Sufficient Grace

Hebrews 4:16 –
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
2 Peter 1:2
– May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
 
Acts 4:33
– And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
 
2 Corinthians 12:9 –
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 
John 1:16 –
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

 

Grace upon grace. Extra grace! Wow, what a comfort to know that no matter what you are facing today, God’s grace has been heaped upon you with extra measure! You can rest in His power and let His grace complete what your struggled labor cannot. Whatever it is that you lack, His grace is enough! I am so thankful for a Father I can fully trust. I can rest in the knowledge that His power and grace is with me, and you, today. His grace is sufficient.
 
Blessings, 
Pastor Sarah
 


Commit to Equip

Our next step in the Vision to Multiply is Equip.  This is where we will learn how to be disciples who make disciples in three ways.

  1. Journal each day about what the Lord is telling you as you spend time in prayer and Bible study.
  2. Engage discipleship material each week and talk about it with others.
  3. Meet with a spiritual mentor to discuss how you can become a disciple who makes disciples.
 
I would like for everyone in the congregation to engage in these three things in whatever way you can but I am especially looking for a group of people who would say, “I Commit to Equip.”  This group will work closely with me this year from April thru October.  They will commit to journaling every day.  They will commit to discussing the discipleship material every Sunday evening from 6-7:30 p.m.  And they will commit to meeting with me once a month for these seven months.

Let me be clear, if you can’t commit to all of this right now, it’s okay.  It doesn’t mean you don’t love Jesus.  You won’t be shamed for your lack of commitment.  Assumptions won’t be made about your character.  And you will still be invited to join the next group(s) which will start early in 2019.  Everyone is still invited to journal as you are able.  Everyone is still invited to the discipleship class each Sunday evening.  And everyone is still invited to find a spiritual mentor… even if you aren’t working directly with me this time around.

 

If you do want to Commit to Equip simply reply to this email now.  How will you engage the Equip step of the Vision to Multiply?  What is the Holy Spirit telling you to do?  What questions do you have about Equip?  I want to hear them as well.  Together we will take back what Hell has stolen as we multiply the church for the glory of God.

In Him,

Pastor Tim



Is Your Vision Compromised?

Dear Church,
On March 7th my uncle passed away. We had family that came from far away to be together. Family I had not seen since I was a little girl so I had no memory of them. Our family had drifted apart and it was easy to because they live so far away. It got me thinking about how we can drift away from our faith. The Israelites would always forget about God; how he rescued them from Egypt, how he kept them safe in the wilderness, how they got to enter the Promise Land. They could never seem to remember the awesome God they had. The new generation didn’t witness the Red Sea split, they didn’t get to eat manna, they only got to hear about the wonderful things of God. They had a premature relationship with God, so they would drift away from the true God. So is our relationship premature? Has it become easy for us to walk our way rather than go God’s way? Has our vision been compromised? If so, we are drifting away and forgetting how Jesus died with purpose to set us free. We should live with purpose to serve Him. Let’s keep a close relationship with God. Put into practice what we learn from Him. I didn’t have a close relationship with my family because of distance. Don’t keep your distance from your Creator who keeps promises; instead wholeheartedly walk towards Him.
 
Jacki
 
 
Mike and Heather Webb are missionaries that serve as regional coordinators in Africa and they will be sharing with us here on Sunday, April 29th.  Check out this video where Church of God pastors from Africa talk about the importance of coming together in ministry.
 
 
                


Why Have You Been Standing Here?

Dear Church,


This past Wednesday in Bible study we read the parable of the master and his vineyard found in Matthew 20. The master hires people early in the day, in the middle of the day, and late in the day all to go and harvest the fruit of the vineyard. At the end of the day he then proceeds to pay everyone the same amount. Two interactions jump out at me.
 
First, the last time the master goes out to hire workers he asks them, “Why have you been standing here all day?” To which they replied, “No one has hired us.” As we move closer to the Equip step of the Vision to Multiply I realized that I am going to be asking you to do some things that you may have never done before. You may be quick to jump on board or you might be reluctant but I want you to know that God wants you on the payroll. I know you may not have been “hired” to do things like this before but God has some harvesting for you to do.
 
Secondly, the workers that worked all day felt it was unfair to receive the same as those who only worked an hour, but notice the focus of the master. All he was concerned about was harvesting more fruit. He didn’t need the work to be equal. He just wanted as much fruit as possible from the vineyard. So if you are new to the vineyard, don’t compare your fruit to others. Praise God for the opportunity to pick fruit and make disciples. If you have been in the vineyard for years now, remember that the master is the master and he is good. Praise God for the opportunity to pick fruit and make disciples.
               
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Togetherness

Greetings, Houston First Church of God!
I was thinking about the culture of our church today, and the first word that came to mind was togetherness.
In the worship ministry, I often smile when I see three generations of family serving together – a grandfather on piano, with his adult daughter and granddaughter singing just in front of him. Have you noticed that one couple serves together nearly every Sunday in the back of the church, ensuring that scripture and song lyrics are projected on the screen, and that musical equipment, sound, and all-things-IT are in order before service? Their daughter has recently become a rotating worship team member, and on the days she sings, their entire family is serving at once. When I first came to experience the church, seeing families serve together in ministry let me know that the idea of inviting my own sons to serve with me as instrumental musicians would be welcomed and encouraged at H1. My daughter has joined the worship ministry, too, and she reminded me that she and her eleven-year old friend joined the ministry together. She encouraged her friend to sing confidently for the purpose of God’s glory, and they walked on to the platform side by side, stronger together. Togetherness really is part of who H1 is.
As I have reflected on our corporate focus on multiplying, I thought a bit about how a church with a culture of serving together might spread the message of Jesus in pairs or small groups. I thought about how people might patrner to co-lead new learn groups, and multiply the reach of the word in team fashion. I thought about how I myself could team up with our youth pastor to expand the Sunday worship ministry to include teens who have given their lives to Christ, and reciprocally, how he has invited me to bring worship music to the youth meetings on Wednesdays from time to time. I thought about the upcoming ladies retreat, in which the children’s pastor invited me to partner with her to reach women through worship music that supported the theme of the weekend. Each of us can reach people individually, for sure, but given the culture here… I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many reported sightings of multiplication of the word that’s done with a little help from our friends.
I would like for you to partner with me in inviting your friends to a community worship night on April 20. We will be combining prayer, worship music, and the word of God in a powerful way that may be new to some. Please come with hearts that are open to participating in prophetic, faith-filled songs that are sometimes composed right in the moment – in response to the intercessory prayers that are being lifted and the encouraging words that are being spoken over our lives right from scripture. If you have friends or family members who have been hesitant to seek God in church or small gatherings, partner with me to spread the message of Jesus to them through worship music. Invite them to come to H1 from 6:30-8:30pm that special night. I’ll partner with you by praying for those who are invited, starting now. It’s a way that we can multiply together.
Hosanna! Let our King be lifted up!
 
Anita Cook
 
PS
Don’t forget to set your clocks AHEAD one hour when you go to bed this coming Saturday night!
 
 
Also, as a reminder, if you are interested in getting some of the information from the active shooter training we will have the video available this Sunday at 9:30am in Room 200 upstairs.
 


Listen. Equip. Send.

I don’t think that I have ever been discipled.
I have done Bible studies.  I have done Sunday School.  I have had spiritual mentors.  I have memorized verses of the Bible.  I have gone to summer camp.  I have done service projects.  I have gone on a mission trip.  I graduated from a Bible college.  I went to seminary (one year counts).  I have a Master’s degree in Christian leadership, but I don’t think that I have ever been discipled.
How is that possible?
When Jesus discipled his followers he led them through a strategic time of growth and empowerment with the purpose of sending them out to do the same for others.  The things I did to grow closer to God were not strategic nor did they prepare to send me out.  It was just about me.
Let me be clear, these were all good things.  I did grow closer to the Lord.  I did end up in ministry.  However, the goal was always to add to my understanding not to multiply the kingdom.  I would guess that you have probably been involved in a lot of these good things too, but have you ever been discipled?
We have been LISTENing to the Holy Spirit for how we can be disciples who make disciples.  Starting April 8 we will begin to EQUIP you through a strategic discipleship process that will result in you being SENT out to actually make disciples.  I hope you will join the discipleship journey.

In Him,

Pastor Tim



The Gospel of Mark

I have received so much feedback from the sermon series we are doing through the book of Mark. This past week the Holy Spirit challenged me to think more about my attitude toward Jesus. Do I really want what he wants or am I afraid of what he wants so I just do what I want?
 
Here are a few ways I’m trying to answer that question the right way. 
1. I’m going to listen more when I pray. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who asked you a question and then kept on talking? If we aren’t spending prayer time actively listening to God then that is exactly what we are doing. 
2. I’m going to ask myself, “What are you afraid of?” Fears don’t have to be obsessive to be influential. For example, I don’t wear black shoes with khakis because I’m afraid people will see my total lack of fashion sense. Do you think it is possible that some hidden fears are influencing you?
3. I’m going to talk about it. It is amazing how saying something out loud helps me to know what I really believe. In my mind I can make anything sound good but when I say it out loud the Holy Spirit begins to separate fact from fiction. 
 
How about you? The answers to some of theses questions might be tough but I think they will lead us down the path of discipleship. 
              

In Him,
Pastor Tim
 
 
Recently Cindy Moore sent in the following link to an article about disciples who make disciples.  Give it a read and see what the Holy Spirit might tell you.  Also, if you come across articles, videos or other material that focus on multiplication, please send them in.  Let’s keep talking about what it looks like for us to multiply.
 


Winning the Race

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 it says “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should do. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Track athletes compete in a physical race. As children of God we are involved in a spiritual race.  But if you notice, there is discipline and training needed for the physical as well as spiritual race.  Tom Brady is one of the top athletes in sports.  He has been to 8 Super Bowls, and has won 5 of them.  He is considered by most to be the best quarterback to ever play the game.  How does he perform at such a high level?  By lifting weights, watching his diet, practicing and training.  All of this takes discipline and self-control. 

If athletes in the world train and discipline themselves for a temporary reward; shouldn’t we discipline ourselves (much more) for the imperishable crown of eternal life?

What is the Holy Spirit telling you to stop doing?  Or what is the Holy Spirit telling you to start doing?  He might be saying wake up a little earlier in the morning and start praying or reading your bible.  Or maybe, He is saying to start fasting more.  Or He might just be saying you need to be more diligent at your workplace.  Whatever it may be, God will give you the strength and ability to carry it out; but you must be willing to obey Him.  However, that obedience might come in the form of self-control and discipline. 
 
Pastor Marcus
 


Lord, Please Show Me More!

I remember when God started calling me to join Houston First Church of God. At first I laughed at the idea, but I agreed to pray. Then I sensed the Lord directing me to submit a resume. I still didn’t feel called to pastor the church, but I kept praying. Then the Lord told me to interview. I didn’t feel the call to pastor yet, but I kept praying. Then the Lord called me to pastor here and I came to candidate.
 
Wouldn’t it be nice if God told us how everything was going to go from the beginning? Yet, he doesn’t do that, does he? Most times, God only gives us enough to take another step of faith. While we know that God knows best and we trust him with our lives and our future it can be hard to not knowing some times. Some of you may be feeling like this even now regarding the Vision to Multiply. So what do we do while we wait? Try the following…
 
  1. Ask questions.  If you are wondering about something or just need some clarification someone else probably is too.  I want to hear your questions and so does God.  Feel free to email me at pastortim@hfcog.org, write your question on the Connect Card, or even write it on the Vision to Multiply card.  Your questions will help me address what I might be overlooking.
  2. Pray. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  Pray that God will reveal to you what you want to know.  Pray that he will show you how to be a disciple that makes disciples.  Ask for his help to hear from the Holy Spirit.
  3. Walk by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”  I know it can be hard to keep pressing when you don’t know what all is coming but let your faith lead you on.  I want to see more as well.  I want to know what to do next.  I want to know what it is all going to look like, but until I do I just have to keep walking by faith.  We all need to keep taking the step that he is calling us to make so that we can accomplish the Vision to Multiply together.
 
In Him, 
Pastor Tim
 


Choose Joy

Nehemiah 8:10b … “

do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The joy of the Lord is your strength. What a simple, yet significant statement.

Even when things are not going your way: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
When work is hard and hours are long: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
When loved ones are sick, or struggling with their health: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
When your child is rebelling and challenging your sanity: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
When others speak against you: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
When you are struggling with an addition: The joy of the Lord is your strength.
If your spouse is not walking with the Lord: The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Whatever your current situation is, your God does not change! He is always there, offering joy and strength. If we will choose joy, then His strength will come and encourage, revive, and renew us. As others see your life circumstances, and see your joy, they will begin to ask you how you can be so joyful in the midst of the circumstances. And you can tell them, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

I would challenge you to choose joy today!

Many Blessings,

Pastor Sarah