|Posted on June 15, 2018 at 9:10 AM||comments (6)|
A friend who sticks
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Friendship. A simple concept. Yet in today’s world it’s a most troubling and difficult thing to acquire. It seems as our society advances in technology we increasingly get disconnected from others. There are so many distractions. TV, Internet, games, work,… so many ways we are pulled away from meaningful human connections. Even in the church, we often find it quite difficult to re-engage with others and find that “friend who sticks”.
Then there is the problem of choosing the wrong friend … one who will lead you into temptation and, as the wise man says, ruin. “Bad companions do corrupt good morals.”
The good news is, we do not need to choose the wrong friend. We can choose a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Jesus is just such a friend! He is all about making and keeping friends. He wants to be your friend as well as your Lord. He is a friend who sticks.
Perhaps a friendly challenge is in order here. Look at Jesus and examine how he made his disciples. How he developed His friendship with them. What is it that you see?
|Posted on March 14, 2018 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
“Come and See”
John 1:45-46 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Sometimes we tend to make things more difficult than they need to be. I believe the Lord included these accounts of newly called ‘unschooled and ordinary’ disciples of Jesus reaching out to friends, piers, and family, for that reason. In Philips account, we see how reaching out to others can be far more simple than we often imagine. First Philip finds what I suspect is a friend or acquaintance and enthusiastically shares with him that he has found the Messiah. When questioned further, his simple response was “Come and see”.
These are 3 simple words we need to memorize and place in our conversations with others. Philip had spent a few hours with this remarkable man, Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t know a lot but he knew where his friends and kin could get the answers to life and its most challenging questions. At the feet of this man, Jesus!
The same is true for all of us who have spent a few hours with Jesus, even today. Let me ask you a few questions: When you are at Church do you sense you are in the presence of Jesus? Do you sense you are in the presence of those who have spent some time with Him? Are you convinced, that the answers to life’s most difficult and challenging questions can be found there? With that in mind, you along with Philip are more than qualified to enthusiastically share with friends, associates and loved ones, “Come and See”. Then it is incumbent on us to conduct ourselves as those who have been with Jesus.
|Posted on January 30, 2017 at 2:50 PM||comments (3)|
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
I have appeared to you for this purpose… —Acts 26:16
The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).
When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
|Posted on December 30, 2016 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
Wow, 2016 is in our rear view mirror. Another year has flown by ...
First of all we have seen God work in some wonderful ways.
We have seen God comfort the ailing and give strength to the spouses and care givers.
We have seen Him answer prayers in powerful ways. He has protected our children through painful trials, afflictions, and distant travels. We can see Him drawing them closer to a relationship with Him as He has brought healing and hope.
We saw His miraculous care through stage 4 cancer and a many other grievous afflictions.
We have seen new children born to Him in His Kingdom, the church, growing in faith and maturity. As one told me, “He has opened the eyes of my heart to His ways.”
We have seen how He has brought Paul and Melissa and family into our family to promote the future welfare of His people in this place.
For many of you it has been a bittersweet year. We have seen Him as the “God of all comfort” as He comforted those who have lost their loved ones. Some have left our presence, full of years with many loving memories to remind us of their life. Others left us much sooner than we would have ever believed. In both circumstances, their passing is a reminder to us all, none of us will make this world our permanent home. Like those who have gone on, we too will begin a new journey into the "Undiscovered Country" as Shakespeare describes it. We know with certainty, Jesus is the author and trailblazer that can help us in that final trial this side of His glory.
There was a 50 year anniversary and new marriages in our midst.
Through miraculous answered prayer and Christian love, we have a mature couple assume parental responsibilities … giving new hope to precious twins.
There were renewed vows to God and new found commitments to love and obey Jesus and His ancient but sure ways.
We have all aged, however, I hope we see "That though outwardly, we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
There is also a number in our midst who are seriously considering going deeper in their Spiritual Journey. Some are really thinking about recommitting their life to Jesus. Others have assumed they had begun their walk with Jesus long ago, however, have become increasingly aware that they really need to be Born Again of water and Spirit, just as the early disciples of Jesus were and each subsequent generation of disciples have been from the beginning of His Church. If you are in this number make sure 2017 is your year. In fact "Today is the day of your Salvation." And remember, you are all welcome in this place.
Thanks you again for Paul and Melissa along with their wonderful family. Their presence provides not just a source of strength to our current situation as a congregation, but the hope of a greater future as God wills it.
All these events occurred in 2016 for our little band in this place. Just think what 2017 will bring!
I would like to thank each and every one of you for calling us back into the ministry of the Word. A year ago at this time we had no idea that we would ever be involved in this type of ministry again. Sharing the message of Jesus and the words of the Eternal God with each of you has been a real honor and very encouraging to me. I hope, likewise, it has helped you in your spiritual journey.
Once again, thank you for your support and your generous gift this holiday season. We are so undeserving and grateful.
Let's be watchful and prayerful for the next year. Let's work hard at restoring our relationships in 2017 and help our dear ones to have a new or a renewed faith and growing love for our Christ.
Always to His glory,
Gary and Teresa
|Posted on April 22, 2016 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
Re-Cap Sermon 4-17-2016
God revealed Himself to various men prior to Moses (the scribe and prophet of the Old Covenant). However, with Moses, God began to reveal Himself in a more awesome and glorious way. This revelation of His presence and His written will was accompanied by, what the Hebrew scholars called, the ‘Shekinah’. The Shekinah was a demonstration of God’s Glory and dwelling among men.
This Shekinah glory was often accompanied by additional revelations of God’s truths, nature or laws. In Part 3 we will discuss more fully how Jesus was/is the new covenant Shekinah revelation of God. The glory of God’s presence and the New Testament revelation.
When Jehovah God first revealed Himself to Moses, it was in an ordinary bush. A bush aglow with the Shekinah of God, the ‘Burning Bush’. In this meeting, God revealed Himself as the God of His Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). God also commissioned Moses to go back to Egypt and demand that his former half-brother, Pharaoh, let his enslaved brother Hebrews go. (Exodus 3:2-6)
The second time the Shekinah is recorded, occurred with the Pilar of fire by night and the Pilar of a glowing cloud by day. This glory was revealed to both guide and defend the Israelites from their Egyptian pursuers as they travelled through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Once again, we see God’s glorious presence not only revealed truth about Himself, but also guided and defends His people. (Ex. 13:21, 14:19-20) He also gave ‘light’ to His people as He flooded their enemies with darkness.
Of course it goes without mentioning that God’s glory was revealed further in an awesome display of Power and revelation when God delivered the Old Testament to the lawgiver on Mount Sinai. It was here that Moses veiled his face so the people could gaze upon him as he emanated with the radiance that comes from the Shekinah of God. This is where Paul alluded to how we also can reflect the Lord’s glory from one glory to another even greater glory. In this way we, as Christians, have the opportunity to “Grow the Glow” as we mature in Christ Jesus and reflect His glory. (2 Corinthians 3 & 4)
The third recorded Shekinah glory was at the Tent of meeting. (Ex 33:7-11) There, at the Tent of Meeting God would speak to Moses “face to face”. As a friend to a friend. (Ex 33:12-23) This relationship was so important to Moses, he refused to go any further or even serve out his commission from God without God’s promise to continue to be with him and his people. Rather than God being angered by such candor, He was touched by Moses’ desire for his relationship with God and Moses desire for God to continue His dwelling near Moses, and the people He had called out of Egyptian darkness. God promised His continue support for both Moses and the people he was called to lead.
A forth demonstration of the Shekinah was when God filled the Tabernacle in the Tent of Meeting with His Glory. Where God chooses to dwell is glory, light, revelation, guidance, protection, and promise.
Next week Part 3. Jesus the Light of the World! The New Shekinah of God. As we discuss further, the disciple of Jesus’ “Two Reflections of Glory”.
|Posted on April 22, 2016 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
Re-cap of Sermon 4-10-2016
Impersonators have always intrigued me. I used to wish I had the ability to accurately mimic the popular, the powerful, and even those I just came into contact with. However, alas, I had no such gift or talent. After examining the scriptures, I was delighted to find that God does not put a premium on being an imposter or the impersonations. He did value His crown of creation (mankind) reflecting His amazing Son in whatever qualities and characteristics our fallen race could reasonably be expected to imitate.
As we saw in last week’s message, God has made “this Jesus who you crucified both Lord and Christ” and “Just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live in Him” and again, that God has made Jesus number one in everything so that He might have the “Supremacy”. For this reason God has determined that we who have been translated from this kingdom of darkness into the wonderful kingdom of Light will reflect the Glory of that Light that had come into this darkened world.
Our reflection of this Glory of Jesus will necessarily take on two essential forms;
1. The faithful disciples of Jesus will be the ones rescued from this darkened world and will reflect the glory of Jesus’ glorified post resurrection reign either upon their death or the second coming of Jesus in Glory … and so shall we ever be …
2. The faithful disciples of Jesus will be transformed in our current lives, and within the context of our spiritual journey will reflect Jesus. Our character and motivations are transformed into the likeness of Jesus’ own character and motivations.
This transformation is from our old way of life to the new life of the Spirit. This transformation is variously described as a life (2 Corinthians chapters 3 & 4) of:
- Freedom in the spirit
- as a glorious writing of God’s life and message on the human heart not just on stone tablets
- a testimony of the apostolic ministry of Paul
- the treasure which is “Christ in you the Hope of Glory” in bodies of clay
- the goal of apostolic life and teaching, as well everything we do to grow spiritually (worship, scripture study, listening to apostolic preaching, singing praise, communion/fellowship with other Christians, etc.) is to help the disciples of Jesus become fully mature in our reflection of Jesus’ glory.
We also discussed these two additional truths:
1. The closer we are to the light source (Jesus, who is our light) the brighter we shine in this dark world
2. That the darker the night the brighter the faithful will shine (like stars in a dark universe)
For all these reasons God is looking for reflectors of His glory, not just Jesus impersonators who are not being transformed into the likeness of Lord Jesus in both their character or motivation.
|Posted on April 9, 2016 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
Recap of last weeks message.
We all like to be on a winning team or identify with a winner. When our team excels, we, along with the crowd, will chant “We’re Number One!” That desire to be identified with the winner may be another characteristic that God created within us from the beginning. God, in knowing His children and our potential desire to identify with the very best would want us to acknowledge His Son Jesus as the very best in all things, and this for our benefit and to His glory.
In the first epistle to the Colossian disciples, Paul ransacks the Greek language to find the words to describe how awesome Jesus is and that He is in fact number one.
Jesus is number one in:
- Over all authorities
- Sustaining the universe by His powerful word
- He is number one in the Church,
- the Resurrection from the dead
- and Salvation
This is so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
Dear children, if Jesus is declared by God Himself to be number one in all these ways, He should and must be number one in our hearts and minds. Next time you feel the desire to chant “We’re number one”, don’t forget who God has made both Lord and Christ. If you want to be on a winning team, identify with Jesus. “Just as we have received Jesus as Lord continue to live in Him.”
|Posted on March 23, 2016 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Recap of last week’s message
God, our amazing heavenly Father, created a massive, intricate, and beautiful universe. The crown of His creation were man and woman (Adam and Eve). They looked around in Eden’s garden and they must have been overwhelmed at what they saw. The breathtaking beauty, the amazing intricacies’, the interdependencies of both the living and the non-living matter, all these showed, not only, the magnificence of creation but also the wondrous character of the nature of their eternal God.
What did the creation say about our God’s character to His earthly children? On the face it described many ttraits. It clearly showed He is a God who appreciates beauty. In the vast array of His colorful creatures or the glorious panoramic views of the landscapes that make up this tiny globe, heralds a God who deeply valued beauty. Then they could look to the heavens and the billions of stars with their corresponding galaxies, the glories of these heavenly bodies was/is indescribable. Adam and Eve must have known instinctively, not only was their heavenly Father all-knowing and all-powerful but He was a God who appreciated and valued beauty as He derived pleasure from all he created (It was so good).
Along with that beauty, the feelings of pleasure they experienced in their new bodies, from how they were created to interact with one another as well as their being able to appreciate the glorious creation they were immersed in, demonstrated their creator not only could feel deeply but would derive immense pleasure from the works of His hands.
With their given mission to reproduce, name the animals and tend Eden’s garden, Adam and Eve knew, to this new world, they were as God was to them. They were divine emissaries and a reflection of His presence to the inhabitants of this vast Garden. They were created in God’s ‘image’ (that is an imperfect likeness of the original). As the image of God they reflected (though imperfectly) the character of God himself. As He loved, they would imperfectly love. As they felt pleasure and appreciated beauty imperfectly, they could surmise He did so perfectly. God was the first who felt deeply and valued perfectly. As John was later to say. “We love because He first loved us.” All that is good and holy within man first resided in the character of God. Man from henceforth is but a poor reflection of these; His infinite qualities.
From this record of our creation, I have concluded, since we feel pleasure, God first felt pleasure perfectly. I also believe, when we find ourselves in the very center of God’s will and are experiencing pleasure in a manner that God either approves of or feels Himself, we can know and feel God’s pleasure.
We also have found pleasure has received a bad rap because those fallen from God’s original intent. We know that God frowns on those who seek or love pleasure rather than seek first or love God above God’s gift of pleasure. We know from His scriptures, He elevates only those who seek pleasure within the context of His eternal will (i.e.: sexual relations but only within marriage or enjoying your wealth but only in the context of your own work, using your mouth to worship, encourage, speak truth rather than gossip, curse, or lie).
God designed, feels, understands, and gave you and I this amazing capacity to feel the glorious rapturous pleasure of God. What are the big take-a-ways from these powerful truths here discussed?
When can you feel and know God’s pleasure?
1. When you are operating in the bullseye/center of God’s will. When you are functioning as you were created to function. Operating as God created you to operate, Act as you were created to act. (Rom 12:1-2)
2. When you turn away from your sin and turn to God. (Ez. 18:23, 33:11)
3. When you become a child of God (Ephesians 1:4-6,1:8-10) Baptized into Jesus (John 3:3-5, Rom 6:3-5) …
4. When you are living by faith in Jesus with a surrendered and sacrificial heart, being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. (Heb. 10:38, Rom 12:1-2)
5. When you are exercising your gift/talent to reflect back on the One who gifted you with this talent, who formed you with this ability.
6. When you worship our eternal God with a sincere and surrendered heart (Haggai 1:8, Malachi 2:13)
7. When you die as a faithful child of the Heavenly Father (Heb. 10:38
In all these ways you can know and feel God's pleasure.
|Posted on March 16, 2016 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
Live By Faith Not By Sight Part 5
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, describes his being torn between going home to be with Jesus or continuing his earthly journey to be useful and fruitful for the sake of his brothers. (2 Cor.5:6-9) Yet in his present state, the continued compass to his life is “we live by faith not by sight”. When all else is crumbling about us, Paul says we choose to trust God and not our senses/sight. He clearly demonstrates Faith is the very breath to the Christian’s spiritual existence. It animates our journey and causes us “to make it our goal” to please our Father. There are many facets to our spiritual breathing.
I. Faith Is:
A. Confidence in what we hope for, the evidence of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
B. Those made right with God and those who live rightly before God do so by this faith. (Rom 10:17)
C. Faith places a premium on trusting God and His ways over the things this world both sees and values. (Matt 6: 25-34)
II. Faith Comes from:
Faith is not a divine gift, however, it is a treasure. It is nurtured from the “seed of the word of God”. Its grown in our hearts by:
A. The Preaching of the word of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 10:17)
B. Reading/devouring the word of God as a staple of life. (Matt. 4:4, John 6:35)
C. Continuing in the Word of God that makes you “wise for salvation” (2Tim. 3:14-17)
III. Faith Does:
The “Faith” that Paul begins the great Epistle of Faith (Romans) is defined as a “Doing faith”. Then Romans ends with the same faith defined in the beginning chapter.
A. Obedience is the spiritual fruit/by-product of real faith. (Romans 1:5)
B. “Obedience that comes from Faith”. (Romans 16:25-26)
C. Saving faith is an obedient faith. Salvation is not by “faith alone”. James 2 & James 2:14)
IV. Faith Saves:
A. The Faith that saves you at the beginning of your faith journey is the same faith that carries you through to the very end of your journey. That faith is the faith that brings you to your heavenly home. (Romans 1:16-17)
B. Faith that saves is a faith in the unseen realm and message of God, NOT in the senses, ambitions, ways and wisdom of this world. It is the faith that saved the Israelites as they passed through the Red Sea. Whereas the Egyptians tried the same path. However, they did not combine their steps with Faith. They continued into and through the Red Sea by ‘sight’ to their own destruction. The Israelites where saved by their faith. The Egyptians were destroyed by following only their ‘sight’. (Heb. 11:29)
V. Faith Seeks:
As we have seen throughout our series. God is always looking for those who are seeking Him. (Heb. 11:6) Without such a seeking faith it is impossible to make it our goal to please Him.
When the Foundations are being Destroyed, What do the Righteous do?
1. Know God is in His Holy Temple & He Observes the Lives of Men & Seeks those who seek Him
2. Throw off all that hinders and sin entanglements, run the race Jesus marked out for us by Jesus
3. Humble Your Self before God and Pray
4. Stand Firm in the Faith, let Nothing move you
5. Live By Your Faith, Not By Sight
|Posted on March 7, 2016 at 8:25 PM||comments (0)|
There is an evil storm brewing. There is an ill wind blowing throughout this divided and crumbling land. When the Foundations are Being Destroyed, What Do the Righteous Do? Jesus and His blessed Apostles powerfully declare, “Stand Firm”. It is time for the Christian to get ‘stubborn’ about a few essential truths.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then Stand Firm”. This is great advice from the Illinois rail splitting sage. The follower of Jesus knows he’s planted his feet in the right place, when those feet are planted in the blood soaked ground of the cross, at the empty tomb, and on the sacred words of the best friends of Jesus. Yes, it’s time for the Christian to get real ‘stubborn’; to plant our feet in the right place and make our stand.
1Cor. 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
Let nothing move you. When are you most tempted to flee? What weakness of spirit, what entangling sin, what threat from men, or snare of the devil is most apt to cause you to turn tale and run from your faith in Christ? Is it being made fun of because of your faith? Could it be a besetting sin that has weakened you (Pride, Lying, Lonelyness, Struggling in Marriage, Addiction to Sexual sin/Alcohol/Drugs, etc.)? Is it the contempt of friends, family, or society’s elites who do not like your moral choices? Contemplate spiritual actions you require to fortify yourself against the attacks of the evil one. Take action: move quickly to shore up your heart so when the day of evil comes, you will be able to make your stand.
STAND FIRM in:
1. Your Own Personal Faith. Isaiah the great messianic prophet flatly stated, “If you do not Stand Firm in your faith you will not stand at all”. Paul said “Without faith, it is impossible to please God”. Fight for your own personal faith. You can fortify your heart and mind with the fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, as told by 100’s of faithful eyewitness’ to the most amazing event in all of human history (1 Cor. 15). Disciple of Jesus, make a decision to stand in your own personal faith.
2. Persecution. Jesus warned, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”(Matt 10:22) Do not be surprised, “everyone who lives a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (Paul to Timothy). Both Jesus and his closest confidants declared without hesitation, the true follower of Jesus will experience persecution and many difficult times because of their commitment to Christ. We should not be surprised with what we see taking place in the world. We need to gird ourselves for the inevitable and stand firm to the end. Prepare yourself disciple for the storm now brewing, for foundations now crumbling.
3. The Faith. 1Cor 16:13-14 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.” The brother of Jesus stated, Contend earnestly as you stand firm for that system of faith and instruction (the faith) once and for all time delivered to the saints of God (Jude 3). Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as well as Jesus’ miracles/teachings compose ‘The Faith’ for which we stand. Be on your guard, Stand Firm, be strong and courageous, and let nothing move you. As you Stand Firm, do everything you do for your Love of Jesus, of your Father and for the brotherhood of true disciples of Jesus … .
4. Freedom in Christ. Gal. 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Fight for your freedom. Stand firm in your freedom from slavery to sin and death. Remember the resurrected Savior, our Lord Jesus and you will find the spiritual resources to help you to take your stand. Free from sin, free from man-made religious tradition, free from burdens laid on us by men who do not faithfully teach what Jesus taught.
5. In the Full Armor of God. Eph. 6:14 Our war is not with flesh and blood; with persecutors’, with the secular ‘elites’, or the wise men and scholars of this age. Our real battle is with the evil one who inspires these adversaries of all that is sacred and true. That is why we can; “Love our enemies” as Jesus commanded us. Therefore put on the full armor of God to make your stand.
• Belt of Truth buckled about your waist. The absolute truth of the Gospel and the resurrected Jesus.
• The breastplate of righteousness. Being right with God in our hearts and minds; at rest in the imputed righteousness of Jesus coursing through our spiritual hearts.
• Our feet prepared to journey for the Gospel of Peace. Taking our good news with us where ever we go.
• The Shield of Faith. See above …
• The Helmet of Salvation. Knowing we are saved by God’s glorious grace and the love of our Savior Jesus as we extinguish the fiery darts of Satan who seeks our destruction.
• Striking back in love with the Sword of the Spirit. … the very words of God found in the your Bible. With this divine armor, My Jesus has given us everything we need to make our FIRM STAND to the very end.
As the Cheyanne ‘dog man’ (fieriest warrior) of this noble tribe, would stake his ankle (attached by a leather strap) to the ground, to make his last desperate stand against an overwhelming foe. Knowing with confidence, “Today is a good day to die”. Likewise, disciple of Jesus, strap your ankle to the blood soaked cross of Jesus, inspired by the empty tomb and make your STAND. When the Foundations are Being Destroyed, What Do the Righteous Do? STAND FIRM, let nothing move you, for any day standing with Jesus is a good day to die. We know such a death will be swallowed up with Jesus’ promised eternal life.