepherd.

Don't forget to pray for the unreached people group of the day!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stone thrower or stone dropper?

You see person curse out the cashier at the grocery store and
you automatically make a judgment call.
You turn your nose up at the man with dirty shoes and torn up shirt.
You criticize the mother who was just released from prison for beating her child.
Let's face it- we all judge. Does it make it right? No. It reminds me of a story...
John 8:1-11 - "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

I love this story. Watching The Bible miniseries part four, inspired me to write this post. I loved it when the Pharisees began to drop their stones, one by one. Jesus proves the point that no one is worthy to judge, only God. He reminds the Pharisees that they are not perfect, but also sin just like the adulteress.
How often are you holding the stone, ready to throw?
What makes us worthy to judge?
So before we pick up a stone, let's remind ourselves that we, too, are not perfect and have no right to judge anyone.
Let's drop our stones, instead of picking them up.
Don't forget to pray for the unreached people group of the day!
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Monday, March 25, 2013

a whole new way of suffering

Yesterday's sermon notes come from Pastor Gregg Matte's message.
He spoke about the similarities between Christ and Stephen.
Here's a little background on Stephen:
He was a jew and was chosen by the disciples to be one of the seven deacons.
He was very faithful and was one of the first martyrs of the Christian faith.
Acts 7:54-60 tells us of the martyrdom/stoning of Stephen.
54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
If you know about the death of Jesus Christ, does anything sound familiar?
-As Jesus hung on the cross, He looked up into Heaven.
-Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.
-Jesus called on God, giving Him his life.
-Jesus forgave the ones who crucified right before he died. 
So what can we learn from this? Why was Stephen's death so much like Jesus'?
Maybe it is to show us that we can be Christ-like during suffering. That's what God wants from us and here's how...
"Trust the truth when others lie."
"Be Christ like in times of sacrifice."
"Look to heaven in prayer." verse 55
"The crowd usually gets it wrong." verse 57
"Place eternity in God's hands." verse 59
"Forgive." verse 60
"Your trials bring others to trust." Influenced Saul/Paul's transformation and conversion because of Stephen's Christ-like death.
"Godly sacrifice brings heavenly celebration."
When we are Christ-like in our suffering, people notice and are affected in a positive way.
Bible reading plan:
Today - Deuteronomy 5-7
Tuesday - Deut 8-10
Wednesday - Deut 11-13
Thursday- Deut 14-16
Friday - Deut 17-20
Saturday - Deut 21-23
Don't forget to pray for the unreached people groups today!
Learn more here
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

fear and regret

I think most people would agree with me that a common fear is to live with regrets.
Maybe a person is nearing the end of his life here on earth and he regrets never going skydiving. 
Maybe a person is nearing the end of her life and she regrets never going to nursing school.
Maybe a couple regrets never traveling the world before starting a family.
I have secret that will insure that you will never have regrets...

In class, this past Tuesday, something the speaker said really stood out to me.
I thought I would share it with you.
Really ponder it.
Here it goes...

"You will never regret when you live by faith.
You will regret when you live by fear."
Go on ahead and read it one more time.

I have never thought of that way.
Have you?
If we live by faith, believing and obeying God's will...we will never regret.
You can't regret God's work.
He has a plan for your life and it's better than any plan you that you will ever come up with.
So you can trust that if you follow His will, your purpose in life will be fulfilled, God's glory will be revealed and you will live with no regrets.

If we live by fear, we will have regrets. No doubt.
On a surface level, if you really have the desire to skydive, but you're scared to follow through so you don't do will regret that at the end of your life.
On a deeper level, if you feel called to go overseas to spread the Gospel and you don't because you're will regret it. 

Living by faith isn't always easy. Putting aside your control and letting God have control can be pretty hard for us, humans. However, if living by faith gets hard, but you stick with it, God will surely give you joy in return. Sticking with it, is the key. 

Oswald Chambers says in his book, "My Utmost for His Highest", " Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. Let's apply that to our own circumstances. The things we try to avoid and fight against-tribulation, suffering, and persecution- are the very things that produce abundant joy in us. 'We are more than conquerors through Him' 'in all these things'; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn't know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, "I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation" (2 Corinthians 7:4). 

So it's rather simple, if you push past your fears and live by faith, you will live a life with zero regrets. You may not completely understand at times, but living by faith will create a regret-less life filled with abundant joy.

Which will you choose - fear or faith?

Don't forget to pray for the unreached people group of the day!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can you do me a favor?

You might have noticed something new to my page...
Notice it?
If not, look to the left of the's a blue box...yep there it is!
So here's the deal.
You may know that I'm taking the Perspectives class where we talk about fulfilling the Great Commission and where we fit in.
The class isn't just about being a missionary, but simply changing our mindset and looking outside of ourselves and our own little world and realize that there is a world out there that needs to know the good news of Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 28:10 Jesus tells the disciples and us, to go to the ends of the earth, teaching, baptizing and making disciples. God wants everyone, not just Americans or Africans, He wants everyone. All nations. All cultures. All ethnic groups. all people.
 In order for people to learn about this good news of grace, God wants to use you and me to spread it.
You may be thinking, "Chelsea, I am not going overseas. I have a career and family here. I'm not cut out to be a missionary."
I say, "Whoa, slow down. I'm not recruiting you to be a missionary, however, if that's what God is calling you to do, you need to do it, despite your concerns. When God calls you to do something, you better do it. It's a privilege to be called to further His kingdom and guess what? We are all called to tell people about Jesus. We just may not all be called to go overseas and that's perfectly okay, because surprisingly Christianity is growing faster in Africa and Latin America than it is here in America."
With that being said, there are still many unreached people groups that need to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So I'm asking you a favor...
Even if you're not called to go overseas to spread the Gospel, will you pray that others who are called will be obedient?
Will you pray that the hearts of the unreached people groups will be open?
Will you pray that these people will have visions of Jesus?
Will you pray that they will feel God's presence in everyday life through a sunset or a bountiful harvest or the birth of a baby?
Will you pray that these people and missionaries will be protected from harm?
Everyday that box will change to a different people group. Maybe you would like to commit to praying for one specific group for the rest of the month or year. Perhaps you would like to pray for a different people group each day. Either way, these people groups need to know the good news that is life changing. God hears our prayers and we don't need to jump on plane to make a difference, we can make a difference by lifting these people up in prayer.
If you want to learn more about unreached people groups, just click on the box on the left side. The Joshua Project is dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission and discovering the unreached/least-reached people groups.
Will you pray for these precious people right now?
Go know you want to.
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

"I am the worst..."

Do you ever beat yourself up? No, I don't mean do ever throw a punch at yourself, that would not be cool, but what I mean is, are you ever negative toward yourself? Maybe you feel like you can never do anything right or maybe you're constantly doubting your abilities. Maybe you simply just don't like who you are.

I've been there.
I think everyone has been there at some point in their lives.
Where negativity looms and doubt fills in- that's the place where Satan likes to creep in. He fills the spaces of our vulnerabilities with lies that only make ourselves question our existence and purpose.
It's not a good valley to be in.

So today in Sunday School, we were reading 1 Timothy and this passage (1 Timothy 12:16) stood out to me...
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."
Here the apostle Paul is writing to Timothy to instruct him in church leadership. Notice that Paul calls himself "the worst sinner".
Talk about beating yourself up! I'm sure he didn't know every single person along with every single sin committed, but he really believed he was the worst.
Guess what?
Although he committed many evil sins, including killing Christians, God still used him.
Instead of listening to Satan and all the lies he had up his sleeve,
Paul chose to listen to God and His call on his life.
For someone to believe he was the worst of sinners and was later transformed into one of God's most faithful servant, proves that God can use anyone for His glory.
In order to live out God's call in our lives, we must find our identity in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
In the sermon, he broke it down into parts and here are my notes:
"God made him who had no sin,,,
-Jesus was sinless, yet tempted in every way just like you and me.
-God isn't surprised when we sin. That's why He sent Jesus.
-Jesus was the "friend of sinners". Sin didn't keep Jesus from loving the sinner.
to be sin for us...
-All other religions are about what people must "do" to get to heaven, but Christianity says it's already "done". Eternal life is a gift through grace by faith.
-When Jesus died on the cross, He said "It is finished". He was the ransom for our sin.
so that in Him...
-John 14:6, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
-Jesus creates the way for us to spend eternity in Heaven.
We might become the righteousness of God."
- We gain forgiveness of sins, even though we do not deserve it, but it is because God loves us.
-God views us through Jesus.
With that being said, we need to find our identity in Christ.
It is because of what Jesus has done for us that we shouldn't beat ourselves up.
Beating ourselves up over our sins and letting Satan's lies penetrate our lives can be offensive to what Jesus died for us.
He didn't die for us to bury our head in our pillow everytime we mess up, but He died so that we would be able to pick ourselves up after we mess up and seek God's help to live the way He wants us to live without the dark cloud of guilt hovering over us.
Find your identity in Jesus Christ. Let Him be the center.
Check out this awesome video!
This week's reading plan:
Monday - Numbers 28-30
Tuesday - Numbers 31-32
Wednesday - Numbers 33-34
Thursday - Numbers 35-36
Friday - Deuteronomy 1-2
Saturday - Deuteronomy 3-4 
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Monday, March 11, 2013

God was with me...

I just have to say it's been wayyyyyy too long since I've written.
I've either been busy with work or I've been sick and my brain just hasn't been functioning like usual. Lyme problems.
Anyway, I'm back and I'm hoping to be back more!
My family and I have been watching "The Bible" series on the History channel. Have you seen it?
Maybe it's just me, but I've been pretty impressed. It's not like one of those corny Jesus movies where the actors are stiff and the scenery is fake. That's just my opinion though, maybe you would disagree and that's okay!
Anyway, I think that the series has done a good job for us visual learners to actually see the Bible story come alive, BUT I don't think that the series should take place of actually reading the Bible. This TV series is man-made and when things are man-made, flaws are sure to occur. The word of God (Bible) is THE word of God and nothing can get better than that. I hope and pray, however, that this TV series has found it's way to TV screens in the homes of those who are questioning the faith and has awakened a hunger to research more. I know as I was watching last night, I was thinking, "Oh I need to re-read that passage".
Last night, as I was watching the story of Samson and Delilah, King Saul, and David come alive, something stood out to me. It was a phrase that was being repeated by the different you know what it was?
"God was with me."
Whenever there was a discussion about something good such as when Delilah was asking why Samson was so strong, he would reply with... "God is with me"
when David went to King Saul with the proof of the 200 Philistines, he stated, "God was with me."
How often do we give the credit to God?
Instead, do we give all the glory to ourselves?
I won't answer for you, but I'll answer for me...
Most of the time, I'll bring glory to myself.
Not proud of it, but it's true.
Maybe you could agree with me.
They were so quick to say, "God was with me" and they didn't say it with their head down, kicking dirt, they said it with pride.
Why can't we do the same?
We get a raise at work.
Instead of saying, "I deserved it. I worked so hard for this,"
 why don't we say, "God was with me. He gave me the knowledge I need to do my job" ?
We run a marathon.
Instead of saying, "I trained so hard for this. I'm awesome,"
why don't we say, "God was with me. He gave me the strength and endurance to finish"?
The fact is everything good comes from God.
Not from us. We need God to do good.
James 1:17 says, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."
He is in the business of doing good.
That's just how He rolls or rules (corny, I know).
So when something good happens in our lives, we should give all the credit to God and say "God was with me."
1 Corinthians 1:31 says, "So that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
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