The Truth About The Virgin Birth Of Jesus

Did you know that Jesus was not born on December 25th? Actually, it was probably in September or October - during the Feast of Tabernacles. So, does the world end over this? I don't think so. It's actually a good thing that most of the world at least acknowledges His coming on December 25th. Honestly, we should acknowledge His coming every day of the year. The truth (which is most important) is that He came. And December 25th is as good a date as any to celebrate and commemorate His arrival as Messiah!

More significant than the date He arrived is how He arrived: He was born of a virgin. "Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us." (Matthew 1:23) No other human being has ever been born through a virgin the way Jesus was. No other prophet; no other so-called god was ever born of a virgin like Jesus. The way that He came distinguishes Jesus as the only way to the Father.

How could Jesus be born of a virgin? This was a miracle of course. As a matter of fact, everything about Jesus' coming  was a miracle; from His conception to His birth, to His death, resurrection, and ascension back to glory! But how did it happen?

I love the account in Luke chapter 1. The virgin Mary, about 17 years old, was minding her own business when Gabriel, the messenger Angel shows up. What he said to her could've been a bit overwhelming! He told her 3 things: 1.) You're going to conceive in your womb; 2.) You're going to bear a son; 3.) And you're going to name Him Jesus (Jehovah who saves). I can only imagine how Mary felt. And then Gabe began to tell her some spectacular stuff about this child, and what He would be. Mary, a good Jewish young lady says, "How's this going to happen since I am a virgin?" In other words, "How's this going to happen since I'm not married, and I've never had relations with a man?" Listen to Gabriel's response. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. " (Luke 1:35)

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This wasn't anything immoral or kinky. So how did it happen? The Holy Spirit came upon Mary at some point. As a result, the power of the Most High (Supreme God) overshadowed her. Always remember. When the Holy Spirit comes, God comes. How cool is that! Because Jesus was conceived when the Holy Spirit, and the power of God came upon Mary, He would literally be called the Son of God. This is what sets Jesus apart as the ONLY way to the Father.

In the Gospel of John - chapter 3, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Pharisees came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (Verse 2) Nicodemus believed Jesus had come from God, and that God was with Him because of all the signs and wonders He performed. Although this was true, Nicodemus missed the most important thing...Jesus was God! Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and later literally was born of God. He was God's only begotten Son.

Jesus was the only human ever to be born of God when He came out of the womb. All of the rest of humanity is born of earthly parents into fallen, sinful flesh. We're not born of God (like Jesus), we're born of the flesh. This is due to the fall of Adam and Eve. But Jesus had no sinful nature because He was conceived by and born of the Holy Spirit. So you and I (like Nicodemus) must be born again. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  (John 3:3)

Because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of God He Himself is established as the only way the truth and the life. Because He was born of God, we can be born of God. Because He was born of the Spirit, we can be born of the Spirit. Because He was filled with the Holy Spirit, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the "first-born" among many brethren. (See Romans 8:29) Because He died to sin, we can be dead to sin. Because He rose from the dead, we can live for God. "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." (Colossians 1:18)

So you see, it's all about Jesus. There is no other way to the Father. There's no other way to the heaven the Bible describes. Only Jesus. It's all because of the way He came to the earth. God is so infinitely good that He made the way for you and me to live forever with Him. His name is Jesus, and He was born of a virgin.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)



We Don't Need A Production, We Need An Encounter!

It's becoming very obvious that many church services are more of a production than an encounter with Jesus. This trend is driven by the belief that the church is less relevant to people than she used to be. The truth, relevance is not the issue. It's the absence of the One who is relevant to All people and every situation - the Holy Spirit. We must remember, a production is man-made. An encounter with Jesus is Holy Spirit-breathed. So what's the answer? We make a place for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in our gatherings.

Sometimes I find it difficult to offer pure praise from the congregation as I am distracted by the show taking place on the stage. Bright flashing lights, search lights, and smoke make it look more like worldly entertainment. It might even be impressive at times, but it doesn't make us more relevant to people. It glorifies people. Trying to look like the world doesn't draw folks to Jesus. The Holy Spirit does. No one is more relevant than He! If we want to be relevant to people, we cannot do it without Him in our midst.

M
uch of what we call praise and worship today has no anointing upon it. It contains no fire. It's polished and professional, but it's powerless. It's a great production, but it lacks the supernatural touch of the Holy Spirit. His touch is what distinguishes His spiritual from the world's natural. Jesus said of Him, "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:14) Oh how we need His involvement in our services! We must seek God for Him to inhabit our praises as we prepare a place in our hearts, and in our midst for Him!

Our stage production style of doing church is not evil. It's just not anointed. In a negative sense, it instills in many folks the "You up there, me out here" mentality. It produces the mindset that church is for entertainment. So we find ourselves saying things like "The worship was really good (or not so good) today." Or, "I didn't like the choice of songs this week." This puts pressure on the folks up front to perform to please man...not God. The question should be asked by everyone, "Was MY worship pleasing and acceptable to Jesus today?" "Did I glorify Him?" When individual hearts are determined to glorify Him, He comes. When He comes, no one in their right mind can deny He is there! That's preparing a place for Him!

What I am about to say comes from my own personal experience in worshiping our incredible God through the years. I am convinced this is the crucial key to powerfully anointed praise and worship; praise and worship that is saturated with the fire of the Holy Spirit. What is this key? It is personal worship. Our personal praise and worship is developed during our personal times with God, as we make the effort to worship Him. Corporate worship should be composed of people who are developing their worship during their own personal times of worship. Guess what happens when people on fire, participate in corporate worship: The fire of the Holy Spirit falls. Frankly, it won't matter whether there is smoke, flashing lights, spotlights, or search lights in the building.

Let me insert something here concerning praise and worship teams. If you don't worship during practice, your are missing much of the anointing God has available for you and your congregation. It's obviously very import to rehearse to be comfortable with the music and the vocals. But it should be equally important that you set aside time to worship as a team. That's where the corporate anointing lies! To rehearse the mechanics only is to prepare for a production, not an encounter!

Never forget, church is first about Jesus, and what you bring to Him. He deserves the purest, and highest praise and worship...first. That is why after Jesus ascended back to the Father, He sent forth the Holy Spirit. He inhabits this praise (See Psalm 22:3). He responds by moving in our midst. He anoints and confirms the preaching of the Word of God with signs, wonders, and miracles!

We are created to worship Him. We exist to bring Him glory, honor, worship, and praise. Jesus has given us His Spirit to help us. He energizes us. He transforms what we sincerely offer up to Jesus into the world-changing glory of Himself! This is how we become more relevant to humans. We worship Him in spirit and truth. He comes and supernaturally connects us to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the awesome Prince of Peace. When the Holy Spirit comes, Jesus is exalted by Him. When Jesus is exalted, people are drawn to Him. It's in the encounter, not the production.

Turn Your Sitting Into Serving!

How long How have you been a follower of Jesus Christ? How long have you been part of a local church? How much of that time have you sat in the congregation listening and learning? I have attended church for many years now, because I have been a follower of Christ for many years. It is very important to sit, listen, and learn. But lately as I observe church (including my own involvement), I wonder how the number of hours that we've sat in church would compare with the number of hours we've served in the church; or how the number of hours we've sat in church would compare with the number of hours we've served outside of the church.

Can you imagine the impact the church would have on our local communities if everyone who sat in church served either in the church, or outside the church, (or both)? What about world impact? Imagine the greater impact we would have world-wide if we served more that we sat!

Church is not only about sitting. It is also about serving. Yes, we must sit. But we must take what we get from sitting and apply it to serving. Sitting is the receiving part. Serving is the giving part. Jesus said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8) We eagerly focus on the things we can freely receive, instead of the costly things we should  give away. However it is the serving/giving that makes the greatest impact on others!

People should want to serve more than sit. This is how churches grow. This is how new ministries are birthed. This is how new vision becomes a reality. When the ratio of serving to sitting begins to increase, churches not only grow, they also become healthier. Folks who follow after Christ grow in their relationship with Him. Don't forget, the heart of Jesus is not only in the sitting, but more so in the serving.

It will always be very important that we go to church to sit. But it is equally (and probably more) important that we don't just sit, but we serve. Add to that the extreme significance of serving when we exit the doors of our church.

Your church is always offering areas of service to those who will volunteer to serve. If not, you can find areas in which you can serve outside of the church. Do something special for your neighbors. Go on a short-term missions trip. That will change your life. Take a leap of faith into something beyond your personal capabilities and watch Jesus do the miraculous for (and more importantly) through you. Do stuff that changes the lives of others who are less fortunate than you. Jesus says if you do it to the seemingly insignificant, the seemingly unimportant, you have done it to Him! "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)


The Presence And The Power Of The Holy Spirit (Part 2)

Part 2

Most folks don't realize there is a third account of the Great Commission. I'm sure you're familiar with Matthew's and Mark's account issued by Jesus just before He ascended back to the Father. But there is a third, less popular account given by Luke. Actually he included something that Matthew and Mark didn't. 

(Luke 24:46), "...and He (Jesus) said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." This is pretty much what Matthew and Mark said, but with a few less words. But listen to what Jesus says next. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)

So Jesus gives the command to "go". But...He tells His disciples NOT to leave the city of Jerusalem until they are "clothed with power from on High." Jesus had worked with them for three and a half years. He was about to return to His Father, and they would be launched out into the world to preach the Gospel to all nations. But not before He sent what God had promised, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew and Mark didn't include this in their accounts; however, they certainly did stay in the city, and were clothed with power for on high! From there they, and all the disciples, were compelled by the Holy Spirit to go out of the city and to the remotest parts of the earth.

Luke also wrote the book of Acts. He opened with a continuation of the subject with which he closed the Gospel of Luke. "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Acts 1: 4-5) They could not leave Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit! Jesus told them, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Just like Jesus, they needed not only the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the power of the Holy Spirit.

A few days after Jesus had risen He appeared to His followers in a room that was closed up tightly. "So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you. And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." (John 20: 19-23) What happened when Jesus breathed on them? They were born again by the Spirit of God. Jesus had completed the work of the cross. They now had the presence of God in their lives. They received the presence of the Holy Spirit so that soon afterward they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Here's another way to put it. They were born again by the Spirit of God (like you and me), so that they would later be clothed in the power the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Remember, in order for Jesus to be sent, He had to empty Himself and be born of the Virgin Mary. His conception was of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, being born of the Holy Spirit, had the presence of the Holy Spirit. (See Philippians 2 and Luke 1) However Jesus didn't begin His ministry until He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. He needed the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 3) Jesus clearly is our example. Then we see the example followed as Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to the disciples in that private room. And according to Luke's account, Jesus told them not to leave the city of Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on High. They were born again, by the Spirit of God, and now, before they depart to preach the Gospel to the whole world, they needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus was sacrificed. (Acts 2: 1- 4), "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."

This was no small event. The Spirit upon these folks compelled them to leave that upper room where they privately had been praying, waiting, and seeking God for what He had promised. They were different after that. They were bold. They were on fire for Jesus. They were single-minded about Jesus. Miracles took place at their hands. The same works Jesus performed when He was here on the earth, they were also performing, just like He said. (See John 14: 12)

We need the presence of the Holy Spirit to cause us to be born of God. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to cause others to be born of God through us. When Jesus breathed on the disciples, they became born again. When the Holy Spirit fell on them in that upper room, others began to be born again. He is in you for your sake. And He is on you for other's sake. Seek Him for His promised power, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Subsequent to your salvation (just like the disciples) is the enduement of power from on Him. If you are tired of the "status quo" in your walk with Him, and if you desire to see the world shaken for the glory of God (you as His vessel) then by faith, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We desperately need Him for today.


The Presence And The Power Of The Holy Spirit


The burden of my heart lately is that God's people be filled with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. With all that is going on in these current times, we truly need His presence and His power operating in and through us. Jesus doesn't have us here just to occupy space, and tread water. You and I are here to make an impact on our world! Oh, how we need His presence and His power to do so!

Many Christians believe that once a person is saved, that's all the Holy Spirit they get. But there is more. Certainly, salvation is the greatest event that could take place in any person's life. Salvation assures our righteousness in Jesus, and our place in heaven forever. But what about the rest of our lives here on the earth? You and I have come to know Jesus, not only for our sakes, but for the sake of those God wants to impact through us! I recently heard someone say of the Holy Spirit, "He is in me for my sake. He is upon me for your sake." Our destiny is to impact the world we live in with the love of Jesus in order to bring them to Him. This requires the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives....24 X 7. 

Jesus is the greatest example of how the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit (in Him and upon Him) impacted the whole world. As Savior of the world, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit had to be a part of His very essence. In the same way, we will see how the same applies to you and me. We need both the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit as we follow Jesus, and His example for us.

Let's look at Jesus from the very beginning of His life on earth. The angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary (Luke 1) and announced to her, "...You will conceive in her womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus." Can you imagine how this young teenager felt when it was said to her that she would give birth to the Messiah, Savior of the world? I respect her response. "How can this be since I am a virgin?" Gabriel responded, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." Clearly we see the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' life, even from conception. Later when He was born of the Virgin Mary, He was literally born of the Spirit, and born of a woman. In the same way, when we are "born again", we too are born of the Spirit of God, even though we were born also of the flesh. Just like Jesus, from the day the Holy Spirit begins to deal with our hearts, His presence is a part of our lives.

Jesus' life from birth demonstrated the presence of the Holy Spirit. But there was more. How wonderful it was that Jesus was literally born of the Spirit of God. Still, there was more. Jesus didn't come only to demonstrate the presence of the Holy Spirit. He also came to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit! When He was 30 years old something happened that launched Him into 3 1/2 years of ministry that changed the world! What happened? He was baptized in the Holy Spirit, which means He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17)

When Jesus was baptized in water, the heavens opened, down came the Holy Spirit upon Him, and as God expressed His approval, He called Jesus "My Beloved Son". There is so much happening here. But I want to key on one thing: The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. He was already born of the Spirit. But even Jesus, born of God, needed not only the presence, but the power of the Holy Spirit. I know I am born again by the same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb. I am as "born of the Spirit" now as Jesus when He walked the earth. But if Jesus needed to be empowered by the Spirit, so must I. Listen to the very next verse in Matthew 4:1. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Even though Jesus was born of the Spirit, the Bible doesn't say He was "led" by the Spirit until after the heavens opened and the Spirit came down upon Him! 

Why did He need the baptism in the Holy Spirit if He was born of God? Why did He need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit? You must understand what Jesus gave up even before He came to the earth. (Philippians 2:5-7), "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Jesus being equal with God, existed in the form of God. Yet He emptied Himself to come to earth as God's bond servant. He could not come as God, the Son (2nd Person of the Trinity), so He came as the Son of God, who was conceived of by the Holy Spirit, born of God, and born of a woman. Think about this. After Jesus, was baptized in water, when the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." The confirmation here is that God wants to powerfully anoint those (who are born of Him) with the power of the Spirit!

And one more thing about Jesus. He said, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me." (John 8:42) Any and everything Jesus did was directed by the Holy Spirit, who was now upon Him. He was so empty of Himself, He desperately needed the Holy Spirit to empower and lead Him every minute of every day. He is our example.

Just like Jesus, we must empty ourselves to become His servants. Upon simply asking, we become born again by the same Holy Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb, and later endued Him with power from on High! We must be so empty of ourselves, and the world, that we desperately depend upon Him for our every move. Some say, "The baptism in the Holy Spirit may be for you, but not for me." Yes He is for you. You just need to believe that He is for you. Simply ask Him to empower you as a servant of Jesus Christ. He will! Just believe it!

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2: 1-4) This is the infilling that will change your life, and your world! It will move your relationship with Jesus from mediocrity to a raging wonderful spiritual fire! This is the power the church must have in these current times. Ask Him for it, believe, and receive the precious baptism of the Holy Spirit! He is eagerly waiting for you!

(The Presence and The Power of the Holy Spirit (Part 2) coming soon.)


A Message To The Church

If you know me, you know I am not a doom and gloom proclaimer. However, when I feel God has spoken to me, I jump on every opportunity to share it. And sometimes what God speaks can be scary. It is really not to scare us, but to motivate us to action by revealing the seriousness of a situation. The awesome thing about our God is that He always warns us of impending situations, and tells us what we must do to avoid such situations. The ball is then in our court. Whether we heed Him or not determines the outcome of the situation.

The situation is that our nation is at a major crossroads due to the upcoming mid-term elections. The left is determined to impeach President Donald Trump, especially if the Democrats gain control of the congress in November. If you are a born again Christian, whether Republican or Democrat, you need to pray that this will not happen. Why? Because it is quite evident that Christianity (along with the nation of Israel) will come under heavy attack if the "Left" gains control.

Because our nation is founded on the Christian principles of God's Word, when Christianity has flourished in our nation, it became a blessing and a light to the world. It's not that God cares more for the United States than other nations. It's that God has been able to use a nation established upon Him, to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus. This is very significant, and demonstrates that God so loves the whole world.

From my Christian perspective, I am convinced that God has given the United States of America a reprieve in President Trump. Our nation was headed far away from God at breakneck speed under past leadership. It seems as if the direction was set and established. The Republican and Democratic establishments were uniting for the purpose of destroying our autonomy as a nation. Patriotism was promoted as being politically incorrect. We were rapidly becoming part of the new world order, (aka., One World Government). But then, out of nowhere, Donald Trump wins the Presidential election! This completely derailed the vision of the left. And the truth is, the battle wasn't over, it had just begun. Everything President Trump represents is doom for the left. They (along with the Republican establishment) abhor him. The left is committed to destroying President Donald Trump because He abruptly put a stop to their progress. His very presence in Washington will cause much of the corruption in the swamp to be exposed. For some, President Trump represents the end of a dishonest and corrupt political career. Why? Because he truly cares about the citizens of our great nation.

If God put President Trump in place, only God can remove Him. However, for that to continue to be the case the church must pray. You see, God is warning us now that our future is in danger. We cannot be passive anymore and assume someone else will pray. Believer, you must pray! You must set aside the time and the energy to pray. You must set aside your political affiliation and pray for God's move in the upcoming elections! Understand that your freedom to live for Jesus and proclaim the Gospel is in grave danger.

Paul said to Timothy, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." (See 2 Timothy 3:1-9) He went on to say that men will love self, money, be boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, malicious gossips, etc. He said some will even try to appear godly, but will be exposed because of their lack of supernatural power. We cannot lay down in our prayers just because the Bible predicted these difficult times. Paul went on to refer to Jannes and Jambres opposition of Moses as opposition of the truth. He compared them to the present day (last days) folks listed above. Listen to their outcome: "But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also." (Vs. 9) God is beginning to expose the deeds of those who oppose Him; those who want to bring down our nation ultimately so we cannot proclaim and share the Gospel of Jesus within and abroad.

And finally, VOTE in the upcoming mid-term elections. And pray! If you are truly a born again Christian, vote according to the principles of the Word of God, not some political platform. God's principles are forever. Our political preference dies when we do. And when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we will answer to Him for our works as believers in the earth. Did I obey Him, or some political establishment platform?

(Please visit my podcast at http://srhutto.buzzsprout.com/ Thanks!)

How's Your Antsy Level?

I recently was traveling from Gainesville, Georgia to Elkmont, Alabama. I like to travel, but I get a bit antsy when delayed a bit. Being on a Saturday I figured traffic through the ATL wouldn't be bad at all. I was wrong. When I got in the downtown area, everybody within several counties decided to show up! What's this? I mean all the pro teams were out of town for the weekend. I kept my focus on Jesus however, as He compelled me to view some of the sites that normally I can't view because of the rush of traffic through the area. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the buildings were gleaming under the blue skies. I hadn't noticed before. I actually began to enjoy it! I finally got through metro ATL, and headed out of town on I-20.

My plan was to shorten the trip by avoiding Birmingham. I took some backroads to I-65. The drive was beautiful. This route took me over some extremely beautiful lakes, and through some foothills. This was cool. Just before I crossed over I-59 I discovered a Starbucks in a truck stop. What a great place to refuel, I thought to myself. (Actually I said it out loud.) Oh, and I would get some gas too!

I made it to I-65 North avoiding Birmingham and putting me only about 45 minutes from my destination. As soon as I got on the interstate the traffic came to a complete stop! No! Yes! A complete stop! When it did move again, it was only for about 20 feet, and then it would stop again. As it turns out, it was road construction. Road construction? On a Saturday afternoon? This was totally and completely UNACEPTABLE!  I could feel my antsy level beginning to rise again. But then something happened. I looked to my right and beheld the most beautiful sight (see photo above). My antsy level began to sink rapidly! As a matter of fact, it disappeared. God's peace began to overwhelm me. I hadn't noticed before, but I was stopped on a long bridge. It was the bridge over the Tennessee River. What a view God provided for me, simply to make my travel more enjoyable! Is He good or what! (The preceding was actually a statement, not a question.)

Knowing God by being a follower of Jesus Christ is the greatest adventure of my life. Having the Creator of the universe do seemly insignificant things to make my day better shows me I am infinitely significant to Him! By the way, after I had taken in the beauty of the Tennessee River from an exalted view; and after I had taken a couple of photos, the traffic started moving again. I arrived in Elkmont a happy, blessed traveler because of God's simple goodness toward me!

That's the way our God is. He loves you and me. He's a good, good Father. He cares for you, and what you may feel is insignificant.  But remember, nothing about you is insignificant to God. He loves you and wants to bless you in special ways.

Here is my recommendation to you. This comes from my own personal experiences. The next time your antsy level starts rising, look around. Listen and observe. God wants you to see something; something that will bless you to the bone! He's a good God.

(Please visit my podcast at: http://srhutto.buzzsprout.com/ Thank you!)

Something For Nothing?

I have spent some years working in retail management. I could probably write a book and fill it with unique encounters I had with customers. Once a man approached me (as a manager) and asked me if he was getting a discount on his purchase. I asked him why. His answer was that he had to walk from the men's department (where currently the register was closed), to the women's department to an open register. The distance was about 25 yards...maybe. Let me add that at that point of the day traffic was very slow. It was normal for us to leave certain registers closed until later in the day when traffic increased. My answer to him was a pretty solid, but extremely nice "No". His was reply was, "You can't blame a guy for trying!" I thanked the gentleman for his business and he went on his way. Actually, this particular encounter was a little humorous!

But then there are those customers who can really be unreasonable about getting something for nothing. In my early days of retail I encountered a customer who brought back a completely flattened, rather large, 6-volt flashlight. This brand offered a life-time warranty. However, one condition not covered was neglect. It was quite obvious to me, this flashlight had been extremely neglected! As a matter of fact, the man told me he had run over it with his truck. When I told him I couldn't help him because the flashlight did not simply stop working...it was flattened like a pancake, he demanded to see a manager. The manager came and told him the same thing I told him. He jumped up and down, screamed, and said "This is false advertising! You said this had a life-time warranty!" My manager tried to show him where it clearly said neglect would not be covered. Then he began to argue that this was not neglect. He just didn't realize the flashlight was lying in the middle of his driveway. Sounds pretty much like neglect to me! My manager finally gave in to the guy and gave him another flashlight just to keep him from making a scene. If this man was right in the head (which I am sure he was), he knew he was taking advantage of the situation and getting something for nothing.

So let me share one more encounter. A man came in with an item that was literally destroyed. His angle was that our receipt said "Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back." He said he was no longer satisfied with the item. It was obliterated! He tore it up. He wanted a new one. Forget warrantees. Some how he had torn it up and thought he should have a new one. And because it was torn up, he wasn't satisfied with it anymore! We ended up having to give him a new one, and if I remember correctly, it was so old, we didn't have anything close! He took advantage of an honest promise on the back or our receipt that was made to help folks who really needed it. Oh, did I mention, several years back the company took that saying off the back of the receipts due to so many people taking advantage of it the wrong way. Those who were truly honest, and truly deserved help were the ones who lost out on that one.

The desire to get something for nothing permeates all cultures. I would say it is part of the human, fallen nature. There are certain "worldly" traits we should grow out of, especially if we are followers of Jesus Christ. I know someone is thinking "The grace of God is a free gift." Yes it is. But is it really something for nothing? I don't think so. Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) So on the one hand, you can gain the whole world, but because you forfeit your soul it profits you absolutely nothing. On the other hand the last part of that Scripture says that in order to save your soul, you give everything. Here's another way to say it. If you gain the whole world, in light of eternity, and in light of God's kingdom you really have NOTHING. And what will you give in exchange (salvation) for your soul? EVERYTHING!

The truth is, God's grace is a gift we didn't deserve. But to receive and walk in this gift, we must give Jesus everything. So God's gift of salvation is not something for nothing. The price for our sins is the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. To receive this gift my entire life becomes His. Oh, but what a deal!

(Please visit my podcast at: http://srhutto.buzzsprout.com/ Thank you!)

Are You A Vampire?

I don't know about you, but I have always been a morning person. My Dad used to say I was like a vampire in the older movies. In the movies they would sleep in the day because they fled from the light. Then when darkness fell, their eyes would pop open and away they went prowling about doing...well, you know. Actually I didn't prowl about at night (because I am not a vampire), but my Dad's analogy was that when I awoke, usually very in the morning, I awoke rather abruptly and briskly. He would say my eyes would pop open, I would offer up a big smile, and immediately hop out of bed. That was his way of saying I was a morning person. Yes, I was and still am a morning person, but NOT a vampire!

I'm glad I'm a morning person. To me it's the freshest, most special time of the day. I enjoy watching the sun come up as I hang out with Jesus. I get the most out of each day by starting early.

Each new morning is a fresh beginning for everyone. It's a great time to start a trip. It's a great time implement change. It's just a great time. The greatest thing about rising early in the morning is that I can ponder the truth that God's mercies are new and fresh - every morning. "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3: 22-23) Interesting! Gods love and His compassion never cease. But they are new every morning! That's an incredible way to begin any day!

Now you may not be a morning person. But that's alright. Because no matter when you start your day, God's lovingkindnesses are new and fresh. Today as you begin your day, ponder the truth that God's mercies, His grace, His lovingkindnesses are fresh and new. The beginning of your day is a great time to ponder His goodness and how you can walk in it throughout the day. He truly loves you and desires you to be aware of His love the moment you awaken to start the new day. So.....good morning to you!

(Please visit my podcast at: http://srhutto.buzzsprout.com/ Thanks!)

Nothing Is Impossible With God

One of the most impacting verses of Scripture from the Bible is very short. However, being short doesn't mean it is not powerful. Listen to this: "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) In studying this I have learned that the word "nothing" here literally means "Not any word." "Not any word from God is impossible." That's powerful.

This powerful "word" was spoken by Gabriel, the angelic messenger to the virgin Mary. He had just announced she would supernaturally give birth to the Son of God. He had explained to her how the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of the Most High would overshadow her; that the holy child born of her would be called the Son of God. He also had just announced to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived, and was now in her sixth month. Elizabeth was a very elderly woman, past child-bearing age, and as a matter of fact, had never been able to have children. But God intervened. Gabe topped off the conversation with "Nothing (not any word) is impossible with God." This did it for Mary. "And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her." (Luke 1:38)

The message came through the mouth of Gabriel. But the words were from God. Notice how Mary said "Let it happen to me according to your word." She believed that nothing God speaks is impossible. As a result, she received a miracle break-through for herself and all of mankind!

Listen to me. This applies to you. What has God spoken to your heart? What particular Scripture or Scriptures are you standing on? Never forget, nothing is impossible with God. But understand, it's not enough to simply believe God will do something miraculous in and through you. You must base your stance upon God's Word, and how He spoke it to you. You must receive and embrace the promise he has outlined specifically for you in His Word. You must apply the Word in prayer, confession, and conversation. Only then can you say as Mary did, "May it be done to me according to Your Word." 

Gabriel said, "Nothing will be impossible with God." He didn't say, "Nothing will be impossible FOR God." This is very significant as it emphasizes the fact that you have a part in it. God speaks powerful things to His people, through His Word, based on His Word. But it is for a reason. It is because He has a powerful mission for you and me. God doesn't just do miracles. He does miracles for and through people. God doesn't perform supernatural feats simply because He is God. He does them because He loves people and wants to impact them mightily. The incredible truth is that He uses ordinary people like you and me. Our part is to embrace His Word and take steps of faith that are in line with His Word.

Let me encourage you to embrace His promises for you. Stand upon those promises. Stand upon His unfailing, unwavering Word. With God not any word from Him is impossible.

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Are You Called To Missions?

When I surrendered my life to Jesus a ways back, I immediately began to feel that I needed to help people in far away lands. Honestly, at the time I didn't have a clue as to what that feeling meant, or how it would happen. But this new desire I began to have never left. Not too long after Jesus changed my life, I joined the U.S. Air Force and served for 6 years. The AF sent me and my family to Germany for 3 years. It was a great experience for my family as we learned to trust Him daily.

It was in Germany that God called me to preach and to pastor. After returning to the States I served at Robins AFB in GA for my final 2 years in the service. While we were at Robins AFB we became involved in what was then known as Holy Spirit Harvest Church in Macon. This incredible church was founded and pastored by Sam and Rheba Drye, who became our spiritual parents!

At the beginning of my last year in the military I was approached by Pastor Sam and asked to become the church's business administrator/associate pastor when I exited the service toward the end of that year. I accepted! I served under Pastors Sam and Rheba for 5 and a half years.

I had always had an affinity toward travel, especially on airplanes. A month or so after I surrendered to Jesus I was in an international airport to pick up my wife who was returning from a short trip. While I was waiting, the sounds of the jets and the smell of jet fuel caused an excitement in me. I began to imagine myself traveling and ministering in other nations of the world. I didn't have a clue (at that time) how this was going to happen. I just knew it would!

My first official missions trip was while I was still on staff at Holy Spirit Harvest Church. It was a week-long trip to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The seeds were being planted. My next missions trip took place when I was the pastor of Jesup Christian Fellowship in Jesup, GA. Connie and I went to Canada to visit a missionary family which our church supported on a regular basis. More seeds were planted.

In 1996, while still pastor of Jesup Christian Fellowship I met Pastor G.R. Purushotham from India. Our church also supported his work as an Indian national. Pastor Purushotham came to our church to speak while he was itinerating in the States. He kept telling me, "You should come to India to preach the Word of God. The people are very, very hungry to hear God's Word!" So, in 1997 I made my first missions trip (alone) to India. This is the one that changed my life, and confirmed my calling to missions. (More on my first trip to India, and how it changed my life here.) God used the incredible hunger for the Word of God among the people of India to confirm the call on my life.

According to my own experience, my love for missions began with a call. I sensed this call early on in my service to Jesus. But always remember, the call has to unfold, one step at a time. This is where faith must be involved. Honestly, my first trip to India, the one that changed my life, was initially a "vision" trip to take a look at where our funds were going, and what they were being used for. When I was leaving India the first time, I had no desire to return. I felt the mission had been accomplished. But God used this objective to capture my heart, and to set me on a course that must be traveled by faith. After a week back home in the States, I knew I had to return to India. I've now been to India a total of 8 times.

We now reach into the nations of India and Honduras, sharing gospel of Jesus through Harvest Celebration Ministries. We're involved in encouraging the body of Christ, and pastors in Honduras, and helping to build church facilities in India. God has enabled us to offer sponsorships of needy children (In Honduras) that make an impact on their lives, their families, and the lives of those who sponsor the children.

I'm sharing all of this because there should be a call to missions. Yes, even short-term missions. And yes, sometimes folks go on missions trips for the wrong reasons. But if the call is there, God will confirm it. If the call is there, you will know it. The power and anointing is in the call, and in the obedience to the call.

So let me ask you, are you called? If you feel that you are, then go for it! Take steps of faith that get you in line with God's call on your life. If you're called, expect Him to provide. Expect Him to change the lives of those hungry for God. Prepare to have your life changed. I would love to hear your story. Feel free to make some brief comments. You have a testimony that will encourage others who must answer a similar call!


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Don't Debate The Word, Heed The Word

I felt the that Lord spoke to me recently and said, "Don't debate My Word, heed My Word." Wow! Simple, but very powerful. We all have our opinions of God's Word, based on our knowledge of it, its impact on us, and other's influence on us. (Someone we respect has an opinion, so we adopt theirs.)

We live in a day and time when we must heed God's Word, not debate it. Debate is a form of defending our personal interpretation of the Word. But God's Word says we must contend for the faith, not the Word. (See 1 Peter 3:15) God's Word is powerful, and needs no help from us to make it powerful. However, we are the ones who become more powerful in the Kingdom as we heed His Word. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) 

Honestly, not all debate is bad. It can possibly open the eyes of one who has an open heart and mind. However, when the heart and mind are closed it usually leads to division which produces factions in the body of Christ. Jesus didn't commission us to debate God's Word among ourselves. He commissioned us to obey His Word as we live it and share it in our world. When the gospel is heard, faith rises. (See Romans 10:17)

Expressing your personal take on the Word is easy. But are you obeying the Word of God? As you defend your take, are you doing what it says to do? Because, you see, debating within the body of Christ, destroys the witness of the church. You might say, "But they are wrong!" But are you heeding the Word of God yourself? Obedience to God's Word is the most powerful witness. Debating God's Word is not!

As I said earlier, God's Word is more powerful than your and my opinion of it. This is because God is more powerful than you and me. (No one can debate that!) So when we simply heed (obey) the Word, our powerful and awesome God works through us! I love what the Apostle Paul says. "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Obedience to His Word brings the demonstration of His Word, by the Holy Spirit. No debate is needed when there is demonstration. So let me encourage you. Learn God's Word. Do what it says. Let the Holy Spirit confirm God's Word in and through you as you heed it. Demonstrate the power of God's Word through the Holy Spirit. No debate will ever be necessary.