Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 11, 2015

Preachin’, Teachin’, and Reachin’

preaching

Scripture: “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the LORD, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance. Jeremiah 3:15-18

This past week of the Daniel Fast has highlighted many different aspects of a church. Mission and vision, evangelism and outreach, financial stewardship, children’s ministries, leadership and ministry volunteers, praise and worship – all are vital parts to the body of Christ and to fulfilling God’s plan for His creation. Concluding the set is the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, which is effective only when the man or woman behind the pulpit is called after God’s own heart (verse 15).

God’s own heart…what’s that about? It’s about being in sync with God mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It’s about running in line with God, as opposed to running perpendicular and thus drifting apart from the calling and purpose. When a pastor is after God’s own heart, wisdom and insight from the Lord are undiluted and reach the hearts and souls of people with supernatural accuracy. When it seems like the lesson or sermon is talking to a person’s situation, when a pastor is “really on point” with the preaching, that’s God’s own heart being revealed.

That is the Lord working through the pastor to get to the individual to lead him or her to a better understanding of life and their purpose in it. That is the Lord telling them to cast all of their cares on Him. That is the Lord telling them to “stop trippin’” and walk into their season. That is the Lord reaching, through His ordained preaching and teaching. With a pastor who is in sync with Him, a church will assuredly be led in wisdom and understanding and can expect to be greatly blessed in order to bless the world.

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for sending Your shepherds, rightly dividing the word of truth. Please guide them to stay in sync with You always, so that we can see You move through them. Amen.

written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 10, 2015

Praise and Worship

worship

Scripture: Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Praise: To glorify, especially by the attribution of perfections. To express thanks to or love and respect for God.

Worship: The act of showing respect and love for a God, especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God.

Praise and worship go hand and hand. Praising God can be lifting up your eyes towards the heavens and thanking Him for all that He has done, and for things to come. Worshipping can be by conversing with others about the glories and wonders of God. When people go to church, some feel that singing and attending service are all they need to do to show their love of God. There is more to it than that. Reading your Bible and teaching your children about it, saying “Thank You God” every time you wake up, go out the door, and come home; every time your loved ones come back to you — these are just a few ways to give God your praise. From sun up to sun down, we have so much to thank God for.

When we praise and worship, we let others know that in spite of a society where God has been taken out of homes, school, work and even some churches, we will continue to show our gratitude and admiration for the One, True Ever Loving God.

Of course, not everyone’s worship and praise are the same nor are they meant to be. Why? Because we are not all the same. During church service, some are more vocal and physical and others are quieter. As a quiet one, I may cry—this doesn’t mean I am sad or at my wit’s end, but those tears rolling down my face are tears of joy, because I know that at that moment, the praise and worship in my soul are being heard. And this fills my heart with love, hope and continued faith in a God who is great, and greatly to be praised.

Prayer: Lord God, instead of asking You for something, I want to thank You for who You are, what You have done, are doing, and will do. Thank You for being an awesome God. Hallelujah!

written by Lacy Aaron, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 9, 2015

Building a Kingdom

prayer

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16

Scripture: To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:12-13

Everyone may go to church, but often times most will not go unless they are in charge of a certain ministry or they may have to hold the microphone and do the announcements. If their name isn’t called by the Pastor, then they may get a little bitter. You may have seen those little battles before, the “I Am Chief” syndrome, is what I call it. My TLC Family has kicked off the New Year with a task of cleansing our hearts, mind, body and spirit with The Daniel Fast. How awesome is that? Our Pastor has chosen this path to kick start our lives and year to bring us together on one accord, so that we can work in unity on building up our church for the Kingdom of God. TLC works like a well oiled machine — no one person is better; each ministry provides a leg, arm, shoulder, eye, etc. I watch Sunday after Sunday how each person plays a significant role in building TLC — from the greeters and ushers to the sound technicians, finance  and praise teams. We are a unit working in unity for Christ. I believe this fast will keep us on the right track as we get closer to God and stronger in our faith over these 10 days.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you in advance for the awesome year that you will give TLC. I thank you for continued growth in our faith and the unity building steps you have given our Pastor for us. Amen.

written by Chameka Jacques

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 8, 2015

Trusting Leaders

leaders

Scripture: Hebrews 13:13-21

In a previous devotional, I mentioned that church folk can be a handful, and how that was 99.999 percent true most of the time. So many different personalities, opinions, ideas, past experiences all coming together either to make one awesome, spiritual gumbo or one terrible, hot mess. To prevent the latter from occurring, God, in His perfect wisdom, appoints leaders to guide and stir all of the ingredients – i.e., the church—in the right direction, and at the right time.

Notice it is God who appoints the leadership when we step aside and let Him. He doesn’t need our straw polls, campaigners or lobbyists to choose who will do what. He knows the hearts and capabilities of people far more than any of us can, and will select those to lead us, so that the mission and vision of a church can be achieved. The writer of Hebrews understood this and gave this advice in verse 17:

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

Constant prayer for church leadership and for people to trust that God knows what He’s doing goes a mighty long way to bringing joy in this Kingdom-building work. Without it, the work can be a pretty hefty burden that could ultimately push people away. And that is contrary to God’s will.

Likewise, leaders of a church should be in constant prayer, too, for the same reasons. They should remember that they may not have all of the answers at one set time. Instead of stressing because that’s what the devil will use to derail people, they should watch for God to provide them in the various ways that He can. Whether it’s through circumstances or other church members, they will be equipped “with everything good for doing his will….” (verse 21)

And all can experience the joy of being one body, one faith, working together for an almighty God.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your wisdom and choosing leaders for Your church. Please teach and remind all that You are in control, and that if all pray for each other where we are gathered, You are in the midst. You will do great and wonderful things through leaders and members alike when we trust You wholeheartedly. Amen.

written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 7, 2015

Reach

soul-7038104_l-500x500Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Last November, our church came together to raise money and donations for people in need. We were able to bless 25 families with Thanksgiving meals, complete with all the fixin’s. In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, we followed God’s charge.

Wonderful things truly happen when we put others’ needs before our own. When we reach out to meet the immediate needs of people who may not necessarily look, talk or act like we do, we’re reaching out and meeting deeper needs, including food, clothing and finances:

1. We meet the emotional need in all human beings to feel connected. Contrary to what others may think, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….” (John Donne)

2. We meet the mental need to have a little less to worry about. Jesus encourages us,“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well….” (Matthew 6:25-34)

3. We meet the spiritual need to believe that God is God and He is able. With all of the noise and static surrounding us, when someone extends a hand, gives a smile or shares the Word, God’s message breaks through loud and clear: “I am God. I know you because I made you. I want you to know that I care for you, I love you and I am here for you.”

So where’s the wonderful thing for us? It’s here, when we play a part in blessing other people. We, in turn, are blessed to keep on blessing. It’s a never-ending process designed by an everlasting God. The more we do and give, the more He gives to us.

Awesome, right?

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for Your word and instruction to reach out and help others. Let us never get tired or weary, but to keep on doing what is acceptable and pleasing in Your sight. Let us bless, to bless someone in need. Amen.

written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 6, 2015

Raising Up a Generation

raising a generation

Scripture: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6:6-9

“Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

These verses have taken me back several decades, to Walker’s Chapel Church of God in Christ in my hometown. At this moment, I’m remembering the red and white tambourine I had and how I tried to play it in the Sunshine Band with my cousins. An Easter pageant comes to mind, with us wearing white sheets for robes and towels for head coverings as we reenacted the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Fast forward a few years and I see myself at the same church, wanting things to hurry up because USA Network had moved its Saturday afternoon Kung Fu Theater to Sundays. Still a few more years ahead and I’m attending a Youth Congress, participating in speech recitals, choirs and Bible Drill.

Sis. Parks, Sis. Washington, Sis. Brite, Pastor J. Williams and my family took God’s word to heart, to train a child in the way she should go. Whether I wanted to learn them or not at that young age, they made sure I did. And I am grateful to the Lord for putting them in my life, their prayers and putting me in check when it was needed. Through this training and teaching came understanding and acceptance that an almighty God loves and has His eyes on me.

Just as adults need to know God, children do too. They need to know who He is for themselves and what He desires for their lives: “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:7 They need to know that they matter very much to the Lord, precious in His sight and safe in His powerful hands. Whether they learn so through Bible Drills, singing, plays, conferences— the method does not matter. What does matter is that we grownups, who know and have experienced God move in our lives, teach them, show them and lead them. And when they mature, they will not depart from Him.

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for sending the teachers and helpers to guide us on our God-given paths. Help us, Lord, to do the same for Your youth. Send the children and send the helpers, and instruct us to raise up a generation of believers, who love You unconditionally. Amen.

Written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 5, 2015

Little for Much

finances

Scripture: Luke 16:1-13

With the pursuit of a ministry of excellence, keeping line with the God-given purpose comes the sometimes prickly question of “How”. How can a church be innovative? How can we reach out to those who don’t know God and those who gave up on His church? How can we develop disciples to live transformationally in the world?

Seemingly safe questions, right? The prickly part though comes with the finance factor. To do the work requires financial commitment from every member in a church. Keeping it real, church folk get mighty funny when it comes to money.

And I don’t mean funny “ha ha”, either.

The reasons why vary, but perhaps they can all be boiled down to one: lack of trust in ourselves and in God.

The former has merit, because, keeping it real again, people are not always faithful stewards of what God has given us. Some may choose the Michael Kors purse or the new Jordans over the tenth that is due to the Lord. Others may choose paying bills first and then giving God some of what’s left over. But Jesus said in verse 10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” And God gave this word to Malachi in chapter 3, verse 8: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me….”

Let that soak in for a minute….

As for the lack of trust in God – the latter reason – we children of a fearless and powerful God live and think with fear. We have a Heavenly Father who is ready and able to supply our every need – individually and as the body of Christ — and yet we carry the anxiety of “What about this? What about that? How can we handle it?” We live as if a “can-do” God can’t do it, whatever that “it” may be.

But yet, “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!” God really wants us to trust Him, to follow Him without wavering, to give us the blessings He set aside for us. He wants His children to grow and flourish, to be a light in a dark world. So let us cast aside the fear (that’s not from the Lord anyway) and materialism, and show Him that we can be trusted with even a little, to give and receive much.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for being such a good and giving God. Teach us to be faithful with Your gifts, to trust You completely, so that we can grow in Your perfect plan. Amen.

Written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 4, 2015

Go

book of daniel

Scripture: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

There is an article by Fr. John Peck floating along Facebook about the rising “Done with Church” generation. This is a group of people of varying ages, experiences and lengths of church services who have chosen to leave. According to sociologist Josh Packard in his upcoming book Church Refugees, some of the reasons contributed to the “done with church” generation include:

1. Feel they have heard it all

2. Want to play and participate, but feel rejected each time they try

3. “Fatigued with the Sunday routine”

Ouch. And still, the church is to “… go and make disciples of all nations….”

In the face of church attendance dwindling, involvement in the world decreasing and the persistent fear of rejection, this a tall order. How do we tell the Good News to those who’ve never heard it and to those who have? How do we invite others into sharing in Kingdom building and thus help grow the church?

The answer is in front of us, in the last verse of Matthew 28, “… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus’ instructions to His disciples then and now are simple and beautifully effective. He knew the challenges they and we would face. But if we pray (and not the drive-by type of prayer either) and trust God, He is faithful to give us the words to share just how good He is and has been, and the purpose to which He called all of us. He will open our minds to explore different ways to share His Good News and will give us the will to do so without the enemy’s trick of fear. He will guide us to reach out to the “dones” and make sure they know how important they are to allow room for them to flourish. Through this, the church world will grow with many coming to ask, “What must I do to be saved”? Jesus said He is with us always. We should take Him at His word and follow His instructions.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Commission and promise to be with us to the very end. Open our eyes, minds and hearts to receive Your way in reaching out to people and sharing the Good News. Grow us up and out, so that we can be a ministry of excellence. Amen.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 3, 2015

All Are Members

daniel fastScripture: “In those days when the number of disciples were increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:1-7)

How many times have we heard pastors and preachers joke about leading “church folk”? 99.999 percent of the time, they are right. We are handful with our individual faults and needs that we feel are more important than any others. And in the moment, they might be, yet we are not the only ones going in, through or out of situations. We are not the only members of the body of Christ

Pastors and their families are members too.

We will not find Superman’s cape or Wonder Woman’s lasso tucked away in their bags. Instead, we will find people who need just as much prayer, support and guidance as Sunday school teachers, ushers, choir members, children’s church workers and regular attending members. Pastors and their families have a more visible and demanding role, and yes, one that only God could call them to fulfill. During this time of fasting, we should remember to pray for them, for the Lord to supply their every need. We should pray that they all remain focused on the work God set aside for them. When there is praying in the pews and preaching in the pulpit, there will be plenty of praise, worship and blessings overflowing.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for being a multi-gifting God, giving each of Your children a calling to do great and wondrous things for Your glory. Please bless pastors and their families everywhere, to keep moving forward and step further into their season. Please remind us that we are all members of one body, one faith and one baptism, and that we need each other to continue building up Your kingdom. Amen.

written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 2, 2015

Mission and Vision

praying

Scripture: “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me and what answer I am to give to this complaint. 2 Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:1-4

Every Sunday, we recite the mission and vision of TLC Fellowship, much like myself and previous generations recited as kids for the Pledge of Allegiance. At the beginning of each school day, we all stood, positioned our bodies to face the United States Flag hanging in one corner of the classroom, placed our right hands over our hearts and said those words. Coupled with prayer, that kickstarted a day of “readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic’.” Besides the obvious differences between the two — man-made flag vs. God-made faith — the Pledge lacks a declared mission and vision, a raison d’être (reason for existence); it’s just an “I promise” statement.

Amen for God giving our church more than that.

The mission and vision of TLC Fellowship defines who we are, who we strive to be and how we will achieve it. These are not sentences we say out loud because our pastor tells us to. The act of saying them is not a unique tradition, either. Rather, every time we recite those statements as one body, we reaffirm and put both the world and our adversary on notice that we are following a God-given purpose.

It’s important, no, critical, to always remember that the path to our purpose is not smooth, short, easy or straight line runs; there are bends, detours, one-way turns, obstacles and construction. And when we come to these points, we cannot stand, stare, scratch our hands and then point fingers and blame. Like Habakkuk wrote: “…wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay.” Presenting the Gospel passionately, loving people unconditionally and developing disciples through a ministry of excellence takes patience and time. But if we trust the vision given by God, who has one foot on time and the other on eternity, we will be more than all right. We, as part of the universal body of Christ, will see an awesome God bring to completion what He started.

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for the vision and purpose to which You called us. Please lead us to follow the path however it turns, to use what You gave us to use for Your glory. Amen.

written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

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