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Saturday
Aug052017

August 2017

The Old Testament book of Joshua continues the story of the people of God.  The book opens with God reminding Joshua of Moses’ death (1:2a).  In other words, a “page has turned” and a “new chapter” is ready to be written in the lives of God’s people.  I have to ask:  Are there things in our spiritual journey that need to be declared “dead?”  It’s not because there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just the time has come to move on.  We part company with the old and embrace the new – new things that will help us take the next step in spiritual life, as we follow the Father toward our ultimate spiritual destination.

Look at God’s personal promise to Joshua (v. 5):

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  -  Joshua 1:5 (NIV)

Did God speak these words to counter Joshua’s sense of inadequacy, his foreboding fear of the future?  Joshua clearly lacked the education and the experience of Moses.  Yet, what really made the difference in Moses’ life was the overwhelming presence of the Lord!  That’s the same thing God was promising Joshua – not miracles; not provision; not protection (though all of these were supplied) – simply His Presence.  Church, God speaks this same promise to us!  To our fears, God speaks strength and courage.  To our inadequacies, God speaks the reality of His powerful Presence.  And to the future?  God speaks this promise:  I will never leave you nor forsake you.  And if there’s ever any doubt, Jesus picks up the mantle when He says:  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Mt. 28:20).  Church, as we pursue Divine Purpose, may we be strengthened and encouraged by the awe-inspiring Presence of the Living God!

~ Pastor John

Sunday
Jul092017

July 2017

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

The Spirit of God spoke these words into my spirit.  And I’m still wrestling with them to this day.  For many leaders, it’s a dream come true.  It’s carte blanche – and there’s no limit.  Change as much as you can, as fast as you can.  Change things to suit you.  Change things to accommodate the culture.  Change things to be more modern, more contemporary, more “cutting edge.”  And change things; bless God, just to say you changed them! 

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

“But Pastor, those words aren’t found in the Bible.  You can’t point to book, chapter, and verse.”  That’s true.  While these words can’t be referenced in the usual way, they resonate when placed alongside scripture.  In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says:  Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, saying:  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).  These are but two examples, challenging our tendency toward spiritual stasis.

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

Do you see the difference?  Left to ourselves, we want to make change regarding external things.  Change the worship.  Change the music.  Change the style.  Change the time.  Truth is, the change God desires isn’t concerned with external things.  The change God is interested in is internal, a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of life, of living.  It’s not about change “out there.”  It’s a radical soul transformation, recapturing the image of God; a reformation of our living.  I want you to join me in allowing God to bring about kingdom change in our lives to His praise, honor, and glory!

~ Pastor John

Sunday
Jul092017

June 2017

Recently, the Spirit of God impressed a truth upon my heart, a synthesis of words spoken by Jesus from the gospel of John, 5:19 and 12:49 ... (not a direct quote).

(Jesus said) “I only say what I hear my Father saying (12:49), and I only do what I see my Father doing (5:19).”

It seems to me the life, ministry, and purpose of Jesus is embodied in this thought.  Jesus had no selfish ambition, personal agenda or self-fulfilling “life goals.”  He wasn’t following his hopes, chasing an individual dream or trying to fulfill his own desires.  Jesus didn’t have a lofty vision intended to captivate his disciples or a soothing sound bite to entice the crowds to his side.  No!  His message was sledgehammer against stone – Pounding away at the rigid rules of the religious leaders.  Jesus’ words were a moral lasso, reining in the pagan wild-life and corrupt culture.  His words were a “double-edged sword” – positive and encouraging to those who would hear and understand; raw and cutting for the obstinate of heart.  His actions were unexpected and unorthodox – eating with tax collectors and sinners, touching lepers, being touched by prostitutes, forgiving sin, harassing spiritual hypocrites.  Never one to “go his own way” or “do his own thing,” Jesus was perfectly focused on the will of his Father. 

This convicts me.  This challenges me.  In a church culture bent on fashioning its own idea of the will of God, Jesus brings us back to the reality of finding, knowing and doing the will of God.  It’s much easier to fashion something of our own design and carry out the necessary actions to keep it going.  It’s quite another thing to fast and pray, to seek and submit, to crucify self and allow Christ to come alive in our lives.  We have a choice to make.  Let’s choose wisely!

~ Pastor John

Sunday
May072017

May 2017

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I hope you’re looking forward to resuming our Sunday series:  The People of God.  Here’s a compelling promise found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah to guide our thoughts and prayers.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.   God’s people chose their plan over God’s plan.  As a result, half of the nation had been carried into exile.  The other half was soon to follow.  False prophets were saying the exile would be short, that the people would return home soon.  But God’s prophet – Jeremiah – delivers another message.  It goes something like this:  “Haven’t your plans been a complete failure?  Look to me, I have God-plans for you.”

I want to encourage and challenge us today.  God has plans for His people.  To know those plans, we seek the Lord.  We pray passionately, calling on His name.  We fast faithfully, devoting ourselves to finding the will of God.  At times, we might be tempted to believe our plans are best.  But only God’s plans will bring about God’s kingdom!

“... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Many people will take that word prosper and run with it!  But the actual Hebrew word used here is shalom – meaning peace – not “prosperity” as we know it.  Far from material blessing, God promises to make something of us, to create expectancy in the present and a confidence in things to come!

Are we tempted to follow our own plans as a church?  Have we reached a point where we think we have to make something happen (ask Abraham and Sarah about that)?  As God’s people, it’s crucial we trust His timing, vital we stand on His promises.  Let’s expectantly embrace this prophetic word spoken over God’s people!

~ Pastor John

Sunday
May072017

April 2017

Jesus said ... “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” - John 11:25-26 (NIV)

Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus, became very ill.  A message was relayed to Jesus, “Come quickly, the one you love is sick.”  Jesus waited.  Lazarus died.  And Jesus shows up after the burial.

Question:  Are you still waiting on God?  You fired off a prayer and added an RSVP – Respond Soon and Very Pronto!  And for the moment, there’s nothing.

One of the sisters of Lazarus (Martha) meets Jesus.  I want you to hear the faith that fills her words:  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Question:  Regardless of what has happened – what things may look like with human eyes – are we filled with faith in God?

Martha’s faith is future oriented:  “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  But Jesus isn’t thinking that far ahead.  Jesus is interested in the here and now.

Question:  How many of us miss a blessing, a miracle – dare we say, a resurrection – because we have relegated Jesus to a future time?

The declaration Jesus makes to Martha – one of the great “I AM” instances in John – leaves no room for doubt:   I am the resurrection and the life.  His power conquers death and imparts life – now and for all eternity.

Question:  “Do you believe this?”  Well, do you?

~ Pastor John