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September 11, 2018, 11:45 AM

September 12, 2018

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

Jesus left us the Great Commission. We’ve talked about it at great length over the past few months. The synopsis of the Great Commission is that all Christians are to make disciples and teach them to follow the ways of Christ. Yet, for some reason, we struggle with making disciples. Is Jesus worth talking about? Do we care enough about lost people to teach them the only way to be saved? Do we know how to express to others the mission Jesus left for us? How many disciples have we made since becoming a Christian?

How can we effectively share Jesus with those who are lost? We must seek opportunities and make a real effort to connect with them. One of the first things we can do is to intentionally meet with them. We must spend time with people so that we get to know them and build a relationship with them. People have a very difficult time discussing spiritual matters when they are uncomfortable. How often have we heard the excuse “I don’t know what to say”? Think back to Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. He started the conversation by asking her for a drink of water. Although He knew everything about her lifestyle, He did not begin the conversation by criticizing her. It would be wonderful if we could learn to do the same.

As we build relationships, there comes a time when we must address sin. However, we cannot address sin with others until we have confronted sin in our own life. When we address sin, the world will call us judgmental because the desire of the world is to make people “feel good” about themselves regardless of lifestyle. Yet, when sin is confronted, it gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do His work of convicting. Discussing sin is the hard part but is often softened through trusted relationships.

Look again at the passage above very carefully. A true friend shares the truth even though it is painful. There will be occasions when the person will get mad, or worse, break the friendship. Does that mean we have failed? No! It means we have been obedient to Jesus in sharing the truth of His Word by inviting others to be followers. There will be others who will surrender to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and be set free in Christ. What a celebration will follow! We encourage you to make the most of every opportunity, develop friendships based on the truth, and see people come to know Jesus before it is too late.

                                                                                                                    We love you,

                                                                                                                    Brad and Virginia

September 4, 2018, 6:31 PM

September 5, 2018

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.?  Psalm 62: 5-8
     The days in which we live are very unsettling.  The threat of war in the Middle East looms heavier every day, another shooting in our nation and the reality of evil that exists all around us.  We look around us only to find people stumbling through life without any real sense of purpose.  There is an encompassing attitude that has taken over our nation.  It is the attitude of carelessness, apathy, and entitlement.  This attitude, that seems to dominate our society, is the same experienced as a fifth grade teacher some years ago.  There is an overwhelming desire to obtain goals and receive accolades without any effort.
     How does this attitude of deserving play out in our churches?  People seem to have come to the conclusion that all people, regardless of relationship with Christ, will be saved.  After all, we deserve God's best ? right?  We've left the truth of God's Word for the deception of our own selfish attitude.  The deserving attitude has become very popular in religious circles.  The Bible clearly shares the love and compassion of God by telling us that ?it is God's desire that all come to repentance and be saved?.  However, the Bible clearly reveals that salvation is only possible in a restored relationship with God.   That restoration is possible only through Jesus.  Let us be sure to share the truth with others which negates the attitude of deserving.  We do not deserve everlasting life!  In fact, we all deserve death because we are stained and marred with sin.  Romans 6:23 tells us; ?The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord?.  It is definitely not something we deserve but is totally God-given.
     It is through our relationship with God that we understand a real sense of purpose for our lives.  We are all here to serve Him!  Our purpose is God-centered which is totally opposite of the self-centered attitude of our society. Sadly, those who are lost do not realize the true meaning of this life.    We are called to teach and make disciples of all nations.  There is a real sense of urgency about our calling.  Let us be laborers in God's field because the harvest is truly plentiful.  May you have a blessed week as you diligently share with others the message of truth. 
                                                                                                                                                     We love you,
                                                                                                                                                     Brad and Virginia

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August 28, 2018, 1:46 PM

August 29, 2018

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Have you ever been told to “get a life”? We really do not need to “get a life” but to exchange our life for the life of Christ. Have you exchanged your life? Many have gone through the motions of believing Jesus without truly experiencing the exchanged life. When we exchange our life for Jesus’ life, there is a transformation that takes place. It can really be described as living the life of Jesus. People find themselves in one of two situations. They are either living to die or dying to live. That sounds like just another strange quote from Christians, however, it truly depicts the way we live. Most people find themselves living to die because it is the trap of the fleshly nature. They become stuck in the ways of the world rather than living the life of Christ.

“The identity assigned by the world is imbibed as we develop as persons and begin to view ourselves as others see us or as we think they see us and, sometimes, as we would like for them to see us. This assessment of ourselves may be totally unrealistic, positively or negatively; we may think too much of ourselves or too little. In either case, it is an identity built on people, performance, possessions, power, and our past. Such an identity is based on doing for ourselves, others, and God in our own strength. In other words, we are doing (or not doing) in order to be.” Dr. Charles R. Solomon

The enemy truly loves for us to base our identity on the thoughts of others. We can literally wear ourselves down trying to do all the things we believe others desire of us. As we do that, our service in the Kingdom suffers. You see, our identity in Christ has nothing to do with our perception of how others see us or what our past behavior has been. Our identity in Christ is not attained by works but is obtained by faith. That means it is not about the performance driven life of the flesh that seeks to please others. Does that mean I can neglect the duties that are required of me? No way! It means that I put forth the very best effort in all that I seek to accomplish. It is not a matter of trying to impress or please others, but the desire to live out our lives in Christ. In doing so, we seek to please God as we obediently accomplish the task He has set before us. Our prayer is that you are living the exchanged life and experiencing the freedom that comes in full surrender to Jesus.

                                       We love you,

                                       Brad and Virginia

August 21, 2018, 11:45 AM

August 22, 2018

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

There was once a common thread that permeated throughout our country. It was the sense of being a part of the greatest country of all time. We have certainly had our struggles as a nation, but somehow, we knew we could rally together when we faced a common enemy. The common thread of unity seems to be waning at a rapid pace. We seem to be more focused on what we are able to do individually rather than collectively. Any football team or business understands that much more is accomplished when team members work together. What has made this such a great nation? First, it has been our history of dependence on Almighty God. There was a time when we depended heavily upon God and trusted Him to solve our issues. However, today we see less and less dependence on God and more dependence upon ourselves. This has been a glaring reason for the moral decline and the negativity we face today. Second, this nation has been great because there was an attitude of working together toward a common goal with a commitment to excellence that would ensure success.

We need a movement of God in our country. We hear of pockets of revival throughout our land. What would happen if we were all on the same team? It seems we are constantly competing among ourselves. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, as God’s people, would catch the vision of the common goal and strive to reach it? We can’t possibly accomplish all Kingdom work alone. We need each other and a clear vision to see people come to Jesus regardless of who gets the credit or the church members. One huge problem is the focus on ourselves. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of “what’s in it for me” or similar, what will make our church look better than all the rest? Our prayer is that we become much more excited about discipleship than membership. Jesus plainly said that He came to serve not to be served. He has given us the commission to continue the work He started. If that’s the desire of Jesus, then it should be our desire too!

We have been so blessed as Christians in America. Oftentimes we take that blessing for granted as we lose sight of our real purpose. It seems we are searching more for ways to grow apart rather than ways to become unified. The real answer is to foster a sense of unity among our people. Where do we find the thread that pulls us all together? It is only found in Jesus! What things can we do to help bring about unity? For us, as Christians, we are to be Christ’s ambassadors in our society. That means we are showing God’s love and sharing real purpose with those we contact each day. We should be showing people the true, life principles needed to draw them closer to God and help them understand the purpose for living. There is a strong message for the Church. We must display unity among ourselves if we are to help instill unity among others. Let us, as God’s people, seek to please God while helping others rather than living a life to please ourselves! May God use us continually as we seek to be and build disciples!

                                                                                                                                                               We love you,

                                                                                                                                                               Brad and Virginia

August 14, 2018, 4:44 PM

August 15, 2018

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Last week we examined two of the functions of the Church. This week we will examine two others. Before we discuss the two functions for this week, let us review briefly from last week. Evangelism is the activity of believers reaching out in the community and beyond to share the message of Jesus with others. Exaltation is the activity of believers coming together corporately to worship, praise and acknowledge God. It is sad that so many church-goers have no idea about the structure and function of the Church. Why does the Church exist and what are we to be doing? We are to be and build disciples!

The functions we will discuss this week are edification and education. There are many things we (Plant City) can be involved in but the functions we’ve discussed these two weeks represent what we do. Edification is the process whereby we encourage and build up each other. As we see chaos all around us, it is very important that believers encourage each other as we face numerous trials. As Christians, we must commit to pray, encourage and serve one another. It is sad that commitment is lacking in so many churches today. Commitment is involvement and participation in the functions of the Church.

The other function to share this week is education. Discipleship is not an option in the local church. We must be a disciple-making church. We must take the time to teach new Christians and challenge them to grow up spiritually. We have gone far too long with church members remaining baby Christians. A huge part of what we do at Plant City must be to build disciples that will in turn build other disciples. This takes time, but we are committing ourselves with the mission of being and building disciples!

On another note, please do not forget Homecoming this Sunday. We are looking forward to a great day as Brother Andy Buchanan will be here to share God’s word and Heartline will be here to sing. Please make plans to be here as we worship and fellowship together. We are praying that you are having a blessed week as you faithfully serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus!

                                                                                                                                      We love you,

                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

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