George Little

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Priorities

Priorities
God believes in priorities. He demands that we seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). He says that the command to love Him is the greatest commandment. To love our neighbor is the second command we need to devote ourselves.
Because each of us only have 24 hours in each of our days we have to prioritize the things we want to do so that we make sure that the most important things get done. We do it at our work and at our schools.
It should be no surprise that we need to do it at church. In a church as small as Glendale we cannot do everything that we want to do without miraculous intervention from God. George Barna in his book, Turnaround Churches, says that churches need to find 3 or 4 things they feel called to do and make them a priority. This doesn’t involve ignoring existing or new ministries. It just means that we put most of our resources into these priority areas.
Over the past 3 months the deacons, ministers, and ministry leaders have been talking about what our priorities should be for the next 12 months. We all agreed that people should always be our priority. They agreed that the following 4 areas need to be our priorities here at Glendale.
Local Evangelism because we are to be lights to the world in our community. Youth because parents and teens need so much help. Young Adults because they are coming to our church in large numbers and ask for and need guidance. Sunday Assembly Worship because that is when almost all of our visitors and members connect with each other.
In subsequent bulletins and lessons I will explain more about these priorities. How are we going to make these ministries priorities?
1. We will talk about each in every deacons and minister’s meeting.
2. We will pray earnestly about each on a continual basis.
3. We will facilitate leadership in each of these ministries.
4. We will seek ideas and volunteers for accomplishing the goals of each.
5. We will release people in these ministries to do what God is calling them to do.
6. We will provide financial backing where needed.
7. We will dedicate the staff on our payroll to these ministries where they can help.
I must emphasize that making these priorities does not mean that other ministries are not important. All ministries are important and all ministries will be supported. However we will devote extra attention in the above ways to these priority ministries.
The church is still a body and these priorities don’t happen just because the leadership says they should. Every one of us need to consider how we can help. These are good and godly things that we are being called to focus on. Let’s, each of us, look into our hearts and see where God guides us to serve.
George

Strange Things in Worship

Strange Things in Worship

God desires what we worship Him and Him alone (Luke 4:8). He never limits to a certain place or time (John 4:21-24). However he has said He has always desired when we worship Him.

A broken and contrite heart (Psalms 51:17)
Cheerfulness (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Singing from the heart (Ephesians 5:19)
Intense love for God (Matthew 22:37)
Focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)
Spirit filled prayers (Ephesians 6:18)
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
Praise (Ephesians 1:6,12,14)

Yet, many times, it is these things are absent when we worship. Don’t let these things be strange things in worship. Let them be common. As we worship the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit today let us do so in the way that God has asked us. Let our outward actions be a reflection of our hearts as we try to express ourselves in worship of Him who alone is worthy of worship.

Besides all this, God asks (actually commands) that the main thing that we bring to Him as a sacrifice in worship is ourselves. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1. Here is your act of worship. Don’t offer anything less to Him who has given Himself totally to you.

I love the picture of heaven in Revelation 5:12, 13, “In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!””  Let it be that way in Christ’s church. Let it be that way in our hearts. Let’s give Him the glory, the honor and the praise!
George

Baptized

BAPTIZED?
You have heard the gospel. It was good news to your ears and heart. It told you of God who loves you even though He is very upset about the sin in your life You heard how He paid the debt your sin had run up. You were so pleased because you knew that you couldn’t be good enough. It was an eye opener for you when you realized that no one is good enough except Jesus.

One day (maybe you don’t even know what day it was) you believed it all. You believed the gospel. You began to turn a corner in your life. You began to take seriously God’s challenge for you to say no to sin. And that is where you are today.

God is allowing you to turn that corner in your life and you need to go all the way through the bend. So many people don’t. They stop in the middle of the turn as though God has said nothing to them about the rest of the turn.
This leads to a personal question. I only ask it because God says it is important. It’s not the most important question but it is an important one. Have you been baptized as an adult?

Jesus was. Why not you? Every account of someone accepting Christ in the New Testament shows adults being baptized (3,000 the first time gospel was preached). God says that adult baptism is when you are fully connected to the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). He also says that in your baptism as an adult you are buried with Jesus and through faith in Jesus your sins are washed away (Romans 6;3,4, Acts 22:16).

Now you need to understand that your baptism as an adult isn’t some initiation rite though which you magically receive God’s grace. The water is just water. The one who baptizes you is a sinner. So where is the power in baptism? It is in Jesus. It is an act of faith in Jesus and in fact is one of the first acts of faith Jesus asks of you. It will earn you nothing but in it you will receive more than you ever have received before. Do you believe in Jesus? Then today you should be baptized as an adult.

What do you think? You know what God thinks (Mark 16:15-16)? What do you think?
George

Body of Jesus Found!

Body of Jesus Found?
Yes, that is what is being claimed in James Cameron’s Discovery Channel Documentary aired this week.
My reactions to this claim are many and varied.
1. The facts that are represented in this research are at best uneducated guesses that have almost zero academic support from the archaeological community. In fact it is rehashed research that was debunked in the 1990s.
2. I am offended that it appears perfectly okay to question the fundamental truth of the Christian faith with such poor evidence and there is no mention of political correctness. Yet if another religion’s truth’s are questioned it is wrong. I am not questioning critic’s right of free speech. I am questioning the apparent denial of such rights to Christians. I wonder if the Discovery Channel is going to do a documentary on the factual errors in the Koran or the Book of Mormon.
3. I am glad that once again we have the chance to draw people’s attention to the abundant evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead. Opposition to the truth only gives truth the opportunity to shine.
4. I am sad that so many don’t really understand what Jesus was doing in His death, burial and resurrection. God was loving us. He was demonstrating His love. Without His resurrection there is nothing that testifies of His intense love for us.
5. I am amazed that after 2000 years that the remains of “have been found”. And just in time for a major documentary. I am being sarcastic but I am always suspicious of so called truth seekers who make a lot of money along the way.
They didn’t find the bones of Jesus. He is risen. He is reigning in heaven calling for all of us to turn towards his love.
GEORGE

Bye Bye Pluto

Bye Bye Pluto!

This week, the planet that we were taught was the ninth planet of the Solar System, had its accreditation withdrawn. It was stripped of its rights as a planet and was reclassified as a planetoid. It was a sad day. Pluto has been seen approaching Saturn for a job as a moon. (I must be a little simple because I laughed at that joke for at least three seconds)

There is actually a spiritual point here. Man analyzes. God creates. Man classifies. God sustains. We name things. God makes things. Pluto  is where God put it. He didn’t make any mistakes, but scientists did. They were smart enough to admit their mistake but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that they did make a mistake and continue to do so. God doesn’t make mistakes. He is reliable. You can build your life on Him. But what of the scientists? Well, consider this.

Highly educated, highly intelligent people look at this marvelous universe with all its intricacies and apparent design and conclude that it all happened without any guidance. It is just a cosmic accident.  A blob of stuff was thrown at a cosmic oscillating fan and out came the universe and a Solar System with nine planets. Oops sorry I mean 8 planets.

Listen to God who speaks with mistakes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalms 19:1. He further gets in our face with “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.

I love the technology that helps improve our lives. But what is it? It is the result of discovery the things God created (electricity, magnetism, radio waves etc.) and manipulating them. We take such pride in our technology but where would it be without God?

And so we bid farewell to Pluto from our acronyms and our models of the Solar System. But we never have to say good bye to God or His message to us. It is as reliable as the sunrise. Next time you see one ask this question. Should I build my life on the one who named and classified the sun or the One who made it?
George

Celebrate!

Celebrate
God calls us to come together as His family, as the body of Christ and as a light in a dark world. And what does He call us to do? One word. Celebrate.
Many come into a church building for a funeral and quite rightly mourn. Today, someone has died, but we don’t come to mourn, we come to celebrate.
Many come to church to witness a great event like a wedding or a baptism. Today, we come as witnesses to the greatest event ever, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Many come to church to seek help, comfort or direction. Today, we do the same.
Whatever your reason for being here today whether it be purpose or habit I have this one challenge. Forget what weighs you down and let yourself celebrate the fact that God loves you. The songs tell you God loves you. The preacher tells you. The prayers tell you. The communion tells you. Even the children will tell you.

As that love for you sparks your heavily worn heart you begin. As that love warms you and gives you perspective you begin. As that love grabs your heart with a jolt you begin to want to celebrate. But you worry about what people with think? This is not the issue. What God thinks is the issue. 

Whatever you have, lift it up to God. Don’t worry about what I think. You aren’t worshipping me. You are worshiping God the Father. Celebrate. God loves you. Everything is going to be okay. God provides. Jehovah Jireh.
 “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:24
GEORGE

Christmas is Special

Christmas is Special

It really is. Some of your fondest memories, I expect, include a Christmas memory. Someone told me this week about being 8 years old and being the angel in the Christmas play. I remember one Christmas my brother and I opened our presents early and I learned a valuable lesson of waiting. Opening them early spoiled the whole Christmas.

It is a very busy time of year with work deadlines to finish stuff before Christmas and all the end of year parties and dinners. Add to this the stress of getting presents for everyone and fighting all the crowds associated with the season.
So amid all the turmoil I want to ask you a question. What do you learn from Christmas? I am not talking about getting your presents early. I am talking about your spiritual journey. Does the birth of Christ say anything to you?
When you strip away all the commercialism, all the fanfare, all the celebration, what does the birth of this Jewish boy 2,000 years ago mean to you.

Jesus came to change us. He wanted to change our attitudes and our aspects, our acts and our prospects, our present and our future. God was doing all this through Jesus and it all began in a stable of some sort in a little town of Bethlehem. What does that say to you about God whom we worship today?
If it says anything, it must say that God does things in distinctly different ways to you or me. And what would you expect from God who is so different from us.
You would expect something unique and special and that’s what you get in birth of the Christ child. Praise God for God saves.

George

Getting Dirty

Getting Dirty
Have you ever watched a football game and towards the end of the game you notice that every body else’s jerseys are dirty but there are one or two that aren’t. I’m not talking about the kicker. When I see that I immediately think, “that guy isn’t really getting involved in the game.”

Life is like that. The sign that we are living is that we are getting dirty. That dirt on your face or grass stain on your pants or graze on your elbow are signs of life. Somewhere along the line we were fooled into believing that if we studied hard enough, married right, went to the right church and always did the right thing then we would have the perfect life where nothing goes wrong. It’s a lie. Call it what it is. It is a satanic deception that traps far too many of us.

Life in Christ and in Adam involves the whole spectrum of human experiences. Incredible inspiring moments and incredibly painful moments. How do I know this. The fact that the life of Jesus, which was the most perfect life, was full of suffering and joy, success and failure, pain and laughter, tells me that I should expect the same. However I believe life was meant to have bumps, scrapes, injuries and carnage because of scar tissue.

Why did God create scar tissue? Because He knew that each of us would need healing because each of us would be injured in some way. In fact the human body is designed as a remarkable self-healing machine. It can take some awesome punishment. I visited a lady in ICU once. The doctor had not sown her up after the operation. She way lying there with the huge wound from the operation packed with stuff. She was unconscious and her breathing was assisted. I said a prayer for her with no doubt in my mind that she would not last the day and my prayer for her was for a quick release. Two months later she was at church singing praises to God. How? I don’t know all the details but I do know that humans are designed to heal if they get hurt.

What is your hurt today? There is one message for you. It can be healed. No matter how bad the news is or how traumatic your pain is God has made you to heal. I know one day the healing will stop because God didn’t plan for us to live here forever. In the mean time trust in the healing God has built into you. Trust in Jesus and lean on His Spirit. Outside of the built in healing process God has a few things up His sleeve that He often uses. Live in Christ and let God take care of what you can’t.
George

Giving Money is Easy

Giving Money Is Easy
For most people, giving money away is not easy. In fact, for many, it is the hardest thing to do. Now, buying things is a different situation. We all love to buy things for ourselves.

Christians are in a different situation. We have come to the life changing revelation that God has given us so much. He gave us life. He gave us life in Christ and saved us. He gave us skills and talents. He gives us opportunities. He gives us the Holy Spirit. He gives us help though the ministry of angels. He gives us a confident hope for future. God gives. He surely gives and he gives it all to us.

We Christians don’t just have a vague impression that God has given to us. We are thoroughly convinced that God loves us and that He has expressed that love in all these gifts but most of all in the gift of His son to die in our place for our sins.

When we think about that, we find it easy to give money. In fact, we give off the top of our money. We give to God first and use the rest to take care of all the rest of our responsibilities.

Many have asked me, “How much should I give?” The answer begins with a question. “How much have you been blessed?” Then the answer goes to a consideration of the fact that God’s people before Jesus were challenged to give ten percent of their income. I’m not saying that you have to give ten percent but I am asking us to compare two figures. What is ten percent of your income? How much do you give now? Let that comparison say something to you about how much you put in the plate today. This is a heart decision (1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7).

God is a generous god. He never stops giving. We need to be generous because He is generous. Let us bow down before Him with our sacrifices today.
George

He Who Must Not Be Named

He Who Must Not Be Named
In one of the Harry Potter stories the evil arch villain is feared so much his name is not allowed to be uttered. He is referred to only as “he who must not be named” (or something like that). I am not recommending the stories. I am just referring to them.
Sometimes I think we treat Satan that way. We fear him so much that we dare not mention his name. Maybe. Or possibly we have been intimidated by the intellectual elites to feel it is childish to believe in the Devil and so we dare not mention his name. Maybe. Or possibly we have fallen for the idea that we only need to think of positive things and not negative bad things and so we will not utter his name.

All of these may be worthwhile considerations except that God has clearly spoken to us and He has spoken his name. Jesus wasn’t battling with an embarrassing concept in Matthew 4. Eve wasn’t being conned by a very clever animatronic snake that God conjured up in Genesis 2. Satan is alive and well not only in the first century but in the 21st century. Listen to how God names him. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
Who is the devil? God doesn’t argue for the existence of the devil. He proclaims it. And more than that, he reveals who he is. He is your enemy. And God tell us what the devil wants to do. His sole aim is to destroy us. We are nothing more than lunch to him. To him, we are just a snack on the way to hell.

Some want to argue about where this Satan came from. I am not one of them. When a roaring lion has me in his cross hairs and is coming at me at full speed the absolute last question that crosses my mind is, “I wonder where he came from”. We have got to be humble (and smart) enough to realize that we may not know the answers to all the questions of origin but we do know when we are in danger.

He must be named. We must not let him hide behind the bushes. He is out in the open. That’s where Christ put him when he defeated him on the cross. He is out in the open and he is coming for you. What are you going to do? How are you going to resist him? How are you going to fight him? There are many weapons God gives us for this battle but the first and most vital one is the belief that Satan is there and he must be named as your enemy.
George

 

© Copyright 2010 - George Little