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Friday Focus: Serve with perfect love

Perfect love casts out all fear.

The first time I ever was involved in prison ministry, I was nervous. I’ll be honest. I was scared and that was just filling out the questionnaire to go.  I believed that God called me to minister. I didn’t know where my niche was so I served everywhere an opportunity was available. Actually, I wasn’t great anywhere I ministered, but I love to help and there was a need in ministering to those on the “inside”. Like a quote I heard from comedian Steve Martin, he said, 

Persistence replaces talent in some cases.”
If you ask me, I think many are incarcerated to some degree.  Living in society with out the physical bars of a prison cell. Although within, they could face lockdown of low self worth. 

For some It could be substance abuse, others could be hiding in eating disorders, drowning in debt or imprisoned within there negative thinking, even depression. These people are suffering. 

  They serve self -imposed sentences without a chance (in their view) of perole. This point of view can make the surest of men or women crumble as they endure this punishment. It can make them do things they wouldn’t fathom.  The people try and succeed for a moment, then back in confinement they go. How cruel is it to live in this manner. 

     So as a born again believer how would you minister to those imprisoned? 

  Because they don’t look nice. They’re hard. They’re ferocious. They have lived hard lives and know more about survival than then any cast member of survivor. On the “inside,” They don’t have time to play games, and can spot a phony a mile away.

Here is the good news……

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (‭I John‬ ‭4‬:‭18‬ NKJV)

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭17-18‬ MSG)

It takes real guts to walk in love. You may feel without weapons, but you are walking with the love of God. You are victorious and even your shadow can heal!  You enter with the Lord on your side.  Fighting with you with artillery that is out of this world. Just a thought I wanted to share,  What are your thoughts? Please share with a friend. I would love to hear your input. How can we serve those who seem to have lost love? 

Friday Focus: The Great Investment

When I think about retirement, and I know for many that may seem like a far away time and place. For me, however I know that this part of my working life is closing and a new one is opening. It is a part of life.

Looking back I wanted to invest in the stock market. I wanted to play the game, if you will. I dreamt of making it big and have enough for my family and I. Then as I was reading my bible plan, the scripture hit me with this:
     

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21

Investment takes commitment. It requires you to give attention to the matter of interest. It requires your heart. You may have to research the company you bought shares in. You may be reviewing paperwork on a home purchase. Investment may take your time. It can consume you because it is of value to you.
When I read this in scripture I thought it was just about money or financial planning. But as I started to contemplate the Lord’s true intent of these words I was gripped with how I am investing my life in ministry? Or to put it simply what am I doing for God that is of true value to both Him and I in that our hearts are united? How is my ministry bringing value to the kingdom of God? What treasure have I stored in heaven that out of it’s dividends I am able to effectively minister?

One of my favorite Pastors Benny Perez once said in a message “it is ok to have things…. Don’t let those things HAVE you”. I can agree with that.
The treasures you value can have you invested. There is no wrong in that. How is your return on your investment? Does it surpass the confines of time?
My son receives a commision for the amount of tasks he does around the house and at the end of the period he is paid. He also is responsible (with help) to divide his earnings into three areas; Giving, Saving, and Spending
By doing so he is free to buy his toys, because he has put some money away for somthing he may need and has money for offering on Sunday. It allows him freedom. He enjoys buying his toy, I as his Father enjoy his learning of finances. Toys break, but financial wisdom is timeless.
As we serve this weekend continue to invest in treasure Jesus held of value. So that as our hearts grow full of heaven’s return we can minister out of them freely.

Friday Focus: Serve in the right relationship

He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭29-30‬ KJV)

JN3:29
  In a traditional wedding the best man has a very important role in the wedding ceremony. Not only is he the lead man for the rest of the groomsmen in the party, he is also the the master of ceremonies in the often memorable bachelor party. He alone is responsible for getting the groom to the wedding and of course he holds the ring. The symbol that proclaims the vision of unity.
Hear my thought; there is a bond between the groom and his best man whose relationship deepen during the whole marriage preparations. This is where the best man really earns his position: by encouraging the groom and supporting his decision to cleave to his bride, even at the demise of their close relationship, he’s not upset for he knows his friend is happy and is happy for his friend (true friends will genuinely celebrate your victories). John was feeling this very thing for Jesus, this is where John the Baptist takes a stage left and the son of God takes center stage in the face of humanity. this is the moment where John’s destiny is fulfilled and the realization is this: I can not go further until I am in the right position.
He must increase, but I must decrease. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭30‬ KJV)

We serve almighty God in various capacities which brings up this question?  Who is leading who? Are you allowing The Holy Spirit to lead you in your ministry, or are you directing God to follow where you may lead?
Our service should be the former, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct us rather than the other way around. You may find that once you’re in the right position, the Lord takes center stage of your life . This should be our focus as leaders, ministers and pastors. Just as planes will not take off unless things are in place ( seat backs, tray tables are in an upright and locked position) congregations can not grow in Christ. So this week,  lets focus on having the right relationship with our Lord and Savior recognizing him as our pilot, not the flight attendant. Have a great week.

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