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New Year, New Leaf

January 2, 2013 admin 0

We all have heard the phrase, “turn over a new leaf” especially as we are in a brand new year.  When someone says this they are indicating their desire to make changes within themselves or in the way they live and conduct their life.  Very often when they say this they will tag it with a “New Year’s Resolution” declaring their intent and resolve to see the changes through.

Recently I was talking with some of the members of the church and one of them said that they did not want to make any more New Year’s Resolutions but wanted a New Year’s Revolution!  In saying this they were telling me they did not want to repeat the intentions of resolutions past only to come short of it, but needed and wanted a revolution- sudden, radical or complete change that would enhance their life and cause them to be different after giving themselves to this than they were before.  As they were speaking this to me it really captured my attention and caused me to think of how we all could use some revolution in our lives in one way or another.

What better revolution could anyone ask for in their life than for the rising up of Jesus Christ and the Word of God being our guide, our pattern, our very foundation as we enter into a new year.

II Corinthians 3:18 from the KJV reads,” But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  This verse is telling us that the more we behold the Lord, the more we look into His Word and the more we make the decision to let His Word be our revolution and not some resolution that we think of for just a few days at the most.  But we allow God’s Word to light our lives and cause a lasting change to be apparent, then we will have a revolution and we will be different.

As I close, let me encourage any who are reading this.  If you are a child of God or if you have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into your life, let’s all turn over a new leaf and allow Jesus to be the revolution that lights our life and causes 2013 to be the best year we have ever experienced!  God bless you all. 

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The Christmas Story

December 12, 2012 Jacob Armstrong 0

Many of us have experienced a mess of Christmas proportions.  A Christmas event that was planned with good intentions goes awry and becomes a disaster that we laugh about later.  Whether it is a Christmas tree on the interstate or a dog that ate the turkey, Christmas has a way of amplifying our emotions, magnifying our feelings, and making mishaps feel like big catastrophes.  

Some Christmas messes are nothing to laugh about.  Tension in the family becomes Christmas day arguments.  Financial stress comes to a head in the face of Christmas gift pressures.  Christmas can be filled with magic and wonder and delight, but it can also bring some messes of its own. 

In the first Christmas story, Joseph finds himself with a big mess on his hands.  He learns that his fiancé is pregnant and he knows that the baby is not his.  Joseph lives in a culture where at best this could mean public disgrace for his beloved fiancé and it worst it could mean her death.  

Mary tries to explain, “I was visited by an angel, he said I was highly favored, he said the baby would be the Son of God”, but I’m guessing Joseph’s ears stopped working when he heard “I’m pregnant.”  He is looking at a mess, a disaster, and it is no laughing matter.  

Joseph returns home and makes a plan.  Lesser men would have left her to what was coming to her, but Joseph makes a plan to get himself out of this marriage with every hope of protecting Mary’s dignity and life. 

But when he falls asleep that night,  “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1.20-21

Joseph learns what I think is a very important Christmas lesson. One that we should take note of when we see the messes and disasters in our lives.  The lesson is this:  Often we make a plan for our lives only to find out that God has an even better one in mind!

Joseph had made the best plan he could muster in the face of the mess that had been given him.  God had an even better plan for him.

Amazingly, Joseph gets up the next morning and does just what was outlined for him in God’s plan.  He takes Mary home as his wife.  Because Joseph was open to and listened to God’s word in his life he was ushered into the story of God saving His people from their sins.  

It is easy in the busyness and activity of the Christmas season to pretend that everything is ok, when it’s not; to pretend that everything is nice and neat in our lives when really we have some messes that need attention.  The Christmas story invites us not to hide these things from God but to bring our plans to God and be open to the new and better one He has for our lives.  

As you make plans for this Christmas, I encourage you to be open to and listen to what God has to say to you.  You just might find that He has for you an even better plan than you ever imagined.

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Restoration Christmas

November 28, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

Included in the Christmas story is the story of redemption and restoration. In the lineage of Joseph, there was an ancestor named Jeconiah, who was the king of Judah. He reigned three months, and the Scripture tells us “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Exactly what his sin was is not specified, but it attracted the wrath of God. He was disqualified from sitting on the throne of David and his line of ancestors would be included in this curse as well. Jeremiah 22:30 says “…none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.” Zedekiah, Jeconiah’s uncle, was the last king of Judah, but Jeconiah was the last legitimate king to occupy the throne of Judah. Zedekiah’s son’s all died, and there was no one left to assume the role of kingship since Jeconiah’s entire lineage had been disqualified, along with him.

Imagine what it must have been like to live with this your whole life. Your family history is recorded in the sacred scrolls and every time they are read, you are reminded that you are part of a cursed family. Could you enjoy gathering in the synagogue or temple, knowing that at some point great(X9)-grandfather Jeconiah’s name would be mentioned as the one who caused the whole family to be disregarded and disqualified from occupying the throne of David? Maybe this is why Joseph was so sensitive about not causing shame to be cast upon Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. Perhaps he had sworn his entire life that he would not be responsible for the disparaging of another family or family name. How many times he must have thought or even cried out, “How might this be corrected?” Albert Barnes in his commentary on Matthew makes this statement – “From a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is ‘Yahweh is righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).” Consider the irony that born into the household of this representative of a cursed family line is God Himself! This is a large statement by the Lord as to redemption and restoration. Here is this man who thought he would certainly die with a cursed genealogy in his wake. But God in His marvelous mercy had other plans.

Having become a legal member of the household of Joseph, Jesus was now a part of the lineage of Jeconiah; although not by birth. The Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary says it this way. “Though Messiah, the heir of David’s throne, was lineally descended from Jeconiah, it was only through Joseph, who, though his legal, was not his real (biological) father. Matthew gives the legal pedigree through Solomon down to Joseph; Luke gives the real pedigree, from Mary, the real parent, through Nathan, the brother of Solomon, upwards.”

Here are the facts. Jesus had to be a LINEAL descendant of David, in order to fulfill God’s promise to David – that his seed would sit upon his throne. He also had to be the LEGAL son of Joseph in order to inherit the right to sit upon the throne of David. Yet, He could not be the PHYSICAL son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jeconiah. Honor was thus restored to Joseph’s lineage through God’s favor in giving him the stewardship as Jesus’ earthly father. Isn’t God smart? Understanding this makes the virgin birth a necessary part of the Christmas story. This is ultimate restoration and redemption in its purest form. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Measure of Faith

November 21, 2012 admin 0

The Bible declares that the just are to live by faith.  Every person who professes Christ as Lord and Savior has a mandate from the Scriptures to live in this manner.  Jesus said in Mark 11:22, “… to have faith in God.”  Another translation of this verse says to “have the God kind of faith.”  Romans 12:3 reads, “…according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  Romans 10:17, Ephesians 2:8 and II Corinthians 4:13 all tell us this same thing and that is this; the faith we are to live by comes to us from God.  The scripture in Ephesians says it is the gift of God.  So we could say it this way, “every believer has a measure of the God kind of faith.”  We don’t have to hope we could have it.  We don’t have to work to obtain it.  We do not even have to pray to God to give this to us.  No, the Bible plainly says we have this as we have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  From there it is up to each person as to what they do with this measure.

As we said at the beginning, we are to live by this faith.  So often Christians do not understand that for a person to live by faith, it is necessary that our faith be strong and in good working order.  For this to happen we must read the Word of God and feed our spirits every day so that faith can grow.  As we do this, the measure God has given to us will continue to increase as we walk with Him.

Let me encourage you today.  Get into the Word of God and feed your spirit.  As you do this you are feeding your faith and your measure will increase and grow as you mature in the Lord.  

Next month we will continue to look at this topic.  We will look at the example of Abraham and how his faith grew.  He came to the place of being fully persuaded that what God had said to him, He was able to bring it to pass!

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The hands of God

November 14, 2012 Terry Carver 0

The human body is a wondrous creation of God.  In an amazing fashion each part of the body has been designed by the Creator to function with all the other parts of the body to give us life.  When you think of all the many parts of the body and their importance, it is difficult to label any one the most important.  

But one part of the body that is especially important is the hands.  It is difficult to overestimate their importance.  We do almost everything with our hands.  But as important as our hands are, the most important set of hands belong to God!

You may ask:  “God has hands?”  Psalm 89:13 says, “Strong is Your (God’s) hand, and high is Your right hand.”  Joshua 4:24 says, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”  Yes, God is a spirit, but He describes Himself in human terms for our benefit, so that we can understand Him better.  On many occasions, the Bible describes the importance of the hands of God. 

His hands are the sustainer of all life.  Job 12:10 says, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind”.  The only reason you live today is because God is sustaining you.

His hands are the source of all blessings. Psalms 145:16 says, “You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  Every blessing you enjoy comes from God.

His hands are the source of all judgment.  Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Do not take lightly the reality that you will be judged by the perfect judge.

His hands are the seat of all righteousness. Psalm 48:10 says, “Your right hand is full of righteousness.”  Your greatest need is not money, power or comfort.  Your greatest need is righteousness.

His hands are the security of all of His people. Jesus said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  You do not have to live in fear. Neither disease, affliction, tragedy nor even death itself can pry you out of His hands.

There was a time when my children were not too proud to grab hold of their father’s hand.  I understand why they don’t do it now.  But you should never be too proud to grab hold of the Father’s hand.  

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What’s in your hand?

November 7, 2012 Jacob Armstrong 0

One of the most famous stories in the Bible, if we judge that by how often it is referred to or replicated, is the story of Moses in the wilderness and his encounter with the Burning Bush.   Moses escapes from Egypt to save his life and the once Prince of Egypt takes up a new occupation as a common shepherd.  God meets him in the wilderness in the form of a burning bush and says, “I’m going to use you to release my people from slavery.”  Moses gives God every good reason why God must be mistaken, but God seems pretty convinced that He really does want to use Moses.  Finally Moses agrees to go, but he asks this question, “What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?”

God answers Moses question with another question, “What is that in your hand?”

Moses holds in his hand his staff.  It is a long piece of wood that he uses to tend his flocks; the sign of his profession and a reminder that he is no longer a prince.  Moses must have seen his staff as a reminder that he ran away, a symbol that he was nothing now.  God says, “I’ll use that.”

Moses walks back to Egypt to talk to an unruly tyrant king with the commission from a God the Pharaoh doesn’t even believe in to let his slaves go free.  Moses walks into town dressed like a shepherd, with the dust of his trek in his beard, holding a staff which says I am a nomadic shepherd man.  

God says I’m going use the staff, use your normalness in an abnormal way; I’m going to work extraordinary through your ordinary, wonders through your commonplace. 

God wants to use you.  He wants to use so that others can know His message of setting people free.  Yet, so often we look at our own normalness and think we could never be used by God.  In fact, God wants to use that which is in your hand, your profession, your possessions, even your past for his wonders. 

What’s in your hand?  

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Weakness or Meekness?

October 31, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

It is possible that often the Christian has been portrayed as a weakened and emaciated person, which translates the Christian faith into a crutch. Jesus said “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness, rather than being defined as weakness, is the result of God’s working in us to cause us to accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting. Meekness echoes an old television show entitled “Father Knows Best.”

The meaning of “meekness” is not readily expressed in the English language, because when we see the words meekness, mildness, etc., weakness is usually what we envision. This may be why Christians are often described as weak and feeble and in need of a God because we are useless and helpless. Well, there is some truth to the fact that all mankind is in need of a Savior and without Him we are helpless. But, often what happens is that after we have been born again and empowered by God’s Spirit, we are still viewed as weak and feeble.

The common assumption is that when a person is meek it is because they cannot help themselves; but the Lord Jesus was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God the Father at His command. Jesus was anything but weak.

The word picture for “meekness” is a word that is used in ancient Greek to refer to a medicine that calmed and soothed the spirit. It also spoke of a gentle breeze and a colt that had been broken and tamed–whose power and energy could now be channeled for useful purposes

We see the same concept in the aforementioned usage of the word in reference to a horse. As long as the colt runs wild and free, its power is out of control and it serves no useful purpose to man. But when its power is brought under control, it can be used for helpful purposes.

This is the accurate picture of meekness…God reins in our strength which is now submitted to His will and purpose, and we become useful citizens of His kingdom. Our real strength comes from the grace that God works in our soul. And maybe we can communicate that rather than Christians being weak and feeble, we are actually people who have taken our strength and laid it at the feet of Jesus to be used by Him, rather than resisting Him.

In summation, to properly understand meekness – the following statement will help us have a proper view of the subject. Meekness is strength under discipline.

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Good ground – much fruit

October 24, 2012 admin 0

In Mark the 4th chapter, Jesus is teaching his disciples on the parable of the sower.  In this parable Jesus speaks of four types of ground and the fruit or lack of fruit that is produced in each one and in verse 9 he says something that is very interesting.  “And he said to them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” NKJV  He spoke this to them indicating their need to hear or listen with the intent of examining their own selves to evaluate the condition of their “ground”.  In other words they were to check the condition of their hearts and their receptiveness to receive the Word of God.  He did this because Luke 8: 11 tells us that “…the seed is the Word of God” and the type of ground one plants seed in can make all the difference as to the amount of harvest that is brought forth.

Jesus speaks in the parable of wayside, stony, thorny and good ground and of these four only the good ground produced fruit and that at 30, 60 or 100 fold.  On the wayside ground the enemy comes and snatches away the Word that was sown.  When the seed is pulled from the ground that it was planted in, of course, no fruit will ever be produced.  On the stony ground the Word was received with gladness but when trouble arises because of the Word, these are offended the harvest is lost.  On the thorny ground the Word is received and fruit begins to be produced but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lust for other things enter in and it chokes the Word and no fruit is brought to maturity.  But on the good ground, the Word of God is received and out of an honest and good heart they hear the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience and now the harvest is able to come 30, 60 and even 100 times over what was sown.  Praise God!  

In closing let me ask this question.  What kind of ground are we?  Is my heart open to receive God’s Word and let the seed of the Word go down into the soil of my heart and produce all that God has placed within the seed.  My prayer is that we all examine ourselves so that we would be good ground producing much fruit! 

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