Come


From Pastor’s Desk:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

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The body needs rest from time to time, if not regularly. So it is with the mind, especially in a hectic, helter-skelter world in which we live. Beyond that, the spirit needs rest as well. Things which we cannot control often besets us, causing our spirit to be troubled.

There are various usages for the word “troubled” in Scripture. One in particular is when Jesus was “troubled” at the death of Lazarus. The Greek word in John 11:33 is ταράσσω tarassō (tar-as’-so), meaning, to stir or agitate (roil [stir up] water).

Rest is a precious thing. The body will eventually wear out without it. A tired body, without rest will come to a point of fatigue. Fatigue brings with it many different aspects, including what is called “burnout.” Trust me, you do not want to get to the point of burnout. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. It is not a pretty picture. Burnout will bring you to a point of not caring, and, what is worse, to a point of not caring that you don’t care.

Jesus’ invitation is to anyone that will come. We Christians use this verse as one of “Salvation Scriptures” but it addresses issues within Christendom as well. A weary body, a less-than-serene mind, and a troubled spirit is, in my opinion, is what is addressed in Matthew 11:28. Needless to say, there are going to be times when we are confronted with all the above, often all at once. Yes, even, if not especially, Christians. Sure, it is to the sinner who is laboring and heavy laden with sin. But it is also to we who are on the “Battlefield” engaged is spiritual warfare every moment of everyday.

It is to this that Jesus says, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”

Sunset over Mountain Range

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The Old and the New


From Pastor’s Desk:

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
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“…you have taken off…” and “…put on the new…” lays the responsibility at our “Doorstep.” It’s time, maybe, to accept the fact that God has done, does, and will do, all He can do. It’s up to the individual to dedicate, commit, and pursue the life that He wants us to live.

It’s a win-win situation. What could be better than purposely living in the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator? After all, isn’t this how man-kind was created in the beginning? God declared, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

If man-kind was created in His image, after His likeness, then it’s a safe, fore-gone conclusion that we are to be like Him.

That can only be done by taking off the “old self” and putting on the “new self.” Maybe now, at the beginning of 2019, that would be a good “New Year’s Resolution” if you’re into that, and if not, just purpose in your heart to do it anyway.

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Forgiveness Covered Both Ways


From Pastor’s Desk: 1-20-19

Mark 11:25 …when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

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In my opinion, this verse addresses the reason why many people have not reached their potential in service for the Lord, and why they are not receiving blessings they would otherwise.

Scripture says, “…if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15; Mark 11:26). Maybe that’s the reason why Jesus taught his disciples, and us, to pray “…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Mat. 6:12).

It is remarkable that too often we miss the fact that this verse applies to family as well as others. Families are often torn apart and remain that way for a long time simply because someone can’t, or won’t, forgive. So many good times are missed during the time of which there is no forgiveness. Church families become spiritually stagnated, and often are split apart for the same reasons, with the same results.

In the reconciliation process this principle is covered both ways. If you have anything against another, or if another has anything against you:

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Following the example of Steven should give us incentive to forgive others, and seek to have them forgive us. We must ask ourselves if we would be willing to pray to the Father to forgive those were stoning him and ask Him to not lay this sin to their charge (Acts 7:60). Further example would be Jesus on the cross as He cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Our youth at our church have been learning about subjectivity and objectivity. Needless to say, most of, if not all, the reason(s) people are not able to forgive is that they fall into, and can’t get out of, the subjective mode. That is, they can’t get outside themselves.

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Blameless and Harmless


From Pastor’s Desk:

Do all things without complaining (grumbling) and disputing,(arguing) 15 that you may become blameless and harmless (innocent), children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV (parenthesis KJV).

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Blameless and harmless is a result of doing all things without grumbling and arguing. History of the wandering in the desert after being delivered from Egyptian bondage teaches that negative things happen when God’s people grumble and argue.

Maybe one of the most adverse attitudes that besets us is that of having a tendency for complaining and disputing over things with which we are dissatisfied. That holds true in the church realm as well as the secular, and maybe more so.

These words were from Paul, as he was writing to actually commend them for all they were doing for the kingdom of God. A church that, upon study of it, was worthy of the commendation. We can take warning from such letters as this one to the Philippians in that they are an example for us today. Possibly Paul is reminding them, and us, that they, and we, are to continue doing well, and to not fall into the trap of grumbling and arguing. Even when things are going well, the tendency to do so increases when someone becomes less than agreeable with others.

Paul hits the “nail on the head” when he reminds them that they are living “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” His commendation is that “among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” His ultimate goal was that “I may rejoice…that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

If Paul was writing to the church today, could he write words of commendation like those he wrote to the Philippian church? Are we free from complaining and disputing? Are we blameless and harmless (innocent)? Do we shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life? Would he have cause to rejoice that he had not run and labored in vain?

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The “Whole” of Spiritual Conflict


From Pastor’s Desk:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NIV

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J.B. Philipps includes the following two verses along with verse 16: “Here is my advice. Live your whole life in the Spirit and you will not satisfy the desires of your lower nature. For the whole energy of the lower nature is set against the Spirit, while the whole power of the Spirit is contrary to the lower nature. Here is the conflict, and that is why you are not free to do what you want to do. But if you follow the leading of the Spirit, you stand clear of the Law.”

Notice the word “whole?” If we are not living our “whole life” in the Spirit we WILL satisfy the desires of our lower nature, which is the fleshly, or carnal, nature. Why? Because the “whole energy” of the carnal nature is “set against the Spirit.” Paul tells us “the carnal mind is enmity (hostile) against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). He goes on to say in verse 8 that we cannot please God as long as that “lower nature” is rampant in our lives.

The “whole power” of the Spirit, however, is contrary to carnality. Point being that as children of God we are not to live according to the lower nature, but according the Spirit. Romans 8:14 is explicitly clear: “They that are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

We are not free to do what we want to do according the desires of the flesh. The good part of that is that if we’re living according to the Spirit, we will not want to do the things pertaining to the flesh.

Therein lies the “whole” of Spiritual conflict!

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True Disciples


From Pastor’s Desk:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 NIV

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The AMP Bible sheds more light on these verses: So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. 32 And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].”

The more we get into the word the more the word gets into us. An established pattern of living the word through obedience will prove that we are genuine followers of Christ. As we, by study, learn fragments of the Truth, the more we know the whole Truth, which enables freedom.

Until this criterion is met, how can we truly say we are His disciples?

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Hard, Simple Truth of Loving


From Pastor’s Desk:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him. 1 John 4:20-21 (AMP)

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A plain truth from Scripture pertaining to love: loving God, and loving each other in the family of God. We can’t get around it although we try desperately to do so, or at least, skirt the issue.

I don’t know that we fully realize the full impact of these verses. If we did, we would not shuffle the concept, and by doing so, try to negate the principle stated therein. There is no way around it! We must love each other, no matter what it takes! Sometimes it may take conceding that we are wrong (Now there’s a word that most people don’t use unless it pertains to someone else).

I’m convinced that many people are living beneath their potential, spiritually, because of feelings they hold in their heart against another person, or other people. The reality is that God cannot move in their lives the way they want, and, most importantly, the way He wants, when they are loaded down with hurt, disappointment, anger, and animosity. Such an attitude is diametrically opposed to a free flow of love for others. A restricted flow of love for others certainly will not “seek the best” for anyone.

Like any thing else, realization, and most certainly, admittance of, escapes those who live with this kind of “baggage.” Be assured, it will hold one down spiritually and will hinder spiritual growth until it is reckoned with and corrected, by whatever means necessary.

To reiterate the principle, if we don’t love our brother/sister, we don’t love God! A hard, simple truth! Nonetheless, it is truth!

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Riches of God’s Grace


From Pastor’s Desk:

Ephesians 1:7 …In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
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Through no merit(s) of our own can we achieve redemption; only through the blood of Christ Jesus. I’m reminded again that God’s chemistry is totally unlike man’s. We cannot understand how God can wash a sin-blackened heart in the red blood of Jesus Christ and make it white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

“The riches of God’s grace” is also something that the human mind finds hard to comprehend. The reason we have no merit(s) upon which to base our salvation is because it is by grace we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), or that “unmerited favor” of God extended to us as we place our faith in Christ Jesus and His vicarious work on the cross.

O, but the riches of that grace! Always applied exact, always exactly on time, never more than we need, but always as much as we need. As we are initially saved by it, we are sustained by it, and thus we will ultimately be saved by it.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound                                                                                            That saved a wretch like me                                                                                                        I once was lost but now I’m found                                                                                                     ‘Twas blind but now I see

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Encouraging Testimony


From Pastor’s Desk:

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Psalm 118:5-6 NLT

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Paul taps into this concept, I believe, when he writes to the Roman church that nothing can separate us from God’s love. In Romans 8:31-39 (in part), he declares, “…If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (v. 31) … I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (v. 38) … indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 39).

The world in which we live today is sometimes fearful, even to the Christian. We ought not to fear, however, because God’s promises are true now as much as then. King David (usually considered the author) face many distressing situations. Anointed to be king when but a teenager, it was quite a number of years (approximately 21) before he was finally seated on the throne. In studying his life, if but only in Scripture, we find that he endured much hardship during the wait.

Can we not take Psalm 118:5-6 as a testimony of David? In Psalm 118:5-6, he is looking back on all the adverse circumstances and knew that it was the LORD who had delivered him when he was literally running for his life.

Combing through the Psalms, there can be found other times when this same testimony rang true. Psalm 18 is but one of good examples. I challenge you to take a few moments and read it and find encouragement from it.

When you do, after considering all your adverse circumstances, hopefully you can come to the point of testifying, along with David, “In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free.”

Sunset over Mountain Range

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