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Saturday
Jun232018

January 2018

A New Year means a new series of messages.  And our over-arching theme which will guide us from now until Easter will be:  Following Jesus.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said … At once they left their nets and followed him.  - Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV, abj)

On the surface, it seems Jesus is issuing an invitation to those first potential disciples.  When you delve into the original text, you discover that Jesus is using the language of command (an imperative).  I want you to understand, this isn’t a command like a drill sergeant gives – it’s a compelling, authoritative call.  Instead of commanding their attention, the words of Jesus capture their attention!  Our culture, our society is such that most people don’t want anyone telling them what to do.  But something within humanity will respond to a compelling call.  There’s something in our soul that answers when deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:7).

We see the result of Jesus’ call:  At once they left their nets and followed him.  There’s no hesitation on their part.  They recognize this other-worldly call and leave their very livelihood to follow Jesus.  And that word followed?  The basic meaning is that of “a road.”  In this place the word has the meaning of “to be in the same way.”  These men fully understand what Jesus means, and they willingly choose “to be in the same way” as the Lord!

Church, can you imagine what our personal lives would be like, what the witness of the Church would be like if we  embraced the call of Jesus, if we willingly chose “to be in the same way” as the Master?  Our lives and our world would be transformed beyond anything we could ask or imagine!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

December 2017

Can you believe it?  I saw a sign at a retail outlet today that said:  Just 35 shopping days to Christmas!  How did a year manage to go by so fast?  Oh, well.  Here we are at “the most wonderful time of the year.”  And what makes it wonderful for the world is not what makes it wonderful for you and me!  Wait – I see a connection with spiritual matters.  This time of year, the world is concerned with – a gift (or gifts -- the more, the better).  And people of faith are concerned with – the gift, Jesus!

Jesus is God’s gift to a needy world.  Jesus is God’s way of saying to corrupt and sinful humanity, “I still love you!”  Jesus – His name (Yeshua) means Yahweh is salvation.  Jesus was the Lamb “slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).  And Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

Jesus freely surrendered His life on a rugged Roman cross.  He suffered, bled, and died in order to open up the way for a reconciled relationship with the Father.  And after His death, God brought Jesus back to life again!  His victory over death, hell, and the grave is our promise of victory over the very same!

And after Jesus ascended, He … is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Ro. 8:34).  There, Jesus waits.  And we wait.  We wait expectantly for the fulfillment of a specific promise:  This very Jesus who has been taken up from you into Heaven will come back in just the same way as you have seen him go (Acts 1:11).

I love the Advent season.  As we celebrate the coming of Christ our Savior, may we anticipate His coming again as conquering King.

“Surely I come quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  - Revelation 22:20b (KJ21)

 ~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

November 2017

This month, I want to do something different.  Instead of writing an article that is inspirational, I want to challenge us with an activity.  That activity is tied to our time of year, Thanksgiving.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind ...  - Psalm 107:8 (NIV)

These words are repeated verbatim in three more verses (vv. 15, 21, and 31) of Psalm 107.  I remember a professor at Bible College telling us, “If I repeat something, it must be important.”  Obviously, this repetition clamors for our attention -- and forms the basis for our activity.  Instead of being critical and ungrateful, a whiner or complainer, how about being thankful!  During the holiday season, I want to challenge you to think of and/or list the things you can be thankful for.  Here’s a sampling to get you started:

~ Thank God for being God – there is no Other!

~ Be thankful for God’s love, mercy, and grace.

~ Thank God for His holiness and desire that we be holy.

~ Let’s be thankful for Christ Jesus, our Savior.

~ Express thankfulness to God for His Holy Spirit.

~ Give thanks for God’s Word, the Bible.

~ Thank the Lord for His Church.

~ Tell God you’re thankful He provides for your needs.

I think you get the idea.  Let me encourage you to make this holiday season one to remember.  Be thankful!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

October 2017

It’s a familiar verse, written several thousand years ago.  Yet its simple, relevant truth speaks to our day.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  - Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

We come upon this powerful scene at the close of Joshua’s life.  Before he “exits the stage,” Joshua delivers one final address to Israel.  Under his leadership, the Promised Land has been conquered.  All the tribes of Israel have received their allotment of land.  Joshua’s last act as leader is to call the people to renew their covenant with the Lord.  After a review of their amazing history (God’s dealing with their ancestors, the exodus from Egypt, protection from enemies, and faithfulness to His promise), Joshua throws down a direct and demanding challenge:  Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. The people face a choice.  They can chase other “gods,” or they can choose to follow God.  Joshua leaves no doubt about his intention:  as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

What would happen if men took this truth to heart, fulfilling their responsibility as spiritual leaders in their homes?  What difference would we see in our churches if believers embraced this truth as spiritual fuel for their souls?  Visualize what neighborhoods and communities, towns and cities would be like if this intense truth was a non-negotiable in civic life.  Picture the difference in our state and nation if leaders on all levels of government held themselves to this way of life!  And our world?  How would our world look if people of faith were sold out to the Lord?  Christian, we can talk all around the issue of choosing the Lord, or we can take action and be a living example to those in our circle of life.  May we choose wisely!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

September 2017

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.”                Joshua 5:2 (NIV)

Theme:  Reclaiming our identity as the people of God.

As Joshua and a new generation prepared themselves to inherit God’s promise, there was the matter of reclaiming their identity as the people of God through the rite of circumcision.  This event would also signal a renewal of the original covenant relationship established with Abraham.  God’s people would once again bear the mark (in this case, physically) that distinguished them from all other nations.

In our day, circumcision isn’t as much of a religious rite as it is a medical procedure.  To get where we need to be, we must move past the physical aspect and into the spiritual realm.  Paul wrote in Colossians 2:11 (ERV), In Christ you had a different kind of circumcision, one that was not done by human hands. That is, you were made free from the power of your sinful self.  Here is a commanding image of Christian identity:  you were made free from the power of your sinful self.  In the face of a modern church which manufactures excuses for sinful behavior, this truth needs to be held high.  In a culture that celebrates “self” (think “selfie”), this truth needs to be proclaimed.  We know the finished work of Christ on the Cross atoned for our sins.  But His sacrifice also provided (and still provides) the power that truly breaks the suffocating grip of slavery to sin, setting us completely free!  We desperately need to reclaim this identity, this spiritual mark on our souls and living.  Let’s vigorously renew our covenant relationship with the Living God, forsaking all others and keeping ourselves for God alone.  And God help us faithfully live out this sanctified life in full view of a compromised church and a corrupt culture.  To God be the glory!

~ Pastor John