More Than Enough

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What do you do with leftovers?  You know, after you’ve eaten a meal, you’re full, but there is still food left over?  What do you do with it?

Well, I can remember a time when my metabolism was still in “teenager mode” and there weren’t any leftovers because I would eat all the food we prepared.  However, something has changed in those years since those days…for some reason, these days if I act like a human garbage disposal, the consequences seem to weigh heavily upon me!  So, instead, we now plan more carefully.

First, we try to estimate portions better when cooking or ordering out.  But sometimes we plan to cook more than we need and then put the extra portions in containers to freeze until needed.  Then we plan to use those extra servings at a meal later in the week.  It is great to have those extra meals ready to re-heat and serve!

Did you know that Jesus’ disciples had to deal with leftovers too?  For them it was a blessing and a lesson in faith.  You see, Jesus had headed across the Sea of Galilee after a particularly tough day.  But when He got to the other side He found a crowd waiting for Him to help them.  His heart was moved with compassion by their needs, so He healed those who were sick.

As evening approached, the disciples told Jesus that He should send the people away so they could go buy food, so they wouldn’t starve.  Jesus tells them that they should feed the crowd.  But they replied that they only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  They realized that the 5 loaves wouldn’t go very far in feeding 5000 men, plus women & children.  But Jesus asked for the fish & bread, thanked God for them, broke the bread and began giving the disciples pieces of the food to hand out to the people.  The people all ate, Matthew says, and WERE SATISFIED (Matt. 14:20).  Then, just in case we wouldn’t believe that all had eaten until full, Matthew records that they gathered up the leftovers:  12 full baskets of leftovers!

What are the needs in your life today?  If you have given your life fully to God, He has promised to care for you!  Surrender your needs and resources to His will and you will find that He is the God of “more than enough!”  You too can be blessed by God’s “leftovers!”

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On the Journey

“Are we there yet?”  Do you remember that question?  I remember asking that question as a child and hearing it as a parent.  I recall that my Dad often planned to travel at night when we headed out for a long trip…probably to avoid hearing that question!

We all, individually and as a church, are on a journey.  Often we get impatient and want to be at our destination already.  The trip can be tiring and we may encounter obstacles or problems.  However, I have found that the journey itself can be beneficial.  We can learn, grow and gain strength along the way.  We will encounter amazing places and wonderful people.  We will encounter God on our journey also.

Thousands of years ago a man named Zerubbabel led a group of the Jews from their Babylonian exile to return to the Promised Land to rebuild a temple that had been burned and broken down.  This was 70 years after the previous temple had been destroyed.  (You can read about this in the Bible books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai.)  They encountered challenges and difficulties, but also saw the Lord work on their behalf in miraculous ways as their temple was completed!

In February we met with representatives of our Design/Build team, including our Architect.  We are still “on the journey” of working on our Master Site Plan and the design of our Phase One building.  We hope to be able to present concept drawings of these plans sometime this Spring.  After that stage we will present the plan for funding this exciting project.  So please pray with us that God will continue to guide us so that we can make the best use of the blessings God has given and will give us!  We want to be faithful to “Reach the World and Teach the Word with Passion for Christ and Compassion for All!”

On what journey are you traveling?  What obstacles or problems have you encountered?  How has God been with you on the journey?  Let me encourage you to seek to follow Him and He will guide you to your destination…eventually!  But remember the journey itself will be worth the effort!  Join us on the journey!

The Quest – Day 30

This is the devotional for Wednesday, October 25, 2006 which is the 30th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 30 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

 Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 30 – Power Over Trials and Temptations

God gives us power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV)

Author Frank Moore’s family plays a board game called The Magnificent Race.  Players must overcome a series of obstacles while progressing in the worldwide race.  The arch villain of this board game is Dastardly Dan, who does everything in his power to discourage and bankrupt players.  Victory comes only after numerous battles with this villain. 

Christian living mirrors this board game in many ways.  Most days seem like a mad dash against a nearly impossible schedule.  We must each deal with our own Dastardly Dan arch villain in the form of Satan.  He’s pinned a bull’s-eye on our backs and targeted us for spiritual defeat.  Our quest today takes us on a search for power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.  Temptations attempt to derail our faith; trials test and strengthen it.

In today’s Scripture, James urges us to look on the positive side of our trials.  James lists four positive results that come from trials:

  1. We grow in patience (v. 4)
  2. We become mature and complete in our faith (vv. 4-5)
  3. We increase in faith (v 6)
  4. We receive a reward from God (v. 7)

The Bible warns us against surrendering to temptation.  Remember temptation targets us for defeat.  Paul talks about temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:12-14:  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” 

These passages reveal that:

  1. Temptation is a fact.
  2. Temptation usually catches us off guard.
  3. Temptation originates outside of us.
  4. Temptation is universal.
  5. Temptation has its limits.
  6. You can resist temptation.
  7. Once temptation passes, you’ll be left standing.

In the wilderness temptation (Matt. 4:1-11) and throughout His life, Jesus met Satan’s temptations and remained victorious at every encounter.  So can you!

The memory verse for this week is Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Thank you for stopping by to read (or listen to) FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org. 

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 4 of the Quest, “You can receive power,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.  You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net. 

Build your faith today by depending on God’s power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.

The Quest – Day 4

This is the devotional for Friday, September 29, 2006 which is the 4th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 4 of Frank Moore’s awesome book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s Kickoff service for the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

Day 4 – Trouble in River City

We need more than resolve and determination to live the Christian life.

But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.” (Mark 14:31 NIV)

The usual pattern of growth for new believers follows a similar path. New life in Christ begins with excitement and enthusiasm as God welcomes a new child into His family. Regular church attendance, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship mark the trail of the new believer. Along the way, new believers typically come to a realization that is similar to that of newlyweds: a painful awareness that there is a problem in their relationship. They can’t always put a finger on it. They’re not even willing to call it a problem at first. But over a period of weeks or months, they come to terms with the emerging realization that there’s trouble in River City with their faith walk. They fear that if they do not get to the source of the problem and solve it, their very relationship with Christ could be threatened.

There are several possible sources for this problem:

1. Sometimes you may sense things changing in your spiritual walk as it settles from the new and novel to a life pattern. That’s natural.

2. Sometimes you will sense things changing in your spiritual walk as you go through the normal highs and lows of human life. Remember, everything on earth goes through cycles. The cycles in your spiritual walk do not necessarily signal a problem in your relationship with God.

3. Sometimes you will sense things changing in your spiritual walk as you grow in Christ. Such change signals a good thing as you move from Christian babe to seasoned saint.

4. Sometimes, however, you may sense a change in your spiritual walk that indicated a spiritual problem at a deeper level. Let’s try to diagnosis this problem with a series of questions:

* Do you hunger to return to your old sinful lifestyle and circle of friends?
* Is your love for God, His family, or spiritual things waning?
* Are you slipping in your spiritual disciplines?

If these are not the problem, then you may have the same problem that Peter and Jesus’ other disciples had. They had promised to follow the Master right into the jaws of death. But although Peter may have insisted emphatically, his insistence wasn’t enough. He needed something more in order to maintain his commitment to Christ. But what? Tune in tomorrow for “The Rest of the Story.”

But first, let’s review our memory verse for this week, Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Thank You for your patience! – Updated

Update: 

Thanks to Andy, I've got another server available now, so starting with today's podcast, we are on-line with a good amount of space for the time being.   My plan is to update some of the archived posts to the new server, so that folks can access the archives as well.  If there is one that you'd like to have posted, let me know.  I will probably post the "Spiritual Conversation Starters" post from before the currrent "40 Days of Purpose" series since it seems that that entry is getting the most hits from the search engines.

By the way, it has been exciting to see the growth in the hits on the site.  I added the hit counter to the blog about the time we started the "40 Days" series and by day 30 we had about 700 hits.  Not approaching a blogging record or anything, but encouraging to me, none the less.

Original Post – May 26, 2006
It seems that we have encountered a slight problem with the main server I was using to host my .mp3 (audio) files. The net result is that some of the older podcast recordings are currently unavailable. I have contacted my webmaster for my main server, so I hope to have it up and running as soon as possible. In the mean time I have re-posted the last few days' worth of .mp3 files to another smaller server, just to keep the current episodes online. Hopefully this will be transparent to all regular podcast subscribers, since I know the server was working yesterday and you should have gotten yesterday's episode if you connected in the first half of the day at least, and today I've moved the .mp3 files from Wednesday through today to a new smaller server (so they should be available if you're just downloading them now).

The problem will be that I will run out of space on my available server within a few days, so I can't guarantee more than a few days' worth of .mp3 files available until we get the main server up and running again. So…download the podcast daily, or at least every other day, and you won't miss any. Once the main server is back up the archives should be accessable again. Of course, you should be able to read them here anytime.

Thank you for your patience!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 25

This is the devotional for Wednesday, May 24, 2006 which is Day 25 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 25 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 25 – Transformed by Trouble

God has a purpose behind every problem!

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, he depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances twenty-four hours a day.

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days—when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great—and you turn to God alone.

Everything that happens to you has spiritual significance. Everything! Romans 8:28-29 (NLT) explains why: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.”

You see, every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. Paul said, “We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” Romans 5:3-4 (NCV)

What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.

Visit the FaithBuilders Blog/Podcast at buildyourfaith.net to subscribe to this devotional as a podcast or to read previous editions. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit http://www.jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by letting God build your character in every circumstance!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 20

This is the devotional for Friday, May 19, 2006 which is Day 20 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 20 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 20 – Restoring Broken Fellowship

Relationships are always worth restoring!

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you … Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.” Philippians 2:1-2 (Msg)

Because life is all about learning how to love, God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a rift, a hurt, or a conflict.

Paul taught that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity. If you want God’s blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker. Here are seven Biblical steps to restoring fellowship:

1. Talk to God before talking to the person.

2. Always take the initiative.

3. Sympathize with their feelings.

4. Confess your part of the conflict.

5. Attack the problem, not the person.

6. Cooperate as much as possible.

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

Who do you need to contact as a result of reading this today? With whom do you need to restore fellowship? Don’t delay another second. Pause right now and talk to God about that person. Then pick up the phone and begin the process.

It takes a lot of effort to restore a relationship. That’s why Peter urged, “Work hard at living in peace with others.” 1 Peter 3:11 (NLT)

But when you work for peace, you are doing what God would do. That’s why God calls peacemakers his children.

Thank you for reading “FaithBuilders” at buildyourfaith.net. The FaithBuilders blog is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Build your faith by taking steps to restore any broken relationships in your life today.

Take time to review the Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

40 Days of Purpose – Day 14

Welcome to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This is Pastor Bill Crane.

This is the devotional for Saturday, May 13, 2006 which is Day 14 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 14 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 14 – When God Seems Distant

God is real, no matter how you feel!

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” Job 19:25-27 NLT

It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life—when he has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?

The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant. How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears?

You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:20-21 (NIV)

And remember what God has already done for you. Jesus gave up everything so you could have everything. He died so you could live forever. That alone is worthy of your continual thanks and praise.

Let’s review our verse of the week: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:30 NIV

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. It is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about Faith Church visit us at jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by trusting God even when you can’t sense His presence.

40 Days of Purpose – Day 6

This is the devotional for Friday, May 5, 2006 which is Day 6 of our 40 Days of Purpose. For these 40 days we will be posting daily devotions based on the material in Rick Warren’s best selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life. We invite you to get a copy of the book and read daily one of the 40 chapter of the book along with us. We are scheduled to read Chapter 6 in the book today. Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional.

DAY 6 – LIFE IS A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT

Life on earth is a temporary assignment!

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.” Psalm 39:4 (NLT)

To make the best use of your life, you must never forget two truths:

– First, compared with eternity, life is extremely brief.

– Second, earth is only a temporary residence. You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached.

In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life—longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity. We’re not completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be! Earth is not our final home; we were created for something much better.

In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat this life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.

When life gets tough, when you’re overwhelmed with doubt, or when you wonder if living for Christ is worth the effort, remember that you are not home yet. At death you won’t leave home—you’ll go home.

Our memory verse for this week is Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

A Divine Appointment

Is it possible that God might send you a messenger, unexpectedly, at a crucial moment in your life? Is it possible that God might want you to be such a messenger? Pastor Bill examines this possibility in today’s podcast.

Whom do you call?

When you have a problem, to whom do you go? Well, it’s not Ghostbusters! Pastor Bill talks about this in today’s edition of FaithBuilders.