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Central Haywood church of Christ

Serving God from the mountains of North Carolina

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Encouragement

The Power of Faith.

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about our God and how faithful he is to us. He never turns away from us; never gives up on us, and is always walking this journey of life with us. We truly are blessed to have our God love us so much and want to be near us. Continue reading “The Power of Faith.”

THE DAY AFTER

If the world stands, at least a part of this long night of politics at its worst will be over on Tuesday, November 8. I, for one, will be glad. I have never seen such name calling, such bitterness, and such blatant dishonesty–and that has certainly not been limited to just one candidate or party. Sadly, some Christians and even preachers have entered the fray and have used incendiary language I can’t imagine Jesus ever using. Like so many others, I’m over it! Continue reading “THE DAY AFTER”

Our God is faithful.

The book of Joshua is an amazing story of faith, failures, and forgiveness.

It tells us how God sent the nation of Israel in to occupy the Promised Land. It recounts the many battles some of which went well and some not so much. Their success or failure was totally dependent upon their willingness to adhere to the rules God set for them. Continue reading “Our God is faithful.”

Choosing to live outside of God’s blessings.

Last week, we talked about the three and a half tribes of Israel that wanted to settle in the land of Jazer and Gilead. At first glance, it seemed like a reasonable request. They had lots of livestock and the land was perfect for them. In spite of the obvious, Moses was seriously upset with them. Why wouldn’t he be? Especially after God’s reaction to those who chose to not go into the land (Num. 13) that resulted in 40 years of punishment and death. He was afraid that just like before the people would be discouraged and God would punish them. Upon hearing the seriousness of their choice these three and a half tribes quickly resolved to go in with the nation and help them secure their inheritance, as long as they could then come back to their inheritance. They didn’t want to be the ones causing the Lord’s people to suffer, struggle, and ultimately fail.

Yet, there is another reason why these three and a half tribes should have chosen to stick with their people (church). By choosing to live on the other side of the Jordan they are choosing to separate themselves from the people of God and from the promises and blessings of God. In Numbers 32:22, Moses says that after they have fulfilled their responsibilities to the Lord and Israel they can leave and be free from obligation to the Lord and Israel.

That should have been enough to motivate them to withdraw their idea of an inheritance in Gilead instead of the Promised Land. Hearing Moses tell them that they would be free from God and from their family should have caused them to ache in their souls.

What is most scary to me is that many Christians are also choosing to live outside of God’s blessings and as strangers to their church family. The church is supposed to be our family; brothers and sisters in the Lord, and yet, many just want to be free from any real obligations to Jesus or His church. When that is where our heart is at you can rest assured that God is not going to bless your life or faith. It’s going to hurt the church that has to go to battle without you but it’s going to hurt your family and faith more than anyone else.

Choosing to live a life outside of the Lord and His church is choosing to separate yourself from both. You cannot be in Christ, in the kingdom of Jesus with all its blessings (Eph. 1:3), and separate; free from any obligations. You must choose one or the other but you cannot have both.

Another serious problem here is that many Christians are living outside the blessings and promises of Jesus but are not aware of the choice they have made. All they can see is that life is hard, faith is hard, going to church is hard, and they wonder why everyone else seems to be blessed with an easier life. They wonder why everyone else is so committed and faithful. How can they manage to be there every week especially at every service of the church?

Let me tell you why it seems easier for them? Honestly, it is easier for them and I am going to tell you why. I’m not going to hold back, I hope it doesn’t hurt you, and I hope it helps fix your situation. They have chosen to live their life in the blessings and promises of God. You can choose it too! It’s not too late. Make the good decision to commit yourself entirely to Jesus and live your life in his blessings and church.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

(Galatians 6:7, ESV)

When you commit to investing into God and faith, He will make sure to bless you for the effort.

It’s a matter of teamwork.

Success in any endeavor is almost always attributed to the team. No one person can secure the win, the victory; success, without the help and support of the entire team. Could a football team win a game without its defensive line? Could it succeed without the receivers? We all agree that no team has a shot at winning a game if the entire team doesn’t work together.

Success is always a matter of teamwork.

In Numbers 32, we have an important story of Reuben and Gad. As Israel traveled to the promised land and was winning battles against other nations; they reached a place where the land was perfect. It was everything these two tribes could have hoped for; a great place to live and a great place for all of their livestock. Looking around they decided that this was the place they wanted to settle and make homes. So, they approached Moses and said this land is perfect for us, we have lots of livestock, and this place is perfect for it. They wanted to settle in the land of Gilead, build their homes, and not cross the Jordan into the promised land.

Moses response was serious. He was outraged that these two tribes wanted to stop traveling and fighting with Israel and settle in this land. He said, how could you seriously sit here comfortable and safe while the rest of us have to march to war. He said that doing so would incur God’s wrath but also discourage the rest of the people. Two parts of God’s people wanted to quit the game, sit on the sidelines, and let everyone else do all the hard work. Never mind the fact that they were choosing to settle outside of God’s blessings they were abandoning the rest of God’s people.

Alone, they would have surely failed.

We need to be reminded that success for the Lord’s church is a matter of God’s power and the teamwork of the entire group. No one person should be able to sit on the sidelines and watch as the team keeps playing. Winning the game is almost impossible at this point. Not only do they get tired, face losses, but it is also extremely discouraging. The team that continues to fight, just to keep going, has to deal with the increased workload of those who are sitting and watching as time after time they either barely make it or fail.

Church, your team needs you. They need you to step up and get back in the game. They need you to get involved and help win some games. Once Reuben and Gad were aware of how much the nation needed them they quickly agreed to march with them to victory. They didn’t want to be the ones responsible for the failure of the entire team.

I hope this has encouraged everyone to get involved in the work and fellowship of the church. I hope it has encouraged those who are still in the game to keep trying but also that it will encourage all of us to get involved. When you sit down and let everyone else do all the work it discourages everyone and it becomes a self-propagating problem. As more people sit down, discourage and failures rise, as failures and discouragement rises, more people want to quit.

We need you. Our success is dependent on your willingness to get back in the game and fight with us.

“I’m So Discouraged”

First, let me say that feeling of discouragement and disappointment is not sinful. No one thinks you’re less Christian simply because you feel like that. Honestly, I think we have all reached that point at some time in our life and the more you care the more likely you are to feel it. Sometimes it is about what is happening at church and sometimes it’s about what is not happening.

When this happens we tend to look at external factors like attendance and participation as indicators of the health and well-being of the church. These are superficial indicators, indicators, but not the gold standard of how healthy a church or Christian should look or act.More importantly, I want you to understand that disappointment and discouragement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. These feelings can be overwhelming and cause us to focus on all things that are not what we think they should be but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of focusing on how it is not what we want or think it should be, maybe, we should take this as a deep, inner calling, to get to work and change things.

More importantly, I want you to understand that disappointment and discouragement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. These feelings can be overwhelming and cause us to focus on all things that are not what we think they should be but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of focusing on how it is not what we want or think it should be, maybe, we should take this as a deep, inner calling, to get to work and change things.

Often we allow our discouragement and disappointments cause us to pull away from the work when that is exactly the opposite of what is needed. What the church needs is more people who will get up and get busy, not sit down, or turn away. Every church needs people who will face the discouragement and say, “I WILL NOT BACK DOWN AND I WILL NOT QUIT!”

If every time something disappoints or discourages us and we run away; we will never learn to overcome. The church needs people who will stay in spite of the problems; people who will keep fighting, keep standing strong, and refuse to give up. That is the only way real change happens.

In 1 Kings 19, we are told about the prophet Elijah running for his life from the evil queen Jezebel. Shortly after his great victory on Mt. Carmel he takes his eyes off of God’s power and protection and runs for his life. The threats of the queen cause feelings of discouragement and disappointment to well up inside; it caused feelings of fear and doubt that left him hiding in a cave. It was in the cave that God speaks to him and asked what are you doing here. Elijah’s answer is relatable and something we have probably felt before. He says, “It’s enough God, I have tried to do the work; I am losing this battle; I cannot do this anymore. They have killed everyone else, I’m the only one left, and they want me dead too.” Elijah is disappointed, discouraged, and feeling defeated. It is exactly at this time that God tells him that this is not the time to stop but the time to get up and work. To encourage him, God reminds him that he is not the only one left but there were actually seven thousand people with him. God’s message is clear, “don’t let discouragement stop you!” Use those feelings to motivate you to get up and get back at it.

Like Elijah, sometimes we get down and discouraged. Church, don’t allow that to stop you or make you feel like quitting. We can win! We can overcome with Jesus Christ on our side. Don’t ever give up and don’t let discouragement be the end of your story.

A Mind to Work

I have been a Christian for many years now. I know it’s not that long compared to some in the church but I have been a Christian long enough to learn some things.

I have learned that there is no perfect church. Every congregation has its share of problems. I have also learned that even in a good church if you look hard enough and long enough, you can find something to be disappointed about. I have learned that it’s easy to become discouraged even to the point of wanting to give up. I have felt that way numerous times in the churches I have been blessed to work with. I have also learned that if you look hard enough and long enough you will find something to be excited about. I am resolved to look for the good; for the positive, and I hope you will join me in it.

Attitude determines actions! When a person begins with the state of mind that everything is wrong, for them everything is wrong. On the other hand, if you begin with the state of mind that with God anything is possible, you will find that everything is going much better than you dreamed possible.

We can find great satisfaction in whatever church we are a part of if we are focused on the work at hand. We can take a bad situation and make it a good one if you look for the good things, look for solutions, not problems.

Nehemiah 4:6 says,

“So we built the wall. And the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” (ESV)

Nehemiah reminds us that no matter how bad the situation seems it can be improved. No matter how hopeless it might seem, we can be victorious. He faced huge problems as he returned to Jerusalem and found the walls were completely destroyed. In fact, he said they were heaps of rubble. With God’s help, they finished the work and accomplished the task that God had set before them.

We too can overcome whatever task God sets before us because He would not set anything before us that we cannot do. Secondly, we can do it because we are not alone in this work. The all-powerful, God of heaven and earth, is on our side and if we will trust Him we can be victorious. With God’s help and a mind to work there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

Jeff Arnette

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