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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

August 7, 2018, 8:13 PM

August 8, 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

How often do you hear this question: Do I have to go to church to be saved? That question is coming up more and more in daily conversations. The short answer is no. However, there is a much deeper issue. Why would you not want to go to church? The number one answer to that question has to do with “hypocrites”. You probably hear that same excuse over and over. There are hypocrites in every walk of life. You work with them, go to church with them and are probably friends with them. Would you allow someone to keep you from worshipping God corporately? Would you allow someone to keep you from times of fellowship and spiritual maturity? Would you allow that “hypocrite” to keep you from having an encouraging impact on someone else? When we allow hypocrites to keep us away from church, we miss some of the greatest blessings God has for us.

What is the Church all about anyway? What are the functions of the Church? We will examine two of those functions this week. The church should be about evangelism. Scripture tells us very plainly that we are to be reaching out to those who are far away from Jesus. We reach out by sharing the message of Jesus with as many people as we can. We reach out by ministering to those around us who are in need. We reach out by developing real relationships with people so that we can be an example of truth to them. We may be the only Jesus some will ever see. Exaltation is when we join together as a local body to worship God. Whenever the early church gathered together they spent time in corporate worship. Everyone was coming together for the purpose of praising the name of Jesus. We need this time of worship together to draw us close as a family.

It is easy to make excuses for not attending worship. Many say they can worship alone at home while listening to television preachers. Others say they can worship God in nature while hunting or fishing. While these may be true, God’s Word instructs us to gather for corporate worship. Look carefully at the passage above. We are not to forsake meeting together because we need each other. Corporate worship draws us together like nothing else and gives us the opportunity to encourage each other. You may not need encouraging today but there will be a time when you need Christians around you. Why would anyone desire to miss that? Christians should be the ones who can get along despite differences, lay aside personal preferences for the good of the family, and overcome obstacles that negatively affect our worship. In this way, we truly worship God and encourage each other to be bold in our faith. May we thank God for the privilege of corporate worship and make every effort to participate. You will be richly blessed!

                                                                                                                                        We love you,

                                                                                                                                        Brad and Virginia

July 31, 2018, 1:28 PM

August 1. 2018

How would you finish this statement: I love God because.… We could all spend a long time answering that statement. It makes us pause and think of all the ways God blesses us each day. Listen to the words of Psalm 116: 1-2:

“I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore, I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”

Pause today to give thanks to God for the many blessings you enjoy. Thank Him most of all for allowing you to have a relationship with Him through His Son, our Savior, Jesus.

Can you believe that another church year is just around the corner? There are so many opportunities to serve God in our church and community. Please consider prayerfully how God desires to use you to accomplish His plan. It was great having Ken Adams and Paul Smith with us Saturday to remind us that God has called us to be and build disciples. We are currently working on specific strategies to make Plant City a disciple-making church. In many ways, we have lost sight of the purpose God has for His children in a dark world. It is easy to become selfish as we enjoy our salvation while others have no relationship with God. Our prayer is that the excitement we experienced Saturday will continue into the new year and beyond. We also pray that we all feel God’s presence among us and sense His calling for our church.

As part of our deacon rotation, we will have deacon election on August 12. Remember, the office of deacon is one of service in our church and beyond. We want all that we do to be showered with prayer and for God to lead us to obey His will. Without prayer, we will never accomplish God’s plan. Please be in prayer for the one who will join our deacons to serve for the next three years.

Homecoming is just around the corner. Please continue to invite friends, neighbors, and former members as we celebrate a fun-filled day of worship. We are looking forward to having Andy Buchanan back to preach for us that day. We will also have Heartline joining us again this year to lead us in worship. It will be a wonderful day as we worship and fellowship with family and friends. Please make your plans to be here. It is so exciting to see what God is doing among us! It is such a blessing to see God at work in the lives of our people and to know that He is using us to carry out the Great Commission in our community.

May you have many opportunities to share the message of Jesus this week and may God’s blessings be yours in abundance as we serve Him together.

                                                                                                                 We love you,

                                                                                                                                                                            Brad and Virginia

July 10, 2018, 11:59 AM

July 11, 2018

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”         Romans 12:2

Is it possible to have Christianity without Christ? Is it possible to gain knowledge about God and His Word without being transformed? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ”. We’ve experienced a major breakdown in America: politically, socially, and morally. Yet, the greatest breakdown we’ve seen in this nation is the failure of Christians to carry out the Great Commission. We’ve failed to make disciples of Jesus and it is literally destroying us from within.

Are we a discipling church? If so, is our discipleship transformational? What if we caught the vision of transformational discipleship? Transformation means change. You see, without Jesus, our efforts are not transformational because it will leave people in the same spiritual condition. It is only in and through Jesus that real change takes place in our lives and the lives of others. Consider the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The knowledge and skills they learned had an impact on their lives and on the lives of others, but their hearts were not truly transformed. They ended up leading the people away from God’s grace. Could we be guilty of doing the same?

What about our young people today? You can be assured they are being taught in numerous ways by the world. Through countless marketing schemes, our young people are being targeted daily. The world is constantly seeking to conform inquiring minds to its ways. The passage above reminds us that our minds must be renewed by a transformation. True transformation occurs only when a person has a relationship with God by faith in Jesus. Anything else will leave you side-tracked, depressed, and constantly seeking something real. Folks, we have the only real truth. We must be sharing with others, spending time with them, and helping them understand Scripture. Discipleship takes time and effort. Our prayer is that we become focused on the need for discipleship and the command God has given us to make disciples. May we truly become a disciple-making church!

                                                                                                                                                                      We love and appreciate all of you,

                                                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

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