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Monthly Archives : July 2018

Jesus In 1 Thessalonians …. Our Comfort & Hope …… July 15, 2018

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

     Paul helped establish the church in Thessalonica as recorded in Acts 7:1-9. The church continued after Paul had to flee the city due to an uprising of jealous Jews. They were jealous because many other Jews and Greeks had chosen to follow and believe the teachings that Jesus was the Messiah and that He was buried and rose again from the dead. The church at Tessalonica continued but not without struggles, suffering, and persecution. Paul prayed prayers of thanksgiving because of Timothy’s good report concerning their faith and love. (1 These. 3:6)  He encouraged them to live in a way that is pleasing to God in the midst of a wicked society. (1 These. 4:1-12)  He encouraged them not to lose hope because their salvation was in Jesus, and He would return one day to take home those who have fallen asleep and those who remain waiting for His return. (1 These. 4:13-18 … 5:1-11)  If Paul was writing this letter to us today, how would we accomplish the challenge of continuing to live well in order to give testimony of Jesus? I believe three things to be important as instructed by Paul.

 

Rejoice Always:
     As a verb, according to one dictionary, rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. Joy always equals strength. To have joy is to have strength, for what makes us joyful makes us strong. I’m referring to the realization of the eternal joy that we have in Christ. This is the only place where true happiness can be attained, for God is eternal. Everything else will pass away. Nehemiah 8:10b states, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Delighting yourself in the Lord will give evidence of His presence in your life. Joy does not mean the absence of difficulty but gives ability to look beyond the circumstance to know God has a purpose for all that you are experiencing. James tells us to, “Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3 ESV ….. Jesus gave us the greatest example of this truth. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrew 12:2 ESV

 

Pray Continually:
    Praying is communicating with God. This communication is a result of fellowship with him and recognizes the presence of God with you at every moment. Have you heard the saying, “There is strength in numbers and one with God is a majority?” It really is a true statement. Often when Paul would address people in his letters to them, he would say something concerning how he prayed for them. Paul never told people they wouldn’t have struggles, but he did encourage them to press on. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul tells of his sufferings for being a witness of Christ. Paul could not have endured all this without his communication and acknowledgment of the presence of Jesus being with him. Praying continually is acknowledging His presence with you…. that is relationship.

 

Give Thanks In Every Circumstance:
    Rejoicing and praying…. that seems understandable when living the Christian life but giving thanks in every circumstance? Yes, this is what we are to do as Christians, for it communicates that we really do believe God is in control. Not only that, but it also is a testimony to the lost that you trust God, and you love Him. We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV  This is easier said than done; and if you do not have joy and pray relationally with Him, it is impossible. When things become very difficult in my life emotionally or physically, I ask this question in my prayers, “God, what are you trying to teach me?” As time passes, sometimes I see how He had worked in my life, and other times it didn’t make sense. However, this I know: God is in control and is working all things for His glory. I believe if God wants us to live on purpose for Him, then He does or allows things on purpose in our lives and “all thing work together for good.”

 

     In my years of ministry I have heard many times, “I wish I knew what God’s will is for my life.” Here’s the answer……. rejoice, pray and give thanks. I know it sounds simple but it is a simple truth.  I have never witnessed anyone practicing these three things that didn’t have clearer direction in life. Let me encourage you, when things don’t seem clear in your life as a Christian, to always go back to the basics of rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks just as Paul instructed the church at Thessalonica to do in difficult times.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Jesus In Colossians …. Creator / Lord / Savior …… July 8, 2018

     He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creations. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 2:15-16 ESV 

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross. Colossians 2:19-20 ESV 

     Paul, though he had never visited the church at Colossae, wrote a letter to them encouraging them not to lose sight of who Jesus was and is. There were those who were teaching that Jesus was simply another deity to be worshipped and others teaching the law must be followed. In both cases it was destroying the true teaching of who Jesus is and what he alone accomplished on the cross. Anything taken away or added to who Jesus is… is false teaching. Jesus is the Messiah… the Savior of all who will call upon his name. He was God in the flesh; the one and only God creator…. Lord. By him all things were made and without him nothing would be. Jesus lived so we could see the perfect God who created all things helping us to see God’s great love for us.

In The Beginning:
     Everything and everyone has a beginning. Everything and everyone that is except God. God has always been and will always be. He is eternal with no beginning and no end. This truth concerning Jesus is explained in the first chapter of John. In the beginning was the word , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV… And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV  So the reality is that Jesus made it possible to not just hear about God, but to see God. As a Christian, your beginning was when you called upon Jesus to be the Savior in your life. Not only do you know about Him by what you have heard and read but now you know him personally. God, through Jesus, has created in you a clean heart. It was your new beginning.

All Authority:
     Lord of all…. that is who Jesus is. There is no authority nor deity that supersedes Him for He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.(Revelations 19:16) Everyone will bow before Him as Lord over all. Pilate, when addressing Jesus, said to Him, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and the authority to crucify you?” John 19:10b  Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it has been given you from above.” John 19:11 ESV  When Jesus was being arrested in the garden and Peter tried to defend Him by the sword, Jesus said to him, “Do you not think that I could appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angles?” Matthew 26:53 ESV  Everything and everyone is subject to the authority of God. Again it is fact that Jesus, God’s only Son, is King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no one greater nor would anyone have a position of authority without God allowing it to be so.

Reconciliation:
     The verb for reconcile means to…. restore friendly relations between. God restored what was destroyed by sin- Our relationship with Him as creator God. He did, this as we know, by the sacrificial blood of Jesus on the cross. To say that we need to do more is to say that Jesus, who was God in the flesh, was not enough. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God as referred to in the Bible, is all that is needed to accomplish reconciliation. No other god, deity, works, nor efforts made possible our Salvation which is in Christ alone. And there is Salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved Acts 4:12 ESV

     Unfortunately not much has changed in people from the time the letter of Colossians was written to today. I have heard it said even from people in a church setting, “There are many ways to heaven and one simply must be sincere.” To believe this is to steal the glory that belongs to God alone. There are gods that people worship which never lived or died and no longer lives. However as Christians, we worship a living God. The living God who is the creator of all that is or ever will be. His call to a person is to repent and believe in the work accomplished by Christ alone upon the cross of Calvary. There is no other work nor effort required, for it is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It will change how you live if you believe; for God never reconciled anyone to himself that He didn’t make a Temple of the Holy Spirit. God will do in you what you could never do for yourself… and that is why He alone should be and is to be worshipped. Always remember that, “ Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4 )

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Jesus In Philippians …. Our Joy …… July 1, 2018

     I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things though him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

     The strength of which Paul is speaking is his JOY in the Lord.  As spoken to the people in Nehemiah 8:10b The Joy of the Lord is your strength.  Know that…. as it was for Paul and the people in Nehemiah’s day, so it is for us today.  Joy in the Lord equals strength.  This was more than just mere talk by Paul, for he was writing this letter from prison.  He was hoping to come to the church at Philippi but did not know at the time whether he would live or die.  Philippi was not a church to whom he was writing due to some issues they were having, but rather this was a letter of encouragement, thanksgiving, and council to continue to do well.  There was only one reference to any problems in Philippi.  In chapter four he addressed two women that had influence in the church who were having some conflict.  He encouraged them to agree in the Lord. (vs 2) Paul in the letter made much of Jesus in his life and testified of the evidence of Jesus in the lives of others.  In short, as he often does, Paul is making much of Jesus and the work He continues to do in his life and in the lives of others.  Jesus was Paul’s reason for living, as it should be for every Christian, those who have been redeemed by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.  When Jesus becomes your reason, then Jesus will control your life and make much of it to perpetuate the gospel of His good news.  The good news is that God sent his only Son, Jesus, into the world to do for us what we could not do for ourselves…. redeem us from sin and its penalty.
     I used the word JOY to make an acrostic to better understand how we might experience joy, which is not just a feeling but a position in life we choose to live out loud and on purpose.

JESUS:
     When an individual lives for themselves they tend to be a miserable person, for nothing in life ever seems to satisfy.  But Jesus lived on purpose as an example for us, that we might imitate his actions.  That is, of course, if the person is in fact “in Christ Jesus” as referred to several times through out the letter of Philippians.  Paul described Jesus’s example as follows.
     Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to his own interests, but to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by TAKING THE FORM OF A SERVANT, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:308 ESV

Over:
     Jesus took us over when He came into our lives.  We are no longer our own, for we have been bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20&19-20 & 7:23)
     Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been TAKEN HOLD OF BY CHRIST JESUS.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 CSB  I’ve heard it said, “live for something bigger than yourself,” and I cannot think of anything bigger than the love that God has for us. If we live our lives only for ourselves, then our life goals are way too small.

You:
     How you live should show evidence of Christ in you.  Living in the Joy of the Lord will bring peace in your life for in truth nothing else really matters.  All will burn, rust, or waste away in a landfill one day. Paul gave one final challenge to the church in Philippi, and it rings true for us today as if it were written yesterday.
     Rejoice in the Lord always.  I say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice.  And the GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU.  Philippians 4:4-9 NIV

     Joy is the address where the Christian lives.  Joy many times is something the person experiences but cannot be duplicated for others.  Joy comes from knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.  To know and experience true joy is truly knowing Jesus; for Jesus is our JOY.

 

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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