Is This Really God’s Will for My Life?

Knowing and Doing God’s Will

There are many misunderstandings about knowing and doing God’s will. Many people leave churches and make major moves to other cities without really knowing if it’s God’s will.

God’s will might take me where I don’t want to go. Some people think, “If I surrender to God’s will, I might have to go to Africa and be a missionary. God doesn’t want to make your life miserable…He wants your heart. Just like Abraham’s willingness to offer his son. God made an escape for Abraham because He saw Abraham’s heart. Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

God makes His will only clear to certain people. God has a will for every Christian… whether you’re a missionary or a secretary — a pastor or a plumber. God has a will for everyone. Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

It must be God’s will if other Christians agree or disagree with me. Just because other Christians agree with you on something, does not necessarily mean that God is leading. It can be misleading to seek God’s approval for man’s choices or decisions. Think of the church voting on Matthias to replace Judas. We never hear another word about Matthias. God had a plan to replace Judas with Paul. Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

It must be God’s will for me to move because I would be more suitable and more useful in this new situation. When the Lord called Moses, he insisted he wouldn’t be suited for the job because he had no speaking ability. Some Christians can be useful no matter where God puts them. He doesn’t necessarily put us where we will be the most useful, He puts us in a place where we can best glorify Him. Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

It must be God’s will for me to move so that I can be more successful and have a greater chance for advancement. Think about it…the Lord called Ezekiel to do a special job. He told him that his efforts would be in vain and that he would look like a failure. God’s will may require you to make financial and personal sacrifices to accomplish His will. Remember God focuses His will on His purpose.

If I were in God’s will, people would love me and appreciate me. When you’re in God’s will, people’s love, hate or indifference has nothing to do with your going or staying. Luke 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

God’s will is taking me to a place where there is a greater need. God’s leading has nothing to do with a supposed need. God told Philip to leave the crowds of Samaria and go minister to one individual on an isolated road between Jerusalem and Gaza.

How Can I Know if God Is Leading?

God’s will may not always be clear from start to finish. Usually it’s one step at a time. Maybe that is the reason God tells us to walk by faith and not by sight.

God’s will may require you to replace another Christian who gets out of His will. We do not go looking for God’s will; it comes looking for us. We do not find God’s will; we find ourselves in it; it’s a way of life; it’s being consistently led by the Spirit. Hudson Taylor said, “Our best decisions are when they are left up to God.”

Paul encouraged the Christians at Galatia to walk in the Spirit. There is a big difference between self-leading, Satan leading, and God’s leading.

(1) Self- leading: If you’re leading yourself, you decide by your emotions. Your urges are not consistent, and they fluctuate. One day, you think it’s God’s will…the next day it’s not God’s will.

(2) Satan’s leading: If Satan is leading, he will always make you think it’s urgent. No time to think. No time to pray. It’s now or never. If you delay, it will be too late.

(3) God’s leading: When the Lord is leading, He will give you time. It’s not urgent, but the impression is there… it never goes away. The Lord is patient. He gives you space. There’s time to think, talk, and even disagree with it. He hopes you will go along with His will, but you have the choice to say no. God’s leading is not complicated or confusing. He doesn’t want to make it difficult for you. He always has your best interests in mind.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

We must trust the Lord wholeheartedly and not depend on our own intellect or emotions!

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Points for a Pastor’s Wife

A Pastor’s Wife Should…

1. Be able to think quickly. The pastor’s wife must learn to think through various situations in a moment. She has to realize that the reputation of her husband and future of the church is always at stake.

Special Note: If you’re a pastor’s wife and attend church business meetings, remain silent. Many pastors’ wives have destroyed their testimonies by speaking out in anger during business meetings.

2. Be able to remain strong during difficult times. The pastor’s wife must learn to stay strong when it looks like everyone else is running away from problems. During controversies and trials, she needs to stay calm. In the church, finances might be low one year and high the next. Her husband and the women of the church look to her for stability.

3. Be able to keep confidences. The pastor’s wife usually knows things that aren’t yet ready to be released or talked about publicly. She must learn to answer questions and address issues of importance to people without giving out confidential information.

4. Be able to release control and delegate. The pastor’s wife usually wears many hats. Some pastors want their wives to oversee many different areas of the ministry…office, nursery, children’s classes, ladies’ ministries, or if she has small children, he may want her to stay home and raise their children. If she is going to be a good leader, she must be able to delegate. In order to see other ministries grow, the pastor’s wife must trust other women and take risks with them.

5. Be able to see the spiritual gifts in women and help them find places to serve in the church. The pastor’s wife can’t always just focus on her own agenda of ministry. She must balance all the needs of the church. Since the church is built with many gifted people, she should look for opportunities to use them.

Review the following gifts and look for women in your churches who might be gifted in particular areas to serve:

• Gift of Prophecy-she is someone who is able to boldly proclaim God’s Word.
• Gift of Serving-she is someone who sees jobs in the church not getting done, and she uses available resources to get those jobs done.
• Gift of Teaching-she is someone who has the ability to communicate God’s Word so that women understand His precepts and begin to grow spiritually.
• Gift of Exhorting-she is someone who is a real encourager. She is able to comfort and help others be all that God wants them to be.
• Gift of Ruling and Leading-she is someone who stands before other women by motivating them to get involved in serving.
• Gift of Giving-she is someone who shares liberally and cheerfully the resources God has given her…whether it’s her time or money.
• Gift of Mercy-she is one who is sensitive toward those who are suffering…physically, mentally, or emotionally. She is able to feel genuine sympathy with their misery.

6. Be able to make unpopular decisions. The pastor will undoubtedly make decisions that are unpopular. When these decisions are made, some members take it out on the pastor’s wife, causing her to experience feelings of loneliness.

7. Be able to handle conflicts in the church. The pastor’s wife can’t hide under the bed and wish that all the problems would go away. Sometimes conflicts are healthy and bring about spiritual changes in the lives of their members.

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Devotion: Reflecting Christ’s Image

Reflections of the Savior
Ladies, here is the devotion I gave at our Ladies Luncheon May 12, 2018

No matter where we are or what we do, our lives must mirror our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Scripture tells us 2 Cor. 3 that we are epistles of the living God. That Scripture is telling us that we are actual letters that the world is reading…they are watching the way we live our lives…how we treat others…how we talk to them.

2 Corinthians 3:18 describes God’s purpose for us as Christians: “We all… are [being] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

God’s purpose is fulfilled in us only when we are becoming more like Him. Christ-likeness isn’t about what I do for the Lord, but about how I’m being transformed into His likeness.”

Reflecting His likeness means that I should be unlearning all my old ways of thinking and doing, and begin learning new ways by allowing Him to reflect His characteristics through me.

God doesn’t just want us to have a revelation of Christ, but He wants us to be a reflection of Him. The question is: How can I be a reflection of Christ?

1. We mirror the image of Christ when we are genuine. When others see that we are genuine, they will see Christ’s real love through us. Nothing turns people away quicker than being a phony or a hypocrite.

Think about the women who have made the greatest impact on you. For me, it was women who I felt comfortable around…women I could pour my heart out to, and women I knew that they had genuine care and concern for me.

2. We mirror the image of Christ when we are unselfish. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Many times we are guilty of setting our own agendas and schedules, and we fail to make room for our sisters who are hurting or just need some encouragement. If we are to mirror the character of Christ, we must be willing to be unselfish with our time and our resources.

3. We mirror the image of Christ when we are sensitive and full of sympathy. Sensitivity is the ability to get beneath the surface and understand what a person is really saying or thinking.

2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

4. We mirror the image of Christ when we are satisfied with who we are. Each one of us is created in His image. He has given us each of us a different personality. No one can walk the path that has been chosen for you. We are not to compare ourselves with each other. God shapes and molds each of us into what He desires for us to look and be like.

Psalm 139:13-14 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

We must view each other from a biblical perspective. Women, we will never be satisfied with who we are if we place our satisfaction in our possessions, performance, and appearance.

Possessions- The world programs us to think that we will be satisfied in things. Matthew 6:19 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If I just had a better house, car, clothes, ….

Performance-The world tells us we will be satisfied if we perform better than others. If we are productive and have an important position…this will satisfy us.

Appearance-The world conditions us that if we stay beautiful and youthful…this will satisfy us. Think about this…if a beautiful woman receives praise all her life for her beauty, she will be devastated when she begins to age and her wrinkles come…when she loses the praise of others, she loses her satisfaction with herself.

God’s Word has the power to transform our mind and bring to light any darkness that is in our hearts. By reading and meditating on His Word, it develops our faith and personal holiness and helps us learn to see where Satan has placed lies in our minds.

5. We mirror the image of Christ in how we handle our trials. We all face different issues, struggle with sin, and past hurts of varying degrees. Satan wants to use these things to hinder our ability to live the life God desires for us. The world is watching us.

God tells us not to think it strange when we experience trials. He will allow these trials in our lives to conform us to His image. Why:
• To prepare us so that we may be able to comfort others.
• To prepare us for future service…Joseph Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
• To give us a bigger view of God. Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
• To build our faith. My faith continues to grow as I look back at the ways God has answered my prayers and how He has worked in the life of our family.
• To purify our walk. There are times that you get so burdened down with daily duties that you begin to serve the Lord out of routine and not a true love for Him. It’s usually during those times that God has to send something into our lives to help purify our walk with Him. He helps us to refocus on Him and His purpose for our lives. Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
• To remove any pride or boasting. I think there is a tendency in all of us at times to think too highly of ourselves. Human nature sometimes causes us to assume the worst in others and the best in ourselves. God has to send things into our lives to help remove pride or boasting so that we may be more useful to Him. II Corin. 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
• To prove our real love for the Lord to Satan. I don’t really understand it, but Satan has access to heaven and the very throne of God. (Job 1:7) Satan reminds God about all of our failures. He says, “Look at Your saints; see what hypocrites they are. Judge them!” But Praise the Lord, Jesus stands at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us.” Ps. 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

The Reflection in This Mirror

The reflection in this mirror…is that really me?
Or is it an image of what I want you to see?
The reflection in this mirror…shows me as a wife and a mother…
But there have been some days…I would just like to be another.
The reflection in this mirror…at times leaves my image distorted.
Have my failures and successes really been accurately reported?
The reflection in this mirror…is that really me?
In the chamber of my heart…what do I really want to see?
The reflection in this mirror…this is what I want it to be…
Growing and changing into an image that is acceptable to Thee. Read the rest of this entry

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Reading the Bible

Unknown Riches
Many years ago an old man living in New Jersey discovered about $5,000 in a family Bible. The bank notes were scattered throughout the Book. In 1874, the aunt of this man died, and one clause of her will was as follows:

“To my beloved nephew, Steven Marsh, I bequeath my family Bible, and all it contain, with the residue of my estate after my funeral expenses and just and lawful debts are paid.”

The estate amounted to a few hundred dollars, which he soon spent. Because this nephew’s only support was a small pension from the Government, he lived in poverty for the next 35 years. That precious Bible with thousands of dollars in it, was always within his reach. He would pass it by and look at it, but not once did he pick it up to read it.

At the end of his life, while packing his trunk to move in with his son, he discovered the unknown riches. What thoughts of regret must have come to his mind. If he had only opened the Bible years ago, he then might have used the money to great advantage. Instead the treasure lay idle for 35 years.

Although this is a sad story, there is something sadder than this man’s experience. It is the neglect of reading the Bible by God’s people. Our God has given His people a costly treasure of His own Words. In the Bible, we find the riches of God’s Wisdom and Knowledge for life…yet these riches are unknown and unused by many.

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It Depends on How You Look at Your Circumstances

A man pulled into a gas station on the outskirts of town. As he filled his tank, he remarked to the attendant, “I’ve just accepted a job in town. I’ve never been in this part of the country. What are the people like?”

“What are the people like where you came from?” the attendant asked.

“Not so nice…in fact, they can be quite rude,” the man replied.
The attendant shook his head. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll find the people in this town the same way.”

Just then another car pulled into the station. “Excuse me,” the driver called out. “I’m just moving to this area. Is it nice here?”
“Was it nice where you came from?” the attendant inquired.

“Oh, yes! I came from a great place. The people were friendly, and I hated to leave.”

“Well, you’ll find the same to be true of this town.”

“Thanks!” yelled the driver as he pulled away.

“So what is this town really like?” asked the first man, now irritated with the attendant’s conflicting reports.

The attendant just shrugged his shoulders. “It’s all a matter of perception. You’ll find things to be just the way you think they are.”

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Why People Don’t Give to Missions?

Ladies, I will speaking at a Faith Promise Conference next week. Here’s a devotion I have prepared. I hope it is a blessing for you, and you might be able to use it in your church.

Fifty two years ago my husband and I began tithing. We learned that tithing meant giving the first ten percent of our gross resources back to God. We understood that according to the Bible, our first fruits, the tithe (ten percent), was the amount that we gave directly to the Lord to acknowledge His ownership and stewardship over our lives.

Through the years, as we listened to pastors and teachers teach principles of good stewardship, we began to understand that everything we own belongs to God, and we are to be faithful stewards of everything He gives us.

A few years after we were saved, we attended our first Faith Promise Conference. As baby Christians, we made our first Faith Promise commitment of $5.00 a week. We understood that our Faith Promise Offering was not part of our tithe, but this was to be an amount above our tithes. Every year since that first conference, we have increased our Faith Promise commitments. Several years ago, we struggled with the amount that we should be giving to missions. We both prayed about it, and the Lord gave us peace about giving a designated amount for each year that we have been saved.

Many Christians fail to see God miraculously provide for them because they have never been taught the spiritual disciplines of living by faith and being good stewards of all their resources.

Today one of the great sins of American Christians is consumerism. While others around the world are dying without Christ, Americans are buying things they want, but they do not need. People will cut corners in order to get the best house, the biggest toy or the fullest bank account. Christians who joyfully tithe and give sacrificial offerings are very rare today.

Isaiah had some convicting things for me to hear. Although the following scripture is directed specifically at the women of Israel, it can also apply to us today.

Isaiah 3:16-26 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

These women were more concerned about their…earrings, bracelets, veils, tiaras, head dresses, anklets, sashes, shawls, perfume bottles, charms, signet rings, nose rings, fine robes, capes, cloaks, purses, mirrors, and linen garments…than about their God.

God told them, “Because you are concerned about these things, I will send diseases as punishment for your pride and lewdness”.

Could He be telling us, “I am sending poverty and distress to you because you care more about your clothes, your shoes, your purses, and your jewelry than you care about Me?”

There are many reasons that people don’t give to missions today. If you look at statistics, people spend more money on fast food, tobacco products, candy, pets, toys, games, entertainment, cable bills, movies, movie rental, and cell phones than they do giving to missions.

What are some of the reasons Christian fail to give to Missions?

1. They don’t realize how important it is to their faithfulness in Christian walk.
2. They don’t realize that it’s a blessing to give and delivers them from selfishness.
3. They don’t realize how essential it is to their happiness and holiness.
4. They believe that all they have belongs to themselves. They earned it. They worked hard, studied hard in school and applied themselves in order to prosper. What they fail to realize is that God gave them the power to make wealth, the brains to learn, the training and motivation to work hard. (Duet 8:17-18)
5. They have a lack of faith and think they can’t afford to give.
6. They really don’t love the Lord! You can tell how much someone is loved by how much someone else is willing to spend on them.

Of course, we should never give out of guilt, but we should give by grace. Giving hearts start when we comprehend how much Jesus loved us. He traded heaven and its glorious perfection for this earth, confined to a human body to experience a painful crucifixion. Only when we fully understand this fact will our hearts be changed into giving hearts. Truly grace will motivate our giving.

When the Macedonians Christians heard about a need, their thinking was so saturated with the thought of Christ becoming poor for them that they desperately pleaded for the privilege to give.

God has implanted in every believer a desire to give. Some respond and some don’t. Some are afraid to give because they are afraid they won’t have enough…afraid they will have to give up something that they enjoy.

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Sunday School Teacher’s Ideas

I was looking through my files this week and came across some great notes I took when I was in college. Hope these notes help you.

1. Provoke your student’s interest
• Use a variety of methods in teaching
• Use the cleverest way possible to present lessons.
• Use drama to make story effective (Jesus girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples)
• Don’t read from manual or book
• Make your material exciting
• Use object lessons (Jesus did) He showed Himself as the Bread of Life, As the Good Shepherd…

2. Get ideas by exploring books
• Visual Aid Encyclopedia, Eleanor Done, Regal Books
• Roy Garn, The Magical Power of Emotional Appeal
• Ethel Barret, Storytelling Made Easy
• Marie Chapman, Yelling for Help
• Herman Hornell, Kregal; Teaching Techniques of Jesus
• Howard Hendricks, The Seven Laws of Teaching
• Cheryl Fawcett, Understanding People: Ministry To All Stages of Life

3. Don’t use the same method all the time…”Variety is Spice of Life”. Use things that:
• Create an interest and a desire to know.
• Create a need for the Bible to have real value for their lives.
• Teach them how they can forgive others when they have offended them.
• Teach them how their tongues can keep them from getting me into trouble and how to get victory in their lives.
• Develop within them a curiosity about their souls, their purpose of life, and their lives beyond death.
• Teach them how to praise and encourage others.
• Teach them the dangers of being critical of others.

4. Teacher must realize how important their teaching techniques and personalities are. (Example: Jerry was a student who had not really been interested in Sunday school until promotion day…he got a new teacher who showed a real interest in him and the class. Because of this new teacher, the student began getting excited about the Lord, His Word, and his service for the Lord.)

• Rewards are important…Jesus offered heaven…Paul pressed on toward the prize.
• Don’t use the same old method year after year. (We remember 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we do).
• Send “Take home papers” with the students.
• Ask thought provoking questions.
• Tell part of the details of the story without telling the characters in the story.
• Use a recorded version, complete with sound effects.
• Sometimes taste can be introduced like a food in the story (pomegranates, figs).
• Continued story (call on one student to continue, then he calls on another).
• Nose; fragrance of God’s flowers; distinguish them from artificial ones.

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2019 Goals for Sunday School Teachers

2019 is a new year. As teachers, it’s important to shepherd the students you have in your classes. Let’s do our very best this year to keep in contact with visitors and those who attend every week.

Here are a few suggestions to help you shepherd your students.

1. Send them birthday, friendship, and encouragement cards.

2. Visit their school programs.

3. Take their pictures and post them in classroom.

4. Take them on visitation with you.

5. Have a birthday party once a month and celebrate the ones who have a birthday that month. Parties can be at church, at home, or at pizza parlor.

6. Help students MEMORIZE Scriptures. Reward them for their achievements and announce their achievements in services.

8. Call them each week just to keep in touch with them.

9. Ask them to help straighten up your class area before and/or after class; reward them for their efforts.

10. Remember Time = LOVE.

11. Take one at a time to McDonalds to get to know about him and his interests.

12. Let the achievers decorate your class room as a reward/incentive.

Sunday School teachers have the opportunity to be the GREATEST INFLUENCE in a child’s life outside of their own parents. Remember you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

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Christmas Devotion

Dear Ladies: I prepared this devotion a few years ago. Feel free to use it.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is here again… of Christmas. Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, and memories of the music on the radios and in the stores that we hear…but will it really seem like Christmas for everyone.

For some people this year will be a time of sorrow because they might have lost someone who was very dear to them. For others, this will be a miserable time because they don’t have money to buy gifts for their family. Yet for others, it will be a gloomy time for many sons and daughters who are serving in the military in a far-away place and wishing they were home.

If people only think that Christmas is gifts, lights, cards, snow, and memories, they will be sadly disillusioned and disappointed if they don’t experience those things.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Hundreds of years after Isaiah died, his prophecy was fulfilled through Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine Matthew’s excitement when he wrote, Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The people who lived during Isaiah’s time and Matthew’s time experienced many of the same things we are experiencing today…political upheaval, natural disasters, and failed leadership. There are preachers and godly Christians still trying to tell people about a Messiah who will give them peace, but just like people who lived during the Old Testament and New Testament periods, people today rebel and don’t want God telling them what to do. Malachi 3:12-16

But the prophets faithfully proclaimed God’s words. Those who listened and believed were encouraged. They knew that no matter how bad things got, God had a plan. In the prophecies, they saw God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness. They understood that one day God would send a child to save them from their sins.

As we read the Bible today, it’s like we’re standing on the top of a mountain looking down at the past and the future of God’s people. We are able to see God’s plan unfolding right before our eyes.

1. Wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:6,7) Many countries are building up massive arsenals of conventional and nuclear weapons. In addition to potential nuclear war, we have war we face every day with terrorists.

2. Famines, Pestilence, Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7,8) And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Food supplies are low in many countries because of floods and droughts. Infectious diseases are spreading faster around the globe than ever before. Earthquakes are increasing everywhere.

3. Deceivers who claim to follow Jesus…” Mt. 24:4,5 At the end of the Church Age, many people will be teaching things that are not consistent with the Bible and will deceive many. Churches are falling away from sound Biblical teachings. The goal of most churches today is to increase church attendance. This is put ahead of the authority of the Bible. The Emerging Church has become so pervasive that most of them tolerate abortion (murder), fornication (premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality) and almost any other violation of God’s law

4. People of Israel return to their land…Amos 9:13-15 The LORD tells His people … I will bring my people back to My land from other nations…they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them. (Ezekiel 37:21,22)

During the last 130 years Jews from 108 nations have migrated to the land of Israel. Israel has successfully defended itself against numerous Arab attacks. It has turned a desert into an agricultural success, and its technology industry exports cutting edge innovations. Today, Israel’s population is over 7 million. In 2018, it will celebrate its 70th anniversary…many of her Arab neighbors hate Israel and want to “wipe it her the map”.

5. Increased wickedness and love of pleasure. (Matthew 24:12) Today people are living primarily for themselves and their own happiness. The idea of denying themselves, taking up their crosses daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23) is a foreign concept. What TV and movies show as “normal” has affected our values. Couples live together outside marriage. This leads to unwanted pregnancies and blood sacrifice (murder) of millions of innocent, helpless children by abortion.

6. Strong delusion…God will send a strong delusion and people will believe lies. (2 Th. 2:11)

The primary focus of the deception is through the media (the Prince of the Power of the Air) Deceptive ideas promoted on TV and movies keep people from believing the Gospel. The media lulls many people into a false sense of right and wrong.

7. One world government… Daniel 2:40. God will send a strong delusion. Most religions expect a savior or a man who will bring world peace, justice, and unity. Muslims are waiting for the Mahdi or the 12th Imam. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that his mandate is to pave the way for the coming of this Islamic messiah. Buddhists are waiting for the Buddha of compassion, Maitreya, or a world teacher and unifier, the 5th and coming Buddha of the present era. Hindus are waiting for their completer and savior, Kalki, the name of Vishnu in his tenth and last avatar. According to the Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions, “The tenth and last avatar has not yet appeared.

But what will happen? A false prophet will emerge to assist the world ruler and claim to be their savior. (Revelation 13:11-15)

8. Technology will control the world… Revelation 13:16-18) Today, think how you react when you lose your debit or credit cards…you panic! People will be convinced that it will be much safer to receive an implantable RFID chip or some form of high tech tattoo on the right hand or forehead than carry around cards or cash.

Because we see these things happening, we know God’s truth, and we understand His plan for the future, we should make this season even more special. Here are a few ideas to make this season more special.

• Avoid making this season commercial, expensive, hectic, pressured, impersonal, and materialistic.

• Spend time making memories with your families. It is sad that today many old traditions have been replaced with moneymaking events. Years ago it was more important to play games and sing with their families than to take them to sporting events or shopping trips to decorated malls.

• Don’t think you have to make Christmas an elaborate and expensive production. The world wants you to think that if you spend more and do more, you will get more satisfaction.

A survey was taken by talking with children, parents, and child specialists and the survey revealed that children really three basic things for Christmas:

1. Relaxed and loving time with the family. The greatest need of all children at Christmas–just like at any time of the year–is the assurance that they are very much wanted and loved by their parents.
2. Balanced attitude toward gifts. Watch any child plow through a huge stack of gifts on Christmas morning, and then look he will look around the room…it this all? He acts as if he has lost his best friend. Why? Because all his focus has been on getting gifts.
3. An evenly paced holiday season. Today, the commercial interests pack up their special decorations and holiday music on December 26 because there is no more chance to sell. One mother found her daughter crying in the closet on Christmas Day–just after her daughter had opened all the gifts that she had requested. The mother asked her daughter, “What’s the matter?” Her little girl replied, “If this is all there is to Christmas, why did I have to wait so long?”

Here are a few ideas to help make your Christmas more relaxed and evenly-paced.

Hold off doing important family traditions until a week or so before Christmas. Dec 10: Do not get your Christmas music out until Dec. 10.
Dec 15: Put a wreath on your front door
Dec 20: Put up your tree
Dec 25: Save your favorite traditions for this day

Strong family traditions are important because they give children the opportunity to do something they enjoy year after year. Believe it or not, they give children great comfort and security. When everything is their lives seem disrupted by the holiday season–school is out, their parents are extra-busy, and everyday routines are not the same…children enjoy having well-defined traditions to hold on to. Traditions let them know exactly how the season will unfold and bring back memories of past Christmases. Here are a few ideas.

FAMILY TRADITIONS
1. First one out of bed puts on the Christmas music
2. Prepare the same holiday food your family really enjoys
3. Display your Christmas cards
4. Make your Christmas gifts
5. Play games, sing carols by candlelight, pray together, and just have fun!
6. Make a recording of each year activities. Have a child sing, play a song on the piano, or read a verse or quote a poem. Play recording back the next year.
7. Divide Christmas gifts by givers instead of receivers. One at a time each giver gets to take a gift to its receiver. This custom keeps the focus on giving instead of receiving.
8. Read Luke’s accounts of the Christmas story.
9. Request the name of a person in a nursing home without family or adopt a needy family.
10. On Jan 1 place your basket of Christmas cards on the table. Before or after each meal, a family member draws out a card and offers a prayer for that person or family. You could even drop a note to the family saying, “Thank you for your Christmas card. We read it today, March 6, and we prayed for you.
11. Be a witness to others by inviting adult friends and children’s friends to your home to share a December evening of dinner or dessert. Plan songs, games, and read Scripture. (To give others an example of Christ’s love and the atmosphere of love in your home)
12. Cut your own tree.
14. Hang Joy stockings during the month of December. Each family member puts his thoughts, prayers, and love notes in the “joy stockings”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, pull the notes out and read them.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the wonder and beauty of Christ’s birth, I commit myself to the following:
1. To find people who are less fortunate than my immediate family and give to those who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways that presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

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Are We Living Intentionally?

Whether we are old or young, we all have to deal with our own character defects. It might be our bitterness, our selfishness, or our pride. When we were young, we tried to cover up those character defects with our makeup and clothes, our natural abilities, or our personalities. As we get older, those outward things fade away. If we have not sanctified those defects in our younger years, those defects will become more pronounced and visible during our senior years.

There are days when I see my own short comings, temptations, and struggles and wonder to myself…will I make it to the end of my life more sanctified than when I started?

I look around and see other pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who gave up living the Christian life. Because of selfishness, greed, and thoughts, “I deserve better than this.” They start searching outside their marriages, families, and ministries for easier and more prosperous lives…ultimately these women lose their ministries and testimonies.

Although I have my own temptations and struggles, what a joy it is to watch older pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who have stayed faithful into their senior years. Listening to their testimonies and seeing them stay faithful to the Lord all the way to the end is such an encouragement to me.

Ladies, if we don’t live intentionally, our days become weeks, our weeks become months, our months become years, and our years become decades…then before you know it…our lives are over.

We have all watched Christian women, who over the course of their lives, fail to get more spiritual. They become more narrow, more bitter, more selfish, more whiny, more fearful, and more petty. But Praise the Lord, I’ve seen other women, who over the course of their lives, become more mature, more godly, more gracious, more dependent on the Lord and His blessing on their lives.

This morning, let’s determine to live our lives intentionally. Let’s set our eyes on Christ and press on to become more like Him.

Our prayer today should be…“Lord, by Your grace, help us to be more godly and gracious as the years go by. Help us to be the kind of women that encourage others as we grow older. We don’t want to just drift through our Christian lives. Help us live intentional about the way to the end for You. Although there are days in all of of our lives when we have things to do; places to go; people to check on, lessons to prepare, work to do, cards to send, emails and texts to answer… help us live the remainder of our years intentionally for You. Help us to become more gracious and kind to everyone all the way to the end.”

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