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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What is a Disciple?

 What is a Disciple?

Today I would like to briefly look at what it means to be a disciple. A disciple, according to the New Bible Dictionary (Third Edition), is basically the pupil of a teacher. The Jews considered themselves to ultimately be disciples of Moses (John 9:28) since his teaching formed the basis of rabbinic instruction. John the Baptist had followers referred to as disciples as well as the Pharisees (Mark 2:18). The term disciple refers to very close associates who were in a sense, apprentices. They would follow and learn from their teacher.

When Jesus was calling His first disciples, He said, “Come follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” Mark 1:17. At once they left their nets to go and follow Jesus. This call involved personal allegiance, and giving Him exclusive loyalty. Jesus pretty much spells it out in Matthew when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” Matthew 16:24-25. It was a call to put Jesus first no matter what the cost. This attitude went well beyond the normal pupil-teacher relationship and gave the word “disciple” a new sense.

According to Luke, the members of the early church were known as disciples (Acts 6:1). In our church, we call our classes, “Discipleship Classes” because we are learning what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ as well as study, apply, and put into practice the Word of God.

Let me simply ask you this question, “What marks of discipleship do others see in you?” Let me take it a little deeper. “What marks of discipleship does God see?”

May God find that you are fully devoted to Him in your heart. May the Words of God always fill you, lead you, and influence this lost world. Keep your eyes on Jesus and don’t fall for the distractions of life the enemy throws your way.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Perfect Pitch

Perfect Pitch

As I gathered this morning for prayer in the Worship Center, I thought of the many times that my flesh did not want to get up and pray. My spirit was willing but my flesh was weak. There was a time in the life of Jesus where the burdens of this world were so heavy on Him that He went to a garden called Gethsemane to pray. He was coming near to the end of His time with the disciples and His life as they knew it. “My soul is overwhelmed with the sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” Matthew 26:38. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him to pray for God’s will as He poured out His heart before the Lord. He returned to find the disciples in a state that many of us find ourselves – asleep. Jesus said, “Couldn’t you keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:40-41. He went away and came back a second time only to find them asleep again. Then a third time it happened again.

Robert Murray McCheyne, a prayer warrior, wrote the following, “I ought to pray before seeing anyone. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, it is eleven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. It is unscriptural. Christ arose before day and went into a solitary prayer place. David says: ‘Early will I seek thee; Thou shall early hear my voice.’ Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness, and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then when in secret prayer the soul is often out of tune. I feel it is far better to begin with God – to see His face first, to get my soul near Him before it is near another.”

There are some people who have perfect pitch. When you ask them to sing a certain note, they hit it every time. Then there are those who are tone deaf. You ask them to hit a certain note and you will get many notes. Let’s just say it is not the right one. Vickie and I traveled with a girl in college who had perfect pitch. It was amazing to try to catch her off guard and see if she would hit the wrong note. It never happened. She got it right every time.

Living our life in perfect pitch is starting the day in the right posture. As we continue to fast and pray this month, don’t get discouraged. Don’t let your body dictate how you will live today. Do whatever it takes to put God first in all things.

I am praying for you as you pray and saturate in the Word of God. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the New Testament from our Community Bible Experience. I know that many are reading and finding new things they have never seen before. If you still want to begin this journey, it is not too late to pick up a New Testament at church.

May people find you in perfect peace (pitch) today because you have spent time with the Heavenly Father this morning.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jesus’ Prayer Life

Jesus’ Prayer Life

We are on full week into fasting and praying as a church. We also began reading through the New Testament on Monday of this week. The reading began in Luke and moves to Acts. Have you noticed how Luke emphasizes the humanity of Christ, stressing the human side of the perfect God-man? As you read through Luke you can’t help but notice the prayer life of Jesus. It emphasizes how important prayer was in the life of Jesus.

Luke 3:21
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened.

Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 6:12
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 9:18
Once when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

Luke 9:28
About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray.

Luke 11:1
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Luke 18:1
Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Luke 22:40-41
On reaching the place, He said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,

Jesus was a man of prayer and that helped to keep Him on course with the Father. He not only taught on prayer but was the model of prayer. He prayed often. He prayed at all seasons. He prayed alone. Often He prayed at night. He had favorite places for prayer. He started His public ministry with prayer and fasting, and the last thing He did before He died was to pray. At times He would arise in the morning and went alone to pray. His whole life screams, “Pray at all times, make it a priority!”

Jesus didn’t pray because it was a daily habit. He prayed because there was power in prayer. I think we forget the fact that Jesus was all man when Luke wrote about His life. He chose to put His deity aside and live within the limitations of human beings. He was God the Son, but He operated as a man who needed to pray in order to accomplish the eternal plan of the Father. It was His prayer that built the Kingdom of God and destroyed the strongholds of Satan. Oh what a Savior!

After Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, Jesus said, “I have left you an example that you should do as I have done” John 13:15. As you continue on the journey of fasting, praying, and saturating in the Word of God, let Christ’s example be to us our strongest call to prayer. May God see your hungering heart today…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Better Together

Better Together

I am excited that our Church is fasting in the month of February. I have heard many different ways people are going to fast from giving up social media to television, from fasting a particular day to fasting several days, from giving up certain groups of foods to eating certain types of food. It is exciting to see the excitement and anticipation beginning to build.

One of the main reasons we fast is to open doors we thought were closed — because when we fast and pray, it is like opening a door. It can be in the form of a stronghold that is present in your life and you didn’t realize it until you changed your routine and sought the heart of God in a desperate way. Another opened door could be new life in your walk with Christ. Things have just become stale as you go through your life. One of the doors you open may be one that reveals how self-sufficient you have become.

When our pattern resembles the world, then life becomes out of balance. We get over-committed and so full of blind activity that we become too busy and too tired to pray. As P.T. Forsyth warns, “The inability to pray is the punishment for the refusal to pray.” Bottom line, life becomes mundane; mediocre at best.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!” -- Isaiah 30:15-16

Flight is a good image of the kind of activity that dominates prayerless people and prayerless churches. We get caught up in going without being sent. We go places that have nothing to do with Kingdom living. We are to come together and join with each other in our prayers in order to unleash God in our lives. Most of what the Bible says about prayer is addressed to groups or churches. It is about coming together to pray corporately.

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” Acts 1:14

All throughout the book of Acts you see prayer meetings breaking out where the believers came together to pray. So let me invite you to pray and fast with us. What spiritual breakthrough do you need this month? I know that I am praying for an anointing to fall fresh on our church. We want to continue to be a beacon of hope in our community.

So let me encourage you to commit to fasting along with us. If you weren’t able to pick up a fasting brochure, get one the next time you are by the church or this Sunday coming up. Let me also encourage you to be accountable and pray with a few others along this spiritual journey. We are better together.

My Fasting Vow: I believe God is the answer to my request and that prayer without fasting is not enough to get an answer to my need. Therefore, by faith I am fasting because I need God to work in this matter. God being my strength and grace being my basis, I commit myself to fasting and praying for the month of February.

I am looking forward to worshipping together on Sunday as we begin a new series, “Unstoppable.”

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

P.S. Don’t forget to pray for our Chinese Worship Service beginning this Sunday at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Time to Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough

A Time to Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Joel 2:12

Below you will find a devotional I wrote for last year’s preparation for fasting. So if it sounds familiar, it is. We are still in desperate need of the Lord to move in a powerful way among our families, community, and world.

In Mark 9 we read of an incident when Jesus found the disciples unable to cast a demon out of a possessed child. Jesus then shows them the power of perfect faith in an Almighty God and heals the child. The disciples come to Jesus after everything settles down and asks, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting” Mark 9:29.

In the month of February, we are calling the church to fast and pray. We are strongly encouraging the whole church to humble themselves in the sight of God and believe that He wants to do a mighty work beyond our comprehension. Partner with someone in your Discipleship Class or your Lifepoint Group. It is better to do this together. We are going to pray for miracles, healing, salvation for lost friends, issues that have troubled our spirits, and burdens too heavy to bear. Some of the obstacles may still be in people’s lives because they have not taken the time to fast and pray. Could it be that our church could see some strongholds disappear when we all agree and fast together during this time? I believe it can happen.

Throughout the Bible we see many examples of people going beyond the daily prayer life to fasting for a spiritual breakthrough. In Daniel 10 we read that Daniel ate no choice food, no meat or wine for three weeks. The result was God releasing angels that fought on his behalf.

Ezra led the whole congregation of Israel in prayer and fasting. Look at the result. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” Ezra 8:23.

Our nation, our church, our families, and our individual lives need to humble ourselves and desperately call upon the Lord. Fasting is one way to show God how desperate you are for His presence in your life. It is a biblical way to truly humble you in the sight of God. It also enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.

Begin now to pray how the Lord wants you to approach this fast in February. Here are some options of different kinds of fasts:

  1. The normal fast is going without food for a definite period during which you ingest only liquids (water and / or juice). The duration can be 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, or all 28 days of February. Extreme care would be taken with longer fasts, which should only be attempted after medical advice from your physician. 
  2. The absolute fast allows no food or water at all, and should be short. Moses fasted for 40 days; but this would kill anyone without supernatural intervention, and should never be attempted without medical supervision. Be sure to test the spirit that tries to talk you into a 40-day fast, even if it includes liquids. 
  3. The partial fast is one that omits certain foods or is on a schedule that includes limited eating.  It may consist of omitting one meal a day.  Eating only fresh vegetables for several days is also a good partial fast.  People who have hypoglycemia or other diseases might consider this kind of fast. 
  4. rotational fast consists of eating or omitting certain families of foods for designated periods.  For example, grains may be eaten only every fourth day.  The various food families are rotated so that some food is available each day.
    The key in picking your fast is to follow through on what you have decided in your heart. Write it down and pray that you will fulfill your commitment. You may even want to lead your family through Scripture around the dinner table or before bedtime. Again, ask the Lord to show you what to do as you give Him full access to every chamber of your life and discard anything that causes your love for Him to grow cold.

Our fasting will begin on Wednesday, February 1 and go the whole month. We will break our fast on Wednesday, March 1 and have a celebration service in the Worship Center.
May God bless you today and may He prepare you to come and worship Him together with your church family on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From Here to There

From Here to There

This morning during the Front Row Ministry at the church, the Lord drew me to a verse found in Matthew. It was the passage that Jesus heals a boy who the disciples could not heal. The disciples came to Jesus in private and asked Him why they couldn’t heal in this particular situation. Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” Matthew 17:20. Mark 9:29 says, “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.”

What mountain do you need to move from here to there? I know I have some mountains that need moving. I was mentioning to our staff the other day that it just seems like we are in a season when everything seems to be an uphill climb. It’s not impossible; it’s just going to take a little more gumption than usual.

Starting in the month of February, we will be fasting and praying as a whole congregation. There are many different kinds of fasts. The key is to state your intention as we begin together and follow through with it. I heard the other day where someone said they have fasted their words before. They talked about speaking only what the Spirit of God wants them to say. That they would not speak or participate in any negative conversation that would grieve the Holy Spirit. Now that is something we should always be doing but I think it would be good to intentionally look for ways that we use our words. We are serious about increasing our faith so God can do miracles through our lives. Starting on Sunday, we will have an insert in the bulletin explaining how we are going to approach our fasting. Be sure and pick one up so you can thoroughly prepare.

There will also be an opportunity to participate in a Community Bible Experience where we will read through the New Testament in eight weeks. The Bibles can be purchased in the foyer startingon Sunday. They are only $5 apiece and you will also get some online resources to make this more rewarding.

Pray with me as we prepare to move mountains in our church. I desperately want to move from here and get to where God wants me to be.

I am looking forward to continuing in the series, “Eternal.” Have a blessed Day!

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 11, 2017



From time to time I like to remind us of how vital prayer is for our personal growth, our families, our church, and our nation. Look at a few familiar verses concerning prayer:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16.

“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” 1 Timothy 2:8.

“Pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him” Matthew 7:11.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” Romans 12:12.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” Mark 11:24.

After reading these verses, I am reminded that in order to be in a vital relationship with God, prayer needs to be a pivotal, daily activity that is intentionally sought after. It has to be developed and placed in the involuntary muscle category of our life.

There are two new initiatives we are promoting beginning in February. The first is to fast during the month of February. We started this last year and thought it would be good to repeat it again this year. We heard so many good stories of how God was speaking to people and many answers to prayer. Inserts will be available in our bulletins in the near future.

The second one is to “Read Big.” We will be reading through the New Testament in eight weekslike you have never done before. It will take about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can purchase a special Bible (beginning Jan. 22)  for $5 to begin the journey which starts Monday, February 6. The paperback Bible is without chapters and verses. Daily email reminders are sent and also gives you more understanding of the context of what you are reading. We will discover our place in God’s story when we immerse ourselves in the redemptive drama of the Bible.

These two initiatives are best done in community. It is one thing to do it on your own, but it is a rich experience when you do it with others. Read your portion throughout the week and then process it by asking five simple questions. In other words, share your thoughts, discoveries, and responses with others as you partner with them and encourage each other along this journey. Begin to pray now for a friend or maybe even your Lifepoint group that will help keep you accountable to follow through on these two life-changing initiatives. It will be worth it all.

I’m looking forward to a great day on Sunday

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Abiding in 2017

Abiding in 2017

It’s hard to believe that we are a few days into the New Year. Many have made new year resolutions and some have even broken them already. It is always good to have a new beginning from time to time. I love the opportunity to set new goals and look to a brighter future. Can I remind you to take the time to think about how you are going to grow in your relationship with the Lord? Take the time today to read John 15:1-17. Our first priority in growing closer to God is to abide or remain in Christ. It doesn’t say to perform or to earn your relationship. It simply says, “abide.” The Message Paraphrase uses phrases like, “Live in Me, Joined with Me, Make yourself at home with Me, and Remain intimately at home in My love.” It’s a call to do nothing but rest in Christ. Yes, you read that right. You are to do nothing but abide. This is a crucial step to abiding. Marvel at what God has done for you and not what you think you have done to attain it. Don’t let 2017 become a year of aimless living. Abide in Christ and let God move on your life in a powerful way. The overflow of what God will do from getting out of the way is out of this world…
Here is John 15:1-17 from the Message:
The Vine and the Branches
15 1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.
What are some ways you can begin to simply abide in Christ today?
I am looking forward to a great year of growing in Christ with you.
Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike