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Saturday
Sep072019

September 2019

We had a great VBS this summer!  And our fall preaching series follows our VBS theme:  Messengers for Jesus.  One lesson for the kids came from Psalm 66 (v. 16).  I would like us to look at two verses in this Psalm.

Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind. - Psalm 66:5 (NIV)

To be an effective messenger, we must experience the essence of our message.  The psalmist issues an invitation to do just that. Here, the Exodus event (cf. v.6) serves as a touchstone for the Jewish people.  It was a reminder – the God of their forefathers was their God.  God would work miraculously to save His people. Things haven’t changed.  We need miracles (of healing and of grace) to remind us God saves today!  God’s awesome deeds empower our message and provide us opportunity to say to others, “Come and see what God has done!”

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. - Psalm 66:16 (NIV)

Awesome acts lead to an attentive audience!  The psalmist moves from a national scope to personal experience.  And the interest generated by the miracles of God open a door for proclaiming the message of God.  Once again, things haven’t changed! What God has done for us as a church and how God has helped each of us personally provide a strong foundation for our witness, our testimony.  And while we commemorate the Exodus, we celebrate the Cross and the empty tomb! Through Christ, God offers His greatest miracle, the transformation from sinner to saint. Now that’s a message everyone needs to hear!

~ Pastor John

Thursday
Jul252019

August 2019

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. -  2 Corinthians 5:19b-20 (NIV)

As I write, Vacation Bible School is going full tilt!  And the theme for VBS? Messengers for Jesus, based on this passage from 2 Corinthians 5.

In this context, Paul talks about being “in Christ” – and the real world outcome:   The old has gone, the new is here!   This is the work of God – the work of reconciliation.  One writer describes it in this way:  To reestablish friendly relations between two parties who are estranged, no matter on which side the antagonism exists (The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. 3, p. 72).  Through the Cross of Christ, we have been reconciled to God.  This work of God carries with it a purpose; we become messengers for God.

Isn’t this what we conveniently forget?  It occurred to me that I’ve been guilty of preaching and teaching from this passage with an eye toward living a holy life.  While that idea is present, it’s not the focus. Yes, [T]he old has gone, the new is here!   But we’ve been made new in order to be ambassadors – representatives – of this new life.  We are “new creations,” for the express purpose of sharing new life with this old world!

Church (specifically Shreveport First), I believe God has been “herding” us toward this truth, at this time, for this moment.  God has been grooming and growing us with the explicit intent we carry on the “ministry of reconciliation” through the message of reconciliation.  So, from now until advent our theme will be:  Messengers for Jesus!  Let’s be challenged to follow hard after the will of God in the days ahead – all to His glory!

~ Pastor John

 

Saturday
Jun292019

July 2019

This month, I want to revisit something the Spirit of God spoke into my spirit. It’s something I need to be reminded of – and something I never want to forget:

Son, if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

While this is true for each of us individually, it’s also true on a larger level – for the church. We celebrated Pentecost Sunday in June, commemorating God’s gift of His Holy Spirit to those first disciples. The baptism of the Holy Spirit brought a powerful change to this rag-tag group! The change was drastic – and dramatic. From fearful – to fearless! From self-focused – to other oriented. From concern for Israel – to a concern for the Kingdom. Their lives had been radically transformed. And the world has never been the same!

Son, if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

It crystallized a couple of weeks ago. As I meditated on the Pentecost event, the Spirit brought this truth home to me: To embrace the reality of Pentecost is to accept the fact the church is going to look radically different than it looks now. It’s the very thing that happened in the first century. The “old religious wineskin” – with its forms, traditions, etc. – would not and could not contain the fresh and effervescent wine of the Holy Spirit. Today, in order to welcome a new Pentecost, we must be prepared to discard those things which constrict the power and flow of God’s Holy Spirit in His Church! And we must be ready to obediently follow wherever the Spirit may lead us.

if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

Truth is always confrontational. Right here, right now – the Truth stares us in the face and lays a choice at our feet. Will we choose to follow the beaten path, one that’s familiar, one that’s comfortable, one worn smooth by tradition and marked by structure and rules? Or, will we be “spiritual trailblazers? And by that phrase, I don’t mean we go off on our own, doing what we want to do. It means we are ready to follow the Spirit down new paths, to reach new people, and minister in new ways. May God’s Spirit find us ready to follow today!

~ Pastor John


 

Monday
Jun032019

June 2019

Our theme is prayer.  Our text is James 5:16b

CJB -- The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

PHILLIPS -- Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer.

NCV -- When a believing person prays, great things happen.

NLV -- The prayer from the heart of a man right with God has much power.

TPT -- ... tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!

Aren’t these words an inspiring incentive to pray?  These words probe our spiritual life and plumb the depth of our soul.  Are we praying? A Christian prays just as naturally as a human being breathes.  When one ceases to breathe, one ceases to live. A Christian who prays haphazardly or sporadically forfeits the abundant life and nullifies the coming of the kingdom.

Isn’t this verse sobering in its simplicity?  Are we praying with passion – with a holy fire in our soul?  The snare is for prayer to become routine – or a duty. True prayer is spirit-talk with our Heavenly Father.  It kindles a fiery love for God and for others; a love that leads to greater and more fervent times of prayer.

Are we praying in faith for answers that will advance the kingdom and bring glory to God?   Think of Jesus and his prayer in the garden: Not my will, but Your will be done.  Jesus was praying for the strength to fulfill his mission on earth – which was the will of God.  Far from meeting our earthly needs, prayer engages us and enables us to powerfully participate in God’s coming kingdom.  This is your call to prayer!

~ Pastor John


 

Wednesday
May012019

May 2019

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray ...”  - Luke 11:1 (NIV)

There’s so much to write about this time of year. As I reviewed last year’s article, I felt the “nudge” of God’s Spirit to take up the truth of prayer once again.

Don’t you find it absolutely amazing? This disciple could have asked Jesus to teach preaching, healing ... so many other things. But his desire for himself and the other disciples was the need to be a person of prayer. And I think this unnamed disciple discerned the key to all the other things that could have been considered – that being prayer. What empowers preaching? Prayer. What facilitates healing? Prayer. What energizes ministry? Prayer. I believe whatever category of spiritual life you can think of, at its very foundation you must have prayer. Prayer deepens our personal relationship with the Lord. Prayer is prominent in the coming of the kingdom here on this earth. Prayer is principal in God supplying our needs. Prayer is the lynchpin of receiving and extending forgiveness. Prayer brings the power that fits us for spiritual warfare. Prayer is acknowledgment that life isn’t about us – it’s about the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen!

Church, do you want to see sinners converted? Pray. Do you want to see people healed? Pray! Do you want a Spirit-filled revival to break out? Pray!! Do you want to see the kingdom of God come in power and glory? Pray!!!

Oswald Chambers says this of prayer: Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work. Truly, Lord … Teach us to pray!

~ Pastor John