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March 2017

Have Mercy

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"Have mercy upon me, Oh God, according to Thy lovingkindness:

according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." (Ps. 51:1, KJV)


Oh Lord, God, Yahweh, Abba,

I am, but dust, and to dust I shall return.

That is my story. It is all I bring to Thy mercy seat.

I am a shell of what I could have been and was made to be ... an empty shell.

And yet, You see more. You call forth more. You enable, empower, and expect more.

You fill this empty shell with spirit-life and I live and Christ lives in me.

Teach me, Oh God, to humble myself that I might rise and live and raise up others in Your name.

In Jesus' Name, I pray,




With Us In Temptation - Worship, March 5, 2017

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4141 Ministries and the Fellowship of Joy 
invites you to join us here for a time of worship. If you cannot join us in Fresno at 9:00 AM, please join us on this page as we share scripture and song together.

4141 N Fresno St., Fresno, CA. 93726
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 9 AM


 God of Life and love, of hope and peace, and of  Jesus, Christ , our Lord.
You have come to us, wrapped in vulnerability, humanity, and grace.
You have come to us, face-to-face in order to face all that we must overcome.

You, who are acquainted with temptation, deliver us in this hour and tune our hearts t o worship You. Amen.

Old Testament Scripture- Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (NIV)

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.


God, our Father'

Like our original parents, we have sinned.
We have ignored You.
We have disobeyed You.
We have gone astray.
This is our confession and moment of repentance.
We would, by Your mercy, turn from our sin and turn toward You.
We accept the life of your kingdom and Your reign in our hearts.
In Jesus, Name,


Psalm 32 (NRSV)
Leader - Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Congregation -  Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Leader - While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
Congregation -  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Leader - Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selahngregation -  Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
Leader - You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
Congregation -  I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Leader - Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
Congregation -  Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
Leader - Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Let us celebrate the life of blessedness and forgiveness in Christ.

Hymn – Blessed Are They

New Testament Scripture - Romans 5:12-19 (NIV)

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

We, who are in Christ, who partake of His righteousness, declare our intention to answer His call to live by His higher calling.

Hymn – We Are Called

Intercessory Prayer and Lord's Prayer

Please send us your prayer requests by leaving a comment or at our  email: [email protected]

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Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

 Hymns – Taste and See & Canticle of the Turning



Offering - What shall you cheerfully bring to God today for Him to bless and use?


Download Recording

The Lord’s Supper

And they sang a hymn and went out

Being Who You Were Made to Be

Be you

I am probably what she calls an "ambivert." I switch between the extremes. But this is a powerful word to us.

She nudges us to let people live and create outside the tight boxes we build for people.

I love this quote, "Solitude matters and that for some people, it is the air that they breath ... we have known for centuries about the transcend power of solitude."

I need people and I need loneliness.

We really need to let people be who they are with the hard-wiring they have received from the heavenly engineering department and let people go off by themselves for a while.

We are who we are. We are made of the stuff that God used to assemble us and according to a pattern that is unique and wonderful. We can learn from each other, but we can never be the other. Any attempt to copy someone else's pattern carried two built-in penalties:

1. We do not do it well.
2. The thing we can do, namely be our best selves, goes undone.

Either way, the world loses and we lose.

Be your authentic self. It is a great gift to God and to humanity.

From Decline to Incline


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In times of decline, we seek the Divine Incline.
Perceived or received, something declines for us,
And lofty edifices of our pride sink low.
Yet we ...
The "we" that is truly "us ..."
Shall not decline His inclination toward restoration.
Poor and needy
When greedy fires are consuming the underbrush of our lives,
From hesitation to preservation, His salvation
Rescues our souls.
From sadness to gladness we are lifted,
By grace, gifted ...
For God is good! In this we have stood!
God is forgiving! Thus, our living!
God is abounding in covenant love!
Give ear, Oh Lord.
Give Your full attention and intervention
To our plea for grace!
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!"
It is the day of trouble ...
For me ...
For many ...
We stand upon the precipice.
We cry for mercy.
Oh LORD, answer, please.

"Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me."

(Psalm 86:1-7 ESV)


The Ticket in the Thicket

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Here is the ticket in the thicket.

Not today, but some days, I have been on the same page as the psalmist who said, "My soul is cast down within me ... "   (Psalm 42:6 ESV)

That is the thicket - a thick hedge of problems and complexities that obscure the view of what might be ahead.

But he did not stop there!

In the next breath he declares, "therefore I remember you ..."

Remember God!

Don't let the obscurities and complexities of this moment build an hedge between you and hope.

Remember God!

That is the ticket!



Happy New Life

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“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. …  And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God …  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! “  John 1:32, 34, 36

Against the backdrop of the Christmas story, we meditate upon John’s testimony to the significance of the Incarnate Word of God. The Spirit descends, the record is borne, and the Lamb of God is revealed.

It is a transitional moment of transformational power. The formative years of Jesus’ life are complete and the babe we left in the manger is now a man who knows who He is and what his mission is on earth is to be. It is the conclusion of the Christmas story and the beginning of a ministry that will culminate in His passion.

Jesus comes to John to be baptized and His baptism is a celebration of new life and new possibilities.

He stands with sinners though He has never sinned. He enters into the symbol of repentance for the sins that we have committed. He identifies intimately with humanity and in that act of identification, God sends forth His own Spirit to visibly and dramatically identify with Him.

It is a new day. In much the same way that we mark a new year with noise and celebration, God marks the ministry of Christ with John’s declaration, “This is the Son of God,” followed by “Look everyone! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World!”

The old is passing away. The new has come. From now on baptism will mean something entirely different and no one will need to be imprisoned in their despair of sin. New years had come and gone for centuries with their twin commemoration of the Day of Atonement. This was no mere new year. This announcement was of new life!

Happy New Life!

And More ....

You may be moving into some new, unknown, precarious, and frightening territory in your life. You are proceeding with caution and trepidation. It is a place where you must go, but you do not know the terrain or the hidden agendas of these new days ... All you know is Who is with you and leading you ...

... and that is enough.

" And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said,'Here I am.' Then he said, 'I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.'"

"Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him."

(Genesis 46:2-5 ESV)

It was all the assurance that Jacob needed to set out and fo.

It is all we need.

God bless you in your NEW journey ... for each day is a NEW JOURNEY!

And Sill More ...

We have rights and prerogatives that we do not exercise. We are free to do so, but we are also free to let them go because our loyalty, our values, our marching orders, indeed, our very purpose for existence is focused on something higher and better than our comforts. We set aside our preferences for the good of others because that good is in the heart of the One to whom we have pledged our total loyalty --- to love whom He loves and to care about the desires of His heart until they become the desires of our hearts as well.

" If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?"

"Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ."

(1 Corinthians 9:12 ESV)

Don't Die with an Empty Bucket List


My bucket list
Don't let your bucket list go empty ... Keep things moving out, but replace them regularly. Plan to die with some things undone for others to take up and do. Never stop looking forward. Eventually, your gaze will be firmly fixed on the heavenly prize, but the path to Heaven passes through these green pastures, still waters, shadows of death, feasts of plenty here. Goodness and mercy are following you all the days of your life and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever --- But keep replenishing that bucket list!

Extraordinary, Audacious, and Joyful

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I wish for you all a day filled with extraordinary, audacious, and joyful success.

May it be extraordinary because we were never called to be merely ordinary. We were called, fashioned,ad equipped to do the one job no one else in the world can do: be ourselves under God in a world that needs the uniqueness we have to offer.

May it be audacious because audacity is that which is invulnerable to fear or intimidation. May nothing intimidate you on your path to greatness today. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. May your critics on the highway to mediocrity simply confirm in your heart that you are going the opposite and right way.

May it be joyful because joy is the culmination of a life of grace, gratitude, and generosity. If you can discover the secret of abiding and overflowing joy in the midst of all circumstances, you will be a success indeed.

All the best to you today and always.

Behold the Lamb

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“… Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29

It is not enough to have a theoretical understanding of God’s redemption through Jesus and how He came to fulfill the Old Testament system of sacrifices as the Paschal Lamb – as important as that information may be. No, it is of greatest importance that we behold Him. Some translate the word, “Look,” but the meaning is the same. We must linger over the vision of Jesus and stare into His eyes. We must be captivated by His presence so that to even blink we would disrupt the flow of His radiance into our souls. We must drink deeply of His beauty that transcends human comeliness. We must experience Him in all His glory and behold Him.

In Jesus Christ, the Living Word, we have beheld the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. God has allowed us to glimpse Himself and touch His own incarnate flesh. Why wouldn’t we stop everything else we might be doing and bathe in the wonder of a moment of Lamb of God?

Oh Lamb of God
Upon whose sinless shoulders
All sin has pressed down its awful weight,
We pause amidst the frivolous trivialities of our lives
To behold You
In a manger, on the cross, ascending to Your throne
Coming once again in glory



So the Lord Has Mercy

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Psalm 103:13, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

The love of God is a tender love.

It is a father’s love.

It is a patient love, understanding, compassionate, forgiving, and gracious.

The love of God for His children moves Him to desire what is best for us, what brings us closer to Him, and what develops in us the character that is in Him.

God’s love for us as His children is consistent, persistent, and generous. He never fails us. He is always present and always true.

Like any father, He wants His children to grow and mature. He wants us to make good and wise choices and honor our family name. He offers us His support, guidance, and correction to that end.

God’s love is real. For that reason, it is sometimes a tough love, a love that can say “no” and mean it, but a love that delights in every opportunity to say, “YES!”

God, our Father, rejoices with us, weeps with us, and loves us even when we are unlovable. That is because we are never unlovable to Him. Mostly, God, our tender, loving Father carries us on His shoulders and lifts us so that we might become more, through Him, than we could ever imagine on our own.

Days as Grass


“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” – Psalm 103:15

For our season, whatever it may be, we flourish. Then comes the wind and we are gone. Soon, the very memory of our lives fades from the consciousness of our successors and we are thought of no more.

Such a thought might be deemed depressing were it the whole story.

The rest of the story teaches us that from everlasting to everlasting, God’s love is a constant toward us. His covenant people are never forgotten.

It goes on to tell us that God’s throne is never abandoned and that He rules over all.

He it is, according to Psalm 103, who forgives all our sin.

It is He who heals our diseases. Not one of them disappears apart from His wise intervention or creative genius.

He redeems our lives, crowns us love and compassion, satisfies, renews, and administers justice.

How comfortable it would be for us to remain as a grassy flowering meadow, but that is not the way of life. We come and go. Soon we will fade.

Our privilege and responsibility is to bloom in every place we are planted for as long as it is springtime in our lives. It is to be as inwardly beautiful for God as we can be for as many days as we can and to move through the seasons of life with grace and trust.

We may not always be green, but we shall always be loved.




Blessing God

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"Bless the Lord, O my soul … and all that is within me …” Psalms 103:1

 Audacity and capacity are issues that are triggered by this prayer as it is suggested to us.  It is audacious to think that we could somehow bless God. Yet, He has given us the capacity to be a blessing to His heart.

We bless God when we worship Him. He delights in our praises. He enjoys our singing and our words of adoration. He looks beyond the superficial and relishes our heart devotion as we come to Him.

He is blessed by our love response as we receive His love and return it to Him in obedience, faith, and love for our fellow human beings.

We can bless God with our words, deeds, and emotions, but God is most blessed when our lives are completely engaged in love for Him – loving Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. He is blessed when we remind ourselves to bless Him and we follow through with everything that is within us.

What is within you today? Not all of it is positive, but when you offer it to God, He is blessed because He can take it and transform it for His own purposes. Nor is everything within you negative. You cannot be the judge of that. All you can do is commit everything within you to His glory and allow Him to sort I out. It is His holy Name that must be honored and His holiness is all that can make our lives holy and acceptable as offerings of worship.

In the process, He is blessed. And that is what counts.