YOU Bible Study / May 3, 2020 – “Messy Relationships: Encourage”

Here is a free YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview.  

YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview

I update this by Wednesday Morning each week. 

Please share this with your YOU Bible Study teachers to help while they are not able to meet for teach planning meetings during this Coronavirus Quarantine. 
Keep up the GOD work!

YOU Unit 3 Lesson 2

YOU Bible Study / April 26, 2020 – “Messy Relationships: Love”

Here is a free YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview.  

YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview

I update this by Wednesday Morning each week. 

Please share this with your YOU Bible Study teachers to help while they are not able to meet for teach planning meetings during this Coronavirus Quarantine. 
Keep up the GOD work!

YOU Unit 3 Lesson 1

YOU Bible Study /April 19, 2020 – “Why The Resurrection Matters”

Here is a free YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview.  

YOU Bible Study Online Lesson Weekly Overview

My plan is to update this by Wednesday Morning each week. 
Please share this with your YOU Bible Study teachers to help while they are not able to meet for teach planning meetings during this Coronavirus Quarantine. 
Keep up the GOD work!

YOU Unit 2 Lesson 2

“On Earth as it is in Heaven?”

We love to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven[1]…” , but are there areas we are missing? While I was serving as a Pastor in a small city in Virginia, I attended a meeting in Atlanta. At the meeting were leaders of the 27- ethnic fellowships in the […]

via “On Earth as it is in Heaven?” — mark croston blog

Through the Fog!

     I just took off from Nashville on my way to Philadelphia. The early morning fog way so thick we could not see 10 feet in front. The pilot began the takeoff without being able to see. As we left the ground at flying speed the visibility only got worse. Then in just a few short moments we broke out of the dense fog and into the bright, clear skies above.  — just like life. We are often in the fog unable to see what’s ahead. But our lives will never take off if we sit on the runway hoping, waiting for the fog to go away.
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     The pilot did not speed blindly into the fog. He actually had help from the tower. In the tower they could see through and beyond the fog that it was OK to take off and fly. Let God be your tower. He sees through the fog. The Bible says that at midnight He sees as clearly as midday. Get your flight plan, Rev up your engines and Take off!!!
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I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with my eye on you, I will give counsel.
Psalm 32:8 (CSB)

Christmas: It’s All About Jesus!

 

The Christmas MetaphorExactly what is Christmas all about? Is it just the trees, shopping, gifts, cards and eating or it is something more? This year as in several before there has been a lot of discussion over whether we should just say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Luke 2:1-7, tells the story of Mary & Joseph on their way to Bethlehem.  Mary, though a virgin,  is expecting a child, and upon their arrival at the local Inn, they were told there was no room. Maybe this is typical of some of the Christmas celebrations today. There is a lot of activity, but little room for Jesus.

     The Celebration of Christmas is ALL about Jesus.  The first recorded celebration the birthday of Jesus was about AD98. In AD274 an emperor of the old Roman world chose December 25th  as the birthday of the unconquered sun (S-U-N). He recognized that at this mid-winter date the sun reaches its lowest point in the Southern sky and gradually begins to move North again. (Today we call this the winter-solstice. It actually happens about December 22.) To celebrate this annual rebirth of nature, houses were decorated with greenery and candles; and presents were given to children and the poor.

By AD 336, the church had decided that all believers should celebrate the birthday of the Lord Jesus, the unconquered Son (S-O-N), the Son of righteousness, on December 25th, since the actual date was unknown, and the church adopted many of the decorating traditions of that day.  To this the Germans added Christmas trees; the Italians added Nativity scenes; the Dutch added Santa Claus or “Saint” Claus (who was  bishop  of Asia minor in the 4th century). Colonial Americans added chimney stockings; current day Americans added Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and the ACLU adds confusion. Are you surprised to know that Santa Claus was/is a Christian!

Here’s the question: Is there any room in your celebration for Jesus or has he been crowded out by:  Parties, parades, pictures, poinsettias, and presents?

Over forty percent of annual retail receipts are made up from Christmas shopping. Americans send 4 billion greeting cards by U.S. mail and an untold number by email.

In 1644 the English Parliament passed strict laws making it illegal to commemorate the Christmas season in any way. Christmas celebrations had become so depraved and rowdy that the meaning of Christmas had been completely lost in an abundance of partying, drunkenness and rioting. Decent people found it necessary to stay indoors for safety.

     No matter how hard you try you can never crowd Jesus out of Christmas. Call it a holiday… but holiday is just the compound contraction that means Holy Day. Call it Christmas…. and know the “Christ” is Jesus  and “mas” means worship. So every time we say Christmas we are saying “worship Christ!” Call it Xmas…. X is the Greek letter chi, a frequent abbreviation for Christ. So every time we call it Xmas we are still crying out CHRIST-MAS.

Focus on Giving… see the Wisemen; Focus on singing… hear the angels; In the Candy Cane’s shape of the we see the shepherd’s staff; In its color… salvation;  In the three strips…the Holy Trinity; In the taste we remember…that the Lord is good.

In the lights…see His star; In the color green…see that he offers eternal life; In the white see His purity; In the purple see His royalty; In the gold… see His riches; In the red..see His blood; In the gifts… His generosity; In the Christmas tree… we see Him on Calvary’s tree. Christmas is ALL about celebrating Jesus and God’s love for  us.

Do You Have Joy on Your Job?

A church member’s parting words to his pastor were penetrating and pertinent. He simply said, “Whatever you do, don’t miss the joy!” These were the words of Robert Louis Stevenson. At life’s end he continued, “To miss the joy is to miss everything!”[1]

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Whenever I talk to young men and women who are asking about their potential careers I say, “Find something you love to do and find someone who will pay you to do it and you will live a happy live.” As Robert Louis Stevenson said,To miss the joy is to miss everything!”

Work is as fundamental to life as anything can be.  In the beginning God gave Adam and Eve the assignment to work (Gen 2:15) and in the New Testament Paul says that if a man will not work he should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Whether it is on the job, in the community or in the home, work is fundamental to life.

So why not have joy in the thing you have to do everyday? Unfortunately some people force themselves out of bed every day, dreading the work that is before them, with no joy.

Isn’t joy on the job something that everyone really wants? Even the Dwarfs in Disney’s Snow White encouraged one another to “Whistle while you work… When hearts are high the time will fly, so whistle while you work!”

If we spend 8 hours a day working; 5 days a week; 50 weeks a year; for the average work life of 40 years; that’s 80,000 hours of work in a lifetime! It’s 3,333 days or about 10 full years of work on the job and that does not include work around the house, in church, in the community, on mission, the list goes on. That’s just way too much time to be mad, sad, miserable, grumbling or angry. We need joy!

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 8:15 (HCSB) So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life that God gives him under the sun.”

Joy is a hallmark of the Christian experience. It is evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives. It takes the right circumstances to keep us happy, but it only takes Christ’s presence to give us Joy.  Psalm 16:11 (HCSB) says,  “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.”

Happiness depends upon what’s happening all around us. Joy depends upon what’s happening inside us. Troubling times have a way of robbing us of our happiness. Only taking our eyes off Jesus robs us of our Joy.

I remember growing up in Sunday School singing a song that still being joy to my heart:  “If you want Joy, real Joy, wonderful Joy, Let Jesus come into your heart. Your sins he’ll wash away, Your night he’ll turn to day.  Your life he’ll make it over anew. If you want Joy, real Joy, wonderful Joy, Let Jesus come into your heart.”

[1] http://www.sermonsearch.com/topics/joy/

Troubled Waters

Brenda Croston

I allowed my husband, Mark, to talk me into climbing a water fall as a part of our vacation “fun”. You have to know me to understand why fun is in quotation marks. It will take too long to explain, so, just use your imagination. Mark and I along with some other friendly, but unknown faces, filed onto a bus and headed off to our adventure. Once we arrived, we were divided into groups of 10-12 people and instructed that successful climbing of the Falls required our holding the hands of the strangers around us and not letting go unless told to do so. “Uh, oh!” Our guide, Donald, promised that we would be safe if all instructions were followed. “Don’t let go of your neighbors’ hands unless I ask you to,” was his final directive.

After stepping into and adjusting to the chilly water of Dunn’s River Falls, we…

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