Shelbyville First Church
of the Nazarene
Can you remember a time when you were on the road and needed to find a place
to stop for the night, but kept running into NO VACANCY signs?  All you wanted
was a dry, warm place to rest, but you kept running into the question, "Do you
have a reservation?"
I remember when my hiking friend and I kept searching from little motel to motel
and even through the campgrounds in Western Virginia to find a place to sleep
before our five day hike would start up the Appalachian Trail the next morning.  We
had driven through the whole day and just needed a comfortable place to rest for
a few hours.  Everything
was full.  We had no idea that the fall colors could bring out so many tourists.
I also remember a time when my family went to Ft. Lauderdale and arrived at about
11:30pm at a Westin Hotel where there was a line at the front desk with some very
tired and aggravated travelers ahead of us.  At this hour, we began to wonder if
there might be a problem with getting a room when another person came out from
an office and asked, "Do any of you have reservations?"  This time we did and
what a joy it was to step around the line and within a few minutes to hear the staff
saying, "Welcome, we hope you enjoy your stay."
What made the difference?  Reservations.  At the end of a weary life's road, it will
be wonderful to hear the welcome to heaven and to know that perfect rest is
guaranteed.  That will only happen with advance reservations.  Imagine hearing,
"Welcome.  Your bill is paid in full.  Enjoy your stay!"  And we will.  Why would you
settle for anything less when there is  "An inheritance . . . reserved in heaven for
you."  (I Peter 1:4)

There was a movie made a few years ago entitled "Pay It Forward."  It was about a
little boy who wanted to make the world a more loving place by doing random acts
of kindness and encouraging others to pass along the thought behind them.  He
wanted to end up with a place where everyone could feel like they were a part of a
big family.  What a great thought!  Could kind acts make much of a difference?  
Let's see.
Try this today.  Think of someone in your workplace or neighborhood who could be
the recipient of a kind act.  Either today or tomorrow (depending on how much time
you need to put it together), surprise that person with something unexpected.  
Keep it short and simple (no preaching with words, just acts).  Try to do something
that gives an opportunity to reflect God's love.  It will have an effect, even if you
don't see it immediately.  Do the act, let God produce the results.
As one of today's groups puts it in song:
           And I try...
           To touch the world like You
                touched my life.
           And I'll find my way
                to be Your hands.
                            - Audio Adrenaline

Have you ever noticed how relevant God's Word is for today?  One verse in
Proverbs (16:28) says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip
separates close friends."  Isn't that true?  Humans are tempted to tell juicy stories
and exaggerated tales about others that might or might not be completely true.
One of the reasons I love God and follow His teaching for my life is that He always
tries to bring out the best in me.  He wants me to build others up, not tear them
down with hurtful words or gossip.  Henry Ford said, "My best friend is the one who
brings out the best in me."  That's God in my life.  He always brings out the best.
Today, live in the best way possible.  Refuse to tear anyone down with hurtful
words. Expect the best from yourself - God does! And He will help you produce the
best if you ask Him.  Why settle for anything less?

A little boy and girl were out climbing a steep hill when the boy, who was getting
very tired, cried out, "I give up.  This isn't even a path anymore.  There are too
many big bumps and rocks!"  The older sister said, "Sure, but the bumps are what
you climb on!"
Most of us respond predictably to the rocks in our pathway.  We complain about
them.  We kick them and usually hurt ourselves in the process.  We try to pick
them up and get rid of them, but we discover they are too heavy for us to move.  
Some even give up climbing altogether.
The trouble is, we are accustomed to paved paths and level sidewalks.  But life
isn't that way.  So what should we do when we encounter problems?  Complain?  
God has shown us in His Word that life's bumps can be used as stepping stones.  
Remember Joseph and his brothers?  And He encourages us with Paul's testimony
that we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens us" (Phil. 4:13).  
Remember in the days ahead that "You need to persevere so that when you have
done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews 10:36).

One of the critical events during the Reagan presidency was the Sunday morning
terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.  Hundreds of
American soldiers were killed or wounded as they slept.  You may recall the terrible
scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig their trapped comrades from the
rubble.  A few days after the tragedy, Marine Corps Commandant Paul X. Kelly,
visited some of the wounded survivors in a Frankfurt hospital. Among them was
Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, who was severely wounded in the incident.  Nashton
had so many tubes running in and out of his body a witness said he looked more
like a machine than a man—yet he survived.  As Kelly neared him, Nashton
struggling to move and in obvious pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen.  
He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the commandant.  On the slip of paper
were two words—“Semper Fi”—the Marine motto, “Forever Faithful.”  What does it
mean for you and me to be “forever faithful” to Jesus Christ?  Join me this Sunday,
and we’ll discover how you can be faithful to Christ in any and every situation.

Some years ago a man was learning to fly. His instructor told him to put the plane
into a steep and extended dive. The novice pilot was totally unprepared for what
was about to happen. After a brief time the engine stalled, and the plane began to
plunge out of control. It soon became evident the instructor was not going to help
at all.  After a few seconds, which seemed like an eternity, the rookie’s mind began
to function again.  He quickly corrected the situation, then vented his frustrations
at his instructor.  The instructor calmly answered, “There is no position you can get
this airplane into that I cannot get you out of. If you want to learn to fly, go up there
and do it again.”  At that moment, God seemed to say, “Remember this: as you
serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into that I cannot get you out
of.  If you trust me, you will be all right.”  Have you discovered this wonderful truth
yet?  This Sunday, we’re going to look at one of the greatest stories on trust in the
Holy Scriptures. Join me as we learn the difference between simply believing in
God and truly trusting Him.  In the process, you’ll discover no situation is ever
beyond God’s control.

One day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he
passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim on the ruler, no
right even to lift a solicitous hand. Yet the emperor threw him several gold coins. A
courtier was astonished at the general’s generosity and commented, “Sir, copper
coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need.  Why give him gold?” Alexander
responded in royal fashion, “Copper coins would suit the beggar’s need, but gold
coins suit Alexander’s giving.”  That’s the way with God as well. His generosity
toward us is lavish, not because we deserve it but because that is His nature. He is
a loving, generous Creator who showers us with blessings we don’t deserve.  This
week, I want to challenge your thinking regarding generosity.  Are you a generous
person? Do you practice generosity toward others?  And here’s the most critical
question: What does your pattern of generosity reveal about you?  On Sunday,
we'll learn about the God who lavishes blessings on those who least deserve
them—people like you and me! I am with you on this journey, friend.  Together, we
will discover how to be more like our Heavenly Father—who gives generously to
all.  I hope to see you Sunday (even if you are some of those down in Florida! - we
miss you).

I hope that it has been a happy new year so far!  If you may be troubled by a
problem that just doesn't seem to go away, just remember to focus on God's
abilities rather than your inabilities.  To spend time, emotions, and worry on
something that you can't change yourself only makes the problem seem to be
larger than it really is.  After all - "Troubles are like babies ... they only grow by

I was walking over to the church office Monday morning and noticed a change on
our sign by the road.  Some words were missing!  The message on the north side
of the sign had read :   Jesus brings us hope, peace, & love.  It was giving the
themes from the advent celebration.  The south side read:  We thank you God.  
Now the sign was missing the most important words.  Jesus had been taken from
the one side and God was missing from the other.  Aren't you glad that isn't the
case!  Efforts may be made to remove God from public conversation in so many
ways, but He is still there.  Some in society may wish to have God removed from
their thoughts, but all of us will always be in His mind.  As far as our sign goes,
what a feeble attempt to erase God (and what a pitifully boring social life to be out
on Sunday at midnight taking letters off of signs!).  There are many other weak
attempts taking place to remove Christ from the public square, but the fact still
remains.  Even if we silence our voices, His creation will cry out praise to Him.
Let's continue to use these voices He has given us to let others know of His

One of the amazing aspects of the Word of God is the reoccurrence of events themes, issues,
and promises.  Some of the smallest details reappear centuries later and reveal their
significance.  One instance of this is found in the first and also the last book of the Bible.  In
Genesis chapter two, we read of a tree that grew in the middle of the Garden of Eden, the Tree
of Life.  There was also another tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was
nearby.  It was the only forbidden tree.
With a careful reading of the account in the early chapters of Genesis, we notice that the first
couple had not yet eaten of the Tree of Life when they disobeyed and ate from the “knowledge”
tree.  As a result, a punishment was given that banished them from the Garden, for “He must
not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of
life and eat, and live forever” (2:22).  The wonderful blessing intended for man, eternal life with
God, was now prohibited.  
But then we read of the work of reconciliation done by our Lord with the sacrifice of Himself in
order that we might be restored to what He desired from the beginning.  Now, in Revelation
chapter two, we read an often overlooked promise.  “To him who overcomes, I will give the right
to eat from the tree of life” (2:7).  What was forfeited due to the disobedience of Adam has been
restored through the obedience of Jesus.
It was God’s desire all along for man to enjoy eternal life with Him.  And the plan was not
forgotten or set aside for even a moment.  What started in Genesis as a beautiful fact was then
interrupted with 64 other books describing centuries of dealing with the sin of man. It has now
re-appeared as a wonderful hope-filled promise.  Amazing isn’t it?  God never abandoned or
forgot His original plan for us and He certainly has not forgotten His plan for you!

You've heard the stories of the old-fashioned revival meetings and summertime
camp meetings where God came in a mighty way to meet the needs of many
people, change lives, restore families, and revive churches.  Well, Gideon (in the
book of Judges) had heard stories too of how God had performed miracles on
behalf of His people in previous generations.  But now Israel was facing a new set
of circumstances in a new time.  God did not need a Noah to build an ark, because
He was not going to send another worldwide flood.  He did not need an Abraham to
begin a new nation.  He did not need a Moses  to lead the people across the Red
Sea.  He did not need a Joshua to conquer a new land, because they were already
in the Promised Land.
Gideon and the people of Israel needed to know that God would provide for their
current need.  Gideon needed to know that God was with him despite his fears and
While we appreciate God's blessings in the past, we need to be open and obedient
to God's call for the present.  You have been placed in this generation to meet the
needs of this generation.  Go in the strength you have (Joshua 6:14), God is
sending you.Remember, you are loved.

Have you ever overlooked the value of what was so close to home?  Like Dorothy,
in the Wizard of Oz, we can think that fulfillment and joy will be found in far off
lands of adventure.  Then we find that our treasures of greatest worth are actually
closer than we realize and much more valuable than we estimate.  A little parable
gets to the point:
   There was a man who had his friend, a rare book collector, over for lunch and
they discussed some of the items that the man had been throwing away recently in
his spring cleaning.  When he stated that some old dusty books had gone out in
the trash, the collector friend asked what the titles were.  "Well, one was a Bible
written by some guy named Gutenbarry or Guten... something," he said.
   "Oh no!" his friend cried, "You just threw away a Gutenberg Bible!  It might have
even been the first book ever printed!  That could have been worth millions of
dollars! "
   "No, no, no," said the man, "don't worry.  It couldn't have been worth that much.  
Why, some guy named Martin Luther had gone and scribbled notes all through it."

   We often overlook the priceless riches found nearby because we have become
used to having them around.  Take a closer look at those in your family and
church who pray for you and sincerely care about your well-being.  You are
probably richer than you think!  Remember, you are loved.

      Most of us have had things happen in our lives that make tears fall.  When we experience
those difficult places, we often feel all alone, even abandoned.  However, as a child of God, you
do not need to be afraid.  Remember that He knows your name.  Through the prophet Isaiah, He
said, "I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Is.43:1)
     The Zambian Ophans' Choir was performing in the U.S. recently and shared their faith
through song.  Each member had lost at least one parent to AIDS and most were parentless
and dependent on the fellowship of the choir for their companionship and support.  It was
deeply moving to hear one of their selections which was written by Tommy Walker, "He Knows
My Name."

          "He knows my name; He knows my every thought;
           He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call."

If you know the melody to this song, it could be very helpful to you to sing it through a couple of
times before you go to your other e-mails.  If you would like to learn it, ask at church and we
would be glad to include it in a service.

     Remember, you are not some expendable commodity to God.  You are precious.  He paid
the high price of Jesus' blood to redeem you.  Your relationship with God is so personal that He
summons you by name.  You are not just one of billions of unnamed believers, you are one
whom God calls by name.
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