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Why an apostolic church?

One of the things I love about Gateway is that I’m always challenged to actually be the kind of person God has made me to be. Because of God’s grace, I’ve never felt like I was punching the air  in vain or hopelessly spinning my wheels. When He shows me a glimpse of the person I could be, it inspires me to press in to Him, knowing that the promise of truly becoming that person is real.

Part of my Kingdom assignment is to lead our congregation in worship. There is tremendous pressure to be in-tune with God and sensitive to His leadings and promptings, being quick to hear and follow Holy Ghost. It’s easy to let myself become overwhelmed with a sense of inadequacy and incompetence because I’m just a human being. I don’t always know the next step. I don’t always know the next song. I don’t always know what God’s doing. Then I remember that it’s not by my strength or talent or intellect. I can only fulfill this call by the grace of God, and you can only fulfill your call the same way.

The Apostolic ministry is one where the people are released into their callings and giftings by the grace of God. Apostle David first teaches us, equips us, chastens us and matures us. He then positions us, releases us, sends us and empowers us to fully fill our Kingdom assignments. That’s what it means to be submitted to an Apostle and be part of an Apostolic ministry: that you will be challenged, disciplined and strengthened so that when you become a mature son of the house, you can be an effective disciple for the Kingdom ofGod.

God predestined each of us for a particular purpose. There are no clones in the Body of Christ. Each one of us is unique and special. Each one of us has a call and destiny on our lives. And each one of us CAN reach that destiny. All we have to do is trust God, listen to and obey the spiritual authority God has placed in our lives, and rely fully on God’s grace to do all the things that are required of us.

Here at Gateway, you have the opportunity to learn what that unique purpose for your life is, how to develop it and walk into it, and how to actually be that person God has made you to be.

~by Anessa Back

Lessons From a Bird

~ Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather unto barns, yet their heavenly Father feedeth them, and are you not much better than they?”

Worrisome thoughts were racing through my mind like they were running a marathon. An aunt had died. A friend was waiting for results of medical tests. I had concerns about a family member.

A bird caught my eye. He happily hopped around before taking flight. I thought how nice to be that carefree. I decided to do some birdwatching. Instead of binoculars, I reached for my Bible. I found over 300 mentions of birds in scripture. Jesus himself used them for illustrations.

Birds often travel in flocks. A flock is defined as, “a group assembled or traveling together.” In Acts 20:28, the church is referred to as a flock. I recognized that a flock of birds have attributes needed in the church. They mostly form in winter. The church should too. I am not talking about cold weather. I am speaking of hard times we face. It helps to surround ourselves with fellow believers during trying times. They can pray for us and offer encouragement.

When part of a flock, the stronger birds protect the weaker ones. This protects them from a would be predator. By being together, food is easier to find. If one of us is in a season where it seems we can’t hear from God, we can draw strength from hearing what Holy Spirit is speaking to someone else.

I found the most important example to be unison. It is amazing to watch how birds fly in perfect harmony. They each find their place and work together. Unity is one of the most important characteristics in a successful body of believers. We can get so caught up in seeking a deeper revelation that we can miss important lessons from simple things. Things like birdwatching. I wonder if my little friend can teach me to sing?

~ Connie Robinson

Image Credit: Geese in flight © Toivo Lagerweij via freeimages.com

– See more at: http://www.gatewaybelievers.com/articles/lessons-bird#sthash.ThSKNsqS.dpuf

Get Ready

Prayer was powerful on Saturday morning. While Mr. Bill Avant was praying, the words, “We haven’t been ready” leapt in my spirit, so I prayed that out.

Immediately, Mr. Bill grabbed the microphone and said, “We’ve got to quit seeing people as visitors.” They are part of the Body of Christ. They are our brothers and sisters. They have gifts that Jesus needs to advance His Kingdom.

We’ve prayed for God to send the hungry ones and He has. The problem is in us. We haven’t valued them. A visitor is someone who comes and stays for a little while. God sees every person as part of the family. You wouldn’t call a family member a visitor would you?

Matthew 22:8-10 says, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

God has been ready to pour out His Spirit. We haven’t been ready to receive those that He has given us. We have been closed off. We still have that lingering religious mindset that says people have to look or act a certain way for God to use them. We can’t expect people to be perfect because we are not. Every one of us has been broken. We are all in need of a Savior. We all need grace. God in His mercy helped us when we were a mess, so we need to do the same for others.

We have been too comfortable with our church the way it is. We have been divided. In order for God to manifest Himself in power and might, we must be ready. To be ready to receive something, we have to see and believe that the thing we are longing for is necessary. Ready is also another word for fit. We have to be ready to be fit with other members of the Body!

Now that our spiritual eyes have been opened, we see that one of the missing pieces has been filled in. He has given us gifts in people who are often labeled misfits in the world.  I am so thankful that God looks on the heart! He said He would take the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Confound means to confuse, stun, or amaze. God will use the foolish things – the people that others don’t want to be around, the outcasts, and the people who have always been told they have nothing to give.

Despite what these people look like or sound like, they have a heart after God. God can use that! Apostle David said that God has given him a big vision, but we can’t do a lot of things right now because we don’t have the “building material.” Look around you, friend! God is bringing in “building material.”

We don’t have more of God because we haven’t been ready. We haven’t been watchful. We haven’t been full of eagerness.

We get what we expect. We’ve gotten exactly what we’ve said. We are all guilty of calling each new person who comes to our church a visitor. No, they are pieces ready to be fit into God’s plan at Gateway and in the Body of Christ! I challenge each of you – myself included – to expect God to do great and mighty things through His Body!

~ Madison Sanders

Image Credit: Holding Hands © BSK via freeimages.com

– See more at: http://www.gatewaybelievers.com/articles/get-ready#sthash.YoxeAbCc.dpuf

We are Stuck

It is common for muscles to stop working when you don’t use them. The ability to move is there. You are just stuck. Even if you move around, you are not functioning at your highest potential.

Some synonyms for paralyzed are: incapacitated, powerless, and immobilized.

While most people think about this in the physical sense, I started thinking about the Body of Christ. When the Church stops doing what they know to do, they are paralyzed. They are not as effective as they could and SHOULD be.

What are some things the Church has quit doing? First, the Church has abandoned the Word.

Psalms 119:11-16 says, “I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.”

The Church has not hidden the Word in our hearts. Instead of saying what God’s Word says, we complain and whine. The Church doesn’t delight in God. Sure, you might gather at church on Sunday, but it’s just something to do. Church is just another place to go. A check mark on a list of good deeds.

The Church is stuck because we are not listening to God’s voice. Every week, I hear from God through the messenger at my church. And each week, I get to choose whether I am going to do what God’s messenger said.

The Church is stuck because we have compromised the truth. We don’t want the pure Word of God. We want a message that will tickle our ears. We don’t want to be challenged. We don’t really want to change. We want someone to do it for us. Guess what? God has already done everything He’s going to do for us! He paid the price at the Cross for all of our weaknesses, pain, and sins. Because of Him, we don’t have to remain powerless. Through Him, we can be strong.

The Church is stuck because we have been double-minded. James 1:8 says, “Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” Does that sound like the Body of Christ today? Yes, we have not been pursuing Jesus. We are not firm in what we believe, so our foundation is shaky. Jesus was the Word made flesh. We should be built on the Word. We have to abide in Him. Separated, we can’t produce anything.

Are you tired of being stuck? Are you tired of not fulfilling your purpose with power? Let’s get back to the basics and embrace God’s Word as never before.

~ Madison Sanders

Image Credit: truck stuck in the mud © Nico van Diem via freeimages.com

– See more at: http://www.gatewaybelievers.com/articles/we-are-stuck#sthash.TvGIccSb.dpuf

OCCUPY!

The church is waiting on the return of Jesus. We read the Bible and it is confirmed. We see the signs of the times that were predicted thousands of years ago coming to pass. God told Isaiah the prophet. I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee. ~Isaiah 48:5 One of the greatest signs to come to pass is the Nation of Israel returning to its homeland.

Whether your belief is pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation of Jesus’s return it is okay. I like what I heard said; Just be ready at any time.” Jesus said no man knows the day of His return, only God knows.

I remember when I got saved in 1973. I thought Jesus would come back any second. Many years have passed, but I’m still believing in His coming. As a young Christian, I remember telling my insurance agent I didn’t need any life insurance. He was a very wise man. He told me that Jesus said to occupy till he returned. He explained we were to live each day expecting Jesus to return while staying busy. We are to live life doing God’s will helping others.

Most of us have heard the saying, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”

The Body of Christ, the Church, is supposed to have an influence on the world. We are called to be light and salt. Light dispels darkness and salt preserves. It seems the Church has let our light become very dim. We are setting back and seeing darkness take over our nation. Don’t be deceived. God’s judgment is coming to America if we don’t repent.

It’s time to awake to righteousness. We as the Church can change our nation and our future. The Church has been divided and fragmented for too long. It’s time to come together and keep God’s commandment to OCCUPY. If every Christian would pray and do their part we can turn things around.

Are we going to sit back and do nothing? If so, don’t be surprised when America is a third-world country and we lose our freedoms. Please pray and encourage your brothers and sisters to pray. We can preserve this nation and our future if we band together as the Church.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We have the answer. Let’s use it, Church!

~Ricky Robinson

Image Credit Porch Light © switt via freeimages.com

– See more at: http://www.gatewaybelievers.com/articles/occupy#sthash.VMObVssP.dpuf

For the Hungry Ones

I get so tired of just taking from people all the time. Yes, we have to have food, clothes, and shelter. These things are all gotten through other people. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about just everyday things. I want to be able to give back. I’m talking to those who are hungry for more.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated because I am not able to go on a mission trip yet. I know I will someday. Then, I remember I can make an impact on someone’s life in the classroom, in town, or in the grocery store.

There are people all around who need hope. Just a smile and an encouraging word or asking how someone is doing is enough to remind people that life is worth living. We all get discouraged from time to time. That is normal. One thing that helps me is finding ways to help other people.I may not be physically able to go on a mission trip right now because most places are not handicap accessible, but I can give of my time and talents. How much are you giving to others?Are you so focused on yourself and your goals that you have forgotten that people need you right now? Yes, they need you right now.

They are searching for something real in the midst of this materialistic you-centered society. People need to know that not everyone is greedy. They need to know that not everyone is rude. They need to know that there are still people in America who uphold moral values. They need to know that not everyone has abandoned truth for political correctness.

This post is for the hungry ones. The ones who aren’t afraid to question things. The ones who are still pursuing truth when the vision of this nation is more clouded than ever.

There is more to life than what you see. There are wellsprings of life in the desert. If you stop hungering for more, you will become like those around you. You will conform to their thoughts and their speech. But most of all, you will begin to settle. Don’t do that!

You were made for so much more. God has made the Church for more than social gatherings! Many of you might know you need something more, but you don’t know what that is. You are hungry for God! The hungry ones want to fulfill their God-given purpose and destiny.

The only way you can do that is to be a part of a church that encourages growth. You need a church that will challenge your thinking. You need a church that has apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God wants us fitted together with others while working towards a common purpose. You need a church that will help you develop in your gifts. If you feel like you are dying, your church isn’t feeding you! It’s okay to admit that.

Let the hungry ones unite!

~Madison Sanders

Image Credit Hunger and Gratitude © leona lim via freeimages.com

– See more at: http://www.gatewaybelievers.com/articles/hungry-ones#sthash.TmCO6Zg1.dpuf

The Stale Church

Why has the Church become a place that is closed off to the world? Why do we lack passion? Why are we not bold in our faith?

While out with my mom, I was reminded of the lukewarm church. Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit” (The Message).

The Church has become stale. We do just enough for those around us. We don’t care what happens to the lost; we are satisfied we are going to Heaven. We want to pad our pockets so that we can live a comfortable life.

We have gotten so far off track from the Church that Jesus had in mind. He said He’s coming back for a Church without spot or blemish. He said that His sons and daughters would be mature sons who equipped others to carry the vision.

As His sons and daughters, instead of valuing correction and rebuke, we seek out those who will tell us that everything is okay. I am going to say it again and again, “The Body of Christ is NOT okay!”

The Church today is full of people claiming to be working for God when in reality, they are just interested in making a name for themselves. The true Church laborers do it for no pay, no one knows their name, and they don’t preach what is popular.

Preaching isn’t a sacred profession anymore. Sacred means revered. It also means pure. God’s Word is pure. We are supposed to be pure. The church today isn’t pure. Christians have defiled God’s house. The Church today isn’t a refuge for sinners. The brokenhearted can’t come to be healed. We aren’t bold in our faith because we don’t know what we believe. We get a few Holy Ghost goose bumps and a few knee jerks and call that revival.

That’s not revival! That’s not the Church that God wants! He wants people who have a fire shut up in their bones, a word from deep in their spirits that can set people free from sickness, fear, or any other problem.

If you have become stale, repent! Turn away from the foolish things and seek God.

 

~Madison Sanders

Image Credit Stale Milk © Mike Savage via freeimages.com

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