Saturday, November 19, 2016

Grateful

Could you, could I do as well as Robinson Crusoe? When Robinson Crusoe was wrecked on his lonely island, he drew up in two columns what he called the evil and the good.

He was cast on a desolate island, but he was still alive--not drowned, as his ship's company was.

He was apart from human society, but he was not starving.

He had no clothes, but he was in a hot climate where he did not need them.

He was without means of defense, but he saw no wild beasts such as he had seen on the coast of Africa.

He had no one to whom he could speak, but God had sent the ship so near to the shore that he could get out of it all the things necessary for his basic wants.

So he concluded that there was not any condition in the world so miserable but that one could find something for which to be grateful.

Can you say that about your attitude? If not, you have the power to change that today!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

ELECTION SUNDAY / PRAYER & REFLECTION

As a pastor, I have the unique responsibility to help people process. Life. Family. Faith. All these can be quite the balancing act.  Truth is, the political climate we found ourselves in was unusually stressful for many and confusing to most. Here was my address to the body at Freedom Life Church on the Sunday prior to the election. 

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We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. Many are ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins?

When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016.

The LORD can control a king’s mind as He controls a river; He can direct it as He pleases. — Proverbs 21:1 NCV

Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace. When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can then choose to pray for them rather than fret about them.

Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.
           
Jeremiah did this. He was the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion. He was called “the weeping prophet” because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith. He was so distraught that one of his books was entitled Lamentations. But then he considered the work of God. Note the intentionality of his words:

This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness. — Lamentations 3:21-23

Imitate Jeremiah. Lift up your eyes. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to us when He said:

In everything God works for the good of those who love Him. — Romans 8:28

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Being Still

Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust.
Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. "I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking."
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Turn off "Replay"

A man named Jack was driving on a dark country road one night when he got a flat tire. He saw a cabin in the woods and began to walk towards it. He told himself that the person who answered the door would be angry and irritated for the interruption. In fact, the person would probably harm him. He was probably a truly terrible person. Who else would live out in the woods away from people? Jack convinced himself that the person who lived in the cabin was a menace to society, so when the door opened, Jack punched the man in the nose and ran away.

”All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast”
(Proverbs 15:15)

We take situations and replay them in our minds. As ridiculous as the story above may seem, it isnt too far fetched from what some of us do when we assume and REPLAY a scenario that has never happened in our minds.  We have conversations in our heads with people, and build a case against them, though we don’t really know what they are thinking. We tend to “nurse, curse, and rehearse” stories like Jack.

So, What things do you play in your head all day? What are you meditating on?

Get rid of the “oppressed and wretched” forecasts of your mind and replay the goodness of God in your life!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Approaching Pentecost

As we approach what many deem to be one of the most important parts of human history - Pentecost - we should look at the gifts that God has made available to us. 

Here is the most clear breakdown I have ever been able to see to give a great over view of 1 Corinthians 12 and how WE are to approach God's great gifts given to us by His precious Holy Spirit:

GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT (1 Cor. 12)

COMMUNICATION GIFTS:
-Prophecy - a divine utterance of the Holy Spirit to encourage, edify or comfort people.

-Tongues - the gift of speaking supernaturally in a language not known to the individual.

-Interpretation of tongues - an interpretation of a message that is given in tongues.

KNOWLEDGE GIFTS:
- Word of wisdom - wisdom to know what to do or how to do it, either for your life or someone else’s.

- Word of knowledge - knowledge of an event or other information in someone’s life (past or present) that you were not aware of in the natural.

- Discerning of spirits - to discern the spirit world, to tell whether something is divine (God or angels), human (natural origin) or demonic (Satan or demons).

POWER GIFTS:
- Faith - a unique form of faith (not the faith that saves you) that supernaturally trusts and does not doubt concerning specific matters – to believe God for the impossible.

- Gifts of healing - the healings God performs supernaturally. i.e. a broken arm.

-The working of miracles - the manifestation of power beyond the ordinary course of natural law. This is where something that could never have been done naturally occurs.

Make yourself aware that God DOES and WILL use you in these gifts as he has placed them in you already. Find what that is and ask God to awaken your curiosity for more of HIM! 




-Pastor Tony Cruz

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why Go To Church?


Below are 13 reasons why we should attend church services on a regular basis. 

1. Because it is an act of obedience to God and it honors the Lord's Day. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8).
2. Because we need to belong to a community of faith that includes our brothers and sisters in Christ who are trying to live out the gospel just like we are.
3. Because we will benefit from being taught and led in worship by others, rather than always depending on ourselves to read and study the bible.
4. Because we need regular reminders of our standing in Christ, help in acknowledging and confessing our sins, and teaching about God's truth.
5. Because we need help in praying, tithing and fasting.
6. Because we need help to face the issues of life and faith as presented through the teachings of the Bible.
7. Because we need to hear how believers in the past struggled, grew and lived out their faith from different perspectives.
8. Because we need to hear about the experiences of other contemporary believers.
9. Because we need to hear reminders of God's love.
10. Because we need an alternative to the constant messages of a culture that ignores God.
11. Because we need to experience artistic and creative expressions of the faith, such as music, praying, fasting and tithing.
12. Because believers need help to reflect on the past week and see it as a small part of the journey of life.
13. Because we need a conscious break from work, family problems, and self interests in order to concentrate on the Lord.
In brief summary, the strategies and schemes of the devil are well thought out and proven to work better than the marketing strategies of rich corporations like microsoft. 

Therefore, we need other people we can count on to help us make it threw tough times when they arise. 

Our chances of finding people we can count on in church are far better than finding someone we can count on anywhere else in the world.

Plus, going up against these strategies with out proper guidance will lead to unnecessary mistakes being made on our part.

In conclusion, going to church while also doing our own personal bible study at home on a regular basis helps us to get confirmation of God's message and what He wants us to do with our lives.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Discontentment and Entitlement (sermon slice of Crisis of Contentment)

Something else that is underneath and really causing our discontentment in America today and that something is entitlement. We actually believe that we deserve something from God, that He owes us something or that He is somehow in our debt and should do something for us that He’s not already doing. Because we believe that, we’re discontent.

But at the bottom, underneath all these things, what is driving and compelling our discontentment is always idolatry. 

Beneath every grumble, beneath every murmur, beneath every moment of frustration, the sin beneath the sin is the fact that we want something more than we want God and that we love something more than we love God. And because we do, until He provides that for us, we’re going to be discontent and dissatisfied.

Beneath every sin is the failure to believe everything I need, I already possess in Christ. That’s what’s at the ROOT of discontentment, our failure to believe that everything we need, we already possess in Jesus Christ.