Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Hall of Fame

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Our citizenship is in heaven! Our home is His home. Just spend some time letting that sink in. And if you will stop and think about it: Our name is written there. Our citizenship is there. Our God is there. Our Savior is there. Our inheritance is there. Our deceased family and friends are there. So much of us is already there.

The Bible teaches us that the things we can see on this earth are only temporary. We look in the mirror and see our aging bodies, and realize that they are temporary. Our bodies get sick, hurt, grow old, and eventually die. Followers in Christ have the hope that life in this world is not the end.

Someday we will have a perfect body that will never die, like the one Christ has now. We will receive a body of glory.

How is this possible? What about martyrs burned alive, devoured by lions, and millions of others, particles of whose decaying bodies, through various stages of disintegration on land and sea? How? It is because God knows where every speck of human dust is hidden.

By the exertion, the energy of the power [dynamite] of the One that death, hell, and the grave could not hold! How great is our God! How awesome is He! How sad that anyone would miss eternal glory!

So, we can rejoice today that we have been inducted in a “Hall of Fame” that is much more valuable than the one in Cooperstown. We are in God’s Hall of Fame. Rejoice in His saving grace today.

Your name may not appear down here,

In this world’s hall of fame,

In fact you may be so unknown,

That no-one knows your name!

Our Halls of fame are only good

As long as time shall be;

But keep in mind, God’s Hall of fame,

Lasts for eternity!

To have your name inscribed up there

Is greater yes by far,

Than all the Halls of Fame down here

And every man made star.

Man on earth will soon forget

The heroes of the past;

They cheer you on until you fall;

How long will your fame last?

But God, He never does forget,

And in His Hall of Fame,

By just believing in his Son,

Proud, you’ll find your name.

Accepting His Son died for me

Was all it really took,

For God to take His pen,

And write me in His book.

For every famous name on earth

Or glory that we share;

I’d rather be unknown down here,

And have my name up there.

I tell you friend, I wouldn’t trade

My name, however small,

In His book, beyond the stars

...In His celestial Hall.

Until Next Week,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Come See, Then Go Tell

“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (John 1: 43-46)

The following story appeared in Focus on the Family Magazine, September 2002. It was entitled "A Light in the Darkness" by Christin Ditchfield:

On the morning of Sept 11, Jeannie Braca switched on the TV to check the weather report, only to hear that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. Jeannie’s husband, Al, worked as a corporate bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was on the 105th floor of Tower One.

Al had survived the WTC bombing in 1993 and had even helped a woman with asthma escape from the building. Jeannie knew that Al would do the same thing this time, “I knew he would stop to help and minister to people,” she said, “but I never thought for a minute that he wouldn’t be coming home!” A week later Al’s body was found in the rubble.

Al’s wife, Jeannie, and his son Christopher were devastated! Then the reports began to trickle in from friends and acquaintances. Some people on the 105th floor had made a last call or sent a final e-mail to loved ones saying that a man was leading people in prayer. A few referred to Al by name. Al’s family learned that Al had indeed been ministering to people during the attack! When Al realized that they were all trapped in the building and would not be able to escape, Al shared the gospel with a group of 50 co-workers and led them in prayer. This news came as no surprise to Al’s wife, Jeannie.

For years, she and Al had been praying for the salvation of these men and women. According to Jeannie, Al hated his job and couldn’t stand the environment. It was a world so out of touch with his Christian values, but he wouldn’t quit. Al was convinced that God wanted him to stay there, to be a light in the darkness, and although Al would not have put it this way, to be a hero! Al was not ashamed of Christ and Christ’s words…and he paid the price of taking up his cross daily. Al shared his faith with his co-workers….many of whom sarcastically nicknamed him “The Rev.”

And on that fateful day…Sept 11, in the midst of the chaos, Al’s co-workers looked to him—-and Al delivered! At the same time, Al too tried to get a phone call through to his family. He asked an MCI operator to contact his family. “Tell them that I love them,” he said.

It took the operator more than a month to reach the Braca’s, but the message brought them much-needed comfort. “The last thing my dad did involved the two things most important to him—God and his family,” his son Christopher told a writer for Focus on The Family. “He loved to lead people to Christ. That takes away a lot of the hurt and the pain.”

John 1 reminds us that our calling is to introduce Jesus Christ to the world. In John 1:35-49 Andrew and John – the writer of this gospel – come to Christ through the faithful preaching of John the Baptist. Peter and James come to Christ through the compassion and faithfulness of their brothers. Later Jesus would win Philip, who would then witness to Nathaniel and bring him to Jesus.

The invitation “Come and see” is still the invitation of God’s grace. So, here is the process: “Come and See” leads to “Go and Tell!” They work together because it is the faithfulness of our testimony that leads to the fruitfulness of our testimony! That should be the primary objective of every one of us – they hear us and they follow Jesus!

John 1 reminds us that being an Andrew does not involve fancy evangelism methods are memorizing lots of Scripture so you never make a mistake. Being an Andrew means getting them to Jesus and then trusting Jesus to make the transformation. Al Braca knew his purpose in life was more than being stuck in a job he did not enjoy. His calling was to introduce Jesus Christ to his co-workers. And he took full advantage. Their lives will never be the same.

Until Next Week,



Yesterday the power of the Holy Spirit was on display in our 11:00 service. We stood in awe of the power of God as people walked the aisle, professing faith for salvation. Please welcome these to our church family who were gloriously saved yesterday:

Jim Parris – profession of faith

Rita Parris – rededication

Richard Thomas – profession of faith

Elisha Smart – profession of faith

Melissa Stephenson – profession of faith

Derrick Bowen – profession of faith

James Dudley – profession of faith

Amey Dudley – profession of faith

JD Dudley – profession of faith


As both praise and prayer, please lift up Will and Rebekah McGee, the unanimous recommendation of our personnel team as our College Pastor, who will be with us in view of a call on July 24. The personnel team will introduce Will and Rebekah on Wednesday, July 20, at 6:15 PM.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Made to Count

For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

I wonder how many of us have prayed this verse, or quoted it as our life verse? It is one thing to quote it. It is another to live it! I wonder how many of us have lived it like BJ Higgins. Walker Moore started Awe Star Ministries in Tulsa, Oklahoma to help 14 - 17 year old kids go through a rite of passage into adulthood - through missions. Since inception fifteen years ago, Awe Star Ministries has placed thousands of young people around the world to share the gospel.

One of the young men was BJ Higgins. BJ went to minister to the people of Peru in the summer of 2005. During his time there over 5,000 Peruvians gave their lives to Jesus Christ. While ministering the gospel of Christ, BJ caught the bubonic plague.

When BJ's father asked him whether or not he was praying for God to heal him, BJ said that his prayer is that his life be used by God for the furtherance of the gospel, and if that means he lives, he is asking for healing. But, if the gospel is furthered through his death, he is asking God to take him home. BJ died in late summer of August 2005 of bubonic plague.

The story of BJ's life, written by his parents Brent and Deanna Higgins, with excerpts from the journals of BJ, is called I Would Die for You. It is #1 on Amazon's bestseller list among teenagers. BJ didn't talk about missions, he lived it. BJ wasn't concerned about his own legacy; he was captivated by Christ's legacy. BJ understood that a man is not really ready to live until he is fully prepared to die at any moment. It reminds me of a statement by martyred missionary to Auca Indians, Jim Elliott: “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

BJ wrote these words in his journal before he died:

I will not be satisfied.

I will not let my passion be held in a bottle.

I will not let my light be hidden.

I will stand up.

I will let my voice be heard.

I will lead. I will serve. I will fight.

I will tell people about Christ.

I will unsheathe my sword.

It's time to raise a revolution.

God will give me the strength.

(BJ Higgins, 1989-2005)

You were made to count! Like BJ, invest in the lives of others and leave your unknown future in the hands of a known Savior.

Until Next Week,

Dr. Derek

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Few Good Men

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

On October 8, 1918, Sergeant Alvin C. York singlehandedly captured 132 German soldiers, a feat that earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Sergeant York displayed the kind of courage and selflessness that is required of heroes. One of the reasons I believe he stood out and became a hero to many is because of his faith. Listen to a quote he made in his diary of his experience in World War II.

On July 1st, 1918 he wrote:

I carried a Testament with me. I have the Testament I carried with me during all my fighting at home now. I read it through five times during my stay in the army. I read it everywhere. I read it in dugouts, in fox holes, and on the front line. It was my rock to cling to. It and my diary. I didn’t do any cursing, no, not even in the front line. I cut all of that out long ago, at the time I was saved. You see, a hero is someone who does much more than just an amazing thing. A hero is someone who reflects heroism in his life. A hero is someone who does heroic things, because his character demands it.

Ben Tomlinson, Leon Hardy, and Dwayne Williams are some of my heroes.

They are men with amazing character. Ben is currently in CCU at Bethesda Naval Hospital recovering from a gunshot wound he received in Afghanistan a little over a week ago. Leon Hardy lost a leg while serving our country in Vietnam. Dwayne Williams was killed while serving his country in the September 11, 2001 blast that struck the Pentagon. Today he walks the streets of glory.

These men have several things in common. They are believers in Jesus Christ. They have roots in Jacksonville and First Baptist Church. They have faithfully served their countries in military service. However, one thing in particular that they share in common: THEY ARE HEROES. They join a long list of men and women from our church and community who have put their lives in harm’s way for the cause of freedom. They join a long list of faithful soldiers who have done heroic things because their character demanded it. They are our heroes.

As you go through your week, remember those who have paid a heavy price for freedom. Pray for them. Remember their families. Show love and support. Any anytime you see someone in uniform, please give them the honor and respect due them for their service to our country.

Dr. Derek


Welcome to the church family:

Lora Clarkson

Brenda Holt

Robert Holt Katie Harper Nathan Harper

Julie and I are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary on Thursday and then on Friday, our family will be traveling to Mrytle Beach, SC for a week of vacation. I am so thankful for my family.


Please continue to pray for Ben as he recovers at Bethesda Naval hospital. Today they will be removing the ventilator and putting in a tracheotomy. Please remember Chuck, Debbie, Dan, Sam, and all their family.

Please remember Brenda Downing and her family in the loss of her sister, Samantha Dobbins.

Pray for Jay as he prepares to preach this weekend in my absence. Pray for the Holy Spirit to provide clarity as he teaches on the importance of communication in the home.

Pray for our Honduras mission team as they make final preparations for their trip on June 25 – July 1.

Pray for our first team to China in August. Pray for our college students as they are in the process of raising funds for the trip. We are anticipating a cost of about 2700 – 3000 per person. I am convinced the Lord will provide. He is so faithful. I plan to walk about 20 miles while we are in China, and you can sponsor me per mile if you feel led. All resources I collect will be divided among our students. Call or come by the office if you have any questions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Plugged In To Wonder Working Power

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the

synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever

get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in

private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are

answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father

knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon.

May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us

our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but

rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will

forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6: 5-15,


Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and

highest when he comes face to face with God.” (Martyn Lloyd Jones) You may be like me today.

You hold prayer with the utmost respect, yet you know your own prayer life lacks purpose and vitality.

There are many reasons why Christians struggle in prayer, but one overriding factor. Listen to Martyn

Lloyd Jones:

It is the highest activity of the human soul, and at the same time the ultimate test of a man’s

true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christians so much as our

prayer life. Ultimately, we discover the real condition of our spiritual life when we are alone with

God . . . and find that we have less to say to God when alone with him than when we are in the

presence of others?”

Alone With God is that your greatest desire today? Do you believe that prayer is a vital part of

our Christian experience? What are you willing to do to experience God’s power? Are you willing . . .

To close the book of complaints and open the book of God’s praise? (Psalm 103)

To ignore what you feel life owes you and think more about what you owe others?

To cease unforgiveness that leads to bitterness and just once and for all – LET IT GO?

To stop looking for friendship and start being a friend?

To be content with the material things God has already given and stop fretting about the things you

don’t have?

To enjoy God’s simple blessings and stop striving for the artificial pleasures of the day?

To quit looking for someone to help you and begin devoting yourself to helping others come to know


Alone with God! Is that your heart desire today? If not, why do you feel as if your prayer life is

nonexistent? What do you need to change this week to experience His “wonder working power”?

Will you get still enough to know that He is God? Find a quiet place and kneel before the Lord of all

the earth. Know that He loves you and that He desires intimate communication with you.John

MacArthur says prayer is as easy as “breathing.” Stop holding your breath? Just breathe.

Dr. Derek

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Fruitful Life: Faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its

passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:22-24)

Faithfulness is an internal attitude that has to do with faithfulness before

God, not faith in God. It is a picture of someone who doesn’t waver in

loyalty to God, someone who follows through with commitments regardless

of difficulty. Faithfulness is love hanging on; love saying “I will not quit!”

Faithfulness is spiritual stick-to-itiveness!

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he wanted to make sure Timothy understood

the importance of staying on track, moving forward, and standing tall, just

being faithful. When it came time for Paul to give a living example, he had

to look no further than himself (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul had already

reminded Timothy of the duties of faithful ministry, and he wanted to give

him another compelling reason to stay the course: Paul would soon die and

Timothy must carry on the work.

So, when Paul reviewed his life he offered three statements to Timothy

about the urgent necessity of faithfulness:

The Good Fight – He stayed with it, in spite of the rigors and sacrifices

that the ministry brought to Paul.

The Finished Course – Paul said he endured to the end. He successfully

completed his life before God. He remained true to the gospel. Perhaps

he was told of Jesus declaring “I have brought you glory on earth by

completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

The Kept Faith – In life and in doctrine, he stayed the course with integrity.

Paul’s charge to Timothy is ours as well. We need to faithfully finish our

own race. Someone once said, “God’s call upon each life is different in

details and specifics, but he desires faithful endurance from all of us.” God

wants us to stay with it, to stand tall for the cause of the gospel, to never

waver in our loyalty to our Savior. After all, we know what lies ahead: “the

crown of righteousness.” We know who will give it to us: “the righteous

judge.” And we know the future does not exist for us alone, but for “all who

long for his appearing.” How awesome is that!!!

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to

Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the

Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

The fruit of the Spirit are not emotions. They are qualities determined by how we act,

not how we feel! For example, we may get angry (an emotion) but if we don’t act

unkindly, we can still display the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says “In your anger

do not sin.” (Eph. 4:26) It does not say that anger is sin. It does say we are not to let

our anger (an emotion) cause us to sin (an act).

For review, here is what we examined yesterday concerning kindness and goodness:

Kindness is the Imprint of God upon His Creation

Kindness is defined as “tender concern for others.” Kindness is the genuine desire of a

believer to treat others gently. Where did that inner yearning come from? Let’s allow

the Scriptures to answer that question:

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all

generations.” (Psalm 100:5)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm


For God so loved the world that he gave...” (John 3:16)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of

God.” (1 John 3:1)

Josephus, a first-century historian, noted that the believers were so kind that many

people did not know whether their title was “follower of Christ” or “follower of kindness.”

May that also be true of us! Let’s remember God’s loving kindness toward us in

sending His only Son to be a sacrifice for our sin. May God’s kindness “imprint” forever

be stamped on our hearts.

Goodness is the Generosity that flows from a Kind Heart

Goodness is a rare word found only 4 times in the New Testament, and used only once

by Paul. It conveys the idea of generosity toward someone else, a going the second

mile. It has to do with moral and spiritual excellence that flows from a grace-filled heart.

So, the kind goodness of God – poured out in our lives through the sacrifice of Christ –

is the ultimate display of what it means to reflect the glory of God to the world. Listen to

these Scriptural mandates:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do

justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave

you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those

who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

Notice how loving kindness and walking humbly are connected to a forgiving spirit and a

desire for moral purity. John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can by all the means

you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as

long as ever you can.” Mark Twain said, "Kindness is the language which the deaf can

hear and the blind can see."

There are hundreds of ways you can show kindness and goodness. You can:

Visit the sick, the elderly, and the lonely

Call the discouraged

Do favors for others

Bear the burdens for others

Encourage the downtrodden

Give to the needy

So, rate yourself today? How kind are you to people in the world? How kind are you to

people who are close to you? What steps will you take today to display kindness and

goodness this week?

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Fruitful Life: Patience

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to

Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the

Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”(Galatians 5:22-24)

Patience comes from macrothumia, a compound word. Macro means “long” and thumia

means “temper” or “explosion.” It is the exact opposite of a short temper of a short

explosion. Patience is defined as:

Self-restraint under pressure.

The calm willingness to accept situations that are painful or irritating without

getting edgy.

The ability to persevere when outcomes don’t develop as soon as we expected.

So, how patient are you? If you charted your life as a Christian, what would it look like?

Jesus said, “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). How is your day-to-

day existence with God? What situations has God placed you in to teach you patience?

You and I need to remember that God’s agenda is of “conforming us into the image of

Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:29). The purpose of God often develops slowly because we

are always in a hurry and God’s designs are never hurried. Phillips Brooks, the great

New England preacher, was feverishly pacing the floor one day when a friend asked,

“What’s the trouble Mr. Brooks?” His reply was, “The trouble is that I am in a hurry, but

God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt that same way many times?

Abide in Christ this week. Slow down your frantic pace. When you are tempted to

respond to difficulty with anger, restrain your anger. Develop the calm assurance that

God is in control and rest in his guiding hand. When you are in difficult situations that

tempt you to explode – remember Billy.

A guy stops in the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up some things for

his wife. He wanders aimlessly, searching out the needed groceries. While at the store

he noticed another father trying to shop with a totally uncooperative three-year-old boy

in the cart. The little boy was asking over and over again for a candy bar. He heard Dad say,

“Now, Billy this won’t take long.” As they paused in the next aisle the little tot’s pleas

had increased several octaves. Dad was quietly saying, “Billy, just calm down. We’ll be

done in a minute.”

Then the kid started screaming uncontrollably. Dad just kept his cool. In a very low

voice he was saying, “Billy. Settle down. We’re almost out of here.” The Dad reached

the checkout counter and Dad gave no evidence of losing control. The boy, on the

other hand, was screaming and kicking. Dad kept calmly saying over and over, “Billy,

we will be in the car in just a minute and then everything will be ok!”

The shopper was impressed beyond words. After paying for his groceries, he hurried to

catch up with this amazing example of patience just in time to hear him say again, “Billy,

we’re done. It’s going to be ok.” He tapped the patient father on the shoulder and said,

“Sir, I couldn’t help but watch how you handled little Billy. You were amazing!” Dad

replied, “You don’t get it, do you? I’m Billy!”

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Fruitful Life: Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

The Handbook of the United States Peace Corps says what a Peace Corp volunteer has to do if he is attacked by an anaconda snake. The anaconda is the largest snake in the world. You might think it was the boa constrictor. The anaconda is in the family with the boa constrictor, but it is larger than that. The anaconda snake grows to be 35 feet long and can weigh about 400 pounds. For the volunteers that are assigned to the Amazon Jungle, there is a section in the Peace Corp Handbook on what to do if you are attacked by an anaconda snake. There are 10 steps here that you are supposed to follow:

1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight together.
3. Tuck in your chin.
4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and begin to climb over your body.
5. Do not panic.
6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet in, always from the feet in. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
8. When the snake reaches your knees, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take out your knife, & very gently slide it between the edge of the snakes mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards severing the snake’s head.
9. Be sure to have your knife with you.
10. Be sure your knife is sharp.

I don’t know if the person who shared this with me was stretching the truth a bit because I can’t really see something like this in the Peace Corps Handbook. But it does tell about the importance of a calm interior in the face of a stormy exterior. Let me remind you of our study yesterday:

Peace – A quiet interior that leads to a calm exterior. Peace is a verb that has to do with binding together and reflects the expression “having it all together.” Peace means everything is in place as it ought to be.

Someone said, "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already."

I. Peace is the benefit of salvation. (Rom 5: 1)

II. Peace is given to us by Jesus. (John 14:27)

III. Peace has no relationship to circumstances. (Rom 8:28)

IV. Peace means there is no reason to be anxious or afraid. (Phil. 4:6-7)

V. Peace is always present when our focus is on the giver of peace, not the trait of peace itself. I love this quote by Charles Spurgeon: “I looked at Christ and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove of peace and it flew away.”

So, keep your eyes on Jesus. Set your constant gaze on Him. Never forget: Jesus died on the cross to give you peace. Then you can experience inner calmness when walking through a storm.

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”(Galatians 5:22-24)

Love is the highest virtue of the fruitful life. Paul said, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (Rom. 5:5) Jesus reminded us of the imperative of love: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Love, agape love, always puts the needs of others before self. Agape love sees what people can be rather than what they are. Agape love is the proof of your Christianity.

Joy is the evidence of God’s presence in your life. Christian joy is a feeling of wholeness based on spiritual realities, a deep-down sense of well being that abides in the heart of a person who knows “God and I” are alright. Christian joy is the deep, settled peace that comes to live within your heart when you make Jesus Lord of your life. Joy is God’s gift to believers!

Joy comes when you let Christ live his life through you. Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) Joy is different from happiness. Bible mentions "joy" or "rejoicing" 330 times. But it only mentions "happiness" 26 times. Happiness depends upon what happens to you. So if all the circumstances are right, then you can be happy. But joy comes from inside. Happiness depends upon outward circumstances. Joy comes from inward circumstances. So, our joy is not dependent on outward circumstances, but an inward presence!

Real love and joy can be your mission this week if you are willing to do three things:

1. You Must Put Jesus First! Love and joy are the by-products of being intimately involved with the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. You Must Put Others Second! A perfect example is John 15:5-11. It’s the night before the crucifixion of Jesus. He is in the upper room with His apostles. Soon He will be going to Gethsemane. Soon He will be arrested, tried, and convicted of crimes He did not commit. Soon they will be laughing at Him. Soon they will put a crown of thorns on His head, and mockingly call Him "the king of the Jews." Soon they will slap Him, spit upon Him, and whip Him. Soon His body will be nailed to a cross, and He will die. And He knows that all of this is going to happen. It’s not a very joyful time, is it?

But listen to what He says in John 15:8-11, "
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." On the last night of

His life, facing the cross, Jesus talks about love and joy. And the next day

He goes to the cross and dies for us. That’s putting others second!

3. You Must Put Yourself Last!

Phil. 2: 5 says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” What kind of attitude was in Christ Jesus? Hebrews 12: 2 says, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus emptied himself of the glories of heaven, became a man, made that man a servant, and took that body to the cross and willingly died. You see, the joy that was set before Jesus was doing the will of God.

We must be like John who said, “I must decrease and he must increase.” (John 3: 30). How do you put yourself last? Try visiting the nursing home, or mowing someone’s lawn who is not physically able, or serve in our preschool and children’s ministry. These are just a few examples of what it means to put the needs of others above our own.

Until Next Week,