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September 25, 2018, 11:47 AM

September 26, 2018

“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

Are you able to find hope in this world? Christians should be encouragers that shine ever brighter in this dark world. Where do you turn for encouragement in these uncertain days? We live in a world of deception, uncertainty, and heartache. Christians are certainly not immune to the problems of this world. Those who should be leaders (political and spiritual) sometimes make empty promises that can never be kept and yet people continue to believe and even trust them. It shows that people are looking for any possible way to escape their burdens. As Christians, we should be different. We should be the ultimate truth tellers and encouragers. There should never be any question about our standing with God.

We need friends who are honest with us, who never compromise God’s Word to make us feel good, and who are true encouragers in spite of a fallen world. If you have friends like that, be sure to thank God for them every day. As important as encouraging friends are, we have an even greater source of encouragement for these difficult days. Our greatest encouragement is found in God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible shares with us the constant reminder that this world is only temporary as we move toward eternal life. We are reminded in Psalm 46:1 that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble”. We need to read and understand those words because we certainly live in a world of trouble.

God’s Word never promises that we will be exempt from struggles in this world. In fact, it is clear that we will face difficulties because we trust and follow Jesus. The world hated (and continues to hate) Him and also hates His followers today. However, we must “stay the course” through times of uncertainty and persecution. “Staying the course” is not a phrase that is taken well in our culture. We desire for every troublesome issue to be resolved quickly and without consequences. Life is just not that way. Things are brought into perspective when we read and meditate on the passage above. Jesus endured ridicule, rejection and the burden of the cross so that we could truly live. As you face difficult circumstances, be encouraged by God’s love and presence in your life. Then, as you are encouraged, be an encourager to someone else. We pray that you are all having a very blessed week as you strive to encourage others.

                                                                                                                  We love you,

                                                                                                   Brad and Virginia

September 18, 2018, 2:54 PM

September 19, 2018

?For we live by faith, not by sight.?  2 Corinthians 5:7 
     What are some things God is doing in your life right now?  God wants us to know Him, serve Him and be an example to the world around us.  God has chosen us to accomplish His work in the world.  How would we describe the job we are doing?  We make excuses that God does not want to hear.  Moses did the same thing.  He told God that he could not speak eloquently so he informed Him to use someone else.  Have you ever done something similar?  We are all guilty of making excuses.  Yet, what are we missing when we do that?  When God calls us, He has chosen us to accomplish a task that will impact eternity.  If we refuse, He will find someone else for the task.  However, not only do we miss the opportunity to impact eternity, we also miss the blessings associated with it.
     Sometimes God will give us an assignment that appears well above what we could accomplish.  At that moment, we must decide what we really believe about Him.  The way we respond speaks volumes about our faith.  Look carefully at the passage above.  Many, if not most, Christians are walking by sight rather than by faith.  Walking by sight leaves God out of the picture.  If God calls us to a task, regardless of the size, He will supply everything we need to accomplish it.  We must rely upon Him completely in every circumstance.  How can the world see Jesus in us if we are not willing to trust Him enough to carry on His work?  Maybe that should be asked another way.  How will the world see Jesus if He cannot depend on Christians to carry out the task to which they have been called? 
     The truth is that there are Christians worldwide who risk their lives and family for the mission of Jesus.  Can the same be said here in the United States?  We have more resources, money and manpower to accomplish the task Jesus gave us, yet the task remains largely undone around us.  Do we really believe?  Do we really trust God's power?  Are we really willing to risk everything for Jesus' sake?  We are starting to understand what it means to become a disciple-making church.  God's way is becoming clearer and the desire to carry out the mission Jesus gave us is unfolding.  We are learning more and more of what it means to make disciples.  We must completely trust God, even when we do not understand, so that we accept the task and depend on Him to complete it through us.  Thanks for all you are doing to see that Plant City Baptist truly becomes a disciple-making church!
                                                                                                                                                                We love you,
                                                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

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

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