It is time for our Spring Semester of Life Groups to begin! This Semester we are studying The Fruit of the Spirit. Putting other’s needs ahead of our own: it’s the ultimate expression of love – and the hardest! Fortunately, we don’t have to do it alone. In our study of the Fruit of the Spirit, we’ll learn about the life-transforming qualities God wants to cultivate inside of us. And in the process, we’ll discover the one powerful truth to a truly satisfying life: serving others.
We have groups located from Midlothian to Venus to Red Oak; meeting on Wednesdays or Sundays. There is a group just for you!
- Matt & Candice Velasquez (Midlothian) – Starting February 1
- Sandra Jones (Midlothian) – Starting February 1
- Jason & Renee Exley (Midlothian) – Starting February 1
- Michael & Becky Swartzendruber (Venus) – Starting February 8
- Chris Kinikin (Midlothian) – Starting February 8
- Tom & Emily Alderman (Midlothian) – Starting February 8
- Jeff & Andria Moore (Midlothian) – Starting February 12
- Eric & Vicki Bishop (Red Oak) – Starting February
We have ministry to children and teens prepared to receive your children starting at 6:30pm on Wednesdays in order for you to arrive at your Life Group location to start by 7PM. Maps will be available at the Guest Services Desk.
Cheering you on!
PS – We are excited about offering a special Spiritual Health Assessment and Goal Setting for our Life Group participants in order to help you be intentional in road mapping your spiritual growth.
Can I make a simple observation that I think has profound implications? How big something looks doesn’t depend on how big it really is. It also depends on how far away you are! In other words, our perception of things depends on our distance from them.
A couple years ago we took our kids to the circus, but we had the cheap seats. They had a fun time, but were more caught up in the cotton candy and $10 dollar swords that would light up than they were interested in the circus, and I’ll tell you exactly why. The Elephants looked like ants. We were so far away that the elephants were unimpressive. If we’d been on the front row it would have been a totally different story. I’m pretty sure the kids would have been in awe. Why? Because size isn’t the only factor that determines how we perceive things. Distance is a huge factor.
Here’s my point. God is huge! But some of us are so far away from God that we’re non-impressed. Our problems seem so big and our God seems so small because we’re in the cheap seats! Let me tell you what sin does. It takes us further and further away from God until we’re in the last row of the top balcony. God seems smaller and smaller as we get farther and farther away from Him.
Fasting does the exact opposite. It brings us closer and closer to God so He gets bigger and bigger. God has a front row seat reserved for each of us.
Have you ever been stuck in an airport? For 24 hours? In a city where you can’t speak the language? Four thousand miles from home?
While most of us would find such an inconvenience intolerable, maybe – just maybe, God’s hand is in the delay. On a return trip from Capetown, South Africa – our flight had been rerouted to different cities and countries on the return trip. The unexpected detour would cost me several hours on my return trip home. Honestly, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy about the extended international trip, I wasn’t happy that I was stuck on a window seat and I wasn’t happy that there was a kid kicking the back of my chair for a very long flight. In the middle of my self-proclaimed pitty-party, a nice South African lady sat down who started a conversation right up. Come to find out, her son owned a chain of clothing stores. The same store that I had just stopped at in a mall to by some shirts for my boys. That conversation lead us to talk about her problems that she had raising her now grown-children and how she wishes she could go back and do some things differently. I begun feeling a nudge, that maybe God put us together and I began to share with her about Christ. She had not been to a church since her childhood and had never taken any of her children to church and now, several thousand feet up in the air, we prayed a simple prayer and asked God to come in to her heart and help her reach out to her now grown children.
How often do we experience delays, changes of plans, and redirections and treat them as intrusions on our busy calendar? It could be that God is detouring us so we can do something different or new for Him. Consider Paul’s trip to Philippi in Acts 16. He had gone to Macedonia because of a God-directed vision (vs 9-10). How could he know that he would end up in prison there? But even that trip to jail was God-led, because He used Paul to bring salvation to a jailer and his family (vv.25-34).
God can use inconveniences in our lives if we look at them as divine appointments.
“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” – Luke 5:12 There were two forms of leprosy, one was like a very bad skin rash. The other started from a small spot, and ate away the flesh until the only the stump of a hand or leg was left. This was probably the type of leprosy that the man in this passage suffered from. Luke says he was “covered” with leprosy. When he walked down the street, people kept their distance. Mothers covered their children’s eyes. Doctors shook their heads.
When the leper saw Jesus he knew this Man held life in His hands. And in a desperate lunge of faith, falling in the dust before Jesus, he spoke in a trembling voice: “Lord, if you are willing…” No bargaining, no expectations. Just a glint of faith, and that was enough to open the floodgates of Jesus’ compassion.
“And He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.” (vs 13) Did you see what Jesus did? He reached out and “touched” the leper. He could have healed him from a distance, as a doctor might call your prescription in to a local drugstore. But Jesus came to touch the untouchables.
Many will remember the fall of 2008 as the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. In the months to follow, many lost their jobs, homes, and investments. In a BBC interview a year later, Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, indicated that the average person doesn’t believe it will happen again. He said, “That is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that it will continue.”
Assuming that things will continue as they always have is not just 21st-century-type thinking. In the first century, Peter wrote of people who thought that life would continue as it was and that Jesus would not return. He said, “Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Jesus said He would come back, but the people continued to live in disobedience as though He would never return. But His delay is only because of God’s patience with us, for He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9).
Paul tells us that Christians ought to live “soberly, righteously, and godly” in the light of Christ’s certain return. (Titus 2:12). Are you ready to meet Him?
I John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not form the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
When you believe that things will provide happiness, you’ve settled for a counterfeit. Don’t be fooled by the counterfeit.
It’s a little bit like this. My wife sent me to the grocery store to get a few things, and there are two rules for any man going to the grocery store. Man Rules – Rule #1: You have to forget something or get the wrong thing. It’s just a rule, you have to do it. And the second Man Rule is: you have to get something that wasn’t on the list. Because you are a hunter, and that is what you do. You hunt and you kill and you drag things home.
So I was walking by the fish section of the grocery store and they had a large package of Sushi for 5.99. So I thought, I’m buying it! This stuff is on sale. So I get home and I’m bragging about my big package of Sushi that I picked up for 5.99. And Renee and I start eating it and she looks at me and I look at her and we start saying, this is the most disgusting thing I have ever had! So I look at the package and down in the small print it says made with imitation crab meat. Which is one of the scariest things I have ever read in my life. I don’t know what immitation crab meat is … but I don’t want it anymore.
It’s an imitation, its not the real thing. To think that the things in this world will make you happy, you’re settling for a cheap imitation of the real thing.
When a high school student tried using a thermometer to measure a table, his teacher was dumbfounded. In 12 years of ministry, I think I had seen or heard it all, but takes the cake! I’m amazed that a student could make it to high school without knowing the difference between a ruler and a thermometer.
When a friend told me this story, my heart broke for that student and others like him who have fallen so far behind in their education. They can’t move forward because they haven’t yet learned basic lessons of everyday life.
But then a sobering thought came to me: Don’t we sometimes do the same thing when we use wrong spiritual measuring devices? For example, do we assume that churches with the most resources are the most blessed by God? And do we ever think that popular preachers are more godly than those with few followers?
The proper measure of our spiritual condition is the quality of our lives. Paul gives us a list that we can examine ourselves against. In Galatians 5:22-23, our checklist includes: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s is how you can measure spiritual growth.
- Righteousness, etc.
When your kids wake-up in the middle of the night sick He has a name for that – Jehova-Rapha, the Lord that heals.
You may go to the hospital but He is the doctor, He is the great physician. When I call on Jehova-Rapha healing takes place.
He can make my bitter experiences sweet. He can make my broken heart whole. He can make my sick body well.
Because He is Jehova-Rapha he can heal physically, spiritually and emotionally. Are you broken or sick … call on Jehova-Rapha.
A TV program on the History Channel featured the world’s most extreme airports. The one that caught my attention is no longer open, Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport, and it was definitely a thrill ride for passengers and surely a challenge for pilots. If you came in from one direction, you had to fly over skyscrapers and then hope the plane stopped before it plunged into the sea. If you came in the other way, it seemed as if you were going to smack into a mountain.
I found it surprising that a pilot who used to take planeloads of people into Kai Tak said, “I miss flying into that airport.” But I think I know what he meant. As a pilot, he relished the challenge. He had a confidence based on his ability and his reliance on those who guided him into the airport from the Tower.
In life – too often, we run from challenges. Yet the people we love to read about in the Bible are impressive because they battled challenges. Consider Paul. With the confidence of God’s help, he faced troubles head-on—and conquered them. Christ’s promise to Paul and to us is: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Like Paul’s example, in the confidence of God’s care we can say to the next challenge: Bring it on!