Jewel

JEWEL

 Rich brown each, giving vital nutrients for life

Earth you have failed your job

Your provisions were not enough

No longer sustaining only containing

Locked away in a treasure chest

Hidden beneath your cold dry surface

His frantic hands claw and beat at the earth

Even though the treasure has lost its luster

Precious Jewel, locked away, her ruby lips have lost their color,

Her diamond eyes their shine

The only brilliance that remains is the treasure of her memory

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BGAV-November 13, 2013

We had no Wednesday Activities because several of our folks where returning from our state associational meeting.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord-November 10, 2013

The Battle Belongs to the Lord-November 10, 2013

2 Chronicles 20:15-24

There is an assurance from God’s man and the message from God’s man and the message was not just for the privileged but the message was for the king, the city, and the country.  The Lord is letting them know ahead of time what he is going to do and how it is gonna happen so when it does happen the people can be sure of a few things.  First that God is in control, second, God is able to do what He says He will do, third, we can find comfort and protection in the Lord, fourth we should always give thanks to God for the Battle is His we do not need to fear.

God is in control so do not be afraid of life, either the grandness of it or the difficulties that come our way.   God is in control.  It may seem or appear that the circumstance of life can seem overwhelming, like there is no way out.  Life can seem to come upon us like a vast army.  Do not feat God is in control.  We can look at the circumstances and begin to believe what we see rather than what we hear.  What we hear is a Word from the Lord that He is in control and that victory can and will happen if God promised it.  God’s Word and action are one in the same.

Don’t get in a fight that is not yours.  The battle belongs to the Lord.  Trust God, trust first what you hear from the Lord and He will allow you to see the victory faith is a response to God’s Word and precedes deliverance.  “Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you” (v. 17).  What do you need to be delivered from?  Trust God, He is able.

Praising God for His promise, even before we see His delivery, will demonstrate our faith in His promise and then we can celebrate even more for the victory and delivery.  Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went and demonstrated their faith in action by going our ahead of the group.    They sang praise (not for the promised victory) but the splendor of His glory.

God’s victory was complete, no one has escaped in any of these three armies, from the destruction.  If God is complete in this He is also complete in everything.  If He did not overlook not one of the enemies He certainly will not overlook you in your time of need.  God’s Word and action are one in the same.

The word came to the people, do not be afraid of the large number of the armies surrounding you. This isn’t your fight. The battle belongs to the Lord. First, hear the word, because faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). The word is, “it’s not your fight “. Trust God He keeps His word. The people are told to come see the deliverance. If seeing is believing, then this demonstration of God’s power is definitely proof for belief.

Hear God speak into your circumstances and because it is God speaking have faith that he is at work and the battle is his. After hearing that calls forth faith. Faith is trusting God. Then comes the seeing the evidence of God at work and fulfilling his promises. God’s Word is one in the same as His action. Understanding this links hearing to seeing and faith to belief. The only thing that God cannot do is fail.

Don’t be dismayed by the circumstances around you. Listen, have faith, see God work, believe in what you have seen. Remember the battle belongs to the Lord. 2 Chronicles 20:15-24

 

Vietnam Memorial

VIETNAM MEMORIAL

Tender hands trace the cold stone

She looks at his name with empty eyes

Born an orphan

No hands to cradle

No tears at the prom

No arm to walk down the aisle

A faint comfortable voice

Lost in the darkness of the womb

His name among thousands of others

The only glimpse of his face

Is the reflection of her own

Around his etched name.

Baptists You Should Know-November 6, 2013

Baptists You Should Know

 I.  Early Shapers of Baptist Tradition

   

A.  England (Home of Baptists)

 1.  John Smyth (1570 – c. August 28, 1612) was an early Baptist minister of England and a defender of the principle of religious liberty. Many historians consider John Smyth as a founder of the modern Baptist denomination Smyth was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1594 in England. Soon after his ordination, he broke with the Church of England and left for Holland where he and his small congregation began to study the Bible ardently. He briefly returned to England and Baptists become known as Separatists.

First, Smyth insisted that true worship was from the heart and that any form of reading from a book in worship was an invention of sinful man. Second, Smyth introduced a twofold church leadership, that of pastor and deacon. Third, with his newfound position on baptism, a whole new concern arose for these “Baptists”. Having been baptized as infants, they all realized that they would have to be re-baptized. Since there was no other minister to administer baptism, Smyth baptized himself and then proceeded to baptize his flock.

Before his death, Smyth moved away from his Baptist views and began trying to bring his flock into the Mennonite church. Although he died before this happened, most of his congregation did join themselves with the Mennonite church after his death.  This brought about a separation between Smyth and a group led by Thomas Helwys. The churches that descended from Smyth and Helwys were of the General Baptist persuasion.

2. Thomas Helwys, (c. 1575 – c. 1616), was one of the joint founders of the Baptist denomination.  In the early 17th century, Helwys was principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience.

Thomas Helwys was an advocate of religious liberty at a time when to hold to such views could be dangerous. He died in prison, a consequence the religious persecution of Protestant dissenters under King James I.

Thomas Helwys (c.1570-c.1616). In 1609, while living in Amsterdam, Holland, Helwys helped found the first Baptist church after he and John Smyth embraced the principle of believer’s baptism. In 1611, Helwys returned to his native England and formed the first Baptist church on English soil. He then wrote A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, considered by many historians to be one of the earliest pleas for liberty of conscience to be published in English. Soon after the book’s publication, he was imprisoned in Newgate Prison, where he died sometime around 1616.

 B.  UNITED STATES

Roger Williams (c.1603-1684). A Separatist minister who arrived in America in 1631, Williams clashed early and often with Puritan leaders. He was forced to flee to an area outside the Massachusetts Bay colony, where he founded the settlement of Providence. In 1638, Williams embraced Baptist beliefs and founded the first Baptist church in America. A few short months later, Williams abandoned his Baptist convictions, but he continues to be heralded as the founder of the Baptist movement in America.

Roger Williams (December 21, 1603April 1, 1683) was an English theologian, a notable proponent of religious toleration and the separation of church and state, and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. In 1644, he received a charter creating the colony of Rhode Island, named for the principal island in Narragansett Bay. He is credited for originating either the first or second Baptist church established in America.

The first idea—that the magistrate should not punish religious infractions—meant that the civil authority should not be the same as the ecclesiastical authority. The second idea—that people should have freedom of opinion on religious matters—he called “soul-liberty.” Toward the close of his ministry at Plymouth, Williams’ views began to place him in conflict with other members of the colony.

In June 1636, Williams arrived at the present site of Providence, Rhode Island. Friends and neighbors” (several settlers had joined him from Massachusetts since the beginning of spring). Williams’ settlement was based on a principle of equality. Thus a government unique in its day was created—a government expressly providing for religious liberty and a separation between civil and ecclesiastical authority (church and state).  It should be noted that Roger Williams was only briefly a part of the Baptist faith.

About March 1639, Williams was baptized by Holliman and immediately proceeded to baptize Holliman and eleven others. Thus was constituted a Baptist church which still survives as the First Baptist Church in America. At about the same time, John Clarke, Williams’ compatriot in the cause of religious freedom in the New World, established a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. “There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of ‘first’ Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking.”[4]

II.  Defenders of Freedom (other than Mr. Roger Williams)

A.  John Leland (1754-1841). For nearly seventy years, Leland pastored and preached in Baptist churches, but his most remarkable contribution was as a spokesman for religious liberty. Through his preaching, writing, and advocacy work, Leland worked tirelessly to ensure that religious freedom would be guaranteed to all Americans.  Spokesman for Religious liberty.  Argues that every man should be free and accountable to God.  Wanted written guarantees for religious liberty in the constitution.  It is said that after discussing this with James Madison he supported Madison.  Madison introduced the Bill of Rights.

 B.  John Waller-

imprisoned for preaching in VA.  First recorded imprisonment of Baptists in VA.   Citizens gathered around cell to hear him preach and this embarrassed authorities so they let him go.

 C.  Isaac Backus-

Some regard him as the best spokesperson for religious freedom.  Applied Roger Williams arguments to the freedom struggle in the 18th century.  He argued that government should leave religion alone.  He was against taxes collected for churches.  He also was arrested.

 D.  Obadiah Holmes-

arrested for preaching in MA in 1651 and found guilty and whipped for it.

III.  Baptist Missionaries

William Carey (August 17, 1761June 9, 1834) was an English Protestant missionary and Baptist minister, known as the “father of modern missions.” Carey was one of the founders of the Baptist Missionary Society. As a missionary in the Danish colony, Serampore, India, he translated the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages and dialects. He also has at least three colleges named after him, Carey Theological College, Carey Baptist College, and William Carey University (Hattiesburg, Mississippi).

He taught himself Hebrew, Italian, Dutch, and French, often reading while working on his shoes. Somehow he managed to retain information while working.

  1. Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (December 12, 1840December 24, 1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly forty years (1873-1912) helping the Chinese. As a teacher and evangelist she laid a foundation for traditionally solid support for missions among Baptists in America.  She spoke numerous languages: Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish. She was also fluent in reading Hebrew. Later, she would become expert at Chinese.

Lottie Moon has come to personify the missionary spirit for Southern Baptists and many other Christians, as well. The annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Missions has raised a total of $1.5 billion for missions since 1888, and finances half the entire Southern Baptist missions budget every year.

C.  Annie Armstrong (1850-1938). In 1888, Armstrong helped to found the Woman’s Missionary Union, an organization that helped to support and encourage Southern Baptist mission work. She was elected as the WMU’s first corresponding secretary and continued in that position until 1906. Throughout her life, Armstrong served as a strong advocate for missions, mission funding, and mission education.  Annie Armstrong died in 1938, and her tombstone reads, “She hath done what she could.”

D.  Alma Hunt (1909-2008), was a Virginia born world renown Baptist leader, having served 26 years as WMU National Executive Director and in retirement she was a national and international missions advocate. Her sacrificial service continued to be an example for all Virginia Baptists to emulate. Thus, the State Missions Offering of Virginia was named in her honor in 1998.

E.  Lott Carey, when the former slave, Lott Carey, announced that he was going to Africa as a missionary, his employers at a Virginia tobacco warehouse offered him a $200 a year annual increase if he would stay on his job. In the 1820s that was good money. But Lott turned it down; he wanted to go where his color would not hamper his service, and was eager to preach the Gospel in Africa.

F.   Adoniram (1788-1850) and Ann Judson (1789-1826), in 1812, the Judsons sailed to India to serve as foreign missionaries for the Congregational denominational. En route, the Judsons adopted the Baptist interpretation of believer’s baptism. Their new convictions forced them to break ties with the Congregationalists and to seek the endorsement of Baptists in America, who quickly pledged their support. Thus, the Judsons became the first American Baptist foreign missionaries. In late 1812, the Judsons traveled to Burma, where they produced a Burmese dictionary, began translating scripture into Burmese, and sought to win converts. Ann died in 1826, but because of her letters and great courage, she attracted the attention of American Baptists and gained much support for mission work. Adoniram continued the work, and at his death, he left a flourishing Burmese church of 7,000 members with more than 100 national ministers.

IV.  Baptist Preachers

  1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, commonly C.H. Spurgeon, (June 19, 1834January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential amongst Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.” He also founded the charity organization now known as Spurgeon’s, that works worldwide with families and children, as well as a famous theological college which after his death was called after him: Spurgeon’s College. His sermons were translated into many languages in his lifetime.
  2. Billy Graham (1918- ), during the 1940s, Graham began his long career as an evangelist, preaching on the radio, touring the country, and conducting crusades. In 1950, he founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with a team of evangelists and musicians. Graham never emphasized his denominational affiliation, but he holds membership in a Baptist church and has been a frequent speaker at Baptist convention meetings and the Baptist World Alliance. His passion for evangelism and his preaching style have influenced numerous Baptists around the world.

V.  Other Interesting Baptists

A.   Clarence Jordan (July 29, 1912October 29, 1969), a farmer and New Testament Greek scholar, was the founder of Koinonia Farm, a small but influential religious community in southwest Georgia and the author of the Cotton Patch translations of the New Testament. He was also instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity.  He be gone now,” reflected a neighbor in 1980, “but his footprint still here”.

B.   E. Y. Mullins (1860-1928), during the early twentieth century when Baptists struggled with controversies over evolution and fundamentalism, Mullins served as a denominational leader and a statesman. He became the principal theologian of Southern Baptists and published numerous books on Baptist doctrines. During his career, Mullins pastored both Northern and Southern Baptist churches and taught systematic theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for thirty years. He also served as the president of Southern Seminary (1899-1928), as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1921-1924), and as president of the Baptist World Alliance (1923-1928).

C.      Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), an American German Baptist educator and pastor, Rauschenbusch served as the theologian of the Social Gospel movement. He provided a biblical and theological defense of Christian social responsibility and challenged Christians to deal with the social problems of the day—poverty, unemployment, crime, urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. Throughout his life, Rauschenbusch advocated a gospel that did not separate the personal and social dimensions of faith.

D.  Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934), a social activist and pioneering reformer, Montgomery served as the first woman member of school board in Rochester, New York, and as the first president of the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union. As a Baptist, Montgomery was elected in 1920 as the first woman to serve as president of the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Churches, USA). In 1924, she became the first woman to prepare an English translation of the Greek New Testament, which was published by the American Baptist Publication Society.

E.   Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), as a Civil Rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s, King worked for desegregation of public accommodations and voter education and registration of African Americans. As a Baptist, he served as pastor of two influential Baptist churches, was the first African American minister to address a meeting of the American Baptist Convention, was active in the Northern Baptist Convention, and assisted in 1961 in the founding of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

 

The Right Tool For the Job-November 3, 2013

The Right Tool for the Job-November 3, 2013

Scripture:  I Samuel 17:37-40; Ephesians 6:10-17

Have you ever gone to look for a tool and did not have what you needed to do the job?  Is there really a tool for every job?  How many of you ladies would go to the store to shop for clothing would find something looked nice and purchase it even if it did not fit?  Would that be a wise use of money?  How many would wear their Sunday best to work in the garden?  Would you like to try to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver?  Or would you like to take down a tree with a hammer?  There are so many different things that  there are tools for particular jobs and the greatest success if achieved when we use the tool for that job, or are dressed for the right job.  Today’s sermon is about what should be the obvious but is sometimes not so obvious…trusting how God has fitted you for His greatest use and your greatest protection.

We will be sharing out of two very familiar Bible passages today, the first of which is the story of young David taking food to his brothers on the front lines of the army.  He hears the Philistine giant Goliath taunting the Israelite army and no one wants to fight him because they are afraid.  David is upset by this and eventually gets a chance to tell Saul that he will go and fight the giant.  The last part of verse 36 is that David says Goliath will be killed, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  David is acknowledges from the beginning it is not because of him that Goliath will fall but because he stands in opposition to God.  David then in verse 37 continues to mentioned that the Lord has delivered him from so many other things and that God will be his deliverer again against the Philistine.  See David knew something that it seems that many in the Israelite army had forgotten, it is the Lord who delivers in battle, it is the Lord that is our protection, it is the Lord that is our Salvation it is the Lord not anything else that changes the tide of battle and the days of our lives.

Saul’s first answer is a great one, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”  In other words go and trust God and if he is leading you to do this go with His blessing and mine.  The very next thing that Saul does is he begins to dress and put David in his own tunic and a suit of armor.  Do we ever try to do the same thing.  Do we talk about trusting God and then turn around and try to use the tools, trappings, and trades of this world instead of trusting God?  Many times we do this because we do not see trusting as activity and so we try to act and do things and feel more comfortable if we were able to have some control.

After putting on all this stuff that Saul thought David need to have David tried to walk around but David was not used to those weapons and armor.  People who are used to trusting the Lord will find it hard to put on the things of this world and find them of any use to them, because they are used to trusting God and His way of doing things.  David tells Saul that he cannot go into battle in these traditional battle armaments, because he was not used to them.  If we expect God to deliver the victory we must trust His ways.  So he took them off, gathered up his things and went to do it the Lord’s way, not because he could guarantee victory by his own merit but by trusting in the Lord and doing things God’s way.

The biggest battle David or any of us will face is not to do with really anything in this world but rather the first and biggest battle has to do with will we trust God and His ways fully.  David did not have a hard physically battle to fight against the giant, although we might easily have thought that, but the first battle is giving up of ourselves, and giving ourselves over to God.  It is the only act of surrender that I know of that allows us to celebrate victory, what a wonderful blessed Savior we serve.  David was victorious not because he willed it to be so, but because he trusted the will of God.  This same power, protection and might is also available to us.

Paul encourages the church at Ephesus and really all believers with his remarks.  “Be strong in the Lord and in his might power.”  Trusting a power that is not able will only leave you feeling hopeless and especially if it is your own power.  The Paul speaks of putting on the full armor of God, so that you can take a stand against the devil’s schemes.  Putting on only part of the armor would not be helpful, so put on the full armor.

Why the armor of God?  Because the struggle or battle if you will is not one of man on man, flesh and blood, but against systems of power, the power of darkness in this world and beyond this world.  We do not my friends have the luxury of being able to look our opponent or combatant in the eye.   Government structures, evil dictators, and those wanting to keep their boot on the throats of the already voiceless and those who believe by all conventional means and wisdom that their power is ultimate and without check.  We struggle against those that would do evil and harm on a global and individual level and also against the very spiritual warfare beyond us in the heavenly realms that invades our lives with really consequences.

Put on then the full armor of God, so when the battles come to your country, your town, your door, and even your very heart that you may be able to stand precisely because you have put on the armor and are prepared to take a stand.  Stand firm with

Belt=Truth

The belt would protect the loins and lower stomach area, the seed bed of emotions in the Old Testament is the guts, bowel, or stomach.  The lies of Satan often attempt first to hit below the belt try to stop us at this piece of armor, because if we trust and understand God’s Word to be true we will have the guts, or confidence to stand in the face of battle.  Remember that truth will bring confidence to stand in the face of battle.

Breastplate=Righteousness

The Breastplate will protect the vital organs of the body and most importantly the heart.  Once committed to engaging in battle any strong opponent will know it is best to end the battle quickly.  A sure death-blow could be rendered to the heart.  At the heart of each believer is the righteousness that is from God.  Confidence will get you in at battle but a right heart will keep you in the battle and fighting.    The breastplate of righteousness is to protect our hearts from Satan.  A heart that is right with God is built on His truth.  Satan would want nothing more than to steal our hearts.

Footgear=Readiness to spread the Good News

Footgear will protect the feet allowing the combatant to continue to move and engage in battle and to rally the troops.  Protecting the feet will insure that the best offense can be mounted.  The feet are mentioned several times in the bible about the bringing in or the ushering in of the Good News.  You would think if the message is what is important that they could read about it since it is news.  The news was always meant to be personal for anyone to really find comfort in it.  The Gospel itself is just that the God didn’t just continue to send Prophets but spoke to us through a Son.  It is in protecting the feet or ability to move and engage that we protect the message and the good news that we have come to believe in the Truth of God making us ready for battle, and our hearts for righteousness that sustains us in battle.  This news is not like the news of today which is just about facts but these facts in the context of life is known as faith.

Shield=Faith

The shield is additional protection from further attacks and counter attacks.  Satan will not give up easily.  A shield is often used at a way to fend off attacks from a distance as well as nearby.  Satan will try to hurl things in our way, insults, accusations, and will try at critical times of battle to cause distractions that will keep us from staying the course.  When we aren’t able to see where the fight is coming from it can be tempting to believe that we are not going in the right direction.  Faith is a shield that allows us to more fully believe that God has a better view of the battlefield and already knows that outcome.  Faith allows us to believe that God knows best when our things seem their worst.  Seeing is not believing, believing is trusting God’s sight, guide, and direction.

Helmet=Salvation

The Helmet is protection for the head, or in a more spiritual sense the mind.  If Satan lands a blow here it could be fatal and all could be lost.  Satan will try to invade our minds producing doubt and fear.  This comes in two primary ways one is in doubting our own personal worth and salvation through Christ, and the other is in causing us to doubt or question is what Christ did sufficient for Salvation.   Can it really be that God loves me and wants me, even me, to be saved?  Putting on these earlier pieces should help with the personal part, but through many different means Satan will try to convince us that the battle is already his because Jesus death was not enough.  He could save Himself and He can’t save us.  Guard your mind because if Satan can make us doubt the saving work of Christ or His personal salvation of us then we may in fear be rendered helpless in battle.  Most battles are won from the neck up.

Sword=The Spirit, the Word of God

The sword is a weapon that is sometimes used to deflect others weapons but is intended and designed to mount an assault.  This is the only weapon of offense in the armor.  Hebrews reminds us that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.  It is the weapon that Satan himself has no defense left for.  It is in the Word of God that we find victory.  Remember at the beginning of Jesus ministry He is publicly baptized and then goes into the desert.  Satan attacks and tempts Jesus multiple times and I used to think as a young man, that Jesus was defending Himself against Satan.  Do you remember how Jesus fought him off?  He simples responds to Satan, “IT IS WRITTEN!”  In the biggest battles of Spiritual warfare those words, IT IS WRITTEN are the battle sword that attacks the very nature of Satan, because God’s Word is trustworthy, its true always, it is living and life-giving, it came in flesh in the form of His Son to save the world, the Living Word is coming again to proclaim ultimate victory, and it is final.  Satan’s days are numbered but we can be numbered about the saints and believers in the victory of His Kingdom.

Why put on things that don’t fit and aren’t fit for where we are going, trust God to equip us, protect us, see us through, and bring us home.  For in Him there is total victory.  Friends do not live in fear, do not be worn down by the powers and ways of this world, instead put on the full armor of God and live victorious today.

Let Us Be Thankful

Let Us Be Thankful

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” ~Hebrews 12:28-29

In our day-to-day living most of us are not trying to be ungrateful but we can forget to give God thanks.  It may seem easier to do this when we are reminded of His greatness at times of the year like this, times when we have specific days of thanksgiving.  The official day of Thanksgiving may only come around once a year but it is in taking the time to reflect on the days and seasons within that year and offer thanks.  Just like a person doesn’t just have a birthday but must live every day in between to arrive at that date so too must we do the same with Thanksgiving.

It is good to have a day of Thanksgiving but it would be tragic to only give thanks on that day.  There may certainly be days when things seem overwhelming that we may struggle to give thanks, but be encouraged friend.  That one day is not the sum working of God in our lives.  The problem too often is that we are concerned with the immediate and dwell on the negative.  Some days it may be hard to look past life to see the goodness of God because we do not have the grandness of His view.  Look at the working of God in both the difficult and good times, and be reminded that those difficult days will not last.

The struggles of this world can and often do shake us to our core.  How then will we find peace, comfort, hope, joy, promise, and a future?  Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, there exists a solid and sure place that is outside of ourselves that when our world shakes it remains steady.  It is in this that we give thanks, not that the days are perfect but that there is a place of hope.  Let us give thanks for this great kingdom.

In giving thanks we are moved more humbly in gratitude to worship our gracious God.  So worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.  How will we know that we have worship God acceptably?  It is when we do so with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”  There are many times in the Bible where flames and fire are associated with God, but a consuming fire reminds me of the altar.  When God finds the offering or worship acceptable it is consumed by fire.  What about the disciples and Peter during the time of Pentecost?  As they worshiped and prayed willing to do anything and even give their very lives for God, the Holy Spirit came and rested upon them.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Friends during times of struggle look at the larger movement of grace throughout your life.  Remember that you are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, so turn to that solid ground.  Give thanks, because gratitude not only will change your outlook on life but it will also change the people around.  Give thanks, because gratitude is the beginning of worship.  Worship acceptable in reverence and awe, and wait for the presence of the consuming fire to fall fresh upon you and through you that others may also learn to receive this kingdom that cannot be shaken.