The Letter to the Roman Church

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

God's Encouragement - Build the relationship


To receive God’s encouragement is to view yourself as God’s friend. We have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  The means by which we build our relationship with God is through PRAYER. Prayer is the communication between God and the Believers. It is through our time in prayer that He speaks to us and we can speak to Him.

The Bible never gives us a specific command for how much time we should spend in prayer. The closest we come is when it says, “pray without ceasing”. The reason why I believe is because if there was a command given we would see prayer as routine and an obligation rather than a privilege and an opportunity to communicate with the Almighty God. Sadly, in the midst of all this busyness people often fail to take time for the things that are most important…prayer, and they wonder why they are discouraged.

Why is it that people in their busyness are usually busy with the wrong and less important things? I have heard countless people that have lament how much time they spent working to the neglect of their families.

Jesus spent a lot of time doing a lot of things, but we see in spite of that there were two things he was never too busy for. He was never too busy for people and He was never too busy for prayer. Countless times as he got flooded with people he withdrew and prayed. Many times we have the mindset that we are too busy to pray, but I want to tell you that we may be too busy not to pray.

I have heard it said, that when we work we work, but when we pray, God works. The best source for encouragement is to take time to pray to the Lord.  Next weekend will be a great source of renewal and encouragement. It is my hope that you are signed-up for the prayer walk, that you will come next Saturday for the Fresh Touch Prayer service (6 PM), and then make prayer a basic necessity to your daily life.

In our unity of spirit and mind, we are reminded that we are to live with endurance and encouragement. The endurance comes in our step by step pressing toward the mark … our encouragement comes in our daily routine of prayer and building our relationship with God.

Ephesians 6:18 states; “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

God’s example is to endure and to seek encouragement…these are both found in pressing on and praying without ceasing. It is then that we will sharpen our axe and be found faithful in our daily lives. 

I pray for you often and you know I love ya, Don

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prayer Experience 2015

What is prayer? Prayer is simply conversing with God. It is communion with God. We converse with people all the time. Husbands and wives talk together. Close friends get together to visit. Prayer is just doing with God, what you do with people all the time. We can’t have a close relationship with another person without spending time communicating with them. It’s exactly the same with God. We can’t have a close relationship with God without spending time talking with Him. 
 
When should we pray?  Jesus once told a parable to show that at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). Paul instructed the Thessalonians that they should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). The apostle Paul would often begin his letters saying that he was praying always for them, that he did not cease to pray for them, and that he prayed for them night and day (Col.1:3; Col.1:9; 1Thess.3:10).

How should we pray? Jesus instructed us how not to pray. He told us not to pray using meaningless repetitions, or to be seen of men (Mt. 6:5,7).
The New Testament teaches us that we are to pray:
  1. With faith:  “All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Mt. 21:22)
  2. According to God’s will: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14-15)
  3. In the Holy Spirit: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)
  4. With devotion: “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Rom.12:12)
  5. With thanksgiving: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving”) Col. 4:2
  6. Earnestly:  “As we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess.3:10)
  7. Being on the alert for all the saints: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph.6:18)
If you have not already committed to the Prayer Walk, Fresh Touch Prayer Service and Prayer Sunday, please carve time and make it a priority. We make it vision at HCC to CONNECT with Jesus and with each other. Our prayer experience weekend is an optimal time to connect. For more information, go to www.howardchristianchurch.org

You know I love ya...and pray for you often. Don

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let God play your life and fill the room with a glorious sound!


Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."

Like the violinist, we have been given a great gift to be shared with the world. Last Sunday, we had shared an impromptu luncheon because of the cold. There were about 60 people there. The meal was good…Thank you to Mike and Traci Beck, and Jim and Shawnee Gardner for the food. Thanks to Scott and Betsy Gettig for the decorations.  Thanks to anyone that helped with prepare and to clean-up…those were all good…but you know what was amazing?   

There was a sense that we didn’t want to leave. Everyone just hung out together.  At one point we just sat back and recognized how we were not in a hurry to leave. True Christian fellowship was taking place. It was a good feeling and at one point I just sat back and watched God’s amazing grace connect people with their creator and with each other.

That is what we need to share with the world. Our vision is to connect with Jesus and with each other and when we are genuine and sincere it is like the sweet sound of a virtuous violinist.

It is our goal to seek after Jesus and then to share him in the world in which we live…this is our spiritual act of declaring how much God is worth to us. It is time for us to take it into the world and let people hear it. 

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 23, 2015

Living in view of God's mercy pays off!


A few weeks ago, we hosted a High School Senior from Grace Academy at our house. Her senior project is about Down Syndrome and she requested an opportunity to watch a therapy session and then ask Karen and I a few questions. Her mom brought her to the house and it went very well. After it was over, her mom, who was in her mid forties, told us how she had been adopted out of Howard. She was a small girl of an alcoholic mother some thirty-forty years ago.  She said, “My brother and I would just wander the streets as very young children, because my birth mom was so messed up.  

But there was a woman in Howard, who had twin girls that were teenagers. The woman’s name was Carolyn and she would bring us to your church. She was a safe person and she would bring us to a safe place.” Then she said, “We are members of the Assembly of God church in State College, my husband is the president of the Pregnancy Resource Center ... and I am a Christian because of Carolyn.”  

 I wasn’t surprised, but I was amazed at how God works. This is more than thirty-five years later. A living act of worship by one of our own made an eternal impact in a person's life. I mentioned to Carolyn last week, and she laughed…and then she said, “we plant a seed.”

This existing in view of God’s mercy as a living sacrifice…it is our Spiritual Act of Worship. Thank you Carolyn and you know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Living like recepients of something great!


The aim of all human life in God’s eyes is that Christ would be made to look as valuable as he is. Worship means using our minds and hearts and bodies to express the worth of God and all he is for us in Jesus. There is a way to live — a way to love — that does that. There is a way to do your job that expresses the true value of God. Paul is taking all the theology of His Roman letter and prayerfully transforming your life into Doxology…to praise God. That is your life looks like doxology, smells like doxology, taste like doxology, feels like doxology then you know and have experienced what it is to be the Object of God’s Mercy.

Paul’s answer to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is to be transformed. We must be transformed. Not just our external behavior, but also the way we feel and think — our minds. Those who believe in Christ Jesus are already blood-bought new creatures in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But now we must become what we are. “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

“You have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). You have been made new in Christ; and now you are being renewed day by day. That’s what we focused on last week…we are adopted as God’s children and he has lavished all his love, grace, and mercy on us.

The question becomes of His mystery… why aren’t his riches truly known to those that have received it?

Knowledge is exploding at such a rate--more than 2000 pages a minute - In fact, if you read 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished.

Yet, this one simple truth, “mankind is the recipient of the greatest knowledge possible” is obscure and hidden in mystery.  Why is that? Why is it, that in a world filled needy people, seeking to find that answers of truth and knowledge, wanting to know why bad things happen to good people, why we have empty seats in churches, and in a place where children hurt…Why?

It is because; we don’t live as if we are the objects of God’s mercy? 

You know I love ya, Don

Please join me in prayer for the Christ Followers suffering the evil of the ISIS / ISIL.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stuck in not knowing where we are going!


One of the greatest scientists of our time was Albert Einstein. He was a man who was so focused on his scientific theories. He was so focused; he often neglected even the simplest things of life, such as personal appearance (as evidenced by his hair).

One time, Albert Einstein was taking a train out of town for a speaking engagement. As he sat in his seat engrossed in his work, the conductor stopped by to punch his ticket. Looking up in shock, Einstein realized he didn’t know what he had done with his ticket.
Frantically, he began to search his coat pockets, and then his briefcase. Gently, the conductor said, "We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought ticket. Don’t worry about it." But, as the conductor moved along, he looked back to see Einstein on his hands and knees searching under the seats for his ticket. The conductor walked back, "Dr. Einstein, please, don’t worry about it. I know who you are."

Exasperated, Einstein looked up and said, "I, too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going."



The Christians at Rome had gotten to the point that they weren’t sure where they were going either. Somebody had begun to convince them that they weren’t going to heaven like they thought. Somebody had slipped into their midst and begun to tell them they weren’t acceptable to God without Jewish traditions.

Traditions and life was confusing them so much that they weren’t even sure what was expected of them anymore. They had gotten to the point where they not only didn’t know where they were going…  They were not even sure WHO they were…Jew or Gentile. They were stuck in the mystery of God…I think many of us are just as stuck!

We are going to take the next few minutes and look at the reality of being a believer and forgetting the hunger that comes in knowing a great, marvelous, all knowing, all-present, and all loving God!

Paul asks a question that reveals the truth as to why God is waiting to bring about destruction…(Romans 9:23) “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the object of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory – even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also the Gentiles?”  In other words, he is saying…could it be that God’s glory is manifested in his patience, his willingness to wait for us to catch up, and possibly because he loves us? The answer is then answered…YES!

Get unstuck and join me in running with His glory on us. You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We are vindicated!


God adopted YOU & ME … we didn’t adopt Him. Romans 9:8 reveals we are the “Children of the promise.”

When Paul uses the imagery of adoption he’s talking about how the Romans practiced it. In ancient Rome (just like today) the Roman family chose the child they wanted to adopt. As part of the adoption, there was a special ceremony where the adopting father went to one of the Roman judges and presented a legal case to justify his right to adopt the child into his own household.

This ceremony was called the “vindicatio”.

William Barclay says that when this ceremony was complete, In the eyes of the law he or she was a new person. So new… “that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.”

In other words, once a person went thru this vindicatio ceremony - every debt he ever had was erased as if it never existed. Now look at that word – “vindicatio”.
Does it look kind of like an English word you know? What about “vindicate”, or “vindication”?

One of my dictionaries defines vindicate as “to clear of accusation… to absolve… to justify”

That is what God did for us when we became Christians…he adopted us…He vindicated us.?
* He cleared us of any accusation of our guilt and shame
* And He absolved us/ forgave us all of our iniquities and failures.
* He justified us so that it was “just as if we’d never sinned”

WE WERE VINDICATED by God who chose us to be adopted as His children.

Now, that includes our future in heaven… but it also blessings on this earth right now.
I like this saying: “Faith isn’t just pie in the sky when we die, but is also steak on the plate while we wait.”

Welcome to the family of the restored! You know I love ya, Don