A Note From Our Pastor 

September 24, 2017
Jonah 3: 10

Turned
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8 AM, Sunday School – for all ages is at 9 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM –Everyone is invited to join us!

Our Scripture is from the book of Jonah. You will remember with me the Jonah story – how God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people there that if they don’t repent – to turn from their evil ways and turn to God – that God was going to destroy the whole city. 

First, let me say that this is one of my favorite stories in the fact that I believe it shows God’s love for everyone. God loved the people of Nineveh enough to send His prophet Jonah to spread the news! God always has, and always will love everyone, and His desire is that everyone turn to Him and have a personal relationship with Him!

We remember how when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, he bolted! Boarded a ship headed for Tarshish, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, and for three days sat in this fish’s belly. He repented and told God that he would complete the original mission. The fish spit him out on shore. Jonah presented God’s message to the people. And low and behold, they listened! Even the king himself took Jonah’s message seriously! Our Scripture tells us they “turned” from their evil ways. When God saw their obedience, He had mercy on them and didn’t destroy them.

Which was a message that made Jonah mad! It seems Jonah asked God just to kill him right then and there – it was better in his eyes to die rather than not to have the prophecy of death to go undone! But God led Jonah out of town. There in the hot sun, Jonah built a small shelter to watch and see if anything at all would happen to the people of Nineveh. God caused a plant to grow, one with large leaves that acted as a sun-block, Jonah was grateful for the plant! But then God also sent a worm, which ate through the plant’s stem, killing the plant and taking away Jonah’s shade. The wind picked up, the sun beat down, Jonah wanted to die, again.

God gave Jonah that day, and us a valuable lesson! God showed Jonah that our mission – our focus should be on the people, NOT ourselves!

I have to ask, is our focus like that of Jonah’s? Is it on ourselves, our material items, or is it focused on the people where we have been placed? Let’s not get to the point that Jonah did and set up shelters on the hill, to watch as the destruction takes place! As our family, friends and neighbors die. We need to reach out to the folks of this area! We need to be talking to our family, friends and neighbors, we need to be inviting them to come to church – not so that our material things will prosper – but because we are concerned about their eternal life! There is a soul in everyone, a soul that God loves so much that He gave Jesus as the price for it! We need to view folks in that way!  


Be God’s!


September 17, 2017
Romans 14: 1 - 12

Belong
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8 AM, Sunday School – for all ages is at 9 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM –Everyone is invited to join us!

A few weeks back, I was watching the Little League World Series, and there in the stands were fathers and mothers and fans routing for their team. Each one were wearing their respective colors. These folks were just as serious about their team as most folks that gather at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox! I think one of the things that these Little League fans were showing us was a part of why sports is such a big deal to folks – sports give us a means, a vehicle, to be part of a group. Something that is larger than ourselves, something that we can be a part of, all we have to do to be a part of it is to wear the right colors. Nothing else matters. When we are rooting for our favorite team, it doesn’t matter to us what that person next to us had for dinner, or what kind of car they drive, or how much money they make, or what color their skin is! They are a part of “our team”!

In our Scripture, Paul is addressing some of the issues that were facing the first century church. The issues Paul addresses in this passage seem funny to us in today’s society – what foods to eat or avoid, what day to worship, what to wear, what songs to sing – but wait, those issues are still divisions in the Church today!

What Paul was conveying to those folks back in his day, in Rome, and to us here today, is that as long as we proclaim Jesus as God’s one and only Son, it is through Him and Him alone that we are reconciled to God, that His life, death, resurrection and second coming is available for everyone, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, then we are on the same team! Paul says that “none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.” The end of Verse 8 in our Scripture tells us: “So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

We as people tend to draw lines around things, boundaries. That is the way we do with people sometimes too – we put up fences, borders, barriers, to keep some folks in – but mainly to keep others out! We use all sorts of material, criteria, for our walls – food, clothes, positon, possessions, anything that we can use to separate those we want in our group and those we do not want!

In verse 10 Paul asks the questions: “Why do you judge your brother? Why do you look down on your brother?” He goes on to tell us that we are all going to have to give an account to God. That account, is only for me – I will not asked to give an account for you or anyone else – just me. Did I treat everyone like Jesus did, our example? Do folks know whose team I am on by the way I treat them?

We all need to do better! Jesus is here and will help!
Be God’s! 


 

September 10, 2017
Matthew 18: 15 - 20

Quorum
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8 AM, Sunday School – for all ages is at 9 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM –Everyone is invited to join us!

As we read this Scripture, we realize it is talking about discipline. As we go forward – there are a couple of considerations that we must establish and agree on: 1) As people – we all mess up. 2) #1 applies to Christians also! Some think that because a person is a Christian that they no longer make mistakes. If someone goes to church – then that person is somehow, some way perfect. That’s just not the case.

Why Discipline? We are told in Hebrews 12: 6: “because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” And one of the ways that God does this is through other Christians. And here Jesus gives us a procedure. He tells us that we should first go to the person that has wronged us and tell them our concern. We go in the right attitude! We always go in love – never to bring someone down. Jesus tells us that if they listen and realize their error: we have retained a friend!

But He also goes on to tell us if they reject us and do not admit to a fault, then we take a couple others with us. This accomplishes a couple of things – we tell another about the situation and they can tell us if we are the one that is out of line! Maybe it is our view of the situation that needs to be adjusted! Then go together – either to apologize for our actions or to seek their recognition. If they don’t, the next step is to take the situation to the church (remembering that we are doing this out of love and with the desired outcome of a repaired relationship). And if they still don’t recognize their fault then we are to “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”. And this point we need to pay close attention. Our first thought is that it means to kick them out on the street, not to have anything to do with them. Right? Yet, as Christians, how are we supposed to treat pagans and tax collectors? The Bible tells us that we should love them! And that is what Jesus did time and time again! It will not be punishment that will bring these folks to realize their error – it will be the love that we show to them – that will be what brings them back into fellowship!

If that is truly our goal, then Jesus tells us that if we agree, if we have a quorum of two, verse 19 says: “anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven.” And verse 20 continues that we have a quorum with Jesus!

Yes, Christian discipline is necessary, we all mess up – but it is how we lovingly handle it, no matter at what stage, will determine if we push someone away or are able to bring a brother or sister back into the right way.

Are we showing Christ’s love to others? When we gather together are we displaying that He is right there with us? He is!


Be God’s!

 

September 3, 2017

Romans 12: 9 - 21

Cling


THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8 AM, Sunday School – for all ages is at 9 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome! AND a quick commercial: on Saturday 9/9/17, 7PM, we are proud to welcome the Maranatha Praise and Worship Team from the Dominican Republic! Everyone is invited to join us!

We have all witnessed a small child with a blanket, never willing to give it up!

Our Scripture is from the book of Romans. Paul wrote in the previous verses, outlining how we, as Christians, ought to be living. Verse 1: “Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

What is a sacrifice? It is something that has been dedicated solely to God, even to the death, or to be put to death for someone else! When we love from our very being, we are sacrificing ourselves to God! We are putting aside our interest, our time, our energy, for someone else! Jesus tells us in Matthew 25: 31-46 that there will be a day, when we all will be judged. There will be two groups, one group sheep, and the other group goats. Jesus will say to the sheep (verse 34-39). In verse 40 He continues: “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Conversely His message for the goats is (verse 45): “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” The sheep are escorted to eternal life, the goats to eternal punishment (verse 46).

Back in Romans 12: 9, we see in just about the same breath, just as Paul instructs us to be sincere, he tells us to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

On the scale of human emotions, one side extreme – at the very lowest is hate. We are told here that we are to hate one thing – evil! On the other side of the scale, good! The picture that Paul puts in our mind - he tells us to “cling” to what is good. Just like that young child that would cling to his blanket, we are to cling to what is good!

Over the course of or lives, we will have circumstances and situations arise that will try to get us to let go of good. Or maybe even to just get us to loosen our grip a little bit! “A better way” it might claim. “A short-cut” might be the temptation. “Easier, faster, more efficient” or, “We don’t have to do all that, to get the same results”! What happens when we loosen our grip once? Twice? Turns into always! Then we find ourselves with nothing to cling to! It is gone!

How do we get it back? Paul reminds us of what Proverbs tells us (Proverbs 25: 21, 22): “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” He goes on to say (Romans 12: 21): “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” How? Paul tells us in verses 10 – 19 – reread them, think about them!


Be God’s!

 

August 20, 2017

Exodus 1: 22 – 2: 10

Plans


THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8:00 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome! NEXT WEEK – 9/10/17 we begin our Sunday School – for all ages – at 9:00AM! AND a quick commercial: on Saturday 9/9/17, 7PM, we are proud to welcome the Maranatha Praise and Worship Team from the Dominican Republic! Everyone is invited to join us!

As we look at our Scripture, at this point in time, the Israelites were slave to the Egyptians. A baby boy was born, and his mother threw her son into the river – in a basket! That basket caught the Pharaoh’s daughter’s eye. She found the baby inside, and took him in to the palace and made him one of her own children! It was Moses in that basket! God had a plan for Moses, and God made sure that it was completed!

There was a message that floated around on the internet a week or so ago. It told of a faithful tree planter that planted tree seeds along the roadway. One seed he planted grew into the tree that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus! God had a plan, and He saw that the plan was completed!

Mankind had gotten into an awful mess, it had turned its back on God and had no hope. At exactly the right time, God sent Jesus to earth, to provide for us an opportunity to restore us to our original relationship with Him! He led a perfect life, yet He was arrested, falsely accused, put to death, and buried. After three days, He rose from that grave conquering Sin and death, and giving us hope again! God had a plan, and He saw that the plan was completed.

Each of us here today are not here by accident! God is still working on His master plan – and He is using us to complete it! What He cares about is that we are living out of our love for Him! We may just be the seed planter that will plant a seed for the stage of a greater project! Or we may be a smile, a listening ear, a drink of cool water to someone in this dry and thirsty land that will give them the hope to carry on! Is Jesus working through us? He gave His life for us, He loves us that much!

If you are not sure if God is working in you or through you, there are a couple things we need to make sure we have accomplished. Number 1 is that we have made the conscious decision to make Him Lord of our life, that we have accepted Him as our Savior. The rest have to do with growing in that relationship: are we pursuing Him in Bible reading, prayer and devotions. When we do these things, there is a change in our lives! We care for others more than ourselves, we truly want the best for someone else because we know that we have hope in Jesus! Our hope is not in the government, our hope is not in our educational system, our hope is not in the stock market, our hope is not in our possessions, our hope is in Jesus! People will see the difference it makes in our lives on a day-in-day-out basis! It is because we know and trust in God’s plan! We know that He will see it through to completion!


Be God’s!


 

July 16, 2017
Matthew 13: 1 - 9

Thorns
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our NEW Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8:00 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

This morning’s Scripture is from the book of Matthew. Here we find a whole big group of folks gathered around listening to Jesus. He went out in a boat while the folks stayed on shore, and taught from the boat. Jesus was teaching this crowd that had gathered, and used a parable. Jesus tells of a farmer that goes out to his field to plant a crop. Now, they didn’t have tractors in those days that pulled planters behind them. When they planted, they would broadcast the seeds by hand. We can imagine that this was not quite as precise of a way of planting as a planter might be. As the farmer broadcast the seed, it falls on four different types of soil. 1) It falls on the hard path, the birds eat it up. 2) the seed falls in the shallow dirt, it starts to grow, but doesn’t have enough soil to sustain it. 3) the seed feel among the weeds, the thorns, it sprouted but the weeds choked it out. And 4) the seed fell into good soil, and that produced a crop, 30, 60, or 100 times what was sown!

I would like for us to focus on the last two. The seed that fell in with the thorns and the good soil. I find it very interesting that this third type of soil is the only one that has an outside influence in how the seed originally spouts, and then is killed out. The first, the seed never sprouts, and the second, the rocks prevent maturation. But the thorns we are told “choke it” (verse 22).  There is an actual act that dooms the seed. I also find it interesting that thorns or weeds were not in the original creation! Thorns were not introduced into creation until after the “Fall” of Man (Genesis 3: 18), as part of the curse for disobeying God! So these things, these thorns, that are choking the seed are a direct result of disobedience! 

So then, what are these “thorns”? Our Scripture identifies them as (verse 22): “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth”. Worry, deceitfulness, illusions, how do these translate today? “Busy-ness”! Always striving to do more, to accomplish just one more thing, another ball to juggle, another plate to spin, just one more achievement! The world tells us that is all we need, then we will be successful! But this busy-ness comes at a price, doesn’t it! Something has to go, something gets choked-out – more times than not, it is our spiritual life that suffers! 

How do we change – how do we get off that George Jetson treadmill “Jane, how do you stop this crazy thing?” It takes a conscience effort, it takes a change in our priorities. To re-assign God to the top spot in our lives! And when we do, our lives become like that good soil! We can take that seed of the Word of God, and it can grow and grow within us – 30, 60, even 100 times more than the original!

Be God’s!

 

July 9, 2017
Song of Songs 2: 8 - 13

See!
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our NEW Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8:00 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

How do we define “love”? Oh, we stumble over words, not sure what words to use – or not use. We struggle with sincerity, depth, and ambiguity - there are so many and different things that we say that we “love”. And as difficult as it may be to try to put words to it, we all recognize it when we see it demonstrated! 

One of the most expressions of true love that I have witnessed, was that of my father-in-law. For the entire time that I knew him, he was caring for my mother-in-law. He was not in great health himself, heart by-pass surgery when he was in his 40’s, and on medical disability himself! Yet, day-in, day-out he cared for her. He saw that she had anything and everything she needed. He went far beyond what anyone else would do. Why? Because he loved her. Did it start that way? Did their relationship begin from the time they met like that? We all know the answer to that – no. Love is a process.

Our Scripture this morning is taken from the book Songs of Songs written by Solomon. Solomon wrote this as a love letter. Some believe this is a literal story of married love. Others believe that it is an allegory of God’s love for the Church. I might suggest that it is both! A type of parable – an earthly story with a heavenly meaning! 

Here Solomon takes us back to the time in the relationship that we might call the courtship. Here we read of the depictions of a gazelle or a young stag, we can relate! Then Solomon comes to a corner in their relationship, and it starts in verse 11 with the word, “See”. The relationship is about to deepen, the winter is past, the flowers are blooming, fruit trees are blossoming, “See”! 

Solomon in his letter is reminding us that God loves us with this same head-over-heels love! There isn’t anything that He wouldn’t do for us! “See”, is our invitation to come to Him! Raise your eyes, look up - the winter is gone! Death is the winter of our souls. It is so easy to keep our eyes down, and not look up. When we keep looking down, all we view is darkness, drudgery, hurt, and despair. He desires that we join Him in life, the springtime of our souls! He wants us to journey with Him, to follow His path of love! Verse 13b: “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

He craves our presence so much that He willingly provided the way to Him, through Jesus, His Son! He wants to travel the path of a deeper love with each and every one of us! It begins with “See”! The realization that He loves us completely!

Are we displaying God’s love in our lives, just as my father-in-law displayed At whatever point we are in this journey, God is right there with us! I love the thought that if God had a refrigerator, our picture would be on it! He is that gazelle, that young stag, leaping across the mountains! What makes Him leap? His love for us!

Be God’s!

 

June 4, 2017
Acts 2: 1 - 12

Routine
 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our NEW Sunday Schedule: Casual Worship Celebration at 8:00 AM, and our Traditional Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

I know we have all been there, doing something that we have done a million times before. We have done it so often, that it is second nature to us! We really don’t even have to think about it to do it anymore!

This weekend we celebrated Children’s Sunday, it also just happened to be Pentecost Sunday – the time we recognize the coming of the Holy Spirit, front and center into the lives of people. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, always has been and always will be, and is mentioned on a couple of occasions in the Old Testament. However, here at Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection form the dead and ascension to Heaven, God the Father promised a special gift to believers, the presence of the Holy Spirit! 

Hebrews from all over the world were in Jerusalem at this time, celebrating Pentecost, the Jewish celebration of a bountiful harvest. The Disciples were there following Jesus’ instructions to stay and wait for the gift from the Father (Acts 1: 4, 5). We realize that there are a couple of ways that the Disciples could be waiting. The first one is that they could have sat around in their Lazy Boy recliners, kicking back – “waiting” for God. Just going through the motions, comfortable in their rut! The other “wait”, is the picture here, one of a waitress, “waiting” tables! This person is not just sitting around – in fact, if they are doing a good job, they are working their tails off!

The Disciples were active in their waiting! They replenished their number by welcoming Mathias into the group, getting everything ready for whatever was going to be expected of them – of which they didn’t have a clue! 

As we look to our children, they are not just sitting back, waiting to see what life has for them! No, they are learning, developing, and growing! One day someone will ask them: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” And, they may have an answer, or not. Some adults don’t know the answer to that question! But the key here is that if we have an answer, kid or adult, then pursue it with everything we have. For some of us, our answer changes, so we change and go with it! Or if we really don’t have a clue (like the Disciples), it is vital that we don’t just sit around and do nothing! 

We can be paralyzed, and we can become comfortable, by the routine! However, just as the Disciples, just like our children, who are “waiting” like that waitress, we too need to be “waiting”! We have the very same Spirit the Disciples had! We have the same or even more opportunities in our world today! We need to step out, not be afraid of failure, but be fearless because we are not in this alone!

Be God’s!

 

May 7, 2017
2 Kings 2: 23 - 25

Weird

 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 AM, and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

The Bible is full of weird stuff, isn’t it? If you are looking for some crazy reading, just check out the Bible! Some of the crazy stuff, we have accepted as truth. After-all, we have the event of Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the whale, and even the event of David and Goliath. There are some other weird stuff that is recorded in the Bible that we have not so readily accepted. The first one I thought we might look at is the Scripture in 2 Kings. We find the Prophet Elisha. As he is walking, a large group of youth started to tease him: “Go on up, you baldhead!” Elisha called down a curse on them, and two bears came out to the woods and mauled 42 of the kids.

The next two weird events actually occurred about a week apart. How many of you remember the mid to late 70’s? When we couldn’t go anywhere, wherever there was a group, you would see – a streaker! “Don’t look Ethel! It was too late, she already got a free shot!” Well, as it turns out, they had a streaker in the Bible! We remember the night Jesus was arrested there was quite a commotion. In the Gospel of Mark, we find (14: 51, 52) what may be the first recorded streaker! A guard must have grabbed this young man by his clothes, he ducks out of his garment and runs away!

Our third event has more current flavor to it! Currently, there is what they are wanting to call a “Zombie Apocalypse”. We already have had a “Zombie Apocalypse” recorded in the Bible! “Been there, done that”! Again, at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Matthew 27: 50 – 53, relates to us that tombs were open and the dead came back and went to the city, and appeared to many people! Weird!

         
Ok, so here are three separate instances of “weird” stuff happening in the Bible. We find in 2 Timothy 3: 16 the following: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” “All Scripture”? Wait a minute – how in the world is all this weird stuff fit into this Scripture? At first glance, maybe it doesn’t, but we know that the passage doesn’t stop there. Verse 17 continues: “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

         
There is more here than just making fun of bald guys! There is more here than folks running around without clothes on! There is more here than dead people walking around! What I want for us to realize is that no matter what the occasion, or no matter how weird the situations and circumstances are that surround us, there isn’t anything that God hasn’t already conquered through what Jesus did for us! He lived and walked on this earth. He was tempted in every way, He was sinless! The weirdest thing in the Bible? The fact that God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to earth to pay the debt of sin for us, the debt we cannot pay ourselves! He did it because He loves us – now that’s weird!


Be God’s!

 

April 30, 2017
Luke 23: 39 - 43

Thief

 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 AM, and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome! 

We are wrapping-up our “eye-witnesses” to Jesus’ death that we started at the beginning of Lent. And now we are seemingly taking a step back to the scene of the crucifixion. Yes, it is a step back chronologically, however, to go back at this point – after the resurrection – we can be more objective. Particularly when it comes to the individuals who were executed at the same time as Jesus, one on each side.

In our Scripture, we are given insight to each of those criminals. The first one mentioned is full of slander and full of hate. He has received his death sentence and he is lashing out at any and all things around him. And there is Jesus, being crucified right there by his side. In his attempt to justify his own actions, to make himself feel superior to someone, anyone, in his circumstance, he joins in with the crowd, blasting at Jesus. Cursing, scoffing: “Messiah? Prove it! Save yourself, and me too!”

The thief on the other side has a different reaction. He too has been sentenced to die for his actions. He too is hanging there on his cross, it will not be long until all three are dead. Yet, this second criminal looks to Jesus, and he doesn’t see someone to attack. He recognizes that Jesus’ mission is for the soul, not the physical body. This thief asks Jesus to “remember me”, his eternal future is not in his hands! It is in Jesus!

So, on one side of Jesus is a thief that is trying to make himself better by putting Jesus down. While on the other side is a thief that is trusting in Jesus. And isn’t that a picture of how people view Jesus and His love? After all, we are all in the same boat, each of us are dying – physically and spiritually. Because of the sin condition we are living under since Adam and Eve, our time is coming. We may not know when, but there isn’t anyone that gets out of this life alive! So, what do we do with Jesus?

On one side we have folks that are out to prove anything wrong with Jesus that they can. They are willing to go to the furthest extreme to try to prove what they cannot find! So they make as much noise as possible, to try to put Jesus down, so that they can feel better about themselves! Yes they are still dying physically and spiritually, but making fun of someone else or insulting makes them feel better about themselves.

On the other side we have folks that have experienced what Jesus can do, maybe not for the here and now, but for eternity! They see what Jesus did was for them and that by believing in Him, Jesus will “remember them”! Yes, they too are dying, physically. But spiritually they are alive forever! They will do anything they can to make sure it happens, and try to spread the word about this amazing gift God has provided through Jesus!

So, the question on the table: “Which side of the cross are you?” Which thief do you side with?

Be God’s!

 

April 9 2017
Matthew 21: 1 - 11

Center

 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Easter Sunday and worship with us! We are having a special Sunrise Service at 5:45 AM, then a Breakfast at 8 AM, Sunday School begins at 9 AM, and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!


This Lenten Season, we have been looking at some of the folks that played a significant role in the last few days of Jesus’ life. These eye witnesses can give us different glimpses as to what Jesus represented – to them, and in-turn, to each of us!


This week, Palm Sunday, we are looking at Center. Is “Center” a person? If we look back at our Scripture we might decide that it is! We read how Jesus and the Disciples were headed into Jerusalem. Jesus sent out a couple of Disciples ahead to borrow a donkey. Jesus climbs up on the donkey – one that had never been ridden before – and proceeds to ride it into the city. All along Jesus’ ride, the crowds were hailing Him, laying their coats on the ground, waving palm branches, singing and shouting: “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” It was as if they were welcoming their king!


One of the things that I find interesting in this procession, is where Jesus is located. Did you catch it? In verse 9 it says: “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed…” This king, this leader was not at the prestigious front of the parade, like a parade marshal, nor was He at the back of the group, like we do with Santa Claus at the Thanksgiving parades announcing that he is coming soon. No, Jesus was in the center!


On His way into Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy with each and every step of the way, Jesus was at the center! He knew what the next week held for Him and those that were His followers! It was a crucial time. They needed to know that Jesus had the right plan all along, and He was there, right in the center!


Over the course of the next week, those closest to Jesus would see Him arrested, tried in illegal courts, lied about, they would see Him beaten, and killed on a Roman cross – the most shameful way to die. These folks would watch as He was taken down off that cross and laid in a tomb, the boulder set in place at the entrance. Even a guard detail placed at the grave, so no one would disturb it.


These people would cower in fear behind locked doors, confused, rejected.


And when things were at their lowest, the report that the tomb was empty, and before long – Jesus was standing right there in their midst – right in the center!


In our lives, when things get to be their craziest, when chaos is all we can see, Jesus is right there with us, right in the middle of each and every situation! We can trust in Him! We can place all of our faith in Him! He will not let us down! Matthew 28: 20 reassures us: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 


Be God’s!

 

April 2, 2017
Matthew 27: 11 - 26

Pilate

 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!


This Lenten Season, we are going to be looking at some of the folks that played a significant role in the last few days of Jesus’ life. These eye witnesses can give us different glimpses as to what Jesus represented – to them, and in-turn, to each of us!


Someone once said that the definition of “dilemma” is: trying to make a good choice between two bad options. This week, we are looking at the one person that was faced with the greatest dilemma of all time, Pontius Pilate.

We remember how the religious leaders had brought Jesus to Pilate, Pilate was

the Roman Governor! Why would they do such a thing? Pilate wondered too! We find the answer in John 18: 31: “Pilate said, ‘Take Him yourselves and judge Him by your own law.’ ‘But we have no right to execute anyone,’ the Jews objected.” These religious leaders were breaking their own law with what they were asking Pilate to do!

Pilate questioned Jesus, only to determine that Jesus had done nothing wrong, certainly nothing that justified His death! But the religious leaders persisted! John 19: 6: “But Pilate answered, ‘You take Him and crucify Him, As for me, I find no basis for a charge against Him.” Even Pilate’s wife begged for Pilate not to have anything to do with Jesus, “that innocent man” she called Him (Matthew 27: 19).

The rock on one side – if Pilate lets Jesus go, the religious leaders go to Rome and tell Pilate’s superiors how bad Pilate is doing. The hard place on the other side is that he puts an innocent man to death. Matthew 27: 24: “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility.” And with that Pilate made his choice, and Jesus was lead out to be beat and crucified.

We hear in our Christian circles something to the effect of “I want to be used by God.” It is a noble statement, and we mean it when we say it! But reality is that God can “use” anybody! Of the 5 people we have looked at this Lenten season, three of them were not very nice people: Caiaphas, Judas, and Pilate! God used them to complete Jesus’ mission on this earth, to give His life for us, to be our sacrifice, to pay our debt that we cannot pay!


Pilate was used by God.


So if I don’t want to be used by God, what should I desire?


In Mark 3: 13 we find: “Jesus went up to the mountainside and called to Him those He wanted.” I would rather be “wanted” by God than to be “used” by Him!


God wants us, and He wants us to make a difference for Him! And it all starts with our decision to make Jesus our Savior and Lord.


Be God’s!


 

March 19, 2017
Luke 22: 1 - 6

Judas

 

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

This Lenten Season, we are going to be looking at some of the folks that played a significant role in the last few days of Jesus’ life. These eye witnesses can give us different glimpses as to what Jesus represented – to them, and in-turn, to each of us!

Week 1 we remembered Caiaphas. He gave up eternity for the temporary.

Week 2 we looked the woman, Mary, which anointed Jesus. We saw her response to her personal belief in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and how we too can anoint Jesus with our witness, giving, and prayer.

This week we recall Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples that Jesus hand-picked to complete His mission here on earth. As a disciple, Judas spent about three years following Jesus. He was there when Jesus healed the sick, watched as the blind could see, the lame walk, the leper cured, even the dead raised. Judas was a full-fledged disciple.

And, we know that it was Judas that was a traitor, and betrayed Jesus. Why would Judas do such a thing? Judas, and the rest of the disciples in fact, thought that Jesus as Messiah was going to set up an earthly kingdom. James and John asked if they could have special places in that kingdom, the rest of the disciples got mad!

But then Jesus started talking about being arrested, tried and death! These followers had left everything in their own lives behind – to follow Jesus!

Things seem to start escalating for Judas there at Simon the Leper’s house, as the woman anointed Jesus. It was Judas that led the charge to criticize her for “wasting” such a valuable commodity. Jesus’ response was to honor her action as she was preparing Jesus “for my burial” (Mark 14: 8).

Judas went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them (Mark 14: 10). He was looking for that earthly kingdom which could not be established on a dead man! Judas was going to force Jesus’ hand, to make Him stand up and begin the Hebrew revolt against Rome, and successfully establish an Israeli Nation!

However, Proverbs 14: 12 tells us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Judas’ betrayal did set the events in order for Jesus to be the Savior of the world – just not the ruler he was looking for! As the events unfolded, Judas recognized his fault, tried to return the money, and hanged himself out of grief. He did in fact do what he felt like he wanted to do – to do what was necessary to make Jesus Lord – It just wasn’t his understanding of “Lord”!

There are times in our lives that we think we know what is best. We try to “force” God’s hand. Judas reminds us that we are to trust God and not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3: 5).

Be God’s!


 

March 12, 2017
Mark 14: 3 – 9

Woman

 

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This Lenten Season, we are going to be looking at some of the folks that played a significant role in the last few days of Jesus’ life. These eye witnesses can give us different glimpses as to what Jesus represented – to them, and in-turn, to each of us!


Last week we remembered Caiaphas. He gave up eternity for the temporary.


This week we are looking at the woman. In the Scripture this woman is not specifically identified by Mark. In the Gospel of John (12: 1-3), we find that it was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. But who it was, is not the point here, it is what she did!


Jesus was in Bethany – just a mile and a half east of Jerusalem – He was invited to dinner by a man named Simon. At some point in the middle of the meal, the woman gets up from her place, has an expensive jar of perfume and begins pouring this oil onto Jesus!


Some who were at the table started to criticize her – Judas was leading the chorus. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!”


“Leave her alone,” Jesus tells them. He tells them that this is her gift to Him. What makes it so special? This gift she presents to Jesus is her recognition that she realizes that Jesus is her Lord and Savior. Not just an earthly king, but an eternal King! She realizes that Jesus is the gateway to eternal life!


So, what can we do? What can we do when we realize what Jesus means to

us, not only for now, but for the rest of eternity? After all, He is not physically here so that we can pour expensive perfume on Him! Or can we?


2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 15, Paul tells us: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of  Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”  We pour out our perfume on Christ when we reach out to others and tell them of what He has done for us!


Philippians 4: 18: “I have received full payment and even more; I received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” We pour perfume on Christ when we give!


Revelation 5: 8, John records: “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” We pour perfume on Christ when we pray!


Like Mary, when we realize what Jesus has done for us, we desire to give to Him our gifts to demonstrate our love – our gifts of witness, of giving, and of prayer! These things are near and dear to God and to His heart!


Be God’s!


 

March 5, 2017
Matthew 26: 1 – 5

Caiaphas


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We have entered into the time known as Lent, the 6 weeks leading up to Easter. This Lenten Season, we are going to be looking at some of the folks that played a significant role in the last few days of Jesus’ life. These eye witnesses can give us different glimpses as to what Jesus represented – to them, and in-turn, to each of us!


Our first eye witness – Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the High Priest. He was the top dog in the Jewish religious organizational chart! He had control, with the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the day), he was a very powerful man, and a very wealthy man! When Jesus was really starting to be more than just an annoyance to these leaders – they got together: John 11: 45 – 50.


Up to this point, Caiaphas was a “big picture” guy. But with Jesus’ popularity growing by leaps and bounds, and now the story that He brought Lazarus back to life – Caiaphas now sees Jesus as a threat to his position. The solution to this problem? Death! Caiaphas even gets a break – one of Jesus’ own Disciples is willing to work with Caiaphas, to turn Jesus in! Caiaphas leaps at the opportunity! Jesus is betrayed by Judas, is arrested and brought to Annas for questioning, then on to Caiaphas for trial! Matthew 26: 59 – 68. John 18: 28, 19: 13 – 16.


Jesus dies on the cross, is buried, mission completed, story over, and everything back to normal, right Caiaphas? Not quite! Caiaphas as high priest was the only one that was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When Jesus died – what happened to the Holy of Holies? The separating veil was ripped in two! Caiaphas couldn’t do his job! So, the leading priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked for a guard to make sure it remained undisturbed. Matthew 27: 62, 63. The grave was sealed and the guard was posted.


Sunday morning, the ground shakes, the guards appear to the leading priests reporting that Jesus’ body is gone! Matthew 28: 12 – 14. Done! Right? Hardly.


A short time later, just outside the Temple, Peter heals a man that had been crippled since birth. He and John were giving the credit to Jesus! The Temple guard arrested them and took them to the Council (Caiaphas in attendance)! Acts 4: 2 – 12.


What can we learn from Caiaphas? He was one of the main forces behind Jesus’ execution. Caiaphas refused to believe all the overwhelming evidence. Caiaphas, like many of us in today’s world, believe that accepting Jesus will cost them too much. They think they will lose all their possessions, their power, their prestige. Caiaphas, like others, have traded the temporary for the eternal! This earthly life is short, Caiaphas held on to the things of this world. Eternal life is found only through Jesus! It is ours when we trust only in Jesus!


Be God’s!

 

February 19, 2017
1 Corinthians 3: 16 - 23

Sacred


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What was your reaction this morning the first time you looked at yourself in the mirror? You know, that first look with bed head and morning breath! So, as we stand before the mirror, how many of us are thinking: “Now there stands a Child of God!” “That person in the mirror is a temple”, or even thinking, “I am standing in the reflection of someone that is sacred, and has ‘all things’ within their grasp!”?

Even though those may not be our initial thoughts, this Scripture tells us that each one of them is absolutely true!

The Corinthian Christians were doing what we do sometimes also – they were hiding their light under a bowl – they were trying to fit-in, to not rock the boat, and to blend-in. Here, Paul reminds those Corinthian Christians and us here today that we are so much more than what the world recognizes! Paul reminds us of what the Prophet Isaiah said (1 Corinthians 2: 9): “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” In other words – for the most part, we don’t have a clue of the goodness and riches that God has in store for us! However, what we do know is some of the descriptions for Christians!

We find that there are over 175 names, descriptive titles, and figures of speech referring to Christians, applicable to both the individual and the group! Names such as: Children of the promise; chosen people; the creative work of God; living stones, golden lampstands; a kingdom of priests; a royal priesthood; ministers of the new covenant; the aroma of Christ, first fruits of God’s creation; members of God’s family, His household; God’s offspring; the bride of Christ; we are family, brothers, friends; believers; followers of the Way; sons of the day; children of light; light in the Lord; light of the world; sons of light; blameless; holy; instruments for noble purposes, obedient children; the righteous; and saints. We are aliens and strangers; servants of the Gospel; chosen instruments, ambassadors; children of the resurrection; heirs to the promise of the Gospel; the hope of eternal life. Just to name a few!

We cannot conceive all of the good things that God has in store for us, for eternity! What can the world offer? At best - a few trinkets, a few years of material possessions, some praise from other folks, and maybe some happy times.

Our verses today assure us of more! So much more! And 1 Peter 2: 9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

So, the next time you look into the mirror, smile and say: “I was made in the image of God, I am sacred!

Be God’s!

 

February 12, 2017
Matthew 5: 13 - 16

Light


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I enjoy flying at night. I like looking out the window and seeing all the lights below. From 30,000 feet everything is visible! From the “glow” of the big city with all its building and street lights, to the shining of the single farm house yard light!

         
Our Scripture is from the Gospel of Matthew. Many of you recognize that the 5th chapter of Matthew is the beginning of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. We are told that as the crowds gathered, Jesus went up on the mountainside, sat down, and began to teach. He started with what we refer to today as the Beatitudes.  

         
And then, right after Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God is totally different than any kingdom of earth – no earthly kingdom blesses the same as God’s Kingdom – He makes the statements that we read – believers are salt and THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome! 

I enjoy flying at night. I like looking out the window and seeing all the lights below. From 30,000 feet everything is visible! From the “glow” of the big city with all its building and street lights, to the shining of the single farm house yard light! 
 Our Scripture is from the Gospel of Matthew. Many of you recognize that the 5th chapter of Matthew is the beginning of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. We are told that as the crowds gathered, Jesus went up on the mountainside, sat down, and began to teach. He started with what we refer to today as the Beatitudes.
 
And then, right after Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God is totally different than any kingdom of earth – no earthly kingdom blesses the same as God’s Kingdom – He makes the statements that we read – believers are salt and light. 
 For all the properties of salt, preservative, medical, Jesus focuses on one – taste. In this context, it is possible that Jesus is talking about the change that salt makes on the inside - our faith begins on the inside! We come to Jesus just as we are, He doesn’t look at us and tell us to go clean-up first! When we come, He starts with the inside, the rest is a continual process of us becoming more and more like Him. 
 
Once that change on the inside has begun, then we become light: “You are the light of the world” – His representative to the world! Just like that light we can see from an airplane! Too often we Christians have a tendency to do just the opposite of what Jesus wants us to do! We try to “blend-in”, we don’t want to be seen as different, we don’t want our neighbors to think that we aren’t just like them, and we try not to bring any attention to the fact that we are followers of Christ – the definition of a Christian. In other words, we are putting our light under a bowl! And that is where our thinking is flawed – we are worried about what people are going to think about us! Jesus said in verse 16? “That they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”! 
 
How do folks recognize that we are Christians? In the way we do things, how we react to situations, and how we treat other people! No longer do we look at their bank balance before we decide to assist! No longer do we see if their clothes are good enough to deserve our attention! It just doesn’t matter to us anymore where they live or what kind of car they drive, or even if we think they can help us at a later time! Our motivation is not from our own self-image, or need, or what other people are going to think! The reason we do things is so that God will be praised – not us! That takes all the pressure off me! I no longer have to worry about results – win or lose - they are God’s! And believe me – if God blesses different than the world, His score card is different too! What we might consider a failure, God may just be looking at it as the biggest victory of our lives! Each of us has our place to shine for Jesus! 
Be God’s!

 

January 15, 2017
John 1: 29 - 42

Look!

 

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“Look, look at that!” We are thrilled when someone catches a glimpse and appreciates the same thing that we saw. For the past couple weeks of this New Year, we have been looking at realizing that: Jesus is with us always, He is not still in the manger, and we can attempt something so great for Him this year, that if He is not a part of it, it will fail. Last week we saw that Jesus is calling each of us to do something special for Him: “Me? You come to me?” May be our first response – but is then followed by “Yes Lord!” And now we want to understand that when we do take that step out in faith, and do what God is calling us to do, there are the things we will see and notice, things that we want to share with others – we want them to “Look, look at that!”

In the Scripture we find John the Baptist, he was set-aside by God to be the fore-runner to the Messiah. John the Baptist understood his mission. On more than one occasion, people asked him if he was the Messiah. Each and every time he denied it! So, the day after John baptized Jesus, he sees Him again. John is excited, he witnessed Heaven being opened up, and the Spirit descending like a dove, and he heard the voice from Heaven saying: “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3: 17). He spots Jesus and in his excitement what does he do? He shouts: “LOOK”! Verse 34 records John’s words: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God!” The Messiah, the Chosen One, the Savior is right there – look at Him!

Then the next day John is with a couple of his disciples and Jesus walks by, again John says: “LOOK!” John is telling his disciples to take their eyes off of him and look to Jesus!

Each of us is like John the Baptist. Each of us has a God-given mission. Now, it is not John’s mission, it is not our neighbor’s mission. It isn’t even our spouse’s mission. It is ours! It cannot be completed without God, He is here for us. It is we that accept that mission by saying “Yes” to Him! And when that happens, our efforts – just like John’s – is to point people to Jesus – “LOOK! Look at that!”

God will use us, when we are willing to be used! 


Be God’s!

 
January 8, 2017
Matthew 3: 13 - 17
Me?

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We read a portion of Scripture that outlines the event of Jesus’ baptism. It was the “official” beginning of the next phase of Jesus’ mission here on earth. Up and to this point, Jesus had been just the Carpenter’s Son, and probably was the family provider as we think that Joseph must have died.  But now Jesus openly steps up and declares Himself as the Messiah. Of course He was the Messiah before, we remember the events of His birth that we just celebrated at Christmas!

Jesus makes His way down to the Jordan River, to the place where John the Baptist is baptizing folks. You will remember with me how John the Baptist was also set-apart by God, to be the fore-runner of the Messiah. As Jesus came to John, John looks up and says those words: “Me? You come to me?” “This should be the other way around, I should be baptized by you!” But Jesus assures John that it must be this way so that all righteousness be fulfilled. Jesus did not need to be baptized! He was baptized for us, so that our righteousness would be fulfilled.

Not only did Jesus do what pleased the Father, John the Baptist would have missed out on a part of his calling if he hadn’t been THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Sunday School begins at 9 and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

We read a portion of Scripture that outlines the event of Jesus’ baptism. It was the “official” beginning of the next phase of Jesus’ mission here on earth. Up and to this point, Jesus had been just the Carpenter’s Son, and probably was the family provider as we think that Joseph must have died. But now Jesus openly steps up and declares Himself as the Messiah. Of course He was the Messiah before, we remember the events of His birth that we just celebrated at Christmas!

Jesus makes His way down to the Jordan River, to the place where John the Baptist is baptizing folks. You will remember with me how John the Baptist was also set-apart by God, to be the fore-runner of the Messiah. As Jesus came to John, John looks up and says those words: “Me? You come to me?” “This should be the other way around, I should be baptized by you!” But Jesus assures John that it must be this way so that all righteousness be fulfilled. Jesus did not need to be baptized! He was baptized for us, so that our righteousness would be fulfilled.

Not only did Jesus do what pleased the Father, John the Baptist would have missed out on a part of his calling if he hadn’t been obedient! Which we can then ask the question – Is there something that God is asking from us that we can’t believe that he is asking us? Are we willing to listen to God’s call? Just as John the Baptist did? It may be in different ways. Whatever it is, there are as many different directions as we have people! Oh, some may be similar – but each one will be unique!

 Last week we realized that Jesus is always with us – He is no longer in the manger! We recognize that His presence with us should encourage us to do great things for Him! This week we recognize that God is actually calling each of us to do things for Him, things that may surprise even us!

How do we know what God is wanting us to do? Or even, how do we know it is God speaking to us? First, we have to truly desire to know what God wants of us. If we just say the words, but don’t commit, then why would God reveal anything to us?

 
-  Matthew 7: 7, 8
-  Hebrews 11: 6
“Ask, Seek, Knock, Earnestly seeking Him” does not mean that we lie in our bed and expect God to do all the work! It means we are actively praying, reading the Bible, talking with other Christians, and then willing to do what we hear!

What is God calling you to do? Our first response can be: “Me? You come to me?” But our next response needs to be: “Yes, Lord”. Then we won’t miss out on the blessings that God has in store for us! God may not choose to send a dove down from Heaven, but He will allow us to see His presence in our efforts!

Be God’s!
 
December 25, 2016 "Christmas Day"
Matthew 2: 1a

When Love Was BORN

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Matthew 2: 1a: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea”.  
Here we find the very words we have been studying all Advent long. We have been looking at the phrase from the song by Mark Schultz: “When Love Was Born.” We have been looking at each word as we have been preparing our hearts for our celebration of the birth of Jesus! And here we find these words in our Scripture! We remember our study of the word “When” – it designated a time, it set aside a specific time for something to happen. And in our verse this morning we find the word that corresponds to “When” as the word “After”. After also designates a time!
               
Our verse then designates Jesus – whose very essence, His being – as we studied is Love! Everything He did for us, everything He is still doing for us is done out of His love for us! There isn’t anything we can do to make Him love us less!
               
Next comes the word – in both our Scripture and our phrase – “was”. It tells us here that the facts can be verified! There is no comment about “it could have happened”, or “might have happened”, or even “we guess”. No! it “was”!
               
And now this Christmas morning, we look at the next Scripture and phrase word: “born”. And it could be considered that this is the most important word of this verse and phrase, for you and me! Because the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the fact that Jesus came to earth as a human! We do believe that Jesus was fully God – a part of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And we also believe that Jesus was fully human. And to be fully human, means that He had to be born! Not only did He have to be born, He had to be born of a virgin – just as the prophets had foretold! To deny the virgin birth, then also denies the prophets, and the Word of God Himself! If Jesus weren’t born of a virgin, then He cannot be the Messiah – and our hope in Him is useless! If the God that created everything we know, and all the things that have yet to be revealed, if He created them with just a word from His mouth – why is it so difficult to believe that He could cause a virgin to bear a child? The only answer there is: “He did”!
               
Jesus was born because God loves us so much, and provided a way – the one and only way – for us to be with Him! By believing in Jesus! Do you know that He loves you? This Christmas time – believe that Jesus was born for you! Accept Him, and accept the gift of salvation that the Father has given through His Son, Jesus!

Be God’s!

 
December 18, 2016
Galatians 4: 4 - 7

Christmas Pageant 2016

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! (Due to this Sunday being Christmas Day, we have suspended our Sunday School so that families may have their family-time together before coming to our worship service) Our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!
We would like to also invite you to our Christmas Eve service, Saturday night, 7 PM!  

What a joy it was as this past Sunday, United Baptist Church performed its annual Christmas Pageant! It was a time to take an active role in the telling of the Christmas Story, the birth of Jesus. All the “players” were there: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, Herod, a host of angels, a couple of narrators that kept the story on track, and the baby Jesus.

One of the unique scenes of this particular production was a visual account of the growth of Jesus – there were 4 folks lined-up on the stage: the baby, the pre-teen, the teen and the adult. What this displayed was the confirmation of the realization that there was more to the life of Jesus than just Christmas and Easter (His birth and death)! Sure, those are the two biggest events that we celebrate – and should celebrate! However, this reminds us that there were about 33 years that Jesus lived on this earth! We realize that everything Jesus did over the course of that life, was for us! He loves us so much that He endured this life, was tempted in every way, and was sinless. And by His humanity, all of those 33 +/- years, provided for us the sacrifice that makes the way to God possible for us! He loves us that much!

As we celebrate Christmas, may your heart be filled with God’s love for you!     
 
Merry Christmas!

Be God’s!

 
December 11, 2016
Romans 5:8

When Love WAS Born

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday School (for everyone – infant through senior adult) begins at 9:00 AM and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome!

This Advent Season we are looking at the phrase: “When Love Was Born”, and we are looking at each of the words in this phrase. The first week we started with the word “When”, and the “when” of the birth was perfect. Then the second word of the phrase “Love”. We know that this word has a lot of different meanings in our society. Love is Jesus! His essence, His very being is Love!

Now we are looking at the next word: “was”. It would be really easy just to pass over this little three letter word! “Was” tells us that something did actually happen!
Let’s look back at the historical facts that we know – Luke 2: 1, 2: We have the Roman Emperor, Augustus, named and Quirinius was governor of Syria. These set a specific time in history that can be traced. Then we have the Magi from the East, as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. We remember King Herod’s chief priests told them the child would be born in Bethlehem as recorded by the prophet Micah, 4 hundred years earlier (Micah 5: 2). Specifics that tell us the verifiable past: what “was”.

And for us here today, the biggest event happened when Jesus “was”! Yes, He came to earth, left all His riches in Heaven to come and live on earth. Philippians 2: 6 - 8 tells us that: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”

We read the Scripture from the book of Romans: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, while we are at our lowest, dirtiest, most disgusting, He sees us and loves us! We don’t have to “get cleaned up”, or “get things in order” for Him to love us! And for God’s demonstration of that love – He sent Jesus! We know that for us to get right with God, we must believe in Jesus and what He did for us. The end of that verse reminds us that “Christ died for us.” Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something must live before it can die. And if Jesus lived – then He “was”! And He is the demonstration of God’s love to each and every one of us!

I love the thought: If you were the only person in all of time and eternity – Jesus would have come to earth just for you! He is a personal Savior, we must have a personal relationship with Him. It cannot be based on our heritage, it isn’t based on what our parents have done, or our grandparents, aunts, uncles, or pastor. No – God loves you so much, that Jesus “was” born!

Do you have that personal relationship? What a great Christmas present God has for you, an eternity with Him in the perfection of Heaven!

Be God’s!

 
December 4, 2016
1 John 4: 7, 8

When LOVE Was Born

THANKS for stopping by and checking out this week’s thoughts! If you are a member of a church, we encourage your active participation there. If you are looking for a church family, we would love to invite you to come this Sunday and worship with us! Our Sunday School (for everyone – infant through senior adult) begins at 9:00 AM and our Worship Celebration begins at 10:15 AM – Everyone welcome! Also, Dec. 10th, we are presenting “Twas The Light Before Christmas”! It is a “one afternoon, all-in-one”, Christmas play. If you wish to be a participant, please let our church office know at 207.725.7389. Participants will report at the church at 4:30 PM, and the show is at 6:00 PM! We will follow-up the production with an old-fashioned pot-luck dinner! EVERYONE is invited to be a part, or come and watch.

Oops! I let a week go by without a new article – my apologies! I will attempt to get caught-up here with this week’s summary!

This Advent Season we are looking at the phrase: “When Love Was Born”, and we are looking at each of the words in this phrase. Last week we started with the word “When”, indicating that there was a specific time that Jesus the Messiah had been born – foretold by the prophets, but the “when” was only known by the Father. And the “when” of the birth was perfect.

Now we are looking at the second word of the phrase “Love”. Most of the time it is a verb, yet, here in this phrase – it is a noun! Our Scripture is taken from the book of 1 John. Over and over, in his Gospel and here in these three shorter letters of 1, 2, and 3 John, John reminds the folks of that day, and us here today, that God loves us and will go – and has gone - to the extreme to prove to us that He does!

There at the end of verse 8 we find the 4 words: “because God is love”. So this tells us that God’s very nature, His being, His complete essence is “love”!

OK now, you are saying that God is Love, and that God is eternal – with no beginning and no end – how can something eternal be born? Great question! And key to our message this morning, and to the world as we reach out to tell them about this Good News of Christmas! Everyone knows that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. And we believe that Jesus is a part of the Trinity: “Distinct, yet three in One”.

As part of the Father’s plan, as a result of sin; to be forgiven, there must be a death – a shedding of blood (Hebrews 9: 22). The Father’s plan was to offer one complete sacrifice, one that would never have to be repeated again! Because Jesus is a part of the Trinity, then we can say that Jesus is Love, and that Love was born! Everything He did on this earth, He did because He loves us! He left Heaven above to come to earth to be born of a virgin, to live and grow. He knows what living on this earth is all about – He did it! We know that He was tempted in every way, yet He did not falter, He did not stumble as we do – He is perfect. And it is that perfect sacrifice that make it possible for you and for me to live in glory for the rest of eternity – because LOVE was born!

Be God’s!