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Monthly Archives : September 2018

Imagine ….. September 23, 2018

     But as it was written, What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those that love him. These things God revealed to us through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV

     This past evening, we had a church movie night in which we features the movie, I Can Only Imagine. The movie told the life story of the lead singer, Bart Millard, from the band Mercy Me, and how the song, “I Can Only Imagine,” came into being. It is an extremely powerful and moving story of pain, redemption, and the thought of a future that can only be- imagined. We can learn from this story that God, as always, takes tragic situations and produces glorious outcomes. If you study the Bible, you will see this is the consistent theme of who God is- a mender of hearts and lives. God can take things that absolutely make no sense and makes it good. He can heal all that Satan destroys. God is the creator of all that is good past, present, and future. Satan will endeavor to convince you otherwise; but more importantly, God has endeavored to show you that Satan is a liar. To believe Satan’s lies is to miss the fact and reality that God is the solution to all the problems in this world. Years ago I was talking with a young man about all the tragedies in the world and the confusion that comes with trying to understand them. In our discussion we reflected upon how many people blame God, to which the young man asked the question, “Why doesn’t any one ever blame the Devil?” When Jesus identified the devil, he said these words, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 ESV  Jesus, when referring to himself, says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV  When you live for the devil, you will die for him; but when you live for Jesus, it is because he died for you. When Jesus died for you and you believed in Him as Savior, you can only imagine what it will be like one day to live with him for all eternity. It is something the Spirit of God brings to the mind of the true believer. It is not about heaven being a safe place and avoiding hell. It is about spending the rest of eternity with Jesus, the one who saved you by his grace, and loving Him with praises forevermore. I like the way Paul describes this in 1 Corinthians 2:9 when he says,

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard:
     This is the splendor of heaven that no one at this point had seen nor heard concerning the glory of Angles singing and the worship of the the King of ages. This is the place He is preparing for the Believer /Christian when He comes to take us home. (John 14: 1-3) It is described by the vision of John in Revelations which was overwhelming to him. We can only imagine seeing him face to face and hearing the sound of praise and worship unlike anything we have ever seen or heard. The natural man will not think in this fashion but the growing Christian will tend to become more homesick for Jesus as he / she grows in the faith.

The heart of man imagined:
     I am amazed at the ability of a person who can take an image in their mind and put it on canvas. Where did this ability come from? …. GOD! God gives us glimpse of things to come in the form of art, for he was the ultimate artist creating all things. I have seen beautiful, beautiful, beautiful paintings but nothing compared to what I believe heaven will be. We dream and talk of heaven, but I believe our reaction when we really see heaven will be WOW!!! Man left to himself will only see beauty in this world of which there is much, but as a Christian, let me encourage you to remember, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things that are above, not the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 ESV

What God has prepared for those who love him:
     Love is the word that stands out to me in this part of the verse. To love him is to do his will. Love is doing for another with actions that speaks louder than words. Salvation in Christ is not fire insurance from hell; it is loving him with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37… Mark 12:30…Luke 10:27)
Loving Jesus will change how you live and will create in you an anticipation to be with him for all eternity.

Let me close with this thought…… I— Can Only— Imagine.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Jesus In 1 Peter …. Our Greatest Hope …… September 16, 2018

     And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

 

     The book of 1 Peter is all about the Christian suffering and the sustaining faith in God / Jesus. When reading this book, you can imagine the intense suffering in the church as Nero, the leader of Rome, blamed the burning of Rome upon the Christians. Persecution intensified upon the Christian, and to be a Christian meant you were going to suffer. Peter challenged the Christian to live and follow the example of Christ. This challenge involves suffering that is done not with a fight but with a submissive spirit causing people to look past you as a Christian and see Jesus. The Christian in Nero’s day could not control the lies that were being spread about them, but they could live in order to give testimony that the lies were false. I heard a statement years ago that I have repeated multiple times. It goes like this, “Confidence is how little you react when you are falsely accused.” Being a Christian is not an easy lifestyle to live because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5: 8 ESV  It is important for the Christian to live his life in submission to God. Not to do so would be furnishing the Devil the seasoning he enjoys while devouring you. Seasoning like hate, ungodly anger, bitterness, unforgiving lifestyles, and on and on this list of seasonings could go. One important note to remember about the verse written above is suffering is limited to, a little while. It goes on from there and states, “The God of all grace, who called you to his ETERNAL glory in Christ will….”

RESTORE:
     To restore something means there is someone who is doing the restoring. In the life of the individual Christian, the person doing the restoring would be God. When life becomes difficult or painful, a person can become frustrated and want to withdraw or quit, but one must have faith that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

CONFIRM:
     I have heard the statement, “If I just knew good would come from this, it would be easier to live with.” Never quit living or doing right for Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we WILL REAP, if we do not give up.” ESV  Remember from the verse above, “He who began a good work in you WILL.

STRENGTHEN:
     Strength generally comes from exercising muscles, and spiritual strength comes from exercising faith in God. Faith grows when a person looks to God for answers knowing and understanding that He is in control. It is acknowledging, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV  It is learning to live right before him when it seems every ounce of your fiber tells you to run. It is putting on the whole armor of God and standing. (Ephesians 6:10-20) If you read this passage, you will notice it tells you to stand not charge into battle…. the reason? The battle is already won; we are commissioned to tell how it was won.

ESTABLISH:
     What was true in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 when written, is true for you today…. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. Acts 17: 28  should be our model to live by today…. In him we live and move and have our being.

Let me close with a challenge…… LIVE STRONG in the Lord! And after you have suffered a little while, the God of grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Jesus In James …. Our Example Of Good Works …… September 9, 2018

     But someone will say, “ You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your
works and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18 ESV

     James explains how we should live as Christians and gives evidences of the faith we have in Jesus. As the half brother of Jesus, he witnessed first hand how Jesus lived, yet growing up, James did not believe Jesus to be God’s Son until after His death and resurrection. (John 7:5… Acts 1:14) When you read James, remember Jesus lived perfectly the teaching and instructions as written by James. How else could James have written so clearly how we should conduct ourselves in faith? He wrote this not by his own authority, but by the example he, no doubt, witnessed in Jesus. This is a book not written to a specific church but rather to all Christians. The book of James is just as applicable today as when he penned this letter to Christians of his day. While works in the Christian’s life is important, remember works do not and cannot save you; for we are saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Works by faith give evidence of the truth and results of grace that you have experienced in Christ Jesus. Good works by those who have experienced grace are acts of love, not works to gain salvation. Salvation is only possible in the person of Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 4:12)

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS:

     While words are important, and much is said by James concerning the tongue, actions generally speak what you really believe. Words can inform people of your knowledge or lack of it, but actions inform people what you really believe. Have you ever heard a person say, “I know I shouldn’t do _______ but…. then they do it. Knowledge of right and wrong never gives evidence of change in a persons life, but living rightly or wrongly gives evidence of what is really true in your life.

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS:

     Many today say they have faith or that they are Christians. The thought comes to mind, “How should this affect those in this world?”. I heard an illustration this week that puts this in perspective. I did not check these numbers to see if they were correct but for the sake of illustration it makes the point. About twenty five percent of people say they are evangelical Christians. In comparison this should be like putting one fourth a pound of salt into a pound of hamburger. How would that affect the  hamburger? How is it possible for twenty five percent of people to be Christians and yet not have a MAJOR affect upon the world? You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and be trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS and GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN. Matthew 5:13-16 ESV Our works should not be for our glory but to point people to the God we love who has saved us by his grace and give HIM glory.

HOW CAN WE CHANGE?

     Read the Bible not just as a book of information but as an instruction manual for living. But be doers of the word and not hearers only. James 1:22 ESV  When reading the Bible and seeing where you may fall short in so many ways, don’t be overwhelmed. Many people say, “ I just can’t do this; no one can.” That would be a correct statement, and that is why we are saved by grace and not works. I have heard people say after eating a large plate of food, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” So how did they do it? ….One bite at a time. The process of growing as a Christian is called sanctification. This is a person who is not what they were but is growing and is not yet what they will be. Growing as a Christian is a process of surrender and loving God more everyday. When Jesus was asked, “Teacher what is the greatest commandment of the law?” Matthew 22:36 ESV Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law of the Prophets.” Matthews 22:37-40 ESV  We work not for salvation but in order to show our love for God. The work of salvation was done on the cross, and trust me, neither you nor anyone else will do a work that is greater than this. God became flesh, lived, died, and rose again defeating the consequence of sin….Death. I was once asked, “What’s the big deal? He was God; of course, he could raise from the dead”…. after much thought to the question, my answer was and is ….YOU are the deal. He did it for you… willingly. He didn’t have to do it …. He was God. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV ….. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV 

     One final thought; what or who you love will determine how you live. Good ….. or ….. Bad. My prayer for myself and for all who read this is that we would choose good…. that we will always choose God for He chose us. He became like us, yet without sin, so that we could become like Him who knows no sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) It is grace and mercy which makes the gospel, the gospel of GOOD NEWS.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Jesus In Hebrews …. The Majestic one …… September 2, 2018

     We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the MAJESTY in heaven. Hebrews 8:1 ESV

     The book of Hebrews was written to an audience that was keenly aware of old testament ways. The author, whom we don’t know, was making much of Jesus over the covenant system that was taught before Jesus came. This writer made sure that those to whom he was writing understood that no one or no thing took center stage in life more than Jesus. He was greater than the aAngels and Moses. He is our High Priest and the New Covenant by which God reveals himself to us. The book of Hebrews is just as relevant to us today as when it was first written. Today there may be many that do not understand nor know the significance of this teaching concerning Angels, Moses, and the priestly line, but you must understand the significance of who Jesus is. He is God’s communication of Himself to us. There is no earthly system, material position, or knowledge greater than Jesus. If you give more significance to anything in your life than Jesus then it must be because you do not understand who Jesus is. You may have a knowledge of Him, but to know Him personally will change your life. A change caused by faith in someone much greater than yourself….GOD. To receive a glimpse of this faith, we can review what is called, “The Hall Of Faith,” in Hebrews chapter 11. It is by faith that we believe the communication of God to us through His Son Jesus. Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV What would be the greatest reward we could ever receive today? Jesus….. God’s only Son becoming our Lord and Savior and the forgiveness of all our sins accomplished by his death in our place on the cross. Jesus is our greatest reward; for He accomplished everything we could not do, presenting us to His Father as if we had never sinned….. justified.


Jesus Is Our High Priest:

     In the Old Testament the priest offered sacrifices before God on behalf of the people for their sins. These sacrifices showed the seriousness of sin in that something died in order to cover sin. While these sacrifices covered sin, Jesus ultimately did what the blood of animals could never do. Being the perfect sacrifice He not only covered sin but provided eternal forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness that would cover all our sins, causing no other sacrifice to ever be necessary. (Hebrews 9:22)

Seated At The Right Hand:

     The priests that were before Jesus went into the Temple to meet with God on behalf of the people. Jesus, our high priest, is seated by His right hand of the throne of God and intercedes for us around the clock. He neither sleeps nor slumbers nor has any limitations. That is who Jesus is for us as Christians. The Son of God became flesh, then died, was buried, and rose again and is now seated with His Father on our behalf.

MAJESTIC ONE:
“OH LORD OUR LORD HOW MAJESTIC IS YOUR NAME IN ALL THE EARTH…..AND HEAVEN.” He has done great things and is greatly to be praised. May it never be said that the rocks cry out more in praises to Jesus than we who have been redeemed by His blood. May we sing loudly, “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” May we receive a glimpse of the majesty that is in Christ Jesus and bring much glory to God!!!!!

God, it is my prayer that we who have been redeemed by YOUR sacrifice will live daily as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service to the Majestic King Jesus. Amen.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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