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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

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