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Working Diligently…… February 10, 2019

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23 ESV

I once had a plaque that had this little phase, “My Work Is Part Of My Worship.” Have you ever thought of your work in this way? As a Christian I believe it is important to look at your work in this fashion, and in general how you live your whole life. It is a testimony of your faith when you do what you do for God- on purpose. Understand, when we do it for the Lord, then it is part of our worship.

WHATEVER YOU DO:
     As Christians we need to be a testimony to the world by how we live everyday. So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD. 1 Corinthians 10:31  I once heard the statement , “Go and witness for the Lord and if necessary use words.” This statement sounds good and holds truth, though I still believe it is necessary to use words to tell / proclaim the gospel. But it is important for your actions to match your words.

WORK HEARTILY:
     As I stated above, “My work is part of my worship” illuminates your work as a Christian, as being a witness to others. In reality as a Christian, everything about you should change to focus upon the Lord. Paul said it like this to the men of Athens, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 ESV  God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit should become the focus of who you are as a Christian. Let me encourage you not to think just physical work, but also working with the mind. Remember a few Sundays ago when I said, “Everything begins in the mind.” I believe that every good or evil thought and intention originates consciously or unconsciously in the mind. This is why Romans 12:2 addresses this issue, Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)  This may be the most challenging work you do….. changing how you think. If we work with the goal of changing ourselves into the image of Christ, we will be more effective in influencing others to look to him.

AS FOR THE LORD AND NOT FOR MEN:
     Don’t evaluate your work or actions in the work place or world by comparing yourself to others but by performing for God, which makes your life have a higher calling. Isn’t that what this verse actually teaches us by saying…for the Lord and not for men? In the context of this verse Paul is actually addressing slaves when working for their master. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22 CSB  Paul is not promoting human slavery, but he is encouraging kingdom purpose living in whatever situation you are in. In reality, everyone is a slave, either to sin or to righteousness. (Romans 6:15-23) Living as a slave to sin has a much grimmer outcome than that as a slave of righteousness. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

     In no way is this teaching that you are made right with God through works. It is teaching how to live once you have been made right with God. The work of being in a right relationship with God was done on the cross by His only Son Jesus. Remember…..For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV  James addressed this when people were bragging about works for salvation. 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.  Perhaps another way to look at this is, “I would hate to think I would work less under grace than under the requirements of God’s law. If you have been redeemed by the blood of the Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, then it is impossible to live as you may have once lived. Your works give evidence of His presence IN your life, not for the salvation OF your life. Again, God has already completed the work of salvation through His only Son on the cross. The question which we must answer is, “Am I going to follow Him? and if I say I follow Him, does my life give evidence of it through how I work / live?

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Being Alert …. February 3, 2019

     Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Mark 14:38 ESV  Matthew 26:42 ESV

     Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane the night He would be arrested, experiencing great agony in spirit, knowing the death he was about to experience. In fact, he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 ESV  Jesus knew what was about to take place, but His disciples did not. In fact, they slept when Jesus’s suffering had already begun. How easy it is to relax yourself into a lull, to the point of sleep, not realizing the dangers and challenges to be faced. Everything for the disciples was good, or so they thought. They were in the presence of the Messiah; what could possibly go wrong? He had walked on water, given sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, fed thousands with a sack lunch, calmed the storm with a simple command, and on and on the recounting of miracles could go. He had challenged the religious leaders of the day in ways no one else could have ever done and always silenced their challenges. This was God’s Son in the flesh….This was God. Yet, in His flesh he told His disciples to watch and pray. To stay alert to the unexpected attacks you will experience in this world. Watching and praying is being proactive and not reactive. Prayer is the action we take, not only when things go bad, but also before and when things become challenging in life. It is the guarding of your soul, not against what may come, but against what will come in this broken world. It is spending time preparing – before the battles, not only in the battles. Jesus spoke to His Father before the cross and on the cross… remember these words… Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34 ESV Prayer is the verbal relationship we have with God and will help us keep watch over our lives from day to day.

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING  1 Thessalonians 5:17
     This is the way our relationship with God should be. To pray without ceasing is to be in the mental presence of God throughout the day. I do not believe it means to aimlessly be murmuring repetitious prayer all day long. When there is not a specific reason for which to pray, then pray with praise and worship from the scriptures; for this will keep you alert in your daily walk. For example, “Lord I am thankful that I can do all things because you strengthen me.” (Philippians 4:13) Lord, Help me be a doer of your word and not a hearer only. (James 1:22) I encourage you to find a scripture and use it in a prayer throughout the day; this will not only help you memorize that scripture but also make you more aware of His daily presence in
your life.

WATCH FOR THE LIONS:
     Be sober minded; BE WATCHFUL. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV
     The first assumption I will make here is that you recognize Satan as your adversary. If he is not your adversary, then you are not where you need to be. It means you are running with him and not from from him, and at some point you will be his lunch. We need to learn how to flee from him and run to God. (1 Corinthians 6:18 & 10:14 ….. 1 Timothy 6:11 … 2 Timothy 2:221) Fleeing from Satan is not showing weakness, it is running toward your source of strength. Sin doesn’t just happen. There is normally a set of circumstances that presents itself over time, and then the fall. Picture a lion sneaking upon its prey slowly, then pouncing with an all out attack. The lion takes many slow steps before pouncing… be watchful, for his method has not changed from the time of Adam and Eve in the garden.

KNOW YOU ARE WEAK: Romans 8: 3-11
     We could never accomplish in the flesh what Jesus accomplished upon the cross; why would we ever think we are strong? To realize your weakness is the first step in being strong in the Lord. It is knowing when to run. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore my beloved, FLEE. 1 Corinthians 10: 12-14 ESV

The words of Jesus to the disciples in the garden that night are just as applicable to us today. I am afraid that many today have fallen asleep, unaware of the storms that are coming. Yes, God is in control. Yes, everything is happening as foretold, and God is all-knowing of past, present, and future. Remember, however; that all that happened in the garden was not a surprise to God, but the disciples were still told to watch and pray. So let us receive the same message as followers of Christ today. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38 ESV Matthew 26:42 ESV

AS CHRISTIANS WE NEED TO STAY ALERT !!!!!!!!

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

STRENGTH JANUARY 27, 2019

     And you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your STRENGTH. Mark 12:30 ESV

     To have strength in the Lord you must acknowledge that He is your strength. He is your strength when He is your focus. However, when sin becomes the focus, you lose sight of God. Sin begins to weaken you by placing burdens upon you that you were never intended or able to bear. It is His abiding presence that we should pursue in order to exercise this strength. Seek the Lord and his strength; see his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV  Remember, exercising the mind in the things of the Lord to gain spiritual strength is just as important as exercising the body for physical strength. I have heard many use the verse Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me, when attempting to accomplish a difficult physical task. In context however, this is referring to the challenges that we faced in our minds. Circumstances of life that weigh on the mind can bring us down both mentally and physically. When overwhelmed mentally, we can lose joy. And when we lose joy, we lose strength. It is important to remember…. the joy of the Lord IS your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b ESV  So, knowing strength comes from him, how do we grow in this strength, to love him more every day?

LIVE:
In him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28a ESV
 Our lives should define who we are in Christ by how we live every day.  When Mary and I got married, we ceased to live at separate locations. We ceased to be two separate people, in spirit. We became as one flesh abiding together and growing to love each other more every day. So it is as the bride of Christ. We are joined together in relationship with God through Christ, and we are defined by this relationship. God is not just someone to visit on Sunday. He is the address of our soul. The more I grow my relationship with God, the more I grow to love him. The more I understand the sacrifice He made for me, the more precious He becomes to me. This is never more real in my life than when I live, move, and have my being in Him. His strength of love for me becomes my strength to love Him back. This strength doesn’t come from knowing about Him, but knowing Him as Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

WORSHIP
     When I think of worship, I think of joy. I have never encountered anyone worshipping God without experiencing the joy that comes from knowing Him. The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b ESV  This is not saying you have strength only when everything is going great in your life; rather it is strength from the joy of knowing God’s abiding presence in your life, in every circumstance of life. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV  This is why Peter and the apostles were able to rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41)  Worship, as love, is a choice the Christian should always make. In life as a Christian you will show strength in loving God by worshipping Him always…. NO MATTER WHAT!

     Do not be burdened down by weakness, but focus on the love that God has shown you in Christ Jesus. Love requires you to have strength, and some of the strongest people I know …. have love …. especially those who love God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

The Mind January 20, 2019

     And you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all yourMIND, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 ESV

     Everything begins in the mind, for this is where battles are won and lost in life for every individual and Christian. It is the battle ground where Satan attacks a person with lies and half truths that cause confusion, frustrations, fear, and on this list could go. When a person fights these battles in his or her own strength, the only outcome will be loss and failure. The person who thinks they are strong and can take care of themselves, underestimates the power of Satan. I once heard a story that went something like this. A person said, “There was no God” …. which is a lie Satan attempts to perpetuate in the mind of this person and anyone else who will believe such a lie. This person lived their whole life with few apparent problems; and from all outward appearances, he seemed quite happy and successful. This person appeared to move freely in and out of all the doors of life. However, where he lived was in the prison of sin which he denied could hold him or would have any consequences. The door to that prison cell of sin is open, and he seemed to move about freely, often boasting of his personal freedoms. This was true until one day the door of life closed, and in death the door to that prison of sin also closed, never to open again. No more freedoms and no more brags, for the door is locked for all eternity. This person may demand for the door to be opened, but Satan laughs and says, “I won your mind, and now I have won you.” In the cell of his sin and death he had become a trophy for Satan. This is obviously allegorical, but the real outcome at the end of life without Jesus and His Salvation is JUST AS FRIGHTENING!

The past two Sundays we have defined Christianity as loving God on purpose with our heart and soul and this Sunday I want to share how we love God with our minds.

WE GIVE NO PLACE TO THE DEVIL:
     For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV
     When I have an object of value, I put it in a safe place in order to protect it. I do not and will not place it where it might be broken or damaged. If we set our minds upon this world, we are placing it in danger, for the mind should be protected by the Spirit of God. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 ESV

WE MAKE NEW LIFE THOUGHTS:
     Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may decree what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
     In the life of a person who has become a Christian, a process of reprogramming the mind begins. In the computer world there is a phrase- garbage in, garbage out. In other words, if you program into the computer that 2+2= 5, then when seeking the answer for this equation, the computer will always tell you 5 until you renew the answer to the correct number 4. Seeking to be right in our own way is like programming our minds with a way we deem to be true. Proverbs 16:25 gives you the result of such thinking. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

WE FOCUS UPON GOD:
     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 your MINDS on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

     This is how we accomplish both giving no place to the devil and making new thoughts. Our focus in life must be a single focus upon God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the most important of all we do as Christians, for to focus here is to set your mind in a safe place and to learn the new way of thinking that will change how you live. It is gaining the correct answers to all the problems and challenges life has to give.

     The best way to accomplish the above three thoughts is to spend as much time as possible in the word of God. To place scripture in your mind as a Christian is like reprograming our minds to love God more. It fills our minds with truth and not the garbage of the world. This is how we can love God with all our mind.

Because of HIs Grace ~ Pastor David

HEART & SOUL JANUARY 13, 2019

     My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2

     When God created man, He breathed into him the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) This breath took Adam from being flesh made from dust to being a living soul. The soul is the part of life which is deep inside a person, and as long as the heart is beating the soul remains. When the breath of life leaves the body, the soul leaves the body, and life in the flesh as we know it, dies. Understand, we were created on purpose and for a purpose. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6 ESV  The heart and soul are synonymous when describing life. The soul makes up the mind, will, and emotions of a person whereas the heart is what keeps the life-flowing blood moving through our body. Through out the Bible these two parts of who we are, are often used to describe life, both physical and spiritual. Last Sunday, when defining Christianity, I used a passage from Mark’s gospel as spoken by Jesus, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV  Obviously this covers the whole make-up of a person when loving God, but today I want to give thought on two specific parts …..the soul and heart.

THE SOUL:
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;….. Psalm 84:2a ESV
     This Psalm describes someone desiring to be in God’s presence more than anything else. It’s a life that desires with “an overwhelming want” to be where God is. This is someone who wants more than simply being acquainted with God; he wants to KNOW Him, to be with Him, to be touched by Him, to walk with Him…….. This happens from deep within the person who is seeking after the things of God. The more they taste and see that the Lord is good, the greater their appetite grows for more of Him. (Psalm 35:8) This is a person who seeks God not because He is hiding, but because He desires to experience more of his presence in his life. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 ESV  This is how you [l]ove the Lord your God with all your SOUL…. Mark 12:30a ESV

THE HEART:
My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2
     Heart and flesh show the more visible aspects of what is in the soul. The heart here can represent both the inner life of the soul and the outer life of the flesh for it is tied to both. The inner, because it reflects the soul’s desires, and the outer, for it proclaims it with song, praising God. A person can perform/sing with an outer expression, but that might be all that it is… a performance …. but for the soul that is longing for Him, it is more than a performance. It is a burning desire for God to know you love and worship Him. I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before gods I sing your praise; Psalm 138:1 ESV  This is one who wants to bring God much glory….. I give thanks to you,O Lord my God, WITH MY WHOLE HEART, and I WILL GLORIFY YOUR NAME FOREVER. Psalm 86:12 ESV

     Love is taught the same way hate is taught…. by actions. It is important, as Christians, that we express our love for God with our speech, actions, and walk. Anyone can call themselves a Christian, sing, or talk a good talk, but to do these three with joy is to desire, long, faint for the presence of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in your life. Otherwise you are just religious, and religion without God is burdensome. Desire to live in His presence, and you will experience the Joy that will make you want to sing of your love for Him…. forever.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

DEFINING CHRISTIANITY JANUARY 6, 2019

     “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV

     This past week I have asked different individuals to define what it means to be a Christian. I have read from blogs and discussion forums on different internet sites. This has proven interesting to me, with the many different views and explanations I have received. I have heard some say, “It is to be a follower of Christ”; others described a lifestyle that should be lived, and some expressed rather different definitions. This is a definition I would like for you to consider in the defining process: “living a life dedicated to finding ways to love God”. Every person who is a Christian, is so, because God has shown and has given love to us through His Son Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t just about living by certain standards of do’s and don’t’s. It’s about living a life of loving God on purpose. Think about it this way. I follow God because I love Him. I live, choosing a certain way of doing or not doing something, as an expression to God of my love for Him. In one word….LOVE…Christianity can best be defined. Love should be the address of every Christian. We should live in a subdivision called Love with street names like Faith, Hope, Joy, Praise, Kindness, Generosity, Forgiveness, and on the list of streets names could go. It is a place where Christians live, not a place they visit. The foundation for all the houses in this subdivision has been laid by and is Jesus. Jesus never gave the name “Christian” to those who followed him; this happened for the first time at Antioch. (Acts 11:26) In fact, only two other times in the bible was the name “Christian” used: Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. Jesus never said you should call yourselves Christians, but He did give us the material with which to build. This later caused others to attach the name “Christian” to the believers of Jesus.

LOVE ME:
     If you love me you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV ….. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23 ESV  This is living on purpose and for the purpose of loving God. Psalm 119:11 ESV  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. You do not memorize and live the Word to impress people but to love God. Being a Christian isn’t about having a ticket to Heaven, but believing and accepting the good news of the gospel that Jesus has saved/rescued you from death, and you live, loving and expressing gratitude every earthly day you have left.

LOVE IS THE GREATEST:
     1 Corinthians 13 is often described as the love chapter and teaches what love is and is not. The last verse after all the teaching and description of love says this, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love.” verse 13 ESV  Once again I remind you, love is where we live/abide. The love for God will be what matters when you enter into your eternal home, not the stuff described by some as being a Christian. Remember the words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV  So what is the will of the Father?  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone WHO LOOKS ON THE SON AND BELIEVES IN HIM should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40 ESV  As I have often said, “What you believe will determine how you live.” If you believe John 3:16 and believe in Jesus as the Son of God who took away your sin, you will live loving Him on purpose.

LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT:
    It was asked of Jesus what is the most important commandment, and Jesus gave this answer, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV  When you are living/loving God on purpose, it will be more evident that you are a Christian by how you live than by what you say; just as the cliche says, “Actions speak louder than words.”

My challenge to you this day is to live/love as instructed by Jesus in Mark 12:30. Do this, and others will know that you are a Christian.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

NEW BEGINNINGS …. DECEMBER 30, 2018

     Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 ESV

     Paul, of all people, could have claimed that if perfection comes from the law, he would have exceeded every expectation. (Philippians 3:4-6) However, he makes clear that to be right with God, one must pursue Christ Jesus. Self-righteousness and the requirements of God’s law will never accomplish the ultimate goal, which is to be made right with God by being perfect and without sin. To put it more directly – to be HOLY. We live in a culture or society where the measure of perfection before God is not so much keeping the laws of God, but rather the law of comparison. We compare ourselves with others, making up our own value system as to what is good or evil. This system then determines in the individual’s mind whether or not they are good enough for Heaven. But Heaven is not obtained by this system of law any more than by following every jot and tittle of God’s law. If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:21b ESV  God’s law does teach what He expects, but not the means by which our sins are forgiven. (Romans 8:1-11…. Ephesians 1:7) May we do what we have read in the verses above to obtain the goal in our own lives.

FORGET:
     This is very important for the person who is going to move forward in Christ. I’m not teaching that we do not learn from the past …. just that we shouldn’t live there. Paul would never have moved forward, growing in his understanding of Jesus if he didn’t make Him Lord of his life by forsaking his own understanding of God. Paul had to put aside what he perceived to be service and acceptance from God by the law, and receive a new understanding of who God is through His Son …. Jesus. Being made right with God is never accomplished by the works of the law, but by relationship with God in Christ Jesus. The works and requirements of the law were accomplished by Christ upon the cross. For by the WORKS OF THE LAW no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 ESV …. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, NOT A RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV…Paul said it best in Galatians 6:14 ESV “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

PRESS ON:
     Paul described pressing on as straining forward. This phrase teaches us that living in grace is not a retirement from doing what God has called us to be, which is HOLY. As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV (Leviticus 11:44)  The Christian life is compared to an athlete running a race with endurance. This race is not physical but spiritual, and we are told to lay aside every weight of sin, that we might run with endurance. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Remember…… Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

THE GOAL:
     Continuing with the race analogy… Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may be able to obtain. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV  Keep this in context; this is not telling us we are working for our own salvation, but rather that this is how we should live as a result of salvation made possible by Christ Jesus. We are not to live aimlessly with no goals for living Godly. What should be the goal of every Christian? Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31b ESV  As Paul explained to the men of Athens in Acts 17 concerning the unknown God, may we this day live those words for all who do not know God… In him we live and move and have our being. (verse 28 ESV)  We also need to know how to dress for the race in order to win. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 ESV

     In a couple of days, Lord willing we will be celebrating a new year….. a new beginning. May we not dwell on the past which we cannot change, but look forward toward the future. As a blank page of life is before you not yet lived, live with goals to make a difference in your walk with God. I heard it said and have read somewhere…. begin with the end goal in mind. Let me give you one goal to consider…. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

THE WORD BECAME FLESH …. December 23, 2018

     And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV

     Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:23 ESV

     For unto you is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 ESV

     There are times when I just sit and ponder on the Bible. I reflect on the many stories told of days past and of things foretold which are yet to come. One historical event I’ve often pondered is the birth of Jesus, our Messiah, Immanuel….God with us. Wrap your mind around the truth that God, who created everything, became as His created. A man clothed in flesh and his life held with bars of bone. He had a heart beating and blood flowing through his veins. He cried, laughed, felt happiness and sadness. He felt aches, pain, weariness and everything that comes from being flesh. He experienced temptation in every area of life yet did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) He was a man……..yet totally God.

The Word Became Flesh:
     In the Old Testament God’s word instructed how a person should live. That word was to be a lamp showing the way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 ESV  In the New Testament the word took on flesh and wasn’t just a lamp, but the light of God living every day, displaying how we should live. Jesus walked down the path of servanthood lighting the way and showed generosity, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and how to love, just to mention a few.

Dwelt Among Us:
     To live with us- that is what God chose to do. I have heard a phrase many times that explains it well. It goes like this, “He became like us, so that we might become like Him.” Jesus lived a perfect life in absolutely every way and never sinned. We will never be perfect in ourselves, but Jesus made it possible for us to be as He is…. without sin. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV …… He lived with purpose and died on purpose for our sins. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have beed healed. 1 Peter 2:24 ESV  Living righteous is made possible in Jesus Christ through faith. It is not faith in our own righteousness but faith in the one who made it possible for us to live right before God. (Romans 1:16-17) The righteous shall live by faith. Romans 1:17b ESV

Seen His Glory:
     We read about heaven’s spender and glory which one day, as Christians, we will see. The earth, which God created, received a glimpse of heaven’s glory when God sent Himself in His Son. The world in general was unaware that God had become flesh the night that He was born. Shepherds were the only ones that came to witness the birth of the Savior. This is how they received notice of His birth. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHONE AROUND THEM. Luke 2:9 ESV ……. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14 ESV

Full Of Grace and Truth:
     This is why Jesus came: so that we might experience God’s grace and truth. For by GRACE you have been saved through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV  And that we might experience truth. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.” John 8:31-32 ESV  All the days that Jesus lived in the flesh he gave grace and taught truth…. Grace to the repentant sinner and truth to all who would hear.

     This message has never changed from the time it came to be a reality to the present day. Hebrews 13: 8 (ESV) teaches us that Jesus  Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. God made possible the redemption of man to himself by sending His Son to be…. The lamb of God which takes away sin of the world. John 1:29 ESV  From a manger to a cross, from a cross to a grave, from a grave to the sky, Jesus… God… did what we could never do. Defeated sin and death and overcame the world that Satan would make you believe is hopeless. Jesus came and is coming again just as He promised. Remember, God made it possible for us to be more than conquerers in Christ Jesus. (All of Romans 8 but specifically verse 37) So until he comes, let us be waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

HIS LOVE — ENDURES FOREVER…. December 16, 2018

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalms 136:1 ESV

     If I were to randomly ask the question, “What do you thank God for today?” I am sure I would receive multiple answers. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 we are told that faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. If the greatest of these three is love, shouldn’t that also be what we express our greatest thanks for? We know that God’s love is unexplainable, and in many ways it does not make sense when reflecting upon it. It is not hard to understand how to love someone who is lovable, but to love someone whom you know mistreats you, rejects you, lies about you, and ultimately kills you…. loving that person is out of the average person’s ability to express love. Romans 5:7-8 (ESV) explains it this way: For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christa died for us. When reading Psalm 136, it progresses from God being the creator of the universe, to the deliverer of His people from Egypt, to reminding us that He is the God who sits on the throne of Heaven. The last part of each verse in this Psalm reiterates this eternal truth…. his steadfast love endures forever. In this day when people seem to be focused upon themselves and not looking to God, this eternal truth remains… his steadfast love endures forever. It is His love that restrains him from the judgement He will one day bring upon all mankind for their sins (2 Peter 3:9-10).  It was in His steadfast love that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. (John 3:16) So let us begin living each day by doing, recognizing, and acknowledging His steadfast love.

DOING:
     We should always be in an attitude of thanksgiving towards God for His enduring love; but attitude is hard to measure, for it is something that is in the mind and is developed there. Doing, however, is an outward expression of that which is in the heart/mind of a person, and can be seen. How you live, on purpose, for God, every day, will show the gratitude you have in your heart for God and His love. It is living to bring attention to God, not yourself. Let your light shine before others, so that they MAY SEE your good works and GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN. Matthew 5:16 ESV

RECOGNIZING:
     It is important to remember/recognize that no matter what a day brings, God is good!!! In the middle of tragic situations of this world, it does not change who God is, and HE IS GOOD. God did not cause sin; man’s choice did that. However, rather than give us the justice deserved, God chose to send His Son to pay the penalty of the sin…. death. To me that makes God good/great in ways words just cannot express. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV God’s steadfast and sure love did that, and I hope I will never forget, but always recognize, this important truth, this fact.

ACKNOWLEDGE:
    Over the years I have been to numerous meetings in which they acknowledged a person for accomplishments or the attributes that defined that person. One of the many enduring attributes of God is His steadfast love for us. If I were to introduce God in a meeting as the keynote speaker, what might I say? Perhaps something like this,

                    Let me introduce to you the creator of the world in which we live. Absolutely nothing you see, smell, taste, or touch is possible without the works of His hands. He is the most just and forgiving person known to the world. It has not been easy overseeing the world, and it would be an understatement to say there have been many conflicts with which He has had to deal. However, with every difficulty and conflict He, with confidence and authority, has made the needed decisions. One such decision was, in love, to send His Son into a hopeless situation to make hope possible again. One attribute that I believe sums up this person more than any other is obviously that He is a giver of love. Absolutely every action and decision He makes is motivated by this love. May I introduce to you GOD, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, the First and the Last. Honestly, there are no words which could honor GOD to the degree deserved; may we give Him not just a hand, but…… our lives.

     If you were to introduce God, how would you do so? How you view God will be how you introduce Him. I hope and pray you see how much God loves you. He loved you to the point of sending His only Son to save you from sin and death. This Christmas season may you give thanks for the goodness of God’s love – the greatest gift you will ever receive.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

JOY …… December 9, 2018

      How can a person experience lasting joy in the world today?  First you need to realize joy is not something that is given by this world.  Joy is given by God and is maintained in the heart of the Christian to give strength for each day.  Joy can be described as a happy feeling that is experienced when focusing upon the Creator…. God.  John Piper describes joy like this: “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”  This time of year (Christmas), we sing songs like Joy to the World, in which the lyrics tell of the coming of Jesus into the world.  Only when Jesus comes into the heart of a man or woman will they ever experience true joy.  A person can experience happiness for a season, but joy is lasting and enduring and not dependent upon circumstances but rather the person God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit.  Delighting in the Lord and contemplating upon all his attributes and promises will induce the feeling and emotion of joy.

You make known to me the path of life; IN YOUR PRESENCE THERE IS FULLNESS OF JOY; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV

     In the sixteenth Psalm, David expresses how he views God’s role in his life and the fact that God will never abandon him.  For you will not abandon my soul (vs 10 ESV)   It needs to be understood that God, to David, was not a mere acquaintance but a person Who had a presence in his life. David, throughout the Psalms, worshipped God, and in doing so, gives you a clear understanding that in his knowing of God was more than just a knowledge of God….. it was relational. The level of presence a person has in your life will determine the level of influence that a person will have. Does your knowing of God make you want to sing for joy because you recognize all that he has done for you? (Psalms 5:11, 63:7, 71:;23, 84:2, 92:4)

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I being you good news of GREAT JOY that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11-12 ESV

     People who have great joy in Jesus are those who have experienced Him as Savior.  David had a knowledge of God before the cross, but we have a knowledge of God in Christ Jesus because of the cross.  The birth of Jesus created a different level of joy because it went from knowing about the presence of God to being in the presence of God.  God had become human… flesh…. man, yet without sin.  This is why I believe at the announcement of His birth, the angels said, “GREAT JOY” ….. which obviously is a whole new level of joy.  If David sang with joy in the Old Testament, we should not be able to contain the joy.  We have the Spirit of the living God not just moving on the face of the earth, but living in us, for we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

And the disciples were filled with JOY and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52 ESV

     Joy and the Holy Spirit are both important in the life of the Christian. They give evidence of the new life a person has in Christ. Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances but upon the reality that the Savior who was born into  the world is now born in you by the Holy Spirit. Joy isn’t just about what God can do for you, but what He has already done and is yet to do….. take you to where He is…. Heaven.  God, in His Son Jesus, came and lived with us to make it possible for us to go and live with Him. There is no joy in hoping that you are good enough to go to heaven, for you will always live wondering and hoping that you have met the “good enough” standard, which, by the way, you can never achieve without Jesus. That is why Jesus was introduced as the Savior, and we are all in need of a Savior. A Savior that came to take away the consequence of our sin…… death.  Joy comes when you know your debt of sin has been paid in full by Him who knew no sin.  Knowledge of him is only turned to joy when you come to know him as Savior.  This is why the disciples were described as having Joy and the Holy Spirit.

 

     We have learned about hope and peace the past two Sundays, and now we have added joy to the mix. So let me close with a verse that includes all three, and it is my prayer for you today. May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE. Romans 15:13 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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