The Faith of Martha

For the last two weeks I have been teaching out of John 11 - Lazarus' resurrection. Each time I read this chapter, I get something new out of this timeless, miraculous story. From Jesus' deliberate delay to Martha's extraordinary faith, there is so much to learn about our God and how He works in our lives. Often times, we pray and pray and we don't get the answer we prayed for. What do we do then? Do we give up on God? Do we decide He is not trustworthy or do we continue to hold on to Him even though life has gone suddenly awry. Martha and Mary faced the same crossroad in their relationship with Jesus. Jesus was their friend. They knew Him well. They had listened to Him teach. They had eaten with Him. They had sent for Him when their brother got sick, but Jesus, their good friend, didn't come right away. He deliberately waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before going to Bethany. Did his delay mean he didn't really love Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? No, Scripture is quick to point out to us in John 11:5 that Jesus loved them all. Surely Martha and Mary were upset that Jesus didn't come to their rescue immediately. They watched their brother die without ever seeing Jesus. They buried him and still Jesus did not arrive. Four days after Lazarus' burial Jesus shows up. Martha goes running to meet him declaring, "if you had been here my brother would not have died." What I love about Martha is she doesn't stop there, she goes on to say, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Wow, talk about faith. I don't know if Martha even in her wildest dreams expected Jesus to call Lazarus back to life, but she believed in her friend Jesus. She knew He was "the Christ, the Son of God" (v.27) and just because life hadn't gone as she hoped, she still believed. We could all learn from Martha's example. When you know Jesus, really know him, you will be able to trust Him even when hard times come. Circumstances cannot change who He is. Bad things happen - yes, even to good people, but Jesus is always our ever present help in time of trouble. Take a lesson from Martha - when life goes awry, run to Jesus!


Are you a Faithful Bride?

For the last two weeks, we have been discussing the importance of faithfulness in our relationship with Christ. There is no denying that our bridegroom is faithful to us. Morning by morning, He shows us His faithful ways. Too often, however, we are not faithful to Him. We choose sin over obedience. We choose laziness over discipline. We choose complaning over praise. Every time we choose anything other than Christ, we are being an unfaithful bride. I encourage you to take some time in the Word of God. Read Hebrews 10 and 11 and ask God to give you the courage to be a faithful bride!!
Ladies, the CD of last week's lesson is available. See Stacy Pennington if you would like a copy.


Pour My Love on You

I don't know how to say exactly how I feel
And I can't begin to tell you what your love has meant
I'm lost for words
Is there a way to show the passion in my heart
Can I express how truly great I think you are
My dearest friend
Lord this is my desire to pour my love on you
Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Life water from my heart
I pour my love on you
With praises like perfume
I lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I pour my love on you
Is there a way to show the passion in my heart
Can I express how truly great I think you are,
My dearest friend
Lord this is my desire to pour my love on you
Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Life water from my heart
I pour my love on you
With praises like perfume
I lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I pour my love on you
(Phillips, Craig, & Dean)

May these words become the cry of our hearts!!


Passionate for your Bridegroom

How passionate are you for Jesus, your bridegroom? We must passionately pursue Christ. He is longing for His bride to seek Him. He wants to be our focus, and He should be our goal. We, as the bride of Christ, must seek Him with all our heart. When we become passionate about seeking Him, then He becomes our all in all. We often hear that there is a place in our heart meant only for God; however, the reverse is also true, there is a place in God’s heart meant only for you. He (God) longs to be loved by YOU. A.W. Tozer puts it this way, “God waits to be wanted.” Can you picture that? The God of the universe is waiting to be wanted by you. So, how does he know that you want Him? For those who are married, how does your husband know that you love him? Mom, how do your children know that you love them? You show them. It’s not just saying the words. It’s following those words with actions that back them up. It’s easy to say "I love Jesus", but how do I show Him that he really is my everything? I show him, by passionately pursuing Him, by seeking His will above my own, by spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word. Those are just a few practical ways I can show Him that I love him. Part of passionately pursuing Christ is to give yourself to prayer and the Word daily. Just like the bride–to-be relishes spending time talking with her fiancĂ©, so we should relish spending time talking with our fiancĂ©, Jesus. We all know that for any relationship to be meaningful, there must be communication. As a mom, a wife, a woman, your role is too important to not spend time in prayer. Make time for it. With prayer, make time to read your lover’s letter to you. Get in his Word; it is his love letter to you. He wants to speak to you - will you be willing to listen? He wants to show you new insights in his word - will you take time to study? Are you willing to tarry with Him? Will you walk through the valley with Him? Will you endure the fire with Him?
I Peter 1:3-7 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Ladies, the bride of Christ must learn perseverence! Life is not a bed of roses, was it for Christ? Was it for Peter? Was it for Paul? I think the modern church is sadly lacking in the ability to simply persevere. The New Testament is full of Scriptures exhorting us to develop perseverance. Romans 5:3-4; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:3 -4 are just a few. In ministry, I see evidence of this lack of perseverance often -- a woman is really pushing into Christ with passion and fervor. Then something happens - be it tragic or just sad and immediately she is off track. She stops pushing into God, and becomes lazy, apathetic, and discouraged. At the first sign of trouble, what do you do? Please don't become lazy! Now is not the time for laziness. The Bible mentions nothing about Christ coming back for a lazy bride. (See the parable of the ten virgins if you need confirmation - five were ready and five were lazy - the lazy ones didn't make it to the ceremony.) Twice in Revelation, John is instructed to praise the church for its perseverance – the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:2) and the church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:19). Perseverance is obviously something that God highly prizes. He has even attached a crown to it according to James 1:12.
So what will fuel our passion and our ability to persevere? Our sincere, deep, intimate love for our bridegroom. When we truly love our Lord with ALL that is within us then we will want to pursue Him, and we will be willing to persevere through life's circumstances no matter what. Maybe we just need to fall in love with Christ all over again. If you find your passion for Him is waning and your ability to persevere is lacking, ask God to stir up the flames of love that once burned hot in your life. Dear sisters, be passionate for Him because I promise you He is definitely passionate for you!


Becoming a Holy Bride

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (I Peter 1:13-16)
Holiness - it's a pretty tall order isn't it? Living a life of holiness is not about following a list of dos and don'ts. It's allowing the HOLY Spirit free reign in your life. In the original Greek the word be means to begin to be; to come into existence. As we begin to walk in holiness, the Holy Spirit will come alongside us and aid us in our quest. Holiness is a natural outcome of the life fully surrendered to the Spirit. You won't have to strive for it - the Spirit will produce it in you. I Peter 2:4 says, "As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him - you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Those are some powerful words written by Peter under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God. As I read those verses I thought of the movie Field of Dreams and it's famous line: "If you build it, they will come." God says to us just the opposite: "If you come, I will build you." Wow! If we will come to Jesus, He will build us into "a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.." How do we come to Jesus? We spend time in His word. We spend time in prayer. We obey what He has told us to do. We rid ourselves of things that are standing in the way of our pursuit of holiness.
I Peter 2:1 gives us a list of five things to get rid of in our lives. They are malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. When we read those words, we may not fully understand all that they imply. In the original language, those words carry much more punch. Malice means wickedness as an evil habit of the mind - not only doing evil but being evil. Deceit or Guile (KJV) means to bait; fraud; craftiness; manipulation. Hypocrisy is defined as to pretend, a sin which glories in misleading another by smooth flatteries; averts holiness. Envy means jealousy; pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness; bursts of envy. The New Testament dictionary went on to say that this word envy is incapable of good and is always used with an evil meaning. Slander means blasphemy, defamation, condemnation, accusation, blame, indictment. If the bride of Christ would pursue holiness just in these five areas how different would the church look? How about if we just took one thing - hypocrisy - and pursued holiness in this one area? I believe revival would start as a result. No more gossip, no more backbiting, no more pretending, no more flattery, no more masks - can you imagine? As the bride of Christ we must begin to pursue holiness with all our heart. As we come to Him - our bridegroom - He will build us into His beautiful, holy bride. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)


Don't let the MOTH eat your gown!

Our study of righteousness as it relates to the Bride of Christ has shown us that we should wear righteousness daily. God uses the word righteousness many times in Scripture and relates it to a piece of clothing. Check out these references if you want to learn more on that topic - Job 29:14, Psalms 132:9, Isaiah 11:5, Isaiah 51:8, Isaiah 59:17, Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 4:24, Ephesians 6:14. Isaiah 51:8 says, "For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my RIGHTEOUSNESS will last forever, my salvaion through all generations." As I studied this verse I thought of the very literal work of moths...what do they do? They eat holes in our clothes! If righteousness is our spiritual clothing, then what sort of spiritual moths might we need to guard against? I have a little acrostic of the word MOTH that I hope will help you evaluate the presence of any moths in your spiritual life.
First, we have the Me, Me, Me Mentality. Selfishness is a killer in our spiritual life. Becoming so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to even see God working in our lives is a dangerous trap and one that I fear many Christians find themselves. Scripture has tons to say about denying self - Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23, all record the same command from Jesus. "If anyone (man or woman) would come after me, s/he must deny her/himself and take up her/his cross and follow me. Three times that command is recorded in the gospels - from the mouth of Christ. Selfish ambition is described in Galatians 5:20 as an act of the sinful nature. Philippians 2:3 warns us to "do nothing out of selfish ambition..." James 3:16 says, "For where you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." Wow, those are pretty strong words! Evaluate yourself and those in your life. Do you have friends who only talk about themselves, their lives, their children, their job, etc? Are they interested in listening to you or is it all about them? Are you a friend like that? Proverbs 18:1 says, "An unfriendly (wo)man pursues selfish ends." How much of your day is wrapped up in Me, Me, Me?
Second, the O in MOTH is an Overly Sensitive Ego. How easily do your feelings get hurt? How paranoid are you? Prayerfully evaluate yourself and see if you are suffering from an overly sensitive ego. We are not to live by our feelings and yet somehow we let them gain the upper hand in our lives. An overly senstive person constantly has to be stroked and pampered. In our spiritual walk, this exemplifies itself in isolation, jealousy, envy, gossip, and paranoia. The overly sensitive ego is very aware of how it is being treated and also who (in its perception) is being treated better. If your circle of friends is prone to gossip, beware - you may have fallen in with a bunch of women who suffer from OSE! If you think everyone is talking about you, I hate to break it to you, but they probably aren't. To see where an overly sensitive ego will lead you, check out King Saul in the Old Testament. Isaiah 26:3 is the answer to OSE. "You keep him/her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you...." When our mind is set on Christ our ego will take a backseat.
Our third letter is "T" and it stands for Trial Immunity. Now you may ask, what is that? It is believing that we are immune to trials! Unfortunately, many Christians believe that when they get saved it's easy sailing. They believe salvation is an innoculation against trials and tests, so when hard times come they are baffled. We are not immune to trials!! I Thessalonians 3:3 says it so clearly, "..so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well we were destined for them." The last time a trial came your way, what was your response? Paul reminds us to not be surprised because trials are our destiny. James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters) whenever you face trials of many kinds," I Peter 1:6-7 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kind of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." What is the role of the bride of Christ right now? We are to be making ourselves ready. Peter tells us plainly that these trials are coming so that we can be ready to be presented to Christ as genuine and faithful. The bride is not immune to trials. It is by those very trials that we are being made perfect for our bridegroom. Don't resist the trials in your life. Rejoice and thank God that He loves you enough to make you more like Him.
Now for the final part of our "moth" acrostic. The "H" stands for a Haughty Attitude. Nothing kills our witness quicker than a haughty attitude. A haughty attitude is one that is filled with pride, arrogance, and disdain. Scripture records many times that a haughty spirit goes before a fall. Haughty eyes are listed as the very first item in Proverbs 6 of the things God hates. In Zephaniah 3:11 God has a very strong word for those who rejoice in their pride "..never again will you be haughty on my holy hill." A haughty attitude does not display Christ to a lost and dying world. A haughty bride is a poor reflection of her bridegroom. Remember that our righteousness is as filthy rags and that it is only through Christ's righteousness that we are made His bride. It's all about Him! I hope you will do some work this week "moth-proofing" your life. It's easy to let the moths in and we must be as aware and intentional with our spiritual clothing as we are our physical clothing. Remember we are not our own. We have been bought with a price and our purpose is to honor God. (I Corinthians 6:19b-20)


The Bridal Gown

In our study of the bride of Christ we have taken an in-depth look at the role of true worship in the life of the bride. This week we turn our attention to the bridal gown. Revelation 19:7-8 describes the fine linen given to the bride. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (KJV) Our bridal gown is righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 says, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." God, is in his great love and mercy, sent his son to earth. Jesus, the Righteous One, died so that we might be made righteous according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." As we put on righteousness as a bridal gown we reflect Jesus to a lost world. But how many of us believe that we are righteous? When I posed this question to my Sunday School class, I got very few raised hands. Our enemy has so brainwashed us that we believe we are not righteous and that we are not even worthy to be the bride of Christ. We have forgotten that our righteousness comes from Christ and it has nothing to do with how we feel about ourselves. Romans 10:4 says, "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." Because of Christ's redemptive work, we can be made right with God. The original Hebrew word for righteousness has both a masculine and feminine form and is used multiple times in the Old Testament. The masculine form of the word is sedeq and it means "justice; right relation to an ethical or legal standard". The feminine form is sedaqah. This word means "justice; right actions and right attitudes as expected from both God and the people. It describes the attitude and actions God had and expected His people to maintain. We are to sow in righteousness and our lives are to reflect righteousness and integrity". Scripture tells us very clearly that our righteousness is as filthy rags, but don't lose heart - it's not about our righteousness. Hosea 2:19 says, "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion." God chose you to be His bride. When you accepted Jesus you became his betrothed and he clothed you in His righteoueness. Your filthy rags were replaced with fine linen, a beautiful robe, and precious jewels. Clothed in his righteousness you are a radiant bride. Reflect HIS righteousness today!


Results of True Worship

We followed up our lesson on what true worship looks like by discovering the wonderful effect that true worship will have in our life.
True Worship results in --
Open eyes to see God in a clearer way
Right Relationships with God and others
Sincerity and transparency in our motives, actions, and attitudes

You will find that as you truly worship God each of these things will begin to take place in your life. It is a cycle that leads to even more truth in our worship.
For example, as I begin to worship God in spirit and in truth He will open my eyes to see things about Him I didn't see before. Then, as I see these new facets of God, I will enter into an even newer level of true worship. Each result leads back to true worship. What a mighty God we serve. He knows that when we worship Him - truly worship Him - He will fill us with Himself and that's where we will find satisfaction, peace, and purpose. I challenge you to become a true worshipper of God and I promise that He will transform your life.


True W-O-R-S-H-I-P

A couple of Sundays ago we started looking at the different facets of true worship. I came up with an acrostic to help us get to the heart of the matter. Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what worship is all about - in fact, it's just a starting point. I believe that we can use the acrostic to help us evaluate our worship.
I become a true worshipper when I:
W - Want Jesus more than anything else in my life (Matthew 6:33)
O - Offer myself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)
R - Renew my mind with the Word of God (Romans 12:2)
S - Seek God's will above my own (Luke 22:42)
H - Hear God's songs of love over me (Zephaniah 3:17)
I - Increase my ability to see Christ (Isaiah 6:1 & Psalms 27:8)
P - Praise God even when I don't feel like it (Acts 16:16-34)
True worship is not just a "feel good" moment in church. It is choosing to tithe even when it looks like the money isn't there. It is moving out of my comfort zone when all I want to do is stay put. It is making the decision to turn off the "noise" of this world and get in the Word of God. It is fulfilling my responsibilities even though I am weary and feel overlooked and underappreciated. It is so many more things than this, but, I promise it is so worth it. Adopting a lifestyle of true worship will garner the attention of heaven. Remember, worship is not a means of manipulating God into doing what we want done - God forbid that we adopt that philosophy. Worship is about becoming more like Christ. Living in the center of His will, we will find everything we could ever want or need. Next week, we will look at the results of true worship in our lives....you don't want to miss that! Until then, become a true worshipper.
"Worship changes the worshipper into the image of the One worshipped." (Jack Hayford)


True Worship -- What is it?

Worship has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been away from my home church for a little while and as I go to other places and worship with other believers it really makes me ponder this "worship" thing. Different denominations worship in different ways during their church services, but is that really all worship is? I think not. Worship is a lifestyle and not something we do on Sunday mornings and maybe one other night a week. It is time for a spirit of worship to invade every part of our Christian life. Our individual worship should be so rich and so passionate that when we get together corporately the presence of God falls in a mighty way. Isn't that what happened in 2 Chronicles? When the people began to worship in true unity, the presence of the Lord filled the place with a cloud of glory. We will begin a look at the worshipping bride this Sunday. The bride that Christ is returning for is one that worships HIM with all her heart! Want to learn more? Check out our Sister to Sister class this Sunday morning. See you there!


Opportunities for Bible Study this Fall!

We are excited to be able to offer several evening Bible studies starting in August. Check back soon for official start dates and times, but look over the studies listed and prayerfully seek God about which one you should participate in at this time. You will be blessed beyond measure as you seek to draw closer to the Lord through the study of His word. On Monday nights, we will offer Beth Moore's updated Breaking Free. Facilitated by Sabrina Wales, this is an eleven-week course and is a great foundational course for those seeking to let go of the chains of the past. On Sunday afternoon, we will offer Love and Respect a study for married couples and facilitated by Bill and Cassandra King. We are not sure about which nights we will offer our last two studies but they are both by Beth Moore. Nancy Pennington will be facilitating When Godly People do Ungodly Things. This study is only seven weeks and is very timely for the days in which we live. We will also offer Beth Moore's Here & Now, There & Then. It is a study of the book of Revelation and will be facilitated by Lora Branam. You can find information about all of these studies by doing a Google search or going to www.lifeway.com.


For Such a Time as This

Our 2010 Women's Seminar will be May 14 & 15. Join us for a great time of fellowship with women from all walks and denominations. Call the church office at 770-867-8888 to learn more. E-mail us at churchwinder@windstream.net to get a registration form.


Repairing the Chasms

This past Sunday we began a new study in God's Word dealing with repairing the chasms. A chasm is defined as "a break, fissure, breach, opening, rupture, division, separation, rift." Spiritually, chasms develop as a result of sin. The inspiration for this study is found in Amos 4:3 where God tells his people that because they did not return to him they will "each go straight out through breaks in the wall". Those chasms are our breaks in the wall and as we allow them to go unchecked in our lives they become the very places where our enemy will take us out. God desires for each of his daughters to live whole, healed, and abundant lives and that is the goal of this study. Over the next few weeks, we will look at chasms that develop around generational fault lines, chasms caused by actions done to us, and chasms created from our own sinful choices. Please make plans to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30AM in our fellowship hall as we break open God's Word and find healing and wholeness.
See you Sunday,
Stacy Pennington

New Bible studies start in February!

We are excited to offer our ladies two opportunities for small group Bible study. On Sunday nights we will offer The Patriarchs by Beth Moore from 4 - 6PM. This study will start on Sunday, February 7 and will last for eleven weeks. Nancy Pennington will serve as facilitator. On Monday nights we will offer Beloved Disciple also by Beth Moore from 6 - 8PM. This eleven-week study will start on Monday, February 8 and will be facilitated by Stacy Pennington. To register for either of these studies, call the church office at 770-867-8888 or e-mail us at churchwinder@windstream.net. Deadline to register is Sunday, January 31.