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November 14, 2017, 10:54 AM

November 14, 2017

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”  2 Corinthians 4:15            

How often do we miss Thanksgiving?  Sure, we get a day off, eat turkey, and watch ballgames but are we truly thankful?  Our culture has become obsessed with Halloween and then the focus becomes Christmas.  Of course, the celebration of Christmas has become so secularized that we miss the real meaning of the season (yes, Christians too).  However, that is a topic for another time.  Why celebrate Thanksgiving?  It’s just the real start date for Christmas shopping … right?  Although this year the advertising is already all about “black Friday” prices before “black Friday”.  That is sad.  We will never understand or celebrate Thanksgiving until we experience thanks-living and that comes from a life of contentment.

            Over the past few weeks I have been reading some very interesting articles about Thanksgiving.  This week I would like to share a few thoughts and quotes from some of the articles.

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when joy in the blessings given from above overflows into the blessings given all around.”

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when the thanks for His vertical, coming-down grace is expressed as a horizontal, reaching-out grace.”

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when thanksgiving to God overflows into a joy of giving.”

            “The joy of giving thanks is ultimately expressed in the joy of giving.”

            “Grateful people search for the good while everyone else finds the bad.”

            “In the midst of the negative experiences of life, grateful people actively seek the positive, identify it, and recount it for others to hear.”

            “Life would be radically different if we lived in a constant state of gratitude.”

 

            As we approach Thanksgiving, let us not get carried away by the rush to Christmas.  Enjoy what Thanksgiving is all about.  Yes, we have entered the “season of giving” but shouldn’t that be the case throughout the year?  May we truly experience the joy of giving not because we are obligated to someone or feel the need to return a favor but because we desire to give to those who are neglected, lonely or hurting.  We probably all have more than we could possibly use so let’s share with others and experience a season of thanks-living!

 

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




November 7, 2017, 2:33 PM

November 8, 2017

“Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7
 
     Sunday morning we learned that our enemy does not like us, desires to draw us away from God and see that we live miserable lives.  Satan continually works his plan today just as he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The key element to his strategy is to get us away from worshiping God.  He does this by making sure there is a plethora of distractions to fill our life.  His distractions usually involve worry, money, and pleasures in some form.  What happens next?
 
     As Satan's plan progresses, thoughts begin to drift away from obedience to God toward fulfilling our own desires.  Do you remember how Sarah developed her own plan for Abraham to have children because she was convinced that she was too old?  Satan still works the very same way.  He provides just the right set of circumstances so that the temptation is huge.  The choice is all ours to make, but with all the other factors in place and the looming temptation, a correct decision becomes extremely difficult.
 
     We've all faced it!  You may be facing similar circumstances today and on the verge of a wrong, potentially devastating decision.  This is not where God would have you to be.  Recognize the warning signals of drifting away from God's plan.  Look carefully at the passage above.  Submit to God as you recognize that you cannot battle Satan all alone.  Call on God, worship Him, surround yourself with Christian friends and participate in corporate worship to help hold you accountable.  Resist the enemy's strategy realizing that he only desires to destroy your life.  Run to the Father because He is always eager to keep you safe.
 
                                                                                                                 We love you,
                                                                                                                 Brad and Virginia



October 31, 2017, 10:59 AM

November 1, 2017

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us.”  Psalm 67:1

     How often have we heard those words as a benediction?  We all pray for God's blessings and protection daily.  However, as usual, the enemy desires to deceive us.  Why do we ask for God's blessings?  More than likely, it is because we desire to enjoy a life free from problems and difficult circumstances.  Yet, that is not the real reason we should ask for God's blessings.  The remainder of this psalm specifically shares with us the reason we should desire to be blessed.  We are blessed so that God's ways may be known on earth (v. 4).
     So, we have a huge responsibility when we ask for God's blessings in our own life, for our family and for our church.  Whatever God gives us and shares with us is to be used to glorify His name and to tell others about Him.  We have been duped by the enemy thinking that everything God gives us is to be exclusively used for our benefit.  It is the psalmist's plea that all the nations would praise God, be glad and sing for joy.  He recognizes that this will happen only as God's people share their blessings with others.  From this psalm we also recognize God's sovereignty in the world.  God rules all the people of the earth justly and guides the nations of the earth.  The sad thing, people do not or will not recognize that God is in control.  Man, with his knowledge and ingenuity, cannot fathom God who is over all and controls every step.
     Has God blessed you?  How are you using those blessings to serve and glorify Him?  Are we using our blessings to share with others or strictly for our benefit?  There is a world full of hurting and lost people and God has blessed us beyond measure for a purpose.  If we were called on today to give an accounting of what we've done with our blessings, how would we answer?  I'm afraid I would certainly be lacking in what I should have done.  How about you?  Our life has purpose and meaning.  Our blessings are to be used to fulfill God's purpose for our life.  Our prayer is that the motive for the blessings we desire is so that we can better proclaim Jesus to the world and help others understand the need to know Him and praise Him.  May you be blessed abundantly this week so that you may in turn share those blessings to a lost world.
                                                                                                                                      We love you,
                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia




October 17, 2017, 10:08 AM

October 18, 2017

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”  I Corinthians 4:1-2

            We have shared on numerous occasions some of the traits of a disciple.  The passage above describes what it means to be a disciple.  As a disciple we are, first of all, servants of Christ.  The word Paul uses for servant is the Greek word hyperetas.  The word literally means an “under rower” in the sense that someone is a rower on a big galley ship.  One commentator describes this “under rower” as “one who acts under direction, and asks no questions, one who does the thing he is appointed to do without hesitation”.

            As servants of Jesus, we understand that our job is to manage the resources given to us.  We are to use our God-given resources in a way that honors Him.  Ken Adams very well sums up what God has entrusted to us.  “Disciples in our day must understand the difference between ownership and management.  Your time, treasure, temple, and talents all belong to God.  He has entrusted them into your care to be managed and used for His glory.  Being a good life manager is a mark of an authentic disciple of Jesus”.

            Paul also reminds us that a disciple of Christ must prove faithful.  Is God able to trust us and depend on us to be obedient to Him?  God has provided the resources and entrusted us with the task of sharing Jesus.  Are we using our resources wisely?  It becomes very easy to overlook our real purpose as we get caught in the world’s vicious trap of busyness.  Jesus reminded those seeking Him to count the cost of being a disciple.  It is not an easy life and persecution is a real possibility.  However, you will never find a more satisfying or rewarding life.  Let us ask God to put people in our path daily who need to hear the gospel message.  Let us also ask God to give us the right words for every situation so the message is presented adequately and accurately.  May you have an extraordinarily blessed week as we serve Him together.

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




October 10, 2017, 11:03 AM

October 11, 2017

“For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”  II Corinthians 11:14

Our world is in utter chaos.  As you hear and see the news, it reveals just how far we have drifted from the commands of God.  If we are not careful, it becomes very easy to lose our focus.  We are, by human nature, prone to wander away from God.  Remember the hymn from Sunday?  “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”.  The enemy certainly knows this and will put anything in our path to take our eyes away from our clear purpose.  The more we strive to accomplish God’s purpose, the more the enemy uses distractions along the way.  An important point for us to understand about the enemy is that he “masquerades as an angel of light”.  He doesn’t just use all bad things to trip us up.  He will keep us busy doing “good things” to stop us from doing “God things”.

Let me ask a question: Why does Plant City Baptist Church exist?  Our purpose is not to become a feel-good country club whereby we meet the wants and desires of members.  Our purpose is no different from the vision of those in the very beginning.  We are a congregation in the Plant City community of Lanett that must focus on a two-fold purpose.  First, we are to glorify God through worship and the proclamation of His Word.  Second, we are to edify (enlighten, inform, and strengthen) and equip believers to carry out God’s calling to share our faith and make disciples of all nations.  Yet, when we lose our focus and wander from the purpose of God, we become ineffective in our calling.

Do you know the way Satan uses most often to get us out of focus?  It is a two-letter word that we all know very well.  It is when the purpose of God gets all caught up in the concern for meOur prayer is that we are all striving to maintain the purpose of God as we consistently move ourselves out of the way.  The days are few and the work is tremendous!  We must continue to concentrate on the fundamentals to accomplish the work for which God has called us.  There are many, many distractions all around us.  A football team usually begins to struggle if they ever get away from the fundamentals that are practiced repeatedly.  Let us stick to the fundamentals of what God has called us to do and He will take care of the rest.  It may not look new and shiny or like everyone else but we will know we are glorifying our Heavenly Father.  We pray you are having a blessed and prosperous week in Christ!

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia


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