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Wednesday
Jan022019

January 2019

The Old Testament book of Isaiah contains three verses where God speaks of “new things.” It would seem to be a worthwhile topic as we begin a New Year.

See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” - Isaiah 42:9 (NIV)

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. - Isaiah 48:6c (NIV)

God is all about “new things, right? This idea of “new” is pointing us to Jesus, the “new and living way.” Didn’t Jesus speak of the “new wineskins, which would hold the “new wine” of the Spirit? Christ also established a “new covenant” in His death and resurrection. Through His sacrifice, all are invited to participate in the “new life. And I think every believer is looking forward to a “new heaven and a new earth” one day. So, what about the “in between?”

 Questions: Do you believe God still does “new things?” Ok ... would you be open to God doing “new things” in your life next year? Would you like to see God do “new things” in your church in the coming months?

A New Year brings new opportunities – along with new challenges. Are we up to facing them? Let the Church answer with a resounding, “YES!”

~ Pastor John


 

Saturday
Dec082018

December 2018

I know Christmas will soon be here.  We will celebrate the birth of our Savior.  We will rejoice in the gift of God’s Son and the salvation that attends His coming.  May I ask you a question? Would you mind if our thoughts went in a different direction?  Oh, the focus will be on Jesus. What will the difference be? It’s this: Instead of a meditation on the Babe of Bethlehem, let’s lift up our hearts and minds to Jesus – our coming King!  And here’s scripture to get us started . . .

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

- Acts 1:11 (NLT)

You remember the story.  Jesus has just ascended into heaven.  The disciples are watching him go, straining their eyes for a final glimpse of the Lord.  Their gaze is interrupted by angels, who leave them with powerful prophetic words. Would you mind if I paraphrased what they said?  Hey, guys!  Stop standing around staring at the sky.  Get to work fulfilling that Great Commission, because Jesus is coming again!

Wow!  There’s no way we can dismiss this verse and say, “It’s just not relevant for us today.”  I know there will be some who focus on where is the promise of his coming (2 Peter 3:4).  Or in our language, “We’ve heard this all our lives and we’re still waiting!”  Consider this: If we focus on the “waiting,” we will end up disappointed and discouraged.  But, if we “read between the lines” and focus on the work – the Great Commission – the time will pass and our King will come!  Come to think of it, as we pray and work for God’s kingdom come, we are preparing the way for our coming King – Jesus!    

Are you up for a little “homework?”  The next time you have a hymnal in your hand (or Google it on your electronic device), look up an old hymn:  We’ll Work till Jesus Comes (#282 in the Nazarene hymnal – Sing to the Lord).  Its words will provide you with strength and encouragement as you patiently wait for the Lord’s return!

~ Pastor John


 

Saturday
Dec082018

November 2018

The month of November brings us back to the familiar theme of thanksgiving.  And what better way to conclude our Fall Series — on a note of victory!

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth covers several areas of concern and sets about answering questions these new believers have.  In chapter 15, Paul deals with the question of resurrection. The pagan, philosophical worldview of the ancient peoples held no place for the resurrection of the body.  Death was final. It was futile to imagine otherwise. Death was feared, for it meant the ultimate defeat of life … for unbelievers. In vibrant terms and rousing rhetoric, Paul pens a powerful and positive alternative to the prevailing pagan view.   He drives a stake in the heart of this hopeless philosophy. And he proclaims victory over death, hell, and the grave through Jesus Christ!

Our modern culture places a premium on life, on living.  It seems like everything is geared to maximize our time, our life experience here on planet Earth.  But behind smiling faces, the partying, and “you only go around once,” lurks the killjoy – Death; the spoiler – Death.  If it weren’t for Death, life would be good! So, many see Death as the end, life going down in its inevitable defeat. Can I tell you something?  The next time the specter of Death darkens the door of your mind, read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. You will be encouraged. Your spirit will be lifted.  And your soul will soar like never before! Why? Because of Jesus. His triumph over death, hell, and the grave translates into victory for those who place their faith in Him!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Dec082018

October 2018

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

- Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

Wow! … have you ever considered “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers” as gifts to the Church (and from Christ, no less)?  I wonder how different things might be if we embraced this perspective? Would our churches be more alive and vibrant? Could our ministries prove more dynamic and effective if we held this outlook?  Do you believe such a view would refresh believers and anoint congregations with new power and purpose? Don’t you think surrounding neighborhoods and communities would resonate with the impact of this new attitude?  I say “YES” to all! But …

The challenge at this point is to have all this “giftedness” translate into practical service.  Such a body of knowledge and experience must be passed on to others, building up God’s church, the body of Christ.  And just maybe we’ve found the spiritual “disconnect.”  When “giftedness” is “self-serving,” we’ve wandered into a minefield -- one of pride and spiritual prejudice.  We shrivel up and waste away when knowledge and experience is strictly for our own personal benefit. We suffer the very moment we begin to tear down God’s church (don’t forget Elvis, you haven’t left the building!), bringing harm to the body of Christ.  Think …

God gave … His one and only Son for our salvation.  God gave … His blessed Holy Spirit to sanctify us wholly.  And God gave … gifted leaders to His Church – with everyone working together to build up the body of Christ!

 ~ Pastor John


Saturday
Dec082018

September 2018

We had a great VBS this summer!  As we think about a fall preaching series, I would like to base it on our VBS theme.  So, gear up and get ready! It’s Game On!

Jesus has the power of God. And his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus chose us by his glory and goodness...  - 2 Peter 1:3 (ERV)

Gear Up:  If you’re going to participate in a sport, you are probably going to need certain equipment or “gear.”  A golfer would need clubs and golf balls – at a minimum. If you play softball, you need a softball, bat, and glove – the basics.  And our passage from Second Peter affirms that we are equipped: … his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God.  Christian, God equips us to compete in the arena of life, and He empowers us to be victorious!

Get Ready:  An athlete will engage in both physical and mental preparation in order to be ready for competition.  Failure to prepare will translate into failure on the field of play – and certain defeat. 1 Peter 1:13a comes into play here:  So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control.  Yes, God has provided power, but it’s up to us to prepare fully and exercise discipline – in spiritual life.  And one of the admonitions Jesus pressed on His disciples was that of “being ready” (Mt. 24:44, Lk. 12:40, et al).  We are challenged to be ready at all times!

Game On:  We weren’t called to be spectators.  I’ll leave you with this scripture: … since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).   Ok Church, no excuses -- it’s time to take the field.

 ~ Pastor John