Thursday, December 31, 2015

Just one thing

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
As we find ourselves on the eve of January 1st, we find ourselves in most cases filled with ambitions and dreams for the year ahead. During this time of year countless individuals set goals for themselves in hopes of improving and bettering their lives. Common resolutions include eating healthy, exercising more, getting out of debt, or taking up a new hobby.
If you’re anything like me, your ambition for these resolutions greatly exceeds what you’re actually able to accomplish, like the child who eyes get bigger than their stomach and have too much food on their plate and can't eat it all. we’ll set a dozen highly ambitious goals and faithfully pursue them for a few weeks, but by the time March rolls around we can barely remember what those goals even were, or like that child give up on what we put on the plate. 
As we look to the Scripture today, we’re confronted with a rather unusual resolution. We’re told to be ambitious, yet our ambition is to pursue a peaceful and quiet life. What a paradox.  On the one hand, we’re told to have great ambition, to strive and seek after the goal set before us. Yet unlike virtually all other resolutions, our ambition is directed towards a calm and gentle spirit that finds peace in the simple and the ordinary.
At the root of our ambition we often find discontent. We are unhappy with our lives, our health, or our jobs, so we seek new ways to expand our identities or enhance our lifestyle. Yet so often this striving fails to deliver what it promises, and instead of finding contentment and peace, we find ourselves stuck in a vicious cycle of unrest and anxiety.
This year, I challenge you to make one very simple yet profoundly radical resolution: be content to live a quiet life.
Look for ways to find peace and joy in who God has made you to be. Encounter His blessings in small and simple ways, finding satisfaction in His presence, purpose, and in time spent with those you love and are called to serve. Free yourself from the pressure to perform, to land your dream job, or to have a perfect body. Instead, take time this year to ambitiously pursue the peace and contentment that comes from leading a quiet and simple life with God and others.
Our Prayer:  Father help me to realize that being great is realized when I come to you as a child and find my dependence in what you have for me.  Allow the peace of God to be my covering throughout 2016 Amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
First Baptist of Chesterbrook
and Independent Travel Agent "Travel by Todd"

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

All about we

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
There is a much larger context to life than just living for oneself. A self-focused life is frustrated and unable to reach its full potential. Its demanding ways marginalizes wise counsel and only attracts insecure individuals. However, those who pray for what’s best for the whole, become whole. Everyone is honored in an environment where individual contributions are valued. “We not me” is the vocabulary of those who honor each other.
Every disciple of Christ is stronger when they are connected to other disciples of Christ. Isolation contributes to spiritual impotence, but community gives spiritual life and power. Encouragement and accountability are exalted in relationships that serve what’s best for the group. A leader who serves the team, sees other team members serve well. A man who serves his family, experiences a family that serves each other. “We overcomes me” with unselfish service.
Our spiritual birth engrafted us as a member of Christ’s body. We cannot detach an appendage of the Lord’s, any more than a member of our physical body can be disassociated from the other body parts. So, we pray for those around us who know Christ and we get to know each other. There is a joy of being known and knowing others who love Him. Life that is truly life is lived in the margins with those submitted to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Are you motivated first by “He”, second by “we” and lastly by “me”? If so, you are set up for relational fulfillment. The sequence for successful thinking is Him, them and you. “Me” will try to squeeze in and monopolize relationships, cannibalize conversations and hijack heaven’s agenda. Thus, by God’s grace, put to death the “me monster” and replace it with love for the Lord and people. “We not me” is the motto of mature disciples.

Our Prayer:  Lord always allow me to see the big picture and that I am a part of a plan and purpose that is bigger than myself, and in need of those around me to help fulfill.  Let me appreciate all the unique parts of the body that you have assembled in the body of Christ Amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
First Baptist of Chesterbrook
and Independent Travel Agent "Travel by Todd"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Don't let others opinions become your reality

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
Have you ever feared doing something you know you should do because you where worried about the criticism? If so, be encouraged. Throughout Scripture, men and women alike who were called to act for God experienced criticism. When Moses led the children of Israel through the desert, he cried out to God because those who followed him blamed and criticized him (see Exodus 17:4). Paul was labeled as overzealous, unimpressive in person and insincere (see 2 Corinthians 10:10). Every one of the disciples was criticized  at some point, and were criticized to the moment of their deaths. Remember this: If we insist on being comfortable by avoiding the criticism of others, we won’t fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.  
In his book The Believer’s Armor, John MacArthur writes, “You have all the resources, power and principles to live the Christian life. . . Even though power is available to follow godly principles, the enemy wants to withstand any good thing that God sets out to do. He will attempt to thwart God’s divine purpose for your life.” The enemy of our soul likes to stop God’s children from fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives through the fear of criticism. But God wants to give you the courage to say no to the fear of criticism and yes to Him. 
Jesus is well acquainted with the battle we face with criticism. Can you imagine what His life would have been like if He had feared criticism and been self-protective? After being mocked by political groups, old and young men, and spiteful Pharisees, He would have determined who He would associate with and what He would say in His final hours on earth. And, rather than keeping His mouth shut when He was falsely accused, He would have defended Himself. When His enemies spit in His face, He would have retaliated. When they called Him names, He would have called down a legion of angels. When they marched Him to Golgotha, He would have run. And rather than laying down His life to give His all to those He loved, the redemption of the human race would have been lost in His misguided passion of self-protection and the fear of criticism.
If we allow the fear of criticism to rule us, we can miss out on being a gift to others because God’s plans for us aren’t just about us. They are about people God wants to influence and help through us. So, if we struggle with the fear of criticism and what others think, ask God to give you the courage to move forward in the face of criticism. And remember, you are living your life for the approval of just One.  
Our prayer:  Father God through the power of your Spirit continually assure us of who we are in you that we might serve, and live with confidence.  When criticism comes our way let us be reminded of how you handled it, and walk in the uniqueness of who you have called and ordained us to be as your children Amen. 

Pastor Todd A. Brown
First Baptist of Chesterbrook
Independent Travel Agent "Travel by Todd"

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Working faithful

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.  Proverbs 12:11
Routine work may not be sexy, but it is necessary. It is necessary to meet our needs and the needs of those who depend on us. The same work day in and day out can seem simple and even boring, but it is a test of our faithfulness. Will I continue to faithfully carry out uncomplicated responsibilities, even when my attention span is suffering? Is this God’s path to blessing?
The contrast to routine work is chasing after phantom deals that are figments of our imagination. Be careful not to be led astray by fantasies that lead nowhere. It is false faith to think a gimmick, or some conniving circumstance can replace hard work. Wisdom stops chasing after the next scheme and sticks instead to the certainty of available work. What does your spouse, or close friend/confidant say is the smart thing to do? Give them all the facts and listen.  
Furthermore, work is easily carried out when everything is going well, and there are no indicators of job loss, or an increase in responsibilities with less pay. However, it is during these uncertain times that disciples can step up and set the example. Your attitude of hope and hard work are a testimony of trust in the Lord.
Stay engaged in executing your tasks with excellence, and you will inspire others to their labor of love. Lastly, see work as your worship of the Lord. He is blessing your faithfulness to follow through with the smallest of details. Are you content to serve Christ in your current career?

Our prayer:  Father help me to be faithful to the daily duties of my job, and using my job as a platform to be a witness for you, and to give you glory through the work of my hands and mind Amen.
Pastor Todd A. Brown
First Baptist of Chesterbrook

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

God's exciting love letter

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” so that we can be equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16
In his book When I’m Longing for God, Dan Stuecher tells a touching story about the great composer Beethoven. The music man never married but was in love with a woman scholars have spent years trying to identify, a woman Beethoven called his “Immortal Beloved.” When he was forty-two years old, Beethoven penned a letter of affection to her. “Oh, why must one be separated from her who is so dear?” he wrote. “However much you love me, my love for you is even greater.”
After his death, the letter was found in a bureau belonging to Beethoven, undated and unaddressed. Some people have wondered if the woman ever knew how valuable she was to Beethoven because of this secret, undelivered note. Can you imagine being the recipient of such a love letter and never reading it?
A number of times over the years, I have heard people say God doesn’t speak to them through Scripture. One told me, “I just don’t hear His voice through the Bible. I hear from Him in other ways, like through signs.” When I hear something like this, my heart cries.  Beloved as the Word is His voice. It’s His love letter to us (See John 1) the greatest love letter ever written. But tragically, life (the Word of God) itself is sometimes left forgotten in a drawer. True love is denied and wisdom is ignored.
I do wonder where some people have gotten the idea God isn’t really speaking unless He speaks “supernaturally,” for example through a miracle, a vision, or a dream. Early in my own walk, I had a hard time believing God was with me unless I felt Him in some way. I thought I had to sense His presence to believe I had heard Him. When I read the Bible, I found myself sometimes bored. I even went through a time of feeling like there was nothing exciting in it.
As I continued to grow in mature in my relationship with the Lord I found that I was so wrong.  Now I look back and think, My Lord. Scripture is a never-ending well of refreshment and truth. God speaks through His Word, inviting us to find Him. And when we do, we may not always experience emotional fireworks, but our minds will be quietly and gradually transformed from glory to glory and faith to faith. God speaks in many ways, but the primary way He speaks is through His Word. It’s powerful. It’s life-changing. It’s refreshment for a thirsty soul.
Our Prayer: Father I pray that daily our thirst for you and your word grows, that we might daily experience and know the fullness of your love towards us Amen. 

Pastor Todd A. Brown
First Baptist of Chesterbrook
1740 Kirby Rd.  Mclean Va. 22101
Vision:" Disciples Making a Kingdom Impact"
Mission: Exalting, Evangelizing, Equipping, and Encouraging every soul in Christ
Listen to "Life Notes" & "Kingdom Impact with Pastor Brown
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