Sunday, April 30, 2023

Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders

 Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders

Joshua 3

The opportunity that lies around us as a church committed to be a part of God’s plan, requires more than mere amazement. To realize what God has purposed requires compelling leadership and dedication to God’s purpose. 

God always has a plan because God always has a purpose.

Going where you have never been before always requires courage and faith.

Vision Creates Expectancy v.1a

To neglect God's timing is to neglect His design for the accomplishment of His will.

It is vision and purpose that change the everyday circumstances of life into "opportunities". 

The question is not whether or not we are meeting needs, but whether or not we are realizing our mission in reaching people. 

Await God’s Plan v.1c

To rush in without a plan and coordinated effort is to invite chaos and confusion.

The difference in a mirage and a vision is the closer you get to a vision, the more real it is.

Share the Vision v.2-4a 

Leadership that shares the burden communicates the vision and directs the work

Selling a vision is sometimes the hardest when things are good where you are.

Secure Commitment v.5 

"Consecrate" - set apart, sanctify, lay aside for holy purpose

Accepting a new challenge means that WE will be different because of a new way, a new response a new purpose.

True Consecration to God will most always be commitment to a task, not a feeling.

Step Out in Faith v.6-17b

The weak in faith find that nothing seems to work and the strong in faith find that nothing seems to fail.

Standing still is often necessary to gain perspective on both the need and the supply.

We will move into our potential corporately when we accept our responsibility individually.

Follow Through v.17c

Leadership demands that there be “followship.”

The Decision to Follow God:

  • Demands accepting His direction based on the needs He places about us.
  • Demands full faith in His perspective and power, not our own wisdom and programs.
  • Demands acceptance of change in ourselves and our church to meet the needs of our mission field. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

What He's Done

 Friday, April 28, 2023. Some material taken from We Proclaim Him

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29

We have learned some important things about who Jesus is. This chapter in Colossians goes on to say more of who Jesus is, but we can learn more about who Jesus is by looking at what He has done as well. 

What He's Done

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

Creator - as a part of the Godhead. v.16 The whole of creation is His work - all of itAll things were created through Him and for Him - they were created by Him. In Him all things hold together - He created all things, and He sustains all things, preserves all things. He made it all and it is only in Him that it is all held together and still working. He was before all things because He is eternal. 

Head (Lord) of the Church - And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. v. 18 This refers to Jesus’ role as source of the church, like we refer to the head of a river. The starting point - the beginning. 

Savior - through His death.  v.21-23 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

He died for one reason and that was our need of a one to reconcile us to God. Our sins were the nails that held Him on the cross. Our desire for salvation should be to be made clean, so we can be presented holy and blameless before God, not just so we don’t burn in hell. 

Jesus was the firstborn of all creation, created all things, and reconciled all things. He has always existed, before time, and is a part of the trinity - God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has the highest honor, overall. He is the heir of God the Father. He died for us and rose again. His reconciliation redeemed us, making us holy, blameless, and justified. He exchanged our sin for righteousness so we could have eternal life. Others need to know this part - that no matter how bad they think they are, or how much they have messed up, He is waiting to take it from them and wipe it all away, and exchange it for eternal life.  

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. v.24-27

Our part is to share concerning the work of our Savior. Paul says that all he did was his share on behalf of His body (which is the church). Our part is to reveal the mystery and tell the story of Jesus and His glory. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Everything We Need

Thursday, April 27, 2023 Some material taken from We Proclaim Him

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:13-15

Everything We Need 

Evangelism is sharing the "good news" that Jesus Christ has made provision for the sins of men. This is the responsibility of every believer. As we have been transformed by our Heavenly Father, we live changed lives that change other’s lives. Our changed life is a living testimony to those around us. 

Utilizing each spiritual gift, God mobilizes the church to share the gospel of Christ with the world. We are proclaiming Jesus and His message. Salvation is found in Him and in Him alone. There are many different things that Jesus is and represents. It is good for us to understand that well so we can share it well with others. 

Jesus is… 

Our source of redemption - v.14a He is our Redeemer. He bought us by His blood.

Our source of forgiveness - v.14b I have no source of forgiveness other than that which He provided through His sacrifice on the cross.

The Image of the Invisible God - v.15a He is God. Paul doesn’t mince any words here. Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Images convey meaning way beyond what words can describe. A wedding band represents the fact that your spouse said yes to marrying you. Our American flag stands for freedom. As powerful as these symbols are, they are simply representations of far deeper realities. A ring doesn’t make you married, but it’s a symbol that you are married. The American flag is a powerful national symbol, but it only represents what our country is all about. 

Jesus is not just a symbol of God; He is God Himself. The word “image” in Greek is “eikon” and refers to “likeness, manifestation, or replica.” In that culture the “image” was a die or stamp that was able to make exact reproductions. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the precise copy because He is God Himself. He both represents and manifests God to the world. 

 “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” John 1:18 That phrase “made him known,” means Jesus literally “exegetes,” to the world what God the Father is really like.

John 14:9 says, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…” 2 Corinthians 4:4 also refers to Christ as the “image of God.”

The first-born of all creation - v.15b The phrase “firstborn” is most frequently translated as “heir or owner.” In ancient time it meant the “ranking one, or supreme one.” Jacob was not born first but he was the heir. This is strongly supported in Psalm 89:27 where we read that God appointed King David as his “firstborn,” even though he was the youngest of eight brothers. This verse concludes by saying that David will be the “most exalted of the kings of the earth.” “Firstborn” therefore is a title of honor or position, not chronological order. This is not reflective of the order of created things but the relationship to the Father as a prince would be to a king. There can be no doubt that the apostle here has reference to the usual distinctions and honors conferred on the first-born, and means to say that, among all the creatures of God, Christ occupied a preeminence similar to that. 

This is just the beginning of who Jesus is and all He represents for us. He is completely and wholly everything we ever need and the only thing that will ever fill the never-ending well of dissatisfaction we are always trying to fill on our own. He is the answer to every problem and the balm to every broken heart. He is the greatest gift we could ever give to another human being. 

Tomorrow we will hear a little bit more of who He is and our job of proclaiming Him. 

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1: 28-29



Wednesday, April 26, 2023

This Is My Testimony…

 Wednesday, April 26, 2023 Some information taken from More Than A Story Part 3

And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

This Is My Testimony…

We have been focusing on sharing Christ with Who’s Your One. As a church, we prayed for 36 days for that one person in each of our lives that we felt like needed to know Christ. As a follow-up after Easter, we have focused on what more we could do to share Christ with our One. An essential part of sharing Christ with someone is sharing our testimony. This past Sunday, we learned three aspects of our testimony to focus on when sharing with someone. 

Your Life Before Jesus – This is a very important element of our testimony because it may be the part that our one can most identify with. When they know that we were lost and very different before we came to know Jesus, they may feel more comfortable. There are things in all our pasts that others do not know about us and may find hard to believe. It may be embarrassing to you, but it is good for those you are sharing with to see the difference Jesus Christ has made in your life.

How You Encountered Jesus – How did you come to ask Jesus to be your Savior? Where were you? How old were you? What were the circumstances? What did you hear? What was it that brought you from death to life? Were you at church? Were you with a friend? Were you at camp? What do you remember about that day? 

Your Life Since Jesus Made You New – How is your life different since Jesus saved you? God has saved us from the curse of sin and brokenness in order that we might live for His glory.  We are to be changed people who lived changed lives. Our changed lives can help change other people’s lives. We were created for that purpose. 

What if, the new life we have in Christ was shared with our One? God will use your testimony to impact those around you if you’re faithful to speak up. How He has changed you can change someone else. Part of living changed lives is being ready to speak up and share our testimony. Have you written your testimony down? 

The first time I encountered Jesus I was six years old and there was a revival going on at our church. I knew I wanted to ask Jesus to be my Savior and I did. I was not baptized at the time and do not remember anyone really talking with me to make sure I understood what I was doing. Later, when I was around 20 years old, I “rededicated my life,” and was baptized. I lived as a Christian, did all the right things, and did have a relationship with the Lord. But only in the last several years, and particularly in the last year, have I had a very deep and life changing experience with Jesus. It didn’t make a big difference in my life on the outside, as far as others could see, but it did in my heart. The world around me could not see an extreme difference in my lifestyle, but there was a huge change in my heart. That may be you too – you may have been in church your whole life, saved at a young age, never experienced a season of rebellion. You were an all-around “good Christian boy or girl.” There is nothing wrong with that. Just because you were not addicted to drugs or in prison, that does not mean that God did not transform you. Your testimony – any testimony – is about how God changes you. Your testimony is just as real and important to the Kingdom of God as anyone else’s. 

Take some time to write your testimony down – and then share it. Share it with family and friends first for practice, as many times as you need to so it will be natural and comfortable when God provides the opportunity. Then pray. Keep praying for your One and the opportunity to share. Be aware of other opportunities that God brings into your life. We need to always be ready to share our testimony anytime the opportunity arises.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Purifying Fire

Tuesday,  April 25, 2023

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:17-20 

A Purifying Fire

A forest often grows back greener and more plentiful after a forest fire has ravaged all the existing life.  Fires, although devastating, can actually help to clean up forests and keep them healthy.  They burn away all the underbrush and sometimes the upper level of the trees too.  This allows the sunshine to reach the earth and purify the soil.  The sun gives warmth and energy that plants need to survive and regenerate.  

Forests will evolve in the presence of fire and even adapt to it. Forrest Hall, a physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center explained that wildfire is an integral part of the forest ecosystem.  Hall also said Fire is the mechanism by which the forest is continually regenerated.   Fires consume dead, decaying vegetation accumulating on the forest floor, thereby clearing the way for new growth. Some species, such as the jack pine, even rely on fire to spread their seeds. The jack pine produces "seratonous" (resin-filled) cones that are very durable. The cones remain dormant until a fire occurs and melts the resin. Then the cones pop open and the seeds fall or blow out.

This all reminds me so much of us and the fires we go through in life and how we adapt.  We can have everything singed away taking us down to the raw core of our being.  At this point we are generally wide open to allowing God to do whatever He wants to do with us.  He is free to purify us, revive and rejuvenate us.  We are completely vulnerable and weakened, ready to be molded by His caring and capable hands.   This is a sweet time of refuge and comfort in the midst of or after a trial.  We adapt to the fires and come out a little scarred and then we adapt to the scars and move on, until another fire breaks out.  We move on dragging our scars along with us.  

Some things we can remember when we are in the fire:
We Must Trust God – God is in control and although He has absolute power, He allows these fires in our lives for a reason.  He could take us out of it but for some reason He does not. Trust in His good, acceptable, and prefect will.  He loves us and wants the best for us.  He will take this fire and use it for good. 

Trust That God Will Be With You In The Fire – There is a popular story in the Bible about three men who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they chose not to bow down and worship a statue which had been ordered by the King.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would only bow down to the one true God so they were thrown into a fiery furnace to burn up.  Mysteriously in the midst of the furnace there appeared four men instead of three.  God was with these men in the fire and He will be with you.  He will be by your side, walking with you and giving you strength, and carrying you when you can’t go on.  

God Will Deliver You – Storms don’t last forever and fires eventually burn out. God will not leave you where you are forever.  He will rescue you.  He will deliver you. You will walk away scarred and battered but embrace the scars as you would a great treasure.  They were very costly to acquire and the return will be huge.  The wisdom and life lessons gained are always priceless to those who realize the value.

I don't know about you but I pray daily for the Holy Spirit to burn away everything in my life that does not glorify God. I want this daily regeneration in my heart so that there is nothing there that does not belong, trying to take God's place in my heart and life. He takes out what does not belong and replaces it with His presence and new and good things begin to grow. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.  Isaiah 43:2


Monday, April 24, 2023

The Great Substitution – Sin and Salvation

 Monday, April 24, 2023  

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

The Great Substitution – Sin and Salvation

Paul wrote in Romans that we are all sinners, and not only are we all sinners, we are all equal as sinners before God. It doesn’t matter to what extent one person has sinned over another. We are born sinners and the only thing that will ever change that is Jesus Christ.

Sin enters our world for the first time in the Garden of Eden. God had designed a perfect world for Adam and Eve, and they were in harmony with Him. God gave them all they could need and want, but He also give them a restriction. He forbids them to eat from one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did this for their own good because this tree would give them a knowledge that only God Himself possessed. That knowledge is omniscience. God placed this restriction on them because if they knew everything God knew, they would not need Him. God made us to depend on Him for life and wisdom. Satan placed doubt in Eve’s mind about the goodness of God. He caused her to question whether God is too restrictive. God’s restriction on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was about more than just knowledge. It was to protect them from the consequence of dying. 

We have freedom in God, but with commands to obey because unrestricted freedom only leads to destruction. The commands God gives us are given in love, so that we honor Him, and keep from destroying ourselves. When we doubt God’s goodness and care for us, we take the authority over our lives out of His hands where it belongs and begin to play God in our own lives. We are rebelling against His authority, and wanting freedom without limits, but still with all God’s goodness attached. In the end, we don’t trust Him to always do the very best for us, or at least what we think is the best. In the face of our mistrust, He demonstrated with the shed blood of Jesus that He can be trusted above all. 

The only way out of our sin is through putting our trust in Jesus Christ. He is for us. He died the death we deserve – because the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we submit to His authority and trust His love for us and His goodness, and confess our sin, we are given a new heart. 

John Stott calls this substitution – 

The concept of substitution may be said to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone

What a compassionate and caring God we have that would exchange all our rebellion and sin for mercy and eternal life. Romans 3:23 does say we are all sinners, but the next verse goes on to say that by His shed blood, we are redeemed. 

…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24


Sunday, April 23, 2023

More Than A Story Part 3

More Than A Story Part 3

Acts 26

Our story is what we do for God. Our testimony is what God has done in our lives.

BIG IDEA: God will use your testimony to impact those around you if you’re faithful to speak up. How He has changed you can change someone else.

Talk about your life before Jesus 

Before we were with Jesus we were broken and separated from God. We lived for ourselves.

What if in sharing what your life was like before Jesus it connected with someone?

Talk about how you encountered Jesus

Within your testimony, talk about where you were and what you heard that brought you from death to life.

What if you shared how you encountered Jesus, and it opened the door for your 1 to encounter Jesus?

Talk about your life since Jesus made you new

God has saved us from the curse of sin and brokenness in order that we might live for His glory.

This is our calling in Christ: to live changed lives so that others’ lives might be changed.

What if the new life we have in Christ was shared with our 1?

Friday, April 21, 2023

Our Safe Place

Friday, April 21, 2023

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34 4-7)

Our Safe Place

David wrote Psalm 34 on the heels of an episode of escape from a Philistine king who was trying to kill him. It is actually an acrostic poem in which the first ten verses constitute a personal testimony. Then verses 11-22 deliver an exhortation to others in Israel based on the king’s experience. The key to everything in the psalm is found in the verses for today from Psalm 34:4-7.

There is a remarkable principle enunciated here that is easy to miss because of preconceptions we bring to the Bible. Let me illustrate by asking you a question: Whom does God hear, save, and bless?  Chances are your immediate answer would be something like this:  Good people. People who do right.  People who obey the Lord, stay out of trouble, and do good deeds.

Now please don’t miss the point here. We all should be "good people." We should all "do right." And, of course, we should "obey the Lord, stay out of trouble, and do good deeds." In fact, we should be doing lots of things most of us aren’t!  After all, why are we in trouble in the first place? 

Most of David’s troubles were all rooted in David’s sins.  So are most of mine.  So are most of yours.  So let’s go back to the text and try the question again: Whom does God hear, save, and bless? The answer in this poem celebrates the wonderful truth that He comes to the aid of people who are in trouble because they’ve messed up and are in jeopardy because of their own foolishness.  God’s solidarity is not with "good" people but with people who know they are helpless, have nowhere else to go, and run to him.

·      He shows mercy to the brokenhearted. 
·      He gives strength to the exhausted. 
·      He gives salvation to the sinner. 
·      He reflects his personal glory off the tear-stained, dirty, even angry faces that turn to him for help. 

Contrary to our experience and expectation, God does not side with the folks who already have everything but with those who are so bankrupt that they know they have nothing!  Here is the New Testament version of this psalm and its message:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:6-11

Is this not “Good News?”  That which we cannot earn, purchase or secure is provided to us from a gracious God so we can live in peace and security.  To rest in the knowledge of His gift is to experience the Safe Place - a place where nothing else can touch it or take it away.

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