Surprised by God by Dennis Garcia

I heard recently that we often miss God’s will for our lives because it doesn’t look like our plan for our lives. The more I thought about this statement the more I believe it is true. Many times, when we are presented with options in life, we usually measure them by how they advance or distract from our life goals. If the option before us moves us towards our goals, then we consider it. If it will be a distraction from our plans, we put it in the “no” category.

However, when we examine scripture, we rarely, if ever, see God’s plans align with man’s plans. For example, take Noah. He was an old man (over 500 years old) who was raising a young family. Then out of nowhere God approached him, told him to build an ark, and restart humanity. Abraham was 75 years old when God told him to pack up everything he owned and move without any idea of where he was going. Moses was herding sheep when he met God in a burning bush. God had picked Moses to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promise Land. Mary, a young lady engaged to be married, was approached by an angel and invited to join God in bringing salvation to the world by giving birth to Jesus, the Son of God. The disciples left their families and careers to follow Jesus and led by the Holy Spirit ended up changing the world. Saul was a rising star in the Jewish religious ranks when Jesus surprised him on the Road to Damascus and called him to another purpose.

Not every opportunity that comes our way is a God thing. However, rarely does God do things the way we expect Him to. Following Jesus and being Spirit-Led, means being open to God interrupting our plan to lead us to His plan. His perfect plan.

James writes, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15)

God has a plan for each and every one of us. His plan is for our good and His glory. Often, His plan requires that we lay down our own plan and trust Him. Where is God leading you today?

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Student Ministry – December 2016 by Sid Ware

For the past three months, our students have been studying the thread of the Gospel as it weaves its way through the Bible. The fact that Jesus existed before anything else is truly astounding. His story is weaved into so many other stories as we dig deeper. So far we have observed this connection in the story of Abraham and Isaac and in the life of Moses, and we are not through yet. We are working our way through a one-year study helping us to connect the Old Testament with the New Testament. Please continue to pray for our students and the students of our community as we move into the holidays and a new year.

Growth Group Highlights

The vision of The People Church | First Baptist Moriarty is to Build Community, Give Hope, and Make Disciples. Our Growth Groups serve as a key resource for Making Disciples by creating an environment for discipleship and leadership development to take place. This happens by focusing on six different areas: fellowship, teaching, prayer, ministry, accountability, and multiplication.

Each month we will highlight a different Growth Group to allow you to get to know others in the church and maybe learn about ministries that you may be unfamiliar with. This month we are highlighting the Garcia Growth Group.

Group Leader:  Pastor Dennis & Toni Garcia

  1. How long have you been leading this Growth Group? We started the group earlier in the year. Prior to that, we were part of the Perkins Group. When the group grew too large for the room, we thought it best to multiply into two groups to give a better opportunity for continued growth.
  1. When and where do you meet? Sunday mornings at 9:15(ish) a.m. at The People Church in Room 302.
  1. Who is the “typical” member of your group? With the exception of a couple of us, most of the group is under the age of 30. We have some single members, and other members are married.
  1. What curriculum are you studying? D-Life Bible Study. This Study allows us to dig into a Bible passage each week. Not just learning what it says but also discussing how we put it into practice in our lives.
  1. What fellowship and mission activities have you had in the past six months? Summer was actually a busy time for our group so we didn’t have many out-of-class gatherings. However, we’ve done blessing bags for the homeless, supplies for CYFD, and food for our backpack ministry through Moriarty Elementary School. For fellowships, we’ve done a lot of eating!
  1. What fellowship and mission activities are scheduled for the next few months? This month we are collecting candy to make gift bags for local law enforcement.
  1. What are some other interesting facts about your group? We are a new group that has been meeting less than a year.

Lord, You Alone Know by Ryne Swann

In the book of the prophet Ezekiel we encounter a brilliant response to one of God’s questions. Ezekiel 37:1-3 says, “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’” Now by this time Ezekiel had already experienced God’s power, and seen the permanency of death. So instead of answering yes or no like he knew, he says, “You alone know.” What if we responded to all of life’s questions by saying, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know”?

I think about the weight of that question knowing all that Ezekiel has been through. He was fed a scroll, and it tasted like honey and filled him. That is only by the power of God. But then his wife died and stayed dead. So he sees that God could have brought them back to life, but he also sees that God allows physical death to last. So if I were Ezekiel, I wouldn’t know how to answer the question either.

I may say something filled with human logic like, “No. These bones are dead, dry, and useless. Once a body is this far gone in the rotting process, it is impossible to bring it back. Doctors give up on a body that is ‘clinically dead’ (heart has stopped pumping) after about 20 seconds. So how could these dry bones live once again?”

Or I may surprise myself and say something that would defy logic and lean on faith such as, “Yes. God, you can bring a dead soul to life so You can bring the driest bones back to life. These bones, no matter how dead they are, you will bring them back to life.”

Either answer could be true. But instead of taking either of those sides, Ezekiel takes the middle ground of trusting God but not knowing the outcome. He doesn’t think that he can just know the mind and heart of God. Instead of trying to figure out what God was going to do, he simply let God do it. God could have made a point by leaving the bones dry and lifeless, but He decided to show his resurrecting power by putting muscle and skin on these dry bones. He made alive again.

So what do we do when God allows questions to come our way that we don’t know the answer to? We simply respond by saying, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know” and then wait to see how God is going to glorify Himself in the situation. We are told to ask and expect great thing in the name of Jesus, but it is also important to know that the only way we will ever know what God is going to do is if He lets us know. We can’t crack the heavenly security and tap into His eternal knowledge database. We should ask big things of our big God, but we also need to know that the only one who knows what is going to be the best outcome is God.

Beyond the Series (Part 2) – New Beginnings by Dennis Garcia

Throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit has always been associated with new beginnings. This is one of the unique ministries He has. From Genesis 1 through today, the Holy Spirit brings new life.

  • He was actively involved in the creation of the world.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”  Genesis 1:1-2 (NASB)

  • He was vital for the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus.

“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”  Luke 1:34-35 (NASB)

  • He was responsible for the birth of the church.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”  Acts 2:1-4 (NASB)

  • He gives new life to all believers.

“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”  John 3:4-6 (NASB)

What the church in America needs more than anything else is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit – revival. The word “revive” means to restore to life, or give new strength and energy to something. We need the work of the Holy Spirit to bring a new beginning to the church, to restore life to the church and to give new strength and energy to the church. Will you join me in praying for revival in our church, in churches throughout our area, our state, our country and our world? We desperately need to the Holy Spirit to breathe new life and renew His work among us.