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Vision: To reach the world on the internet to fulfill the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 – “to go into all the world and teach all nations”.

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"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household." Acts 16:31

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Leaving the City of Regret

As we enter 2019 this is a good reminder of 2018

Leaving the City of Regret - Larry Harp

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking about my annual "Guilt Trip." 

I got tickets to fly there on "Wish I Had airlines". It was an extremely short flight. I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the Regret City International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town. 

As I checked into the "Last Resort Hotel", I noticed that they would be hosting the year's most important event, the Annual Pity Party. I wasn't going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the towns leading citizens would be there. 

First, there would be the Done family, you know, Should Have, Would Have and Could Have. Then came the wish I Had family. You probably know ol' Wish and his clan. Of course, the Opportunities would be present, Missed and Lost. The biggest family would be the Yesterday's. There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share. 
Then Shattered Dreams would surely make and appearance. And It's Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in his life, and each story would be loudly applauded by Don't Blame Me and I Couldn't Help It. 

Well, to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occurred to me that all of this trip and subsequent "pity party" could be cancelled by ME! I started to truly realize that I did not have to be there. I didn't have to be depressed. 

One thing kept going through my mind, I CAN'T CHANGE YESTERDAY, BUT I DO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE TODAY A WONDERFUL DAY. I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left the City of Regret immediately and left no forwarding address. Am I sorry for mistakes I've made in the past? YES! But there is no physical way to undo them. 

So, if you're planning a trip back to the City of Regret, please cancel all your reservations now. Instead, take a trip to a place called, Starting Again. I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there. My neighbors, the I Forgive Myselfs and the New Starts are so very helpful. By the way, you don't have to carry around heavy baggage, because the load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival. God bless you in finding this great town. If you can find it -- it's in your own heart -- please look me up. I live on "I Can Do It street."

Your Christmas Gift of Peace - The Absence of Fear

Your Christmas Gift of Peace. The Absence Of Fear
By Pastor Mark Taylor
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward everyone.”  Luke 2: 13-14
How wonderful our homes could be, how wonderful our lives could be, how wonderful our world could be, if we really did put into practice the blessing of "peace on earth, good will toward men." We cannot control what happens outside of our lives, but we can have peace in this world. 

Today, I am going to tell you how that can be possible - at least in your world.  Peace is a gift that cannot be bought or made.  It is something God wants to give to His children.  It comes from Heaven and from our love for Our Lord Jesus Christ. He said: "My peace I give unto you." (John 14:27).

(illustration). When I counsel  young couples who are thinking about divorce, I often ask them "What is it you want to happen in your marriage?"  They will usually respond that they want to have a home where there is peace and love.

The Biblical definition of peace is not only the absence of war or conflict with others, but peace within our hearts.  Jesus said:  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Paul speaks of Peace: “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  This is the kind of Peace we need on earth and in our lives during this Christmas season.

Give  Peace to. others.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:18? There he says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

 In Jesus Christ, God gave us the opportunity for the forgiveness of our sins.

You see, we’ll never have peace with our fellow man until first we’re at peace with ourselves. And we can never really be at peace with ourselves until we’re at peace with God. And we can never be at peace with God until our sins have been forgiven.

Another thing that can rob you of this wonderful gift of peace is letting things that others have done to you cause you anger and hurt.  Ask God to give you enough trust in Him that He will take care of the wrong that others have done to you.

At Christmas time we seem to be more sensitive to one another, don’t we? We give presents to people we don't know and maybe even to some we don't like, or reaching into our pockets for money to help some one in need, or delivering food to someone who is hungry, because Christmas reminds us that God has reached down to help us. And now we want to help one another.

CHRISTMAS IS A TIME TO MAKE ROOM FOR OTHERS.  Look at those around you…that part of the world God has given you to minister.
There are people that are hurting all around us.
They are suffering from depression.  The bottom line is that people around us need us.
They need a touch that can serve as a conduit of the healing grace of God.

When you bring peace to others, God will bring peace to you.  

Luke 6:38
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

 You want Peace, Give Peace.  How do you define peace?  Is it the absence of conflict and fear, then make that happen for someone else.  When people are around you Be a sanctuary, a place of safety, a place of joy, a place of joy and laughter, a place of love.  Be that person whose conversation is uplifting and others enjoy being around and you will be giving peace.

Peace with ourselves

But our life doesn’t always go as expected. Chances are your perfect Christmas plans will have some unexpected interruptions. Realize that your plans may not be God’s plans, and God is working His plan when He interrupts your plan.

The messages of the angels to the shepherds, to Joseph, and to Mary was to “Fear Not”.  Their first Christmas was full of unexpected interruptions.

Joseph probably would have liked the angel to explain his situation to the rest of the family.  Imagine the hassle Mary endured as an unwed mother, the hassle of a wedding, the whispers and guessing: why Joseph would do such a thing, or who would of thought such a thing of a nice girl like Mary? But the angels only said “Fear Not”.  

Joseph was planning on marrying his sweetheart.  Mary was probably planning on an elaborate wedding and a normal family. Things did not work out like they wanted them to.  God changed their plans.   Because Joseph listened to God and resisted the urge to give into his fear, he did marry his sweetheart and was honored to have been chosen to raise God’s only Begotten Son.

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto you Mary as your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20).
The absence of fear is an important part of having “Peace on Earth” and having peace in your life this Christmas and every day of the year.  

"Do not say to yourselves: Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-14).

After the angel told Mary about her opportunity to let God work in her life by carry the Lord Jesus: The angel told her to “fear not”.

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy Child which shall be born from you shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”  For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Your word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:34-38.  
We don’t need an angel to appear unto us and speak with us today.  We have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to give us peace in difficult times.
Whether rich or poor, powerful or weak, whoever we are, we need peace that God is with us. And God has promised that when the Christ child enters our hearts and lives, then we will receive His help. And when we are helped by the Holy Spirit of God, then we are to develop a more sympathetic feeling towards one another.

[ (Psalm 46:1)
God wants to give to you this Christmas the gift of Peace.  Peace is an assurance that He is in control of your life if you have given your life to Him.  This is called “Providence” - nothing can happen to you without God knowing about it.
A. Finally, Paul mentions peace with God. Vs’s 8-9 are verses we need to read often. They’re so special. Here is what Paul says.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Paul is saying, "Here are 8 filters. Everything you hear & everything you see needs to pass through them. And if it doesn’t make it through these 8 filters then it shouldn’t be in your mind & in your heart.

There is so much garbage in this world. And the old saying "garbage in, garbage out" is true. So think about it. Can the movies you see, & the TV programs you watch, & the music you listen to pass through these 8 filters? 
Paul says, "Put everything through these 8 filters. If it’s not true, then don’t welcome it. If it’s not noble, if it’s not right, or pure or lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy, don’t let it find a home in your heart. And if you’ll use these filters you’ll have peace with God." 
Put the interruptions in your life in perspective.  Sometimes they look a lot worse than they really are and many times they are only temporary.  We spend $100 worth of worry on a $5 problem.  This will rob you of the wonderful gift of peace the Lord wants to give to you.
Another thing that can rob you of this wonderful gift of peace is letting things that others have done to you cause you anger and hurt.  Ask God to give you enough trust in Him that He will take care of the wrong that others have done to you.
“Peace on (Your hearts and minds on) Earth” and may you show good will toward all people.  You can do it if you have God’s Peace in control of your life.  It is a gift, all you have to do is ask for it and accept it as a part of your free Christmas gift of salvation.
And 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
But Peace does not come alone or without some pre-conditions.  Righteousness and Peace are married and they come as a pair.  
“Righteousness and Peace Have Kissed Each Other” Psalm 85:10

You cannot have one without the other.  You cannot live a unrighteous life and expect to have Peace.  On the other hand if you live a Righteous life, Peace will automatically come. When you live a life pleasing to God, which is a righteous life, you will have peace.

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace”
(James 3:18).   “But God has called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15).
You have to receive the gift of Peace as an act of your Will.
 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
(Colossians 3:15-16)

A Prayer of Peace For You.
"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26).