Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Encouraging Word

An Encouraging Word

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called, ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

These verses remind us to always be encouraging to our brothers and sisters in Christ. What are we to encourage them about? I am glad you asked. Encourage them in the Lord. We are to speak life into each other. Life only comes from God who is light. Paul mentions to not be like others who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. This would imply that people are not intentional about living holy lives before the Lord. They aimlessly wonder around hoping to make a positive impact on their sphere of influence. When you come up to a questionable practice or habit, dig deep. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive.” Find out why you feel the way you do about it. Then search the Scriptures or talk to someone who is grounded in God’s Word. Do whatever it takes to live a life pleasing to the Lord in all you do and say. You are never off the clock. Just think, you have a role in helping others to live their life pleasing to God.

Even in places where Christians do not experience overt persecution or hatred, we all know that life can be difficult. Discouragement can set in at the most inopportune times. You never know when someone around you is going through a difficult time.

A man in the early church named Joseph was given the nickname “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Through the encouragement of Barnabas, the apostle Paul was first accepted by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27). Barnabas was constantly living up to his new name. It became a part of who he was. He found the secret of encouragement. Encouragement gives hope, it helps us through times of testing, it gives us the drive to live a fulfilled Christian life, it can prevent burnout, it can save us from believing lies, just to mention a few.

Could someone accuse you of being an encourager in the Lord? My prayer is that wherever you go this week, people will be spiritually lifted up to a higher level. This is a good place for a proverb, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. It is celebrating the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem as the Servant King. We have been looking at this passage of Scripture in Matthew 21 on Sundays during our current series, “Lead Me to the Cross.” Let’s plan to come and worship together as our choir leads us to the throne of God in worship. It is going to be a great day!

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Solid Rock

The Solid Rock

What an awesome night last night was with our Upward Awards night celebration. There were many adults and children who responded to the Spirit of God in the service and throughout the season. I will be sharing the highlights in the weeks to come.

Jesus never guaranteed a crisis-free life. He predicted that storms would batter the house built on the rock as well as the one on the sand. Last week, I wrote about the guest of a lifetime. I want to continue that theme this week. Let’s begin by looking at Jesus' words about a wise and foolish builder.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27.

As we continue through this Lent season, I am reminded that Jesus’ life was filled with crisis – family misunderstandings, satanic opposition, false accusation, betrayal, legal injustice, abuse and execution. Who could be a more empathetic house guest? Healthy households deal with crisis in a positive manner. They don’t make catastrophes of minor incidents. When there are real problems, they pull together. Have you ever had a time when your family did not handle a crisis very well? I wonder how many of our conflicts would turn out differently if we only realized the Master of all conflicts was there to help us resolve it peacefully?

I want to bring our attention to an old hymn written in the 1800s. The words still ring true today. Those who know the tune can sing it as you read along.

The Solid Rock
My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Chorus: On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

What crisis are you presently facing? Failing to turn to the word of God and applying it is like building your house on sand. Saturating in the word of God and applying it is to build on a secure rock. I may not always quickly embrace a conflict that may arise, but I can know for sure that if I hunger and thirst for more of Jesus, no matter how hard it may be, I can be assured of a peace-filled outcome.

The last three verses of this great hymn are powerful:
When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found! Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!

I’m looking forward to another great and powerful day on Sunday as we continue to be led to the Cross of Jesus. Choose to live out the word of God today in power and strength.

Joy in Jesus,
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Guest of a Lifetime

The Guest of a Lifetime

I was talking to someone the other day whose family has been visiting from out of town. They are staying with them for over a week. They are having a good time but their regular routine is out the door. Bed times are later, showers are colder, and meals take longer to cook. They wouldn’t change it for the world though. Time spent with family is worth it.

What if I was to tell you that Jesus was in town and needed a place to stay? After saying, “Yes!,” you would do all you can to prepare your house for the guest of a lifetime.

After the resurrection, two men were walking to Emmaus. Jesus comes up and walks with them. He inquires about what they were talking about. They couldn’t believe that He didn’t know what was happening. As they walked along they explained to Him all the events. Jesus took it from there and filled in the rest of the blanks. It was getting late and these two men invited Jesus to stay with them. They still didn’t know who they were talking to. This story is found in Luke 24:13-35. “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). Their hearts were stirred as they were talking to Him. They probably wish they knew it sooner.

If Jesus were to come and stay in your home, I would guarantee things would change. It would put everyone on their best behavior. If the children started arguing, the parents would quickly come and put their finger over the mouth and forcefully whisper, “Shhh!” while pointing to the bedroom where Jesus is sleeping. The family would work at being polite to each other. Put-downs would be replaced with affirming words more consistently. Family crises would be handled differently with Jesus present. He would offer a much greater sense of peace and security. Jesus even preached that a house built on the rock could survive any storms that beat against it (Matthew 7:24-27).

Any family fortunate enough to be honored by such a wonderful guest would want friends to meet this unique person. There would be a few parties scheduled for many opportunities to introduce Jesus and give people the sense of what it is like to spend time with the most important person in the world.

In time, some adjustments would be needed. Jesus might occasionally challenge someone’s use of time or money, or just the way they are treating others. All in all, it would be a life-changing experience.

Can I remind you that Jesus is everywhere all the time? Psalm 139 reminds us, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10). How freeing it is to realize that in reality, Jesus is the unseen guest in our home. His presence is as real as the furniture in our living room. Revival can be experienced in our homes when we realize that Jesus is present on a daily basis. Relationships can be closer, conflict can be worked through, worry can be a little less, and time can be cherished for all of eternity. Live like Jesus is present because He is.

Make a difference in your world today. Allow Jesus to come spilling through your life as He fills you with His Words and Spirit.

I am looking forward to another great day at the Naz on Sunday.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Planted in the Right Place, Part 2

Planted in the Right Place, Part 2

Today we continue to look at Psalm 1 as we see the results of right and wrong living. We began by looking at right living in verses 1-3. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” Psalm 1:1-3.

Wrong Living (Psalm 1:4-5)
Wrong living is doing the opposite of what is spelled out in the right living portion of this chapter. There is a spirit of living for the moment and not considering the eternal consequences.

Not so with the wicked! . . . (This could be translated, “But evil people do not do well or evil people fail in all they do.” It is hard to see this at times. We see ungodly people succeed all the time; at least that is what the world wants us to believe.) . . . They are like chaff that the wind blows away (The wicked are compared to worthless chaff. This may not mean anything to you unless you are a grain farmer. It is the dry and scaly protective casing of the seed. Once it has done its protecting and the grain is processed, then it has no use. In the process of winnowing grain, the chaff is blown away in the wind. It is light like straw. It blows away and is of no use.).

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, . . . (To not stand means to not be acquitted. They are condemned. God will not find evil people innocent when He judges them.) . . .nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous (The wicked and sinners are one in the same. This means that there will be no place for sinners in the assembly of the righteous. God will literally say, “You are not part of my people.”).

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.(This gives the definite contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The Lord guides and protects the righteous while the wicked are led down a path of destruction that leads to death.).

As mentioned last week, this would be a good chapter to put to memory. God will use it in your arsenal of Scripture to remind you to do the right thing at all times.

Did you know that this weekend is the time change? We will be switching to daylight savings time. Out of the two time changes, this is my least favorite because we lose an hour. Remember to change those clocks so you won’t miss the good things that are going to happen on Sunday. If you have a bad memory, go ahead and change your clocks now. It could work in the favor of those who are always late. Who knows, you may even decide to set your clock an hour ahead all the time.

The teens will be serving Olive Garden spaghetti and all the fixin's following the second service. There will be great food and great fellowship following the service. If you don’t have a ticket, contact the church office (419-422-8660) and order one.

Have a blessed day as you seek the way of the Cross.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike