The Time and Weather is for Hua Hin, Thailand where we currently live

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Carnival for God. . .

After months of planning, shopping for materials, prizes and building supplies; and building booths for our first outreach Community Children's Carnival, we finally held the carnival. Bill and I built booths for games, painted plywood for carnival activities, and shopped for prizes and food. One of the youth, is an amazing artist and drew and painted many of the photo stations where children could put their heads through the hole and have their photo taken.

There were neigh sayers, predicting rain or unbearable heat, but the Lord was gracious and we were blessed with a beautiful day. For months, we prayed daily for the carnival and put it all in the Lord's hands.

Bill and I had walked around Hua Hin for weeks, putting up flyers and handing out information about the carnival.

So, with so much time and effort having been put into the preparation, it was thrilling for the carnival day to actually arrive. The youth and several adult volunteers gathered at our home an hour before the start of the carnival and we confirmed who was going to be doing the different jobs such as: face painting, running booths with games, making snow cones, giving out popcorn, and taking photos and printing them for the children.

We then gathered together for prayer, giving the whole event to the Lord, praying that we would honor and glorify Him in all that we did.

Then the children started to arrive and the fun started. . .

Everything was free to the children and their families, and most of them had a hard time believing it. We offered them free snow cones and popcorn, and they kept asking how much? It was a real blessing to see how much fun the children had playing the games and enjoying the treats.

One of the most popular games was throwing darts at balloons. Bill had built a great booth with a counter to hold the darts. We were amazed at some of the little children's accuracy in throwing the darts. Pop! Pop! Pop! Followed by much laughter and a request to do it again.

After a couple of hours we had all of the children and their families come and listen to the gospel story. We had a Thai friend tell the story and explain the love of Jesus. The entire group sat listening with great attention.

Then it was back to the fun. The carnival ran from 2:00 in the afternoon until 6:00 pm. At 5:00 the pizza that Bill had ordered for the youth and volunteers arrived. You know you have to feed youth! It was great because there was enough pizza and hot dogs for not only the youth and volunteers, but also for the families that were at the carnival at that time.

A little before 6:00 the families started to leave and we gathered together to praise the Lord and give thanks for the successful carnival. We then packed up the leftover prizes, food and supplies. We gathered up the trash and brought some tables in the house, but decided not to stress about trying to get everything cleaned up that night. It was already dark, and we would just address the rest the next day or two.

We are still praising the Lord for the carnival and the great outreach that was done through it. The youth still talk about the event with great enthusiasm.

Thank you Lord!

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Luke 18:16

By April

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Belief, Trust, & Faith" - Bill's Sermon at ANCF on May 2, 2010

Belief, Trust and Faith
Three commonly used terms, but what do they mean in our lives?
Belief is a mental act. It is a mental acceptance and conviction in what we think is the truth, actuality, or validity of something.
Trust, on the other hand, indicates a depth and a sense of assurance that is based on strong, but not necessarily, logically-conclusive evidence. It can be based on the character, ability, or truth shown by someone or something over time or it can be based on the situations we have experienced.

Trust makes us feel safe. Trust helps us be free of fear, free enough so that our focus can be on other matters because that matter which we would otherwise fear is taken care of. With trust, it becomes easier to simply enjoy life. Trust breeds confidence and conviction. Trust is also a risk. We leave ourselves open for loss. Betrayal of trust hurts so much because the lost sense of security multiplies the damage.

Today I want to ask each one of you, what do you believe?
In what or in whom do you trust?
What is your faith in? What role does your faith play in your day-to-day life?
And, more importantly, what role does your faith play in your future?

Let’s go back to the term belief. Think about what you believe in that is really important in your life and think about how your beliefs differ or are similar from those of your friends, your relatives. Think about how your beliefs differ or are the same from those that Jesus expressed to his disciples and those he preached to or had casual conversations with.

Now think about how your beliefs differ from or are similar to those of Satan as shown in the Bible. Let me help you here. Satan believes in God. Do you believe in God? Satan believes that Jesus is the son of God who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, and was buried for three days. Do you believe these events actually occurred? Satan believes, he knows for a fact, that Jesus rose from the dead, spent forty more days with his friends and disciples before he ascended into heaven and that he still sits at the right hand of the Father to this day. Do you believe these events actually occurred? Satan was there for those events, he knows and believes from his own experiences that these things have occurred. Do you believe in these same things?

Many people "believe" Jesus Christ really walked the earth 2000 years ago. Many believe he is who he claimed to be - God himself and the Savior of the world. But that does not mean that they trust Jesus for their daily needs and for providing them with a glorious eternity. It does not mean they trust that God will do everything he says he will do in the Bible. And I mean everything God says he will do in the Bible, Not just the things we might like, but the things we might not like, just as Curt spoke about last Sunday.

Biblical "faith" is very different than having a belief that the Bible is true. Biblical faith goes beyond mental acceptance of the facts. Let’s look at something that actually occurred in more recent history to illustrate the differences between belief and faith.
Niagara Falls is a beautiful place on the border between the United States and Canada. April and I spent our honeymoon there. I know it exists. I believe it is both powerful and deadly. I believe it is both beautiful and an abundant source of hydroelectric power. I believe it is both tall and wide and extremely difficult to impossible to cross. The first of many tightrope walkers to cross Niagara Falls was Jean Francois Gravelot, a French aerialist, who called himself "The Great Blondin, because of his fair hair. He was born back in 1824 in northern France. Blondin had been walking the tightrope since the age of five. He was orphaned at age nine and was on his own. He became a famous tightrope performer and practiced each new feat until he could perform it with his eyes closed.

On June 30, 1859, at 5 pm, Blondin made his first journey across Niagara Falls. He wore a dark wig, a vest of purple plush, and a pair of white Turkish pantaloons.

For this crossing, Blondin utilized a rope 400 meters long and 10 centimeter in diameter stretched from what is now Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, New York in the United States to what is now Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. He began his first walk from the American side and completed his crossing in 20 minutes. Blondin used a thirty-foot long balancing pole that weighed 40 pounds.
For two summers, Blondin performed above the Niagara. During his subsequent performances, he crossed the Falls on a bicycle, on stilts, and at night. He swung by one arm, turned somersaults, and stood on his head on a chair. Once he pushed a stove in a wheelbarrow and cooked an omelet. On one occasion, he crossed blindfold in a heavy sack made of blankets. But his greatest feat was to carry a man across on his back. I believe that Blondin actually did all these great feats. Many witnessed his performances and wrote about them and took pictures.

The story goes that he would yell out to spectators watching his daring walks, Do you believe I can cross the falls on this thin rope? And the spectators would yell back to him. Yes! Yes! We believe, we believe you can do it!! Then he would shout back, Do you believe I can cross the falls on this rope while carrying another person on my back? And the crowd would yell back. Yes! Yes! We believe you can do it, we believe you can do it! Then Blondin would yell back: Will anyone volunteer to ride on my back while I cross the falls? And suddenly the crowd would go silent.

While they believed Blondin could carry a person on his back across the falls, none were willing to place their trust in him to do so. None had the faith that he could carry them across the falls. If I had been there for each one of his previous walks, I too would have believed he could carry a man on his back across the falls, but I doubt I would have trusted him enough to carry me across the falls on a thin rope, even when I was fifty pounds lighter than I am now!

During his fifth exhibition, he persuaded his manager, Harry Colcord, to climb on his back and to hazard the long trip across the huge gorge. Harry put his trust in Blondin and, in faith, got on Blondin’s back and let him carry him across the falls.

Biblical faith is believing that God will do everything he says he will do in the Bible. It is trusting Him with your life, now, and for eternity. Harry had faith in Blondin to carry him across the falls. We need to have faith in Jesus, to live an abundant life now and to live for eternity in Heaven with Him!

Biblical faith is an action, like actually jumping on the back of Jesus to carry you through life and through eternity beyond. Biblical faith is allowing Jesus to carry you over and through the storms and deadly rapids of life. Biblical faith is the belief and trust and the action of - putting your eternal destiny in the hands of this Jesus who claims to be the only Savior of the world. And the great thing about Jesus is not just staying on his back, but having a face-to-face relationship with him for eternity.

Believing facts about God and his son Jesus as told in the Bible does not equate to Biblical faith. That's just mental acceptance of facts. The Bible says in James 2:10 that the demons "believe" in Jesus. If all it takes is belief to be a follower of someone, you could call me a Buddhist, or a Muslim, because I believe that both Buddha and Mohammed, lived good lives on this earth trying to do the best they could for others. I believe they died, and I believe that I can even go and visit their tombs where their earthly bodies still rest. But I am not a Buddhist or a Muslim.

Some people might even call me a Satanist for what I believe about Satan. I believe that Satan exists. I believe that he has power over much of what happens in this world. I believe he has spiritual helpers that we refer to as demons. I belief he often looks like the light of the world and that following him can be fun and exciting for a period of time. I assure you I am not a Satanist. I do not trust or have faith in Satan. He is evil, he is a liar, and he cannot be trusted.
I believe, and trust, and have faith in the yet to happen event that God will defeat the destructive power of Satan. I have decided to place my trust and faith in Jesus who lived not only a sinless life, who was killed by men, and who was buried, but whose earthly body no longer rests in a tomb to be found by men. Halleluiah!

Satan still trusts in his own powers and his own promises, not the powers and promises of his creator. We too can trust in our own powers, and have trust in our own abilities, but that will lead us to the same ultimate destruction that Satan faces. An eternity in Hell, separated from God.

Jesus said in John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." One who believes in this way is trusting Jesus Christ with his eternal destiny. More than 60 times, the New Testament tells us "eternal life" is given to those who put their faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

So, the real question is, do you simply accept some of the facts of the Bible as true. Or do you maybe go further, and believe all of the facts of the Bible are true? Or are you going still further and moving that acceptance to your heart and trusting Christ with your life every day, as well as your eternal destiny?

Hebrews 11:1 says: faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews, Chapter 12 tells us that:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Belief – in simple terms, is accepting the fact that Jesus existed 2000 years ago on this earth. Belief is accepting what the Bible, God's Word, tells us about God and Jesus. Belief is passive.

Faith – on the other hand is trusting that Jesus was and is who He said He is, and trusting that He will do, what He said He would do.
Faith is active, it’s acting upon your beliefs and trusts. Just like Ryan preached two weeks ago, that the Gospel is active. Our faith to be real and alive must be active.

Belief is a state of mind. Trust is taking that mental fact to your heart. Faith is taking what you believe and trust, and acting upon it.
Belief manifests itself in the thoughts and words of a person. Faith, on the other hand, is what a person does (James 2:17: Acts 16:5 faith needs to be strengthened), it displays itself in the actions taken by a person, based on what they believe, think, and say concerning a person, situation, or circumstance.

Trust is the confidence that the actions or steps that one has taken, will yield the desired result. For example: A farmer thinks and believes that planting seeds will yield him a crop. Therefore, he takes the action steps of planting the seeds. He does not see the results of his action steps, (planting the seeds), right away, but he is confident and trusting that the crop will come based on the facts and knowledge of what he knows about the ground, the sun, and the rain working together to change the seed into a fruit or vegetable.

You see, believing remains unable to help us until believing mixes with trust and faith, and ", if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:17. Mere believing will get one nowhere unless " show your faith by your works." James 2:18. Unless one arises and gets onto God's spiritual back, by faith, fully trusting Jesus, he has merely "...believed in vain." 1 Corinthians 15: 1 and 2 states:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

One individual who had great trust and faith in God was Abraham of the Old Testament. But Abraham not only wanted the peace of security; he also wanted the joy of prosperity. Like all of us, he wanted not only to survive, but also to thrive and to experience a life of blessing and satisfaction. God filled that desire for joy and satisfaction by offering himself as Abraham's great reward.

And while this reward is available freely and abundantly to all now, through Jesus, it is often neglected for substitute rewards that glitter and shine, but tarnish easily.

We get caught up in a delusion of our own making, convincing ourselves of the value of the treasures we pursue while blind to the treasure that is right before us in God himself. We demand gifts and quickly forget the giver.

We set our sights on the fleeting pleasures of this world — a happy family, a prosperous career, a luxury car, a beautiful house, a powerful position, a good reputation, a night on the town, a sexual experience, a good hearty laugh. Like a jilted lover, God laments his bride's unfaithfulness, choking out his sorrow between tears: "She decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot" (Hosea 2:13).

We fool ourselves into thinking that satisfaction is found apart from God. But in the end we find that all of the things we chase are either elusive or unsatisfying.

We frequently waste out time and energy seeking and reaching out for things that are just out of reach. And on those rare occasions that we actually grab hold of them, they fall disappointingly short of our expectations. Satisfaction is not found apart from God or even through God — it is only found in God. The reward is God himself. The reward is a relationship with God Almighty through Jesus Christ.

My friends, here is the truth: our lives cannot be destroyed by the storms of fear, or hate, or divorce, or mistakes, or hurtful words, or diabolical deeds, or sin—since our souls are sustained by God’s promises and power. This is what Paul meant when he wrote in Romans 8:37-39:

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You and I show our lack of faith in Jesus when we call ourselves Christians yet give our hearts to money, or material things, or selfish pursuits, or anyone or anything other than Jesus. We can get into ruts, or bad habits, and think that we have so much trust and faith that God will save us that we can do anything we please. This is exactly how Satan is and is exactly how Satan wants us to live our lives even if we are Christians.

For example, we show our lack of faith in Jesus when we spend more time on the Internet than in prayer. We show our lack of faith in Jesus when we spend more time reading the morning newspaper than reading the Bible. Let’s take a quick quiz concerning our faith:

Does a 500 Baht note seem like a large amount of money when you donate it to church, but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Does two hours in Church seem like a really long time; but two hours seems so very short while watching a good movie or your favorite sports team play a game?

Do you sometimes find it difficult to find a word to say when you're praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

Do you find it difficult and boring to read one chapter of the Bible, especially from the Old Testament; but find it really easy to read 100 pages of a popular novel before you go to sleep at night?

Do you find it interesting how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games; but they do whatever is possible to sit in the back row in Church? Don’t feel too bad if you are currently sitting in the back row, I often sit or stand behind the last row here in church!

Do you need to know about an event for Church 2-3 weeks before the day so you can include it in your agenda; but you can adjust your agenda for other events in the last minute?

Do you find it difficult to learn a fact about God and to share it with others; but find it easy to learn, understand, extend, and repeat gossip?

Do you find it easy to believe everything that magazines and
newspapers say; but you question some of the words and stories in the Bible?

Do you find it interesting how everyone wants a place in heaven; but... they don't want to believe, do, or say anything to get there that is in the Bible?

So, how well did you do?
The fact is, we really have very little faith. Even Jesus’ disciples had little faith much of the time.

Matthew Chapter 17:14: When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15"Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."

17"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." 18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."[a]

On another occasion, In Luke Chapter 17

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"

6He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

Where there is trust, there is peace; an unbelievable peace, and a freedom from the fears of the world. As Curt said last week, fear God, not the world and the things in it. Where there is faith, there is growth. We all need to continually grow in our faith.
We need faith like potatoes. If you want to know more about faith like potatoes, come out to Friday night Bible study on May 14th and see the movie, Faith like Potatoes. It is actually less than two hours long, and is very enjoyable. I don’t want to tell you every point that is in the movie, but I will tell you that we need to feed our faith so that it grows, just like potatoes grow.

Faith indicates persistent action, devotion, and direction of self, and is often charged with emotion. When there is faith within someone, they become faithful, and when they have faith in someone, that loyalty can grow into a covenant. When we believe all that is in the Bible; when we put our trust in God’s Word and his Son Jesus Christ; and when we have faith in God and all his promises, we are in covenant with God and God is in covenant with us.

Unlike Baptism, which is a one time event demonstrating our trust and faith in Jesus and our new life in him, Communion is a practice that is meant to be observed over and over throughout the life of a Christian. It is a holy time of worship when we come together as one body to remember and celebrate what Christ did for us.

We observe Communion because the Lord told us to. We are to obey His commands:

In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in his life, death and resurrection:
And when Jesus had given thanks, he broke the bread and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

When observing Communion we take time to examine ourselves:
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28

In observing Communion we are proclaiming His death until He comes. It is, a statement of faith:
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26
When we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ. His life becomes our life and we become members of each other:

While they were eating the Passover dinner, on that night that Jesus was betrayed Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28
" For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Communion follows...

By Bill