Happy Thanksgiving!

Count your blessings!

Give grateful praise to the Father!

Bless the Name of Jesus!

Give thanks for one another!

 

“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you,

always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer,”

Philippians 1:3-4

 

May your day be blessed and filled with joyous thanksgiving to the God who gives all things to be richly enjoyed!  Pastor Dave and Deb

 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Read more...

Giving Thanks, the Believer’s Responsibility

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good;

His faithful love endures forever.

And say: ‘Save us, God of our salvation;

gather us and rescue us from the nations

so that we may give thanks to your Holy Name

and rejoice in your praise.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting.’”

1 Chronicles 16:34-36

 

Have you ever given serious thought as to why God would save you?  Why God in His infinite love would go to such extreme as sending His Only Son into this world to die on a cross to pay the price for your sin so that you might have a redeemed relationship with God and eternal life with Him?  First, our God is amazing.  Second, we cannot emphasize enough His love for you and me.  It is almost brazen to think that God loves me, but it is true.  He loved us enough that He took action to call us to Himself through the cleansing blood of Jesus.  Our response is belief, trust, worship, and obedience to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into this glorious relationship we now have with God.

Indeed, we give thanks to the Lord for He is good, but from our text we get more insight into this truth.  We discover that we look to God for our salvation and for His gathering us and rescuing us from the nations for one very important and primary purpose – so that we may give thanks to His Holy Name and rejoice in His praise.

Here is the insight I think we must understand, we do not express thanksgiving to God just for what He has provided or done for us in living life.  Rather, we are to be a people gathered by His grace for giving thanks to God for our salvation among the nations that He has delivered us from.  God has saved us to Himself, our collective response is thanking God for His deliverance, proclaimed to the nations because He has rescued us from the nations.

Our nation has been unique in celebrating a day of giving thanks, yet our peril is to forget the God who brought rescue through salvation, and then through men of God founded a nation reliant upon Him.  People want to dismiss that provision of God, but we as believers must be people of gratitude and thanksgiving to God for His great salvation.

 

Father, we give thanks to your Holy name, for you have saved us!


Read more...

His Peace

With everything that is going on today there seems to be a oversupply of worry and anxiety and very little peace of mind.  I just spent a good solid 8 days dealing with COVID and finally found healing from the Lord’s strong hand.  Yet there is a persistent concern for what happens next.  Can a person get the virus again?  What kind of extended health issues now become a concern?  It is easy to get consumed with anxiety about such things.  Add to all that the concern about life itself.  It can be quite the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical unrest!

Fortunately, our God knows we need a different focus than the trials and troubles of the world, and Jesus says,

“Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  I don’t give to you

as the world gives.  Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful”

John 14:27

Jesus gives us peace.  The question though is how do we experience or appropriate this peace that God gives.  Paul knew that believers would struggle with experiencing God’s beautiful peace amidst all the concerns of the world and of life so he gives believers an action plan for having peace rather than anxiety.  Look at Paul’s plan for experiencing peace!

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your graciousness be made known to everyone.  The Lord is near.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything,

through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-7

What a simple beautiful plan for having God’s peace rather than the troubles of the life.  It all begins with rejoicing!  We rejoice in the God of our salvation and the fact that God is the overcomer!  We are to let that joy be evident in our lives, sure life can be messed up and challenging but God’s joy and presence is always near.  We are not alone!

Because of that we don’t have to worried or preoccupied with all the anxiety that life CAN cause.  Rather we take it in prayer, through petitions with thanksgiving that God hears, and cares and we give those requests, those anxieties to God.  God then replaces our focus on the troubles with peace that He is in control and has the problem answered or solved on our behalf so that we are filled with peace, His peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, the author and prince of peace.

Another reminder for believers that we have joy and peace to very thankful for especially during these very anxious days!


Read more...

Remembering Grace

“I will make known the Lord’s faithful love and the Lord’s praiseworthy acts,

because of all the Lord has done for us –

even the many good things He has done for the house of Israel,

which He did for them based on His compassion and the abundance of faithful love.”

Isaiah 63:7

 

Remembering God’s grace.  I think we all think of God’s grace in terms of salvation and that grace is a beautiful gift of redemption.  In this beautiful verse the prophet reminds us that grace is inextricably tied to God’s love.  Grace is extended because of God’s love for people.  We do not merit God’s love, nor do we merit His grace, but as we turn our eyes to Jesus and focus our hope on the Sovereign Creator, our eyes are opened to the beauty of His love and grace.

 

Our response is to praise God by making known of His faithful love and wonderful care.  How quick are you to acknowledge God’s provision to someone you may not know?  I think this is where we are often at fault.  We do not need a diatribe that is laden with theological explanation, we simply need to testify to God’s presence and work through His faithful love.  Sure, it might catch someone else off guard, but they will hear a testimony that points to the all the Lord does for us in His faithful love and grace.

 

This brings us back to this week of Thanksgiving.  What do we have to be thankful for?  We have a God who based on His compassion, based on His character and nature and the abundance of His faithful love has provided many good things, that call for His people to rejoice and offer thanksgiving praise to the glory of His Name!

 

We often say, “God is good!” and indeed He is.  I thank God for His goodness, His faithfulness, His enduring love, and His undeserved grace.  Be sure to remember His grace.


Read more...

Today is Different, but Normal

Another Sunday in 2020 where we are not having any services at the church.  We have had 10-11 COVID positive families in our church family that I am aware of.  There could be more.  The result is for us to take a break in meeting together today for the sake of curtailing the spread of the virus in the church family, so no Sunday worship.  That is different.

What is not different is that today is the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.  A day that is set aside as a national holiday for the giving of thanks to God as a nation.  Truth may be better told that it is a day for feasting and football.  However, the important thing for us on this Sunday in November is to turn our hearts and minds toward the Lord and spend time praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for all that He has provided.

I would like to reflect on a story from Jesus walk on earth that causes me to reflect on our current circumstances.  I find the story in Luke chapter 17:11-19:

 

“While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee.

As He entered a village, 10 men with leprosy met Him.  They stood at a

distance and raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’

When He saw them, He told them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’

And while they were going, they were cleansed.  But one of them seeing

that He was healed, returned and, with a loud voice gave glory to God.

He fell face down at His feet, thanking Him.  And he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus said, ‘Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine? Didn’t any

return to give glory to God except this foreigner?’

And He told him, ‘Get up and go on your way.  Your faith has saved you.’”

 

A simple story of man’s need, and Jesus provision.  Yet this provision changed men’s lives.  Jesus was on the move, preaching and teaching everywhere people would gather and listen, and Jesus would encounter people wherever He saw them.  This is just such an incidence.   Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and His path took Him between Samaria and Galilee where He entered a non-identified village.  Here, ten men with leprosy met Him standing at a distance.  They were not allowed to get close to the village or close to any non-diseased individuals.  They were highly contagious, but more than infecting a person, they could make a “clean” person defiled if there was any contact.  So, their social distancing had to be practiced for the benefit of others.  Just like our social distancing for us. From a distance they called out to Jesus, calling Him, “Master, have mercy on us!”

I think it is interesting that they did not say Jesus heal us, they said Master have mercy on us.  How did they know it was Jesus?  The scripture doesn’t say, but certainly they had heard about Jesus and a couple of the lepers may have even seen Him before at a greater distance.  They used a term that was primarily used by Jesus’ disciples and that is Master, otherwise they would have ordinarily called Him “Rabbi” or “teacher”.  Master would have implied that Jesus had authority to extend mercy to the men and in this instance, the mercy they sought was healing.  “When Jesus saw them” must have meant that He heard the men first and then saw who they were, and then responded to them, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.”  Their healing would need to be observed by the priests, so they could be pronounced clean and given ceremonial cleansing rituals.  The men obeyed, they headed off to the priests and they were healed as they went.

The story takes a turn at this point.  Although there were 10 that were in the group and were healed as they went to the priests, there was one who healing brought a different response.  He returned to Jesus before he went to the priests.  He loudly gave glory to God facedown at the feet of Jesus, thanking Him.  Then Scripture notes that the man was a Samaritan.  An outsider so to speak.

When I seek God for mercy, healing, His provision and He provides, I sometimes take it for granted, after all God should heal His children.  That is presumption and arrogance and is not the right attitude.  Sometimes God does not heal in a manner we may ask, so when we do ask and God provides we too like the Samaritan should find ourselves in deep gratitude offering thanks for God’s provision at the feet of Jesus.

Jesus asked a question to the man, but I believe He was asking His disciples and the others who may been with Him on His travel to Jerusalem.  “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  Jesus indicated that there was more in the heart of a foreigner than in the religious oriented Jews.  They were physically healed of the leprosy.  But the God-fearing foreigner, the Samaritan encountered much more.  Jesus told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”    

Not only would the Samaritan be healed of the leprosy, but He would find a spiritual wholeness in Jesus by the faith He exercised demonstrating belief in the Jesus, His authority and His Lordship.  Indeed, the Samaritan had much to give thanks for.

Today as we prepare for Thanksgiving, I think it is a good time to reflect on what it means to give thanks to Jesus for all He has provided.  God has provided Salvation through His Son; we have hope of eternal life through Jesus.  God provides all things for believers and even non-believers.  The story bears this out, but believers come back to the feet of Jesus and offer thanksgiving to Jesus and glorify God.  Of course, believers are to give thanks continuously, “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What is normal about today?  That as believers we are to count the blessings God has given, even making a list of His provisions and faithfulness. Then we should be filled with praise and thanksgiving to God today and all through the week, falling at the feet of Jesus and gratefully worshiping Him.  Let’s be a thankful people.   Be sure to pray and give thanks for our church family, for healings, and provisions.


Read more...

Over the Horizon

I’m finally at a place in this COVID nightmare that I can see over the horizon of what is next.  I have regained energy, have no fevers, a minimal cough, which at this point may be related to the cold, and I am able to eat without stomach issues and I actually get hungry!  God is to be praised and glorified for His healing, and His constant presence.  As my wife often says He is faithful.  Like I said I can see over the horizon and it looks brighter and more hopeful.  So, thank you church family for your prayers, support, and encouragement.

There is yet a greater horizon that I long to look into and yet I am not able.  Of course, that may not be my option, because it has to do with God’s people and His church.  I am concerned for us and what the ministry and growth of the church will be like.  The year has already seemed to be so disjointed and disconnected, and it seems that the enemy has used the pandemic to cause uncertainty, perplexity, and stresses on the church.  The people who hold dear to Jesus and His truth have often been separated and isolated which makes it much easier for the devil to cause doubt and despair.  But now more than ever we must reach more deeply into the grace of God through intensified prayer and seek His bountiful love and provision in the wisdom that only He can give in order to be dynamically alive, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically.  For life is in Jesus, and He came to give life and life more abundant!
 

“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I have come so that they might have life and have it in abundance.”

John 10:10

 

What a beautiful and encouragement from Jesus our Lord and Savior.  This is our anchor that must hold the ship in the in the storm.  It is secure, it is trustworthy, because it is anchored in God, and His truth.  I may not be able to see over this particular horizon, that of the future of the church, but I can anchor in Jesus and know with confidence I can have peace and joy because in Matthew 6:34, Jesus reminds us;
 
 

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow,

because tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Giving thanks to God for being able to see over the horizon that He gives eyes to see, and with a heart of hope and trust, I will leave the next horizon to Him!


Read more...

An Interesting Day

I sit in my home, using my computer from the church, it is snowing like crazy as I type, and I have COVID.  I am now officially engaged in the pandemic.  I didn’t choose it, but it found me and to some degree it is to be expected.  For the most part I feel good, toward the end of the day, I don’t feel as well, but doing okay.  For all who are praying thank you.  I guess at this point it is time to learn and reflect on what “normal” means.

Deb and I went to the state annual meeting last week, it was good to see brothers and sisters in Christ and things felt normal.  But they weren’t.  COVID came with someone and it was shared like the fellowship.  That reminds me that normal is a very long away from where we are.  It may be that we do not see the normal we are accustomed to again for quite some time.  That is just a reality.

Since last March when everything exploded across the US, I prayed and asked God for protection from the virus, and the church as well.  Sometimes God has a different plan for us, and I am okay with that, because God has infinitely more wisdom and insight into our lives than what we can possibly imagine.  I will still pray for the church family and their protection from the virus or now through the virus.

Deb tested positive as well, so we do get to share this experience together without having to isolate from each other in the house.  We now get to figure out a whole different perspective in live regarding the details we take for granted, like getting groceries.  Which I have received several offers of our church folks to help us out with this and I am grateful, we just have to figure it out first!

God is oh so good and I am so thankful to the Heavenly Father for all that He has given and provided for throughout my life.  At this point, I rely on Him and because His track record is perfect. 

 

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,

for His mercies never end.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness!”

Lamentations 3:22-23


Read more...

Purpose Recounted

The other night the entire church had the opportunity to join in for a mission’s presentation sponsored by the IMB (International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention).  It was a good presentation of various speakers addressing the challenges of missions going into the future interspersed with testimonies of current missionaries serving across the globe.  A couple of things stood out to me.  First, there are still many people groups who have not heard the Good News of Jesus and the hope of Salvation.  Second, even as I preached from 2 Peter that believers faithfully sharing the Gospel can “hasten the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ”, each speaker seemed to emphasize that very fact.  Third, this is the mission and purpose of God’s people, the church, to carry the Gospel to the world and make disciples who will also carry the Gospel.  Three primary scriptures were consistently referenced:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you,

and you will be My witnesses, in Jerusalem, in all Judea,

AND Samaria, AND to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

“Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me

in heaven and on earth.  ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

Matthew 28:18-20

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every

nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number,

standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  They were clothed

in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they

cried out in a loud voice:  Salvation belongs to our God,

who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9

 

Fourth, we are the church.  We are the people of God given the task of taking the Gospel to the world, here in Rock Springs, Wyoming, North America, and to the world.  This is the priority mission we are to undertake.  I have been convicted that our church needs to seek God’s wisdom and direction for effectively sharing the Gospel here in Rock Springs and around the world.  There are people everywhere filled with despair and hopelessness, the question I keep asking myself and I ask you, do I truly believe that Jesus is the answer to hopelessness and despair, enough so that it compels me to go and share the Gospel out of love for people and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Thinking about heaven and the verse from Revelation, what a glorious day it will be to praise God with people from every nation, tribe, people, and language!  It has been said a believer’s task is to go to heaven and take as many people with them as possible.

Let’s recommit to sharing the Gospel and watch what God will do!


Read more...

COVID, the Christian Response

Here we are almost to November and there still the constant potential for people to be infected with the Corona Virus.  Surrounding the reality of the disease is the constant talk of conspiracy theories, political ploy, government intrusion and the like.  Which every person can certainly have an opinion, and most opinions change with the latest misinformation regarding the disease and how people are infected.  Granted it has been a wild ride since last March, one that I thought, and many others thought it would be diminished at this point.  The disease continues, adding to the tensions and anxieties of many.  It continues to affect the church and how we worship, how we do ministry and how we approach every day.  Wear a mask or not, shake hands or not, follow social distancing or not, believers have opinions both ways.  I want to encourage the congregation with a principle that Paul taught in Philippians 2:4:

“Everyone should look out for not only his own interests,

But also for the interests of others.”

Paul’s discussion is about humility in the believer.  The humble believer knows he has responsibility for what matters to himself but also knows that he is to be considerate of others and what is important to them.  This is the principle we as a church must exercise during this pandemic to demonstrate genuine love and humility to one another.  Doing so honors Jesus.

So you think the social distancing guidelines are foolishness, you certainly can think that but in humility you need set that aside and follow the guidelines anyway so that those who are tentative and uncertain are protected and shown loving humility whenever we gather together as believers.  My call to you as pastor is minimize contact over the next several weeks, wear face coverings in and out of the building and if you need to visit with someone maintain a safe distance and wear face coverings.  It is wise to continue to wash hands and use the sanitizer and above everything, if you are not feeling well, please stay home, whether the flu or a cold makes no difference, the only thing we want to share is the joy of the Lord!

Let’s be a loving and caring people walking in humility during this time for the sake of one another.


Read more...

happiness

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible in which the Psalmist gives incredible insight into God’s Word and how much His Word can affect the totality of a person’s life, especially one who trusts in Him.  The Psalm is an acrostic of eight verse sections arranged according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet.  The preeminence of God’s word is conveyed throughout the 172 verses and focuses on the essentials of knowing and obeying God’s Word.  The following is the first section of verses from Psalm 119 as found in the HCSB translation of the Bible.
“How happy are those whose way is blameless
who live according to the Lord’s instruction!
Happy are those who seek His decrees
and seek Him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they follow His ways.
You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept.
If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed 
when I think about all your commands.
I will praise You with a sincere heart
when I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes; never abandon me.”
                                                                                                               – Psalm 119:1-8
Did you note the different words used to refer to God’s Word?  “Instruction”, “decrees”, “ways”, “precepts”, “statutes”, “commands”, “righteous judgments” are seven words used to convey God’s revealed written Word to man.  We should know how important God’s Word is for the believer, but do we acknowledge how essential it is to be able to know and love God, and grow in relationship with Him, while not forgetting His Word teaches us how to love others just as we love ourselves.
But what I like about the beginning of this Psalm is that it teaches that the way of happiness is through living the way God instructs believers to live.  There is a meaningful and blessed path to walk in pursuing God and His truth with everything we are; “with all their heart.” The Psalmist says those that do so “do nothing wrong, they follow His ways.” That is done by “diligently”, that is with intentional effort, obeying or following His precepts in living.  Precepts refer to God’s general rules for guiding behavior.  God not only calls for those who trust in Him to follow, but He instructs them how to do so.  The Psalmist understands his frailty and lack of commitment to keeping God’s statutes (laws made by our sovereign God) which if He did understand  and committed to would keep him from being ashamed of not following and obeying God’s statutes as he should.  He also recognizes he would be a much happier and contented person following God’s commands.  With that thought in mind, he turns to praise of his loving God, rededicating himself to learning God’s Word and keeping them.  He ends this section with what would be understood as, don’t give up on me!
How much do believers today need to find happiness in God’s Word and a relationship with our loving Creator.  The good news is that God has provided in His Word everything we need to find genuine happiness. Believers in the Word also have the joy of serving through worship the God of our Salvation.  Maybe a re-dedication is needed in your life.  Start with praise and find the path of Godly happiness in His Word!

Read more...

how are you doing…seriously?

Has anybody asked lately, “how are you doing?” And you give a standard reply from “fine”, “making a living” or the often facetious, “living the dream.”  But then to your discomfort they ask again, “seriously how are you doing?”  Sometimes we can affirm our previous response, but many times we truly don’t want to answer because even though we are okay in one sense, we are struggling with things in life.  Many times, the struggle has to do with mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that are constantly being stressed, challenged, overwhelmed, and discouraged.  But that is life, right?

Life can be a challenge for sure, but the believer should deal with turmoil, stresses, challenges, and discouragement in a spiritual Jesus-oriented manner, which doesn’t change the reality of various adversities, rather just the manner in which they affect our daily lives.  A Jesus-oriented manner has to do with how we process what happens around us, it is either I see life thought the lens of the Spirit or I see life through man’s lens, either I react to adversity in my own wisdom, or I respond to adversity in Jesus’ wisdom, do I trust myself or do I trust God?  You can see there is a difference.

How we function in the challenges of life today truly depends on what we genuinely believe.  The adversity we experience in life reveals what we genuinely believe.  The walk for believers is not going to be void of challenges or adversity, but our walk can be filled with His joy, His love, and His peace if we approach every day in total awareness that our life in Jesus.  He is not a sidekick, not a quick fix, not a religious icon, not a spiritual concept for when things go wrong or get tough, Jesus is Savior and Lord.  Philippians 1:21 tells us, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” and Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified in Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” You may say great but how does that change my circumstance, or how does that help deal with adversities?  It doesn’t change circumstances, adversities or challenges, it changes you!  If your life is centered in Jesus then what do these trials in life truly mean, it means they cannot separate the One who lives in you and cannot take away your value as a child of God, nor the ability to overcome in and through His Spirit, actually adversity, challenges, and pressing circumstances becomes opportunities to see Jesus work in your life, which becomes a blessing, so that we can “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) It is a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to shape the way you see and think about life so that it aligns with Jesus and His Word. Keep your mind set on Jesus and life will be a beautiful thing even in adversity. However, a disclaimer is to be added, if you are walking in disobedience to Jesus, practicing sin that you know is not right, then you will be miserable as a believer.  Good news for you, though.  Repent, meaning get right with Jesus, turning away from sin and disobedience and He will forgive you and restore your fellowship with Him.  Then you’ll be back on track, and when someone asks, “seriously how are you doing?”  You can answer, “I am doing great and blessed in Jesus” regardless of the adversity, challenges, or circumstances.


Read more...

whatever you do

The last several weeks have presented challenges to getting devotionals done for the blog, but I think I have reached a point where I can once again try to bring encouragement with insights from God’s Word, thank you for your patience!

Normally we have a midweek review of the previous week’s message, but this is Thursday so this will not be a review per se, but there is a thought from last week’s message that calls for more emphasis in my mind. There was a scripture that I referred to that is an important principle for the believer seeking to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

In context, Paul finished a discussion about Christian liberty with this verse.  The reference to food came from the debate as to whether a believer should eat food from a sacrifice.  Paul prefaced the conversation with, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (10:23)  In other words there are a lot of things a believer can do, but some things don’t build up a person, in particular other people who may or may not have the same frame of thinking as you do as a believer.  This applied to what believers ate or drank when out in the marketplace or people’s homes. Paul wrote “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (10:26) to establish the truth that the food itself was not the issue. Paul admonished that a person should eat whatever is sold in the market or whatever is set before them unless the person specifically tells them this food is from a sacrifice.  Paul then says not to eat it for consideration and conscience sake of the one who told them.  Probably because they were conscientious about serving such food to the believer.

Paul was getting to a point, if in Christian freedom I can eat anything God has given for food, offered in sacrifice or not, and receive it with thanksgiving for its provision, then why am I criticized?  Verse 32 gives Paul’s reason, “Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church of God.” There is a greater reason for exercising thoughtfulness and even restraint in our Christian liberty and that is, so we do not present a stumbling block to non-believers or place obstacles for growth in front of young believers.  As a result we have this principle to follow in our Christian freedom: Whatever you do as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ do not let the use of your freedom cause others to doubt the truth of God so that you can faithfully bring glory to God in everything you do!

So, keep this principle in mind when deciding what you do and why you do it, so that whatever you do you do it for it for the glory of God!


Read more...

free?

“For freedom, Christ set us free.

Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

                                                                   – Galatians 5:1

On the day our nation celebrates Independence Day, we reflect on freedom as we have come to enjoy it and to some degree, take it for granted.  We experience the turmoil in our nation and wonder who truly appreciates the freedom every citizen has in this country.  It could be a disappearing privilege slowly evaporating under the guise of progress.  We should thank God for what He gave to this nation upon its founding and pray for a renewal of men hearts to the Creator God.

A more encouraging word is to the reference of the verse above.  We have been given spiritual freedom from the control and dominion of sin and the wrath it will bring as citizens of the Kingdom of God.  There is nothing on this earth, nor any evil power or principality can take that away.  Only the complacent and inattentive believer can fall prey to sin’s schemes if they are not always looking to Jesus and His Lordship.  Even though the nation may be drenched in sin’s demoralizing grasp, believers are free in Christ and do not have to fear or despair.  However, believers need to take seriously the spiritual warfare that is taking place and recognize the essential need of being in right relationship with God through His written Word.  Because remember, His Word is truth and the truth will set you free.  The truth will also keep you free.  But the believer must remain in the Word.  Read this passage from Psalm 19:7-11:

“The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad;

the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold— than an abundance of pure gold;

and sweeter than honey, which comes from a honeycomb.

In addition, Your servant is warned by them;

and in keeping them there is an abundant reward.”

The key to remaining free from the dominion of sin in your life is to keep the Word in your heart and life; it is instruction, God ‘s Word is trustworthy, His general rules for living are right, His commands enable us to see in through the darkness, there is no deception in the believer’s relationship with God, God’s laws are reliable and righteous, they’re better than gold and sweeter than honey, and His word warns of dangers and pitfalls that believers will face.  But the freedom that comes from His Word renews, makes one wise, fills with joy, gives “aha!” moments, is eternal, and when obeyed and trusted brings abundant reward.  That reward is freedom in Christ, from the world, from condemnation, and to living growing relationship with Jesus, and eternal life in heaven.  Now that is freedom to have and to hold on to at any cost.  Celebrate freedom in our country today, but celebrate freedom in Christ eternally!


Read more...

bigger concerns?

 The world is well informed of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is a major concern for people all over the world.  We are reminded regularly of all the guidelines and precautions that must be taken to help minimize the impact of the virus on people.  It has already taken its toll on many families who have seen loved ones die from the virus.  It is serious and I do my best to observe the precautions.

But there is something else going on right now here in Rock Springs that is an issue all in itself.  It is not seen as serious as the pandemic, but it is extremely annoying.  We have a “mothdemic” taking place.  They are everywhere and getting into everything, places that make you scratch your head in wonder of how did they get in there?  They are not life threatening, nor detrimental to the economy, but they are annoying.  You might think that I have lost my mind, and there could be a valid argument for that.  However, there is a reason for this crazy comparison.  Read the following scripture:

“Who perceives his unintentional sins?

Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

Moreover, keep your servant from willful sins;

do not let them rule me.

Then I will be blameless

and cleansed from blatant rebellion.”

Psalm 19:12-13

The Psalmist David got real with God.  He knew that there were willful sins that he committed things that were visible by others when committed.  There was no hiding them from others or from God.  David calls it blatant rebellion.  Hopefully, as you grow in Christ and understand more of God’s instructions and commands for living righteously any willful sin diminishes so that you do not walk in blatant rebellion to God and His Holiness.  The pandemic is obvious, and it is visible by all people of the world.  The world in response seeks to minimize its affect and harm to people by taking action against it and seeking a vaccine to protect against the disease.  Since it is so obvious, it must be dealt with, just like willful sin in a believer.  It must be dealt with to be in right relationship with the Father.

But then, there is the unintentional and hidden sin.  This is not obvious to the world, or even a significant number of other people, but the believer and God the Father knows all about it and it is as rebellious as the willful sin.  To be pure in heart and truly holy as believer and follower of Jesus, all sin matters and must be dealt with to keep those hidden sins from eating away at your relationship to God.  The moths are more than annoying they can eat holes in and destroy garments causing frustration and money.  So, even though the world knows nothing about our “mothdemic” we know about it here and have to pay attention to the problem to keep from replacing our wardrobes.  This certainly comes across as an exaggeration, but it is not an exaggeration to say the believer must not ignore or cover up hidden sin because it can eat away at your relationship with God causing you to be out of fellowship with the Father, Jesus and the Spirit.  The challenge then is to daily ask God to check your heart and reveal any sin, willful or hidden, that can hinder your relationship with Jesus.   


Read more...

Midweek Review 9

What is truly awesome about following Jesus is that God has made it simple, maybe not easy because of our contrary and sinful nature that must be put to death.  But the beautiful thing is that the longer you meditate on and examine the scriptures the more the Holy Spirit unveils how great and magnificent God and His love truly is. Beyond that the scripture reveals how Jesus lived a life that models the life we can live when obediently following His commands.  Free in Christ, to love God and love other people.  The joy that we can experience in following Jesus depends on our desire to walk in that relationship with Jesus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in living right.  Of course, that does require the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the continuous fueling of the Word of God in our mind and soul.  Living right was last Sunday’s sermon from 1 Peter.  There were three primary instructions Peter gave for living right in order to live differently!  Can you recall the three instructions?

It was simple and to the point although remembering them may not be quite that way. Maybe some clues would help you remember.  Believers are encouraged to “be”, to reflect characteristics that would be strengths for living right.  They are to be like -minded, centering their lives on the things above, focusing on the centrality of Jesus in everything they do. They are to be sympathetic, caring deeply about the needs, joys and sorrows of others.  They are to love other believers with brotherly love, the mark of being followers of Jesus.  They are to be compassionate demonstrating mercy grace and forgiveness. They are to wrap all of these things in humility that says others are more important and that God is the only source of the characteristics they may practice. Did that help you remember?

There was another way for believers to live right and that was in how they respond to adversity.  They are never to pay back evil for evil treatment like the world would do.  They are not to rebut insults to those who insult them even if they may deserve such rebuttal.  Believers do the unexpected, they return a blessing, asking God to show favor to the one or ones casting the insults or doing the evil. The believer does so because we are blessed with mercy and grace that God will bring to completion in the last day. Did that help at all?

The believer is to live right by living with God’s standards always in mind.  Whether it is in our speech, our behavior, or our relationship with God we should seek to be consistent in our obedience to God and His commands, so that our testimony is never compromised, because God is always watching over His own in fellowship through hearing our prayer and encouraging our life in Christ.  Are you still trying to remember?

Maybe this will help, three things we do as believers to live differently are:

Live right with fellow believers, live right with unbelievers, and live right with integrity.  Now that you remember, go out and do it!


Read more...