All posts by don

WE ARE ABOUNDING IN THANKSGIVING

WE ARE ABOUNDING IN THANKSGIVING
Read Colossians 2:6-7

As Thanksgiving Day comes each year, many of us give the nod to Pilgrims and Indians and talk of  making ready for a harsh first winter in the New World and also Family Thanksgiving Dinner. But
for the Christian, the deepest roots of our thanksgiving go way back before the Pilgrims, to a story two-millennia-old. It’s
a story that gives meaning to our lives. You could call it the true story of thanksgiving — or you could call it the Christian gospel viewed through the lens of “gratitude.” Here’s the true story of
thanksgiving in four stages.

1. Created for Thanksgiving. First, God created humanity for gratitude. We exist to appreciate God. God created us to give him honor and thanksgiving. Humanity was created to appreciate God.

2. Fallen from Thanksgiving. Second, we all have failed miserably in appreciating God as we should. Our fall was and has always been that we are not satisfied in God and what He gives. Only with divine redemption are we able to grow toward obedience to God in thanksgiving for our salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

3. Redeemed by Thanksgiving. God himself, in the person of his Son, Jesus, entered into our sinful world, lived without sin, and died on our behalf for our sins and ingratitude. It is Jesus who has manifested the perfect life of thankfulness to God the Father

4. Freed for Thanksgiving Finally. We are redeemed from sin and ingratitude by faith in Jesus and we are freed to give thanksgiving and praise for God’s favor toward us — not only as his creatures,
but also as his redeemed. Only in Jesus are we able to become the kind of thankful people that God created us to be. For us Christians, standing firmly in the good news of Jesus Christ, is the best
possibility for a true Happy Thanksgiving.

Remember Colossians 2: 6–7: “So then, as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in THANKSGIVING.”

Happy Thanksgiving
Love, Pastor Lia

Give Your First Fruits To The Lord!

GIVE YOUR FIRST FRUITS TO THE LORD!
Friends, this year November 13 is our Consecration Sunday. It is the time of the year when we pray, we give thanks for God’s blessings in our lives and we make a spiritual and financial commitment to God and the church for the next year.
The concept of Stewardship is encapsulated in Deuteronomy 26, for giving your First Fruits to the Lord. The principle of First Fruits is the call to give to God a percentage of the year’s harvest, the “first” gatherings of the “fruit” of harvest. We do so because we first remember the grace God has first given freely to us (26:5-11) and we do so because we are giving to the work of ministry which extends to persons in need in our church and community. Then, we celebrate and rejoice in the harvest before we begin to put it to use (27:7). This is simply what we will do on Consecration Sunday on November 13.
We are reminded that the importance of giving is related to the grace of God first, and then the need of the church to reach out to the world. We offer, in the form of pledge commitment cards, our “First Fruits” during the service. The pledge is a private act; it is kept confidential with the financial secretary only. Then we celebrate the harvest together with a meal because we always should live in gratitude for all of God’s provisions in our lives. Therefore, when we encourage all members to participate in Consecration Service and Meal it is because this is a gathering of the church to continue its belief and support of the mission and ministry of our church – because of our faith in the Lord. Yet, we are not sitting on our hands. Our needs are growing and our goals expanding. You should know that the church leadership is developing a strategic plan for the future – to increase our outreach to the community. How we use the harvest matters to God. The important thing is that whether or not some of us are experiencing a good harvest or a difficult harvest of financial resources – we are all part of this church and we work together. Some of us may not be able to give what we would like to give (which is understandable); others may be able to give more. That is up to each of you personally. The only question to be asked is whether you are giving the “first” of your “fruits.” The amount you pledge is between you and God. It is the obedience and faithfulness to God first that matters. You are all important to this church. I trust that our church is important to you.
I encourage you to let the word of the Lord challenge you in this area. God wants you to trust him in your giving. Let’s gather together joyfully on November 13 as a community of faith and commit our First Fruits to the Lord, remembering what he has first done for us, remembering that our mission is to show Christ to all who are in need. Finally, let us celebrate together that God has provided for us faithfully in all seasons. We are excited to see what God could do in and through us on our journey of faith ahead!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Lia

THE MEANS OF GRACE HELPS US TO GROW AS DISCIPLES

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”. (2Timothy 1:6-7)

John Wesley emphasized the Means of Grace as a way to grow spiritually closer to God individually and as a congregation. Courageous and growing mission congregations practice spiritual disciplines. Our vital work is spiritual disciplines based in John Wesley’s means of grace. John Wesley taught that God’s grace is unearned and given freely to all. He taught that we are not to be idle but we are to engage in the means of grace. The means of grace are ways God works invisibly in disciples, strengthening and confirming faith so that God’s grace abides in and through disciples. As we look at the means of grace these can be divided into works of piety and the works of mercy.

Works of Piety

Individual Practices – prayer, fasting, reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others. Communal Practices – regularly share in Holy Communion, which imparts the grace of God every time we participate in it. Also Christian conferencing which is accountability to one another through prayer partners and small groups.

Works of Mercy

Individual Practices – doing good works in the name of Jesus, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor, serving in your church and community.

Making disciples and growing as a vital congregations is part of a spiritual adventure that is empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit. As individuals and congregations, we need to engage in the means of grace to be able to grow. Spiritual growth is accomplished by connecting with God through the means of grace in our daily life.

At Christ UMC, we are to grow in faith: “fan into flame the gift of God” by being part of a small group for spiritual growth as we learn and practice the means of grace, we grow closer to God in Prayer, Love and Service. New Small Groups are starting in September. Please contact Bob Williams or Pastor Lia if you want to be part of a small group or if you want to offer your house for a small group meeting. My prayer is that everyone in our congregation will be able to grow closer to God every day in “power, love and self-discipline”.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Lia

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Summertime is God’s Time

The psalmist in Psalm 74:16-17 thanked God: “Yours is the day, yours also is the night; you have prepared the sun and the moon. You have established all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.”

As we begin the summer season, nostalgia triggers that old song by George Gershwin, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy; fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” Our senses tell us summer is here again when we see the sun set only just before bedtime, when we smell the freshly-mown grass, those beds of roses and daisies; when we hear the chirping of the crickets, the songbirds and the laughter of school children in the streets.

What’s so delightful about summer? Some of us remember savoring homemade ice cream on sliced peaches, lemonade, and freshly-picked strawberries. Those tastes won’t go away. We remember also climbing a tree, going swimming in the lake; or playing a game of softball with our cousins.  We enjoy summertime because summer means a change in the routine. It’s cutting loose and taking a vacation. It’s time for getting out of the house to enjoy the outdoors, to play, and to visit family and friends.

May I suggest that this summer we all take time for spiritual renewal in the following ways.

  1. Look for Jesus’ presence. We believers in the Lord Jesus Christ often look up at the sky to see a sign that the Son “of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.” We need to look for Jesus, to seek his presence, love and forgiveness. 2. Listen as Jesus speaks to your heart. We believers in the Lord Jesus Christ need to listen to Jesus’ invitation in Mark 6:31 “He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  If we don’t take time apart with God, we’ll come apart, period! Make this a summer when you take time apart to be with the Lord, to enjoy prayer and devotions, to read a Christian book, to attend a one day spiritual retreat, to take part in church outreach and to bless someone in the name of Jesus.                                                       3. Surrender to Jesus. “Sweet Surrender” is not only the title of a John Denver song but it is what you do to invite Jesus Christ into your life again this summer.  Ask Jesus what does he want you to do this summer? Then maybe you can sing that old chorus, “It is summertime in my heart; it is summertime in my heart; when Jesus saved me, new life He gave me.”

In Jeremiah 8:20 the prophet cautioned that if you don’t seek the Lord you’ll end up doomed — forever lamenting, “The harvest is past; the summer is ended and we are not saved.” There is not only Summer Sunshine, Summer Vacation but also Summer Surrender to God. Jesus said that when war threatened to exterminate humanity, when famine, earthquakes, plagues, wickedness and violence are seen everywhere, believers were to draw closer to God. “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31).

We who feel the joy of summertime, we need to make a spiritual decision to spend more time with the Lord this summer, to listen to what God wants to speak into our hearts as we pray “God be merciful to me a sinner; and lead me into your kingdom.”  Amen.

In Christ’s Love, Pastor Lia

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Other ways of giving.

QUALIFIED CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTIONS

Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) allow older IRA owners to give to charity. An IRA owner, age 70½ or over, can directly transfer, tax-free, up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity. This option, first available in 2006, can be used for distributions from IRAs, regardless of whether the owners itemize their deductions.

To qualify, the funds must be transferred directly by the IRA trustee to the eligible charity. Distributed amounts may be excluded from the IRA owner’s income – resulting in lower taxable income for the IRA owner. However, if the IRA owner excludes the distribution from income, no deduction, such as a charitable contribution deduction on Schedule A, may be taken for the distributed amount.

Amounts transferred to a charity from an IRA are counted in determining whether the owner has met the IRA’s required minimum distribution (RMD).

The church receives a letter from your IRA trustee along with a check notifying us of your charitable gift. You will receive a letter of recognition from the church so that you know the money was received.

Your QCD could be your tithe to the church each year that you pay once a year instead of weekly or monthly.

 

 

DONATE ITEMS THROUGH WOW AUCTION

 

You can donate items to WOW Auction in the name of the church if you cannot wait for one of our rummage sales.  The church has set up an account with them and the church receives funds from the sale of your items.  You can contact them for detailed information.  Email: staff@wowauctionsite.com  Phone: (239) 939-0555

The Auction House  is located at 11478 Charlie’s Terrace, Fort Myers, FL 33907 – Just South Of Page Field.  Call them before going, don’t just drop by.

Steps to Salvation.

Steps to Salvation

  1. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
  1. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  1. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  1. Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13)
  1. John 1:12, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
  1. John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Now that you have given your live to Christ, attend worship regularly, study the Bible daily and join a Bible study and/or small group, and pray daily.  A good place to begin in the Bible is the book of John.

How to Discover and Use Your Spiritual Gifts

How to Discover and Use Your Spiritual Gift

Read: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30 and Ephesians 4:11

What are Your Spiritual Gifts?

Every believer who accepts Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior receives a call to ministry.  With the call, come the spiritual gifts that enable the believer to be in ministry with others.

Every believer is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and specially gifted to play a unique and valued role in the body of Christ. No one is without a gift or purpose.

Spiritual gifts are not our talents or skills. Spiritual gifts are the grace of God at work within us, empowering us to match our deep passions with the world’s deep need. The gifts are given to individuals, but they are given to build and strengthen the community and to meet the needs of those around us.                                                                                                                                                                                                         The spiritual gifts are found in the Bible in these passages: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30 and Ephesians 4:11.  These Spiritual gifts are: Administration, Knowledge, Apostleship, Leadership, Discernment, Mercy,                                Evangelism, Miracles, Exhortation, Pastor/Shepherd, Faith, Prophecy, Giving, Service, Healing, Teaching, Interpretation of Tongues, Tongues, and Wisdom.

Begin the journey with prayer, ask God to show you your spiritual gifts. Discover your gifts and claim your gifts for the glory of God.  Talk about your gifts with others. Strive together to understand your gifts and how you can use them to serve God, neighbor, and community. You have been gifted. You have been given a purpose. In the next few weeks, we will be preaching on spiritual gifts and we will give you a spiritual gift test to take home to help you discover and use your spiritual gifts.

Blessings, Pastor Lia  lia

Invite Someone to Church

Read Acts 2:42-47

Research shows that only 2% of church- goers invite an unchurched person to church, but that 82% of the unchurched are likely to attend if invited!

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus told his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.”   This starts with a simple question:  “Would you like to go to church with me?”   Ask yourself, who do I know – Friend, Relative, Acquaintance and Neighbor, that God is putting on my heart to invite to church?  Then GO do it!                                   

Some people need to warm up to the idea and need to get an invitation more than once.   Do not give up!  Try inviting to a Fellowship lunch, Wonderful Wednesday Classes, Small Group, and Worship Services at Christ UMC. Friends, the best way for our church to grow is for all members of the congregation to invite others to be part of our loving church.

Blessings, Pastor Lia

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