Showing items filed under “July 2015”

Faith doesn't call attention to itself.

Faith doesn't call attention to itself

Those of us who follow Jesus do good because we want the attention to be given to our Heavenly Father; not to us!

Matthew 6:1-4 says “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 

Here Jesus is not just talking to the ‘down and out’ and sinners of society. Here He has moved His focus and His attention toward the church goers; toward those that might consider themselves to be religious. What I see Jesus teaching us in this particular passage is that He is warning us not to be like the world. Here, He is saying I need you to examine your motives. Often times the biggest problem that the church has is that we are still trying to be the center of attention. We are still trying to be the ones on our own stage of life.

Jesus asks us to look at our own life and says the best thing that we can possibly do, is to just get over ourselves! He says that the only reward that we are ever going to get by making ourselves the center of attention is a quick pat on the back every once in a while; nothing more, nothing less. 

The world likes to draw attention to itself when it does a good deed. Publicists are hired and people ‘spin’ and they do their best to make themselves look as good as possible; this is the way the world does things. We can even ‘spin’ our own lives on social media now, in the same ways that politicians do and in the same way that Hollywood does; and we are able to be the center of attention all the time. God looks at that and says there is a better way to do life than that; there is a better reward than that! 

There are a lot of civic organizations out there that call themselves churches. But when it’s all said and done, they are just ‘good deed’ doing places. Now, there is nothing wrong with just doing ‘good deeds’. In fact, that’s what Jesus tells us to do; but He wants us to bring glory to Him when we do it! When Jesus gave the command to go forth and to share and to give and to do much, Jesus didn’t just say “I want you to give a cup of water.” Jesus told His disciples, “I want you to give a cup of water, in my name!” (Matthew 10:42) That’s what makes us a church. Faith doesn’t call attention to itself; Faith calls attention to the Father! 

When we do good things we do it in the name of Jesus so that He will be lifted up and glorified; not so that we will look good. Over the course of the next few years, we are going to be one of the most active communities of believers that Maryland has ever seen; we are going to make a difference! But we will not do it for our glory; we will do it so that the name of Jesus will be proclaimed. Not just a cup of water, but a cup of water in Jesus’ name! -Pastor John B. Smith

Some of you are stuck where you are because you won’t quit!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Normally when we think about quitting something it’s because it’s a bad thing, but the reality is some of you are stuck where you are because you won’t quit. Some of the things that you and I won’t quit are the very things that are keeping us from the life that we are longing for inside. I want you to understand the value of quitting the right things; we have to quit before we can start.

Some of the very things that we won’t quit are hurting the people around us. There are homes that are just filled with toxic negativity and people are negative about their kids and negative about each other. It’s hellish, and it’s a sin! Sin is a corrosive that destroys life to the core and that’s why God hates it; because He hates to see His children harmed! 

We were never called to promote satan’s cynical vision of life! Satan is a cynic. You get that right? He doesn’t believe in you and me, and he’s looking for our imminent failure. He sees all of our flaws and faults and is ready to highlight them to anybody. He’s cynical about your worth, your abilities, your heart, your intelligence. He sees the worst in everything about you and is willing to skywrite that for you and the world to see! But God is the opposite. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Two different agendas! 

I want to remind you that this earth is not our home; we are citizens of another kingdom. Sometimes it just scares me to think about some of the suffering that might be ahead; but then I’m like whatever, I have Jesus! I have the most positive message in the world! There is suffering and a struggle here, but there is believing that has to take place and here’s the deal, we live by believing and not by seeing (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

In my old nature, it’s easy for me to see the downside of just about everything. Part of that is my background growing up as the child of an alcoholic in a military family that moved frequently; and life was hard. Things were always changing, always unpredictable and chaotic and so it was easy to develop this mentality that life is just harder than it is good. When I came to know Christ, I experienced the most positive message that I had ever heard. Hearing the good news (the Gospel) about Jesus was so different than hearing about religion. This personal relationship was life changing and so much more than a once a week exercise. This was a whole life transformation! 

When I gave my life to Jesus, I kept my old nature, which is ridiculously negative, but that nature began to die and God gave me a new nature and the cool thing is that you’ve got that same new nature. Remember, negativity comes easy for you because it’s your old nature. In your homes, there are hard things and I get that. I know that, and I honor your struggle and your pain. But I would also say to you, so what? So what do you do with Jesus in the real world and in your home? Is hell more real in your home or is Jesus more real? –Dr. Drew Shofner

Jesus as Insurance

To be saved is to let Jesus Christ, the son of God, forgive our sins and occupy our life. It is so much more than a fire insurance policy! Some of us are as passionate about Jesus as we are about our insurance policy; we really don’t value Him until we need Him! He is totally irrelevant in our lives until there is a problem, and then we call. That is the way many of us construct a relationship with God and its completely wrong! 

The best gifts are the ones that are from the heart and from someone who really loves you. Our God is an awesome gift giver and He gives us the gift of life; eternal life! We need to understand that the eternal life that scripture is talking about is not just life when we die. Eternity is now (when we believe); so eternal life begins now.  All of this is found in Christ. Not in the world and not in our own independence. 

Here are the two realities we get to choose between. Life in this world where the God of this age dominates, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, “satan who is the God of this world (the God of the ways of this world, the God of the values of this world, the God of the cultural fashion of this world) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This is the realm where the prince of the air (satan) dominates. Things are hard here; things are bad here; you are in a world that is led by a spirit that is out to deceive you and wound you as deeply as possible. We are on enemy occupied territory; and it’s a battle! 

So, these are the realities we choose between; the God of this world and our life in this world, or the God of eternity and the savior of the world Jesus Christ! When we believe, we switch worlds. When we believe, we change allegiances. When we believe, we live in a completely different culture. Everything changes and Jesus is not just an idea in our heads. Jesus becomes the guide and the leader and the Lord of our life. He occupies our hearts, our thinking, our fears and our future. He occupies our shame, our past, and He fills all of life with His goodness and His glory. 

Now, if the God if this age (satan) has blinded people’s minds, how are they going to see? The answer is you! Saved people reveal the love of the Father and they do this through the life of Jesus! It’s all about opening up your heart and letting Jesus Christ come in and begin to change everything. So, I just want to ask you, are you saved?  –Dr. Drew Shofner

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Now to Him who is able

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” 

What would that look like in your home? What would that look like as you let go of some of the woundedness of the past and stood in front of the mirror and saw not that which is flawed and rejected, but that which is loved and eternally redeemed? What if you could dare to believe that God has foreordained your life to be an eternal win that would be a glory of His forever? How might you live? –Dr. Drew Shofner

In the Kingdom of God you are chosen!

You are a chosen nation

We've all experienced rejection. Maybe your heart experienced rejection when someone who promised to love you suddenly walks out and says they don’t! Not only do they do that, but they kind of poison the well on their way out and your heart just broke as you experienced rejection. You may have been the star athlete that always got chosen first, but even the star athletes experience at some point, that injury that leaves them on the sideline.

If you were that child who was last to get chosen for the team, you’ve experience what rejection is like. That’s the kingdom of this world. But the Kingdom of God is completely different; in the Kingdom of God you are chosen! In the Kingdom of God you are not an accident no matter what any human being has ever said to you or done to you. As the creation of God and as the image bearer of God, there is a call on your life!

On those days where God seems so distant and so far away, I remember that what I’m feeling is emotion over intellect. What I’m feeling is life in the kingdom of this world. Next time you look at your life and you’re feeling defeated and you’re discouraged and the people in the kingdom of this world have rejected you and used you, and wounded you, just realize that this is not the kingdom you’re supposed to be building in. You’re supposed to be building in the Kingdom of God! 

The Kingdom of Heaven has come through Jesus Christ. He has invaded this world and conquered it with His blood and Resurrection; so that right now, the Kingdom of Heaven is a choice that you and I can enter into. You can live a life that is a blessing; you can live a life that is not about you. You can live a life that is above addiction. You can live a life that ends brokenness and builds relationships. You can live an amazing life that can be a joy forever if you’ll have the courage to commit! –Dr. Drew Shofner

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