Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week

Holy Week

I want to remind you of a few events taking place this week that will add to your experience of Passion Week. My prayer is that our hearts will be full of the resurrection power that Jesus wants to pour into each one of His followers.

Maundy Thursday
Many have asked what Maundy means. Maundy is a Latin word that means “mandate.” It is a mandate or command from the Lord to serve others and to remember His sacrifice. This was the first time the disciples had heard of someone in authority actually washing feet. Usually they would hire a servant to come and wash their feet. This time Jesus shows them what they are to do to others through serving. He is introducing a new concept called servant leadership. It is better to serve than to be served. What a statement the Lord is making by removing his robe and putting on a towel.

This Thursday we will be celebrating communion. It will be an interactive experience. Everyone will come in and sit at the table and be a part of an experience of what it would have been like to be there in the upper room and partake of the bread and wine, Jesus’ body and blood. Come anytime between 5:30 p.m.  and 7:00 p.m.. You will come into the sanctuary in 15-minute intervals. When you leave, you will receive the next ornament as we continue to experience the whole Lenten season.

Good Friday
A special devotional is prepared in the Lenten booklet for you to share with your family.

Saturday – Easter-rific Morning
This event starts at 9:00 a.m. in the Family Life Center. It is for families with children. Breakfast, games, candy, and a special guest will be there. It is going to be a great time. Invite your friends and come for lots of fun.

Easter Sunday
There are services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. with a breakfast between at 9:30 a.m. Come and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Nursery and Children’s Ministries are provided during both services.

On Sunday, April 7, we will begin our double services. The first service will be at 9:15 a.m.  and the second service will be at 10:30 a.m.. Anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ and has not been baptized will have the opportunity to get baptized on this Sunday.

May the Lord enrich your week as you engage in this Holy Week.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Intentional Growth In Christ

Intentional Growth In Christ

Yesterday I read through a passage found in 1 Chronicles 28:5-10. I just can’t get one of the verses off of my mind. In verse 9, David is counseling his son Solomon to “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind.” He was chosen to sit on the throne of Israel as king. The Lord wanted to bless him and establish his kingdom forever. There is one catch. Solomon needed to observe God’s commandments and His judgments. God is still looking for men and women who are totally sold out for the cause of Christ. There is intentionality in the call of God on our part as Christians. We are to be intentional in our relationship with the Lord as it impacts all of our relationships and circumstances. Matthew reminds us in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

So my question to you is this, “Have you taken a spiritual inventory?” Are you serving the Lord with a loyal heart and a willing mind? David knew that character was the key to life. He wanted his son to be right in heart, that his mind would be sound, and that he would honor trust and serve the Lord. All things begin and end with the Lord, therefore, it must be our sole aim and desire.

David is talking to Solomon in the sight of all of Israel and the assembly because he is preparing everyone for his departure someday. They have followed David as king for many years. Now it is time to hand the baton off to God’s next anointed choice – Solomon. 1 Chronicles 28:9 continues, “for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

To help you know that you know that you know, we will begin a class on Wednesday, April 3, called, “Upward Seeking, Outward Reaching.” It will walk you through a process of evaluating where you stand on your beliefs, virtues, and practices. It will take you down the path of understanding what we believe and why we believe it. We will then dive into some cornerstone beliefs that will help us navigate in this world of gray. It’s all about knowing what we need to know in order to grow closer to Christ. I hope you join me for this class. There will be good discussion and great insight into the Scripture.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I pray you have been participating in the family devotions and following on in our journey to the Cross. The choir will be singing a special number and we will continue to look at the “I AM” statements of Jesus. Come to worship and bring a friend to experience the power of Jesus’ name.

May God richly bless you as you seek Him with all your heart.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

From Eden To Babel

In Genesis 11:1-9, a story unfolds that sounds a lot like Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve were in the garden. The parallel is in the fact that both instances center on people elevating themselves as gods. Adam and Eve went to the extreme to disobey God in order to know good and evil. They wanted to be like God. The people building the Tower of Babel wanted to build a tower so high that it would reach to the heavens. They wanted so desperately to make a name for themselves. At first glance it looks like a good thing for the people to work together to accomplish great things. The Lord even said that nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Then in His next statement He is on the way to confuse their language so they will not be able to understand each other and continue construction.

Why was it necessary to confuse them to the point of stopping the construction of the Tower of Babel? The answer lies in the fact of trying to attempt things independently of God. Don’t read into this account that God does not want us to work together. In the Spirit there is unity. But don’t forget that it is also under the Spirit of God. Anytime we try to attempt anything without God as our leader, we attempt things in vain. In the book of Acts, the scattering of the Christians led to the mission of the church to go and multiply. So persecution and scattering can be a good thing in disguise. In Genesis 11, God’s anger did not lead to extreme measures. With a gentle hand He redirected them and stopped the misguided venture.

How arrogant and prideful of people to think they could access heaven, the dwelling place of God. The earth alone is to be inhabited by humanity while we are alive in a physical sense. The motive of the tower builders was the same as that of the garden dwellers in that they desired power — power apart from God. In all reality, it was a tiny tower, conceived by a puny plan and attempted by a pint-sized people. They would not have been as powerful as God, but they thought they would have been. That is enough to feed a self-centered pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” It is a lesson that is repeated over and over. It’s as if we have thick skulls or terrible memories. If this were a vote I would vote for both.

What plans are you attempting on your own? Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” Without God playing the role of God, we are in a heap of trouble (Commentary of Pastor Mike).

Examine your plans and your direction in life and ask the Lord to reveal to you any pride in your plans. Replace your pride with a desire to follow Jesus wherever He leads. God cares about every detail of your life. Ignite your life by involving Him before, during, and after.

Didn't the children do a great job this past Sunday? From our Preschool to our Elementary age, we have some talented children. God has blessed us so much with people who love and train up our children in the Lord. As we unleash the Holy Spirit in their lives, we teach them what we all should be learning – we have all we need in Jesus. On Sunday we are learning more about the presence of the “I AM” as we look in John 10. Come with anticipation of knowing Him more.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Eternal Life, Gift of Salvation

Let’s look at the concept of Eternal Life. Most people have put to memory John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I memorized this verse as a child from the King James Version of the Bible. Instead of saying, “eternal life,” it says, “everlasting life.” It refers to a length of time – life that never ends. This can be misunderstood if people conclude that by becoming a Christian they will never die. Everyone is going to live on beyond this age. People who do not believe Jesus Christ and Him crucified will spend eternity in Hell. So what does “eternal life” mean?

In Acts 13, Saul, who was also called Paul, and Barnabas set out to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ among different people. It is called Paul’s first missionary journey. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. Paul proclaimed that through Jesus, everyone who believes is set free from every sin; a justification they were not able to obtain under the Law of Moses.

Every place Paul and Barnabas travelled, they first preached this message in the Jewish Synagogue where Jews and Gentiles who worshipped God were present. The people were so moved by their message that they wanted them to continue. It was like an extended revival. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. Many Gentiles showed up to hear this message. The Jews became jealous because of the great crowd. They started talking against Paul and rebuked him. That is when Paul began to minister to the Gentiles and fulfilled prophecy. He did not stop ministering to the Jews though. Every city he went to, he would first preach to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. The Jews rejected him while the Gentiles were very receptive. This broke Paul’s heart. His own people rejecting Jesus.

This message of Eternal Life found in Acts 13:46-48, talked about “life which comes from God” or “true life.” But to look at it from this perspective would only miss the significance of this quality of life that continues through one’s earthly existence and beyond death. We need to encompass the qualitative and the quantitative at the same time. So here it is, the final analysis that will bring full meaning to “eternal life.” It is experiencing real life which never ends. Simple yet profound.

Eternal life is a beginning point of a new life and not something that is to be obtained after death. When a sinner repents of their sins and believes unto Jesus, then eternal life is what is received. They have been justified and salvation is their free gift. In Acts 13 when the Gentiles believed, they took an active role in believing, in committing themselves to Christ. But it was in response to God’s Spirit moving in them, convicting them, and appointing them for life. Salvation is only found by the grace of God. I praise the Lord during this season of Lent that we can celebrate all the intentional acts of God that lead to our salvation. 

In Acts 13:49, it says, “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” That is what happens when the Truth of God’s Word is proclaimed. The darkness flees and the light of the Gospel is spread. 

This Sunday we continue our “I AM” series by looking at John 15 where Jesus says, “I AM the Vine…” Invite someone with you this Sunday and let Jesus make an eternal difference in your friend’s life. Be sure and pick up the next ornament in the foyer that goes along with the “Lenten Season” booklet.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike