An Open Heart

A number of years ago, I experienced what you might call a “dry season” in my spiritual walk. One day during this time, I began to complain (I know you’ve probably never done that). I told the Lord how frustrated I was and how I disliked religious tradition. I took responsibility for the state I was in, told Him I would fix it, and basically reaffirmed my commitment to Him. I expressed to Him my desire to be used by Him to glorify Him.  
I expected His response to be, “Go lay hands on the sick” or “go cast out devils”. Instead here’s what He instructed me to do: “Listen to your heart. When people talk to you, listen intently to them. Understand what they are communicating to you. Take interest in what they are saying so much so that you can repeat it back to them. Open your heart to people when they communicate with you and don’t be so quick to give them just any answer. Look into their eyes, feel what they feel, then look into your heart for the answer. People have deep pain, they are not just crazy. The enemy has found a way into their lives and in your spirit there are answers for every problem they have. You are my hands and my heart, you can comfort them. You are my love, my mouth, and my hands.”
What the Lord ministered to me wasn’t just for me. It’s for anyone who longs to be used by Him. Start by opening your heart to Him and He will show you how to open your heart to the people around you.  
-Pastor Maria DaGraca

Seek First

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” Matthew 6:33 AMPC.
What does it mean to “seek first”? Does it mean to forget everyone and everything else and look for His kingdom? No, absolutely not! God is not a selfish God.  
To “seek first” is to simply obey God’s Word by acting on it. Living like this will not only add to your life but it will also strengthen your relationships.
Life is a series of choices so a good place to start is by putting God first in every decision you make. What a difference this will make in your life!
-Pastor Jack DaGraca

Start Great – Finish Greater!

When I was about 9 years old, my mom began to teach my sister and I how to crochet. I remember being so excited when she took us to the store to buy the items we needed and to pick out the patterns of what we were going to make. 
My mom patiently showed us how to crochet and we actually learned fairly quickly. Pretty soon, my first little baby bootie was complete. It was quite small so it didn’t take me long, but I was so excited about it! 
After just a a few weeks, the excitement began to wane and not long after that, the basket we had bought, sat untouched with a number of projects I started, but didn’t finish.  
Sound familiar? It took me years to realize that l was really good at STARTING a lot of things but really bad at actually COMPLETING them. Not completing a crocheting project wasn’t a big deal and didn’t make much of a difference in my life but not completing my God-given assignment, is a huge deal!
John 17:4 MSG says, “I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do.” Once we know our God-given assignment, we should do whatever it takes to complete it, including stopping anything that takes our focus or excitement off of it.
 Ask God to reignite the fire in you again for the assignment He has given you and do something everyday to keep the fire lit. Let Him be glorified in every step of your journey to fulfill your assignment. 
– Pastor Maria Murphy

Faith Requires Action

We just finished a series of meetings with Dr. Marilyn Neubauer which were absolutely wonderful. She ministered on healing and she boldly and eloquently addressed some difficult questions like, “why didn’t God heal sister or brother so-and-so when they were strong in faith?” She shared personal examples that really put things in perspective. The Word was rich and I received so much from each message. 
As I sit and re-read my notes and watch the recordings, I want to encourage you (and me) to not just listen to the messages but to be a doer of what we heard. The simplest way to do this is to identify one thing you can act on right away.
Oftentimes we try to do four or five things and when we’re not successful, we give up. Avoid that by starting with one simple step. As you reflect on the word you heard, what is the one thing that keeps coming to you? How can you act on it? When are you going to start (now is always a good time)?
Be a doer of God’s Word and you will see results every time.
-Pastor Maria Murphy

Taking a Walk

If someone told you they took a walk and they were all excited about it you might think, what’s the big deal it’s only a walk? When they tell you it was a walk on water, now they have your attention! The idea of walking on water is ridiculous unless the thought comes from God.

Matthew 14:26-29 (NKJV) 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

I wonder if Peter wasn’t a bit surprised when Jesus said “come,” after all Peter had never walked on water before. Asking Peter to walk on water was not a natural request, it was a thought that came from Heaven. When Jesus said “come” and Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water, he was in God’s perfect will at that time in his life.

If we are going to walk with God, we will be required to do things we have never done before. We will have to walk by faith and not by sight. The only way to reach our destination or accomplish what God has assigned us to do will be to stay in faith.

Peter was doing well until he allowed the conditions surrounding him to move him off the word Jesus had spoken to him. Unfortunately, we all do what Peter did at different times. What we must do in those times is what Peter did, he cried out to Jesus, and Jesus “The Word” rescued him.

You can be sure that when you decide to take on a faith project or “take a faith walk,” you will encounter resistance, but resistance alone does not have the ability to stop you. Only you can do that.

If you start with the Word then stick with the Word, it has the power to keep you walking to the finish line every time. Praise God forevermore!

-Pastor Henri Talbot

The Right Place

I think often about the calling and the purpose of the church, the body of Christ. I often ask myself as a part of the glorious church, are all of us in our right place?
The plan and purpose for each one of us is in the will of God. Being in His ministry is so fulfilling! I enjoy being in my place. I don’t ever have to question my place or my destiny. Being a pastor’s wife and working together with His church body is so fulfilling. There is nothing like God’s grace and mercy to serve Him in ministry.
My heart is so grateful to the One who has called me. While I enjoy this part of His calling, I truly love what I consider my first calling, and that is to prayer. God has given me a special grace to love people in prayer. My heart is so full and complete when I am before my Father’s face with precious brothers and sisters. This is where I am most satisfied, being in His presence, bringing Him what the Holy One imparts. I invite you today, let us meet together in His place.
-Pastor Maria DaGraca

God Will Lead You

“This I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16.
Walking in the spirit. That’s the key to overcoming the flesh. If you follow the promptings of the Spirit of God within you, you won’t be dominated by the pressure your flesh tries to put on you.
As you listen to the written word and do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, you’ll constantly be making little adjustments in your life according to what He says. Those little adjustments will keep darkness from overtaking you.
God knows just what you need. He can look ahead in your life and see the traps and pressures the devil is laying out for you. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and He will maneuver you safely around them to victory.
-Pastor Jack DaGraca

The Sound of Your Silence

When we hear that someone has said something negative or accused us unjustly of something, the way that seems right to a man is to retaliate, quickly find and confront the source, defend ourselves, clear our good name. 
This is the correct and expected action in the world in which we live, but, according to the Bible we are in the world but not of it. The way that seems right to a man, is the way that seems right to the un-renewed man, the man after the fall, disconnected from God, not to a born again and reconciled son or daughter. It is the way that seems right to the prince of the air, not the King of our hearts. 
Jesus was the expressed image of God; He only said what he heard the father say; He only did what he saw the father do. When we see Jesus in the scriptures we see God’s perfect will. Jesus went about doing good everywhere he went, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. Yet, there were plenty of people who accused him! They called him blasphemous and demanded he be crucified. Imagine that, the very people he came to save, yelling “crucify him”. What was his response in this situation? Let’s look at Mark 15 1-5 (Amp), “And immediately when it was morning, the chief priests, with the elders, and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation; and when they had bound Jesus, they took Him away [violently] and handed Him over to Pilate. And Pilate inquired of Him, Are You the King of the Jews? And He replied, It is as you say. And the chief priests kept accusing Him of many things. And Pilate again asked Him, Have You no answer to make? See how many charges they are bringing against You! But Jesus made no further answer at all, so that Pilate wondered and marveled.”
Jesus agreed with that which was true. He replied “It is as you say” when asked “Are You the King of the Jews”. To the lies and accusations He replied with astounding silence. Since this is the way that is right to God and not to man, Pilate wondered and marveled.
Let me encourage you with this; God is for you! You plus God is the majority! When provoked be still and know that He is God. Let your adversaries marvel at the sound of your silence.
-Pastor Justin Barros

Hold Your Image

It’s been said that 2019 is a year for the church to experience extraordinary manifestations of the goodness of God. We are half way through the year so it’s an appropriate time to stop and reflect. Has this manifested in your life thus far? If so, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell someone! Make a big deal about it because it will encourage others. 

If you haven’t seen extraordinary manifestations of God’s goodness, it’s not too late. There are several reasons why many people haven’t, but rest assured one of them is NOT that God loves someone else more than He loves you. The Bible says in Acts 10:34 that God is no respecter of persons. This means that he doesn’t play favorites.

I believe one reason why people fail to receive the promises of God, is that they don’t take it personal. What do I mean? When a word from God is spoken, I must first believe that it IS a Word from God and that it IS for me. I then must take the time to receive the word personally. How? I start by asking, what does this word mean to me? In what areas do I need to see this manifest? What will it look like when it does show up in my life? What am I willing to do to align with the conditions of the word?

While asking these questions, I let the word form a clear picture for me and I see myself walking in the fullness of it. The word becomes so real to me that it’s as though I already have it. Once this happens, I find myself thinking and talking about it every chance I get. Even when my current condition doesn’t look like it’s changing, I hold the image of that word in my heart and continue to believe that it’s going to manifest, until it does. 

This exercise doesn’t cost but a few minutes of our time and the payoff is life changing! Until next time, hold your image!
– Pastor Maria Murphy

Long & Strong

The  words “Long and Strong” have become part of my wife’s vocabulary over the past few months and I have incorporated them into mine as well. It is our desire to run our race and finish our course in good health.
Ephesians 2:10 Amp: “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
”It is important to create an inner image of ourselves living a long and strong life and that is done by knowing what God has already said concerning our lives.  Psalm 91:16 TPT states, “You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!” Other translations state, satisfied with long life.
How long is a long life? A long life could be until you are satisfied, or 120 years according to Genesis 6:3.  John 10:10b AMPC says, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows). This kind of life is more than merely existing day to day it is Zoe the God kind of life. We must remember that just because the Bible says something is available to us that it will not automatically happen to us or for us. Our faith in what God has already provided for us is how we are going to receive His promises into our lives.
It will take some quality decisions, some discipline, and a lot of wisdom in order to live long and strong. But most importantly, the words that come out of our mouths must agree with what He has already promised to us in Scripture.
I have but one opportunity to run my race and with His help I will. I pray you will as well.
– Pastor Henri Talbot