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Saturday
Sep292012

October 2012

Greater Things

Our special day is almost here!  For months we’ve been anticipating our 100th Anniversary Celebration on October 7th.

I want to encourage us in three particular ways:

First, let’s prepare our hearts for this service.  And the best way to prepare is to pray.  God, speak to us personally.  Let our desire be this:  to have “ears to hear” what Your Spirit is saying to each of us.  You have an incredible and eternal purpose for every believer.  May our souls be open to the twin blessings of spiritual maturity and earthly ministry.

And God, speak to us as a church – Your Church.  You have lovingly placed us in the Body of Christ.  You have called us to “proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, HCSB).  May we take hold of that charge and boldly follow Your Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19-20) wherever it may lead us!

Second, let’s come that Sunday with a spirit of expectancy!  This is simply an act of faith.  It’s believing that the Presence of God will be in our midst; that God will speak a transforming word through Dr. Warrick; and that God will call us -- His people – to the work He has prepared for us in our community.  Then, let the spirit of expectancy be a supernatural part of everyday life.  Let’s not only believe for “greater things,” but let’s expect “greater things” from a great God!

Finally, let’s commit to following God obediently in the days ahead.  Let it NOT be:  “close the doors and turn out the lights.” 

No!  Let the people of God rise up in power and in faith.  Let us follow in the steps of the Lord Jesus, serving one another and compassionately reaching out to our world.  May we renew our commitment as Nazarenes, not content with simply proclaiming holiness, but intentionally practicing our holy faith in the arena of life!

Now to Him who is worthy to receive all honor, power, praise, glory, and blessing; to the One who sits on the everlasting throne of Heaven; our God reigns!

~ Pastor John

Sunday
Aug262012

September 2012

The People of God

I need your help.  Have your Bible at hand and read through the scripture passages that accompany each heading.  Then, let’s look at three key characteristics of The People of God.

The glory of God (1 Kings 8:1-43).  I’m afraid many things have become substitutes for the glory of God.  To some, livelier worship, more visible “manifestations” – now that’s the glory of God!  Yet, this passage (see  v. 11) finds everything coming to a standstill at the presence of the glory of God.  In other words, we’re stopped dead in our tracks.  And all we can do, as The People of God is bask in and behold His glory.  Praise His Name!

The Word of Life (John 6:56-69).  I’m concerned other things have replaced of the Word of Life.  Current issues, politics, and self-help-how-to topics are being offered for spiritual growth.  But what we need is the Word of Life.  Jesus is the Word of Life.  Jesus speaks the Word of Life.  The gospel writer tells us when the crowds heard his message, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it.”  But true disciples know life is found only in Jesus (see v. 68).  The People of God place a premium on the living and written Word of Life.

A spiritual army (Ephesians 6:10-20).  I see evidence society has compromised our purpose and mission.  To embrace spiritual warfare is passé.  We are a people of peace (so they tell us).  So how do we reconcile that notion with this passage?  Without question, we are to “arm” ourselves for spiritual battle (the verb is a command).  And it seems to me we are armed in order to carry the fight to the enemy!  May the People of God rise up, “a mighty army” (Ezekiel 37:10).  And may we go on the offensive, tearing down the kingdom of darkness and claiming ground for the Kingdom of Light!

~ Pastor John

Tuesday
Aug212012

August 2012

Back to School

In just a couple of weeks, it’ll be “Back to School!”  Parents will celebrate.  Kids will be in shock:  “What!  Summer’s over already?!?”  And while school years come and go, we are continually encouraged to teach our children spiritual lessons every day of their lives.  In fact, the Bible is very clear in this regard:

You shall teach them diligently to your children, . . .

                                                Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV)

The obvious question is, “Teach what?”  The short answer would be, a love and devotion to God and the things that please Him.  God’s people were going to the Promised Land – a land of many idols and selfish living (not the USA in this setting).  Not only are they called to love the one true God, but they are challenged to pass along their faith to their children.

There’s a powerful word picture regarding diligently.  It refers to the repetition used to sharpen something.  The continual exposure to the things of God would serve to “sharpen” the spiritual lives of the succeeding generations.  And this was to be an extensive practice.  The latter part of verse 7 employs language that suggests the teaching is an all day affair (when you sit…walk…lie down…rise).

I think of the incredible opportunity and responsibility we have at Shreveport First.  The Nursery is “bursting at the seams!”  A new generation is ready to walk in the steps of those who have gone before.  So, my brothers and sisters, let’s help them walk down the right road.  Let’s diligently teach our children to have a love and devotion to God.  In every way and as the opportunity presents itself, let’s encourage them and bless them and help them grow into powerful men and women of faith!

~ Pastor John

Thursday
Jul052012

July 2012

Freedom

I’m guilty.  I grew up in the Sixties, so my mind tends to wander down that road at times.  As we near July 4th, and thinking of Independence Day, a song popped into my head:  People Got to Be Free (The Rascals, 1968).  Back then, freedom was more of a social and moral issue; an upheaval against government laws and cultural norms.  But freedom is a dynamic spiritual truth as well!

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.

 Psalm 118:5 (ESV)

Don’t these words strike a chord deep in our hearts?  Who hasn’t experienced distress?  Or maybe you’re in the midst of distress.  Either way, we’re uncomfortably familiar with distress.  There’s a beautiful word picture here.  Distress literally means “narrow straits.”  And the ending phrase set me free has the sense of a “large place.”  Do you see the picture?  The Psalmist is saying, “Life has hemmed me in,” but the Lord rips apart the binding!  “Circumstances are confining me,” but the Lord liberates me!  And while things seem to be “closing in” – God comes and life “opens up” through His steadfast love and mighty power.

The simplicity of this verse is striking.  Are we in trouble?  Call on (pray to) the Lord!  He will answer and set us free.  We’re all acquainted with distress/trouble; but how many of us take the time to call on the Lord?  We think we can handle the situation.  We assume we can find the answer.  We can make a way.  If we’re honest, the outcome we devise may work for a while; it might get us by – but it really isn’t the best answer for us.  Passionately calling on the Lord will involve the King of the Universe in our lives.  God answers and sets [us] free!

 ~ Pastor John

Friday
Jun152012

June 2012

Can these bones live?

Do you have a favorite Old Testament story?  I know, I know – there are just too many to choose from!  However, one that really captures our imagination is found in Ezekiel 37.  It’s the valley of dry bones.  Not only is the imagery vivid, but the challenge is unmistakable.

And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

                                                                Ezekiel 37:3 (ESV)

I like the way Ezekiel answers:  “O Lord God, you know.” These few words contain a powerful confession of faith.  You and I would have looked on the scene, staggered and overwhelmed.  But the words of the prophet have a settled certainty about them, a faith that rests firmly in the Lord.  The next time we find ourselves in a stark setting, facing an impossible situation, may we confidently turn to God and confess our faith in Him.

What happens next?  God gives Ezekiel specific directions:  say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  As Ezekiel preached – and I like this part – there was a rattling as the bones came together!  The word of the Lord speaks to our disjointed lives, and out of the scattered mess comes the framework for right living.  Let’s allow God to speak His word over our fragmented situations.  He can bring the pieces of our lives back together in a powerful way.

We’ve gone from bones to bodies – what’s missing?  The breath of life!  God instructs Ezekiel to preach to the four winds saying, “breathe on these . . . , that they may live.”  Without God’s Spirit, life is an uninspired collection of random moments.  The presence of God’s Spirit enlivens His people:  and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army (v. 10).  We need His power and purpose to fill us and guide us as we contend for the faith in an ungodly world today!

Faith, the Word, and the Spirit of God bring His people to life.  Lord, breathe on Your people once again!

~ Pastor John

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