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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

volunteer of the week BROOKS JONES

The volunteer of the week at The Community Fellowship is Brooks Jones!!!

 

Brooks Jones and his wife, Jessica were married May 12th of 2014.  They have been an active part of The Community Fellowship family for over a year. 

 

Before coming to The Community Fellowship, Brooks served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps. 

 

Brooks is the Mobility Manager for Martinsville & Henry County.  He writes grants and uses money to start and lead programs that help people in our community with barriers in transportation. 

 

During the Uptown REACH event in September, Brooks was instrumental in helping with announcements and being on hand to assist the speakers, volunteers and those that participated in the events.

 

Brooks and Jessica are also valued members of the REACH Team and are much appreciated by those they serve with, as well as those they strive to serve.

 

In August, Brooks was the Leader of our B2K (back2school) Ministry and was hands on during the months of preparation leading up to the actual event where 3000 children received new shoes, socks, back packs, haircuts, clothes, prayer and encouragement for their new school year.

 

Brooks is very excited about our new campus and would love to see a 24 hour church ran for the community by the community, basically a Dream Center in Martinsville.

 

In his spare time Brooks likes to watch sports, be in the gym and spend time with his wife and 6 year old son, Brycen.

 

Brooks favorite Bible verse is Luke 9:23 "Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me."

 

We are indeed honored to do ministry alongside of Brooks Jones and recognize him as our Community Fellowship Volunteer of the Week!  Thank you, Brooks for your service to our country, our church and our Community.

 

 

*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email cmartin@thecommunityfellowship.org.  To give online click on this link   https://tcf.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift ***

happy thanksgiving


Before I get in to today’s devotion I want to remind you that there are FREE community meals taking place on Thanksgiving.  Two of them I know about are at our church, The Community Fellowship in Collinsville, from 2 until 4pm, and the other is at Orchard Drive Baptist Church, which is in the Sanville community of Bassett, beginning about 11am.  Please pass this and other free meals in your community on to others.

---

What are you thankful for?  I mean, really.  What do the people around you know that you are thankful for?  Does my life and yours show others that we are grateful for anything?  Far too often Christians are known for what they are against or for what they are mad about.  That is just flat out wrong.  It is time to let the world know what we are excited about and what we are thankful for!

in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Years ago I heard a story about a lady who was going through a tough time in her life.  One day as she was in the bathtub God brought a thought to her mind.  "What am I thankful for?" She asked.  At that moment she looked around the bathroom and began to thank God for everything.  I mean everything from the toilet to the toilet seat, from the rug on the floor to the blinds on the window.

That may be a strange story, but it shows us a great point.  God intends for us to be thankful in everything.  And I mean everything.  Even in the stuff that is not so easy to be thankful for.  I heard one man say (and you have heard this before), "I complained about my feet hurting until I saw a man who had no feet".  We have so much to be thankful for.  It all begins with and ends with God.  He has blessed us.  He has loved us.  He has held us and helped us for a long time.  Isn't it time to let Him and others know we are thankful?

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Take a few minutes today and tomorrow to express your thanks.  Tell someone you are thankful for them or for something they do.  Speak up about being thankful to God.  Let people hear you.

Here is another way to be thankful: look around you and see who you can bless.  Heck, it could be that this person needs a plate of leftovers or maybe even to be invited over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Maybe their yard needs some help because of all the leaves.  Maybe they need a call or even someone to pray for them this weekend.  Whatever it may be, going out of our way to serve others is another way to show that we truly are grateful for who God is and all He has done for us.

God never intends for us to live life alone.  He made us for fellowship, to enjoy each other.  Do that this Thanksgiving.

By the way, every time I time I think about you and write these devotions, I say something like what Paul said.  And I mean it ...

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from our family to yours!!!


NOTE: much of this devotion was originally shared in 2009.  This will be the last e-devotion for this week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MAN (part 1): dead man


Here’s a special announcement… over the next several weeks as we head toward 2015 I will be sharing a series called MAN.  It is about men and women who know and seek God and some of the truths about us.  God has done so much to change our destiny, to give us purpose and fill us with His joy and His best.  Today begins this journey.

“I see dead people.”  That is a phrase from a movie by the title of The Sixth Sense.  But I want to take us in a direction about how God brings death our way when He fills us with new life, His life by the gift and love that flowed through Jesus. 

Someone who is dead has no movement, no rights and no future, yet when we talk about spiritual death, there are two directions that could be possible.  Spiritual death can be seen as eternity separated from God because there was no payment for that person’s sin.  Or this person never accepted and knew Jesus.  The other possibility is the person who accepted Jesus, and their old self died with Christ on the cross.  This person is new, a new person and has a new destiny and life that is the life of Christ flowing through them.

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”… 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Being human is no easy task.  In fact there are all different kinds of issues that come with being human and with dealing with life.  There are struggles.  There are ups and downs.  There are choices along with lots of pain.

Yet there is a way to deal with the pain in a very proactive way.  That pain or the pain of being human and dealing with other humans is best dealt with when we die.  Yep.  I said it.  Death does away with pain.

That is a fact that we all can understand, but the spiritual connotation of it really is different.  We die by allowing Christ to become our life.  We lose our will and desire in the desire of Christ and His living through us.

A person who is still alive has massive feelings and aches and pain.  But the person who begins to live for the good and glory of another person looses their feelings and even their pain to a certain extent.  In the passage about Paul shares with us the battle between trying to attain spiritual life through the law and getting it through God’s grace.  On our own we will fail.  With Christ we will win and live a new life.

This might not explain all the nuances of what death is like, but I believe that verse 20 of Galatians 2 is pretty clear.

We have died in Christ.  When Jesus went to the cross, my sin and humanity went to the cross and died there.

Now we live by Christ living through us.  His life was exchanged for our lives.  His life is living through us because of God’s unending and unexplainable in human terms.

We begin to understand and to really live when we grasp that we lost our old lives in Christ and by God’s grace.  There is joy in death.  That seems very strange.  Death works in us when we let sin hang on and let shame and heartache run through us.  By allowing the life of Christ to flow through us we begin to live.  I live in Christ, or better yet Christ lives through me.

That is how I am really dead and have come back to life.

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

Monday, November 24, 2014

choose to be thankful


This week is THANSKGIVING.  I believe that an attitude of being grateful is a choice.  Far too many of us have fallen in to the pattern of trusting our situations to make us happy or thankful when it ought to be a steady or constant in our lives.  Like living by faith is a choice, being thankful is a choice. 

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

That verse takes on new meaning for me when I step back to see all God is doing and has done.  I am grateful for my family and the time we will be able to spend together this holiday.  I am grateful for my friends and church family. You are part of my thanks.  Many of you have a special place in my heart, and I am thankful for what I have seen in your experience of faith.

God has a plan.  As we examine AND experience God Himself we will be thankful and fall ever more in love with Him.  I believe that being thankful is an outcome of being consumed by Him.

There is another reason to make sure that we do not allow our situations of life to dictate how we feel or if we are thankful.  Choose before anything happens to be thankful.  Pick some things that you don’t normally express thanks for and tell God.  Look at the people in your life who rarely hear thanks and tell them that you are grateful for them.  Don’t let the situations of life determine your thanks.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Yes.  It is God’s will for us to be thankful.  Determine it now.

Psalms 7:17 NASB
I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Giving thanks is a choice, and it is a choice that few people seem to take seriously.  I challenge each of us to not let opportunities to be thankful to pass us by. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

identity theft


I have had the privilege of visiting the LA Dream Center this week, and last night and heard a message that I would like to share with you, or at least the notes from the sermon.  Pastor Bob Beckett from The Dwelling Place Family Church in Hamet, CA shared a message titled “Identity Theft”, and this was a powerful word that all of us need to hear.

When we understand our identity in God, we will experience the abundant life that God has for us.  As you read the notes from this sermon I pray that God will use these nuggets inspire us to claim and believe that our identity is found solely in Him.

SERMON: Identity Theft (shared at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, CA by Pastor Bob Beckett on 11-20-2014)

John 10:10  (MSG)
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Identify the thief. See Revelation 1:18. 

Understand who the thief is and that he has no right to you. 

The devil doesn't even have the keys to his own house (see Rev 1:18). 

He has no right to kill you. If he cannot kill you, he doesn’t have the right to your identity. Then you begin to take back your identity. 

If he's able to steal your identity, then he can take with it your acceptance. 

How we see ourselves is how the devil deals with us. So, if we don't see our identity in Christ, then the devil will mess with us  

We no longer live with envy or competing with others when we understand our identity. Our identity is tied up in who God sees you to be and who he made you to be. 

See God's dream for your life and take back your identity. 

He can lie to you, and when we believe it, we let the world’s design for us take over.

There is a progression in John 10:10 that we need to understand:

--- Steal your identity in God. 
--- Kill your purpose.  
--- Destroy your value and acceptance. 

The definition of the word acceptance is something that comes from a hidden place. 

Ephesians 1:4  (NLT)
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

God's dream for you is what He wants to reveal. God reveals the hidden place. 

You were designed before the foundation of the world and in the heart of God. 

Who you were designed to be before the devil stole you away is what God did. 

Before you were formed in your mother, God designed you. 

You were designed in God, and your appearance or success or possessions have nothing to do with him or with who you are. 

When you are born again, you are reborn from the design God gave you before you were formed. 

Acceptance is what identity provides for you. 

Live from the bigness of the God who designed us. Acceptance is important. 

The word favor when God spoke of Mary is the same word as acceptance. 

These people in the Bible had an identity crisis. Yet when they understood who they were in God, something changed in them:

Abraham
Jacob
Elijah 
Gideon 
Esther 
David 
Paul 

They found their identity in God, and God brought them to new places and did incredible things. 

See Ephesians 3:20. Help people find the plan of God for your life. 

The way you find your identity is not in your importance but in your intimate time with God. 

Your greatness is not in what other people think about you. 

Religion cannot give you the identity that God gave you. 

John 17:20-24  (NLT)
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! 

When you realize who you are, you won't want what others have.  You will see that God will give you what you need.

In relation to Jesus' prayer about “this cup pass from me” it was his pain and agony in being separated from God. 

Your identity is not on the cross. That's the old you. Your identity came down off the cross and is alive today. 

You've listened to the world long enough. It is time to take your identity back. 

Get the right you reading the Bible and you begin to understand it. Take back your identity.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

learning from others


Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

I am spending some time this week at the LA Dream Center.  Each time I visit I get to meet and learn from great people, and this day is one of those.  The two men that I spent time with today stretched my thinking and my faith.

Both of these men are experts in the areas they work in.  They work in very different jobs.  What they have in common is the desire to help others be successful.  We talked about faith and how living by faith changes the outcome and even our desires.  We talked about how to apply the wisdom of God to various issues of life.

The biggest take away was their slants on how God is working in their lives.  Both are impacting people.  Both are seeking God.  Both are seeing lives change and the kingdom of God grow in big ways.

Sitting with them, listening and asking questions makes me much stronger.

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

Several years ago I traveled with a few pastor friends several hours to meet with an older pastor that God was using in awesome ways.  That afternoon, actually for about 5 hours, we talked, listened and were given great wisdom.

This pastor gave his time and energy to helps others be successful.  Isn’t that what God desires from us?

In the last few weeks God has pointed out some people in my life that I can pour my life in to in specific ways.  Just like sitting with these men today or with that pastor years ago, I can give and learn even more.  Our gracious God desires that we share all the recourses He has given us.

May God use us to influence others at every opportunity given to each of us.

Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

volunteer of the week PHYLLIS KEATON

This week The Community Fellowship’s “volunteer of the week is Phyllis Keaton!!!

 

Phyllis Keaton has been a valued part of The Community Fellowship family since Mother’s Day of this year.  She was baptized June 1st and regularly reads her Bible every night before bed as God is changing her life.

 

During preparation for our B2S (Back2School) outreach Phyllis was at the church every day sorting and arranging clothes for the children that would be blessed with new shoes, backpacks, socks, clothes and haircuts.

 

Phyllis is a volunteer in the Clothes Closet Ministry and works hard to ensure that those in our community that come to this event each month find articles of clothing for their families well organized and easy to find.

 

On Sunday mornings Phyllis is often a volunteer in our Children's Nursery ministering to our youngest and most precious attendees.

 

In her spare time Phyllis loves to spend time with her daughters Angie Norman and Kimberly Cope.  She also cherishes having time to be with her grandsons Jon-Jon 11, Hayden 8 and granddaughter Riley who is 10 months old.  Phyllis is a "Stay at home Granny" that lovingly takes care of her grandchildren and family.

 

Scripture that reflects in Phyllis’ service is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever will believe in will not perish by have everlasting life.”

 

We are very excited to celebrate Phyllis Keaton as our Community Fellowship's Volunteer of the Week!  Thank you Phyllis for sharing your servant’s heart with our church family and our community!

 

 

*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email cmartin@thecommunityfellowship.org.  To give online click on this link   https://tcf.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift ***

the truth about our giving


Our current series at The Community Fellowship is called GIVE IT ALL AWAY.  IT can mean and does mean many things.  Sunday we talked about money, but the stuff we can and must give away runs the gamut from tangible to intangible.  Grace is intangible but can be seen.  It is not contained in a bank account.

But there are things we can put in a bank account.  The fact is that when you look at your money, or when someone else looks at how you use your money and possessions, speaks volumes about your relationship with God.

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

There is a promise for those who take from God.  There is also a promise for those who are generous. 

This passage begins with a challenge to turn to God.  Look at the verses just before those I shared above.  God is God.  His grace and forgiveness and love are so very real.  We have experienced His truth personally.

Yet we read verses like what Paul shares in Romans 7, and we cannot understand why we continually fail or fall or choose sin.  It happens to all of us, but we can turn back to God as He constantly calls us.

In this passage God speaks about money.  The reason why he speaks about money is that He is illustrating a point.  In an early verse He said that the people couldn't understand that they turned away from God.  They thought they were close to Him all the time.  So the prophet says that the way we use our money illustrates our connection to God.

That is when BOOM, God says we have cheated or robbed Him in the way we give or don't give our money.

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

Even though we have taken from God He calls us back to Himself.  It is hypocritical to say we follow God and not honor Him with the way we use and give our money.  Too many Christians give God the left overs when He asks for the first part.  We must acknowledge that it all belongs to Him in the first place.

I have heard something like this and believe it --- God can do more with the 90% after we give Him the 10% than we can do with 100%.  Hope that makes sense.  So, where do we start?  We return to Him!

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

We rob God when we stop honoring Him with what we have.  He says to bring the tithe and offerings into the storehouse.  If we give, we are promised a blessing.  If we don’t give, we will miss the blessings of God.

God says to test Him on this one.  There are many promises tied to our giving our money and being generous.  This is just one of them.  But it comes with a promise. 

When we give, God says He will protect us.  When we give, God says He will bring more increase.  When we give, God says He will honor us because we have honored Him.  Realize this is not a threat from God.  This is a promise of His blessing.

It is our choice to open the door to blessings or to miss out on what God has for each of us.  Blessings come when we do what God says, and I want those blessings.  God honors the results of obedience

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a different perspective


One of the most incredible things we can do is gain perspective.  It is like hearing only one side of a story.  When you hear from the other person’s perspective, things might just change.  Another way to look at it is like looking into the sky or to the top of mountain, and in the next look you go up in the sky or on the mountain and look make.  Either way the views and story are very different from the other.

But it is the same place or same story.  The same type of thing is true about Scripture.

In today’s devotion I’d like to make my point in relation to studying the Bible.  It can be helpful and insightful to examine other translations of the Bible.  It is always helpful to go back to the original language like Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic, but that is not always possible.

Different translations of the Bible will use words or phrases that highlight more of the meaning that God intends to share with us.  We always have to rely on God for understanding, and we can take it on ourselves to be good students of the Bible and of our faith in God.

Like I shared yesterday, I pray that God and our walk with Him will consume us.  To be consumed will encourage us to know Him and to know His word even more.

To illustrate I take one of my favorite verses, James 1:5 that I quote often, and look at it from very different angles using translations of the Bible.  Enjoy.  Read carefully.  May God open His word for us so we know Him even more!

James 1:5  New Living Translation (NLT)
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5  Amplified Bible (AMP)
If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.

James 1:5  Contemporary English Version (CEV)
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.

James 1:5  Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5  King James Version (KJV)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5  The Message (MSG) *
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.

James 1:5  Living Bible (TLB) *
If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it.

James 1:5  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

Santiago 1:5  Reina-Valera 1995 (RVR1995)
Si alguno de vosotros tiene falta de sabiduría, pídala a Dios, el cual da a todos abundantemente y sin reproche, y le será dada.

James 1:5  Common English Bible (CEB)
But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

This is one of my favorite verses because I often, I mean daily, need God to invade my mind and heart with His supernatural and unending wisdom.  One my own I am in trouble.  With His truth I will find success, peace and be a blessing to others.

I pray that we will be consumed by God and love His word more and more.

* These are paraphrases; make sure you understand the difference between a translation and a paraphrase of the Bible.