What’s Your Superpower?
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a well-disciplined heart and mind.”
If you could choose a superpower, which one would it be? When asked this question as an icebreaker, I’ve heard some people say they’d love to fly; others say they would choose mind-reading. Some would love to be invisible.
But for the believer in Jesus Christ, the idea of having superpowers isn’t a fantasy.
Here are some superpowers you can claim as a Christian.
1. Fearlessness. In a world overrun by trouble and fearfulness, you can have the superpower of being fearless. Jesus modeled to us the freedom we have as Christians to operate boldly for God’s glory, knowing we are safe and secure in Him. The first potential super-power is that you can be fearless, too! Jesus’s constantly said, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.” Luke 8:50. Jesus came to eradicate fear by obliterating the sting of death. He came to take our fear of death away by rising from the dead on the third day. Through the resurrection he gave us the promise of eternal life that starts right now, and also the inheritance of heaven. Our time here is temporary, but while here on earth we can be transformed every day into the image of Christ. In doing so we can be a fearless ambassador of heaven to everyone we meet. Because of the resurrection, God can give you the super-power of being a fearless witness for Christ. Cowardly Christians will use any excuse for their silence. Bold and fearless Christians will stand strong in the Lord at every opportunity to share the name of Christ. Go out boldly and preach the gospel to all nations!
3. Forgiveness. Have you been hurt again and again? Then, realize that as a Christian, forgiving, loving and forgiving again is a superpower within our reach, if we rely on His ever-present help. Ephesians 4:32, reminds us, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Now, go be a superhero of forgiveness! Somebody you know needs one.
3. Fruitfulness. It is God indwelling our lives that is the source of genuine supernatural power. He makes us fruitful by giving us gifts– supernatural gifts, spiritual enablings– so that you can be powerful in His kingdom. We find the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. Consider these spiritual gifts—superpowers, if you will—given by the Holy Spirit to allow His people to minister to others:
Teaching — The supernatural ability to be fruitful by explaining and applying the truth of the Word of God.
Pastor/Teacher — One who is fruitful by being supernaturally equipped to shepherd and feed the flock of God with the result of their growth and maturity.
Evangelism — The supernatural capacity to be fruitful by presenting the gospel message with clarity and with a burden for those who don’t know Christ.
Word of Knowledge — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by receiving information and truth from God for the benefit of God’s family.
Word of Wisdom — The supernatural ability bear fruit by having insight on God’s perspective and relaying this insight to others.
Faith — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by believing God for the impossible.
Exhortation (Encouragement) — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by coming alongside and helping others by comfort, encouragement, challenge, and rebuke.
Showing Mercy — The supernatural ability bear fruit by ministering compassionately and cheerfully to those who are hurting.
Giving — The supernatural ability bear fruit by giving of one’s material goods to the work of the Lord consistently, generously, sacrificially, with wisdom and cheerfulness.
Leadership/Administration — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by organizing and leading projects while handling people tactfully and providing the vision to keep them at the task.
Service — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by serving faithfully and joyfully behind the scenes, in practical ways, giving long-term commitments to this service.
Helps — The supernatural ability to bear fruit by ministering joyfully to God’s people in short-term service with flexibility and sensitivity to what needs to be done.
Discernment of Spirits — A supernatural ability to bear fruit by distinguishing between the spirit of truth and spirit of error, between holiness and evil…. with the ability to quickly sniff out when someone’s a phony or lying.
Did you know that every disciple of Christ was equipped with such superhero powers?
It’s true. Now, it is your choice. Will you choose to plug into this otherworldly strength, or not?
Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming what you want to be.
Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really what Jesus wants you to be.
Maybe it is about becoming who He meant you to be in the first place.
Your super-power comes from knowing God and finding His plan for your life… and doing it!
Are you on the journey to unlocking that plan?
God’s plan for your life starts the day you trust Him as Savior and Lord.
All your previous desires come from your old nature and cannot be trusted.
When you become His child He will place in your heart a new drive… which comes from His own heart.
Follow the Father’s footsteps and He will give you your own superpower!
Use it wisely for His kingdom!
Lord, fill us with power from on high. Kindle in us a new passion for knowing, loving and serving Jesus. Amen!
Where Da Ya Do Yer’ Fishin’?
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” – Mark 1:17
Did you hear about the time Bubba took the Game Warden fishing? Out in the lake he handed the warden a lit stick of dynamite and asked, “Are ya gonna’ fish or just sit there and get blowed up?” Fishing can be a very relaxing past-time, but not with Bubba! It is the middle of winter here in Wisconsin, many lakes are loaded with ice fishing houses. I’ve noticed that these houses often congregate on certain portions of each lake like a mini-housing-development. They must know where the fish hang out.
I’m wondering if Christians could learn something from Wisconsin fishermen! Not from Bubba, but from true anglers! They apparently know where the fish are and how to bring them in. I am working on a method of evangelism… Jesus would call it: “How to fish for men.” It is called the BLT method of Evangelism.
The BLT Method Of Evangelism
Jesus told us all to be “Fishers of men” but most of us don’e have the gift of evangelism. How can the rest of us do it if we don’t have the gift? Let me share with you the BLT method of evangelism.
B — Build Relationships With Non-Christians.
This is where all evangelism begins. It doesn’t start with praying with someone to receive Christ. That’s the end. And it doesn’t start with inviting someone to church. That’s the middle. Evangelism begins simply by making friends with non-Christians.
That’s all. Just making friends with people who don’t know the Lord. Specifically, this means starting with the people you already know—family members, friends, neighbors you meet at a block party, other parents you meet when you watch your son or daughter play baseball, people you meet while shopping, your co-workers at the office.
Sometimes Christians feel like they don’t know anybody who needs the Lord. Actually we all know lots of people who need the Lord. We rub shoulders with them every day. In others words, we focus on those people God has already placed in our lives. And then we do whatever it takes to build quality relationships with people.
Here are some ways to build bridges with non-Christians…
Ask your neighbor for advice or help on something you need help with. Perhaps you need to borrow a ladder or a cup of sugar.
Invite your neighbor or co-worker over for dinner. Hospitality breaks down barriers and builds new friendships.
Buy an extra Twins ticket and invite a neighbor to go with you to the game.
Sit out on your front porch once a week and greet people who walk by. Or simply make it a point to go over and talk to your neighbors.
Invite a neighbor over for ice cream.
Be sensitive to their needs. If you know an elderly person, offer to mow their lawn or shovel their driveway.
Take an interest in their interests. If they like to fish, talk about fishing. If they like to cook, talk about cooking.
Host a party for your neighbors. Any time someone new moves in, Barb likes to sponsor a “Block Party” for them..
Be available when people are hurting by looking for opportunities to tangibly express love during times of sickness, death, marital problems or financial troubles.
Offer to take care of your neighbor’s kids for an evening.
Use the internet. Potential people you don’t even know are searching for meaningful relationships on line. Hang up a shingle and strike up friendships.
Everything on this list is doable and there is nothing religious or churchy on the list…. that’s a key. Some people read a list like that and think, “Yeah, baby, get ’em over for ice cream and then hit ’em with the Four Spiritual Laws.” Well, that’s not the first thing you should do!
Here’s my advice for step one. Don’t say anything religious to them. Otherwise you’ll be tempted to do these things as a cover for your real intentions. But most people can smell right through that. And once they suspect that you want to hit them with religion, they’re out the door and down the road.
So the B in the BLT is “Build relationships.” It all starts right there.
L — Look For Opportunities to Talk To Your Friends About Jesus.
This is the second step. It involves actually opening your mouth and saying something about the Lord. There are a lot of ways this might happen. Your friend might ask you a leading question or you might have a chance to use the Four Spiritual Laws or a tract. You might be playing softball with your friend and you might get a chance to share the gospel.
You might hear this and think, “I’m contradicting myself.” First I say, “Don’t say anything” and step two is “Say something.” There’s really no contradiction.
The point is that most of us get all tied up in knots because we’re worried about having to say something right off the bat. And we’re afraid people will think we’re nuts and turn us off. But that’s not how evangelism works. You don’t start by saying anything. You start by building relationships. And then—in the context of a friendship—you look for natural opportunities to share your faith.
Some time ago I was chatting with a friend who is a fairly new Christian. He wanted to know what this evangelism stuff was all about and how you went about it. It happens that he works in a business where he sees dozens of of people every single day. And because he’s been there for a few years, he knows most of them by name.
I said, “Look, it’s not difficult. You don’t need to make a big deal about this. Why don’t you begin each day by praying that God will send you at least one person each day to whom you can give a good word for the Lord?” After you pray that prayer, just start looking for opportunities to say a good word for the Lord.” That’s just how I put it—”Just say a good word for the Lord.” No big deal. No high pressure. Just look for chances to slip the Lord into your conversations with people in a natural, non-forced way.
He said he would give it a try. When I saw him a week later, he said, “Pastor Ken, you wouldn’t believe it. Every day I’m having all kinds of opportunities to talk about the Lord. We start talking, one thing leads to another, and suddenly we’re talking about the Lord. I don’t even know how it happens.”
And this from a young Christian who couldn’t name even two of the Four Spiritual Laws. But he’s talking about the Lord every day. And he’s doing it in the context of natural relationships he already has. That’s evangelism.
So you’ve got the B — Build Relationships and you’ve got the L — Look for Opportunities. There’s only one thing left and we’ve got our BLT all put together.
T — Take your friends to non-threatening events where they can hear the gospel.
We need to begin by thinking-up interesting and unique events which could provide opportunities to invite our friends. These events can be “hooks” you can use with your unchurched friends. Invite your friends to a retreat, a concert, a program, a picnic, a movie, a luncheon, etc.
You’ll notice I haven’t said a word about the Sunday services. Do they not count for evangelism? Sure they do. They play a big part simply because they provide a context in which the unchurched can come in and begin to figure out who we are and what we are all about. In a years time we have lots of visitors who come to our services.
But the Sunday service is often not the best place to begin. Sometimes it’s just too overwhelming or too threatening at first. So don’t feel like you have to start by pushing people to come on Sunday. As the Holy Spirit begins to draw your friends to Christ, Sunday worship will begin to seem much more inviting to them.
Simple Steps To Take
So there you have the BLT approach to evangelism:
B — Build relationships with your friends and neighbors.
L — Look for opportunities to share the gospel.
T — Take your friends to events where they can hear the gospel.
That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? Evangelism often seems so overwhelming that we don’t ever get around to it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The BLT approach will work for anyone.
But where should we begin? Let me suggest three practical steps:
1. Identify your network of relationships. Sit down with a piece of paper and do an inventory of all the non-Christians you know. You’ll probably discover that you know a lot more non-Christians than you think you do.
2. Circle the five people on your life you think are most receptive and reachable. That’s a double qualification. Some people are receptive but they aren’t easily reachable by you; others are reachable, but right now they don’t seem very open to spiritual things. So pick out the five people who seem open to spiritual things and who are reachable by you.
3. Ask God to give you a chance to say a good word for Jesus to at least one of those five people this week. Make it a matter of prayer. Ask God to give you some good opportunities to say a good word for Him. Then sit back and watch Him arrange the circumstances in ways that are natural and non-threatening.
Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Our part is to follow Him and His part is to make us fishers of men. Go ahead and put your hook in the water. And don’t be surprised if the fish are biting all over the place. Let’s go fishing for men this week.
Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and love that soul through me, and may I humbly do my part to win that soul for Thee. Amen.
Love somebody today for heaven’s sake!
10 Questions about Your Evangelism
When was the last time you had a conversation about faith with someone who wasn’t a Christian?
What was the last book on evangelism that you read?
When was the last time you heard a series on evangelism?
When was the last time you took the initiative to greet a first time visitor, and took the time to converse with them, beyond the handshake?
How would you answer the question from a non-Christian: “Why do you believe in Jesus?”
When was the last time you prayed for your neighbor to know Christ like you know him?
How many friends do you engage with that do not know Jesus?
How many religious events do you go to that keep you too busy to be with non-churched people?
What gospel presentations have you learned and are ready to use at a moment’s notice?
Who are the believers in your church that you can help coach in evangelism?
I hope to see you in church real soon!
A Valentine Box of Chocolates -from God
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” -Psalm 34:8
Valentine’s Day candy is everywhere. Everywhere I look, every store, every commercial, even girl scout cookie kids… they all yell… “Get your chocolates here!!”
We all remember what Forrest Gump said: “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.” I can still hear him say it. Forrest’s mini-parable was right! We wake up every morning unsure of what the day may hold for us. We have plans. Sometimes they even happen the way we hoped, but we never know for sure, do we?
The days that come with coconut in the middle are my favorite. The ones with the strawberry goo are OK. The ones that have hot spices are just awful! I’d rather go back to bed. Then there’s the days where tragedy strikes and life becomes like a piece of old, hardened chocolate that we’d rather not even touch. We’d rather pass on those moments like a piece of worthless chocolate.
Life is uncertain for us. God knows that. That’s why He gave us so many promises to claim in His Word. His comfort, companionship and commitment to us are all that we need, no matter what the day may bring forth. We know He will keep His promises. We trust His loving heart. We feel His hand of compassion. We hear His friendly voice of tenderness.
“When some people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee His promises, He gave His word, a rock-solid guarantee–God can’t break His word. And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.” (Heb. 6:16-18) You may want to read this in another translation, but, the Message paraphrase makes it clear.
Today, no matter what chocolate you are “in the middle of” –He is there–with a future as bright as the promises of God. We have the certainty of His promise today as well as His hope of heaven in the future. Listen to how the next verses continue to encourage us: (vs.19-20).
“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up His permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.”
I love to visualize that I’m grabbing on to His promises with both hands. He’s got me in His grip and is running ahead of me to the Father. I hold His promises in my hand and in my heart. That image of me claiming His promises enlivens my soul. Each promise brings me a step closer to God as I hold on to it. They give me joy as I praise Him for whatever He sends my way. Putting this faith in Jesus and His Word gives me a confidence for life and a hope that pulls me toward a future with Him in glory.
My box of chocolates remind me to cling to my spiritual lifeline. Today I binge on His priceless box of chocolates and I cling to the His promises. That gives me the sweetest satisfaction of all!
Let’s pray the promises of God on Valentine’s Day and every day.
Tell God you love these things about Him:
“I go before and behind you.”
“I will never leave you or forsake you.”
“I will give my beloved sleep.”
“I give you eternal life.”
“I will be a father to you.”
“I have set you apart.”
“I will meet your needs.”
“I am coming for you again.”
Here are some conditional promises:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (II Chron. 7:14-16)
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).
“The Lord God is a Sun and a shield. The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you” (Psalm 84:11-12).
“For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose, which is to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:28-29).
God bless your sweet heart!
Being pro-life is way of life
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
Over the past 45 years over 60 million babies have been legally aborted in the US. It was 45 years ago that the Supreme Court made one of their most powerful and controversial decisions to date in Roe v. Wade, it legalized abortion in all fifty states.
The young lady was in debate class her junior year of high school when the topic of abortion was announced. She sat and listened as the “right wing” and “left wing” of the classroom yelled back and forth about women’s rights and the definition of life. That young girl began to weep and they asked her what was wrong. She said, “You don’t know this, but, you are arguing over my life today. A loving friend showed my mother that having an abortion was killing a baby. I was that baby.”
Like that young lady, being pro-life is who I am, but, being pro-life is more than being anti-abortion. Here’s what it means to me to be pro-life:
Being pro-life must be a way of life.
Being pro-life means to hold the lives and value of others highly, even at the sacrifice of ourselves.
Being pro-life means living Biblically, even when it goes against the flow.
Being pro-life you do not see any life as unwanted.
Being pro-life means a willingness to stand up for life and never back down.
Being pro-life means celebrating life at every point!
Being pro-life means protecting life!
Being pro-life means welcoming refugees, street people and the incarcerated.
Being pro-life means opening our hearts and homes to orphans and children in foster care.
Being pro-life means caring for and celebrating those with special needs and genetic differences.
Being pro-life means saving the lives of the unborn and promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion.
Being pro-life means fighting against human slavery and sex trafficking.
Being pro-life means protecting, defending, caring for, and loving the vulnerable.
Being pro-life means mourning the loss of innocent life, not as a ritual, but in reality!
Being pro-life means living and loving like Christ.
Being pro-life means loving people of every race, every age, every level of ability, and every socio-economic level.
Being pro-life doesn’t mean we see these people as burdens; it means we see them as bearers of God’s image and therefore valuable.
Being pro-life means we value the vulnerable, not because of what they can do but because of whose they are.
Being pro-life means a willingness to endure suffering and persecution for the sake of the vulnerable.
Being pro-life in America means commemorating Sanctity of Human Life Sunday!
Being pro-life means a willingness to pray for the end of abortion, both here and around the world.
Being pro-life means you teach others (family, friends, neighbors, etc) to stand up against abortion.
Being pro-life means you mourn the loss of every human life.
Being pro-life must be a commitment to the cause of every God-given-life!
Being pro-life must be a way of life!
Pray with me…
Dear Heavenly Father, You are Creator of all and the Giver of all life.
You have created all of us in your image to reflect your glory in this world, and we praise you for the work your hands have done.
In this Sanctity of Human Life Week we mourn that many of your precious sons and daughters have lost their lives too soon.
We grieve their absence today and every day.
We are broken people, and we have all sinned against you in so many ways, and we pray that today would be a day of repentance and forgiveness.
We humbly come before you knowing that all of us have fallen short of your glory.
We ask that you would forgive us of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Restore us to right relationship with you.
Open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, and our hands as we seek to serve you and glorify you through our love for one another.
Transform us into new creations.
Help those who have had abortions to accept your forgiveness.
Help everyone to show those who have had abortions that we love them by our words and actions.
May we truly be your hands and feet in our world, serving others like Jesus came to serve, loving others like we are to love ourselves.
Jesus, you made a way for us where there seemed to be no way.
We pray today that you would breathe new life into us.
We pray you would increase our compassion and love for our neighbors, no matter their age, race, ability, background, or need.
We pray we would be people whose hearts echo your own heart for your people—be our strength, Holy Spirit.
Help us to be champions of life, Jesus.
Strengthen us and equip us to do your work in our communities, our nations, our world, Father.
May we stand for what you have taught us, and may we give you glory in all that we do.
We love you and praise you on this day and every day, Lord… Thank you for the gift of life.
Help us to protect and preserve it in every way we can.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In your holy and mighty name, Amen!
God bless you and help you walk in His ways!
Be Still and Know the I AM God!
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
“Be still!” … What does it mean when God’s own are commanded to “be still”? It doesn’t mean, “Be quiet and know that I am God,” It means, “Let go and know that I am God.” We could say it means, “Stop trying and start trusting!” Let go and quit trying to solve all of your problems by yourself. Let go of what you can’t control. Let go of worry and money problems and an unforgiving heart. Rest in the knowledge that God is in control.
The word translated “be still” comes from the Hebrew term “raphah.” This word refers to “giving slack.” We would say, “just drop it,” or, “I give up.” In other words, we are commanded to “be weak.” So, stop having to be in charge and let God take charge.
Many times God’s people are admonished to take initiative to fulfill their duties. Other times we are told to rest. Sadly, there are those who think they can do it all on their own, without any rest or divine dependence.
While there are things we must do, there are also things we have no business doing.
For instance, we witness, but leave the results to God. We can’t manufacture life change. We are persecuted, but we don’t attack back or blame people. We leave it to God to do what is just for our attackers. We make plans, but we also say, “We will do it if God wills….” (James 4:13-17).
“Be still” reminds us that we are finite, and that God is infinite. We do our best, then we relax, go limp and chill out. God has it all under control. Results are up to Him. It brings us a sense of calm confidence and serenity. We don’t take credit, but, say, “Look what God has done.”
Psalm 46:10 encourages us to reflect on what God can do in the face of what we are unable to do. We are to maintain spiritual calmness in spite of the mountains that shake and the waters that roar. Nothing in life should shake our confidence in our Mighty God. Serenity does not result from a lack of trouble, but, from being sheltered in the arms of God in the midst of trouble.
So when you find yourself depressed and discouraged, sit still! You are in the Mighty Hands of God. Relax, not in self-confidence, but in God-confidence. By nature you may be a little nervous! That doesn’t surprise God! He helps you to be still when you recognize that He is there with you in the midst of the storm. You can know He will be there intellectually, but you must trust Him with all your life practically, spiritually, and emotionally. He is Almighty God. He is the all-powerful Creator of the Universe. He is your God, though the mountains fall, you can stand!
Lord, You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though nothing goes our way and though the world crumbles around us! We will be still and know that You are God, and that You, the LORD Almighty, are with us! Hallelujah!
May each day be filled with the goodness of the Lord!
A Dozen Simple Biblical New Year’s Resolutions
I appreciate people who have an organized life. Some folks have resolutions for diet, exercise, work, play, family, finances, and more. That is wonderful! However, God wants us to nail down some spiritual goals as well. Here are a few spiritual (Biblical) new year’s principles, or, resolutions that I hope you will consider:
James 4:7, 8 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
1- Submit to God -Obey His Word.
2- Draw Near to God -Seek His Face.
3- Resist the Devil -Fight him in the power of the Lord.
4- Cleanse your Hands -Confess and forsake sin.
5- Purify your Hearts -Ask God to make you like Jesus.
Psalm 43:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
6- Be broken before God -To go up you must go down. God only fixes broken things & humble people.
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
7- Fast, give, and serve before God -Don’t talk about your good works.
Matthew 25:40 (& 35-36) says, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
8- Minister to Christ by helping Others -Visit the sick and the prisoner, help the helpless and the stranger.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
9- Always rejoice -Keep positive by continual joy in the Lord.
10- Always pray about everything -Don’t worry, just pray.
11- Always give thanks -That attitude will keep you sweet all day long.
John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
12- Abide in God’s Word -Get plenty of Spiritual nourishment.
Lord, help us to draw near to You, to submit to Your Word, to be broken before you in true humility, to do all of our good works (even those included in our resolutions) for You. Keep us ever praying, ever abiding and always falling in love with You. Lord, apart from you we are nothing, we have nothing and we can do nothing. Point us in the direction you want us to go. In Jesus name. Amen.
A blessed New Year to you all!
Pastor Ken Mettler
9 AM worship at Solid Rock
11 AM worship at Faith Fellowship
7 PM Open Mic at Solid Rock
2019: My One Request
Dear Lord, for this coming year
I have one prayer to bring:
It’s not for wealth or happiness,
Or any worldly thing!
I do not ask for better health
Or anything for me,
One thing I pray -that I would do
Whatever pleases Thee.
Please help me by your precious Word
To follow You each day.
Give me ears to always hear
And a heart that will obey.
So as I start this new year now
I only want to do
A year of following the path
Of all that pleases You!
How much of what you think about Christ’s birth is from the Bible and how much is from the world? Could you pass the following quiz on this topic? Test your knowledge. There are no trick questions, but you might be surprised by some of the answers. The answers are at the end of the quiz.
1. The day Jesus was born probably occurred on:
a. December 25th
b. March 29th
c. April 1st
d. We do not know
2. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
d. It cannot be determined.
3. A manger is:
a. a feeding trough
b. a barn
c. a stable
d. a room behind the Inn
4. Where was Joseph’s family from?
5. How were the shepherds to find and recognize the Lord?
a. by following a star
b. by asking at the Inn
c. by looking for a babe in a manger
d. by looking for the Magi
6. How many wise men came to see baby Jesus?
b. the Bible doesn’t say
7. How did Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem?
b. by cart
c. Joseph walked/Mary rode a donkey
d. The Bible doesn’t say
8. When Mary was found to be with child, she and Joseph were:
d. The Bible doesn’t say.
9. Who told Joseph what to name the baby?
b. an angel
d. Jewish elders.
10. Where did the wise men find Jesus?
a. In the manger
b. on a donkey with Mary
c. in the field
d. in a house.
11. Who saw the star over Bethlehem?
a. Joseph and Mary
b. the shepherds
c. the three kings
e. none of the above.
12. The Innkeeper told Joseph:
a. there is no room
b. we don’t allow children
c. You can use the stable out back
d. none of the above
13. Who told Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
a. an angel
c. the tax collector
14. What is meant by “heavenly host”?
a. an arch angel
b. greeting angels
c. an army of angels
d. an angelic choir or herald
15. What song did the heavenly host sing?
a. “Away in a Manger”
b. “Joy to the World”
c. “Glory to God in the Highest”
d. they did not sing
16. What animals were present at the birth of Jesus?
a. cows and sheep
b. cows, sheep and donkeys
c. cows, sheep and camels
17. What is the most accurate definition for “Magi”?
b. wise men
d. Eastern kings
18. Why did Herod want to know when Jesus was found?
a. so he could worship him
b. so he could tell others
c. so he could kill him
d. none of the above.
19. How long was the trip for the wise men after they saw Herod?
a. two years
b. less than 1 day
c. less than two years
d. none of the above
20. How many shepherds were there in the field?
d. we are not told
ANSWERS TO QUIZ: 1. d .. 2. c … 3. a … 4. a … 5. c … 6. d
(The Bible says they saw the child in the house. They were not present at the manger and no mention is made as to how many Magi there were. We assume there were three because there were three gifts that were presented, but there were probably many, many more.)
7. d … 8. c … 9. b … 10. d .. 11. e
(Three kings are not mentioned. All the wise men saw the star.) … 12. d (No mention of the Inn Keeper is made)
13. d. (See Luke 2:1-3) … 14 c … 15. d
(We are told “a heavenly host saying”)
16. d (The Bible does not say what animals were present) .. 17. c … 18. c
19. c (Herod had all the male children under two put to death) … 20. d.”
Now that you’ve taken the quiz, you might wonder, what’s the point? The point is that you are a little more informed of the events surrounding Christ’s birth apart from what Christmas tradition and songs tell you. Does that mean that we should throw the traditions out? We don’t think so? We just don’t look at them as truth. We enjoy them, but look at them as we would any fictional story or movie. It’s entertaining, but we keep it in its proper perspective. And some of the traditions may be true — we just aren’t told in the Bible whether they are or not.
We hope that you will use this holiday season for the evangelistic and worship opportunities that it can bring! Be a “light” in your home and community that enjoys the spirit of the season and the symbolism you can pull from it. Celebrate Christ and celebrate the joy of the Lord with everyone you can! Comfort those who are hurting and rejoice with those who are rejoicing!
How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
A. a multitude
B. Two: Gabriel and Michael
C. One *
D. Who knows?
What sign were the shepherds to look for?
a star over a stable
a barn outlined with Christmas lights
a baby in a manger
both A and C
Who told Joseph to name the baby Jesus
The chief priests and scribes
The angel of the Lord * Mt. 1:20-21
Herod the King
When Mary became pregnant
Joseph married her
Joseph wanted to dissolve their relationship
Mary left Nazareth for a while
An angel told them to go to Bethlehem
B and C *
B and D
When Mary became pregnant, Mary and Joseph were
none of the above
The Wise Men & Gifts for the New Born King!
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced, with exceeding great joy” (Matt. 2:10).
Question: How many Wise Men were there?
Answer: We have absolutely no idea. It is likely that they traveled in caravan. The caravan would likely include cooks, cook wagons, and guards to protect the valuable treasure they brought.
What became of the treasure they brought for Jesus? Many have speculated that it was used to help the impoverished couple travel to Egypt.
How did these wise men or magi know who or what to look for? The most likely scenario is that Daniel had left teachings about the coming Messiah while he lived in Babylon in captivity. Daniel had become ruler over all the wise men or magi in Babylonia (Dan. 2:12, 48). He became “rab mag” or “chief of the Magi” (Dan 5:11), and had to have left writings for the rulers of Babylon, like the ones in Daniel 9 where Daniel goes into very specific detail about the timing of the Jesus, the Anointed One’s appearance (Dan 9:21-26). Christ was born hundreds of years later at the very time Daniel’s said He would come. This allowed the Wise men time to identify the star’s importance and travel to Bethlehem, the place of the Messiah’s birth. Daniel was so close to God that he was shown not only the time of Messiah’s arrival, but also when He would be killed (Dan. 9:25-26). The location was revealed to the wise men, recognizing that Daniel’s point of reference was not Babylon but the temple at Jerusalem (Dan 9:16). If they were too early, they would have missed Him, and if too late, the child Jesus would have been in Egypt (Matt. 2:13).
When the Wise Men saw the star, they began to travel toward that star in the western sky. Some time in Jesus first year of life after “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt 2:1-2), so “after listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was” (Matt 2:9) and “when they saw the star, they rejoiced, with exceeding great joy” (Matt. 2:10). When they saw the star they were on a journey of hundreds of miles. No wonder they had “exceeding great joy!” This star had shown them where the new King was. All the so-called religious experts, including the chief priests and scribes were absolutely no help in finding Jesus.
Today, the Star of David is a symbol of Israel. Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, is described as a star…He is the Bright and Shining Star, and also called the Bright and Morning Star, and even a Saving Star (Num. 24:17; Isaiah 60:1-4 Rev. 22:16). He is the Great “I AM.” No one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth, and it was likely not in December, but the wise men came very close to figuring it out. The question for you today is, have you found Jesus? Finding Jesus is the wisest thing you could ever do. He is the one and only way to the Father (John 6:44; Acts 4:12).
The gifts of the Wise Men were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is said that they gave gold because Jesus was a King, frankincense because Jesus was a man of prayer, and myrrh because it symbolized Jesus would die for our sins. We are commended to give Jesus the best that we have. Few of us have these three items in abundance in our stock pile. However, we do have three things that God can use: Our life (what is left of it), our love (all that we can muster), and our livelihood (what God has blessed us with). Our life may not have many years left, our love might be like our faith and be smaller than a grain of mustard seed, and our possessions may be few…. but, God can use whatever we commit to Him. Don’t let this year pass without being generous to some great mission that God has laid on your heart.
It will be my privilege to be speaking at both Solid Rock (9 AM) and Faith Fellowship (11 AM) this Sunday. Our message will be one of encouragement for those who have endured loss. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. It is easy to praise God for those times of blessing and bounty, however, learning how to grieve our losses has become lost in the world in which we live. Our Text will be from I Thessalonians 4, especially the last part of the chapter.
Lord, help us to be like the Wise Men as we close out this year and step into 2019. Give us wisdom to follow in the light you give to us each day; give us faith to trust you with the very best you have given to us, and may we travel to where you lead us!
Making Jesus the center of life,
My all-time favorite Christmas carol is Charles Wesley’s, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” I trust you will see why as we move through its stanzas and consider its message.
Verse 1 is the Invitation
The fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God is for us a powerful invitation to worship him. This is what the first stanza is all about. The angels sing, “Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Because of their cry, we are invited to echo back: “Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Verse 2 is the Meditation on The Incarnate Lord
The second stanza is a meditation on why the angels and the nations sing every Advent and Christmas. We sing because Jesus is eternal God: “Christ, by highest Heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord.” We sing because this eternal Son has become man, in what we call the incarnation. It is always amazing to sing the doctrine that the Son of God added to himself a human nature:
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
THE ONE WHO WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS CAUSES US TO BE BORN AGAIN AS CHRISTIANS. —DANIEL HYDE
Verse 3 is the Meditation on The Benefits of the Incarnation
The third stanza is another meditation, this time on the benefits of the incarnation. We sing, “Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace,” because Jesus gives peace. We sing, “Hail the Sun of Righteousness,” because Jesus gives the righteousness of God to sinners. We sing, “Light and life to all He brings,” because Jesus opens our eyes and resurrects our souls unto eternal life. We sing, “Ris’n with healing in His wings,” because Jesus heals us from the sickness of our sins. The stanza then says, “Mild He lays His glory by,” and the threefold benefits of this act of the Son:
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Verse 4 is the first Invocation or Invitation -for Christ to Dwell in Us!
Stanza four is an invocation—a calling upon—of Jesus Christ to now be at work within us by dwelling in us. We pray to him, “Come, Desire of nations, come, fix in us Thy humble home,” as we long for his indwelling presence with us. We pray for promise of Genesis 3:15 to be made real in our lives, when we sing: “Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed, bruise in us the serpent’s head.” We pray that Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4:24 would also be made real in our lives, when we sing: “Now display Thy saving power, ruined nature now restore.” The grace of the Son’s incarnation restores our human nature. Finally, we pray to Jesus that we would know the reality of our union with him and enjoy communion with him: “Now in mystic union join, Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.”
Verse 5 is the second Invocation or Invitation – Christ to Change Us!
The fifth and final stanza is another prayer to Jesus that he would change us by his continuing work in us to sanctify us and cause us to grow in holiness. We pray, “Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, stamp Thine image in its place.” Here is an echo of Paul’s amazing teaching in 1 Corinthians 15. Again, Wesley invokes that chapter, saying, “Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love.” And because of his love for us we pray, “Let us Thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the Life, the inner man.” Finally, we pray to our incarnate Lord, “O, to all Thyself impart, formed in each believing heart.”
Why is Hark! the Herald Angels Sing my all-time favorite Christmas carol? It is not only because it powerfully proclaims the truth of the doctrine of the incarnation, but because it personally expresses the benefits of Christ in Christian experience. The One who was born on Christmas causes us to be born again as Christians.
A Christmas Gift for You
We wish you Merry Christmas, this poem’s our “Gift” to you
Not just another Christmas greeting, this is something new.
So often life goes by too fast, that no-one figures out
Why God put us together or what His family’s all about.
We’re not a family by some “chance”, there’s nothing that needs fixed
We each were chosen carefully . . . each adding to the mix.
He knew we each held something — A quality we had
One we would use and pass along to make God’s family glad.
We take these gifts God gave us and spread them to each other
We share them with a heart of love to each sister and each brother.
At birth God gives us every one, the traits we each possess,
The special gifts God gave us, each different from the rest.
That’s why there IS a Christmas . . . A special day each year,
To celebrate the ONE whose birth gave ALL that we hold dear.
We feel what was intended . . . is we each would do our part,
To take time for each other, care that comes from God’s own HEART.
So this is why we want to say, and know there is no test
We’re glad he placed us in this group, among the very Best!!
There’s not another Family we would choose to call our own,
We feel so very blessed because at church we have a Home.
We’re proud to be a part of you, we’re proud to call you “mine,”
And with you all around us we are blessed at Christmas time.
We wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!
Pastor Ken and Barb
Are You Clay in the Potter’s Hands?
“Have Thine own way, Lord” is a song that was written by Addie Pollard in 1907. It begins with the Biblical analogy of God as our potter and we as His clay. The Lord’s desire is that we allow him to transform our lives by molding and remaking us after His will as we journey through this life.
God says through Isaiah, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) To understand and apply the analogy we will need to learn just how pottery is made.
The only pottery I ever made was in 8th grade in art class under the instruction of Clint Gjerde. I made a bowl for our dog, Pal. Then, years later we had Chopper Bowman, a potter, come and demonstrate pottery making at church. As he worked his wheel, he taught us lessons from his craft. He showed us how God wants to mold, shape, and transform all of us in our personal growth in Him.
Today we will see how pottery is made, and how all of this fits into the analogy that God is the Potter and we are His clay. We will learn that this molding process can be quite painful and unpleasant at times, but it means that God is in the business of sanctifying our lives. Here’s how making pottery relates to God’s molding our lives.
1. First of all, it is God’s Word in us that molds us through the Holy Spirit.
Chopper began his demonstration with a piece of clay. Good clay is hard to find, but even the best clay has to be softened by just the right amount of water to make it perfectly pliable and soft for the potter to do his work properly. For us, that means we need the WATER OF THE WORD to penetrate into our hearts. Ephesians 5:26 says that God sanctifies and cleanses us with the washing of the water by the Word that He might present us to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle! The Word is water to our souls. It feeds our inner spiritual life. What that means is that God can’t mold us until we first make God’s Word our spiritual “water.” To grow in the knowledge of God we need daily doses of this life-transforming water. The more of God’s Word you have, the more spiritual growth can take place in your life.
So, the first step is to spend time in God’s Word and incorporate it in your personal life and walk with the Lord.
2. The Potter wants to Center your life in Christ.
After Chopper adds water to the clay, he will put it in the center of a foot-powered wheel. When he pumps his feet, the wheel starts spinning and he starts molding. Only when the clay is at the true center of the wheel can he start his work. Just like clay, we must center our lives on Jesus Christ before God can begin to mold us. That means that we must tell God that we surrender our entire life to Him and give Him full control of our life. Too many Christians do not have Jesus as the real Lord in their lives.
Today we will give you the main verses from Scripture to show you exactly what this full surrender is all about, along with a prayer that will actually get you into this realm with the Lord. God cannot guide you unless you surrender to Him.
Just like the potter, the Lord cannot begin to properly work with us in this life unless we are perfectly centered in Him in this full surrender. David wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1) Building a house is similar to creating and molding pottery. Only God can do it right!
3. Molding clay (or people) is a Slow and Steady Process
Chopper works the wheel at the proper speed to make the pottery. Too fast or too slow and the result is not good. For Christians, we must learn to wait on the Lord’s timing. We live in an instant-world and we get impatient and lose our joy and peace when we don’t see overnight results. The Lord is never in a hurry and He is never too slow. We may be in a hurry to get married or have a certain job, but, if we rush God’s plan, we could end up with something less than God’s best. God wants to teach us patience as He works out the lumps in our life, so, wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit to bring about His plan -by His process -in His time. God will mold you in His slow and steady manner, or, you won’t be molded at all.
4. As a Potter, God’s Hand will Personally Mold, Shape, and Transform You
God is right now, supernaturally transforming you by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is what He does when we have enough water from the Word added to the clay of our lives. It is literally the hand of God Himself, operating through the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, that will supernaturally transform and sanctify you.
Chopper starts molding the process with a lump of clay after it is watered and centered. He molds it by pushing down on the top of the clay to create an opening in it. Once this opening has been made at the top of the clay, his hand then goes down deep inside the middle of the clay as it is forming out. He then uses his hands to shape the piece of clay as it is forming during this spinning process on the wheel. He shapes the pot by going deep inside. God also goes deep inside us to draw out our bad qualities and build up our good ones. Often, God has to apply some serious pressure on us to get us to change to become the kind of person He wants us to be.
A potter may find bumps in the clay, just as God finds toxic qualities such as pride, arrogance, bad tempers, and lust in our personalities. These take time to work out. So, let God do this inner surgery work in you through the Holy Spirit. Eventually you be molded and shaped into the godly saint that He is calling you to be – and true joy, happiness, and fulfillment will be all yours in this life.
5. Let God’s Hand Mold You until you reach your Full Potential
The next thing Chopper showed us is how he molds the clay and it becomes bigger and taller. It becomes a thing of beauty in his hands. Then, suddenly he stops working the clay. As believers, we must let God take us as far as He wants to go. He can make you a vessel of honor and fit for the Master’s use.
6. God Has a Specific Plan and Purpose for Your Individual Life.
God, like a good potter, knows exactly what you will become and for what purpose you will be used before He starts forming you. He knows about your family, your calling, your friends, and each important event in your life before it begins. Your life will stay in use until He calls you home.
Since God is all-perfect and all-powerful and we are not – then, certainly we can fully trust Him to build up our lives.
7. Don’t Stretch Your Life into Your Own Plan!
Though you may want to re-create yourself, remember your Designer has a plan for your life. A potter does not design a bowl to do the work of a jar. Likewise, know how God has made you and don’t stretch yourself out of shape to do something you weren’t designed to do. If God is calling you to be an attorney, pastor, or doctor – do not try and stretch into other callings that He does not want you to be going into.
Billy Graham was called to be an evangelist and he perfectly stayed in that calling during his entire life. He did not try to be a musician or a pastor. He stayed within the boundary lines that God had initially set up for his life. As a result he ended up as one of the greatest evangelists of all time because of all of the good fruit God produced through Him in that specific calling.
8. God’s Focus is Always on You
A good potter will keep his eyes on the pot as he shapes and molds it. In the same way, once we come into this full surrender with the Lord, God will never take His eyes and attention off of you. You will always have His complete and undivided attention until He calls you home. If we stay watered by the Word and pliable and patient, God will help you fulfill your divine mission. You can fully trust that He who has begun a good work in you will continue it until He returns for you.
9. God Will do Major Pruning in Your Life
Chopper would cut away any excess clay that makes a pot unfit for use. He would smooth out edges until it became a thing of beauty.
In the same way, God is always pruning out different qualities that will keep you from beauty and usefulness. He may prune away friends who are negative influences. He may prune out some bad habits or attitudes that keep you from spiritual growth. It is for your own good! If you resist God on this pruning, you may never reach the highest calling He wants for you in this life. Let God prune you!
10. Allow God to Make You the Person He Wants You to Be!
Chopper emphasized the we must let God mold and shape us into the specific person He wants us to become in Him, not what other people want us to become. No two bowls turn out exactly the same, and we, as humans are all unique. Only God can make us complete. Only God can make us beautiful, godly, and vessels fit for the Master’s use.
Watching a potter gave me a feel for what God wants to do in my life and in your life. Chopper gave a real live demonstration on how pottery is actually made. He left us with a very good visual image of the Potter and the clay. It is the Lord who creates and who beautifies us. Sometimes people let God start to mold them, then walk away. Many potters have had to start all over again when the clay is too hard. If that is your life, let God’s Word water you and then let God begin again to remold and remake you after His will.
Lord, You are our Potter. We are Your clay. Help this song to be our prayer:
Have Thine own way, Lord!- Addie Pollard
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me. Amen!
A man of clay, given to the Potter’s Hands,
Pastor Ken Mettler
11 AM Christmas Program at Faith Fellowship in Luck
How does it make you feel to know that God has a plan for your life?
Are you allowing Him to make your life what He wants it to be?
The Eagle Teaches us Lessons on Life and Leadership
When God gives us an analogy, He wants us to ponder its meaning and get the most out of the comparison. One example of an analogy is that the Lord is the potter and we are the clay. To find a fuller meaning in this story, it is helpful to learn exactly how pottery is made. In doing so we learn how God wants to mold, shape, and transform us in this life as we continue to grow in His knowledge, grace, and power.
The Eagle and the Christian Walk
Another very powerful analogy that the Lord has hidden back in His Word in the Old Testament is what I call the eagle analogy. Here is the verse where this specific analogy is being given to us by the Lord: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Have you gone through trials? Are you in a struggle right now? Then…
The following are Principles Learned about Life and Leadership from the Eagle:
1. Eagles fly alone at a high altitude and do not mix with sparrows or other smaller birds like geese. Birds of a feather flock together. No other bird goes to the height of the eagle. Eagles fly alone. Never in a flock. Even when Moses (Old Testament) went to commune with God on the mountain, he left the crowd at the foothills. Stay away from sparrows and ravens. When you fly above the storm, you may have to learn to fly alone.
2. Eagles have strong vision, which focuses up to 5 kilometers from the air. When an eagle sites prey- even a rodent from this distance, he narrows his focus on it and sets out to get it. No matter the obstacle, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it. Have a vision and remain focused no matter what the obstacle and you will succeed.
3. Eagles do not eat dead things. They feed on fresh prey. Vultures eat dead animals but not eagles. Stay clear of spiritual decay and dead orthodoxy. Keep your spiritual life fresh.
4. The Eagle is the only bird that loves the storm. When clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the wings of the storm to rise and is pushed up higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagle stops flapping and uses the pressure of the raging storm to soar above the clouds and glide. This gives the eagle an opportunity to rest its wings. In the meantime all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees. We can use the storms of our lives (obstacles,trouble, etc.) to rise to greater heights. Achievers relish challenges and use them profitably.
5. The Eagle tests before it trusts. When a female eagle meets a male and they want to mate, she flies down to earth with the male pursuing her and she picks a twig. She flies back into the air with the male pursuing her. Once she has reached a height high enough for her, she lets the twig fall to the ground and watches it as it falls. The male chases after the twig. The faster it falls, the faster he chases until he reaches it and has to catch it before it falls to the ground, then he brings it back to the female eagle.
The female eagle grabs the twig and flies a second time to a much higher altitude pursued by the male, until she perceives it high enough, and then drops the twig for the male to chase. This goes on for hours,with the height increasing until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of picking the twig. This shows commitment! Then and only then, will she allow him to mate with her! Whether in private life or in business, one should test commitment of people intended for partnership. Not everyone you date is fit for a mate.
6. Eagles prepare for training. When about to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a place very high on a cliff where no predators can reach; the male prepares for hours to build a nest of thorns, twigs, grass and other materials. The thorns on the outside of the nest protect it from possible intruders. Both male and female eagles participate in raising the eagle family. She lays the eggs and protects them; he builds the nest and hunts. The people who love us involve each other in the process of building and nurturing a family. They push each other hard to grow and succeed. Even when we don’t understand their actions they have good intentions for their family. Building a family is hard work, but, God rewards faithful service.
7. When the Eagle grows old, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as fast as he should. When he feels weak and about to die, he retires to a place far away in the rocks. While there, he plucks out every feather on his body until he is completely bare. He stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, then he can come out. We occasionally need to shed old habits & items that burden us and add no value to our lives.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Lord, teach us to soar like the eagles every day, but help us most in the midst of our storms. Many have gained spiritual resources from your words in Isaiah 40:31! Lord, help us today to never forget that you have called us to live above the storm. Renew us and make us strong! Make this Christmas season one of spiritual growth and closeness to Christ. Lord, stretch our wings! In Jesus name! Amen!
Have a blessed flight!
Unwrap the Package of Hope This Christmas
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5
Hope keeps us alive. We talk about hope. We hope for the best. We live in hope of something better.
We hope the weather will be good for our family Christmas. We hope that our team will win the Super Bowl—well, maybe next year! We hope that we get what we want for Christmas.
But for many of us, hope is more like a wish—something that we want to happen but can’t be sure that it really will. So we keep our fingers crossed and “hope” that everything will go the way we want it to.
Sadly, life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would. Hope is fragile. When life is disappoints, our optimistic hope is replaced by feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. Before long we become cynics who think that there is almost nothing in which we can confidently hope.
This was the attitude toward life when Jesus entered the world. The mood in Israel was anything but hope. Their nation was now a puppet state of the pagan Roman Empire. The common person felt defeated before they started when it came to meeting the requirements of the religious elite. They believed in a deliverer that would come, but, centuries had passed and nothing was happening.
Hope was on the way, but, few would pick up on the meaning of the STAR and the BABY in the manger. The HOPE OF THE WORLD had come and the world was ignorant of who HE was. He would bring a HOPE that would not disappoint! A HOPE for forgiveness and a bright future.
We’ve all been where the Psalmist was when he asked, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” But, do we come up with the answer to that dilemma? David did, because he continued, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 45:2). God will never disappoint! That is why we can continue to grow in our faith. He has never let us down! We can trust His Word and promises! I encourage you to put your Hope in Christ! If you do, it will be the best Christmas ever! I guarantee that your HOPE will grow and grow as you respond to His voice and His heart!
“Lord, thank you for the Hope You have given to us in Your Son, Jesus Christ! Help us to renew our Hope in You this Christmas time. May Your people rejoice in Your coming to earth, and Hope in your soon return. In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen!”
Living in the Hope of His coming again!
What are you hoping for today? How about tomorrow? Are your hopes rooted in temporal things, or eternal?
In what way did Jesus bring hope to the world when He arrived?
In what way does Jesus bring you hope personally? Share the hope. Tell a friend about Him today!
Thanksgiving Prayers You May Have Never Prayed
Ephesians 3:8 “Thanks Be to God for His Unspeakable, Indescribable Gift!”
What is the greatest gift you have ever received? As a believer, the greatest gift ever given came in the form of God’s Son. Ephesians 3:8 is a verse that bridges the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanking God for His indescribable gift is a Thanksgiving theme as well as a Christmas theme. I’m going to share with you an outline of Ephesians 3:8 that comes from David Bryant’s work called “Christ is Now.” We will learn to pray through the seven facets of God’s incredible, indescribable gift, Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Here are seven ways to thank God for the greatest gift ever given to mankind.
(1) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is TO us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
What is one insight Jesus helped you to see more clearly about the nature and ways of God this past year?
What is one new truth about Jesus’ majesty and supremacy you discovered in your study of the Bible this past year?
What is one name or title for Jesus (out of over 300 in Scripture) that brought special joy and meaning at some point in your life this past year?
In 2018, what was one time your identity as one who belongs to God’s Son blessed you?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #1. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is TO us.
(2) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is FOR us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
What blesses you about knowing that Jesus can fully understand you in whatever you’re going through because for our sakes he became one of us?
At what one specific moment in 2018 did Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sins take on a deeper meaning for you, filling you with gratitude for all he suffered for you?
What does it mean to you that Jesus conquered death forever? This past year how has this truth brought you comfort or filled you with renewed hope?
Are you thankful for a moment this past year when the truth about Jesus’ victorious reign today increased your confidence to face a challenge?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #2. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is FOR us.
(3) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is OVER us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
Was there one time this past year when the truth that Jesus reigns over the workings of creation filled you with praise?
Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus overrules in the unfolding of world history gave you new reasons to celebrate?
Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus is in full control of the designs of global leaders brought you a measure of reassurance and hope?
Was there a time this past year when the truth that Jesus is advancing his kingdom among earth’s people filled you with renewed excitement about what lies ahead for the gospel?
Was there a time this past year when you witnessed Jesus reigning over the forces of darkness in a way that removed fear from you and ignited bold faith in you?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #3. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is OVER us.
(4) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is BEFORE us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
Christ has gone before us into the future to bring it back to us right now. What is one way you’ve seen him do that for you this past year?
Jesus has gone before us into the heavens to take us there with him right now. What is one way this reality has encouraged you this past year?
Christ has gone before us into the promises of God to make them ours too, right now. Is there one promise of Scripture that you’ve had fulfilled in your life this past year through Christ?
Jesus has gone before us into the world to open up a way for us to serve him right now. What is one way this past year our Savior opened a new way to share him with someone else?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #4. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is BEFORE us.
(5) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is WITHIN us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
What is one way you have experienced Christ’s indwelling presence in your life this past year?
What is one way your Christian fellowship has experienced Jesus’ presence among you this past year?
The Spirit of God dwells in us in order to extend the reign of Christ in us and to reveal more of Christ to us. What is one time you experienced his ministry to you this past year?
Can you recall one time this past year you enjoyed the blessing of your unity with other believers as a result of how Jesus was working among you?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #5. Drawing on your four answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is WITHIN us.
(6) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is THROUGH us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
Where have you recently seen evidence of the extension of Christ’s ascension and reign, either where you live or somewhere among the nations?
What one work of mission and gospel ministry through a body of believers have you become aware of this past year that fills you with excitement, anticipation, and gratitude?
In what one special way has the Lord Jesus worked through your life to touch someone in the Body of Christ—and about which you’re grateful?
In what one special way has the Lord Jesus worked through your life to touch someone who has not become a Christian yet—and about which you’re grateful?
Can you recall a time in 2018 when your growing vision of the greatness and glory of Christ inspired you to reach out to someone else to help them see more of who he is?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #6. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is THROUGH us.
(7) Thanks for the gift of who Christ is UPON us
Use these questions to help you formulate your prayer:
Where have you seen some evidence that Christ’s reign is advancing among the nations (or where you live) with new empowerment—for which you give thanks?
Where have you experienced a work of the Spirit in your life (such as a miracle or a healing or some other form of divine intervention) that seemed like a “foretaste” of what it will be like when Jesus returns to reign over all things?
At what point this past year did it feel to you like Jesus was taking charge in some new way, deepening and increasing something he was already doing in you?
Have you seen any signs of the beginnings of a “Christ Awakening” locally or elsewhere that suggest to you a greater work of Christ is about to take place?
What is there about the coming Consummation—the new heavens and earth—that has become more real to you and more precious to you?
Compose Thanksgiving Prayer #7. Drawing on your five answers, create a one-paragraph prayer thanking the Father for the gift of who Christ is UPON us.
OK . . . It’s Time to Pray!
Dear Father, thank you for your unspeakable gift, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for all your Son means TO us—especially for all the ways he reveals to us your nature and your heart and brings us into his relationship with you.
Thank you for all your Son means FOR us—for his four-fold salvation by his incarnation, his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension.
Thank you for all your Son means OVER us—as he reigns among the nations and in our lives, defeating all enemies and securing the future of all creation as well as our destinies.
Thank you for all your Son means BEFORE us—as he precedes us and makes a way for us into all you have for us in the future, in the heavens, in the promises, and in the world.
Thank you for all your Son means WITHIN us—as he manifests his presence and power by living out his life in each of us and all of us together.
Thank you for all your Son means THROUGH us—as he unleashes his ministry gifts and his gospel mission to bless others by how he uses us as his servants.
Thank you for all your Son means UPON us—as he gives us today more and more preliminary experiences of the Consummation by the power of his Spirit and as he prepares us to share in even greater displays of his supremacy in the ages to come. AMEN.
Even though your Thanksgiving Day celebration may be over, my prayer for you is that Thanksgiving Day will continue in your heart all year long as you praise the Father from whom all blessings flow. Our thanksgiving for his indescribable gift should continue for all eternity!
Before I send another Friday epistle I will have hit that magical age that Psalm 90:10 describes as “three score and ten.” I grew up hearing the verse in this way: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Please pray that God would be glorified through my life as I enter this new decade.
As we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, may Christ be the center of our prayers and plans and priorities.
I remain your servant because I am Christ’s servant first,
Are you Grumbly Hateful or Humbly Grateful?
(That is the question I will ask this Sunday in my message.)
Psalm 107:8-9 “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Does it ever seem a little much to you that God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years because they grumbled? My kids maybe spent 30 minutes in their rooms for griping, but 40 years? Now, that’s pretty severe discipline! God is not happy about our grumbling. It certainly doesn’t make Him happy to hear us complaining so much! Does this sound like anyone you know? Both grumbling and being grateful are a choice! The Pilgrims were certainly a thankful lot. They believed in Divine ”Providence.” They responded to the tough year they had with gratitude and believed that God had allowed this for their good.
John Piper wrote in his book, A Godward Life: “Remembering our dependence on past mercies kindles gratitude. Gratitude is past-oriented dependence; faith is future-oriented dependence. Both forms of dependence are humble, self-forgetting and God-exalting. If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry. Gratitude is what we express when we take time every Thanksgiving Day to remember God’s past mercies and provisions and then pause to thank Him for them. The stories of those who have gone before us inspire our faith. When we consider those great saints listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrew 11 or our Pilgrim forefathers.” The example of great saints –from Hebrews 11 and throughout history– who placed all their hope in Jesus Christ encourages us to do the same. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Many who sailed on the Mayflower were great Bible students. They were convinced that God could only be pleased through faith (Hebrews 11:6). Someone has said, “Faith is a firm conviction, a personal surrender, and a conduct inspired by your surrender.” The Pilgrims were truly surrendered to God, and they believed that He was leading them to the New World. They sailed in confidence that He would guide and provide. One of the themes of the Bible is giving thanks to God. Our problem today is that we choose to complain instead of being thankful. The Psalms tell us that thanksgiving is a sacrifice. Why is it a sacrifice to give thanks to the Lord? Because being thankful forces us away from a self-focus and to a God-focus! This should be a continual sacrifice of our self to God.
Our heritage has given us so much to be thankful for here in America. We have freedom of worship and a heritage of giving thanks to God for His mercies as a nation. Today, we need to recapture the spirit of those who established Thanksgiving as a holiday. We must continually remember that all we have comes from God, and that, by faith, He will provide for every need today and tomorrow.
Why was God so upset with Israel’s grumbling in the wilderness? It is because they had lost their close relationship with Him. They had lost their first love. People who love are grateful people. My goal this Thanksgiving is to be fully connected to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I also want to grow in love for the world around me and be grateful for everyone around. Lastly, I want to let you know that I do not write these notes every week for self-aggrandizement. My heart’s desire is to be a genuine blessing to someone who reads these Friday epistles. I’m thankful that every week for nine years someone has written back and told me that they appreciated what I have written, or, was blessed or challenged in some way. That means that I’m truly thankful for YOU!
This Sunday is November 18th, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. During our prayer and praise time, feel free to share something that you feel truly thankful for.
Come at 9 AM for Solid Rock Fellowship worship and 11 AM for Faith Fellowship worship. Then, on Thursday, gather your loved ones around your table and pour your hearts out to God in thanks and praise for all He has done, but, more important, for all He is and all He means to you!
Lord, we worship you with hearts full of thanksgiving. Make this season a turning point in our lives and may we find true fulfillment in giving you our hearts and our praise. Amen!
It Only Takes a Spark, but, How is Your Spiritual Fire going?
or, What Will Bring About Spiritual Growth?
Luke 3:16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Yes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going, but, making a spiritual fire involves a process. A blazing fire requires a spark, oxygen, a fuel source, and careful maintenance. God wants to bring you through the process of spiritual growth, so He provides many agents that are catalysts. A catalyst is something that speeds up change. In chemistry, a catalyst makes a chemical reaction happen quicker and with less energy. In education, a teacher is a catalyst, facilitating learning in ways students would have difficulty learning on their own. It’s the same in our spiritual transformation; certain catalysts facilitate our growth significantly.
In spiritual growth, God’s goal for full maturity is Christ-likeness. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29)
The reason for spiritual growth is not to make us nice, healthy, wealthy, educated, or successful. It’s all about becoming more like Jesus.
Let’s look at some catalysts for spiritual growth, elements that facilitate our movement along the journey to become more like Jesus.
1. Allow Biblical understanding to lead to life-altering changes
Bible knowledge is great, but it’s possible to know all about the Bible and never have any heart and life changes. Anyone can teach the Bible, but, are you being challenged to live the Bible?!! Is your heart and soul moved to reorganize your life after Christ’s pattern? Only Christ-likeness can produce spiritual growth.
Through earnest prayer, the Holy Spirit can take your mind that has been saturated with truth, and translate it into life-change. You need Bible study, Bible preaching, Bible memory, etc. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to make the Word come alive and renew your life.
2. Do Spiritual Exercises
These spiritual exercises may include things such as prayer, study, silence, solitude, fasting, service, worship, etc. Don’t just exercise the mind, don’t just do works, and don’t just pray. What’s important is that you balance these exercises and that you allow these practices to bring about your spiritual growth.
God isn’t looking at a checklist to see how many times you read your Bible through, or how many hours you spend in prayer, or how many days you fasted. Spiritual exercises are not a means of earning grace; but they can be a catalyst for spiritual transformation.
Dallas Willard says, “God is not opposed to effort; He’s opposed to earning. Our behaviors don’t save us or make God love us more, but they can help us become like Christ more quickly.” In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked his disciples why they called him Lord, but refused to do what He said. Obedience is key to spiritual growth.
3. Get Involved in Christian Ministries
There is nothing as rewarding as seeing God work through you! If God has used you to bless someone, you feel energized and valuable! Your life takes on joy and meaning. Sure, there are times you won’t feel appreciated, even when you pour out your heart in ministry. That’s the time to get your eyes on the Lord. You are serving Him first. He can grow you in ways you have never thought possible. Let Him change you into the servant He wants you to be.
4. Develop Great Spiritual Friendships
It is said that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Your friends matter! You may have immature people all around you, but, you must bond with someone who wants spiritual growth also! Jesus had to develop the men around Him, which required investing a lot of time and energy into their lives.
5. Let Life’s Experiences Create a Better You
Things happen every day over which you have no control. They offer you a choice to shrink or grow. If all things work together for good to those who love God, then we have to find the good in all those things. Joseph told his brothers, “What you did, you meant for evil, but God meant it for good… to help you out and save many people!” God doesn’t love to make you suffer, but, suffering sometimes brings about the next good that God wants in your life and the next person who needs to be saved.
So, what is God doing in your life right now? Whatever it is, it is meant to build a bigger bond fire under you. Please use it to bring about spiritual growth.
Are you desperate for spiritual growth? Turn your severe problems into sincere prayers. How? The secret of praying is praying in secret– (Matthew 6:6) “When you pray, go into your closed and shut the door…”
Hannah prayed and wept and poured out her heart to the Lord in desperate prayer and God sent her Samuel to be her son (his name means “asked of the Lord”). God will send you the next growth spurt when you get desperate with Him. Are you there, yet? What catalyst will it take to get you there? If you are feeding your fire it will grow.
Father of Spiritual Fire, ignite in us the flames that will bring our own growth and that will spread to others. Connect us with others whose fire is hotter and bigger than ours, and also with those whose low burning fires we can help rekindle. Bring into our lives the five catalysts for spiritual growth that we may have the fuel for our ever-growing fire for You. Amen!
One way to feed your fire is to come to Solid Rock Fellowship at 9 AM or Faith Fellowship at 11 AM. You can actually practice many of the things that lead to spiritual growth and fire while you are at church. Operation Christmas Child boxes are due on November 18th, and, November 21st is the New Richmond area Thanksgiving Service at Cornerstone Assembly at 7 PM.
Come on, Christians, let’s all fire-up!
Jehovah-Rohi – The Lord is My Shepherd
1. Our Shepherd Provides RELATIONSHIP
“The Lord is my Shepherd”
2. Our Shepherd Provides REST
“He makes me to lie down in Green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters.”
3. Our Shepherd Provides RESTORATION
“He Restores my soul”
4. Our Shepherd Provides REFINING
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness”
5. Our Shepherd Provides REFUGE
“Thou art with me”
6. Our Shepherd Provides REFRESHMENT
“You anoint my head with oil”
7. Our Shepherd Provides REWARD
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the
house of the Lord forever.”
(This was last Sunday’s outline at Faith Fellowship!)
Psalm 23 – The Shepherd’s Psalm
The Lord is my Shepherd – That’s Relationship!
I shall not want – That’s Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures – That’s Rest!
He leadeth me beside still waters – That’s Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul – That’s Restoration!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness – That’s Guidance!
For His name sake – That’s Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – That’s Testing!
I will fear no evil – That’s Protection!
For Thou art with me – That’s Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me – That’s Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me In the presence of mine enemies – That’s Hope!
Thou annointest my head with oil – That’s Healing!
My cup runs over – That’s Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life -That’s Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord – That’s Security!
Forever – That’s Eternity!
Is the Lord Your Shepherd? That’s the question
Do You Have Prayer Power?
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. -I Timothy 2:1-2
We are approaching the November 6th election. Right now we are in a battle for America. The harvest is ripe, and Satan knows that his time is short. He is doing everything he can to steal, kill and destroy. We must pray – We must encourage everyone around us to pray – We must shake awake those who are asleep – We must become radical and passionate in prayer. The cities and nation are on fire! Prayer is the answer. When we pray, we are empowered to reach the lost. Then we take action with the power of God. God rules through His body, the praying Church!
Do people in church realize the power that is available to us when we pray? Most don’t, because if we did, we would be praying far more. We would be dropping everything to pray a lot more. Instead of worrying about the evil trying to overtake our land, we would be on our knees before God crying out for His intervention. Unfortunately in many churches prayer is the weakest link. It should be the strongest one because it is the key to God’s blessing.
Intercession and genuine repentance is key to blessing in America. Only by prayer and standing strong in God’s truth, we are working together with Him to determine the future of our nation. We pray for our neighborhoods and cities. We can change nations through prayer if we choose to use this mighty weapon.
God is waiting for you to ask and receive.
Imagine being invited to a buffet where there are many tables loaded with food. The food is top quality and delicious. Guests help themselves to the different kinds of food.
Just like this, God has provided everything for us, but we have to ask. We can have all we need. Most of us have not realized the power there is in prayer. The problem is that Christians are not asking. All we have to do is ask Him to touch our lives, our cities, our nation, and our world. When we tap into his resources by faith and pray, miracles happen. When we pray, God answers in a powerful way. There is a strength and power in prayer that the Church has not yet known or realized.
The body of Christ has a key role
We want to change the world for Christ. We want to see people’s lives changed all over the world before Jesus’ return to earth but the task is huge, and we need the right tools to do it. The most essential tool is prayer. Only through prayer can we get the job done. There is strength and power in prayer that can change the world. E. M. Bounds, wrote about the power of prayer: “Prayer is power and strength, a power and strength that influences God, and is most salutary, widespread, and marvelous in its gracious benefits to man. Prayer influences God. The ability of God to do for man is the measure of the possibility of prayer.”
Lord, save our broken nation. We need your healing touch. Keep us bowed low in prayer for our election on Tuesday, but, help us not to only pray when in crisis mode. May your people pray faithfully for the needs of our land every day. May we pray that as a nation we would turn to God.
This Sunday at 9 AM at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond Pastor Jason will continue his messages from Mark and I will give a message on “The Wonderful Name of Our Wonderful Lord” at 11 AM at Faith Fellowship in Luck. We will have communion at both churches. For this time we must prepare our hearts before the Lord. Come with sins confessed and hearts afire and in fellowship with God.
After you have prayed, vote and then pray some more.
God bless and keep you,
TAKE “THE LOVE QUIZ”
In 1 Corinthians 13 the God who IS love gives us His definition of love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
To really understand love, consider 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 with the name of Jesus instead of the word “love” since Jesus is what love looks like perfectly:
Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on His own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, Jesus rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never ends.
Now, ask yourself the following yes/no questions to contemplate which character traits you can grow in to become a more loving person. If you have older children, have them answer the questions about themselves and about you. If you have younger children, think how you would answer the questions for them.
Am I patient?
Am I kind?
Do I celebrate the success of others instead of jealously envying others?
Am I a secure person who does not boast about myself?
Am I humble instead of arrogant and proud?
Are my words and actions thoughtful rather than rude?
Do I allow others to have their way instead of demanding my own way?
Am I easygoing instead of irritable and grumpy?
Am I a forgiving person who is not resentful or bitter?
Do I want good for others instead of rejoicing at wrongdoing and the suffering of others?
Do I rejoice at the truth even if it exposes something bad about me?
Am I a longsuffering person who bears all things in relationship with God and others?
Do I believe in others? In God?
Do I continue to have hope for God to work in all things?
Do I endure all things, even the toughest parts of life?
Does my love for God or others keep going no matter what, and not come to an end?
Which characteristics are your weakest from your point of view? From your family’s point of view? Which characteristics are your other family members weakest from your point of view? From their point of view?
Sunday is the highlight of my week, when God’s people gather to praise and worship Him. It really builds me up! I can’t wait until I hear Pastor Jason’s message from Mark at Solid Rock at 9 AM, and I can’t wait until I share a message from Psalm 23 at Faith Fellowship at 11 AM. Are you anxious to fellowship with us? I sure hope so!
Lord, draw us closer to You every day. May the traits of I Corinthians 13 become first nature to us. As we grow in the traits of love, may it all be Christ-like love and not manufactured love. Make us a channel of blessing today to someone in need of a big dose of God-given love.
May we be filled with the Love and Grace of God as we go forward in Christian service!
HOW JESUS GREW
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:51
Luke 2 gives the famous Christmas story, but, it also tells us four things that largely contribute to Jesus’ growth and maturation.
1. Jesus grew because He knew the Bible. Beginning in Luke 2:48 we read, “And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You dealt with us like this? Look, Your father and I have anxiously searched for You.” He said to them, “How is it that you searched for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” At the age of twelve Jesus spent time in the temple in Jerusalem because He wanted to know the Scriptures. He was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” To mature in the ways of God, you and I have to know the Word of God.
2. Jesus grew daily in His personal relationship with God the Father. When Jesus’ parents asked why He had been in the temple discussing the Bible for days, Jesus said, “I must be in my Father’s house.” One reason Jesus matured was because of His constant relationship with God. Salvation is not so much a once for all act of receiving Christ as our Savior, as it is a once for all attitude of constantly listening to and following God. Jesus encouraged us to have this same kind of ongoing, growing personal relationship with the Father.
3. Jesus grew because He had respect for authority. Luke 2:49 says, “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them.” Though perfect, Jesus submitted to imperfect parents and honored His mother and father. If there was ever anyone who had the right to refuse to submit to any human authority, it was Jesus Christ. If there was ever anyone who could have said that they were under God’s authority alone and none other, it was Jesus. But Jesus matured, in part, because He honored and submitted to the parental authority that God placed over Him.
The same is true of our maturing. Those who do not submit to authority (to parent, teacher, boss, government, pastor, Scripture, God, etc.) do not mature. God works through authority and blesses those who honor authority. In our age of rebellion and independence, which is the essence of sin, it is no surprise that so many are so immature. Like Jesus, we don’t always have to agree with those in authority, but, we need to respect and honor them.
4. Jesus grew by the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 2:51 reads, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.” His name Christ literally means that He is the one anointed with the person, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 2 sets the stage for the Jesus’ public ministry. It shows us how the Son of God lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us that He knew how to grow in His walk with His Father in heaven, his parents on earth, and His fellow man. We need to learn grow, not by depending upon our own wisdom and power, but by depending upon the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.
Your every move needs to be bathed in prayer, so that it will be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope you see that your whole life needs to be patterned after Christ, who continued to grow into the person God wanted Him to be, thus preparing Himself for the role God wanted Him to play.
This Sunday Pastor Jason will be speaking at 9 AM at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond on Mark 4. I will be speaking on the 10th Commandment at Faith Fellowship in Luck at 11 AM. If you want to grow like Jesus grew, you need to spend time in the discipline of worship and instruction. Your spiritual life depends on it.
Father in heaven, we all want to be more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to grow by following the pattern He set for us. May we not just know what to do to grow spiritually, help us to make progress in each of these four areas that Christ so beautifully patterned for us. May Christ be seen in us today!
God grant us all more growing grace,
Helping People Find Christ in a Personal Way
Today I want to cover two questions that I’ve been asked. Some of you know that Barb and I go to jail to share the Good News and in this ministry many inmates have come to ask the Lord to be their own personal Savior. So, people have asked:
Question 1: How do you bring an atheist to Christ?
Bringing an atheist to Christ is just like bringing anyone to Christ. I love the book “I Once Was Lost” by Everts and Schaupp. It is a helpful work based on a lot of experience in evangelism on college campuses. Let me sum up what they say:
Everyone must cross 5 thresholds to become a Christian.
First, they must come to trust a Christian. If the non-Christian is only a star to put on your cap, you will not be trustworthy. But if you love that person no matter what decision they make about Christ then they can trust you.
Second, they must be curious about Jesus. Many non-Christians have some knowledge of Jesus and would like some questions about Him answered. Lately, I’ve been covering the 10 commandments and telling people that they show us how much God cares about us living a successful life.
Third, they must be open to radical life change. Embracing the message of Jesus will require a complete alteration of one’s life. When a non-Christian begins to understand the meaning of the gospel, they will see that Christ came to give them a totally new life.
Fourth, they must become genuine seekers of God. They must really want to know the truth and how it affects them.
Fifth, they must believe. Since faith comes by hearing and understanding God’s Word, I like to use a lot of Bible verses. The entrance of God’s Word gives light.
An atheist claims there is no God. Some people like to engage in debate on this point. My desire is not to argue with anyone, but, to love them and to let God speak for Himself. I tell inmates in jail that, even though I may never have never met them, I have taken this day to come and visit them because God has given me a love for people I have never met. I cannot answer all their questions, but, I want them to see my genuine love for them so that there will be a curiosity developed about why I have this radical love for them and what role Jesus plays in that. If the atheist is able to see that his or her view does not answer life’s most basic questions, he or she might be open to the radical life change that a personal faith in Christ can bring. If they become genuine seekers we might be instrumental in helping them through this process of seeking and finding Christ, the real answer. The goal is that we might challenge them to get off the fence and believe. I give an invitation for them to become a Christian.**
We’re talking about a life commitment to a person with genuine love and a readiness to engage in difficult discussions. And yes, it will require prayer for the right words and the right heart toward this person.
Question 2: Why are there so many different religions?
(A follow-up to last week’s topic)
I suppose the simple answer is that people are sinners. And because people are sinners they will try to find something to soothe their conscience. The many religions of the world are man’s way of trying to find God. Christianity is unlike any other religion in that, instead of man trying to find God, God reaches down by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to find man and forgive him and give him eternal life. All false religions come about by man inventing ways to find relief from guilt and get hope.
In Romans 1:18-26 Paul asserts that the truth about who God is, His eternal power and “godhead”, is known to everyone. It is made clear through creation so that no one has an excuse to say, “I couldn’t find God.” However, as Paul points out, we suppress that truth. We want to live our lives the way we want to, not at the dictation of our Creator, so we bend the truth in order to make religion palatable to us. We can’t escape that there is a God, but we often suppress His urging to trust in Him and to submit to Him.
Consequently we shape God in our own image, and when we do that, we have to conjure up a different form in which to pour that image and, thus you have a new religion. It also becomes a pathway for some to get power as these people define what the religion looks like and what its doctrines are and then dictate the practice of it. Religion without Christ at the center is really the ultimate power trip. Eventually, as your family and maybe your whole society embraces this new religion, it becomes a tradition that you cannot deny and still be viewed as part of your community. Sadly, even some who claim to be Christians use religion as a power trip.
Now, to be fair, we need to distinguish between different religions and different expressions within the same religion. If you compare Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, for example, you will find that each is mutually exclusive of the other. You cannot consistently hold to one and hold to the others as well. But within Christianity there are varieties of expression of the same basic doctrines, and the same is true for Hinduism and Islam. Within the broad scope of Christianity, there is Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy, but they hold many of the same basic beliefs. Some of this is tied to differences in personality or culture, some to variations as to which doctrinal beliefs are most important. (See last week’s topic).
The possibility always exists, however, that some version of worship that was compatible within the larger religion can move toward “heresy” and become incompatible with the beliefs and practices of the major religion. Sometimes they will acknowledge that and declare they are no longer a part of that religion, but sometimes they want to stay in the fold even though they have contradicted its major tenets.
All this to say, there are different religions, religions that depart from the revealed truth about God, because people are sinful and they yet cannot refrain from being religious and salving their conscience by having some form of worship.
In looking at these major belief systems and their views of God, we find tremendous diversity:
Hindus acknowledge multitudes of gods and goddesses.
Buddhists say there is no deity.
New Age Spirituality followers believe they are God.
Muslims believe in a powerful but unknowable God.
Christians believe in a loving God who created us to know him and provides a way to have eternal life with Him.
It is my prayer that those who wish to know the God of the Bible would examine the fact that Jesus Christ claims to be the only way to God. The prayer below can bring you into a personal relationship with the living God.
How do you lead someone to the Lord?
First of all, you tell them about a God who created them and loves them, but because of our sin, He sent Jesus to die on the cross and take our penalty for our sin if we place our faith in Him. If this person is touched by God’s Word, you say…
“Do you understand what I’ve been telling you?”
“Do you want to receive Jesus as your Savior?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
“Good. But first, I need to tell you something. Being a Christian means living for Christ. It means that you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). That is what Jesus wants you to do — to follow Him always — even when others don’t want you to.
“Now, If you still want Jesus as your Savior and Lord, I would be glad to pray with you.”
“Yes, I do. I understand and I still want Jesus.”
“Then let’s pray.” You tell them to repeat what you say, maybe bow their head and close their eyes.
An example of what to say is “Dear Jesus, I know I have sinned against you. I confess that I am a sinner. I accept the sacrifice you made on the cross on my behalf. I ask you to come into my heart. Please cleanse me of my sin. And give me eternal life. I repent from my sins and put my trust in You. Thank you for coming into my life and being my Savior. Thank you that I now have eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The preceding paragraph is only an example of how to lead someone to Christ. As I’ve said before, there is no formula, but only a recognition of one’s sinfulness before God, confession and repentance of sin, and trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.
Speak the truth about Jesus, confess sin, ask Jesus for forgiveness, speak slowly, and use short sentences. This way, there will be no confusion.
Now, these new believers need to continue to walk with God every day by reading the Bible and finding Christians who can help them grow. A Bible teaching church and a loving Christian family will go a long way in helping them grow in their faith.
Lord, thank you for working in the hearts of people all over the world. Thank you for revival fires that are spreading in so many places. But, Lord, please revive your people this Sunday at our own local houses of worship. “Revive us again, fill each heart with Thy love, may each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah, Thine the glory, Hallelujah, Amen, Hallelujah, Thine the glory, Revive us again.”
May our gracious Lord bless you today and always,
Why are there so may Christian denominations?
1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I was recently asked, “Pastor Ken, why are there so many denominations?” The simple answer is that we have all these groups because men are human and argue and divide over so many issues. We are fallen and tend to want things our own way, even in church. The bigger picture is that there are a vast number of doctrinal issues, style issues and church government issues that make us different.
What is interesting is that in Jesus’ day the Jews had everyone come to the one and only synagogue in their community. Folks shared many differing viewpoints under that one roof. The leader of the synagogue would wrap up the time together by drawing conclusions and uniting people on what common ground could be found, but he also admitted the challenges of differing opinions. In the days of the early church there was only one Christian church. Then, 500 years ago there was basically the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Protestant Church. Many early Protestant denominations later grew up around a gifted spiritual leader, such as Martin Luther (Lutherans), John Calvin (Calvinists), and John Wesley (Methodists).
The Lutheran denomination was named after Martin Luther and was based on his teachings. The Methodists got their name because their founder, John Wesley, was famous for coming up with “methods” for spiritual growth. Presbyterians are named for their view on church leadership—the Greek word for elder is presbyteros. Baptists got their name because they have always emphasized the importance of baptism. Each denomination has a slightly different doctrine or emphasis from the others, such as their method of baptism; their practice of the Lord’s Supper; the sovereignty of God vs. free will in the matter of salvation; the future of Israel and the church; pre-tribulation vs. post-tribulation rapture; the existence of the “sign” gifts in the modern era, and so on. The point of these divisions is never Christ as Lord and Savior, but rather honest differences of opinion by godly, albeit flawed, people seeking to honor God and retain doctrinal purity according to their consciences and their understanding of His Word. Here are a few general reasons we have so many denominations:
1. Sometimes denominations formed because people just didn’t get along. Denominationalism was often the result of conflict and division, which brought about eventual separation. Just because people are Christians doesn’t mean they always agree. Moreover, Christians still struggle with pride, selfishness, and stubbornness, and this means they sometimes respond to relational conflict poorly. This has often led to debates and divisions within churches and denominations, which in turn has led to the creation of more new churches and denominations.
2. Sometimes a new groups form over legitimate disagreements about belief or practice. What does baptism mean and who should get baptized? In fact, baptism – its meaning, its mode, who can receive it, etc. – has been a central issue in the separation of churches and forming of new denominations. Other issues are, how should local churches be structured? Who should fill leadership roles? How often should communion be practiced? How should certain passages in the Bible be interpreted?
3. A third reason that so many different groups of Christians exist is differences in personality, passions, and talents. Some people are more inclined to worship God through the exercise of their minds. They therefore focus on analytical thinking and biblical knowledge. Others are more artistically or creatively wired and the way they express their faith is quite different. Still others are more engaged in their relationship with God when they serve their fellow-man. They find the greatest fulfillment when they can work with their hands or actively serve people with special needs in their communities. While all of these things are important, it’s no surprise that different churches and even whole denominations would emerge in light of the unique personalities of their adherents.
4. Another reason for the great variety of denominations relates to the role of tradition. Certain types of people appreciate the structure and heritage of worshiping God according to traditions passed down over generations or even centuries. Thus, a more traditional church, like the Episcopal or Lutheran denomination might feel more comfortable to them. Other people, however, prefer to explore fresh, innovative ways of growing in their relationship with God and a nondenominational church might suit them best. A lesson we can learn from such diversity is that various churches and denominations can learn from each other. These churches, though different, can work together in the larger community of faith known as the people of God.
5. People from different cultures will express their faith and worship God in their own distinctive ways. It shouldn’t surprise us if churches in a Midwest American city are extremely different from those in a war-torn area in the Middle East, or a poverty-stricken village in Africa. Cultural values play a part in worship styles.
We are all different. We have different cultural and family backgrounds, different environments, attitudes and interests. Take music, for example. Some of us like symphony and choral music, some of us prefer rock-n-roll, and some people like country music!
Different styles appeal to different people. Some people are awed by emotionalism, some like a calm teaching tone, others focus on evangelism and some devote more of their efforts to a deep study of the Bible. Most Christians enjoy a blend of these activities, but naturally tend to emphasize some more than others. We have great diversity in the Christian religion today!
Despite these differences, there are a few central tenets that bind all Christians together, regardless of their particular church, denomination, culture, or geographical location.
All Christians believe the following:
1) God is a Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); three persons in one.
2) The Bible is God’s Word and clearly reveals who God is, how we can have a relationship with him, and how we can extend God’s love to other people.
3) All humans are sinful and in need of God’s grace.
4) Only Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to have a relationship with God through His death and resurrection.
5) We must repent and place our faith in Christ alone for salvation.
While other beliefs and practices are important, and often the cause of disagreements, they are secondary when it comes to fellowship with people of differing denominations. God’s family is bigger than our differences.
Today there are over 600 denominations in the US, and they are many and varied. From the first Protestant denominations have come offshoots such as Assemblies of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Nazarenes, Evangelical Free, Calvary Chapel, Church of God, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, independent Bible churches, and others. Some denominations emphasize slight doctrinal differences, others simply offer different styles of worship to fit the differing tastes and preferences of Christians. But make no mistake: as believers, we must be of one mind on the essentials of the faith, but beyond that there is great deal of latitude in how Christians should worship in a corporate setting. This latitude is what causes so many different “flavors” of Christianity.
A Presbyterian or Baptist church in Africa will have a style of worship much different from a Presbyterian or Baptist church in Wisconsin, but their doctrinal stand will be, for the most part, the same. Diversity is a good thing, but disunity is not. If denominations disagree doctrinally, debate and dialogue over the Word may be called for. This type of “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) is beneficial to all. If they also disagree on style and form, it is fine for them to remain separate. This separation, though, does not lift the responsibility Christians have to love one another (I John 4:11-12) and ultimately be united as one in Christ (John 17:21-22).
Diversity can be good
If you disagree with some points in a sermon, that is natural and discussion is usually beneficial. For example, if we didn’t have diversity in music, if the only music was barbershop quartets…. some of us would be OK with that, but, even barbershoppers like a diversity of styles. Diversity promotes discussion between denominations, and this can lead to a deeper understanding and conviction of one’s own faith and understanding of Scripture. Just because someone comes to a different conclusion than you about style, doesn’t mean you disown them as a Christian.
Diversity can be bad
Debate, which is natural, may also be dangerous. We have certainly seen this in recent US politics. Therefore it is something to be wary of when the diversity slides into disunity. This happens when the denomination becomes a self-serving organisation or exists for the sake of promoting its leader. These denominations might be called ‘cults’ and become so convoluted and ridiculous that true Christianity is no longer visible. This is something that Jesus gave warning about, as did Paul.
If you are looking for a church in your community, seek out one that 1) bases its ministry on the Bible and 2) creates an atmosphere that helps you worship. Ask a lot of questions about what the church teaches. Pray about your choice. Pray that Solid Rock and Faith Fellowship would be places where people can meet the Lord and serve the family of God and those we meet.
Here is a quote that’s guided a lot of churches over the ages. “In essentials, unity (agree on gospel basics). In non–essentials, liberty (allow freedom in minor differences). In all things, charity (show love).” Think about what that quote means. Let’s be sure we are united on the things that are really important (like Christ and Him crucified), that we allow freedom for those things that aren’t “essential,” and always practice love when we disagree.
Father in heaven, may the fragrance of Christ be upon us as we work and worship and serve you here below.
May God’s best blessing come to you!
Grandpa’s Spiritual Advice
Do you remember your Dad’s advice? As I grew up, I hung on to my Dad’s every word. You see, he was not only my Dad, he was also my Sunday School teacher. Today, as a dad and a grandpa myself, I want to pass on to you the advice I received and add to it some of my own. II Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” Here is short list of “Grandpa” advice….
1. Follow Jesus! Both His example and His words. Follow Jesus’ greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind, body and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even if someone treats you wrongly, we are called to love them. Jesus said “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” A few growing passages for Christians are Proverbs 8:17-21. Psalms 1:1-3. John 14:21-27. James 1:2-8. I Thessalonians 5:16-18. II Timothy 1:6-7, Hebrews 8:6,10. Ephesians 6:10-18. Proverbs 4:20-23.
2. Admit your sins and be truly sorry for them. Be honest with God and yourself about your sins. Learn how to turn your attitude around. Pray through everything in life. Realize that conversion is not simply one act but the beginning of a lifelong commitment. Being a Christian is not so much a one time act as it is a once-for-all change of attitude. Persistence, love, forgiveness, and perseverance are all a part of your new attitude. Don’t be hard on yourself when you fail, just admit your failure, pick yourself up, trust God, and move on with your life in a godly manner.
3. Never read the Bible unless you intend to obey it. James 1:22 – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Matthew 4:4 – Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” The Bible also says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” – 2 Timothy 3:16. Before you can obey God you must love Him. There are too many people who speak God’s name in vain by not thinking about Him with awe, respect and devotion. If you read God’s Word and do not take Him seriously, it will set back your spiritual progress.
4. Ask God to change your heart to be more like His. As a follower of Jesus, you cannot change yourself, only God can through his Son. Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you ; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ephesians 4:24 says “and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. The moment you truly give your life to Christ, you will notice a change in your daily routine. You will begin to question your former taste in movies, music, clothing, even choice in friends! The Bible says “Therefore, rid yourselves of everything impure and every expression of wickedness, and with a gentle spirit welcome the word planted in you that can save your souls” -James 1:21.
5. Know that you will be persecuted for following Jesus. Do not allow others’ attacks to weaken your faith. Have courage in your convictions and do what God wants you to do, but don’t be judgmental toward others. 2 Timothy 3:12 – “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
6. Take time to pray and really mean business with God. Prayer can be the most powerful tool in the world. Pray for people who do not pray enough for their own development, i.e.: children, cousins, friends, enemies and family, etc. This is called intercessory prayer. In Ephesians 1:16 Paul prays for a “Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation” I recommend that you say the prayer in Ephesians 1:16-23 for yourself everyday for one year and God will open up your spirit and develop your understanding.
7. Try to see other people’s point of view… even if you strongly disagree with them. If you pray for peace for yourself and those who may oppose you, you will come to a sense of blessedness for both yourself and them.
8. Be patient with people who do not make you happy or upset you. Work on trying to forgive those who may have hurt you. You must learn to love your enemies. God loves everyone, and we need to as well. Stop loving selectively. If you have a hard time loving your enemies, pray to God to provide understanding through his Holy Spirit.
9. Help others to the best of your ability. Care for people who are in need. Pray for those who are sick or in pain. James 2:16 “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” This is something Jesus emphasized in His teachings. Giving doesn’t have to be financial, it can be in the form of food, clothing, time, or, just a listening ear.
10. Treat others in kindness as you would like to be treated. Even simple acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone or smiling and sharing a kind greeting are good deeds that can help you grow and help others see Christ’s love in you.
11. Strive to live a quiet life. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 – “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” Pride can make you judge others falsely and it is said to be the mother of all sins, such as selfishness, greed, lust, hate, etc.)
12. Gossip the Gospel! The word Gospel simply means Good News! Remember, living the Christian life through your actions will show others that God is working in your life. Always stick up for your beliefs and your sense of right and wrong. Be conservative in your morals and liberal in doing your good deeds. Plant seeds that will lead others to seek Christ.
13. Make special efforts to fellowship with other believers. God wants Christians to unite in church and Bible study. Do not let going to church be a substitute for a daily walk with God in His Word and prayer.
14. Practice what you preach. Jesus gives us a very good example in Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
15. Help people. Volunteering is a great place to start for a Christian who is trying to find what God wants them to do. For example, you could take a shift at a food pantry, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, visit people staying in a nursing home, or a hundred other things.
Lord, You have given us a godly heritage since the days you walked on earth. You have been our Heavenly Father, but, you have also given us earthly fathers and grandfathers to lead our families. Give us all daily wisdom to be more like You. May we all build our lives on the wisdom that is from above that we find in Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This Saturday (9-30-18) is Olive Tree Ministries Prophecy Conference and it will be live-streamed at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond. Come at 8:30 AM and stay for the day. Lunch is on your own. Bring your lunch or go out to eat. The conference ends at 5 PM.
On Sunday, Pastor Jason will be speaking from the book of Mark at Solid Rock Fellowship at 9 AM. The quarterly business meeting will follow. Please be there for this important time. I’ll be speaking on the 6th Commandment at Faith Fellowship in Luck at 11 AM.
God’s faithful love,
Lessons From Trials and Troubles
I Peter 4: 1 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh is done with sin.”
People have often told me that we learn more from our mistakes and trials than from our successes. If you are like me, you have experienced how this is true. I wanted to share lessons learned in trials in the hope they might encourage everyone who is going through a difficult time. While these lessons are often only learned through experience, it is the desire of my heart that we know, give and live-out genuine Christ-like love. Since we live in a broken world, pain will always be with us, but God wants to grow you in your troubles and trials.
Lessons I’ve learned:
1. Love is always seen in acts of love. There is nothing more important than to learn to love and to be loved in practical ways. I John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
2. God is good, always. He constantly wants you to know how much you are loved. While we all fall short of His goodness, we bring out the best in people when we love like He has loved us. Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
3. Life is full of twists and turns. While we can plan our ways, it’s God who determines our path. Our own plans are futile unless they are open to God’s desire to make changes. (See Proverbs). Life is at it’s best when He is in control. Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
4. Learning to live in God’s timing is everything. Much like the wind, it’s out of our control. Sometimes we don’t know what God’s will is until it happens. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
5. There is always hope. Make sure you know where your hope lies. Even in the darkest of times when all hope seems to be gone, the hope we have in Christ is the one thing that will always be with us. I Peter 1:3-4 “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
6. The greatest gift is unconditional love. Always love people, but, especially at their worst. You realize who your true friends are in difficult times. Be eternally grateful for friends and family who love like this. Always love unconditionally. I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
7. Work is good. Do you best. But it’s people that matter most. If your work is focused on loving people, then you’re in the best kind of work. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
8. Some people will betray you. The hardest part of betrayal is that by its very nature, it comes from someone close. Just walk away and remember that it has nothing to do with you, and most people won’t be this cruel. Most importantly, don’t let this hold you back from opening up to, and trusting, others who are trustworthy. Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
9. Grieve when something precious is lost. Don’t hold back or you will be hindered in your spiritual and emotional growth. Don’t let grief hinder your ability to move forward when it’s time. Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
10. Hard times will come. They will change you. While some may say you’ll be stronger as a result, that might not be the case. The greatest ability is the ability to truly love and be loved. And in the end, that’s all that really matters. Proverbs 3:3-4 “Do not let love and fidelity forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then will you win favor and esteem before God and human beings.”
11. Time doesn’t heal, God’s Holy Spirit does, as you yield to Him. Psalm 147:2 “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
12. You will make mistakes. Some are conscious mistakes, some are unconscious mistakes. Admit to them. Learn from them. Commit to never doing them again. While God always forgives, He ultimately only wants the best for us. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, and when we make mistakes, it’s a clear indication something needs to change. II Chron. 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
13. God’s creation (especially here in Wisconsin) is beautiful in every season. Being in His creation can be a part of healing and renewing your heart. Eccl. 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
14. Listen to music and join a choir. It adds a lot to your life! Choose the music wisely and make it a good! Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation.”
15. Check out some new place. There’s a wide, beautiful, amazing world out there. Walk trails, climb mountains, forge streams, drive into enchanting forests, bike around parks, visit friends everywhere, check out boat tours and travel brochures, watch travel shows, plan a few imaginary trips… then go on the one you want most. Barb and I like mini-vacations, like stopping in at new home open houses. Exodus 13:21 “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night.”
16. Forgive everyone. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Forgiveness is a selfless gift of love. Forgive, even if others involved don’t ask for forgiveness. However, forgiveness comes easier when we realize how God loves us… unconditionally and undeserved. God wants the freedom of forgiveness for everyone; even those who have caused the problems. We forgive because we were forgiven by God, first. Matt. 6:14-16 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
17. Every experience has its lesson. For instance, if you have been through a hard relationship and more honestly give and receive love, it hasn’t just been a hard relationship – it’s been a very good one because you have grown. I Cor. 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Lord, you never promised us a smooth voyage, but, with you in our boat, we will come to a blessed landing. Thank you for helping us grow through the trials and troubles of life. Thank you for friends along the way who have helped us grow. Most of all, we praise and thank you for your fathomless wisdom, boundless love and precious grace and mercy. Help us to always be on the growing edge. Prepare us for the next step. And help us to live in the power of your love.
I’ll be sharing a Message of Life and Death, or, the 6th Commandment at 11 AM at Faith Fellowship in Luck. If you find yourself in need of spiritual food after a busy week, I recommend you find yourself in the house of God. It will bless your ever lovin’, ever-liven’ soul!
Looking unto Jesus,
Christians and Cremation
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25
I often get asked my views on cremation. This is a response to the most recent question. I am careful to answer because many have strong beliefs on the subject. However, I do tell people that the Bible does not directly answer the question of what is the best method of dealing with our remains when we die. Some people don’t want to donate their organs, some do. Some think cremation is wrong, some are very open to this option. I tell folks that these questions can only be answered by an individual’s or family’s conscience. In 1960 only 3.5% were cremated. Today, in some areas, it is nearly 75% of all funerals.
Does the Bible give us a hint of what to do?
Luke 9:59-60 says, “He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” At first, this appears to be a harsh and unfeeling response, but Jesus was determined that those who followed Him would give Him their full attention; disposing of the body of the dead was obviously of very low priority. If the Bible renders a low priority to this issue, then it would seem that the method of disposal may be left to individual taste and, perhaps, other societal and environmental dictates.
Cremation is performed almost everywhere in the world. For those who favor cremation, it offers the following benefits:
Price: The process of cremation is the simple incineration of the corpse, is far cheaper than burial, even though a coffin or container might be used.
Appearance: For those who consider what they will look like, cremation takes care of that issue. Photos will have to suffice.
Disposal: The cremains, as the ashes are termed, can be kept at home in a container or urn, which might be preferred by some to remember the loved-one.
God would not let a Christian who died in a fire be kept from heaven, so, cremation will not prevent a believer from entering heaven.
Individuals favoring burial emphasize:
The sanctity of the human body and the fact that burial keeps the body intact for viewal.
Burial is less ‘final’ and affords those left behind the chance to remember the person either at a grave site or vault.
Funerals for those to be buried afford dignity and promoters for the burial process assert that the body belongs to God; let not man take it into his hands to destroy.
Burial is compared to sowing the seed of the body. This is the Biblical picture of belief in the resurrection of the body.
How will the body be raised?
The believer’s hope is that the body that is buried or incinerated is not the body that will ultimately dwell with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:35, 37, 42-44 says: “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ …When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
No one needs worry that the body will be destroyed and thus unable to participate in the resurrection, that “great catching away.” No. The body that is interred will either slowly decay or burn rapidly, but God will give all of His children a new body, glorious, and incorruptible to dwell with Him forever. Once and for all the negativity of death and separation from God will be nullified. The Resurrection of the Body is one of the most important aspects of salvation in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-57). The idea that God cannot resurrect them in the one case as well as in the other doesn’t hold water. He does not need our specific ashes and chemical components to bring about resurrection. Why not? Because the resurrected body is a new spiritual creation (1 Corinthians 15:44).
Paul writes, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:26). For a believer, death is not our enemy.
What is your decision?
We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment (Romans 3:23).
God the Father sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him (John 3:16).
Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried and rose from the dead according to the Bible (John 1:1-3, I Cor. 15:1-3).
If you truly believe and trust Him in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven (Romans 10:9-10).
What is your response?
____Yes, I have decided to follow Jesus today.
____I am already a follower of Jesus.
____I want to talk to someone about becoming a Christian
This Sunday at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond, Pastor Jason will be speaking on Mark 2 at 9 AM. I’ll be speaking on God’s 5th commandment: “Honor your father and Mother…” from Exodus 20:12 at Faith Fellowship in Luck at the 11 AM service. Remember: Christians are never Lone Rangers. We are part of a spiritual family, the Church, to which each one of us contributes. It would be wonderful to see you there.
Lord, You alone hold the power of life and death. You alone can create a universe out of nothing. You alone put life into the dead bones in the desert and cause them to walk again. We ask you to create something new in our hearts that will never go away. Breath new life into our beings that will endure the harshest of storms and the darkest of days. Fill us with your Holy Spirit of love and power as we trust you today with our whole life and eternal existence. In the matchless name of Jeshua! Amen!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Other thoughts on death to help you with your choices.
1. Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” God cares about your grief and loss and has a beautiful plan for us after death.
2. 2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Eternal life begins the moment we believe, but, death is our transition to our eternal life in heaven with God.
3. Respect your loved one’s wishes. You may be in a position requiring you to decide on your family member’s behalf based on the wishes and preferences of the family. Do consider what your family’s attitude is regarding cremation, as some believe it is not Biblical, however, we have seen that cremation is not a Biblical issue. I pray your family will openly and respectfully discuss preferences regarding burial.
4. We will get new bodies in Heaven made by God Himself for each one of us. Our flesh will decay, yet our spirits will be clothed in new heavenly bodies. Regardless of how we are buried, God will gather His elect and dress us. And that is good news indeed.
5. The procedure of cremation makes dishonesty difficult to prevent and honesty hard to enforce. For example, how would you know if the crematorium actually cremates your loved one, rather than just disposing of the body? There have been problems over this very issue. It is really cheaper for the crematorium to dispose of the body.
6. How would you have any assurance that the ashes they give you are the ashes of your deceased loved one? This is simply impossible to police. For all we know, a crematorium may have common bucket of ashes, and may give you your three pounds. There is no way you can know.
7. Remember: The body will never be discarded. It has been bought by the blood of Jesus!
The First Post-Christian Generation in America!
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Our culture is changing rapidly before our eyes. The most important distinctive of the newest generation is they are the most spiritually illiterate generation Western Civilization has ever seen. Not only are they the youngest generation on the planet, they are the largest. This means that in the coming years they will not simply influence culture, they will be the culture. Since they are the children of an unchurched generation, they have for the most part, almost no knowledge of anything spiritual. In reaching this generation, we must assume that our audience has zero knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done. Last week on an airplane we met a Christian college age gal from Maine who described her part of the world as the least Christian place in America. She also said that revival has begun and people are coming to Christ by the thousands. I told her that the spiritual illiteracy of this generation provides one of the greatest opportunities the church has ever seen. With this generation it’s like working with a spiritual blank slate. We have a tremendous opportunity to provide them with an alternative to the world’s vain attempt to live a fulfilling life of meaning and purpose. These people have questions and we need to be ready to give an answer.
This is a breakdown of each generation:
GEN Z- people who were born 1999 to 2018. This is the newest and basically unchurched generation.
MILLENNIALS were born 1984 to 1998. These are primarily the parents of Gen Z’ers.
GEN X’ers were born 1965 to 1983. The parents and grandparents of Gen Z’ers.
BOOMERS were born 1946 to 1964. Generally speaking, the grandparents of Gen Z’ers.
ELDERS were born before 1946. Senior citizens. Basically considered to have more traditional values.
World population: 7.6 Trillion (2018)
0-24 years: 42.60%
25-54 years: 41.12%
55-64 years: 8.6%
65 years and over: 8.68%
Here are some characteristics of those in Generation Z: They are incredibly career-driven and success-oriented. Achievement is big for Gen Z, both to their sense of self and for their ultimate goals, particularly their education, career and achieving financial independence. Gen Z says that professional and personal achievement are more important to their identity than family. 40 percent do not claim any religious affiliation. 67 percent do not attend church regularly.
What drives them? They have a strong desire to make a difference with their lives and are attracted to what will enable them to make that difference. (So, a faith that is privately engaging, but socially irrelevant, will not attract them.)
How do they view morality? Traditional morality will be hard for them to accept as they are accepting of alternate lifestyles. Individual freedom is simply a core value.
What might be a conversation starter about faith? The faith question will revolve around their amazingly deep sense of awe and wonder about the universe. More than any other generation, Generation Z has an openness to spirituality via cosmology.
Here are a few suggestions: Take time to get to know this generation. Make a list of youth you are praying for. Make a plan for this week to encourage the next generation to love and serve the Lord with all their hearts. Write a note to encourage your neighbors, your children, your grandchildren, or any other youth. Don’t pass a young person in your church without smiling and telling them how glad you are that they are at church. The goal must be to enable this generation to understand the basics before they are even able to consider accepting the Christ of the Bible.
This Sunday I’ll be speaking on “How to Honor The Lord’s Day” at Faith Fellowship. What a privilege it is to serve our Lord together with His children at church.
Lord, listen to your children praying! Our hearts break for the many who have never heard the glorious gospel of salvation in Christ. Give us hearts of compassion to reach the lost that we know and grow our hearts to encompass people of every age and every tribe and tongue. Move us into new areas of service to You and outreach to our fellow man. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
May the Lord keep our spiritual eyes open to a world in need!
Moving the Hands of Time
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” –Psalm 90:12
Time is illusive. We never have enough. The older you get, the faster it goes.
Time is an enigma. We are creatures of time. God is not.
Time is fleeting. It passes so fast. Where has summer gone?
Time is precious. Especially with those we love. We cherish those times.
Time is an equalizer. We all have 24 hours a day. No one is richer than you in the minutes per day.
Time is all we have, now. It is a most valuable commodity. It is often our most wasted commodity.
Time is in God’s hands. The time He gives us is for us to think, prepare, and act.
Time is meant to be full of wise investments. It is a basket that must be filled with valuable items.
Time is a space of preparing for all that comes after time. In the timelessness of heaven, at God’s right hand, there are eternal pleasures.
What “time” is it in your life, according to your age?
If you are 15, the time is 10:25 A.M.
20, the time is 11:34 A.M.
25, the time is 12:42 P.M.
30, the time is 1:51 P.M.
35, the time is 3:00 P.M.
40, the time is 4:08 P.M.
45, the time is 5:15 P.M.
50, the time is 6:25 P.M.
55, the time is 7:34 P.M.
60, the time is 8:42 P.M.
65, the time is 9:51 P.M.
70, the time is 11:00 P.M.
I don’t know where that puts you, but for me it’s almost 11 P.M. Time moves so quickly. The Bible gives us instruction for spending our time on earth when it says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Time is more than the mechanical movement on a clock. Time is a gift that God gives us to fill our life with meaning. We need to stop asking, “What time is it?” and begin asking, “What is this present time for?” If we are merely tied to a clock, we are not really free. That’s why God said to rest on the seventh day! Life should contain some down-time…. or, time to forget about time-events and think of eternity and eternal values … and the God who dwells in eternity. We live in time, but, we must not be a slave to time, because time is not all there is. May I propose this thought: To accept God’s love through Christ Jesus is to escape time and to begin to dwell in eternity. Christ slipped into time two thousand years ago to help us see the Kingdom of God, which is spiritual and a part of eternity. Our eternal souls will exist in an eternity with or without God. It becomes our decision to make the choice of the best future dwelling place for us personally before it is eternally too late. We can accept God’s gracious plan of salvation in Christ, or, reject it.
No one can slow down time, but, we can re-discover the best use of time, and if we do, time can truly be on our side. God wants us also to reach past time and to walk in eternity by releasing parts of each day, and also a whole day per week to just connect to The One who lives in eternity. He alone can move the hands of time and give you the experience of eternity. That eternity, that eternal life, can begin today if we only accept God’s gift of the only Eternal One who ever lived on earth.
God, grant us the joy of days of heaven on earth, days of unbroken fellowship with You, which will extend our life into a universe where a day is like a thousand years, a place where time does not exist. Then help us to make the most of each day until You call us home. Fill our lives with your eternal love. Amen.
This Sunday at Faith Fellowship in Luck, I’ll be sharing a message about the Proper Use of God’s Name, which is the teaching of the third commandment, found in Exodus 20. Please pray for our morning service.
Grab hold of eternity and may God bless you as you spend and invest your Labor Day weekend!
What is a Spiritual Partnership and How Can I Build One?
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” I Peter 1:22
A good spiritual partnership can be the most fulfilling, substantive, and deep relationship you will ever have. Nothing is more important than the relationships in our lives. True fulfillment lies in sharing life with others and being fully relational and helping others draw close to Christ and find the love and grace they’re longing for.
1. What is a Spiritual Partnership?
A spiritual partnership is a relationship developed for the purpose of spiritual growing and living. Growing spiritually means becoming closer to Christ. It means creating a life of more joy and less depression, more meaning and less emptiness, and more love and less fear. As we become aware that we are complete in Christ, we long for relationships that are the most meaningful and rewarding possible, that support us in becoming healthy, loving, and deep. This is what you have in a spiritual partnership. Spiritual partnerships are designed for discovering and removing your fears and exploring and cultivating your love for others. Spiritual partners challenge each other to take bold ventures to become more like Christ. You can create spiritual partnerships within family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or any other believer. Spiritual partners support each other to become more aware of their emotions and their intentions. They help each other make the most healthy choices that they can, hold each other accountable to live out those choices. In a very real sense, Christian marriages are spiritual partners. I am committed and responsible for my spiritual growth, and Barb is committed and responsible for hers. Yet I support her in growing spiritually and she supports me. We intend to become spiritual partners with our grandchildren. Do you have any spiritual partners in your life?
2. How Can I Build a Deep Spiritual Connection With Someone?
We may capture someone’s attention and draw them to ourselves, yet it seems mere human tactics fail to produce a meaningful and lasting spiritual connection. Attracting people to ourselves does not involve superficial illusions or wearing a mask.
Here are some ways you can begin to lay the foundation for your relationships.
A. Cultivate meaningful conversations.
When was the last time you had a deep, soul-satisfying conversation?
My guess is you remember it precisely, because meaningful conversation is such a rarity. Now, having fun is one important aspect of relating to others. However, Sherry Turkle says, “We are so busy communicating that we often don’t have time to talk to one another about what really matters.”
In today’s deluge of words, however, I’ve found that my soul often seeks for something deep. I crave meaningful conversation that affirms I am not alone in my ups and downs, and hopes, and fears, and dreams. Community is built with shared words, laughter and tears. People need to know each other’s stories.
God made us to be in close relationship with others. Even in the perfection of Eden, the one thing God said of man is that being alone as “not good” (Gen. 2:18). And so God fashioned another human for Adam, so that he would have a human to fellowship with and be known by. Likewise, we need community and meaningful relationships.
How do I build a deeper friendship with a friend I’ve known a long time? To grow the friendship, I would need to know more of his/her story. To know my friend’s story, I need to know more about him or her:
Beginnings: Do I know how his/her story began? What characters played central roles? The setting and location? Favorite childhood memories?
Obstacles: Do I know the difficulties he/she has faced? Where has his/her story taken dark turns? What rough patches has he/she endured? How have these shaped his/her approach to life?
Hope: Do I know who or what has brought him/her hope? When did his/her story take a turn for the better? What makes him/her come alive?
Future: Do I know his/her dreams? What legacy does he/she want to leave? What does he/she want to accomplish in life? How does he/she think this life ends?
You can ask all kinds of questions like these. Each one will help you know your friend’s story, leading to a deeper relationship with that friend.
Pursuing community and spiritual partnerships with the people around us will, of course, take a bit of time and effort.
B. Cultivate Community with everyone in the family of God.
True fulfillment does not come in individualism but in sharing our life with others. See Genesis 2:18 and Acts 2:42–47. God created us to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Being part of the community called “church” is not about being more religious; it’s about being fully relational and helping others find a deeper relationship with God and the love they’re longing for.
As you grow close to many believers, one will stick out as a potential spiritual partner. Ask God to help you find that one person.
C. Cultivate a Life Full of Grace to Others.
God calls us to offer forgiveness and mercy to the people in our lives. See Ephesians 4:32 and Luke 6:27–36. Our closest relationships (family and close friends) need to become “grace-based” for us to experience the fulfillment God means us to have.
D. Cultivate Hospitality to Everyone.
We serve Christ directly when we open our hearts and homes to strangers. See Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9, and Matthew 25:34–40. God wants us to relate to the people who are not close to us. This includes many neighbors and strangers.
This Sunday I’ll be sharing a message on the Second Commandment, which forbids false or idol worship at Faith Fellowship at 11 AM in Luck.
At 5 PM this Sunday (Aug 12) is a baptismal service at Skonewood Christian Retreat, 2104 260th Ave, Cushing, WI 54006. Call 715-483-9202 if you are a believer and want to be baptized.
Stay close to God and find a spiritual partner to help you grow in Him!
Pastor Ken Mettler
Develop a Holy Bucket List
If your life story was written in a book, how would you want it to read? Would it be filled with meaningful and joy-filled experiences? Happiness is a choice you need to make in every experience! Your life is what you have determined to make it…. so, what plans do you have for your future? These become what is known as your “Bucket List.” In making your bucket list, remember, God has a plan for your life as well. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So, when you develop your bucket list, be sure to seek God’s guidance. Here are some possible things to consider:
1. Forgive someone.
Has someone ever hurt you deeply? Do yourself a favor and forgive them. Get rid of the resentment and anger, and ask God to help you wipe from your mind those hurtful memories. Just say, “I want you to know I have forgiven you. I hope you are doing well. I’ve prayed for you today.” If you were even 1% at fault, seek forgiveness. Say, “I’m so sorry for the pain I caused you. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.” Don’t explain yourself, don’t excuse yourself, and don’t make matters worse. Say it, mean it, and be humble about it.
4. Lead someone to Jesus.
There is no reason not to be bold. People’s eternal destiny is as stake. The most personal way to win people is by just being friends. As you grow in relationship, ask your friend penetrating questions. Get to know them. D James Kennedy proposed that the questions lead to asking, “If you were to die and stand before God, and He would ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven,’ what would you say?” The answer you need to provide is that Jesus died for my sins and because I have sinned against God I know I need His forgiveness and I have asked Him to be my Savior and give me a brand new life.
5. Memorize a portion of the Bible.
It might be the story of creation, the resurrection, the Christmas story, the second coming of Christ, or, a psalm. I like Psalm 23, Matthew 2, John 3, Revelation 21, Philippians 4, I Thessalonians 4, to name a few. How do you memorize? Read the passage over several times a day. Delve into what it means. Let God speak to you in every line. Let it draw you close to Him. Try learning it one phrase at a time. David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”
6. Join a choir.
Experts tell us that anyone can learn to sing. For 10 years I wrote articles for the Pitch Piper under the theme: “Marketing the Magic of Barbershop Harmony.” There’s truly something magical about working with a group that is learning a new song, forcing yourself to master that part and to blend in with the other voices, and then perform it at a local nursing home, church or auditorium. You will have fun, laugh a lot, develop friendships, and be serving God and others. Since we all will be in a heavenly choir one day, we might as well get in a little practice here.
7. Do random acts of kindness.
A “random act of kindness” is a good deed done anonymously. One example is, you’re in the drive-through lane at a fast food place and you pay for the order of the car behind you. Here’s a simple suggestion…. Give away some money. Random acts of kindness are good any way you do them, but giving anonymously keeps it from being prideful. Don’t just do it once, make it a way of life.
8. Learn to Pray better.
Read books on prayer, read through the prayers in the Bible, go to prayer meetings, but, mostly, just talk to God a lot. You can never stop growing in your prayer life. The goal of prayer isn’t to get God to do what you want Him to do. The goal is to enjoy spending time with the Lord and listen to Him, and learn from Him, and love Him more.
9. Learn to laugh a lot.
If you are happy, your face should show it. Our God is a God of great joy and encouragement. A holy person shouldn’t go around looking like he has eaten a sour pickle. Be the kind of Christian that others enjoy being around. Smile at everyone. You will increase your face value.
10. Serve as a volunteer.
Be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army, help at the food shelf, bring Meals-on-Wheels to people, volunteer at school or church, visit nursing homes. Just be available and God will open doors of service.
11. Tell everyone not only that you love them, but, what you love about them.
A dying lady said, “Everyone who comes in here tells me they love me.” What a pity that we wait until someone is dying to tell them how much they mean to us. What if you and I made a list of those we love most… family, friends, co-workers, brothers and sisters in the faith, pastors, teachers–and made it a point to tell them that we love them and are grateful to the Lord for bringing them into our lives. Then, just think of others who need to hear that someone loves them and be a demonstration of the love of God to them.
12. Discover your spiritual gift and use it.
Every believer has a spiritual gift and if we all exercised our gifts the world would be a better place to live. If you need to learn about your gifting, read a book on the gifts and then go out and serve God with the drive that He has given to you. Try to expose yourself and your Christian friends to various kinds of ministries. God will lead you all to the right one.
13. Visit a nursing home or hospital. Some people have no one to visit them and they die all alone. You can talk to the administration to see who could use a visit. Most institutions are thrilled to have you come by and read to people, chat with them, or even sing to them. If this is something you’ve never tried, just expose yourself to this ministry.
14. Plant some flowers or even a tree.
Planting a tree in a prominent place in memory of a loved one can be a living memorial that others can enjoy. Arrowhead Bible Camp has done this for those who send memorials for their loved ones. Someone approached Francis of Assisi as he worked in his garden. “What would you do if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?” they asked. He answered, “Go right on working in my flower garden.”
15. Read A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God.
A Facebook friend said her favorite author us Tozer. I have all his books and suggest The Pursuit of God for everyone’s bucket list. I’ve read it before, but it is on my own personal list of things to do. Tozer was a Godly leader in the Christian-Missionary Alliance. His columns for their monthly magazine were widely read. Though in heaven, his writings continue to bless, challenge, convict and inspire God’s people. Warning: Tozer’s writings are deep. You’ll can not read the book at one sitting or even in one afternoon. The book is small but the reading is heavy. You will read a page and lay the book down when God speaks to your heart because you will have things to pray about. Tomorrow you will review what you read and take in a few more pages. My guess is you’ll want to read more of his books after this one. I’ve joined the AW Tozer Facebook page.
16. Get saved.
Get to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and start living faithfully for Him. How can you do that? It’s the simplest thing ever: repent of your sins and invite Christ to come in and take over. Yield yourself to Him. Start reading your Bible every day, pray about every decision you make. Worship God every day of your life. Find a church family where God is worshiped and His Word is proclaimed. Getting saved is priority number ONE for everyone! Jesus is our only hope for eternal life and our only help for each day.
17. Make your own bucket list.
What would you like to do between today and when you go to heaven? Build something? Learn to paint? Write a book? Travel somewhere? Make your own list and put down things to do that you really feel are really important.
18. Throw a block party.
When a new neighbor moves in we attempt to have a meet-and-greet for the folks on our street. No one else takes the initiative! We set a two hour time frame, print up fliers, invite everyone and prepare food. Why in the world would anyone want to do this? To get to know the neighbors. To add some fun into the humdrum lives of everyone. We want to let people know that we like to have fun. Our great joy is when we get to know people so well that they see in our lives the difference Christ makes.
19. Read through the Bible.
Some may disagree about my methods, but, I like to mark up my Bible. I underline or highlight the verses that bless me most. I have one Bible where I have written my testimony in the white pages at the end of the Bible. I tell how I became a Christian and what God means to me and how He has changed my life. Sometimes when I have read one Bible through several times and marked it up, I gave it to someone I feel could use it.
20. Write down the story of your life.
You may not write it for the whole world to read, but at least write it for your grandchildren and their offspring. You would find it interesting to read your great grandparent’s life story, so, why not write something for the coming generations. Note dates and locations of events. Don’t be afraid to write about difficult times and how they turned out. Inject Bible verses that have spoken to you. Tell how God has been active in your life. No one lives an uninteresting life.
21. Buy a young pastor a suit of clothes.
Now, not every pastor needs a new suit and these days, with the changing standards of worship attire, not every pastor may even want a suit.
Here’s my thinking on the subject. Every pastor needs a suit for special occasions. As a beginning pastor, my two suits were in a constant rotation. They were embarrassingly cheap. One day our church chairman said, Dawhares has a two-for-one sale. I’m getting a suit and I’m giving you the free one. Stories like this stick with a person forever.
22. Make a lot of memories.
Your number one goal shouldn’t be to make a lot of money and die rich. Your number one goal should be your relationship with God and leaving a life of stories about what GOD did in and through you. A parallel goal should be to have relationships with others that are filled with great stories. Most of these will intersect with your God-stories because wherever you go, God is (or at least should be) a part of that time and that relationship.
Filling your life with great memories is like reaching down into your life (your bucket) and pulling out many great God-sightings. I challenge you to make a Holy Bucket List!
This Sunday I’ll be speaking on “Who is Number One,” and the text is the first Commandment, found in Exodus 20:1-3 at Faith Fellowship in Luck.
Lord, we know you have a plan for the rest of our life. Help us plan and carry out Your Bucket List for our lives. In Jesus name; amen!
May each day be filled with great God-inspired memories!
One Bowl of Mercy, Please
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22–23)’
Here’s how people who have the 7 gifts listed in Romans 12 might react to a person being in the hospital:
1. The Prophet: “What is God trying to tell you through this illness? Is there some sin you have not confessed yet?”
2. The Server: “Here’s a little gift. I brought your mail in, watered your plants and washed your dishes?”
3. Teacher: “I did some research on your illness and I believe I can explain what’s happening.”
4. Encourager: “You were so wise to go see the Doctor when you did. Can you imagine much worse it would have been if you had waited?”
5. Giver: “Do you have any insurance?”
6. Organizer: “You just relax. I’ve assigned your job to 4 others at the office.”
7. Mercy giver: “Do you need another pillow or blanket? More water? Would you like me to put you on the prayer list?”
In Luke 18, Jesus shared a parable about two men approaching the temple to pray in very different ways (v. 9–14). Like the Pharisee, we can become trapped in a circle of comparing ourselves to other people. We can boast about ourselves (v. 11–12) and live as though we have the right to judge and the responsibility or the power to change others.
But when we look to Jesus as our example of holy living and encounter His goodness firsthand, like the tax collector, our desperate need for God’s mercy is magnified (v. 13). As we experience the Lord’s loving compassion and forgiveness personally, we’ll be forever changed and empowered to expect and extend mercy, not condemnation, to others. When we realize the depth of our need for mercy, we can more readily offer mercy to others. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful. . . . “
What exactly is mercy?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Mercy is: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion (that’s what God does). Compassionate treatment of those in distress (that’s what people do).
Basically, mercy is the act of getting your hands dirty helping others. Mercy is where a person visits the shut-ins, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked. This goes beyond “giving money” to these people. It’s where a person who shows mercy by DOING the act of helping. And they do this act without expecting to be paid to do it.
Mercy is something we do, not just something we feel. It means to help a person in need, to rescue the miserable. Mercy means a sense of pity, plus a desire to relieve the suffering. Simply saying, “I feel your pain” is not mercy. Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it. Real mercy is pity plus action.
Why should we be merciful?
Well, we should be merciful, because we serve a God who is a “merciful God.” “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and MERCY for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Deut 7:9
David wrote: “For the LORD is good; His MERCY is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5 In the most famous psalm, David tells us “The Lord is my shepherd”, he ends the psalm with these words: “Surely goodness and MERCY shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:6 Paul writes in Eph. 2:4-7 “Because of his great love for us, God, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, made us alive with Christ EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” When God saved us, He showed us His immense and immeasurable mercy…. and we become like God – we grow up to be like Him – when we learn to show His kind of mercy to others.
There’s an example of God’s kind of mercy in Mark 1:40. Here we’re told that a leper came to Jesus, and knelt before Him and said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”
One preacher commented on this story by saying “The amazing part of this healing is how Jesus did it – Jesus TOUCHED him!” You didn’t touch lepers. They were unclean! If you touched them, you became unclean and no one wanted that! But Jesus TOUCHED this man.
Dr. Paul Brand devoted his life to treating leprosy patients in India. In the course of one examination Brand laid his hand on the patient’s shoulder and informed him through a translator of the treatment that lay ahead. To Dr. Brand’s surprise the man began to shake with muffled sobs. Brand turned to the translator “Have I said something wrong?” She questioned the patient and then replied: “No, doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until you came here no one had touched him for many years.”
You see, that is the reality that lies at the very heart of what it means to show mercy. Mercy is the intentional touching of people who suffer. It’s the intentional “getting close” to folks who aren’t ordinarily “touched.”
What are some practical ways that you can show mercy to people around you?
1. I’ve always been impressed with the folks that help with Habitat for Humanity. They give of their time to build and refurbish houses for those who can’t afford a home, and the home they create is not just a place to live. It’s a NICE place for those in need.
2. Then there are the folks who volunteer at the local food shelves and Salvation Army. They provide food, shelter and job training for people who have no place else to go. We can be thankful for these ministries. Hundreds of people are cared for by these ministries.
3. Everyone can show mercy to others.., all it takes is deciding to get your hands dirty.
But certain people have the GIFT of mercy. How would you know if you have this “gift”?
Here are some positive qualities of someone with the gift of mercy:
• Deeply loyal to friends. In fact, they seem to have a need for deep friendships.
• Empathize with hurting people.
• The decisions they make are based on benefits to those in need.
• Deeply sensitive to loved ones.
• Tend to attract people in distress. They’re like a magnet for them.
• Desire to remove hurts from those in need.
• They tend to measure acceptance by the closeness of an individual.
• And oddly, they seem attracted to prophets – prophets are almost polar opposites in their gift.
Weaknesses found in those with the Gift of Mercy:
• They will tend to take up offenses for friends
• Can become possessive
• May tolerate evil to avoid hurt or danger
• Can fail to be firm
• Tends to lean on emotions rather than reason in making decision
The gift of mercy is a powerful gift. It reflects that we understand the Mercy God has shown to us.
One pastor said, “I would never want to reach out someday with a soft, uncallused hand – a hand never dirtied by serving – and shake the nail-pierced hand of Jesus.”
Now, why would we link the condition of our hands… with the condition of Christ’s hand? Because it was in that “nail-pierced hand of Jesus” that we obtained OUR Mercy. Mercy is showing love to people that aren’t all that lovely and desirable. Mercy is showing love to people who are hard to love. Mercy is showing love to folks who aren’t attractive/popular/fun to be around. But that’s kind of how we must have looked to God when He saved us. You and I must not have looked all that lovely and desirable to God when He touched us. We were not all that pretty and desirable to God. We were enemies and dead in our sins. It’s by the nail scarred hands of Jesus that we have received MERCY.
Jesus came down out of heaven. Do you understand the significance of that? He came down to our world and faced the struggles and pains and temptations that you and I encounter every day. He didn’t have to do that! And when He came down, He touched us when we weren’t touchable. And when He touched us, He saved us and changed us.
How do we KNOW when we’ve mastered this concept of showing mercy?
We know we’ve mastered it when it doesn’t matter if we get the credit for what we do. Just as long as God gets the credit. As Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…. and glorify your Father who is in heaven”
Mercy is not so much a teaching as it is a practice. Mercy is not the recipe for a bowl of stew, it is the act of serving people the bowl of stew.
This Sunday I will speak at Faith Fellowship in Luck from Deut. 6 with the topic, “How to Get the Most Out of Life.”
Lord, thank you for Your mercies that are new every morning. Help us to show mercy in practical ways to those who need a loving touch from Your hand, today. Use us as Your hands and feet…. and, Lord, keep us sweet. Amen.
May God grant you His Grace, Mercy and Peace,
I hope to see you at Church real soon!
Love Someone who is Acting Unlovable
Matt. 5:47 “And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Or, if you only love the lovable, is that enough? No! Anybody can do that! You are called to a higher measure of love.)
We all can be hard to love sometimes, but I’ve found that people usually need love the most in those moments when they “deserve” love the least. Usually when we get to know people it changes everything. Difficult people need our love more than our judgment. They need our support more than our condemnation. Mother Theresa said, “It’s impossible to judge someone and love them at the same time.” I think she is saying that we need to act less like a judge and more like a Good Samaritan.
So, how do I apply this in my relationships with people who act unlovable? I have found a few principles that can help change someone’s life when they need it the most.
Here are a few ways to love difficult people:
1. Don’t treat people the way they treat you; treat people the way God treats you.
God loves unlovable people, and ALL of us have been unlovable people. His love makes makes all love possible. The more you love you love God, and the more you grow in His love and grace, the more capacity you will have to give love and grace to others.
2. Pray for them.
This is basic for all relationships, but, it really is amazing how praying for someone or something causes our own heart to change for that person. When we sincerely pray for someone, we begin to have a heart for that person, a true concern for their well-being and a desire for their highest good. It may be difficult, at first, to pray for a mean or unlovable person. However, prayer is exactly what a person like that needs, right? And remember, God can work miracles, so don’t give up on someone or write them off as hopeless.
3. Don’t expect anything in return.
It is natural to want everything we give to be reciprocated, but that’s not always how real love works. If you do good only to those who can repay you, that’s not called love; that’s called “networking.” Real love requires a willingness to serve someone even when they are in no position to repay you. Jesus did that for us and He calls us to do it for each other.
4. When you give “tough love” balance it with compassion.
When someone we love is in a self-destructive cycle and they’re a potential harm to themselves or to others, there may be times to show “tough love.” Depending on the circumstances, this may require interventions or even legal action, but make sure you motives are always driven by a deep and abiding compassion for the well being of everyone involved.
5. Don’t quit on them and don’t let them quit on themselves.
The Bible teaches that there is nothing we could ever do that could possibly separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). God calls us to have that same limitless love for others. It’s a love that’s not based on our own strength; it’s made possible only because of His strength. Once someone realizes that you’re going to stick with them no matter what, it can transform their perspective, and ultimately, transform their life.
6. Try to understand why they act the way they do by considering their life experiences.
Sadly, negative events or the way a person was raised can shape people negatively. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t really understand someone fully until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Also keep in mind that all human beings are fallible, and we all have our own weaknesses and faults. Any of us can make a mistake at any time.
7. Invest in people even at “low points.”
Every financial adviser will tell you to buy low and sell high. Sure, there’s risk in investing at “low points,” but risk is just a part of life. When it comes to “relational investing,” I believe this same principle holds true. If you want to maximize your positive impact in someone’s life, don’t invest into the relationship only when the other person is on top of the world (high points). Give them your best when their “stock” is low. Serve them when they have no way to repay you. Be willing to enter into their pain and tragedy when everyone else is rushing out. You’ll be part of changing their life while also building a lifelong bond in the relationship. That’s real love.
8. Look at them through God’s eyes.
Unfortunately, wounded or broken people are acting out their hurt. So try looking at people through God’s eyes, and see the person God created, rather than the hardened person they have become.
9. Minister to them out of God’s love and grace.
Remember that all people are created in God’s image, and He loves even that person you see as unlovable. So we need to choose to be a vessel of God’s love. This is what changes hearts and wins people for God. It is God’s goodness and kindness that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4), not arguments, lectures or “punishing” people by the way we treat them. So if you want that unlovable person to change, a good start is to love them with God’s love.
10. Forgive them.
Yes, it can be very difficult to forgive people who have hurt us; but, do you really want to live with anger, bitterness and resentment? As Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, as God forgave us (Eph. 4:32). Keep in mind, forgiving people doesn’t mean condoning their actions. It means letting go of your bitterness and resentment toward that person, or a desire for revenge, and handing it over to God. Let God do His job. Forgiveness changes our own heart and attitude and it allows us to move forward and be right with God.
11. Treat them the way you like people to treat you.
This is another action that changes hearts. Treating an unlikeable person the way you like to be treated has a way of changing the spiritual atmosphere, instead of continuing the cycle of negativity. This goes along with operating in the opposite spirit. Even if you feel they don’t deserve kindness, treating them the way you like to be treated or moving in the opposite spirit plants a seed with people, and sometimes causes them to rethink their own actions, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction. Imagine a world where everyone practiced the Golden Rule. We can start by practicing it ourselves.
12. Serve them.
“Serve them?” you say. “That’s going to be hard, I don’t even like being around this person!” Yes, serve them, the way Jesus served others in love and humility. Serving someone is a way of showing love, and sincere acts of service can soften hearts and plant a seed that can later grow.
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, touched the lepers and showed love to the kinds of people that others shunned. If the living God of the universe is humble enough to do those things, then how can we be above serving an unlovable person?
Serving someone can mean a variety of things, it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as simple as helping your neighbor carry the groceries out of their car, or doing the dishes for that unlikeable relative after dinner. Also, as Jesus set an example for us, we in turn set an example for others, through our actions.
I hope this was helpful and inspiring for anyone who wants to mend a relationship with someone, or love that person who is hard to love. I also would love to hear your comments, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.
Mother Teresa understood that when we serve others, we’re serving Jesus. She had a prayer she prayed each day that enabled her to minister effectively: Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and while nursing them, minister unto you. Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you, and say: “Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.”
This Sunday I’ll be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck on Hebrews 12:1-2: Looking Unto Jesus! I will also share this message on Saturday at 11 AM at Willow River Fellowship in New Richmond.
Lord, we all have people to serve this week. May we enrich our service by serving these dear folks with Your incomparable love and mercy. God, give me eyes to see the value you place on every life and that difficult people are exactly the people we need to intentionally move toward. Help us not to run away, but to keep engaging in love with that hard-to-love person. Help us to do less talking about people and more serving them in practical ways with a huge dose of Your love! Amen!
Serving others and serving Christ,
How will there ever be any change in a world where people only love those who are easy to love? Things won’t change unless we love even the unlovable, and practice a different kind of love, the kind that God teaches us to practice – a selfless, sacrificial love. God’s love.
The Inadequacy of Words to Speak My Love
Dear children, let us not love with just words or speech, but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18
Yes, words fall short. Words alone will never connect us with God or with others. Words will never really be sufficient to communicate a message from the heart.
I can tell you I love you with words, but, words will never fully tell you the depth of love in my heart.
As one song goes, “Its only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.”
I paint with words on emails and on Facebook, and sometimes on hand-written letters, but, those words only partly cover what I want to communicate.
Words only begin to reflect the depth of the heart. If I dominate a conversation and it’s all about “me”, I don’t have much of a heart to give.
But, when my heart is full of selfless love, no words or actions will ever prove that love until I pour my whole being into showing it.
Knowing the inadequacy of words, I sometimes I send a picture with a story to show the setting or explain the meaning of my message.
I can take another angle and attempt to paint a picture of a beautiful lake sunset on canvas, but, the result will probably still not be as realistic as nature’s colors and luminescence. I cannot capture the way the sun dances on the waves.
Language is an extremely limited tool, at least when it comes to expressing messages from the heart. Language is one dimensional, but, life is multi-dimensional.
Jesus creatively used word pictures, metaphors and stories to help us see life from a different perspective. He spoke in parables to cause us to think deeper and see life from a different angle. He put us in the shoes of a good Samaritan. He brought us to an empty tomb and said, “If you truly believe in Me you will never die.” He wants us to grow by making us look at our own life and experiences through word pictures and stories that stretch us. His words were life-changing!
There are, however, just some things — the most important things, in fact — that can’t be easily expressed or defined by words; not even metaphors, or even pictures…. Like the love I feel for God or family or friends. Words may begin to explain what is in me, but, they have their limit. Is it enough to say I ‘love’ you? … No… Not hardly.
Last week I wrote that we need to pray more, but, praying is not enough. We must put feet to our prayers. Today, I’m telling you that words are not enough to commune with others. Just speaking your faith and love are not enough. You have to show them.
Romans 10 tells us that we need to, first, believe in our heart and, second, confess with our mouth. James 2 adds that those steps without acts of faith show that our professed faith is dead and empty. John tells us over and over to both speak our love and to actually love one another in practical ways.
Words, even Bible words, will never take you to heaven, but a life of constant contact with God is truly already living in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 2:6).
What are some tools that can increase my contact with God? Well, most obviously, reading God’s Word can lead to a stronger faith. Some people pray the Scriptures back to God. It takes the Holy Spirit of God to make the Scriptures come alive.
Christian music and poetry can help us lift the level of our spiritual life and help us see God better so that we gain a deeper and fuller meaning of the Christian life. Musicians and poets can often transport us into a deeper form of communication. Music and poetry are like wearing new glasses that help us see the world much better.
“Material language is made to fit material needs, and it simply will not satisfactorily express true spiritual ideas.” – Emmit Fox; Power Through Constructive Thinking
Language is quite often all we use to express ourselves. But, there is a language of the heart that can never been fully defined in a dictionary. We mostly live inside the box of language and understood things through the words we know. If someone cannot explain why they are crying, we try to pull it out of them by asking for an explanation in words. Sometimes we don’t have words to explain how we feel. Even when we come close to having words to define every feeling, the feelings are deeper than even those words can tell. There is a mystery to pain and pleasure, to awe and wonder, to beauty and horror, to loneliness and love. Most people limit life to the definable. Some think that expanding our language is the best way to deepen our experience. However, remember that language has its limits.
The language of the soul is often without words because it is deeper than words.
I love you.
You mean a lot to me.
I would rather look you in the eyes right now than to write this.
Don’t just read the words.
Experience the emotion.
Enjoy the commotion.
Feel the devotion.
Put your ear to my heart and listen.
11 AM this Sunday at Faith Fellowship in Luck, I’ll be speaking on Faith that Serves from Joshua 11-14. Our main subject is Jephthah!
Good and gracious God, sometimes our words get in the way.
Sometimes we allow our words to be all we give. That’s not enough.
We say that we love someone, but our actions can seem less than loving.
We say that we would hate to see anyone go hungry,
but we drive by people who have little to eat.
We say we worship the Prince of Peace,
but we back violence, and division in far too much of our lives.
We say we want to help make this world a better place,
but we continue to support actions and practices that make the world a more difficult place for far too many people.
Move us toward a closer relationship between our words and our actions.
May our words begin to be a bit meaningless in comparison to our actions.
May our love for you shine brightly through each deed we do.
May that light be an encouragement to others to do the same.
And may each small deed be added together as we begin to weave together a world where all life experiences your love. Amen.
May God the Holy Spirit teach us all the deeper lessons of the heart.
Two Questions: 1) Are you Praying Enough? 2) Is Praying Enough?
1) Are you Praying Enough?
If you listen to the news you are confronted by tragedy every day. If you know what is going on in your own community you are faced with insurmountable problems. How do you respond? What on earth can you do? Let’s look at what Jesus might do if He were living here today. Here’s a story He told:
“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, “A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.” And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, “Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.” But I tell you this — though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:5-10.
Pretend your neighbor is ringing your doorbell at midnight. You crawl out of bed, half-awake and hear his plea, “A friend of mine has just stopped in and I have nothing for him to eat.” After much begging you go to your pantry and pull out enough food to last a few days. You responded to someone who was asking on behalf of another. That’s what intercessory prayer is all about. Someone is pleading on behalf of another. Just like you want to be a good neighbor, God also wants to help others.
When we can do nothing to help someone we pray, “Lord, I know you want to help people when I am helpless to do anything. I can’t heal, I can’t help, but You can.” God really wants to help and He will help faster and better than anyone else. Jesus has never said, “No, I can’t, I won’t, and I don’t care.” Jesus never refused any intercessory prayer in the history of the world!
Jesus heard so many requests that sometimes the disciples attempted to turn people away (Matt 15:22-23), but He wouldn’t let them. Matt. 15:30 goes on to say that, “Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them.” He never grew impatient at the requests.
A father once brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples of Jesus. The disciples attempted to help the boy but failed. When Jesus learned of their failure, He said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” Matt. 17:17 Can you hear the frustration in His voice? What had the disciples forgotten to do? First of all, Jesus said it was their unbelief (17:19-20). Second, they didn’t bring the boy immediately to Jesus.
What is Unbelief? It is attempting to help others without calling on Jesus.
What is Belief? It is pounding on God’s door at midnight. Doing whatever it takes to present people to Jesus.
Remember when the people of Israel worshiped a golden calm and God said He would wipe them out? In Exodus 32:11 Moses prayed, “Lord, don’t let Your anger destroy Your people…. Please stop being angry, and don’t destroy Your people.” Moses was passionate in prayer and God changed His mind and did not destroy the people as He had said He might. (Ex. 32:14)
This is the promise of prayer! We can change God’s mind! God’s plan and purpose in this world will be accomplished, but our prayers can influence His actions. II Cor. 5:20 calls us His ambassadors here on earth. As His representatives we speak with the authority of the KING when we speak His word. He also listens to His ambassadors when we call on Him. Right now we are seated with Him in heaven according to Eph. 2:6. It is like we are a part of his cabinet and we come pleading for our friends and neighbors.
Like Moses pleaded on behalf of his nation, we also plead on behalf of our nation and our circle of concern. We can be Moses for our church, for our school, our neighbors, and for the whole world.
Intercessory prayer is admitting we are unable, but our God is able. In fact, God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). He “will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
God really wants you to trust Him. The only thing you can do to please God is trust Him (Heb. 11:6). Not just for your eternal life, but, for every need in your life and every need you are called to pray about. God just loves it when we trust Him with other’s needs. Call Him at midnight, knock on His door! He loves company and He loves to help you meet needs through His infinite resources. How many needs do you want to help meet in other’s lives? How much faith do you have? Bring a semi and He will fill it.
When God gives, He gives a gift that is “pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38).
2) Is Praying Enough?
Praying is not usually enough! It should be the first step in preparing to meet needs and showing love. For instance, DON’T JUST SAY “I’M PRAYING FOR YOU” -DO SOMETHING! Spend time with your hurting friends and pour your life into them.
Provide rides to doctors’ appointments… Yes, pray for them, then offer comfort. Don’t turn away from their pain.
Go grocery shopping…. if someone isn’t able to make it to the grocery store or who can’t afford it at the moment.
Clean house… go over and wash dishes or do laundry.
Cook… Make meals for someone who is ill, just had a baby, or is otherwise unable to cook for them self.
Babysit… Is someone’s marriage in a difficult place? Offer to watch their children so they can have some time together, just the two of them. Or maybe you know a mom who just needs an hour or two on her own to regain her sanity.
Do one-on-one Bible study…. If you have a friend who needs a deeper relationship with the Lord, meet with her weekly. Disciple her. Live out Titus 2.
Make phone calls or do video chats… If you can’t be there to physically help, spend time often and pour your life into your hurting friend.
Go for walks together…. Just spend time together. Sometimes just being there and being willing to listen is more than enough.
Share your journey…. Be willing to open up. Let go of the “perfect Christian” façade and be willing to share your struggles. Let your friends know they are not alone.
Possibly the most important one: Ask your friend what he/she needs! Say, “How can I help?” Be ready and willing to follow through. It’s time to start being bold, brave, loving, and fearless in living out our faith with others. It’s time to start living an authentic life in Christ. It’s time to become more like Jesus. Will you join me in my desire to live out an authentic faith? Keep praying, and then commit to reaching out to someone in need today! Provide a meal, grab a cup of coffee and settle in for deep conversation, make a phone call. Just do something!
PRAYER FOR BLESSING
How grateful we are that You’re patient with us—willing to teach us, to speak with us, and have us speak with You. You’re so willing to meet each and every need we have. For those who have never trusted You as their Savior, help them to understand that the first prayer You listen to from them is a prayer of confession, repentance, and surrender of their life to You as their Lord and Savior. We pray the Spirit of God will seal these truths in the heart of every person who reads them today, and for years to come. May we begin to develop an intimate relationship with You, and listen to You speak. We love You, we praise You, and we bless Your holy name. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This I will be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck at 11 AM and the message is “Overcoming Failure with Faith.” Joshua 14-16 is the story of Samson, a Hebrews 11 hero of the faith. Feel free to read ahead in Mark and Joshua before you come together.
May God help us to Face the Future with a Prayer of Faith and a Plan of Action!
Pastor Ken Mettler
Is America losing its Freedom?
“It is for liberty that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
I am becoming somewhat of an old war movie buff. It started with my enjoyment of the lighthearted Hogan’s Heroes series when I was in college. What I love about watching old war movies is how they portray a nation totally united behind the goal of securing the freedoms we hold dear and defending the Constitution and the America we love. I rejoice every time I see our soldiers overcoming the Nazis or some other evil empire.
Speaking of things starting in college, there is terror raging on many college campuses these days. Get someone to label a potential speaker a racist with no evidence at all, throw in a loony faculty member or two, plus a few fascists who call themselves anti-fascists and they will keep out anyone they don’t like from speaking on campus.
Yes, America is losing its “freedom”. Actually, one could say that we have already lost our freedom. Many of us just don’t realize it yet.
Ronald Reagan once stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Here are some examples of a loss of freedom in America:
Example #1: We no longer have freedom from unreasonable search. Our police and intelligence agencies now have the right to watch every step you take on camera. In our war on terror we enacted the Patriot Act which means the government no longer requires a warrant to record your movements. Tens of thousands of cameras are now waiting to videotape everything you do.
Anyone who wants to can track your location by your phone. Your financial transactions are not really private either. Everywhere you go and everything you spend can be traced through your electronic money transfers. People buy this information to know your spending habits and sell you their products. Literally everything you do can be traced by people who have a desire to know.
The Federal government through the TSA and NSA have often gone too far in efforts to keep Americans “secure” according to 90% of Americans.
ACTION ITEM: Repeal the anti-freedom part of the Patriot Act. (Now, there are arguments to the contrary, but, that is my opinion.)
Example #2: We have given up our right to know the truth. School textbooks, newspapers and other media outlets are now engineered to promote political agendas. Real facts and real history are rewritten to make their side look good. No longer can we listen to Walter Cronkite and hear: “And, that’s the way it was.” Now, we hear everything from someone’s spin. We have not demanded fair and balanced reporting.
ACTION ITEM: Demand fair and balanced reporting.
Example #3: We are losing our freedom of speech. Today we have a movement attempting to silence conflicting points of views. Why? Maybe because technology has led to the isolation of the individual. People only watch the viewpoint they like on social media. Real information is out there, but, people prefer to be fed from their “familial” thoughts that confirm to their viewpoint.
We have become so “enlightened” today that we cannot learn anything from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence because he owned slaves. Historical figures are all flawed, but, we need to learn to swallow the meat and spit out the bones. Our politically correct culture rejects any defense of traditional values and the wisdom of the past.
Today, legislatures don’t discuss policy to come to a mutual conclusion; instead they simply push their political agenda and call the opposition names. But, freedom of speech should not be a partisan issue.
ACTION ITEM: We need to fight for freedom of speech in the public forum – not to score political victories, but to save the free society that previous generations fought to protect.
Example #4: Freedom ends at the workplace door. You can be fired for expressing religious and political views online, even when you’re not at work. Mark Trap says that the freedom to speak your mind doesn’t really exist in the work space, and sometimes outside of it.
ACTION ITEM: Protect yourself against on line visibility.
Example #5: Every baby has God given freedoms and the right to life.
Life itself is the first right and freedom. While I am strongly pro-life, I am also a realist. You may be familiar with the saying “when you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns.” The same applies to abortion. Abortion will still exist even if it is declared illegal. America cannot stop abortions. Only a truly moral people can do that.
ACTION ITEM: Overturn Roe vs. Wade and end the Federally-funded modern holocaust of the unborn.
Ben Stein says, “We have incinerated the First Amendment. We’ve made sure that our young learn only lies and subversive propaganda against America… This is not what our young men and their parents fought for, died for, and wept for in The War. Look quick. We’re losing this war for freedom — and fast.”
To me, losing our freedoms is a spiritual loss because God gave us our freedoms. We have sowed the wind, and now we are reaping a whirlwind. There is only one way out, we must humble ourselves, confess our sin, pray and let God lead us back to His truth that alone can make us a free people. The answer for America’s problems has always been: “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Lord, we pray for America. We love our country, but, want to make it a better country. Help us to come face to face with the Bible and to turn from our national sins. Help us as we approach Independence Day to pray for a renewal of moral and spiritual principles in our land. Lord, we love but do not worship our country! I pray that we would put You (God) first, others second and ourselves last. Amen!
Yours in Christ’s wonderful service,
“First Let Me Bury My Father”
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive much more in return and will inherit eternal life” Matthew 19:29. Jesus isn’t saying here that you can not live close to your family, He tells us that when He moves us on… and we go… we will gain much more than we give up. Most of you know that our children are serving God in places far from our home in Wisconsin. I always say, “That’s because they have lived in so many states that they don’t really have a place to call home.” The way I really want to explain it is that I believe God has placed a calling on their lives and they, like Abraham of old, just go where He leads. On Father’s Day one of our children wrote a long letter to me. One of 20 different snippets reads, “I have no idea how hard it is to send your children to other states and countries, multiple times and over many years. You’re still doing it. Canada, Mongolia, Germany, Mexico, NYC, Oregon, Washington, Texas, etc. I’ve been surprised at the level of trust in me and in God you have displayed. Thank you for encouraging us to follow God and letting Him do surprising things with us. (For instance, where I live now -really?!) I know it is difficult on you, but it has taught me a lot about faith over the years to have parents willing to move and be moved by God.”
I have to admit, one of the hardest things about being a pastor is leaving old friends. However, a neat thing about being my age and having lived in many places is that it seems I have close friends all over the world. It is also hard to see your children go far away, but, knowing they are following God’s calling is much more rewarding than it would be having them next door and not following God’s calling.
Jesus tells a story about a man who decided to wait at home instead of go when and were God said, go. This man said he needed to bury his father first. Jesus answered him in a surprising way, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). He explained, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). In other words, one cannot keep looking back and still plow straight. Similarly, the proclamation of the kingdom of God requires one’s full and urgent commitment. But how could Israel’s Messiah possibly call upon His followers to disobey one of the Ten Commandments – honoring one’s father and mother (Exodus 20:12)? One plausible explanation has to do with the first-century Jewish practice of a second burial. The first aspect of burial consisted in placing the deceased in a cave for a prolonged period of time. After the complete decomposition of the body, only the bones would remain. At this point people trained in the relevant Jewish traditions would collect the bones and place them in an ossuary (“bone box”). The ossuary would then be deposited into its final resting place in another cave or tomb that housed many such boxes. So Jesus did not require the man to neglect his father’s burial. Rather, He simply suggested that professionals trained in dealing with corpses could themselves transfer the bones when the right time came. The man did not need to delay for a long time but could become a disciple right away if he really wanted to do so.
Some people have delayed following God for many years. We live in a culture where people gratify their own desires first and have little time for God. Putting off a response to God is Satan’s biggest tactic. He doesn’t tell us not to believe in God, he says, “There is plenty of time to get right with God later.” Because we are not promised tomorrow, the great need of our life is to follow Him today. skip down…….
I’ll be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck on the subject “STAR WARS” and our subject matter is the life of Barack. The text is Hebrews 11:32 and Judges 4-5. It will be interesting to learn how the stars fought against the enemies of God.
Lord, we thank you for the many saints who have left all to follow You! May many more heed the call from heaven and be a part of fulfilling the great commission!
Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and love that soul through me,
And may I humbly do my part to win that soul for Thee.
Soli Deo gloria,
Pastor Ken Mettler
Soli Deo gloria is Latin for “For the Glory of God alone.
11 New Testament Mysteries
Someone has said, “All truth is God’s truth.” Which means to me that truth is not something new and that it is something that needs to be discovered or revealed. When Newton discovered what gravity was it was not something new, it had always existed. Readers Digest just published “14 Mysteries of the Ocean Scientists Still Can’t Explain.” When God reveals something new, He also calls it a “Mystery” and He uses prophets to help us “discover” and “uncover” it. A “Mystery” in the New Testament sense is not something that cannot be understood, but it is a revelation of some plan or purpose of God that has been known to Him and has always been true, but He has withheld it from our knowledge until the time He wants to reveal it.
In Rom. 16:25-26, Paul says his gospel is the “Revelation of the Mystery,” which was kept “Secret” since the world began, but now is revealed.” It was the “revelation” that was promised to Paul at his conversion (Acts 16:16-18), which are the “Mysteries of God” -or, God’s secrets.
There are eleven “Mysteries” named in the New Testament. Eight were revealed to Paul, one was revealed by Christ, and two were revealed to the Apostle John. Paul writes, “Let people consider us as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the ‘Mysteries of God’.” 1 Cor. 4:1.
Here are the eleven New Testament “Mysteries” that are revealed (or uncovered) to us.
I. The Mystery of Incarnation, or, “God becoming a man.”
“Without controversy great is the ‘Mystery of Godliness’ — “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” I Tim 3:16. The mystery here is how God can take on human form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant of law is no mystery, but, it is mysterious to say that “He that has seen Me (Jesus) has seen the Father.” John 14:9.
2. The Mystery of the “Indwelling of the Christ.”
In Col. 1:26-27 Paul says there is a “Mystery” that had been hid from “Ages” but was then made manifest to the saints. He calls it the Mystery of “Christ in You.” This is a great mystery and is the mystery of the “New Birth.” Nicodemus didn’t understand this mystery when he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” John 3:4. The New Birth is not only a wonderful experience, but it is a wonderful fact. It is the union of the Divine Nature and ours. We are just as much a part of Christ as the members of the body are a part of the body. 1 Cor. 12:12. Christ Himself lives in us. Gal. 2:20.
3. The Mystery of the Oneness of the Church, or, “Union of Jews and Gentiles in One Body.”
In Ephesians 3 Paul says, that God made known to him the “Mystery… that the Gentiles should be ‘Fellow Heirs,’ and of the ‘Same Body,’ and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.”
If you think you have seen race hatred, go back to the time in history when Jews called Gentiles “dogs” and Gentiles had no use for Jews. I would compare it to the caste system of India. It was quite a revelation to everyone that God was going to take some Jews and some Gentiles and form them into a “New Body” called the Church. In Christ all race and class distinctions disappear, and it is only in the Church that such a beautiful “Holy Family” can be found for which everyone is seeking.
4. The Mystery of the “Seven Stars” & “Seven Candlesticks”.
In Rev. 1:12-20 John was told that the “Seven Stars” stood for the Angels or Messengers of the Seven Churches that were in Asia Minor, and the Seven Candlesticks stood for the Seven Churches themselves. The Mystery of these Candlesticks was that the Seven Churches mentioned were representative Churches, whose history was to be born out in the history of the Christian Church over the subsequent 2000 or so years. This Mystery has never been understood until the present time, because now we can look back and see how the prophecy of the candlesticks reveal the character of the churches throughout Church history.
5. The Mystery of the “Kingdom of Heaven.”
When the Jews rejected Christ it prevented the setting up of the Kingdom. Today, the Kingdom of Heaven is in “Mystery Form.” To show the character of this mysteries of the Kingdom, Jesus gave 12 parables of the kingdom, found in Matthew’s Gospel. This mystery reveals how the kingdom will be set up between Christ’s first and second coming (referring to the church age, or, today), when believers will be ruled by an invisible “King” and promote a kingdom that is not of this world.
6. The Mystery of “Brand New Bodies for Living Believers.”
In I Cor 15:51-55, Paul says, “Behold, I show you a ‘Mystery’; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.”
This is the greatest of all mysteries, because it reveals something that is beyond belief for a logical brain. Up until this was revealed to Paul, it was thought that when everyone dies they go to heaven or hell at the resurrection of the dead. God showed Paul how living believers get to heaven when Christ returns. Some people call this “the mystery of the departure of the church at the end of this age.”
7. The Mystery of “Israel’s Blindness.”
In Romans 11:25 Paul says- “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of This Mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that Blindness in Part is happened to Israel, until, the ‘Fullness of the Gentiles’ be come in.”
This refers to the spiritual blindness of the Jews that will be in effect until Messiah returns. Not that we don’t want Jews to be saved today, but, the Bible indicates that the Jews will be in denial and rejection of Christ until His second appearance. This Mystery accounts for the survival of the Jews among the nations.
8. The Mystery of “Iniquity.”
In II Thessalonians 2 Paul says that the “Man of Sin” or Antichrist is already at work. The “Mystery of Iniquity” (that Satan is alive and active in this world and destroying people’s lives) is opposite of he “Mystery of Godliness” (that God is alive and active in this world and reviving spiritually dead lives). The mystery of lawlessness refers to the continuation and gradual build up of the state of lawlessness which will culminate in the man of lawlessness.
9. The Mystery of “Babylon the Great.”
This Mystery is revealed in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Revelation and it is an unveiling of the identity of Antichrist. The mystery of Babylon is the truth regarding the source of the ancient and godless mother-child cult (Rev. 17:5, 7), and the future destruction of the religious figures who have continued the satanic spirit behind this cultic religion.
10. The Mystery of the Church As the “Bride of Christ.”
In Eph. 5:22-23 Paul reveals the ‘Great Mystery’ that when he speaks of man and wife, he is painting a picture of Christ and the Church.” The first Adam had a bride, Eve; and the second, or Last Adam must have a Bride, the Church. This is a “Great Mystery” because it explains why we have “The Church Age” between the First and Second Comings of Christ. It calls for a time when those who are saved by grace are “called out” to form the Church, the Bride of Christ.
11. The Mystery that “All Things Will be Restored.”
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:9-10 that the “Mystery of His Will” is that all things be restored to their condition before Satan’s rebellion and man’ fall into sin. In the “Dispensation of the Fullness of Times” it is God’s plan to undo all that sin has done.
The Old Testament Mystery of the “Jubliee”
There are many Bible mysteries. To begin with, time itself is a mystery, God existed before time began and Revelation 10:6 tells us that in the future time will no longer exist. The Mystery of the Jubilee reveals that time is actually a measurement of decay. The Bible shows us that time is the measurement of life. James 4:14 says that our existence is simply a vapor on the time-line of life that is in various stages of growth, aging and decay. Here’s what we do with the time God has given to us: we watch the time, keep time, waste time, meet and work in time, and get completely wrapped up in going everywhere filling up our limited time. I think it is significant that there is no time in heaven. God is eternal; without beginning or end. The Bible says, “In the beginning God…” The Jubilee mystery shows us how God deals with man in time… in sequences of seven.
God lives outside of time. Time means decay, and there is no death or decay in Heaven. God created man within the boarders of time and space. Your birth is a past event in time. Christ coming again is a future event in time, but with God there is no past or future. He is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” In Heaven there is no time, there is no past, there is no future, only the now. God did not say to Moses “I always was and always will be, He said, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Everything is “now” with God.
I have often used this illustration to express God’s view of time: history is like a parade. We are sitting on a street corner watching the parade. God is on a tall building and can see the parade from beginning to end…. all at once. So, there is no time in eternity, there is no past and there is no future. Since Jesus is God, and in fact created all things including time (that we live in); He must exist outside of time.
I believe that the Jubilee is how God set up time. Everything happens in a sequence of sevens. There were seven days of creation. The seventh day is to be a day of rest. When the Israelites used the land for seven sevens (49 years), they were to rest the land. They did not obey for 490 years, so, God sent them to Babylon for 70 years and rested the land Himself.
Many of my Bible-believing friends have come to the conclusion that God has been dealing with mankind for nearly 6000 years and that the final 1000 years will be the reign of Christ on earth. God’s jubilee could be the seventh day of his week of 7000 years. Could it be that God is going to reveal this part of His plan to us soon? Although events in times to come are still a mystery to me, I believe Christ’s coming is getting very close. Evidence is piling up. As we watch and wait and work in time… we will learn God’s plan for time.
Speaking of time, it is time to tell you what is going on at Solid Rock Fellowship this Sunday. At 9 AM we gave a guest pastor. Dave Frazier will be giving the message for Father’s Day. Dave has been a military chaplain and pastor for many years. Following the message is the wedding of Tim Keegan and Lisa Larson, which I will perform. Everyone is invited to the wedding. Following this will be a wedding reception at church. At 11 AM I will be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck on a message I call “The Good Fight of Faith” -from the life of Gideon. If you have a bottle full of coins from Tri-County Life Care Center, Father’s Day is the suggested time of getting them back to church, however, we will accept them any time.
Right now, time doesn’t always seem mysterious, it just seems to run out quickly. So, before this devotional time is up, let us pray marriages and for Tim and Lisa in their new life as husband and wife: “Lord, you created marriage to be specially blessed, to be a heaven-sent mystery, and to be a holy union. Bring your creative blessing on the union of Tim and Lisa, and make their marriage a blessing. Help the rest of us also to be a blessing to them. Amen.”
“PS, Lord, help me to spend more time in prayer, because time in prayer is never wasted time.”
What are the Seven “Blessings” of Revelation?
Seven is the predominate number in the book of Revelation. There are seven churches; spirits; golden lampstands; stars; letters; lamps; seals; horns; eyes; angels; trumpets; thunders; seven thousand; heads; crowns; plagues; bowls; mountains; and kings, etc. “Blessed” is the Greek word “makarios,”meaning happy, fortunate, or blessed.
The 7 Blessings of Revelation are exactly what John needed to make it through the crises of his suffering and persecution. They are also exactly what we need to make it through the crises of our lives and safely into heaven.
1. The first blessing is the Beatitude of Prophecy found in Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” The book of Revelation is unique in that it is the only book of the Bible with a direct blessing promised to those who publicly read it and their hearers. Of course, to hear God’s Word without obedience is folly (James 1:22), so the blessing specifies that those who hear also “take to heart” what is read.
This is the only book in the Bible that contains a blessing for those who read aloud, who hear, and keep the words of this prophecy. Fortunately, John didn’t say that we had to understand everything in the Book of Revelation to be blessed. There are some difficult things in this book that may only be understood as we look back at fulfilled prophecy. But we can be blessed by reading and hearing even when we don’t understand.
2. The second blessing of Revelation isthe Beatitude of Readiness found in Revelation 14:13: “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’” God pronounces this blessing just before the seven bowl judgments of Revelation 16. People who become believers and die during the tribulation will find rest and reward with the Lord.
Imagine what courage and comfort this passage will give persecuted saints during the Great Tribulation. Clearly, God wants to encourage His people to be steadfast in times of trial, focused on what blessed rest and reward awaits them in eternity.
3. The third blessing isthe Beatitude of Celebration found in Revelation 16:15: “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Jesus warns those in the tribulation, just prior to the Battle of Armageddon, that He will soon come as a thief. Those who believe in Him will be blessed. In the midst of the description of the coming battle, there is a warning to be prepared in light of Jesus’ assured
victory. A blessing is given to those who are spiritually alert and diligent to keep themselves separate from the world.
Garments are pictures of spiritual and practical righteousness. We are given the righteousness of Jesus as a garment (Galatians 3:27), but we are also called to “put on” the nature of Jesus in terms of practical holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). Our first priority is that we not be “naked” – without God’s covering, or trying to provide our own covering like Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), which is like filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6).This verse is a warning concerning the coming of Christ at Armageddon. It focuses on suddenness and destruction. This could be seen as both a blessing and a warning to the believers to be spiritually watchful for the Lord’s return, but, it’s also a warning to the unbelieving world concerning the Battle of Armageddon.
4. The fourth blessing isthe Beatitude of Celebration found in Revelation 19:9: “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” This marriage supper between the Lamb and His Bride, the church, will take place in heaven, and God’s people from all ages will be on hand to celebrate. A wedding feast is a common picture of the kingdom in Scripture (Matthew 22:1–14; 25:1–13).
The marriage supper of the Lamb is the feast above all feasts (Matthew 22:2). What a blessing this feast will be! Jesus himself eagerly anticipates this marriage supper. He joyfully anticipates the day when He will drink of the fruit of the vine again, with His disciples in the kingdom (Matthew 26:29).
5. The fifth blessing isthe Beatitude of the Millennium found in Revelation 20:6: “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” The various resurrections mentioned in the Bible are divided into two general categories: the first resurrection is the resurrection of the just, and the second of the unjust (Daniel 12:2; Luke 14:14; Acts 24:15). The first resurrection leads to eternal life; the second resurrection leads to the second death (Revelation 20:13–15).
In the first resurrectionthe dead come alive, are raised, and are seated in Heaven to share in Christ’s reign.
This is a resurrection of blessing (blessed and holy are they).
This is a resurrection of power (over such the second death has no power).
This is a resurrection of privilege (they shall be priests of God . . shall reign with Him a thousand years).
6. The sixth blessing is the Beatitude of Obedience found in Revelation 22:7: “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” Again, Jesus promises a blessing to those who keep or obey the teachings of Revelation. Reading and hearing the Word is not enough, if not followed by obedience.
John clearly calls this book “prophecy,” not history. This blessing reminds us that prophecy gives us a word to keep and obey, it is not merely material for interesting discussions and debates. The main intent of prophecy is to lead us to trust and obey God, and apply His truth to the way we live.
There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament for Christians to obey. Many of them are in the book of Revelation. They cover every aspect of man’s life in his relationship to God and to others. If obeyed, they will bring rich rewards both here and in the hereafter.
7. The seventh blessing is the Beatitude of Restoration and Completion
found in Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Salvation comes from having one’s robes washed in the Lamb’s blood (Revelation 7:14). This is a wonderful picture of the purity that comes with salvation and the price Jesus paid for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7). Only blood-washed believers have the right to partake of the tree of life from which mankind has been barred ever since the Fall; only those with robes of righteousness have access to the Holy City (Psalm 118:20; Isaiah 35:8).
Doing His commandments does not earn salvation, but it is evidence that we have eternal life. Besides, there is a blessing in doing His commandments because they are good for us and bring glory to God. The Bible is truly Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (BIBLE), and, obeying it brings the most blessing possible in this life and the next.
This Sunday Pastor Jason will be continuing the study of I Corinthians 15 at 9 AM at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond, and I will be continuing the study of Gideon from Hebrews 11:32 and Judges 6 & 7 at Faith Fellowship in Luck at 11 AM. If you don’t already have a home church, please consider this an invitation to attend services with us.
Lord, we accept your challenge to receive a blessing by reading and keeping the prophecies of Revelation. Fill us with faith, and help us to follow-up with faithful obedience. We do this to honor you,but, also to just get in on your blessing and then to pass that blessing on to others. May Jesus Christ be praised! Amen.
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come before His presence with singing!
Pastor Ken Mettler
You may ask, can we really find blessing today in keeping this book? Can we really find blessedness in this life and the next? Can we really find blessedness when our life is centered in holiness, righteousness and worship?
Yes, says the One with 7-fold glory found in Revelation 1.
Yes, says the faithful witness – believe, obey and you are blessed.
Yes, says the first begotten of the dead -believe, obey and you are blessed
Yes, says the King of Kings -believe, obey and you are blessed.
Yes, says the One Who loved us -believe, obey and you are blessed.
Yes, says the One Who washed us in His own blood -believe, obey and you are blessed.
Yes, says the One Who made us kings and priests -believe, obey and you are blessed.
Yes, says the One Who made us eternal recipients of glory and dominion -believe, obey and you are blessed.
Is God’s promise enough verification and confirmation for you?
Revelation 3:20 tells us that faith can open the door to the One who has been knocking at the door all the years of life. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “If thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
(Or, What does God want me to do when when the choice of right or wrong is not clear?)
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. -1 Corinthians 10:23-24
The Bible is quite clear that adultery, fornication, lying and stealing are sins. These areas are clearly black and white areas. However, there are many issues on which the Bible is silent. We call these gray areas. In these areas we have some freedom, but, we also must exhibit love-limited liberty.
What Are Some Examples of Gray Areas?
Gray areas may include things like drinking, dating, kissing, gambling, smoking, clothing, music, movies, television, birth control, dancing, spending your money, schooling choices, working moms, etc. Some believe that Old Testament restrictions like not having tattoos or drinking blood are gray areas today. Others say that forms of church government and worship styles are also gray areas.
Today we often blur the difference between spiritual preferences and spiritual principles. A spiritual principle is a teaching specifically found in the Bible. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God…” It is obvious that sexual immorality is not a gray area. When the Bible is that black and white, Christians are not free to commit these sins. It is clearly wrong to view pornography, fornicate, etc. God asks us to follow the spiritual principles clearly taught in Scripture.
A spiritual preference is a believer’s decision to do or not do something that is based on personal Biblical convictions along with with their freedom found in Christ. Scripture has left us with the responsibility to decipher what is most glorifying to God. For example, one believer decides to refrain from kissing until marriage, while another decides to kiss on the second date. Is one believer more right than the other? No. The Bible says nothing on this topic. Therefore, there is freedom for the individual to choose what is best.
Arguments often occur when we begin turning our own spiritual preferences into spiritual principles for others’ lives. Continuing the above example, it is fine for a Christian to choose not to kiss until marriage. However, when that same person begins to tell others that kissing before marriage is sin or somehow makes one less spiritual, they are turning their preference into a principle, therefore giving others unbiblical rules. Do not try to turn your spiritual preferences into another person’s spiritual principles!
Why Is It Wrong To Turn Our Spiritual Preferences Into Spiritual Principles?
Because It is Sin. To judge any person on something that is not sin is sinful. All matters (including other’s motives) that are not named as sin are to be judged by the only Judge and Lawgiver, our Heavenly Father.
Because it Does Not Display Grace to Others. The main reason many declare their preferences as principles is due to a lack of giving grace to people, thus not showing love.
There is one way to know right from wrong and that is to ask: Is it Sin? If the Bible teaches that something is sin, then don’t do it. It is not a Gray area.
How Do I Know What To Do In Gray Areas? Here are some questions to help you reflect on whether something in question honors God:
1. Does it Cause a Believer to Stumble? Or, does it negatively affect a fellow Christian? “Take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” (I Cor. 8:9) “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 10:13) Paul said, “if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.” (I Cor. 8:12-13). You may be free to do something, but does it show love?
2. Does Practicing This Gray Area Affect Your Testimony To Unbelievers?
Many Bible verses show how practicing gray areas can negatively affect non-believers. (See 1 Corinthians 6:5-6, 1 Corinthians 14:22-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, and 1 Timothy 3:6-7). Being a positive testimony to the lost is a big responsibility. When we have double standards or appear as less than Christlike, it will destroy our testimony.
3. Does It Go Against My Conscience? “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23). Never violate your conscience. If your conscience is troubled by what you are planning to do, don’t do it. If you aren’t sure about it, don’t do it. Without a clear conscience your relationship with God will be hindered. The Bible teaches us not to violate our conscience. In fact, to do something against your conscience is acting in sin (Romans 14:22-23). Paul explains that those whose conscience offends them must not eat while those whose conscience is clear are free to eat. At the same time, the conscience should not be your only guide. One can have a clear conscience, and yet be guilty of sin in the sight of God. In 1 Timothy 1:5, 19, Paul says that when people depart from the faith, their conscience can become seared or hardened so that it is not a safe guide. The Bible is our most important guide.
4. Is It a Wise Decision?
Biblical wisdom applies God’s Word to our daily life. To make unwise choices does not necessarily indicate one has sinned. Although it may not be sin initially, the Bible teaches that a lack of wisdom usually leads to sin. So, ask yourself if it is sin, if it negatively affects fellow believers, if it affects your testimony to unbelievers, if it goes against your conscience, and if it is unwise.
5. Will it benefit me or build me up spiritually? If not, you should seriously question whether that behavior is the best choice. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (I Cor 10:23).
6. Will it bring bondage or create bad habits? I Cor 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial (profitable, helpful, or expedient). All things are lawful for me, but will not be brought under the power of anything.” If what you are considering can be habit-forming, why pursue it? Don’t allow yourself to be in bondage to anything or anyone. You are a bond-servant of Christ alone.
7. Will it defile my body (God’s temple)? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (I Coir 6:19-20). Don’t do anything that you know will harm your body or bring any shame. Present your bodies as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1-2).
8. Will it help or hinder people from coming to salvation? “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved (I Cor. 10:32-33). The choices you make in the “gray” areas affect lost people. Ask yourself, will my decision bring offense to God’s reputation or bring Him praise instead. People will not come to Christ if they sense your choices are not honoring to God.
9. Will it bring glory to God? Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (I Cor 10:31). That verse is a summary of all the other principles. If I know it will glorify God, then do it, if not, don’t. To glorify God is to be the chief reason for our existence and it is the chief reason why we do or do not do something that might be considered a gray area.
Do you give people grace in gray areas? The Bible says to “Judge not that you be not judged.” That doesn’t mean we should never call sin, sin in someone’s life. It does mean that we do not pass judgment when it is not our place to judge. One of those places to not pass judgment is in the area of disputed, gray, and questionable things.
Lord, keep us from falling into a pit of gray areas that would lead us from your very best for our lives. Help us to walk in the light and the joy of your truth. Amen.
May God give you wisdom in all things, especially as you consider “gray areas” and as you make choices day by day.
Pastor Ken Mettler
Have We Forgotten How to Cry?
Do you struggle to cry? It once was that I could watch ten emotional events and never cry. Not so with my dear wife. Almost everything seemed to touch her heart. But, after 46 years of life together, it turns out that I’ve also become a crier. I’m rarely aloof about anything, any more. For years I could put on what I call a good “funeral face”. That’s the tear-less face I put on when I have to lead the funeral of someone, while at the same time needing to cry.
But, losing my tears had a steep price. Until I learned to grieve well, I could not live well afterwards. Brene Brown taught me, “If you numb one thing, you numb everything.” I learned that until I was able to feel my own pain, I would begin to destroy my own soul and I would never really empathize with others. When I turned off my tears, how could I possibly sit with someone who wept?
It was sad to realize how much I had been pushing down my emotions. Until I learned to grieve properly, I could not feel the joy and peace and connection I needed with myself and others. Learning to cry was God’s therapy for me.
The Bible records a history of tears. Here is a short list of famous Biblical people who cried: Jacob, Joseph, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John.
There is the cry of repentance. God told repentant Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears” (Isaiah 38:4).
There is the cry of remorse. Peter wept bitterly after he denied his Lord.
There are tears of joy over a newborn baby, tears of sorrow over a loved one’s death, tears of heartache over an erring friend and there are the cries of a tiny child. Godly people have often poured out their souls to Him in prayer with tears.
The Bible records that God even cries. His love for us is so deep that His emotions become visible. God cries when we disobey as well as when we experience grief and suffering. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb. Isaiah 63:9 states, “In all their afflictions, He [God] was afflicted.” When man suffers, God suffers. In Jeremiah 14:17 God said he was crying for “the daughter of my people…day and night” because of the plight they were in. The Bible tells us that true love weeps with those that weep and rejoices with those that rejoice. Why? Because that is the character of the God we serve. I can imagine that God has cried over every one of us and for many reasons.
But where are our tears as Christians? Our services often pump up the positive and eliminate the negative. They are happy, safe and calm. We smile and sing. We dress in nice clothes and ensure that we are as presentable as possible. When we come to bare our souls to God, our bodies are smartly attired and we are composed and calm! Someone once said, “Our faith is a dry-eyed faith.” Still, somewhere, in community or alone, we need to both repent and cry.
A part of Jewish tradition at Yom Kippur has been that people would beat their chests as tears streamed down their faces. The object was to be so honest with God that when they confessed their sins to Him, they become sorry enough to overflow in tears. The Bible teaches there is no forgiveness of sins without repentance.
For many, to display deep emotional feelings in public is an embarrassment. We all have witnessed displays of emotion in the media and in real life, but, at church we feel that we should be careful and appropriate.
That brings me to Memorial Day. We often fail to properly remember those who have given their lives for our freedom, and the further from a war we get, the less we weep. My mom died thirteen years ago this week. Each year I cry a little less. Not that I love her memory less, but, time and and space has softened the intense emotion. When I go to a cemetery on Memorial Day, I wonder if families will feel free to cry out to God, or will they feel constrained?
Not to cry is in some sense to miss the depth of feeling and prayer that Memorial Day demands. We need to cry. In the “Inferno” Dante made being unable to cry one of the tortures of the damned. The Bible speaks of the weeping of Rachel: “A cry is heard on the heights, wailing and bitter tears. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children who are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15). Rachel’s tears were a promise and a comfort for generations of Jews in exile. A mother’s tears for her displaced children were the assurance of not being forgotten.
Prayers can be powerful, but there is a special door in your heart that opens only to tears. Tears unlock something inside us and change our world. From the moment our first cry is coaxed as infants, we acknowledge the power of tears to open the gate of our heart.
Crying doesn’t always feel great. It can be embarrassing to break down in tears, and painful to feel our grief. But it also can make a person feel alive. It reminds me that God is speaking to my heart, teaching me and growing me. And it’s far better than realizing that my heart is hardened toward God.
One day, Isaiah promises, “The Lord God will wipe the tears from all eyes” (25:8). But until that wonderful day comes, let us not forget how to cry!
Saturday At 11 AM I will be speaking on Overcoming Obstacles by Faith from Hebrews 11:30 at Faith Fellowship in Luck.
Lord, forgive us for living tearless lives. Please let your Holy Spirit speak to our hearts through Your Word until we come face to face with our self and our sin. Then, help us to repent with tears. Forgive us for our calloused hearts toward You. Forgive us for our hard heart toward others. Forgive us for our lack of compassion for the lost. Break our hearts with the things that break Your heart and help us weep again. In Jesus’ name; Amen.
May Memorial Week-end bring a new appreciation to our hearts,
Pastor Ken Mettler
Run to Win
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
This is graduation season! Graduating represents the end of classes and the “commencement” of a new adventure. It is like you just finished one marathon and now you are on to another game, maybe a decathlon, maybe a hurtle, maybe a whole new ball game, or another race. There is one race we are all in and it is the “human” race. However, for Christians, we are in a special kind of race. Paul says about that race: run to win! That means… Don’t run halfheartedly! Don’t run intermittently! Don’t lolly-gag! Don’t just talk about running! Run with all your heart, and run to win!
There are generally four races that most people are busy running. Can you identify one of them in your life?
First, many are running The Rat Race! – This is a race in pursuit of the things of this world. In this race you work like a dog and you get exhausted! Mark Twain said: “The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
Second, some are running The Relationship Race! – This is a race in pursuit of just the right relationships for your life.
Third, some are running The Reputation Race! – This is a race in pursuit of looking good in front of others. You may have heard that too many people buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, trying to impress people they don’t like. Is this the race you are running?
Fourth, some are running The Religious Race! – This is a race in pursuit of God’s approval; trying to win His love by good works. It is a race you can’t win until you come to the point of realizing it is not what you do at all, but only what He has done.
There is another option, however….
You can run The Right Race! – This is the race where people follow Jesus with their entire being, giving over control of their life to Him. In surrendering their life to him, He becomes the Lord, the pilot, the coach of their life. It means a complete and total commitment to Jesus. Having read about a few of the races that folks are running today, I want to encourage you to do an honest evaluation of your life and ask the question, “Which race am I running?” The Rat Race, The Relationship Race, The Reputation Race, The Religious Race or…The Right Race?
Are You Running to Win This Race?
The happiest person in any race is always the one who wins the gold! The next happiest person is the one who gets the bronze. That person came close to going home with no medal and is happy to place. The one in second place often feels like the first loser.
The kingdom of God is different! There No One comes in second! We all can win! Now, doesn’t that sound like a race we all want to run? Paul tells us that we race for an eternal prize. Everyone can win, meaning, we can all go to heaven because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. The Christian life is not an attempt to beat anyone else. We are all running our own course. I’m not running your race, and you aren’t running mine. I won’t be judged for you, and you won’t be judged for me, or anyone else either! The Lord doesn’t measure us against others. Winning not only means making it to heaven, it means living daily for the Lord and making Him happy. Winning means running our own race and living out our faith daily. Winning is not beating others, it is measuring up to what God wants for us individually.
I challenge you to run to win! That means living for Jesus by following His Word and listening to His voice for His plan for your life. Getting ready for heaven means trusting Christ as our Savior and then following Him day by day.
This Sunday at 9 AM Pastor Jason will be speaking at Solid Rock Fellowship in New Richmond on I Corinthians 15. This chapter gives the most simple explanation of what the gospel is and then goes on to show the centrality of Christ’s resurrection. I will be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck on the Life of Moses and Overcoming By Faith, taken from Hebrews 11:24-28.
We wish to congratulate all graduates and pray God’s special guidance and blessing on their lives in the days ahead!
Lord, we thank you for each graduating student. We pray that you will give them direction, purpose, and perseverance as they enter the next phrase of their lives. Give them clearness of mind to move forward into the plans and purposes that You have for them. May these young people gain wisdom from You and have discernment in following You. Raise up Christian mentors for these graduates so they have someone who holds them accountable for their actions. We pray that they will rise above ungodly behaviors and have the boldness to stand up for what is right wherever they work, study, or socialize. Give them wisdom to spend their time and money wisely. Grant them success for their efforts at every turn and guide their feet to follow Your ways. May they be eager to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God all the days of their lives. Use them in might ways, dear Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I hope you find yourself in God’s house, with His people this Sunday!
Pastor Ken Mettler
How to be a Hang-Loose Christian in an Uptight World
Jesus: “Come unto me… and I will give you rest.”
Let’s face it, there are plenty of stressful things life can throw at you everyday (a world crisis, a money crisis, a work, school, health, child or partner crisis, etc.). Even as you get up in the morning your mind will walk through minefields of troubling and worrisome situations. In many cases, worry can be put to good use when solving problems. But it is destructive, because it shrinks your soul and gives you a less than Christ-like personality.
What does it mean to relax? For some it is reading a book, taking a walk, time with family, or a hot bath. Relaxing means you try to become less tense and anxious. If you are less anxious, you aren’t fearful. If you aren’t fearful, you worry less. One of the easiest ways to relax is to turn off the news. I often go to I Peter 5:7, which says, “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Here’s a formula you can use to learn to “R.E.L.A.X.” —
1. Realize that no one is perfect. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” No one is right all the time, except God. God’s Word is perfect. When you get in the Bible and build your life on it, you will have a perfect foundation.
2. Enjoy God’s unstoppable love. John writes, “God is love…. and…. behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God.” God loves everyone, but, he pours out His love on His own children and we can rest in the security of His love. Nothing can stop God from loving you!
3. Let God be God. We can’t control everything, but He can. That’s why He asks us to “Cast all our cares and concerns on Him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). There is only so much you can do, then you have to give your problems over to the Lord. Stop trying to solve all your problems by yourself. Ask God to help. Let Him be God.
4. Act on your faith, not your fears. It is faith that brought you into God’s family and it is faith that will bring you through every day. There’s nothing to fear when He is near!
5. X –Exchange your perplexing issues and emotional turmoil for God’s peace. The following are peace destroyers: perplexing issues, problems, persecutions and perfectionism. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come unto me all you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” ie: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” What a super deal!
According to a Greek legend, Aesop played childish games with the children, but folks mocked him and asked him why he wasted his time in frivolous activity. Aesop picked up a bow, loosened the string, and set it on the ground. Then he said, “Now, answer this riddle if you can. Tell me what the unstrung bow means?” The man couldn’t. Aesop said, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break, but, if you let it go slack, it will be fit for use when you want it.” People are like that. God meant for people to stop worrying and sit down and rest a while, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. You will be your best for the Lord when you have stopped stressing yourself and loosen your string.
Here’s a guarantee: You’re going to fail a lot in life. But you don’t have to worry about it if you’ve received God’s grace. In fact, there’s only one failure you ever need to worry about: Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace. (See Hebrews 12:15) Really knowing God is the key. Receive His grace right now, and then relax!
This Sunday I will be speaking at Faith Fellowship in Luck on “The Greatest Mother of All” -from various passages. Come and “Do Mother’s Day” at the House of God. It will do good for your soul, it will do good for the Mothers in your life, and it will do good for the family of God.
Lord, you have given us the tools for living successfully in this world! Help us be stronger together in the family at home and in the larger family of God! Grant success in all our endeavors for You! Fulfill Your word in us and make us instruments of your love and peace today! Amen!
Have a Happy and Holy Mother’s Day!
Pastor Ken Mettler
12 Rules for Raising a Delinquent:
1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be so shocked when the home is broken up later.
3. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute.
4. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.
5. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let “him decide for himself”.
6. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified.
7. Avoid the use of “wrong”. He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
8. Let him read any printed material, and listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
9. Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
10. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, “I could never do anything with him.”
11. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it.
Taken from a pamphlet entitled Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children distributed by the Houston Police Department.
If Jesus Took Selfies, Would You Believe Him Then?
What if Jesus could live-stream the sermon on the mount? What if He could turn water into wine before your eyes on camera? What if you could watch Him raise Lazarus from the dead? What if we could see Jesus walking the earth from a series of selfies? What if you could really see Him dead, buried and then risen from the dead?
Before I answer that question, I don’t believe Jesus would be spending a lot of time taking hundreds of pictures of selfies. He wouldn’t be that egotistical. Would He even have a Facebook page? I don’t know. Maybe so. This I do know, in His lifetime He certainly wasn’t vain enough to have someone paint His portrait in oil on canvas, or, even create a watercolor image of Calvary’s cross, or the empty tomb.
Would Jesus take selfies or be on line at all today? Well, if He did, it would be very meaningful. Not everyone would follow Him, because, He would be creating a lot of enemies with the local ministerial and town council. He would probably be turning over a few money tables of the modern televangelists. The authorities would probably have Him in jail for disturbing the peace in the temple. Religious leaders would be up in arms about His claim that He and the Father are one.
If Jesus were to selfie, it would be because He wanted us to see Him as He really is, and thus meet face to face with God. But, think about it: That is the whole purpose of the Bible being written and the Holy Spirit painting a clear picture of Jesus on our hearts as we read it.
Friends, it is the Holy Spirit who paints a selfie of Jesus on your heart as you read the Word. You are no more apt to believe Jesus by seeing Him on modern media than you would be if you were there in person during His life. Most people rejected Him in that day and most people reject Him today.
Technology neither gives us an advantage or a disadvantage in meeting Jesus face to face. People of every age have had the same opportunity to seek God… and His Word says that all who seek Him with their whole heart will truly find Him.
Is your heart hungry for God? There were two men on the road to Emmaus that were hungry for God and Jesus showed them many Old Testament portraits of how the Son of Man must suffer and die and be raised from the dead. Today, we have the Holy Spirit to show us Jesus. He instructs pastors and Sunday School teachers who study their lessons, and He also instructs every honest soul who is looking for spiritual truth and life.
So, I ask you: If Jesus took selfies, would you believe Him, then? I have a friend who puts secret codes in his paintings. Once he points them out, it is obvious why he painted the picture. Friends, when you see Christ in the Bible and fall in love with Him, He sends the Holy Spirit and shows you His secrets. Sometimes it is in a sermon, sometimes it is when you are reading the Bible, sometimes it is when you listen to Christ-honoring music. Jesus did take selfies, but, you need the Holy Spirit to see them. It is called “Having the eyes of faith.”
“Lord, help me to see You as you really are! I am not looking for a glimpse of lesser pictures. You provide the true beauty of life. Help me gaze into You your loving eyes and see the face of God.”
May Christ be seen in me, today!
Pastor Ken Mettler
There once was this hippie back in the 1960’s that used to tell stories with a deeper meaning and he always ended his stories with the phrase, “Hey, man, do you dig me?”
Of course, that meant, “Do you understand me?”
Finally, the hippie died and he had this put on his tombstone, “Hey, man, don’t dig me! I’m really gone.”
It is a silly story, but, it might help you remember Hebrews 11:22.
Most people don’t want their body to be moved after they are dead and in the grave.
The New Testament remembers Joseph as a man with a strange request. Just before he died he said, “When you go back to the promised land, take my box of bones with you.”
In that great-getten-up-morning he wanted to be in the Promised Land. Ezekiel says that one day the dry bones of God’s chosen people will rise again and walk in the Promised Land.
Friends, we can go to heaven from any spot on earth. When I trust in Christ as my own personal Savior, I am as sure for heaven as if I was already there. Do you know Him?
Was Jesus Born at Migdal Eder?
There was place just outside of Bethlehem city, but still within the region commonly known as Bethlehem, where Passover lambs were kept by specially trained and purified shepherds. The lambs were born in this “tower of the flock” known as Migdal Eder under the watchful eye of the shepherds who would then inspect and either certify them for use as sacrifices in the temple or designate them to be released for common use. The new lambs would, according to some sources, even be wrapped in special swaddling clothes once certified.
The Biblical arguments for the Migdal Eder cite the fact that the word translated “manger” in the Gospels could also be translated as “stall” or any holding area for animals — such as Migdal Eder. Cooper P. Abrams III argues this point:
The Greek word which is translated in our English Bibles “manger” is Yatnh phat-ne (pronounced fat’-nay). The definition of the word is of a “stall” where animals are kept and in Luke 13:15 is translated as such. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) the word means a stall or a crib (See Proverbs 14:4).
Proponents of the theory point to rabbinical writings and Micah 4:8 and other more debatable passages that you can explore as you desire.
And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. ~ Micah 4:8
What I Like about It
Here’s what I find fascinating about the theory. First, it places Jesus’ birth in the traditional location for Passover lambs to be born. Fitting, since He became the Passover Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Second, it explains how the shepherds knew where to go to find the newborn babe — and why it being wrapped in swaddling clothes would be significant clue. Finally, it explains why those shepherds were notified as it was their holy calling to certify Passover lambs upon birth.
Maybe Jesus was born away in a manger, just not like the one in this photo, but in the “tower of the flock”, Migdal Eder, surrounded by holy shepherds, set apart to certify the birth of the ultimate Passover Lamb.
The Real Source Of Spiritual Strength
Nehemiah 8 “The joy of the Lord is your strength….”
We are living in a time when there seems to be a great lack of joy and strength in the hearts of men. Everywhere you turn you can see the prophetic words of Jesus coming to pass and I am reminded of what Jesus said would be happening just prior to his Second Coming.
Luke 21:25-26 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Turn on the news and you begin to understand that these scriptures are surely coming to pass. With Israel and its neighbors in conflict, and with our own nation so deep in trouble that the very fabric of our society is beginning to unravel, with the growing threat of a civil uprising, and rebellion against our government, we are living on the very brink of a worldwide collapse of unparalleled proportions.
Yet God, in His infinite mercy and great grace, is still at work.
My joy comes from knowing that I am His and that He is mine. My strength comes from that joy of being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and having the eternal life of God already dwelling in my soul. The Joy of the Lord is my Strength! Because of Jesus, we can face tomorrow without fear! Because of his great Love, we can know that He holds our tomorrow in the palm of His hand and that He will never let us fall. How can we know this great Joy? In a moment I will share with you 10 ways to get your joy back.
Not long ago Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University published the World Happiness Report. The report showed that the United States, one of the world’s economically richest countries came in #15 on the Happiness Scale. Our level of happiness has gone down since 2005.
The findings from that report remind us of Jesus words in Luke 12, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Followers of Christ understand that joy and happiness are not the same. Happiness is the feeling you get when things are going well; it’s based on your circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of pleasure, delight, gladness and well-being that is independent of circumstance. Joy flows from a deeply rooted conviction that not only does God cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, but inherent in joy is the sense of delight in God that can cause our heart to smile even if things on the outside seem to be falling apart. In all of life’s circumstances it’s valuable for us to ask ourselves, “Am I relying on my happiness, or does my strength come from the joy of the Lord?”
The word “joy” is used 93 times in the O.T. It’s a Hebrew word that means “glee” or “exceeding joy.” God wants you to be joyful! Perhaps, you feel as if you have lost your joy! How do you get your joy back?
Here are some Bible principles that can help you live with joy in your heart:
1. Joy is something God can and wants to restore in you
Psalm 51:12 – Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
God can restore the joy you have lost in your life and in your relationships, but, it all starts with re-claiming the joy that comes between you and the Lord. It isn’t God’s fault if your lack of walking with God has taken away your joy.
2. Joy is getting alone and moving yourself into God’s presence
Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
If you lack joy, make a determined effort to spend time alone with Him. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, ponder His incredible kindness, celebrate His greatness, trust in His power and you will be surprised by the experience His joy.
3. Joy is the result of living a righteous life
Psalm 97:11 – Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.
Eccl. 2:26 – God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him.
If you have unaddressed and unconfessed sin in your lives, it will diminish your joy. On the other hand, when we are walking with God in forgiveness and with a clear conscience, joy increases.
4. Joy is found when you delight in God’s Word
Psalm 119:111 – Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
Another way to put it is, “We inherited God’s book on how to get joy in our heart…” Some people wish they had a rich old aunt or uncle who would leave them a huge inheritance. Honestly, the best that kind inheritance can bring is a temporary happiness, but the Bible is an inheritance from the Lord; it is better than gold, diamonds, or rubies, and it has been passed down to you. When we see the Bible as our personal inheritance and treasure, that mindset will lead to joy.
5. Joy is the result of sharing Godly wisdom with others
Proverbs 15:23 – To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
Have you ever experienced a time when you were involved in a conversation, and suddenly you realized that God had given you wisdom to speak? There was no other explanation other than God was speaking through you. God’s desire is that every one of us who walks with Him would speak life-giving, Spirit-filled words to the people around us. When our words are filled with wisdom, it produces joy.
6. Joy is produced by maintaining Godly hope
Prov. 10:28 – The hope of the righteous brings joy…
What is hope? For the Christian, hope is basically the anticipation that God will do something He has promised and that we claim by faith that brings about our good and His glory! God always does good, but we have to believe Him for it and He will keep doing more good in more ways than we can count. Develop the habit of anticipating God’s goodness in your life, and you will have joy!
7. Joy is found in getting your prayers answered
John 16:24 – Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
No prayer, no joy! Little prayer, little joy. Much prayer, much joy. Just praying brings joy. The anticipation that God will do something good brings joy. Answered prayer brings more joy. Making time to pray is key to making room for joy!
8. Joy is produced by the Holy Spirit at work in your heart
Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…
One marks of the Spirit’s working in your life is joy. Holy Spirit-filled Christian joy should be the highlight of every day of your life! If the Spirit is not producing joy in your life, then it’s important to consider that something in your life may be blocking the work of the Spirit in you. Ask the Lord to identify that blockage and remove it so that His joy may flow in your heart.
9. Joy comes through people God has placed in your life
Philippians 1:3-5 – I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now.
When I think about the people God has put in my life, who they are and what they’ve done, it brings me joy. There is no reason to focus on the unkind words and hurts that have come to you from Satan through other people. Instead, spend your time thanking God for the people who have developed you, encouraged you, served with you, and you will have joy.
10. Joy comes when you put your trust the Lord
Psalm 40:4 – Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord…
Placing our trust in God brings joy. We have a God who loves us more than can we imagine, a God who is more powerful than we can comprehend, and a God who has promised to help us if we put our trust in Him. Let your heart be joyful in your God who wants to help you!
God is the Real Source of Joy and Spiritual Strength is your life! It all begins with hearing the Word; then we can put His Word into our hearts, and it grows deeper as we allow the Word to move us into action and do God’s work in and through us! The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength; and that Joy comes from hearing and obeying the Word!! Let the Word work in you and watch your Joy and Strength to live for God grow ever stronger!
This Sunday at 11 AM I will be speaking at Faith Fellowship on the Hebrews 11:22 and the subject is Joseph: A Man Who Rested in His Faith, or Joseph’s Bones of Belief. After worship in Luck there will be a fellowship meal. Bring whatever you wish to share with the group. At 2 PM is the Indianhead Barbershop Chorus Gospel Concert at Luck Lutheran Church. It is Free and everyone is welcome.
Lord, restore unto us the joy of Your salvation! Your Word is our heritage forever! In Your presence is fullness of joy! Renew us in Your joy and may we never be happy with anything less. Amen.
May God bless and keep you!
Pastor Ken Mettler
Viewing a Matchless Masterpiece
Through the years my favorite artist has changed several times, but, all my favorite artists have been painters of birds and animals in lovely settings. My latest favorite work of art is Springtime Beauty by Kim Norlien. It is truly a masterpiece and I have a print of it.
I have heard that students and lovers of art will spend weeks sitting before a single masterpiece by one of the great artists. To fully enjoy such a masterful work of art they immerse themselves in a painting for prolonged periods of time. One man spent years studying one of Raphael’s great works of art. He said he spent years studying Raphael’s painting and every visit was able to “discover some new beauty or joy.” To invest that kind of time, attention and appreciative scrutiny seems almost too much.
If there is that much beauty and intricate detail in one painting, how much truer it would be if we studied God’s vast creation! That leads me to ask: If creation is so expansive and magnificent, what does that say about the one who created it? I live in a beautiful part of Wisconsin, but my familiarity sometimes becomes a blinder that keeps me from seeing all the beauty God has put in our world. Seasons are changing here, but God does not change, and He is bigger than we could ever imagine. Job 11.7-8 says, “Do you think you can explain the mystery of God? Do you think you can diagram God Almighty? God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, Stretching farther than earth’s horizons, far wider than the endless ocean.” In a million years we will have just begun to step out into the shore line of the depths of His love and mercy, His glory and power.
God is so big that our small human minds can only begin to comprehend His limitlessness and greatness. Every time we read His Word we can experience Him in a way we have never seen or known.
A.W. Tozer in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, said “what comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God Himself…The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him…The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God…The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him – and her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.”
Because of that, I believe my primary task is to preach the Bible and say “Here is your God.” I know that I will never describe God as big as He is…but I will keep trying. I will never declare the promises of God’s Word as glorious as they are…but I will keep trying. I am only trying to paint a picture of God, but my words just can’t do it like I wish. My inability to paint a complete picture will always be obvious to me, but God through His Word and my weakness still has a way of showing us something new about His incomparable beauty. Only His Holy Spirit can fill our ears with His voice and our eyes with His beauty. I want so much to make Christ irresistible to others. Will you be faithful to gaze at Christ and His Word? If you will, God will show you more of the beauty of His Matchless Masterpiece.
Last Sunday our services were cancelled because of the snow storm. This Sunday we will have the previously planned messages. Pastor Jason will speak from I Corinthians at 9 AM at Solid Rock in New Richmond -and I will speak at 11 AM at Faith Fellowship in Luck on the subject: Wobbly Faith that Has Learned to Lean on Jesus. It is a short study in the life of Jacob.
Lord, give me eyes to see by faith both a more perfect vision of Christ and clearer vision of the path He has laid out for me. In Jesus name. Amen.
For His glory alone,
My prayer is that you see Christ in the whole Bible.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:2
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt. 18:20
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isa. 53:5
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. I John 4:9
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Cor. 15:57
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. Isa. 53:3-4
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col 3:15
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. I Tim. 2:5
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Eph. 2:4-5
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:15-16
When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:49-50
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Jn. 3:17
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. I Cor. 15:3-4
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. mark 10:45
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matt. 17:5
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11
And [Jesus] beginning with Moses and all the prophets, …. explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Lk 24:27
(Christ is found throughout the entirety of the Bible, and it is reprehensible that many miss finding him as he is spread over the pages of the Old Testament.)
As you read through God’s Word, see how it points you to Jesus.
Christ is the Seed of woman and in Genesis 3:15 we are told He will one day crush Satan.
In Exodus we find the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us.
In Leviticus we read of the high priests making sacrifices for the people, and Christ has become our High Priest, making the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins.
In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself. Jesus is that Great Prophet.
In the book of Joshua, Joshua met the Captain of the Lord’s host. That man is Jesus Christ.
In Judges, the leaders were judges who delivered God’s people, each of them typifying the Lord Jesus.
Boaz, the kinsman who redeemed Ruth’s inheritance, is a picture of Christ.
David, the anointed one, pictures Jesus and Jesus is described as being the Son of David.
In 2 Samuel when the king is being enthroned, the entire scene is descriptive of the Lord Jesus.
The books of Kings speak of the glory of God filling the temple and the Chronicles describe the glorious coming king, both referring to Jesus, the King of Kings.
Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers.
Job says clearly that the Redeemer is coming!
Esther offers a picture of Christ interceding for His people.
Christ appears time after time in the Psalms, including when David describes Him as “the Shepherd.”
Isaiah details His glorious birth.
Jeremiah reveals that He will be acquainted with sorrows.
Joel describes Him as the Hope of His people.
Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations.
Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom.
Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance.
Zephaniah says that He will be the king over Israel.
Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt.
Malachi is the one who calls Him the Son of Righteousness.
Can you see it? The entire Old Testament points toward Jesus as Savior, and if you miss that, you’ve missed the entire point of the Scriptures. Jesus is the Matchless Masterpiece, the Messiah and the fulfillment of the whole plan of God.
I hope to see you in Church real soon!
What is the most powerful force on earth?
We can possibly look to nature and science for the answer, but, is it a hurricane? a monsoon? a tornado? an earthquake? a wildfire? a flood? an atomic explosion? All of these are deadly! There are also disasters such as plagues and famine that have killed millions. Are any of these disasters the most powerful force on earth? Then, there are problems we have created, such as wars and holocausts. That leads me to ask you a another question: Is hatred the most powerful force on earth? I am writing this on National Holocaust Remembrance Day. Try to imagine the horror of Auschwitz, Dachau and Ravensbruck!
For some people the most powerful and destructive force in their lives is anger or depression. For others, the power behind their lives is faith and joy. That leads to my next question: Is spiritual power more powerful than physical power? If joy and faith can get you through the day, isn’t that the power you really need in your life at all times?
My answer to the initial question is not one I have already mentioned, yet, it is possibly the ultimate force on earth. Wars and natural disasters are powerful things, but, there is a power that is even stronger if we can get hold of it and use it. It is symbolized it two qualities found in the Bible: Light and Love. The Bible says, “God is light” and “God is love.” Light always extinguishes darkness and love always eliminates hate. We are talking about mutually exclusive categories. Darkness and hatred never win over light and love, they cannot co-exist. Light and love are like the two most powerful kings on earth. You cannot defeat them.
There is no life without light. Take away the photosynthesis process and there would be no life on earth. To say that God is Light is really to say that He is the source of all Life. To see the ultimate reality is to see God by the light of faith. To know that reality is to have eternal life.
There is also no life without love. Take away love and all that is left is pain, heartache, hatred and death. However, if we have love we can endure pain, heartache, hatred and even death. We would do anything and would suffer any pain for someone we love.
Friends, that is the message of the cross. Jesus came to show us the full extent of God’s love. If you are looking for love, you find it in Jesus. April started with the celebration of the great miracle of Christ’s resurrection! Love is the glue that God uses to bind us to Himself, and love is the glue that can keep us together, and the oil that can keep us from rubbing each other the wrong way.
Love is the WD-40 of relationships. Love can seep into tight places where logic, threats, and even promises just can’t seem to penetrate. Of all the forces in the world that can be resisted, the most difficult to resist is love. Bottom line: You and I will do for love what we will do for no other reason. If you want to be powerful, let love be your weapon of choice. It is the most powerful force in the world. The power of love will keep shining until every church disciples every person!
The most powerful force on earth is God! If you have Him, you have the two most powerful weapons on earth: Light and Love.
The most powerful decision you can make is to receive Christ who will become your own personal Light and Loving Savior. If you don’t have the love you need today, there is really only one source to find the most powerful cure for what is ailing you.
This Sunday I’ll be sharing a message on the life of Jacob titled, “Wobbly Faith that has Learned to Lean on Jesus.” The message will come at the 11 AM worship service at Faith Fellowship in Luck.
Lord, we ask for an outpouring of Your love in a world gone over to evil. Start by pouring a huge bucket of Your love in our hearts today. May we return that love to You and pour it out on everyone we meet! Amen!
May our desire be, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today!”
Pastor Ken Mettler
Is the Lord all You Need?
The LORD is my shepherd; I have need of nothing more!
The Twenty-third Psalm is the most beloved poem ever written, the most memorized chapter in the Bible, and the most beautiful allegory ever written. As a boy-shepherd, David saw that his relationship with his flock was a lot like the Lord’s relationship with him. He was utterly dependent on the Lord to care for him.
A commentator said, “Unlike many animals, sheep can’t make it on their own. They can’t fight with their hoofs or teeth. They can’t track down food. They can’t run very easily, or dig holes, or climb trees to escape predators. They can’t kick or bite. They need a shepherd to care for them, just as we do.” That’s why Psalm 23 doesn’t say, “The Lord is a shepherd,” or “The Lord is the shepherd.” It says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” And if He is my Shepherd, I will lack for nothing! I have used this eight point outline before, but it bears repeating:
BECAUSE THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
I will not lack peace and provision, for He gives green pastures and still waters.
I will not lack hope and encouragement, for He restores my soul.
I will not lack guidance, for He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
I will not lack deliverance in tough times, for He’s with me even in the valley of the shadows.
I will not lack protection, for His rod and staff comfort me, and He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
I will not lack help and healing in all the events of life, for He anoints my head with oil.
I will not lack endless blessings, for my cup overflows, and goodness and mercy will follow me all my days.
I will not lack eternal life and heaven, for I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
Whatever you may be needing right now can be found in knowing the Lord is your Shepherd!
Sunday at Faith Fellowship in Luck I will be speaking on Word of Faith to Face the Future. Our passage will be Hebrews 11:20 and we will study the life of Isaac. We anticipate God’s Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide.
Here is Psalm 23 put into music and contemporary poetry: “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything that I need. He makes me rest in meadows green and leads me beside the quiet stream. He keeps on giving life to me, and helps me to do what honors Him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death, I will never be afraid for He is close beside me. Guarding, guiding all the way, He spreads a feast before me. In the presence of my enemies He welcomes me as His special guest. With blessings overflowing, His goodness and unfailing kindness will be with me all of my life; and afterwards I will live with Him…. forever in His home!”
Lord, help us follow you, our Shepherd, all the days of our lives and claim the promise of eternal life with You. Amen!
Pastor Ken Mettler
There are Three Main Gardens in the Bible.
The Garden of Eden, where it all began. We have Adam and Eve in disobedience to God and a garden of bliss that is lost for human kind.
In the Gospels we have the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ is there at night, weeping as it were great drops of blood. There he prays for us. There the agony of the cross is accepted. “And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ . . . And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.’ . . . And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:32-37).
In Revelation we have a return to the garden that God intended for us. We banquet with God. We enjoy Him forever.
Yet, there is a fourth garden. A garden for us. A peaceful garden; a quiet garden, a garden of listening to God’s voice and a garden of prayer. I believe it is this garden that the song writer, Ann Murry refers to when he writes:
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.