Psalm 147 begins and ends with “Praise the Lord!” and this is good counsel for us. We are not to praise the Lord because of what we will get out of it! We praise Him because He is worthy of our praise. This Psalm describes blessings for us who praise our God!
PRAISE MAKES LIFE BEAUTIFUL.
"Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant and praise is comely."
· It is always good to praise our Lord.
· The person who does not praise God is usually self-centered, critical, and proud … there is very little beauty in that kind of life.
PRAISE BUILDS OUR LIVES.
"The Lord doth build up Jerusalem..."
· It takes very little effort to find fault with each other and with the church, but it requires a good deal of grace to praise God when things may not please us.
PRAISE UNITES GOD’S PEOPLE.
"...he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel."
· The next time we find ourselves disagreeing, it might be good just to stop and praise the Lord. People who pray together, stay together and people who sing together, cling together!
PRAISE HEALS WOUNDS.
Verses 3 and 4
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names."
· We must never forget that we are here to minister to wounded lives and broken hearts.
· The God of the universe who knows the names of number of the stars is concerned about our broken hearts.
"Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you." I Peter 5:7
PRAISE RELEASES POWER.
"Great is our Lord, and of great power..."
· When David was discouraged, he often picked up his harp and praised God, and then everything started to change for the better.
PRAISE MAKES US TEACHABLE.
"...his understanding is infinite."
· Our praise before the preaching of the Word prepares our hearts to receive His truth.
PRAISE HELPS US TO WIN OUR BATTLES.
"The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground."
· Praise is a mighty weapon against the powers of darkness! Satan is our accuser!
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Rev. 12:10
He hates it when we worship our Creator and God.
“Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God!” v. 1-a
When you begin to build a house always remember:
· It will cost more than you expected.
· It will take longer than you expected.
· It will be different from what you expected.
· Be prepared to live with the results.
Just as we build houses, we also build churches and our lives. Nehemiah rebuilt the city’s walls, and there are lessons we should learn from their experience. What lessons do we need to learn?
BUILDING TAKES PREPARATION. Nehemiah 2:12-17
· He inspected the ruins. 2:12, 13
· He asked God for help. 1:4
· He evaluated the task. 2:11
· He exercised patience. 2:15, 16
· He sought and gained support from the people. 2:17
BUILDING TAKES COOPERATION. 2:17, 18
· He identified himself as one of them by using words like, “we” and “us”. V. 17
· They all shared a common goal. “Let us rise up and build!” v. 18
· Nehemiah provided leadership the people provided follow-ship. V. 18-b
BUILDING INVITES OPPOSITION. 2:19
· As the walls went up, the enemy showed up! V. 19
· Nehemiah trusted God. v. 20
· Sad to say, most of the opposition came from within☹ 2:9, 13:7, 8
· We must reaffirm that God called us to the task and will give us victory. V. 20-a
We are building for God, He will guide us! We must work together and not run from opposition, by God’s grace we will keep building!
Spiritual Nourishment for the New Year
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” - I Peter 2:2
Eating is something that we all enjoy, and we must do this to stay alive! The nutrients contained in the food we eat keep us healthy and strong. If we neglect to nourish our physical bodies, our health will inevitably decline.
The spiritual part of our bodies are exactly the same way! We must regularly feed on God’s Word to stay spiritually healthy. Spurgeon said, “We quickly lose the nourishment and strength of yesterday’s bread. We must feed our souls daily upon the manna God has given us.” Let me encourage you to begin the New Year with three challenges.
READ GOD’S WORD.
There are various ways to read the Bible. You may choose to read the Bible chronologically, or choose a book to read repeatedly or select a Psalm, Proverb and another book daily. I am inserting a schedule in your bulletin that will allow you to read your Bible through this next year.
STUDY GOD’S WORD.
Again, Charles Spurgeon said, “Do not be content to just read the words of
Scripture. Seek to grasp the message they contain.” II Tim. 2:15 exhorts us to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD.
George Mueller said, “The first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously.”
Have you ever shut yourself into a room for prayer and meditation of the Scriptures?
Do not read Scripture out of a sense of duty but with a heart filled with love and gratitude.
"Here is Your Cradle"
Lord, I know the Christmas story, I’ve heard it many times:
How humbly You began Your life in human flesh like mine,
How lowly was Your family how rude Your stable bed,
How beasts of burden gathered round Your small straw-haloed head;
I know the story, Lord, and yet I know You’ve heard it, too.
I know You won’t be satisfied until it becomes my story, too.
And so I’m glad it shows me there’s no place too rude for You;
It’s not much I have to give but all I have will have to do.
Here is Your cradle, here is Your manger,
Here is Your bed of straw.
Make me Your cradle,
My heart Your manger, My life Your bed of straw.
- by Bob Hostetler
Essentials in Ministry
These verses give us a wonderful picture of our Lord as our suffering Savior. Our salvation is not dependent on our following His example but, on trusting Him and His blood shed for us on the cross. However, in our service for Him, we can find strength as we meditate on His example as a Servant.
Notice several essentials for ministry that are revealed in His life.
AN OPEN EAR. Vs. 4, 5 · The picture here is that of a servant, riding early in the morning to receive his master’s orders. Jesus arose very early in the morning and went out to a solitary place to pray. Mark 1:35 A
READY TONGUE. V. 4-a · The “tongue of the learned” means an “instructed” tongue, one that knows what to say. Of course, what the tongue says comes from the heart. Matthew 12:35
A SURRENDERED WILL. Vs. 5-b, 6-a · The picture here is ugly! We see Jesus giving His body to be scourged by His captors. It was for us that He was scourged, and it was for us that He was humiliated and hurt. · Jesus was totally yielded to the Father because His will was totally yielded. Yes, though it meant suffering and shame, He bore it willingly! Psalm 40:8
A SET FACE. V. 7; Luke 9:51 · Think of what was waiting for Jesus. Rejection, arrest, shame, suffering, death on a cross! I think that if I knew what He knew I would have found a reason to skip this visit. · Remember that Dedication and Determination are inseparable. Once we know God’s will for us we must be obedient!
Thanksgiving Recipes from Preschoolers
TURKEY: First you shoot it, and then you cut it. And then you put it in the oven and cook it for 10 minutes at 20 degrees. You put it on plates and then you eat it. -Alan
First you cut the bones out. Then you put it in the oven for 10 hours at 600 degrees. Then you put it on the table and eat it. – Moriah
CHICKEN: You put it in the oven for 25 minutes and 25 degrees and put gravy on it and eat it. – Megan
APPLESAUCE: Go to the store and buy some apples, and then you squish them up. Then you put them in a jar that says, “Applesauce.” Then you eat it. – Shelby
PUMPKIN PIE: First you buy a pumpkin and smash it. Then it is all done. And you cook it in the oven for 12 minutes at 4 degrees. Then you eat it. – Christopher
APPLE PIE: Take some apples, mash them up. Take some bread and make a pie with it. Get some dough and squish it. Shape the dough into a pie shape. Put the apples in it. Then bake it at 9 degrees for 15 minutes. – Judy
CRANBERRY PIE: Put cranberry juice in it. Then you put berries in it. Then you put dough in it. Then you bake it. Then you eat it. – Jordan
DEER JERKY: Put it in the oven overnight at 20 degrees. Then you go hunting and bring it with you. Then you eat it. – Jared
“Fishing Without a License”
“ … that night they caught nothing.” John 21:4-b
Peter and friends were expert fishermen, yet they caught nothing! How could this have happened? In Matthew 26:32 before His death, Jesus told them to meet Him in Galilee, but He did not tell them to go fishing. As a matter of fact Jesus told them that if they were to follow Him that He would make them fishers of men. What really happened is that they reverted to their old lives. No wonder they failed!
In John 15:5 – Jesus said, “ … without Me ye can do nothing.” There are lessons in these verses that we should all remember:
· LEARN TO WAIT.
Isaiah 40:31 Often waiting is harder than working. Waiting is trusting and obeying.
· LOOK OUT FOR OVERCONFIDENCE.
Joshua 7 When Joshua fought the battle at Ai things seemed very simple and not too difficult. He was an experienced General and they had just experienced a great victory at Jericho. As a result they were not only beaten but they were humiliated in defeat.
· GIVE GOD YOUR DEFEATS AND WATCH HIM TURN THEM INTO VICTORY’S.
When they obeyed the Lord’s command in verse 6, they caught 153 fish and almost broke their nets.
· THEY ADMITTED THEIR FAILURE AND NEED OF HIM.
It is a great privilege to serve the Lord, but let’s make sure that we wait and listen to His commands!
Why? Because it is very dangerous to fish without a license!
“God Help Us!”
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” - I Peter 5:8
The members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Baptist Church experienced a diabolical attack last Sunday morning. As soon as our fellowship dinner was over last Sunday, I began to receive calls, texts and e-mails concerning this awful tragedy. Please be assured that we are living in difficult and dangerous times. Our Lord told us in Matthew 24:12 – “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
My heart is still so saddened and sick over the entire ordeal. I have been in continual prayer for all the family members as well as the entire community over this senseless attack. Please continue to pray for all the family members, church membership, leaders, Pastor and survivors who experienced this horrific attack by a man who was surely possessed by an evil spirit. This should be a wake-up call to everyone who love and support the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In church security we should be pro-active and not simply defensive in this area. We take the protection of our worshipers very seriously. Please know that we have cameras in place inside and outside of our church, as well as men who monitor the inside and outside of our church before, during and after our services. We do this because we are aware of evil doers in our society who are capable of wicked, horrendous crimes. Remember that our Lord told us to, ‘WATCH AND PRAY.” If you have any suggestions on how we can be any safer please let me know and I will discuss this with our leadership and our entire congregation.
May this tragedy motivate us to draw closer to our Lord and trust Him more than we ever have! Please pray for our great state, our nation and people of God throughout the world who experience these attacks. Again remember that scripture commands us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” And especially that scripture also reminds us that, “Ye are of God little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” - I John 4:4
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” - Psalm 32:1
Psalm 32 is one of seven penitent Psalms. The others are chapters 6, 38, 51, 102,130 and 143. Psalm 32 records the experiences that David went through as he faced his sins, confessed them, and received God’s forgiveness. Notice:
· The SILENCE of CONVICTION. Vs. 1-4
ü Transgression means rebellion.
ü Sin means to miss the mark.
ü Iniquity means to be twisted or crooked.
ü Roaring refers to the inward agony from intense inward pain.
· The SOB of CONFESSION. V. 5
ü God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David of his sins. II Samuel 12
ü Confession means to say the same thing about sin that God says.
· The SONG of CLEANSING. Vs. 6, 7
ü Sin in a person’s heart takes out all the joy and singing.
ü Isaiah 55:6 tells us that we must turn to God while He may be found.
· The SHOUT of CONFIDENCE. Vs. 8-11
ü He was confident of God’s guidance. Vs. 8, 9
ü He was confident of God’s grace. V. 10
ü He was confident of God’s gladness. V. 11
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” - v. 1
In the face of war and economic depression Franklin Roosevelt is remembered for saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1851, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.” Francis Bacon in 1626 wrote, “Nothing is terrible except fear itself”, and the Duke of Wellington said, “The only thing I am afraid of is fear.”
These quotations remind us that fear is a real problem in every age of life. We are told that fear can paralyze an individual. In Psalm 27 we can experience victory over fear, let’s examine this Psalm.
WARRING. Vs. 1-3 · God’s people have always had enemies. Israel and the prophets all faced opposition. Fear always makes the enemy look bigger and tempts us to resort to cowardice. God wants us to know that we must always replace fear with faith! In Mark 4:40 Jesus said, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have NO FAITH?” Again, please read Psalm 27:1. 😊
WORSHIPING. Vs. 4-6 · Spiritual battles are won in the secret, quiet places of our time with the Lord. Always remember what Jesus said to busy Martha in Luke 10:42, “One thing is needful …” Mary was always on her knees listening attentively to her Masters words!
WALKING. Vs. 7-12 · This Psalm now changes from the place of worship to the daily demands of life. We cannot stay on the mountaintop, we must descend into the valley. It is one thing to see God’s beauty in worship and something quite different in the path of life. On this path, God gives us direction and guidance. Notice in vs. 11, 12 the words “Teach me … lead me … deliver me.”
WAITING. Vs. 13, 14 · This is by far the most difficult! Always remember that God’s delays are not His denials, He is always preparing us for greater blessings! Dr. W.A. Tozer once said that if the church would cancel all its activities and just gather for prayer and worship that they might experience revival. · God can help us conquer fear if we will learn to worship, walk and wait. Remember that a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” - Psalm 62:5, 6
Are You Investing in Others?
Do you realize that God’s people are our greatest asset to our church? We must invest in everyone! The Seniors, the Young Adults, the Youth, the children, and even our infants.
Because they are our greatest asset! This asset is only valuable if we invest our time and efforts into them. Do you realize that the next generation will soon lead the ministry of our church to the future? One of the saddest verses in the Bible is found in Exodus 1:8, which reads: “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” Joseph was an old testament type of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How could a generation forget all that God did for them through Joseph? There are some things that we must forget (Philippians 3:13), and there are some things that we should never forget. For instance Deuteronomy 4:9 reads: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”
Let’s invest in our upcoming generation because they are our only hope to preserve the things that we hold dear to our hearts. Our great country, our Judeo-Christian value system, our faith in the eternal truths of God’s Holy Word and especially the gospel that our Lord commanded to pass on to all generations until we pass on or He returns!
Four Realities of Churches in America
According to a recent study of church growth in America some startling realities have surfaced. For instance, 65% of churches are either declining or have plateaued – 56% are in absolute decline and 9% are plateaued. That means that only 35% of churches are growing.
Here are highlights from the study:
1. We are a nation of small churches. · Over 61% of the churches studied averaged fewer than 100 in worship services.
2. The smaller the church, the greater the rate of decline in attendance. · A church of 200 declines at a rate of 4% per year, while a church with less than 100 declines at a rate of 7.6% per year. Life expectancy of a declining church is 10 years or less.
3. Growing small churches are primarily growing through transfer growth. · Only 6 to 7.5% are growing through conversions.
4. Churches growing through conversions are intentionally evangelistic. · Growing churches are going after lost people who need the Lord! · Growing churches are constantly looking for ways to reach the lost! · Growing churches use every available tool such as websites, special days, revival meetings, evangelistic, enthusiastic music, Sunday Schools, bus ministries, Awanas, but most of all personal one on one soul-winning.
· Let’s be a growing church, what do you say?
How can you connect with someone that you think has absolutely nothing in common with you?
Can you have a healthy, productive relationship with them?
One of the best ways to connect with someone is to find ONE THING that you have in common or agree with them. Most people only look for or react to DIFFERENCES. There are reasons for this, sometimes it is due to:
· COMPETITION. Many people feel that other people are competing with them and they look at how they can find a competitive edge.
· CONFLICT. When you focus on the area where you agree with someone else, you are always on safe ground because you are both right.
· CORRECTION. We all need pencil erasers:) … and when we realize that we all make mistakes we can be a little more accepting and connecting!
· COMPARISON. Some people who look for the worst in others may be trying to make themselves look better. Remember that connection is the key to the beginning of long, lasting, healthy relationships!
Begin today to “connect” with someone even if you have many differences😊 Amen?
Someone has well said that Friendship is like money, it’s easier made than kept. Always remember that relationships must continually be maintained.
What are some ways that we can cultivate our relationships?
Try focusing on these six things:
1. Commitment. · Every long-lasting relationship suffers strains and setbacks. Even the best relationships face conflict. The question is, what will you do when trouble comes? How committed are you?
2. Communication. · Do you enjoy communicating with your loved ones? Are you a good listener? Do you give others your undivided attention when they’re talking?
3. Friendship. · Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times.” Are you a friend? Do you really love and care about your friends? Are you making new friends?
4. Memories. · Shared memories are a wonderful source of connection and bonding for people. Have you ever attended a family or school reunion? Memories are what helps you to reconnect instantly!
5. Growth. · Find ways to keep your relationship fresh and strong and the best way is to GROW TOGETHER!
6. Enjoyment. · Love life, laugh together, have fun, never lose the “child in you”, learn to laugh at one another’s mistakes. Do something crazy often! Believe me you will have fun and build great memories!
“Two are Better than One”
The power of people sticking together has been tried and proven for thousands of years. King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9
Consider these truths about companionship:
· If you isolate yourself from others, you are two to three times more likely to die an early death. This is true whether you take care of yourself by exercising and refraining from vices.
· If you isolate yourself from others, you are more likely to contract terminal cancer.
· If you are divorced, separated, or widowed, you have a five to ten times greater chance of being hospitalized for a mental disorder than if you are married.
· If you are a pregnant woman without good personal relationships, your chances of having some kind of complication are three times as great as those with strong relationships, even given the same amount of stress.
Stop and think of someone who has been a great blessing and help to you. Can you name more than one? If so you are greatly blessed and you must be a wonderful person!
As a church let’s begin to practice TEAMWORK! Why? Because “two are better than one.”
Are you trustworthy? Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”
Why do many relationships fall apart? The reasons for such breakdowns are many, but the cause that outweighs all others is broken trust. Webster defines trust as, “A firm belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, reliability or justice of another person.”
Someone has well said, “You may not know what trust is, but you know what it isn’t.” If someone lies to you, steals from you, or physically harms you, then you know that you can’t trust them.
What kind of person must you be in a relationship to be worthy of another person’s trust? Ponder on these thoughts:
· Trust is the foundation of any relationship.
· Never let the situation mean more to you than the relationship.
· If you have a problem with everyone, you are most likely the problem.
· When preparing for battle, dig a foxhole big enough for a friend.
· It is a greater compliment to be trusted than to be loved.
“Are You Teachable?”
Plato was known for saying, “When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear."
Scripture tells us in Proverbs 1:5 – “A wise man will hear and will increase learning …"
”People who learn are those who have a teachable attitude! We can learn from everyone!"
Are you being observant of others?
Are you a listener or simply a talker?
Most of the time people can teach things when they aren’t even trying to teach us things.
If you do not believe this just ask any parent if they learned lessons from their own children as they were growing and even before they could talk to them.
The only time that people cannot teach us things is when we are unwilling to listen and learn!
So, how can we learn from others?
· Make learning your passion.
Never become comfortable. Keep growing and learning.
· Value people.
People don’t learn from people that they don’t value.
· Develop healthy relationships.
Learning is often the reward for spending time with remarkable people. Who they are and what they know will rub off on us.
· Identify other people’s uniqueness and strengths.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I have never met a man who was not my superior in some particular.”
· Ask Questions.
Remember that learning begins with listening and understanding someone involves learning from them.
“Are you a Lifter or a Downer?”
Do you realize that you can be a lifter or a downer? I really believe that most people are literally starving for encouragement. If you really desire to be a lifter you will:
· Reach out to the hurting.
A smile, a kind word can lift people more than you can ever imagine, especially to those who are the closest to you.
· Strive to be positive.
Nothing negative ever helps. Staying positive always makes a difference in your life as well as others.
· Always be reminded of the brevity of life.
Someone has well said, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
· Be as Christ-like as you can possibly be in every setting of your life.
You don’t have to be rich or famous to practice our Lord’s life teachings. Love one another, Serve one another, Forgive one another, Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you, etc.
· Always think of others more than yourself.
Instead of putting others in their place, we must put ourselves in their place.
“ … charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.” - Deuteronomy 3:28
Everyone needs encouragement! Evidently in the passage above Joshua needed encouragement to complete his assignment from God. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t function better when they were encouraged! Do you need encouragement today? Perhaps God led you to our church for that particular purpose😊 Please allow us to encourage you today!
Kevin McHale was an outstanding player for the Boston Celtics during their championship years. He said this about his legendary coach, K.C. Jones: “After every loss, or whenever somebody had taken a bad shot at the end of the game, he’d be the first one to walk over, pat the guy on the back and say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get ‘em next time.’ But he’d never come up to you after you’d do something great. So, I asked him about it one night, and he said, ‘Kevin, after you’ve made the winning basket, you’ve got 15,000 people cheering for you, TV stations come at you, and everybody is giving you high-fives. You don’t need me then. When you need a real friend is when you feel that nobody likes you.”
Who do you know that needs encouragement? Do not wait another second, encourage someone right now!