Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Faith That Works

Wow! What a weekend we all had! Tim and Cario Stewart had told me that we have broken the 100 mark of those in attendance for our last Saturday's 5th Annual Christmas banquet! Finally, after 4 years of "Showing Jesus" to our visitors during the banquet, God provided the triple digits! Even with the triple digits, some of our members could not attend the banquet this year.

I want to extend my thanks to all those who took part of the planning, set-up and clean-up! Without each of you, there will be no banquet to celebrate Jesus and to shine our light and love on those whom we have invited. May God bless those who have served. A very special thanks to our chairpersons, Dennis and Cindi Cesone, for their hard work keeping us focused and prepared! Again, what an awesome weekend! God is good!

Let's talk about "Faith That Works"... James offers several similarities to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount than any other book in the New Testament. James relied "heavily" on Jesus' teaching and this is something we, as Christians, ought to do: "Rely Heavily On God's Word!". Here's the lesson:

1. When your life is full of difficulties and persecutions, guess what? BE GLAD! A reward awaits you! (James 1:2, Mt. 5:10-12)
2. You are to be PERFECT, MATURE, and COMPLETE, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, Mt. 5:48)
3. ASK God, and He will answer. (James 1:5; 5:15, Mt. 7:7-12)
4. Those who are HUMBLE (who don't amount much by the world's standards) should REJOICE in their position as those whom God loves. (James 1:9, Mt. 5:3)
5. Watch out for your ANGER. . . . . It can be dangerous! (James 1:20, Mt. 5:22)
6. Be MERCIFUL to others, as God is MERCIFUL to you. (James 2:13, Mt. 5:7; 6:14)
7. Your FAITH to others express itself in helping others. (James 2:14-16, Mt. 7:21-23)
8. Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS; they sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18, Mt. 5:9)
9. When we HUMBLE ourselves and realize our need for God, He will come to us and lift us up. (James 4:10, Mt. 5:3-4)
10. Don't SLANDER or speak against others, it speaks against God's command to love one another. (James 4:11, Mt. 7:1-2)
11. Be PATIENT in suffering, as God's prophets were PATIENT! (James 5:10, Mt. 5:12)

If we do not rely heavily on God's Word everyday, then how can we grow in faith? If we only learn God's Word on Sundays and Wednesdays, then how can we become strong in the faith? When we do the things that pleases God, won't you hear God speak to your heart saying, "Well done, my faithful servant!" Do the faith that works!

God, we're so blessed to have You in our lives! We feel Your love as we continue to worship You and serve out Your Will in Your Kingdom! Blessed be Your Name, Lord! Blessed be Your Name! Pray that we will grow to be a mature Christian before You. Please help us learn these important characteristics of faith. Our strength comes from You! Especially, when we face trials of all kinds, help us be GLAD! We rejoice in Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Monday, December 06, 2004

God's Standard of Giving

Lord, thank You for yesterday, when we came to worship You! You surely have blessed us in many ways and Your Word is heart-piercing and eternal! All I want to say, on behalf of the Fairfax Deaf Ministry, is that You are an Awesome God! How awesome are Your ways! How awesome is Your love!

God, bless those who came to worship God yesterday and bless those who worshipped God elsewhere! It was an awesome day and thank You, God! I must say that all of us were hit hard, as if by a freight train, when the lesson is about, "Giving". We're selfish from the day we're born! As a baby, you're always saying, "Mine! Mine!", even through our childhood, we say that. As a teen, we say, "More! Want!" and we crave for the things we need to fulfill our "selfish desires". We're nothing but hungry animals seeking to please ourselves. That's where we need God the most! Why? We ask Him to help us be humble, seek others when they are in need, instead of fulfilling self, we fulfill our Spirit by helping others in their need of fulfillment. Then in turn, those who have matured as a Christian will change to deny self and begin to fulfill others in their needs. Therefore, "giving" is the least talked about anywhere, especially in the church! However, it's the second greatest theme in the Bible next to salvation!

The word, "Believe" is used 272 times. Believe is pretty important, huh? 272.
The word, "Pray", (Hey, Christians should pray daily!) is used 371 times. Pray, 371.
The word, "Love". God is love as the Bible tells us. "Love" is used 714 times. Yes, important!

"Hand wave" everyone! (drumroll)

The word, "Give" is, ladies' and gentlemen, used 2,162 times! "Giving, gave, give, given" and Jesus used this more often!

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV)

If I don't understand God's standard of giving, (here! pay attention), if I don't understand God's standard of giving, then I don't understand what it means to truly know Jesus Christ personally. God talked about it not once, twice but 2,162 times! If you're interested in a full version outline, please go to www.fxcc.org/deaf and click on sermon outlines/notes. It will be posted after 12/8/04. ;)

"The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to fear the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 14:23 (NLT) He doesn't need your money! He owns it all! He's the Creator and He created all things on earth! Everything is the Lord's! He is saying, "I want you, people that I love, people that matter to Me, I want you to give as a reminder that I am first place, that I am Lord in your life."

"On every Lord's day each of you should put aside something of what you have earned during the week." 1 Corinthians 16:2 (NIV) Every Christian has a responsibility. This shows that we're expected to be assembled to worship God and prepare for the "offering" showing that God is "first in my life."

"Remember this, whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV) If we come to God with a teacup offering, we will get a teacup blessing back. If we come to God with an eighteen-wheeler truckload of offering, whoooooom, what is going to happen? You will receive so much blessing that you won't be able to handle it.

"Give", it is the only safe investment for eternity (1 Timothy 6:18-19 (MSG)) You can't take it with you but you can send it on ahead. You invest your money in people who are going there (heaven). It is an eternal investment. No risks involved. That is basically why I should follow God's standard of giving, right from the Bible!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Streams of Life

Here's a couple of lines from one of the Zoe songs:

All who are thirsty,
All who are weak,
Come to the fountain,
Dip your heart in the streams of life....

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14 (NIV)

Also read Ezekiel 17 which awesomely applies to our lives, especially Christians whom are rooted into the "streams of life.":

"But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its root toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine." Ezekiel 17:7-8 (NIV)

We must understand that "grapes" in the Old Testament symbolized Israel's fruitfulness in doing God's work on the earth and producing fruitfulness among each other. John 15 also talks about the vine which is Christ and that God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The fruitful branches are true believers who, by their living union with Christ, produce much fruit. But those who become unproductive - those who turn back from following Christ after making a superficial commitment (lukewarm Christians (Rev. 3:16)), will be separated from the vine, namely Jesus. Again, I hate to say this but it's the truth, that unproductive followers are as good as dead and will be cut off and tossed aside.

Picture yourselves as a flower in God's flowerbed... Do you think God would want to leave a withering flower in His bed? Even though, He has tried over and over, through His servants, through your dreams, through His Word (water) as you read it, to change you into a beautiful flower. He pours out streams of living water into the flower of your soul but you may refuse to drink it with joy.

If it is written in the Word what will happen to withering, unproductive, dried-up Christians, I pray that each of His people return to the "streams of life" where you will abundantly drink His goodness and love and be changed so the world will see the "streams of living water" welling up from your soul (John 13:14)

Drink Jesus!

Power of the Spirit

There was a story of a couple during the first winter that he and his wife were married was marked by severe blizzards. They can vividly remember one Sunday when we awoke to find that the electricity had been knocked out by an ice storm. Huddled around a battery-powered radio for news on that frigid Sunday, we heard a most unusual announcement. The announcer, before giving the list of church services canceled due to the ice storm, said, "The following churches will be closed due to lack of power." What an interesting comment! They knew what he meant, but they were struck by what he said.

The idea of churches closing due to lack of power leads us to some spiritual parallels that directly tie into Jesus' promise of the Spirit. Just before His ascension, Jesus told His men in Acts 1:8, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." He was talking about the coming of the Spirit which will be given to the empowering believers. This gives us reason to examine some important issues in this concluding part.

What Is Power? The word power used by Jesus in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word, "dunamis." It is defined variously as "strength, power, or ability." Specifically, it refers to "supernatural power, strength or force, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth." This spiritual power is not natural to the believer, however. Notice, very carefully that it is natural to the Person of the Holy Spirit who resides within the believer. How does this power display itself in our lives? Here is one possible (though probably more) and clear ways the Holy Spirit expresses His power in the lives of the redeemed.

Power For Life. How does the Spirit express life in us? By causing our lives to be obviously different from the hopeless world that surrounds us. Notice Paul's words in Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

The power of the Holy Spirit provides for us the things that human effort, religion and righteousness could never achieve. He is there to empower our living with a glorious inspiration of joy, peace, and hope that can carry us through the trials and hardships. Here are a couple of things that I learned the contrast between the world and God:

In a world that is in crazy pursuit of happiness, we can have joy by the power of the Holy Spirit. In a world that is crying out from the grief of constant conflict, we can have true peace.
In a world that is filled with empty despair and a vague future, we can have a bright hope.


Because the power of the Holy Spirit can builds us (equip) for life in a way that the world cannot understand! His power can enable us to experience the things that the world longs for, but are ours by the Spirit. This is the abundant life Jesus spoke of--a life that is full and rich and deep and lasting. A life that is lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Here's one of my favorite song that I have not sung in such a long time:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow--
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness!

How is the power in your life?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Please read this article I found on the internet in regards to, "Deeper".

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

Have you ever heard the following statement: “I wish the sermons at church would be deeper?” Maybe you have even said it yourself. Many times we feel like our study of God’s word is too superficial and that we need to study “deeper” material. But the question that we should really ask ourselves is, “What is deeper?

This is an excellent question for those of us who seek to truly know the Bible and follow Christ. Too many times we simply don’t know how to articulate what or where “deeper” is. Often, we are really just looking for an emotional fix to our current life situation. The problem with emotional fixes is their inherent inconsistency. What does it for us one day may not do it for us the next. Our emotional responses change right along with life’s circumstances. What we need to remember when we start looking for something new is that we are often following a shift in our emotions, not necessarily our spirit.

This shift is very important to recognize because Satan can use it as a tool to drag you away from where God wants you to be. If you spend your life looking for a certain emotion, you will merely drift from one place to another, like a ship without a rudder. Eventually you will run up on dry land, trapped by the very shallowness you were trying to avoid.

To avoid drifting we need to follow the true “deeper” journey that is presented to us in the Bible. One of the greatest examples is the command that Jesus gives us in Matthew 22:39, “'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” This command calls us to accept another person, regardless of how we feel about them. Jesus was calling us to get outside of our comfort zone and to do life the way that he did. Jesus didn’t spend all of his time with his closest friends. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors while others disapproved. He touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable. It wasn’t easy, but it was deep.

The Bible and all of its lessons can take you as deep as you are willing to go – and beyond. But it takes work. You have to take the leap. Don’t follow your emotional tide. Put the lessons into practice – then try it somewhere other than your comfort zone. Take what you already know and apply it to your life. God will take you on a “deeper” journey than you ever knew was possible.

Mark's note: Amen to this! Going "deeper" into the Word of God is going to those who need us the most: our love, our eyes, our hands, our hearts, and most of all - our time. Many of us attend church for many reasons: because we have to, because my friends go there, because my parents says so, or because it is what everyone does. But we attend church to learn to walk like Jesus by studying and listening to His Word. We bring home a verse or verses we learned and chew on it everyday. It feeds the Spirit living inside us and helps us be "Deeper Christians" among our friends and families. This is my prayer for each of those who are "committed" to Him!