Day 19 | "There’s a Blessing in the Fire" - Principles of Empowerment 30-Day Devotional

1 Peter 1:6, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7]  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

According to our text, trials, even those that grieve us, serve a purpose. The “genuineness” of our faith must be developed. God does not want to see whether are not we have faith. He knows that we have some level of faith. God wants to develop and make our faith grow. Our faith is our confidence in God. Our faith is our trust in his word and acting on the word. Our faith is also what we believe, and how our beliefs impact how we live. 

The bible Greek definition word of genuineness is “dokimion” meaning: 1) The proving  2) That by which something is tried or proved, a test; like the crucible of a furnace for smelting. 

We know Peter is not talking about a consuming fire because the text states, “Tested by fire.” God’s consuming fire does not come to test, but to consume and destroy. Peter is describing a refining fire. 
Let’s understand refining fire: In Mark 9:49 Jesus said, “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” We know that salt “seasons” by acting as an influencing agent, whether for flavoring or as a preservative. 

Steel becomes stainless steel by the “seasoning” of fire while adding chromium.  All forms of iron and steel will rust when exposed to the elements, but stainless steel will not rust or corrode. Why? Stainless steel does not rust because it has been transformed by a “seasoning with fire.” 

God helps us arrive to a state where we do not corrode under exposure to the negative elements of life. This happens as our faith is “seasoned” by God’s refining fire. The highest aim for cultivating our faith is not to get more stuff. The highest aim and purpose of faith, according to the text, takes us to a place where we can be “found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 
When we are experiencing the fire of challenge and adversity, we know that God’s refining fire makes our faith stronger! Though we do not see Jesus, we continue to love Him! 

Peter went on to say, “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” 

This should be the aim of our life with God!

Reflection Question: How has greater seasoning by fire helped you become a better Christian and person?

(Excerpt from “Principles of Empowerment” 30-day devotional.

Great Grace - Practitioners & Partners With God (Audio Message)

Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 

The grace of God is the single greatest source and resource in the life of a believer. Grace is God’s favor, ability, operational power, and everything He makes available to you and me. Grace came through Jesus Christ. John 1:16-17 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Looking at our text: Is “Great Grace” a different kind or higher level of grace? No. The word “great” here does not describe a different kind of Grace, anymore than there is different kind of Jesus. Great grace describes the engagement and practice that the Apostles had with the grace of God. They were fully submitted to Christ and fully immersed in living in grace. That’s what makes grace “great.” Grace is our lifestyle. Grace is our regular practice of life.

The thing is, when you know that you have the best, you won’t be tempted to settle for less. The grace of God on your life is the best. Believe and live as a skilled practitioner and partner with God and your life will manifest the “grace grace” that is already inside of you.

Listen to the message on the Firm Foundation Podcast:

Firm Foundation Podcast on iTunes
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A Memorable and Empowering Weekend | Reflections on Ministry, Service and Legacy

The weekend of October 6-8 was both a memorable and empowering weekend for New Covenant Church, and for my wife and me.

We celebrated 35 years of service as a church and pastor. This celebration was focused on the faithfulness of God, the power of legacy received, and the glory of Christ in changed lives. Our theme was “Empowered to Triumph In Christ Jesus” based on 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

Another key Scripture to our celebration, from the beginning of 2017, and in recognition of the Lord helping us retire our building mortgage and become a debt free ministry, Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Below are two videos I produced for this weekend:  “Reflections on Legacy, Family, Future” Shown on Friday October 6:

“New Covenant Church Ministry Highlights 2016-17” shown on Sunday, October 8.

There are two sets of photos: 1) From our Anniversary Banquet honoring my wife and me. 2) From Anniversary Services on Sunday October 8. 
2017 Pastor Anniversary Banquet

NCC 35th Anniversary Service AM & PM

I appreciate Elder Gaylan & JoCarol who served guided us through the weekend events as host and hostess, even though they were involved in a severe auto accident from which they walked away with minor injuries. We also thank Stacy Williams and her Anniversary Celebration team for organizing these wonderful events. God’s grace and miracles continue to sustain us!

It was special joy and honor to share the evening on Friday with my two closest friends in life and ministry, Dr. Kenneth & Joyce Sullivan and Pastor Al & Carla Jennings. We appreciate these servants of God along with many other friends in life and ministry (man of whom are highlighted the Legacy video).

Sunday belonged to my precious New Covenant Church family. Words can hardly express my love and gratitude to these committed, caring, and covenant-keeping, people of God! During the evening service, it was my honor to present special awards for Distinguished Service to five NCC family members who have provided long-term and impactful service to both New Covenant Church and our
Community over the better part of our 35 years of ministry: Dr. Gwendolyn J. Kelley, Patricia A. Hudson, Shawn Carter, Dennis & Vera Gibson, Elder Horace B. Hudson.

It was a great joy to have my family join on us on Sunday morning, including my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren!

Sunday evening featured a remarkable time of worship and word with Pastor Kenneth Sullivan, Jr. and the New Direction Church family! (Audio of message will be posted soon)

Please watch the videos, review the photos and help me thank God for His power, grace, love, and faithfulness! Thank you for any part of our past or present that you have loved and supported us. Thank you for your future support and partnership!

~ Pastor Bryan & Patricia Hudson

"We The People"

A main feature of our constitutional republic is that “We The People” are neither “subjects” nor passive. We both pray for and hold our elected leaders accountable. We don’t have “rulers” for whom we can ONLY pray, as with the Roman Empire in the Apostle Paul’s day. When elected leaders act like rulers, they must be reminded that the United States of America was founded and designed to reject despotism.

We don’t allow oligarchs and plutocrats (look it up) to define patriotism for us. We already have our definition based on these words from the Preamble of the US Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Some of what is being demanded by political leaders is actually much more anti-patriotic and injurious than people realize.  Don’t let anyone intimidate or shame you into silence  on any matter of concern.

Day 5 - Principles of Empowerment | Three Elements of Empowerment

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Philippians 3:14, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
There is always something valuable for you ahead. This is why we “press,” not in forcing anything, but staying in position through diligence. There are three elements that keep your heart prepared for empowerment.
1. Training in understanding and wisdom 
Proverbs 1:2,To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding, 3  To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity; 4 To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion— 5  A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel
Wisdom is knowing the best paths. Understanding is knowing the meaning of things. You gain wisdom and understanding by learning from God and key people in your life.
2. Receiving the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:8, But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Nothing is more empowering than encountering the Source of power, God’s Spirit. In essence, we are spirit beings, so your intellect and skills require the support of the Holy Spirit to maximize your wellbeing and effectiveness.
3. The Call of God
Acts 26:16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
Ministers are not the only Christians who are called by God. Everyone of us is “called” in the sense that we have specific purpose in life and service within God’s kingdom. The Apostle Paul was the worse kind of enemy against Christ’s church before his conversion. It is ironic and fitting that a man who was a fierce enemy of Christ and God’s people became the greatest Apostle.

Reflection Question: What is your understanding of your training, relationship with the Holy Spirit, and God’s call on your life?
Key insight I gained today:

Today’s action item based on insight: