Archive | September 2015

It’s Coffeetime!

After taking a break for the summer JCC’s Coffeehouse ministry is up and running and raring to go. Join us this Sunday evening, October 4th at 5 PM and enjoy

  • free coffee and other beverages
  • free snacks
  • live music
  • a peaceful, relaxing coffeehouse atmosphere
  • time to unwind with friends

all with no cost to you. Come check it out! Call 349-0255 or email info@akjoy.com for more information. Click  on the contacts page for directions.

coffeehouse oct 2015

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14 Years and Counting

 

happy bd2It is imperative for each individual to have a vision for their lives in order to move forward and not stagnate. The Bible tells us that without a vision people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Joy Christian Center began with a vision 14 years ago, and it is that vision that has both propelled and sustained the church family. Although the vision has grown and changed over the years, it remains the plum-line and guiding force of the church. As we celebrate JCC’s 14th birthday we rejoice over all that God has done over the years and look forward with anticipation to what God has for us in the years to come. Click on the arrow below to listen to Pastor Ruth’s 14th birthday/anniversary message.

The bulletin is posted on the Publications page of this blog.

Chosen and Adopted

Chosen. A pretty cool word, if you ask me. When I was a kid it was a big deal to actually be chosen for a team rather than being on a team because you’re the last one left of all of the kids and the team captain had to take you. Today’s devotional, reposted from Holley Gerth’s blog, reminds us that we are wanted and chosen by God, not leftovers that He had to take because we were all that was left. And that makes you pretty special!

 

“I scroll through the photos of adopted children. Each one has a caption below it with a message from the parents who chose them. The phrases jump out at me…

“The best gift ever.”

“We are blessed that we could adopt her.”

“She has brought so much joy to our lives.”

I nod in understanding because God brought us our daughter in an unexpected way as well. While every adoption story is different, they all have this in common: Adoption is about choice and celebration, not obligation.

It takes my breath away to think that’s how God sees His relationship with us as well. Ephesians 3:5 says, HisForever-e1441918219587“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

That last line doesn’t say, “God felt sorry for the poor little sinner so He decided He had to do something for her.” It doesn’t read, “God rolled His eyes and said, ‘Fine, I’ll take her.’” It doesn’t declare, “God made the mistake of picking her and she’s been a burden ever since.’”

No, God wanted us. He pursued us. He delighted in making us His forever.

Can you imagine Him saying the same words about us that those parents did about their children?

“The best gift ever.”

“I’m so blessed that I could adopt them.”

“They have brought so much joy to Me.”

On the days when we fall short, feel like a mess and can’t understand why anyone would love us, it can seem impossible to believe God would see us that way. But His Word says it’s true. “The Lord was pleased to make you his own” {1 Sam. 12:22}

And His affection for us isn’t based on anything we do. Adoption isn’t earned—it’s received. Those kids didn’t win their parents over by being perfect. They weren’t selected because they were the “best” at something. They didn’t get a family as a reward for following all the rules. Adoption is a wild act of grace. It’s saying, “I want you as you are. And I will love you all your life—no matter what.”

I look again at the page with the adoption photos. There’s so much light in the eyes of those parents. So much love in their smiles. They are clearly overjoyed simply by the existence of their children. Can we dare to believe that’s how God feels about us too?

It gave God great pleasure to make us part of His family. And it still does today.”

(c) 2015 Holley Gerth Used with Permission  Wanted

Walking in God’s Will

How do I know for sure what God wants? What if i mess up? Questions like that can paralyze us into inactivity. Holley Gerth tackles this issue in today’s devotional reposted from her blog. Take heart; it’s not as hard as you think.

“She says it softly over a cup of coffee in the quietest corner of our favorite café. “I’m not sure what God wants me to do.” It’s whispered like a secret, a confession, a scandal waiting to happen. Then she looks up at me with a bit of fear in her eyes—like a tightrope walker frozen midair, unsure of whether to move forward or back. I can hear the questions she doesn’t speak, “What if I make a wrong move? What if I miss His will for me? What if, worst of all, I

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

fall?”

I nod in understanding. I’ve felt the same anxiety when trying to make a decision. For a long time, I felt as if God was watching me with a critical eye just waiting for me to mess up. Surely when I did He would be there to punish me and all would be lost because I’d somehow strayed from His path for my life.

But the words in Psalm 32:8 paint a different picture. God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” They are comforting words all by themselves but become even more so when we consider their context. This Psalm is one David wrote after confessing his affair with Bathsheba. If life is a tightrope, he had taken an epic tumble.

But even then, even then, God does not say, “You’ve irrevocably blown it. I’m done with you.”Instead it’s as if He’s taking David by the hand, lifting him up and saying, “Try again.”Perhaps David felt paralyzed with fear. Certainly he felt he couldn’t trust himself. But God is there to be the one David can trust as a guide who will “instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.”

And then there’s the most astonishing line of all: “I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” My loving eye. Not my judgmental eye. Not my harsh and condemning eye. Not my “I saw that coming” eye. No, even in the moments when we least deserve it God is watching over us with love. If that’s true in those times, how much more is it when we’re seeking His will but are simply unsure of what step to take next?

Sometimes we put far more pressure on ourselves to know exactly what God wants us to do than is really needed. If we are trying to be obedient then God sees our hearts and He can gently redirect us along the way. “We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps” {Prov. 16:9 NLT} Our role is simply to be willing to move forward in faith as best we can with what we know. It’s God’s responsibility to make sure we get there.

Life isn’t a tightrope after all. It’s a journey with Someone who loves us. When we finally realize that we can stop worrying about getting every step just right, we can instead say with the Psalmist: “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free” {Ps. 119:32}.”

(c) 2015 Holley Gerth Used with permission http://holleygerth.com/not-sure-what-to-do/

Be All That You Can Be

utmostAwhile back the army had a catchy jingle designed to encourage people to sign up for duty. The song included these lyrics: “…be all that you can be… in the army”. This reasoning sounds good, and appeals to our human need for significance. However, the end result is somewhat self-centered in essence; it’s all about you and what you can become for you rather than what you can become that will contribute to a higher cause. Paul invites us to greatness using a similar idea but with a far different focus. His determined purpose is to be his utmost for Christ’s highest, and he encourages us to the same goal; be all that you can be for Christ and His kingdom. Click on the arrow below to listen to Sunday’s message by Pastor Marlan on being all that you can be…for Christ.

 

The bulletin is posted on the publications page

Accepted

Today’s devotional, reposted from Holley Gerth’s blog, reminds us that our acceptance comes from a much higher source than the world around us – from God Himself. If you haven’t discovered this grace yet we’d love to help you. You can contact us at 907.349.0255 or info@akjoy.com. If you’re in the Anchorage area come join us this morning at 4335 Laurel Street at 10:30 AM.

I remember standing on the edge of a neighborhood yard watching as a group of kids played catch. All I wanted was a ball tossed my direction.

outsidelookinginI remember surveying a high school lunchroom full of giggly teenage girls chatting about their weekends. All I wanted was a seat at the table.

I remember sending out book proposals to publishers whose doors seemed locked to new, unknown authors like me. All I wanted was a key.

But what I really longed for in those situations was acceptance. My heart yearned to know I had a place, to be assured I was loved, for someone to say, “I choose you.” It took me a long time to learn that someone had already done all of those things.

Christ accepted you. {Rom. 15:7}

Jesus called my name as a little girl and tossed the ball of faith in my direction. And in a quiet bedroom at my grandparents’ house I told Him I wanted to be on His team.

Jesus gave me strengths, gifts and ways to serve others. He created a plan and purpose for my life. He had a seat at His table no one else could fill.

Jesus revealed that His mission for me doesn’t require someone else opening a door. Instead it’s about keeping the door of my own heart open to how He wants to use me each day.

I used to believe acceptance was something someone else had to give me. I’m starting to see it’s about embracing what’s already mine. I am already accepted. You are already accepted. Our stories may be totally different but that heart-freeing truth is the same for all of us today.

——–

God, thank you for accepting us. You are the only One who can fill our hearts with what we long for most. Because of Your grace You embrace us even on the days when we fall short or feel like we have nothing to offer. Your acceptance of us isn’t about who we are but about who YOU are. That means we can’t earn it and we can’t lose it. We’re secure in Your love and no one can ever take it away. We choose to rest in that miraculous reality today. Amen.”

(c) 2015 Holley Gerth Used with permission http://holleygerth.com/accepted/

Shipwrecked

Today’s devotional, re-posted from the General’s International website, discusses some things that can cause our lives to be shipwrecked and gives steps to get up and get moving again.

 

“In recent days, there has been an increase of spiritual attacks on the body of Christ. The wake of this assault carries waves of hopelessness, despair and destruction. Truly, Satan is making a no-holds barred attempt to shipwreck the believers who are doing great damage to his kingdom, using many devices to try and completely sink the ship of vision God has given to individuals and ministries.

The Bible says in Revelation 12:12 that the devil has come down with great wrath because he knows his time is short. There is intense demonic activity trying to stop God’s intercessors from praying the prayers which lead to harvest.

shipwreck_robertson_saturna_0_0It is going to take strong faith and renewed courage to obtain the promises of God in the coming days. Through the blood of the Lamb, we must be able to place the helmet of salvation securely over our minds to be able to resist the enemy’s lies of discouragement and despair.

Here are some of the ways Satan tries to shipwreck God’s children:

1. Winds of adversity: The enemy cannot afford truly effectual prayers sent against his kingdom, so he tries to block them through financial blockages, international conspiracies and physical infirmities. He sends satanic empowerment into the smallest situations in an attempt to blow us off course. Many find themselves overreacting to situations because the devil attempts to energize stressful times.

2. Rocks of crisis: These are hidden outcroppings that damage the credibility of ministries. Crises will often reveal spiritual regression. Some kind of crisis usually hits everyone at one point or the other. What you do at this point will determine whether you are permanently shipwrecked or not. Perhaps you’ve been hurt in a church situation and find yourself becoming critical of the pastor and withdrawing. Maybe you’ve had a breech within your family—either your natural or spiritual family. These things can stunt your spiritual growth, and you will be crippled or shipwrecked until you forgive and follow through with repentance, restoration and sometimes, restitution.

3. False navigational readings: Distress pulls us off the prayer assignments set for us by the Lord. The emotional stress of the moment stops us from praying for nations and minimizes our personal devotion times because we’re not able to “stay on course” with our prayer assignments in the midst of crisis. Now I know this happens to everyone occasionally, but it is time to take a new reading of the prayer targets given us by the Lord and get back on course.

4. Infiltration to produce mutiny: The enemy tries to infiltrate our thinking to cause us to doubt God or to render us ineffective. When this happens we are actually in mutiny to our Captain. Ed Silvoso says Satan builds strongholds right alongside our strengths where we can’t see them. For instance, Satan will tell those with a great strength in the area of humility that acknowledging God’s call would be prideful. The devil sits on our shoulder and says, “Who do you think you are to take that position?” Another example is with those who are very pastoral who will not confront sin because they might “hurt” the people they confront. Their gift of mercy is actually producing mutiny because they won’t deal with wrong situations. Their strength has become a stronghold.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel shipwrecked, what can you do? For starters, refuse to give up! Your circumstances may be painful or uncomfortable, but they do not have to define you or be the end of you.

Has God given you promises either through scripture, prophecy, or while listening to a sermon? It is time to dust off these promises, put your feet on the rock of Jesus Christ and believe God for a breakthrough. Begin to declare what the word of God says, even if you don’t see it becoming reality yet.

Ask a trusted friend or spiritual leader to stand with you in prayer. It is never good for us to try and live out our faith in isolation, but we are especially vulnerable when we feel shipwrecked. We need someone who can speak truth back to us when we are struggling to believe it for ourselves.

Sometimes, as we try to recover, we can find ourselves very weary. It is wisdom to make space and time for rest; God wants to refresh and restore your soul, so you can keep moving forward. Just as our physical bodies require rest in order to heal, so do our hearts and spirits.

Don’t compromise your destiny in Christ because of Satan’s fiery darts. God’s Word promises us we will reap if we do not faint. Go back to the place of shipwreck and determine to make a new start with this declaration:

The devil will not win. I refuse to be shipwrecked and give up! God, I trust that You are for me and that nothing will separate me from Your perfect love! Through the blood of Jesus, I am more than a conqueror. What the enemy meant for my harm, God will work together for my good and the good of His kingdom. Amen!

(c) 2015 Cindy Jacobs, Generals International Used with Permission shipwrecked