Greetings from Pastor Bob and The Encouraging Word!!!!
 
Well, it has been awhile since I actually took the time to write you. I have missed this time. Life can get so busy some times. Thank you for writing me and letting me know that you missed me too. It is nice to know that you actually read these words at times. I have not even been keeping up with the web site, so I will try to update it with the past three weeks messages, if you like you can go there and find them in the archives page.
 
School is about over, just like two weeks left, then no paycheck.... ouch! got to find a job this summer. It is an extra long one and we have a lot of bills. I want to let everyone know about Nathan graduating college this month.... I am sooo happy for him and proud of him. I know he is going to accomplish great things with his life. Congratulations Nate; I love you very much!!!!!
 
So let me see, what has been going on, well, the church is actually growing, slowly, but it is growing. No help from me, thank God. No really it has to be a God thing because one thing I am realizing is that I can't do it. We have had some special services in the past couple of weeks but there are visitors that have been coming back. Imagine that... Some one coming more than once to church. So.... Let me ask you.. when was the last time you darkened the door of your local church???? I know some of you go often, but there are one or two of you, and you know who you are that need to stop making excuses and go find yourself a home church. There is nothing better in the world. Really. You might think that you just want to sit at home or go play golf or whatever else you are doing on Sunday then go to church. But you are missing out on a whole way of life. You are missing out on spiritual growth, You are missing out on making new friends and being a part of something bigger then yourself. You are missing out on being a part of a family.... There is no perfect Church, so don't go looking for one. If there is one it would no longer be one when you got there anyway...... Just kidding,,,,, kind of.... anyway... If you are not attending a church anywhere and live in, or are visiting the Tampa Bay area, come and visit us the map and address and directions and phone number and everything are on the web site... If you don't come here, go some where... You will not be sorry.....
 
Besides that, the entertainment business has been pretty steady. I have not had a day off in a long time and I am ready for one. I fell out a couple of weeks ago when the doctor gave me some new medication for my neck pain and I slept from 10 at night until 1:00 the next afternoon.... Wow, I needed that.... But, after another week of getting less then 5 hours sleep and running, running, running all day... I am cooked.....
 
I remember the days when I was bored all day. I was broke and didn't have anything to my name but I was well rested......
 
So, I think the pay off is pretty good. I have the best family if the world. And they are worth it all.....
 
So, there it is my job at the school, the church, the entertainment business and my family, that is pretty much my life these days. Sometimes I get the priorities all mixed up..... I really need to put and keep my family first. I don't always do that....
 
How about you? what are your priorities... Let's try to keep them in line this week. Even better yet, let's try to make up for getting them mixed up in the past and really love on the people we love......
 
God Bless you all... I hope I can spend more time with you soon. Thanks for writing and may you be richly encouraged to press on and fight the good fight. You are a hero in God's eyes.... You really are.
 
Have a supernatural day!!!!
 
Now, let's get into the WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Faith (Part II)

Faith Comes By Hearing

 

(Romans 10:17 KJVA)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

I was listening to my radio show that I produced a few years ago and realized how much I had forgotten. The show was about personal empowerment. It was called The Encouraging Word and I produced four one hour programs. It was designed to be a call in radio talk show. The program that I listed to this past week was the second of the series and it was on habits. I was talking about how our success or failure debends upon the habits we establish.

 

Aristotle said:

 

“You are what you repeatedly do…excellence is not an event… it is a habit”

 

In the passage that we are looking at above it declares that our faith comes by hearing. I suggest to you that it is not a one time hearing of the word but consistent and repetitive hearing.

 

Our behavior is formed by us watching the world around us. It develops as we do one thing and get a specific response. We quickly discover as a child that if we cry someone will feed us. Then as we grow older we soon discover that people do not want to hear us crying any more so we had better stop or no one will feed us. Do you notice how everything is beginning to revolve around eating? Tells you one of my major habits these days.

 

What I hope to help us with today is to learn how we can strengthen our faith. We should be believing in and living a miraculous, Holy Spirit empowered, super natural life of abundance. Instead many of us our stuck in mediocrity. We get bogged down with the every day affairs. We end up too busy to seek the will of God and too tired to go after the prize of His high calling.

 

Like a car driving down an old county road we get our wheels in a rut and stay right there traveling down the road of least resistance. It is going to take an extra push on the accelerator and a pull on the steering wheel of life to get us out of that rut and onto the pavement of God abundant plan for our lives.  

 

God’s plan for your life is to, by faith, pull yourself out of that rut.

 

There are basically two different types of, or aspects of faith that I want us to look at today. The first is perhaps the easiest for most of us. The Bible tells us that we are saved by grace through faith…

 

(Ephesians 2:8 KJVA)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 

This is the faith that we have in Jesus. It is the faith that comes by hearing the gospel of the Kingdom of God. We know that we know that we know that we are saved and have a home in heaven because of the work that Jesus did for us on that cross.

 

Now the reason that this is by faith is because we were not eye witnesses of the resurrection. And like someone telling you about something that happened to them, you can either believe them and have faith in what they have told you, or you discard what they say as a story.

 

That is what we had to, and have to continually decide for ourselves. Do we have faith in the Biblical account of Jesus?

 

Now, I know that most of the people reading this and most of the people sitting in the pews listening to this sermon have already come to that knowledge. But I also know that I can not assume that everyone has. And in fact I know that if everyone who I send these messages out to actually do read them then there are indeed at least one or two who do not have that faith…. YET!

 

So let’s look at a few of the facts.

 

Fact number one. There was an man named Jesus who lived and preached in Israel about 2000 years ago. This fact is not only documented in the Bible but this Jesus is also mentioned in the historical accounts of many Hebrew and secular historians…ie.:

 

Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?, a Jewish historian)

 

Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus - Annals 15.44

 

  1. The Talmud
    1. "On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!"

And I could go on and on… If you have any doubt of that much just Google “historical accounts of Jesus.”

 

So let’s move on to fact number two: the death upon the cross:

 

Roman Historian Tacitus also made mention of the crucifixion, writing in AD 112. ".. people called 'Christians', hated for their abominable crimes. Their name comes from Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate." Tacitus, Annals 15.44
Lucian of Samosata, a Roman satirist (c. 175 AD), said;"[Christ is] .. the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world. ..

 

Then we can again go back to the quote from the Talmud above. Which if you do not know what the Talmud is it is the Jewish, not Christian, but Jewish religious writings, considered scripture.

 

Flavious Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:63-64, said; "About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."

 

OK….. So the fact that He lived and died should not be any great leap of faith. It is the resurrection that shakes our shaking. What proof is there of the resurrection. I mean, you have the personal accounts of the men who wrote the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And then there is Peter’s account of the resurrection. We are also told in the book of acts that over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ.

 

The fact is that most of them were badly tortured and killed in an attempt to get them to recant on what they saw. I don’t know, I am not real fond of pain myself. If I was telling some bold face lie about some impossible event it wouldn’t take much more then a good twist of my arm to tell them I was just kidding. These people where put to death.

 

The only apostle’s death the Bible records is James' (Acts 12:2). King Herod had James put to death “with the sword” – likely a reference to beheading. The circumstances of the deaths of the other apostles can only be known based on church traditions, so we should not put too much weight on any of the other accounts. The most commonly accepted church tradition in regards to the death of an apostle is that the Apostle Peter was crucified, upside-down on an x-shaped cross, in Rome, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (John 21:18). Following are the most popular “traditions” in regards to the deaths of the other apostles:

Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound. John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The Apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully. 

James, the brother of Jesus (not officially an apostle), the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation.

Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed in present-day Turkey and was martyred for his preaching in Armenia, when he was flayed to death by a whip. Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, Andrew's body was tied to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he died. The Apostle Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there. Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded. The Apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. There are traditions regarding the other apostles as well, but none with any reliable historical or traditional support.

For more wonderful accounts of the torture and death that these early believers underwent read FOX’S BOOK OF MARTYRS.

 

Ok, I am going to stop there for today. If you still do not want to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then that is your choice, but do not let it be told in heaven on the day of judgment that you were not told.

 

Now, I have to clarify something, I have been preaching, and preaching hard against Christians being judgmental. It is not for us to judge.

 

(Matthew 7:1 KJV)  Judge not, that ye be not judged.

 

(Luke 6:37 KJV)  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 

I want you to know that the world knows what you believe. And the truth is we believe that if they do not choose to open their eyes to the truth of God’s eternal provision for them they are condemned to eternal hell. Imagine being a non Christian for a minute. “

 

These people who call themselves Christians, who are no better then we “non-Christians” are think they have some special ticket to heaven. And even worse because we don’t believe the way they believe, then they are telling us that we are going to die and spend eternity is the fires of hell. Well, they can just go to…….”

 

So, I am not telling you to be pointing your fingers at people and saying this one is saved and that one is not… I am telling you not to be so quick to throw stones. I am also telling you the truth is if someone chooses to deny the sacrifice made for them by the God of all creation then they are condemned already.

 

(John 3:16-19 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

You know, I spent all this time on this first aspect of faith that I am not going to be able to fairly give the second even the slightest attention. So let me end today’s encouragement with some encouragement. You may have denied Christ in the past. You may have been running away from God your whole life. You may have slipped back some this past week, but God…. Those tow wonderful words “BUT GOD.” But God loves you. And HE has loved you for a very long time.

By putting your faith in Jesus you can walk away today knowing, really knowing that all of your sins are forgiven and you have a new, fresh start on life. Let today be the beginning of a new tomorrow for you. Live life to it’s fullest bringing glory to God in all you say and all you do.

 

Thank you for being a part of this ministry and may God richly bless you and your loved ones…. AMEN!

 

 

 May God bless you and continue to make you a blessing!

 

Your friend:

 

Pastor Bob