Happy New Year with New Beginnings

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Here are the notes from tonight's New Year's  Eve Service...

"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” - Isaiah 43.18-19


We all face the old everyday:
  1. Old Memories - Rom 7.5
  2. Familiar Feelings - 2 Cor 10.5
  3. Set Habits - Ps 1.2
  4. Personal Historical experience - Eccl 1:3-9
New beginnings start at the Cross: Gal 2.20, 6:18, 2 Cor 5.17
  1. Picture by faith walking in a new beginning - Heb 11:8
  2. Make it a habit to not think on the old - it was crucified all the failures and the successes. “Remember not the former…"
  3. Get occupied with what God is doing now - thru His Word, His Church, in your personal life. “Behold I will do a new thing"
  4. Face fear with God’s love and Grace. Meditate on the promises. Josh 1.8-9 
  5. Talk only of God’s ability - guard your confession - Rom 10.8-10
  6. Stir up your faith by God’s testimony in your life - Is 46.9
  7. Rebound when you fail. - 1 John 1.7

Merry Christmas & a Blessed New Year!

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May you be blessed by the Greatest Gift of Grace - Jesus our Emmanuel  this season with great expectations of faith for the coming New Year! 

p.Christian and Gosia





The Humility of Jesus Portrayed on Christmas

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Here are some draft notes from our message today on the Humility of Christ on Christmas - you can here the sermon here: http://bit.ly/1d23fhg

2 Cor 8.9 - For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

One of the greatest beauties of Christ was His humility. It was the most attractable thing about Him. He was always attracting humble people around Him and making proud people angry.

Luke 2.7-20
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not:for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
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 men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found -- Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.  
  • Psalm 113:4-6 - The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
  • "Think about that for a moment. God humbles Himself. God condescends to look at, to behold the things that are in the heavens. God has to stoop down to look at what’s in heaven. We have to look up to see what’s in heaven. God has to look down to see the things that are in the heavens. The angels—they are lower than God. God stoops down. He humbles Himself to look at the things in heaven.”
  • Not only did He have to stoop down to even look at us but it is His amazing Grace that He even is mindful of man - Ps 8.3-4
  • The Love of God in Jogn 3.16 caused Him to do 7 things
    • So God doesn’t just look at us, He gets involved with us.
    • He humbles Himself.
    • He condescends.
    • He stoops down to think of us.
    • He is mindful of us.
    • He stoops down to care for us.
    • He became one of us
  • Christmas is about the greatest theological facts - The incarnation, God being born in the likeness of sinful flesh - Rom 8.3 - the uttermost display of humility. This is what made him guilty, not because of an inherited sin nature but because he associated with us. 
  • Heaven and earth cannot contain God but He became confined to a human body. 
  • 2 Chron 2.6 But who is able to build him a house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him. 
  • Heb 2.7 He became man made a little lower than the angels submitted himself in a human body to God.
  • The devil underestimated God’s humility - underestimated how far God would go.
  • We are never more like Jesus than when we humble ourselves and surrender to the plan of God
  • He was circumcised on the 8th day. Not because He was a sinner, He was sinless, He submitted to the Law of Moses to fulfill it. His first pain and suffering for us.

Father Damien was a Belgian priest in the 1800s who went to a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, a village that had been quarantined as a leper colony. For 16 years, Father Damien lived with these people that no one else wanted to have anything to do with. He learned their language. He served them. He built homes for them. He organized schools and choirs. Rather than being careful to keep His distance from the lepers as most would have done, He got right up next to them. He bandaged their wounds. He ate with his patients, sometimes out of the same dish. He touched people that others considered untouchable. Gradually, throughout the course of his years of serving there, that village was transformed. Despair was replaced with hope. Yet for years he was still different in one very important point. They were lepers, and he was not. Then one day he stood up before his congregation and he began his sermon with two words. “We lepers,” for he had contracted leprosy while living among the people. From that moment on people in that village saw this servant in a whole different light. Now he wasn’t just living among them. He wasn’t just serving them. He had actually become one of them. Not only would he share their life, now he would die as they died.

On Christmas we celebrate the day that God came to our village. He didn’t just come to help us. He began His message by saying "we lepers." We sinners. He had become one of us. He took on our sin. 

Watching with Him in Prayer

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"Prayer without watching is hypocrisy, and watching without prayer is presumption." - unknown

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation:the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak - Matthew 26.41


(Here is another draft chapter of my up and coming book on Prayer)
The arrival into His Presence at the sweet Mercy Seat is only one aspect of our prayer journey. It is there where it really begins for the worshipper. There the worshipper becomes a warrior in spiritual warfare. It is there in prayer we learn that the weapons of our warfare are not humanly wielded nor carnally commanded. It is prayer that we see in the list of Paul’s armor in Ephesians 6 that is the secret weapon. When we begin to pray we face the onslaught of Satanic forces because Satan believes in the power of prayer more than any of us will ever. We will address this later this week.

"Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning, "watching unto prayer" and continuing steadfast in fasting, beseeching fervently the all-seeing God "to lead us not into temptation, even as the Lord said, 'The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" —Polycarp (69-156). 
Those that learn watching in prayer enter into another phase of prayer. They move from worshipper to warrior. Those that learn learn this secret of watching are most threatening for the forces of the Accuser. You will note that the primary tactic that our Adversary uses to thwart watching-prayer is sleepiness, dullness, lethargy due to the point that the novice in prayer is always looking by sight and waiting for the answers that are self-pleasing and preference oriented. They miss the action because they are looking in the wrong direction and the Enemy slips in unnoticed.
To draw a little perspective to the immense importance of watching prayer Jesus in Matthew 26, in His hour of conflict in prayer he three times goes to His disciples and petitions them to watch in prayer. The battle for the cross was won not at Calvary but in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was inundated with a flood of demonic hosts to try to steer him off the course to the cross. This is when he asked His disciples to pray. There is something that we see here. Jesus in prayer and battle wanted His disciples engaged in prayer and discernment because of the host of demons pitted against Jesus in the garden to try to kill him. 
When we learn watching-prayer we learn to pray with Jesus in his hour of personal heaviness. There are not many that are asked to pray in this hour with Jesus but his three intimate disciples; Peter, James & John. Watchers in prayer are those few that are God’s “special forces” in warfare that don’t sleep when the rest of the army is asleep in their barracks. That is actually the connotation of the word “watch” in in the original script of Matthew 26.38 - “grēgoreúō”. This word means to be set on the special towers of the walls on the sober lookout for enemy movements and ambushes to the point of sleep deprivation. My wife and I recently were in Puerto Rico and one of the most impressive sights for me was the fortress at San Juan. It guarded the gateway to the Caribbean. From the watch towers at the peak of the fort hundreds & hundreds of miles could be monitored along a 180 degree span along the sea’s horizon for enemy vessels’ movements. This is what is explicitly meant by Jeremiah 51.12 - “Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the Lord hath both devised and done -- that which he spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon” - Jeremiah 51.12. Jesus also referred to this in context to what he said to his Three: “watch and pray that you enter not into temptation”. When we exercise ourselves in watchful-prayer we effectively avoid and escape so much unnecessary temptation.
Ezra, the author of Psalm 119 and the leader of the Jews returning to Jerusalem to rebuild also was a watcher in prayer - when he said his eyes “prevent the night watches” - Psalm 119.148. 
In the case of Gideon - God could not use any of his army except those that looked to the horizon in careful watch as the drank the water from their hands at the brook - Judges 7.6
Therefore, there are those few that as we read in Proverbs 8:34 that are the blessed watchers that receive a measure of wisdom and skill in warfare   - “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” 
Watching in prayer means we leave the realm of the feeling, the sullenness of the passive human nature and we stir ourselves up in attention watching for the next Word from Christ our Commander and the movement of the foe. The watcher is one who has much insight, compassion, loyalty and wisdom. He may not speak much or express much of his opinion but watches and prays with His Master in the most critical hour. Thus being an often unseen aid in the spectrum of Warfare against the Savior and His Church.

Tough Love vs. Sentimentality

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Here are a few brief notes from a recent message we preached on Tough Love. Enjoy!

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ - Phil 1.9

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth - 1 Cor 13.6


Lovingkindness vs. Sentimentality.
Sometimes our love may be tough love, but His lovingkindness is still our environment and He never deals with us out of Lovingkindness

Loving Truth: Ps 119
  • A person who does not love Truth - does not love themselves
  • A person who does not love themselves does not love the truth told.

Sentimentality:
  • Marked or governed by feeling, sensibility, or emotional idealism 
  • Resulting from feeling rather than reason or thought. 
  • Decision making based on need rather than principle.
  • Loving self more than God or people.
  • Is subjective and never objective.

God’s Love:
  1. Bears evil, but it does not tolerate it. 
  2. It bears the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin. 
  3. Real love involves real hatred. Whoever has lost the power of moral and the urge to scatter the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living.

Loving in Truth:
  • When people forego the integrity of God’s love, they often enter into sentimentality instead of entering into tough love. Tough love is just as valid as any other expression of the love of God.
  • Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. 
  • Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it

Speaking the Truth in Love.
  • Deviation from the word of God is sentimentality and says 'you're absolutely right' to this one, and 'you're absolutely right' to that one without telling the Truth. 
  • Your enemy will never tell you the truth because he wants you to be just like him and never free from bondage. 


5 Languages of Love:

  1. Words of Affirmation - 1 Thes 5:11, Prov 10:11
  2. Acts of Service - Mark 10.45, Mat 25.35,36,40
  3. Receiving Gifts - Acts 2:44,45
  4. Quality time - Jn 14:16,18
  5. Physical Contact - Mat 8.3

Tough Love:
  • Don't settle for a relationship based on need - The unequal yoke of 2 Corinthians 6:14
  • Parents: (Ephesians 6:1-4). They cover children with love, with investment, with prayer, with kindness, and with discipline when they must discipline in tough love.
  • Chastisement: When God chastises a believer, as He did King David, it is to help him, to deliver him, and to make him realize that he can have peace. Though God loved David tremendously, it was tough love. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. Ps 119:67

Lovingkindness - creates in us a capacity to grow securely into who we are in Christ and into God's Plan for our lives.  

The History of Thanksgiving

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"One of my favorite times of year is Thanksgiving. What a great tradition – where we gather together to recount the Lord’s blessings. I love the statement from columnist Mark Steyn: “Speaking as a misfit unassimilated foreigner, I think of Thanksgiving as the most American of holidays.” Consider its history as a holiday.

A year before the Pilgrims even landed, in 1619, Jamestown (the first permanent British settlement in North America) had the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Capt. John Woodlief declared on Dec. 4, 1619: “We ordain that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

That colony, begun in 1607 had “starving times,” so that by 1610, says historian John Eidsmoe, “of the more than 500 colonists who had come to Jamestown, only 60 remained alive.”

But, eventually, providentially, Jamestown survived, and because of its permanency, the Pilgrims, a small group of Christian separatists, decided to settle in what they called “the northern parts of Virginia.” Hence, the voyage of the Mayflower in 1620, which they said was “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” (Mayflower Compact).

Providentially, they were blown off course and were hindered from going south of Cape Cod.

Of course, our American tradition of Thanksgiving goes back to these hearty souls, who in 1621 celebrated a time of thanksgiving to God, despite all the problems they had seen. They invited the Indians, with whom they had made a treaty of peace (that lasted 53 years).

The Pilgrim’s longtime leader was William Bradford. He wrote a great book that tells us all the details about the Pilgrim saga, entitled, “Of Plymouth Plantation.”

In his First Thanksgiving Proclamation (1621), he wrote, “Therefore, I, William Bradford (by the Grace of God today, and the franchise of this good people), governor of Plymouth, say – through virtue of vested power – ye shall gather with one accord, and hold in the month of November, thanksgiving unto the Lord.”

Some people today don’t like the idea of Thanksgiving as a national holiday because it is inherently religious. (Thanksgiving was indeed when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God.)

But consider this fact: The same Congress that gave us the First Amendment (which is often twisted today to drive out any religious expression in public) suggested that the new president declare a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate the peaceful establishment of our government.

The president agreed, so on Oct. 3, 1789, from the city of New York, George Washington issued a Proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving.

In it he said, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving’ …”

Dr. Peter Lillback, with whom I had the privilege to co-write, “George Washington’s Sacred Fire,” noted that to his hearers, our first president mentioned Jesus in this line from that proclamation:

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national … transgressions. …”

Jesus is the Lord and Ruler of the Nations, as seen in Revelation 12 (based on Psalm 2).

While Washington was the first president to declare a national day of Thanksgiving, President Lincoln was the first one to make Thanksgiving an annual holiday. (And during FDR’s days, Congress fixed the date as the fourth Thursday of each November.)

At one of the darkest periods in American history, on Oct. 3, 1863, President Lincoln (in conjunction with Congress) looked for good things to thank the Lord for: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict. …”

And he added, “I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” As Americans, we have much to be thankful for."
- Jerry Newcombe

P. Roman & Albina Grodz - Kyiv, Fall Newsletter

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Today I received this inspiring newsletter from the Grodz's - some of my heroes of the faith!

Enjoy their Fall Newsletter as they walk by faith with a renewed church-plant in Kyiv, Ukraine! - p. Christian

Greetings  from Kyiv!

Planting a local church in Kyiv is an amazing process that we all (me, my wife Albina and our son Samuel) are experiencing. As a family we moved here in July this year. Since then God is working very deeply in our hearts. He is teaching us to trust Him in everything.  Primarily He is teaching us to trust Him for building the church. It’s His will and His great desire to see how His children are growing in the unity of the spirit and in praise.

Our church isn’t big. There are about 10 people. Twice a week we meet at our home for the church services.  On Mondays we have soulwinning and Bible lesson with discussion at the Pedagogical University.  On Saturdays we share the Gospel of Christ with people in the center of the city.

Recently Vitaliy Melnikov came back to church, he use to be a part of our church 15 years ago.  He shared great testimony of his life and how God very clearly told him to go back to the church and when he asked which one, God answered: you’ve got Greater Grace church.

Two weeks ago one man sent me sms: “Pastor, I got confused in life, please, help”.  When we met we had long conversation about Christ and Sergiy trusted his heart to Him. Sergiy lived and had his business in Warsaw, Poland. He believed he can do everything and fortune is following him. He helped other people and taught them how to live this life. One day his wife left him. Life started cracking. Drugs.  Deportation from Poland. He decided to start everything from the beginning in Ukraine. He found some job in Kyiv, substituted drugs with alcohol, found some woman, but  he wasn’t happy at all. He was thinking about suicide and remembered that someone gave him telephone number of some pastor. Praise God for His Faithfulness in the lives of broken people. Now Sergiy has new life, new family, new friends, new job. Please, continue to pray for him.

Every soul  is priceless to God. He will never despise a person. Church is a great provision from God for people. The place where we all are hidden, fed and warmed. The place we grow in the knowledge of the Father.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

With love,

P.Roman and team

The Bema Seat Judgement for the Believer

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Sunday we dealt with the Bema Seat Judgement, the Throne of Rewards and Recompense for the Believer. This is a message that is part of our Last Days Series.

Here are the notes posted from that sermon. You can hear the sermon here: http://sermon.net/ggcphila/sermonid/1200130926


THE BEMA SEAT DEFINED: 2 Cor 5:9-10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (Note: In this second verse, the Greek word that is translated into English as “bad” is probably better understood as “worthless” or “useless to God’s kingdom”.)

Now the word Judgement here is not "krino" verb or "krima" which means condemnation, or even "katakrima" which is even a stronger word.  It is not damnation, condemnation, judgment, or punishment.  But, the word is "bema."  And it is the "bema" that was speaking of a reward. 
 

The Judgment Seat of Christ is reserved for the judgment of Christians only--born again believers in Christ Jesus. If a person is unsaved and dies in sin, he will be judged at the Great White Throne judgment following Christ's millennial reign on earth. Many times the Judgment Seat of Christ is referred to by Biblical scholars as “The Bema Seat”. The reason for this is that the phrase “judgment seat” is taken from one Greek word, “bema” which translated from Greek means "judgment seat". During the time of Christ, this word could refer to the platform on which a ruler or judge decided if a person was guilty of a crime. But in light of Paul’s many references to athletic competition in the New Testament, he was likely using the term as it applied to Greek sports. If the winner of a particular contest had followed the rules of competition and won, he was honored at the bema. There he was crowned with a laurel wreath.
 

In the city of Corinth, a stone platform was constructed to support the Bema seat (judgment seat) of the local officials. The seat was used to give out awards to athletes for their competitive performances (usually a crown wreath of leaves), but also to address legal charges brought against individuals. Seen used: Acts 18:12;   The bema was also a place to hear court cases and make legal decisions. A Roman magistrate, acting as judge, sat in a designated chair on the bema or tribunal, with the defendant and plaintiff standing before him. Paul stood before the judgment seats of Festus in Cæsarea (Acts 25) and Gallio in Corinth (Acts 18:12-17). Archaeologists have unearthed the bema in Corinth, and it can be seen today. In numerous places the bema was located, not in the region of the forum, but at the place where the Roman official decided to execute justice. In those cases, temporary platforms were erected with ceremonious chairs placed upon them (see Josephus, Wars 2.14.8). The most well-known biblical example of the bema is when the Lord Jesus stood before the bema of Pilate, placed in front of the Prætorium (Mt. 27:19; Jn. 19:13).
 

The Roman tribunal was not just a place to mete out judgment. It was also a place to distribute rewards. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Roman general Titus set up his tribunal, commended all of his troops, and rewarded those soldiers who had served with valor (Josephus, Wars 7.1.2-3)
 
WHEN:
  • The Judgment of believers will occur immediately following the rapture:
  • The rapture which includes our glorification/resurrection bodies
  • Exaltation into the heavens with the Lord
  • Examination before the Bema
  • Compensation or reward 

WHAT:

2 Tim 4:8; " Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. & 1 Cor 4:5 " Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." These two verses refer to rewards That Day

It is important to emphasize that the Judgment Seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ's sacrifice on behalf of the blood bought believer (1 John 2:2), and the believer's faith in Him (John 3:16). All confessed sins are forgiven and believers will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). To say otherwise would deny the completeness of the death of Jesus Christ, and nullify God's promise that "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). 

The Bema Seat is a place of reward only - 2 Cor 9:4-27; 2 Tim 2:5 Paul tells us, in his letter to the Corinthians, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." The Greek word translated as "bad" in this phrase, is based upon the Greek word Phaulos. According to Strong's dictionary (#5337), the primary definition of Phaulos is "easy, slight, ordinary, mean, worthless, of no account.
 

REWARDS:  

Key Verses on Rewards: Rom. 14:10-11; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 3:11-12.  3 Basis For Reward:
  • This things done motivated by God's Agape Love
  • Those things done by faith
  • Those things done in obedience to the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says that: "12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

1 Cor 4:5: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts:and then shall every man have praise of God.”

12 Things we will be rewarded by:
  1. How we treat other believers:  Hebrews 6:10, Matthew 10:41-42
  2. How we exercise our authority over others: Hebrews 13:17, James 3:1
  3. How we employ our God-given gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:4, 12:12, 12:2, 2 Timothy 1:6, 1 Peter 4:10 Add to these Scriptures Jesus' teaching of the parables of the ten pounds (Luke 19: 11-26) and the talents (Matthew 25:14-29). Each believer has at least one talent (1 Corinthians 7:12, Ephesians 4:7, 1 Peter 4:10). There are 18 of these gifts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).
  4. How we use our money: 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  5. How we spend our time: Psalm 90:12, Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5, 1 Peter 1:17
  6. How we suffer: Matthew 5:11-12, Mark 10:29-30, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Peter 4:12-13
  7. How we run the particular race God has chosen for us: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 2:16, 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:1
  8. How effectively we live in co-crucifixion with Christ: 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Corinthians 16:3, Philippians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:4
  9. Our heart and vision to reach the lost: Proverbs 11:30, Daniel 12:3, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
  10. How we react to temptation: James 1:2-3, Revelation 3:10
  11. How much His Appearing means to us: 2 Timothy 4:8
  12. How faithful we are to the Word of God and the flock of God: Acts 20:26-28, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 1 Peter 5:2-4 
Also our motives will be rewarded: Mat 6:1-6: Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them:otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly
 

BE DILIGENT:  
  • Ephesians 5:16-17 "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." 
  • 2 John 8: Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward  
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”.  
 Thanks to Tom Steward for some of the content in this article

GGC Philly Sermon Series: Signs of the Last Days

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For the next 4 Sundays we will be dealing with the Signs of the Last Days as well as Eschatology - the Study of the End Times.

During this 4 part series we will be dealing with the Certainty of the Rapture, The Anti-Christ, The 7 year Tribulation, The Bema Seat/ Judgement Seat for the Believer, Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Israel, Gog and Magog, the 4 Horsemen of Revelation, The Beast, the False Prophet, God's Judgement on the Earth and the 1000 year Millennial Reign of Christ on the Earth. We will also be dealing with much more!

Join us Sundays at 11am in the Philadelphia area - Hatboro PA, 245 East Countyline Rd. 

Puerto Rico Mission Trip Getaway 2013

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This week my wife and I went on a mission trip getaway to Puerto Rico where we met up with a team from Baltimore; p. Kevin Cooper, James Bryson, & Ian. There we visited p. David in Aguadilla, and his church. The Body there is a very joyous church with an outreach vision for their city. P. David met Greater Grace through p. Foster who led him to Christ while he was a missionary in Puerto Rico. While in Puerto Rico we did outreach in Mayaguez & other coastal towns. I was able to take a mountain bike trip up into the rain forest of El Yunque and do some evangelism for the people that lived up there. Precious people!


Check out the slideshow...

Prayer On Purpose - The Drawing into His Presence - A 30 day prayer guide into His Presence

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So Where's the Book?

I've had several email me and ask me where are the rest of the articles on prayer such as "Wk 2 Entering into the Temple and Wk 3 Fellowship". I have posted some drafts of the book on this blog to whet our appetites but will wait in posting anymore articles till the book itself is published. 

I am still writing this book and plan to be finished by the end of the year.

Writing this type of book is a process of Life and not something easily penned.

Thank you for your patience and be in prayer for me that God's heart and mind would be portrayed in this book.


7 Points on Having a Vision & 7 Things that will Kill your Vision

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Here are a few spontaneous raw notes on a message we preached while in Odessa on Vision:

VISION
Without a Vision People Perish

Pro 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.



1. We may first have a revelation of God's nature personally.
Ephesians 1:17-19
- Without a vision we live in knowledge.
- Without a vision I am lost
- vision of Gods love, power, grace, omnipotence
- with vision there is love, faith, joy, liberty
- we cannot compare ourselves Joshua 1:2-3 (the promise)
- we live with a personal sense of God in our lives.
- Is God with me? Read verses about God being with us.
Isaiah 6:1-5 Isaiah had to have a crises to reveal God in his life; a revelation of God, his flesh, finished work and he
hears the voice of The Lord.
- Hosea 10:12 breaking up the ground

2. God must speak to us about his specific plan
- a specific word from God
- we have to wait for God to speak to us
- suggestions from the body of Christ, a message.
- we test it / get counsel - Not flesh and blood: Gal 1:16
- it may not happen for a while

3. We must communicate the vision or be a part of the vision, Visionaries & followers.
- talk about the vision
- talk up / pastor
- peers
- down / followers
- Acts 16:9-10 (Titus Gal 2:1) God speaks to Paul about Macedonia
- don't get discouraged
- many times God will open a door after many others were closed
- "endeavored" - practical details (bought the tickets, prayer cards)
- assuring themselves "God has called us"
- if we don't have a vision for ourselves perhaps God wants us as a part of a team with a vision

4. We must be disciplined in the vision first before we lead others
- Write it down - we must break it down into pieces
- I need to be one outreach, prayer meeting before I can expect others to follow

5. At all times we must hold fast to the goodness of God that wants to prosper us.
- Nehemiah 2:17-18 "The good hand of The Lord "
- God is with us
- The King sent us - we are loved

6. Keep the vision fresh no ruts, big God, great grace (Acts 4), strong preaching.
- Be careful things don't get old
- Try different approaches (book tables)
- Try different perspectives (how are different people seeing things in the church)

7. Empower people, they will empower the vision.
- don't wait for the people to be perfect before you ask them to do things.
- paint the vision for them
- give them responsibilities
- trust
- edification
- there are not a lot of visionaries in this world

To be a visionary we must give our whole life to God.

The vision is always bigger than myself, resources, my own personality.

The vision is not just about missions
Need a vision for:
- family
- work
- children
- a main vision for my life
- Calling and occupation



Vision Killers: 1 Sam 3.1-3

1. Losing your perspective - focus lost of God, His Nature and his Word
2. Self occupation - internal problems - sin, pride, pre-occupied with the past, self analysis,
3. People occupation - comparison, gossip, fear of man, personality conflicts, people's failures, cliques.
4. Circumstantial occupation - pre-occupation with conditions, needs,
5. Trapped in your own comfort zone
6. Immaturity and lack of growth -
7. Lack of love, lack of grace, lack of forgiveness. Love empowers.

UkrCon 2013 & Moldovan Mission Trip

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It's been a little while since I posted on my blog it's been so busy. I just got back this week from our annual Ukrainian Conference with a side trip to two cities in Moldova. This year we were so blessed to have p. TJ Hassler, p. Toll, p.Gromov and p. Dave Nebel as our guest speakers. What a joy to see the growth of people in their calling and their walks with God.

After the conference the team I was with went to visit p. Mark Knowles in Chisinau Moldova where we have a church and then to Bendery, where there is a new church forming. What a blast it was to visit these place and see fruit that remains.

You can hear some of the messages preached there on my podcast: http://www.sermon.net/rss/client/GGCPhila or here: www GGWO.org.ua.

Below is the slideshow of a few shots I was able to catch during the time there:

From Epic to Venge - The Story of a Bike Build

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I thought I'd write an article about a bit of a seemingly vain fitness program that I enjoy. As with everything I look at this as a way to connect with people and share Christ with them. I've had many opportunities to speak with people in different places in their lives and help them with the Finished Work.

I and Jim with the great folks at BikeLine in Broomall took on the exciting project of tearing down a 1994 Vintage Specialized Epic road bike (full carbon frame) with Campi parts and building a Specialized S-Works using a 2013 Venge full carbon frame (that weighs 1kg!) being Di2 compatible. I got the frame and the Zipp 60mm Carbon wheel-set straight from the manufacturer - Dengfu in China. I was at first a bit worried about ordering a frame and wheel set from China but Kathy Jin at Dengfu always replied to emails within 24hrs. I got the package from China within 5 days and it was well packaged and arrived safely.

Here is the slideshow of the step by step process.

Odessa Camp 2013 and an Update from Kyiv by the Grodz's

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Thank you so much for your prayers and care. As you know we’ve moved to Kyiv on Saturday 13th, and on Sunday P.Roman led the wedding ceremony of Rafi and Tanya (By the way, Rafi and Tanya had part of their honey moon in this Camp!). On Tuesday 16th we went to Odessa to participate in Summer camp in Carolina Bugaz. God blessed us with the possibility to stay in nice hotel, most people stayed in tents on the beach. There were many families with 1-3 kids who were staying in tents, they are real heroes! Hope you saw some great pictures of this camp on the Facebook. There were about 70 people from Odessa, Cherkassy, Moldova, Kyiv,  L'viv and from Kaliningrad. The theme of the Camp was “A Prepared Heart”. P.Roman and P.Mark Knowles from Moldova were the main speakers and the other pastors had their great portions as well. There were 3 young men from different cities who got baptized at the end of the camp. P.Sasha and his team did an amazing work organizing this camp. People shared great testimonies from the time there. Many expressed the desire to have this camp longer and they anticipate next time of the camp.

We planned to stay couple days longer in Odessa to be with the church there, but our son got sick and we ended up in the hospital, it was an unbelievable experience, we decided to leave that hospital the next day. We stayed 3 days with P.Sasha and Tanya and then went back to Kyiv. Sam still is recovering, but he is much better now, thank God! Please, pray for special protection from God on our health, we feel since we started this process of moving to Kyiv we’ve been under serious attacks on our health.

P. Roman, Albina and Sam

God's Answer for Anxiety

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Philippians 4:6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Anxiety Defined
Anxiety is the sense or feeling that results when core fear has not been confronted with God and His Love and Promises but rather pushed down, down into the lower sub-consciousness and treated with things to relieve the symptom of fear but not the cause.

Anxiety is similar to my medical symptoms. It is not something to get rid of as quickly as possible; it is something to define, to look beneath. It is not a problem to solve; it is a doorway into a deeper region of the human heart and soul  where God waits to meet you. And when you rest in the Father's embrace, unexplainable peace fills the center of your soul - Ps 23 "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me."

Think of anxiety as the red light flashing on your dashboard. It is telling you something is wrong under the hood. Ignore it at your peril. Medication has its place, but when you use medication simply to feel better without exploring the deeper roots of your anxiety, a spiritual malignancy might remain unexposed that threatens your quality of life.

How Women experience anxiety:
Invisibility
Probe deeply into the inner world of women, and a profound fear of invisibility will be felt. Will people never see beauty to cherish? Does anyone see the beauty of secure femininity as God created her to be - the wonder of anchored, unthreatened wholeness that warmly invites others into the love of God? Or do people see a woman and desire only external beauty, competence, or fun sociability, things that can be used or violated?

The core terror of invisibility is most acutely felt when a woman takes the risk to be intimate - to invite a husband, a daughter, a father, or a friend to know her. Will anyone be drawn? Will they be curious? Will someone see the beauty of a feminine soul that draws the observer to God?

How Men experience anxiety:
Weightlessness
Men are no less afraid; they are terrified by something just as personal but a little different - weightlessness. Do I have what it takes to impact people in a way that restores them to their God-designed wholeness? Will anyone value me as a weighty person in whose courage and strength people can rest?

The core terror of weightlessness is experienced when a man moves toward a wife, a child, a parent, or a friend to impact that person for good. Will anyone be impacted? Will she be grateful? Will someone respect the strength of a masculine soul that allows her to relax in the strength of God?

4 Things that are surface symptoms of a lies a core terror, a consuming fear that lives in secrecy:
1. nervousness
2. panic attacks and phobias; 
3. worries about health, money, and children
4. anxiety disorders 
       
Core Fears: The core terror in each person is deeply personal. People fear 
1. loneliness, 
2. inadequacy, 
3. rejection, 
4. isolation, 
5. dismissal, 
6. criticism, 
7. judgment. 
8. terror of exposure. Will I be seen for who I really am and not be wanted as I long to be?

Go Deeper - Stillness - Psychic noise.
Psalms 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God
Getting quiet before an all powerful loving God. Practicing the Presence of God.

Only when these core identity terrors are defined can the reality of God be experienced. Until it is brought into the light of consciousness where the reality of God can strip its power, that core terror will continue to reign as a hidden tyrant. 

3 Quick fixes that don't work:
1. Live to soothe anxiety and you will miss out on the affirming, empowering experience of God. 
2. Live to feel less worry and you will depend on sources of relief that never bring peace. 
3. Live to never feel the terror of invisibility or weightlessness and you will never get close enough to people to enjoy intimacy and impact.

Do not live to solve the problem of anxiety. Live to walk through the doorway of anxiety into the core terror that will reveal the glory of a God who lavishes you with beauty and weightiness that no separation, betrayal, or experience of loneliness can destroy. Only then will you know the peace that passes understanding that anchors you in God through all the storms of life.

*Credit to Larry Crabb for some of the content in this article

The Trouble with X...

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An Exerpt from C.S. Lewis

I suppose I may assume that seven out of ten of those who read these lines are in some kind of difficulty about some other human being. Either at work or at home, either the people who employ you or those whom you employ, either those who share your house or those whose house you share, either your in-laws or parents or children, your wife or your husband, are making life harder for you than it need be even in these days. It is hoped that we do not often mention these difficulties (especially the domestic ones) to outsiders. But sometimes we do. An outside friend asks us why we are looking so glum, and the truth comes out.
On such occasions the outside friend usually says, "But why don't you tell them? Why don't you go to your wife (or husband, or father, or daughter, or boss, or landlady, or lodger) and have it all out? People are usually reasonable. All you've got to do is to make them see things in the right light. Explain it to them in a reasonable, quiet, friendly way." And we, whatever we say outwardly, think sadly to ourselves, "He doesn't know X." We do. We know how utterly hopeless it is to make X see reason. Either we've tried it over and over again--tried till we are sick of trying it--or else we've never tried because we saw from the beginning how useless it would be. We know that if we attempt to "have it all out with X" there will be a "scene", or else X will stare at us in blank amazement and say "I don't know what on earth you're talking about"; or else (which is perhaps worst of all) X will quite agree with us and promise to turn over a new leaf and put everything on a new footing--and then, twenty-four hours later, will be exactly the same as X has always been.
You know, in fact, that any attempt to talk things over with X will shipwreck on the old, fatal flaw in X's character. And you see, looking back, how all the plans you have ever made always have shipwrecked on that fatal flaw--on X's incurable jealousy, or laziness, or touchiness, or muddle-headedness, or bossiness, or ill temper, or changeableness. Up to a certain age you have perhaps had the illusion that some external stroke of good fortune--an improvement in health, a rise of salary, the end of the war--would solve your difficulty. But you know better now. The war is over, and you realize that even if the other things happened, X would still be X, and you would still be up against the same old problem. Even if you became a millionaire, your husband would still be a bully, or your wife would still nag, or your son would still drink, or you'd still have to have your mother-in-law live with you.
It is a great step forward to realize that this is so; to face up to the fact that even if all external things went right, real happiness would still depend on the character of the people you have to live with--and that you can't alter their characters. And now comes the point. When you have seen this you have, for the first time, had a glimpse of what it must be like for God. For of course, this is (in one way) just what God Himself is up against. He has provided a rich, beautiful world for people to live in. He has given them intelligence to show them how it ought to be used. He has contrived that the things they need for their biological life (food, drink, rest, sleep, exercise) should be positively delightful to them. And, having done all this, He then sees all His plans spoiled--just as our little plans are spoiled--by the crookedness of the people themselves. All the things He has given them to be happy with they turn into occasions for quarreling and jealousy, and excess and hoarding, and tomfoolery...
But... there are two respects in which God's view must be very different from ours. In the first place, He sees (like you) how all the people in your home or your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but when He looks into that home or factory or office He sees one more person of the same kind--the one you never do see. I mean, of course, yourself. That is the next great step in wisdom--to realize that you also are just that sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your character. All the hopes and plans of others have again and again shipwrecked on your character just as your hopes and plans have shipwrecked on theirs.
It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as "Of course, I know I have my faults." It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives others the same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something you don't know about--like what the advertisements call "halitosis", which everyone notices except the person who has it. But why, you ask, don't the others tell me? Believe me, they have tried to tell you over and over and over again. And you just couldn't "take it". Perhaps a good deal of what you call their "nagging" or "bad temper"... are just their attempts to make you see the truth. And even the faults you do know you don't know fully. You say, "I admit I lost my temper last night"; but the others know that you always doing it, that you are a bad-tempered person. You say, "I admit I drank too much last Saturday"; but every one else know that you are a habitual drunkard.
This is one way in which God's view must differ from mine. He sees all the characters: I see all except my own. But the second difference is this. He loves the people in spite of their faults. He goes on loving. He does not let go. Don't say, "It's all very well for Him. He hasn't got to live with them." He has. He is inside them as well as outside them. He is with them far more intimately and closely and incessantly that we can ever be. Every vile thought within their minds (and ours), every moment of spite, envy, arrogance, greed, and self-conceit comes right up against His patient and longing love, and grieves His Spirit more than it grieves ours.
The more we can imitate God in both these respects, the more progress we shall make. We must love X more; and we must learn to see ourselves as a person of exactly the same kind. Some people say it is morbid to always be thinking of one's own faults. That would be all very well if most of us could stop thinking of our own without soon beginning to think about those of other people. For unfortunately we enjoy thinking about other people's faults: and in the proper sense of the word "morbid", that is the most morbid pleasure in the world.
We don't like rationing which is imposed upon us, but I suggest one form of rationing which we ought to impose on ourselves. Abstain from all thinking about other people's faults, unless you duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one's mind, why not simply shove them away? And think of one's own faults instead? For there, with God's help, one can do something. Of all the awkward people in your house or job there is only one whom you can improve very much. That is the practical end at which to begin. And really, we'd better. The job has got to be tackled some day; and every day we put it off will make it harder to begin.
What, after all, is the alternative? You see clearly enough that nothing... can make X really happy as long as X remains envious, self-centered, and spiteful. Be sure that there is something inside you which, unless it is altered, will put it out of God's power to prevent your being eternally miserable. While that something remains, there can be no Heaven for you, just as there can be no sweet smells for a man with a cold in the nose, and no music for a man who is deaf. It's not a question of God "sending" us to Hell. In each of us there is something growing up which will of itself be Hell unless it is nipped in the bud. The matter is serious: let us put ourselves in His hands at once--this very day, this hour.