From Gary... Are you ready?

I can only wonder where this picture came from or when it was taken.  Honestly, I can not even imagine being there on-stage in front of all those people.  Not because of the people themselves, but because I never learned to read music, and playing an instrument, well- not me!!!  Those that will fill those chairs for the orchestra will be "in the spotlight" and every eye in the house will be on THEM!!!  Like it or not, we are all on stage though, and the following is the "why" of it...

 Hebrews, Chapter, 11
 1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.  2 For by this, the elders obtained testimony.  3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible.  4 By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had testimony given to him that he was righteous, God testifying with respect to his gifts; and through it he, being dead, still speaks.  5 By faith, Enoch was taken away, so that he wouldn’t see death, and he was not found, because God translated him. For he has had testimony given to him that before his translation he had been well pleasing to God.  6 Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.  7 By faith, Noah, being warned about things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared a ship for the saving of his house, through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.  8 By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out to the place which he was to receive for an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he went.  9 By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.  10 For he looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  11 By faith, even Sarah herself received power to conceive, and she bore a child when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised.  12 Therefore as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as innumerable as the sand which is by the sea shore, were fathered by one man, and him as good as dead.  13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.  15 If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return.  16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 

  17  By faith, Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received the promises was offering up his one and only son;  18 even he to whom it was said, “In Isaac will your seed be called”;   19 concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead.  20 By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come.  21 By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.  22 By faith, Joseph, when his end was near, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave instructions concerning his bones.  23 By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.  24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,  25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time;  26 accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.  27 By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith, he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them.  29 By faith, they passed through the Red Sea as on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to do so, they were swallowed up.  30 By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.  31 By faith, Rahab the prostitute, didn’t perish with those who were disobedient, having received the spies in peace.  32 What more shall I say? For the time would fail me if I told of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets;  33 who, through faith subdued kingdoms, worked out righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, grew mighty in war, and caused foreign armies to flee.  35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  36 Others were tried by mocking and scourging, yes, moreover by bonds and imprisonment.  37 They were stoned. They were sawn apart. They were tempted. They were slain with the sword. They went around in sheep skins and in goat skins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated  38 (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, mountains, caves, and the holes of the earth.  39 These all, having had testimony given to them through their faith, didn’t receive the promise,  40 God having provided some better thing concerning us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Hebrews, Chapter 12
 1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.  4 You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin;  5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which reasons with you as with children, 
“My son, don’t take lightly the chastening of the Lord,
nor faint when you are reproved by him;
  6 For whom the Lord loves, he chastens,
and scourges every son whom he receives.”

  7  It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn’t discipline?  8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children.  9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?  10 For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.  11 All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby.  12 Therefore lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees,  13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that which is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, ...
I am not a prophet.  I do not know what the future may bring for anyone, even myself.  I do know that today, Christians are once again being challenged for what they believe and sometimes that takes the form of all sorts of persecutions.  Many in the past (Hebrews, Chapter 11) have gone those problems and we are certainly no better than they.  We are on stage (Hebrews, Chapter 12) and EVERYONE IS WATCHING.  Knowing this, let us put away every obstacle (of sin) and believe and act as we should.  It is time for the spectacle to start... are you ready???

From Ben Fronczek... Faith (Part 3)

Faith  (Part 3)

Opening Reading: Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Many times when we think about or talk about great faith we think about accomplishing those great tasks in life, maybe you even think about those champions of faith in the Bible like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and some of those New Testament characters like Paul.
But it seems to me that God has given us faith for all kinds of occasions, for the monumental challenges of life, for the fiery darts that may come our way, even the ability to believe what most people do not about God, Jesus, salvation, Heaven and other spiritual things.

But there is also the type of faith that we need for everyday living; the faith we need sometimes to get out of bed in the morning to do what we have to do, faith to buy what we need to survive or even bigger items like cars and homes, to go into debt and have the faith that we will be able to pay those bills. We also need faith to do our jobs or run our businesses. We need a degree faith as we relate to others so that we can trust them. We need faith to keep our marriages going smoothly. And faith to raise our kids, even when we send them off to school where they are in the care of others in this crazy world.

Faith in our daily life is very, very important, and it is necessary if we want to eliminate worry, stress and anxiety, and have peace of mind to enjoy everyday life.

I am here today to tell you that we need to make it even more of a habit to pull out or exercise our faith  (trusting in God, even trusting in others) and stop doubting, and stop worrying about every little thing. Trusting God and having faith that He is in control leaves no room for worry or anxiety to take over your life.

And here you may say, “But Ben, you don’t know what my life is like. You don’t know all the responsibilities I have. You don’t know how many bills I have. You don’t know what it’s like to be sick like I am or how bad I feel. You don’t know how much pressure I have at work. You don’t know how lonely I feel. “ Etc.

I may not know exactly how you feel but one thing I do know is that fear, worry, frustration and anxiety is not good for you. It can hurt you and make you sick and will rob you of the peace and joy that God wants you to be experiencing in your life.

And I also know and believe that a strong faith in God, (that is when you learn to trust in Him and trust in His ability to help you handle your situation, to make you secure and stable) is the answer for all that this life and Satan wants to throw at you.  Our ability to have faith is a blessing from God!

If you think about it, most of the things we worry about and are stressed out about are things we cannot change anyway. They are out of our control and only God can change those things. So we just need to learn to turn those things over to Him and relax.

I remember many years ago when I first started going to a chiropractor after hurting my back. I’ll never forget what he told me. As he was working on me he said, “You don’t believe in God do you?” I told him of course I did, I told Him that I was a Christina.  He basically told me “You could have fooled me. He said you so uptight and stressed out that it has obviously affected your body and its ability to heal itself. “ He told me that if I really believed in God and trusted Him I would not be so stress and ready to pop like a broken spring.

And there I was ‘the Christian’, ‘the Bible student’ going to the Northeast School of Biblical Studies at the time. I guess I had something else to learn. We not only need to trust God with the big things in life, we also need to trust and believe He is there to help us with the everyday little things as well.

Many of us are not only dealing with pressures that surround us in the here and now, many of us are dealing with stress, remorse, regrets and guilt from some things we have done or failed to do in the past.

At one point in his life the Apostle Paul approved of the capture, imprisonment and death of members of the church.  But then thru a chain of events he, himself became a believer, and was baptized and became a member of the very church he was persecuting.

When he realized how wrong he was we read in Acts 9 that he could not eat or drink for three days. He was so full of remorse I could not help but wonder how he could ever go on to become one of the greatest apostle and spokesman for Jesus ever, or how he could get over those feelings of regret.  But listen to what he has to say as he later writes to his son in the faith, Timothy:  
12  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I
did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.  15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.           1 Tim. 1:12-17

Because of his faith in Christ, Paul recognized and  saw the Love of God at work in his life. Even though Paul did horrible things in his past he did not let guilt of those past sins cripple his life and service to our Lord later. Paul accepted God’s mercy and forgiveness and moved forward and so should we.

If you are a Christian you are a new creation, in Christ. The old gone and you have been made new. God change Paul so much he gave him a new name. His old name was Saul.

If we really trust and have faith in Christ, and believe and accept the love of God we don’t have to go around feeling guilty and burdened from what we did in the past. If you have done something bad since you became a Christian, you can still get right with God. All you need to do is repent and ask for forgiveness. We are told in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Faith in God’s love and forgiveness can set us free from the burden of past mistakes and free us from guilt… we just need believe and accept His forgiveness.

Our Faith can also shield and protect us from future uncertainties.

Some people read their horoscope and even pay to go to fortune-tellers hoping to find out what going to happen in their future. Others worry about the future and ask questions like, “What’s going to happen if…. “, or  “What going to happen when…”.

What’s going to happen if I get sick, or if I get laid off from my job, or if my car dies on the road, or if my child gets sick with some weird disease, or if I get Alzheimer’s when I am old, or if my spouse dies before me?” …. What am I going to do?

Or, what is going to happen when I get old, or when I stop working will I have enough money to live on?”

We could worry about an endless number of things concerning our future. Questions like these cause some to fret and fear the future.

But again, trusting in God, in His love for you, in His providence, and believing that He will work out all things for those who love Him takes away our fear.

In our opening reading Jesus told His disciples not to worry about our life, what we will eat and what we will drink, about your body or what you will wear.. He said that your heavenly Father knows what you need, and He goes on to say,    

 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I cannot stress the importance of developing a faith habit; YES a HABIT, a habit of trusting God with all, and in every situation. By doing so you will find that peace and joy you are yearning for. I REALLY believe this!

So what can we do to help us develop this ‘faith habit’ ?                           
I believe it’s important to verbalize our faith over and over;  actually say, ‘I trust you God!,’ or ‘I believe that God is working in this situation in my life right now and He’s going to take care of me.’ Or. ‘I believe when the time comes my God will provide what I need.’  Speak words like this over and over all day long!  This can recondition our mind and exercise our faith.
Consider what David says in Psalm 25.

“In you, Lord my God,     I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;    
do not let me be put to shame,     nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you     will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those     who are treacherous without cause.

David was not ashamed to verbalize his faith. I believe it’s how he became the great man that he was, a man after God’s own heart. David made a habit of expressing his faith over and over, and I believe it’s imperative that we do the same!

Read God’s word. Read the Psalm and take note of how David and others saw God acting in their lives and the peace that this gave them.

Stop speaking like a victim, like someone defeated and like no one care what you are going through and learn to speak words of faith over and over and over. It will change your life!

The best way to defeat worry and fear is to resist them right away; when they first enter your mind. The Apostle Peter said that we should resist the devil and I believe that we  should do it right away (1 Peter 5:9).

In Romans 1:17 Paul wrote that we need to live by faith. Faith is fills us with hopeful expectations and doesn’t give up believing that God will help us in any and all situations.   And that’s my challenge for you today!  Expect the best. Expect God is going to work things out in your favor.

For more lessons click on the following link:

From Jim McGuiggan... What do you say to the troubled?

What do you say to the troubled?

You know a group (or a family or an individual) that is having a rough ride in life and you know it’ll get worse before it gets better and you purpose to write them a letter. How would you begin it? 

There’d be nothing at all wrong in saying something like, “Ah, dear people, we have heard of your pain and loss and we want you to know that our hearts are with your hearts…” Surely there’s always a place for the expression of fellow-feeling and sympathy! 

But troubled people need more than sympathy—of course! Where it’s possible we need to get involved in a “hands on” way to alleviate if not completely eradicate their difficulties (what is this other than Matthew 25:34-40?).  

After the meal has been eaten or the warmth of the personal visit is only a memory something must remain with them! The meal and the warmth and the clothes should all be given but there comes a time when the person must carry the burden alone and something must be put into these people that stays when the helpers depart.  

Peter writes to Jewish people in trouble, people despised and rejected by society, people who are undergoing suffering and will face even more in the days ahead. And how does he open a letter to that kind of people? In 1:1-3 he tells them who they are! 

He tells them they are God’s chosen! He tells them that they are the people made different by the Holy Spirit! He tells them that they are the people covenanted to God by the blood of Jesus Christ (see Exodus 24:1-8). He later tells them that though they are rejected by their peers and despised by them that they are chosen by God and that he sees them as precious (1 Peter 2:4). Then he tells them that however scorned and mistreated they are that they are God’s holy nation and royal priesthood with a destiny and a commission that beggars description (2:9-10). 

Peter doesn’t deny their trouble—far from it! Read the entire short letter in one sitting and see what I mean. 

But he opens his letter reminding them who they are! Imagine them sitting in their little assemblies and hearing these words read out to them (1:1-3, and the rest). If they can really believe these almost incredible claims will their lives not be transformed and will they not enjoy the struggle to cash in on them—will life not astonish them? “This is who we are? This is really who we are?” 

And how should we speak to our troubled brothers and sisters throughout the world? What should we say to tiny assemblies in far-off places that are suffering for their faith? And to those nearer at hand, is this not a direction we should go? In wise and caring ways should we not—before we speak of their troubles but never forgetting that they are troubled—should we not tell them who they are? 

From Mark Copeland... Soldiers Of Jesus Christ ( 2 Timothy 2:3-4)

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                    Soldiers Of Jesus Christ (2:3-4)


1. Our service to Jesus Christ is often compared to different
   a. Such as an athlete - 1Co 9:24-27; 2Ti 4:7-8
   b. Such as a laborers in the harvest - Lk 10:2

2. In our text (2Ti 2:3-4), our service is to compared to that of a
   a. In which one is to be "a good soldier"
   b. Seeking to please him who enlisted us as "soldiers"

[That we may be sure to understand the service Jesus desires of us,
let's review the characteristics of a soldier in the army of Christ...]


      1. As per the KJV ("chosen") - 2Ti 2:4
      2. The Greek is stratologeo, "to gather (or select) as a warrior,
         that is, enlist in the army; choose to be a soldier." - Strong

      1. We are "enlisted" (NKJV, NASB, ESV) - 2Ti 2:4
      2. We were chosen as we responded in faith to the call of the
         gospel - cf. 2Th 2:13-14

[The army of Christ is an "all voluntary" army.  We were not drafted
against our will, and our attitude should reflect our willingness to do
our part.  Note also...]


      1. I.e., full duty, like those in active military service - 2 Ti 2:4
      2. Therefore one is not to be entangled "in the affairs of
         everyday life" - 2Ti 2:4
      3. One must be willing to endure hardship - 2Ti 2:3
         a. This affects our relations with our physical families
            1) Christ must come first - cf. Mt 10:37
            2) Even as He put His Father in heaven first - cf. Mt 12:
         b. This affects our attitudes toward our secular jobs
            1) The true purpose of work - Ac 20:34-35; Ep 4:28
            2) For we cannot serve both God and mammon - Mt 6:24

      1. Where we serve only on limited occasions
      2. Where one might not take their responsibilities seriously

[All the soldiers in the army of Christ are on "active duty", though
some might be on the front line and other supporting them at the base.
Now consider...]


      1. Spiritual forces of wickedness - Ep 6:10-13
      2. Physical lusts which wage war against the soul - 1Pe 2:11
      3. The unrighteousness and ungodliness of men - Ro 1:18-32
         a. Of those who do not recognize God
         b. Of those who are given over to vile passions

      1. To produce the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives - Ga 5:
      2. To bring every thought into submission to Christ - cf. 2 Co 10:5
      3. To help those ensnared of the devil to escape - cf. 2Ti 2:26

[The opposition is mighty, the objective is noble.  With what weapons do
we wage such warfare...?]


      1. For our warfare is not carnal - 2Co 10:3-4; Jn 18:36
      2. Thus we do not use the sword or other such weapons to fight
         - cf. Mt 26:52
      3. Nor are we to use works of the flesh (e.g., anger, wrath)
         - 2Co 10:1-3; cf. Ga 5:19-21

      1. Attitudes consistent with the meekness and gentleness of Christ
         - cf. 2Co 10:1
         a. Such as the fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23
         b. Needed when we seek to help those overtaken in a fault - Ga 6:1
         c. Necessary to correct those who are in opposition - 2Ti 2:
      2. The armor of God, including truth, faith and hope - Ep 6:10-17
         a. The Word of God is a powerful sword of the Spirit - Ep 6:17;
            He 4:12
         b. Faith is a powerful shield against the devil - Ep 6:16
         c. Hope likewise serves as a helmet - Ep 6:17


1. In the army of Christ, we seek to save ourselves and those with whom
   we fight

2. It is a noble objective, one that requires a noble service as
   "Soldiers Of Jesus Christ"

Are you therefore willing to endure hardship, and thus please Him who
enlisted you as a soldier...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011