Dear Church Family,
Let me begin by saying thank you for your faithfulness to kingdom priorities during these unprecedented days! You have humbled me with your steadfastness, cards of encouragement, phone calls of support and a myriad of texts!
We will re-open once again for in-person services on Wednesday, September 2nd. Small groups, teens and other Wednesday night scheduled events will be in full swing. Our in-person worship services will begin the following Sunday, September 6th. We will have worship services at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Sunday school will be at the 10:00 AM hour. Children’s church and nursery will be available during the Sunday school hour, as well as the 11:00 AMworship. There will not be a nursery available during the 9:00 AM worship.
We are encouraging everyone to wear a mask during our in-person services. We understand some are not comfortable wearing masks. If you do not choose to wear a mask, we ask that you allow us to check your temperature at the door. It takes less than 3 seconds and is totally hands free. If you register a temperature greater than 100.4 we ask that you return home and watch the service online.
On another positive note, our missionary Mackenzie Collins will be with us on Sunday, September 20th. She will be speaking during both services. This is a young lady you will want to hear from. God has been using her in a mighty way!
September 20th will also be our annual Faith Promise for local and world missions. Faith Promise Cards will be available with the letter that was sent out this week through the mail and also on Sunday on the table in the foyer along with the sermon notes. My prayer is that it will assist you to prayerfully consider what God would have you do financially to support World Missions.
Our missionaries depend on us to keep them in the field. Likewise, we are depending on them to faithfully proclaim God’s Word in places we will never see. In a very real sense, it is God’s people supporting God’s people to do the work of evangelism in difficult places during difficult times.
Thank you once again for your faithfulness in all aspects of building and supporting God’s Kingdom work!
Serving Christ ~ Loving People,
In Jeremiah 33 we read of Gods promise to restore Israel after the captivity in Babylon!
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
In my devotions it spoke of the promises of God and that is where I stand, upon the rock which is Christ Jesus. In this time of craziness in this world where do you stand? Is it the latest headline that you hear about on the news? Is it what you read on social media, or the latest blog on the internet? Personally I believe as Christians that we stand on the promises of God.
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God so that all gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith-to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ Amen. Romans 16:25-27
Do we wrap ourselves in fear of what may happen to us in this mess of a society we live in? Do we join in and let our voice be heard in opposition to those who may cry out against our God. Or do we find ourselves in the presence of the Almighty through the power of the Holy Spirit praying for healing in this land. Do we see this as something that is beyond anything we can do or in our power? If you answered yes to that question you would be correct, for we do not have the power for such a task. But through God we can!
Now to him is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to HIS power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever Amen. Ephesians 3:20
Have an amazing day!
What is the value of a picture? Think of a stock photo of someone, like the ones they put in picture frames at Walmart. What can that picture actually tell you about the person in it? Maybe their favorite color, food, book, or movie? In reality, a picture can’t tell you anything about that person that you don’t already know.
However, when God created humanity, He created the most effective picture ever. In Genesis 1:26, God decided to make more than just a picture, God created us to carry His image into the world. Similar to how a picture needs to develop, so does the image of God! 2 Cor 3:18 says: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
You, as the ever-developing image of God have an ability that no picture can do: you can help those around you to know God in a new, deeper way!
Choosing Thankfulness – a pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Good Morning! I am thankful for TODAY. How about you? Here we are figuring out how to do life in the twilight zone. We are learning flexibility and gratitude for things we took for granted a few months ago. That is a great lesson to learn through all these changes and difficulties. So, I am thankful. I am thankful that we can be together through technology. I am thankful that God walks beside me through everything that comes into my life. I am thankful that He continues to patiently teach me how to be the person He has created me to be. I am thankful for others walking with me as we learn to be more like Jesus. I am even thankful for tough days because I learn things on tough days that I never learned on easy days.
So, let’s talk about…Thankfulness! We are God’s people and we are called to live thankful lives. Let’s choose to be grateful and express it. It is true that we sometimes really have to work at it. But it can change your day.
Think about what a day looks like without gratitude, without thankfulness. Instead of appreciating what is around me, I complain and criticize, I whine, I ask for more, I moan, I grumble... Have you had a day like that? I have and it is no fun! So today, I choose to be thankful.
God has something to say about thankfulness-
1 Chronicles 16:34 Thank the Lord because he is good. His love continues forever.
This is a great way to start a day: Dear God, Thank you for being good and loving me always.
Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks.
This one is a little tougher in these crazy days with all the constant changes and rumblings and fighting around our country. But what God says to do, I do, because I am His follower. I am to take my worry to God and ask Him to work it out and give Him THANKS. Period!
Hebrews 12:28 So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please him. We should do this with respect and fear.
This verse gives us hope and a challenge: Give thanks because we are part of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. YES! AND then the reminder: be sure to worship God respectfully. He is the King of this Kingdom, so we bow before His greatness, while we gratefully enjoy His love.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus.
Doesn’t that sound like what we are living through right now? The newspaper headlines should all simply read: WHATEVER HAPPENS! And what does God say to do with this uncertainty… always be thankful. Remember, He is the King of the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, so when He speaks, we obey. We are to be intentionally thankful. That means we work at being thankful, even on “icky” days.
There are many times when I struggle with gratefulness and I have to work at it just like you. On those days I start like this: Thank you God that you are with me while I feel yucky today. Thank you that you never leave me. Then I might add, and thanks for clean water to drink and and food to eat and clothes to wear, people who love me, and…
Colossians 3:17 Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.
This is similar. Thessalonians tells us whatever is going on outside us, we are to be thankful. And this one says whatever is going on inside us, we are to be thankful. Sounds like a plan, eh?
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful.
That is a great one to finish with! Peace and gratitude. They just go together. You know what else comes with thankfulness? JOY! When we practice thankfulness, joy starts building up inside of us. We figure out when we live long enough that the STUFF of this world does not really bring joy. We might get a little burst of happy for a few days, but then we soon realize it doesn’t last very long and we want more and begin to grumble again. So, if you want joy, try making a list of what you are thankful for. God knows what is best for us!!! That’s why He wants us to practice thankfulness!!!
I come before You today And there's just one thing that I want to say
Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord
For all You've given to me, For all the blessings I can not see
Thank You Lord, Thank You Lord
(Thank you Lord – Don Moen)
Trusting As I Go
Genesis 11:27, 31-32.
27 This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. 32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.
Terah (the father of Abram) and his family chose to radically relocate their lives for the purposes of God. They left Ur of the Chaldeans and set out for Canaan, the land that would someday embody so many promises for the people of God. But they didn’t make it. They did not see it through. They settled themselves down in Harran and they never got going until after Terah died.
I am sure many of us can remember times when we have left things behind and set out for the purposes of God. However, just like Terah and his family, it’s possible for us to get stuck along the way. It can be easy to settle for less than God’s best for our lives. We can miss reaching the true destination, the place of hope… perhaps when the path seems to be taking too much time, or the calling is too demanding, or the journey ahead is filled with too many shifting shadows?
There is a powerful song from Michael Card that speaks to this theme from scripture.
What will it take to keep you from Jesus
Keep you from heeding His call
The simple excuse of a heart that is hard
A reason that's nothing at all
And how long before you stop with your reasons
Take your defenses away
It's only a lie that keeps you from following
Don't let it stand in your way
So many excuses and so many lies
Are blocking the Light and the Way
But the final decision to follow the Lord
Can shatter and blow them away
God, I apologize for the times where I have settled too quickly and sold out too easily. I know that this is risky faith to which you have called me. Grant me the courage to allow myself to be abandoned to your purposes and plans. I ask your Holy Spirit to inspire me to make the final decision to follow- that can shatter and blow all my excuses away. May I continue to live in the trust that You’ll be with me as I go. Amen!
SPRING OF WATER
Springs of water have played significant roles in the history of Kansas, both for Native Americans for European settlers along overland trails and yet today by present generations.
The Waconda Spring (also known as Great Spirit Spring) was known to and regularly visited by Native Americans, Alcove Spring was a well-known stopping place on the Oregon Trail and numerous Flint Hills Springs.
As a teacher of survival training for numerous years I depended upon springs and artesian wells as a source of fresh water. However, as we all know, sometimes our best laid plans can be found amiss. On one such occasion of a five day survival camp at which you take no food, water or shelter, I was astonished to find the spring I had always depended on was no longer flowing, leaving myself and the trainees dependent upon small stagnant pools of water along a dried up stream bed. Did we survive the five days, Yes, and with God’s help the outcome was surprisingly well done by all.
We find in the book of Isaiah 58:11 these lesson for our spiritual survival: The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
God’s spring of living water far exceeds our desire for natural food and water but supplies an inner thirst for our spirit that only God through His Son Jesus Christ can quench. “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14
Moses was faced with a similar experience while leading the children of Israel through their wilderness survival when the Lord spoke to Moses, saying “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”
However, as do we all on occasion, try to strike a rock as it were by our own will and strength, rather than speaking what the Lord, the solid rock, the corner stone upon whom we depend for true living water directs us. Even though Moses brought forth the water from the rock, it was his way and not by the Lords direction. He chose not to believe and by that unbelief he did not hallow the Lord in the eyes of the children of Israel.
The spring within us may yield water but until we honor God, trust in His Word and act upon it as he directs for our life we may find the water like my survival trainees to be stagnant bitter water, rather than precious sweet living water. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? James 3:11
Search your heart. Which spring of water are you seeking? The one that just quenches your thirst and desire for the moment, or the spring of living water that refreshes and renews your life in Christ for Eternity?
May God speak to you as you seek Him for the Spring of Living Water in your life and your family. God Bless and keep you in His care and Grace.
Pull up a Chair
The scripture tells us in Psalm 23:5 Our great Shepherd is preparing a table before us up in heaven. He is preparing a great marriage feast when we get home! A table where even our enemies will feel comfortable being there.
Growing up, how many of you had a kitchen table where everyone gathered for a meal? A safe place where things could be talked about freely? I know for my immediate family (my kids) growing up we had a HUGE table in our kitchen area. When we only had seven children we had a normal sized table but when God decided to add three more to the number of places at the table, we built a huge picnic style table with benches on both sides and a chair at each end that stretched all the way across our kitchen eating area. Soon another plate was needed at the table and then three more were added. I bought an old restaurant booth at a garage sale that I had upholstered in lime green Naugahyde and I made a table top that would fit the booth. It was U shaped and filled our kitchen area. You could sit 14 kids and two adults very easily and that was our kitchen table for many years. That table was a place where more barriers were torn down and more decisions were made than any other room in the house. We had many, many family discussions around that table after an evening meal. We talked about everything from politics to homework that hadn’t been turned in, to squabbles that needed to be settled, to issues with friends, to money matters, to planning vacations, to sexual issues. It was a safe place where anyone could feel safe to share their feelings without any condemnation and where the Word of God was taught. There were rules at the table. Putdowns were not allowed and everyone was treated with the utmost respect and not criticized for their opinions. Eventually there were foster kids that were added to that table and then as the older ones moved out there were the grandkids that celebrated their birthdays at the family table. It was nothing to have 14 to 16 at the table at every meal.
Many games were played around that old booth where we laughed until we cried and many crafts were created there. Birthdays were celebrated with family and friends and it also served as a great place for homework to be done.
The booth is no longer there now but there is a big dining room table where everyone still gathers when they come home to visit or need to talk. I can’t tell you how many times we all end up at the kitchen table when the kids come home!
I am saddened to think that many families don’t even own a kitchen table and never gather around it to eat or play. Somehow maybe, just maybe, this would be a great time to re-instate family meals around the kitchen tables. Where kids have to put down their electronic devices and learn to communicate with family. Where parents take the time to inspect homework and engage in conversations with their children about topics that kids just look up on YouTube now instead of getting parental input. Maybe now is the time to get out the game boards and the dice and old maid cards and have some great family time around the kitchen table. A time where family devotions could take place. I’m afraid we live in a society that is more and more drawn to the virtual reality of the electronic devices that are held in their hands in the bedrooms or the living room and we experience less and less of the face to face real life time where lively and much needed discussions around the family table could take place.
Could it be that more barriers in families could be broken down around the kitchen table than in a counseling room with a counselor that really doesn’t know your family as well as you do? I would love to see more families returning the family table to its rightful place as the center of our homes where families could enjoy a good home cooked meal and then discuss the events of the day and begin the opportunity for that table talk that could draw our families in and heal their hearts and help the ones that are floundering. Where God could be the healing agent.
When I think back, and if you were to ask my children, some of our best memories were the ones made around that old lime green booth. Where we had supper together and everyone was home and we passed around the mashed potatoes and green beans. Where everyone was talking at once and laughing together. Supper was love and acceptance and a place where you could say what was on your heart. Even now as my children are all grown up with families of their own we still enjoy the family dinners or BBQ’s where everyone gathers and eats and laughs together. The topics may or may not be different as those days when they were younger but it’s still a place where they can come and open their hearts and know they are loved! I find it interesting that some of the topics are the same just different characters in the story!
At my home everyone is welcome at our table. There is always food aplenty and we can easily squeeze in a few more chairs. But beware… you never know what topics might be discussed!
Love you all,
Is God’s Will My Will?
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3
Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me— is it my will?
The Value of a Planted Seed.
I have a patch in my front yard...it’s designed to be a flower bed. When we moved in it was over-run with weeds, I weeded and weeded and weeded. I’d get one type of weed out and another would take over. I’d never seen anything like it. When weeding didn’t work, I used weed killer over and over, tried different kinds even. And nothing! I have tried to plant flowers multiple times. Once I planted something like 30 bulbs...not one...not one flower grew, I watered, took careful care and nothing. The next year I did the same. And nothing, nothing grew but pesky weeds. I’ve decided someday we’re going to pave it with pavers or cement, I give up, until then we’ll just weed eat it.
In my years of ministry, I have planted so many seeds. So much watering, and so often nothing in return. I have a group of students who are now all entering adulthood, out of college, living life some with multiple kids now. I have lost track of many, a few I have kept in contact with briefly through social media.
Two weeks ago, the youth pastor who followed me at one of my previous churches, and also a friend of mine, tragically lost his life in a swimming accident with some of his current youth ministry students. This rocked not only the world of his current students, but of his former students, many of which were also my former students. You see, some of those seeds I was able to plant, he watered.
I had the opportunity to meet with about 25 of those students the other day to give them a space to remember, ask questions, share stories and give hope.
Some of those seeds from years past that I thought were never going to bear fruit are now heavily involved in church and really seeking to do God’s will in their lives and teach their children to walk in His ways. Some of those seeds are now missionaries and joined us via Zoom, five are now youth pastors. And others, who joined us in person are now more lost than they were as teens.
It reminds me of a scripture;
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9
You never know where the wind might take those seeds. I just wanted to encourage each of you today, to keep planting seeds wherever you go, keep watering them, don’t give up on them. And check your soil. Is there something God wants to do with you, but He can’t because you’re not ready or willing to hear and do? What’s holding you back? Do you need to weed your garden so God can work? Confess it and see how God grows you. Do you need a little fertilizer, read the word! Do you need the Son, He’s waiting with open arms!
Blessings to you and yours,
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
You will always have an excuse to justify not getting involved in other people’s lives. When you come across someone in need, just get ready—a conversation in your head will begin. “I wish I could help, but I’m already running late. I don’t know these people. I’ve got so much going on. What if they aren’t really in need? Or what if they end up being super needy?”
Sound familiar? Yes, we are busy. We have hectic schedules and lots of demands on our time, energy, and resources. Yes, it is inconvenient and means our plans will get changed. It’s also what Jesus did over and over again—he saw a need and loved, healed, helped, and listened to them.
The conversation in your head will likely keep playing, but to say we care and not act is not really caring at all. We are called to care so deeply that we have to act.
Compassion will often interrupt your schedule. So, ask yourself, do you want to be on time to your next appointment? Or do you want to be more like Jesus?
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; not for your body, as to what you will put on. Matthew 6:25-26
In a sense we live in an insecure world. Riots, plaques, racial discord, spiritual apathy, terrorism, an out of control drug culture, family distress…it seems like there is just no end to the list. But perhaps that is the core of our problem. The “list”.
The list affects our outward look on life, our decision making, and yes even to the extent of our relationship with one another.
As Christ followers we know we should not get all caught up in the list, but unfortunately we often do.
Here is an idea to ponder: what would happen if we acknowledged the list, but refused to let it impact our spirit? This way we would protect our spirit from the burden of things out of our control.
Maybe, just maybe that is what Jesus meant when He said, “Be in the world, not of the world.”
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
This verse has been a favorite in our home for many years. I accepted it as true because it comes from God’s word. However, I can’t say I understood it or really believed it for a very long time.
Many families, including mine, have experienced a lot of tragedy in life. Our prayer lists are filled with needs for healing, intervention, and provision, much more than they are filled with praise. Life is overwhelming much of the time and appears to be getting worse in light of the pandemic and the negative side effects it brings.
My point is that it is very easy to focus on the negative. I fall into that trap more than I care to admit, and I think I have a lot of company. I have to work at taking my mind off the negative and focus on the positive. I must make a choice to set my mind on the goodness of our Lord.
When I function in the realm of positive faith, I find myself being reminded how far the Lord has brought me; how He has plans for our welfare, how He has been and still is delivering us from evil. He has given us a future with Him, and our lives are filled with hope based on that future. Thankfully, when I forget to focus on that hope, my family is very good about helping me get back.
One of the advantages of being of advanced age (yes, I’m old) is this ability to look back and see God’s work in my life. How he has always provided for me and that I live in prosperity unimagined by me early in life. This is one of the promises I see fulfilled, and the best is yet to be.
God’s promises are not always fulfilled in a way we understand. Many times, we have to wait in faith, choosing to focus on our Lord. I’ve spent many years around 12 Step recovery tables, where you hear this: “It works if you work it but won’t if you don’t.” They also say “…but keep coming back anyway!” We are here to remind each other that God’s word is true all the time. We must “keep coming back” to it!
The world seems to get crazier by the minute as each day unfolds. In my lifetime I would have never thought we would see such an aggression against truth and common sense! It seems like evil has become the new normal and what we consider right is wrong! We must never take our eyes off of our Sovereign God who is still in control of everything.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
Steady the knees that give way;
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
Your God will come,
He will come with a vengeance.
With divine retribution
He will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4
As I read the book of Isaiah it almost seems as though we are living in the same period? Fear of what may happen is everywhere and no one really knows what may happen next. Not only have we had to deal with our circumstances with Covid, but we still have to deal with our everyday responsibilities. Recently I was made aware of a cousin who is younger than me has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer! Another member of family that is stricken with an issue that’s not asked for, but yet has to be faced with courage! Where do we find such courage in the face of such devastating news?
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
And streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become like a pool,
The thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
Grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. Isaiah 35:5-7
What breaks my heart is to watch those who do not know the Lord continue on a path of destruction that will certainly end with dire consequences. We as believers should be doing all we can to reach as many as the lost and broken as possible to share with them the gospel message of salvation. One thing I have learned in my walk with the Lord is my salvation is not about me going to heaven. It is about me reaching those who do not know the Lord. For it is clear in scripture the choices we have.
And a highway will be there;
It will be called the Way of Holiness;
It will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
Wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor any ravenous beast;
They will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
And those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
Everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:8-10
God is on his throne with you in mind, he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Have an amazing day!
This last Saturday, I went to a gun range with some friends. It was my first time shooting a handgun, and it was a very enlightening experience for me. Regardless of your view on gun control, I hope you can agree that guns are very fascinating tools. A 9mm pistol is so small but carries an amazing amount of destructive force. If you are not careful with it, you could injure or even kill somebody, but it’s small enough to fit comfortably in a hand or carry with you with minimal disruption.
The Bible describes the tongue in a similar fashion. A (very) few examples:
Much of this is phrased metaphorically, we should not combine what James and the author of Proverbs are saying and go around telling people their tongues are literally poisonous trees. However, this metaphor contains truth. What you say to and about people is just as important in the eyes of God as what you physically do.
You wouldn’t be careless with a gun, please don’t be careless with your words.
What is Going On??? A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
What is going on? Front page news continues to be Bad News, (aside from Courtney Bond’s new book coming out – BREATHTAKING) Pandemic fears, political games, racial tension, riots, shootings are the stories of the day. Day after day after day. But these are really just symptoms of a long story that runs throughout the history of humanity on every continent. I don’t make light of them, nor am I surprised at them. They have our attention because they are on our doorstep now and are interrupting our lives significantly.
But, remember who we are, and remember WHOSE we are. We are the people of the Kingdom of God. Though the current state of affairs looks like a great big mean-faced giant, we serve the giant-crushing, sin-stomping God of the Universe. The same God that took out Goliath and a zillion giants since then, always wins. When we hear all the news about all this trouble and change, and when the lies of our enemy begins to look like some wonky form of truth, we get distracted and fail to see the reality of our Great Big, Never-Changing, Always-Loving, Eternally-Winning God.
See, what the newspapers fail to write, and the reporters fail to talk about is the truth that would change it all: Our Great God gave His only Son because He loves this crazy world so much! But you know, and I know, and we know that He is Big and He is Mighty and He is Able and walks with us and that is enough. It’s a good time to share that truth with folks around you.
So, let me tell you what is really going on. Throughout our world, Christians are rising up in the darkest places. People of God are standing through persecution, and even in death, believers are showing us what victory looks like. Because no matter what it looks like…. God Wins!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18
We have this treasure from God, but we are only like clay jars that hold the treasure. This is to show that the amazing power we have is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies. We are alive, but for Jesus we are always in danger of death, so that the life of Jesus can be seen in our bodies that die. So death is working in us, but the result is that life is working in you.
That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles. So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever.
(A Veggie Tales Song)
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
What Do You Call That?
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God."
Many of our devotionals this week have focused on the subject of holiness. Leviticus is the Old Testament training manual for the people of God concerning holiness. Many a brave believer has set their sights on reading through the whole Bible and have been stopped dead in their tracks while getting lost in the holy details of Leviticus. Somehow we just can’t see the forest for all the trees. If you’ve gotten lost on a trail before, I encourage to try again. The basic gist is this. God’s own holiness should affect every part of our lives. I am different because I belong to him.
Many people have a certain image that comes to their minds when they ponder holiness. They picture some dude with a long beard, dressed in a white robe, speaking in a deep, slow voice. The life of holiness appears to walk ten feet off the ground. Somehow it seems to be out of touch with the everyday rhythms of life.
I’m struck by the way in this Leviticus 19 passage that God so clearly connects holiness with the practical actions of daily life. He directly equates the way I may worship on the Sabbath with the way I do the business of life on Monday-Saturday. I leave space on the edges of my fields for the other. I intentionally construct margin in my resources so that I might have some to share with those in need. I create soft places in the areas of my time, talent, and treasure so that my week is not totally filled to brim with just my own stuff. I make holy room.
You might be amazed at the ripple effects of these little acts of holy generosity. It was in response to this Leviticus passage that a landowner named Boaz made space for Ruth to glean at the edges of his fields. They got married, and one of their great-grandchildren was King David. The legacy of King David would one day bring to birth the legacy of another king named Jesus. The rest-my friends- is history. It all got started from a simple act of making room.
My youngest son struggles with a difficult case of ADHD. His brain likes to fire in a hundred different directions all at once at the pace of the energizer bunny. There is a wonderful gentleman in our church who has made room for my son by taking time out of his schedule every week to mentor him on how to make models. It is a tremendous, creative exercise that is teaching Josiah the value of concentration. You say, Pastor Donny, what do you call that? I’m sure there are many different ways to describe it. Leviticus 19, however, calls it…….holiness!
What are you pursuing in life?
Is it Holiness or Worldly Happiness?
Peter said if we are Christ followers then we are sojourners passing through this world and exiles of this world, so in that we should abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our soul.
John expressed it this way: No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him… let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in Him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Therein the question begs us for a response. Are we seeking after God and His Holiness? If so consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 20:7) For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
Are you doing some of the things you used to do, knowing they are not of a Holiness nature? Then pray: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23)
Are you seeing spiritual growth in your life? If so, remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began (2 Timothy 1:9)
Gods Holy Word convicts us and leads us to a holier life. Jesus prayed for God to sanctify us, to “set us apart” for His holy purpose. God’s Word; as Paul wrote, can cleanse us from all unrighteousness by the washing with His word. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, God will be faithful to create in us a clean heart and a renewed spirit.
Each day of our life the world is raging a battle against our holiness. Everything about us; our heart, mind, soul and our will is at stake in the battle to be lost or won for our Holiness. So above all, fight on to Pursue...holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
So my brothers and sisters, be constant in prayer, yield to the Holy Spirit and fill your mind with God’s Word, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.(Philippians 2:13-16)
May God Bless you with His Grace and Peace as He leads you in your pursuit of Holiness!
II Timothy1:6; 14
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
I live out on five acres and I love living out of town away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and people. I love sitting on my porch in the evenings and watching the fireflies and listening to the frogs and the locust. On the fourth of July this year we decided that we would have a camp out at my house. We couldn’t go to any parks or to any lakes because of the pandemic. So a lot of my kids came with their tents and camping stuff and we made our own camp ground.
A few years ago I decided to build me a fire pit out of some bricks that we had stacked in the back 40. I wanted a really big one since there are so many of us when we get together. So I built a fire pit that is 6 feet across, plenty big for several to roast hotdogs and marshmallows at the same time. I have several sons-in-laws and grandsons that like to think of themselves as boy scouts so they proceeded to build the fire. They gathered the wood together and then they found some little pieces that they could use for kindling and after fanning the flames on the kindling they soon had a nice fire going that we enjoyed for the rest of the evening and late into the night. But just because they started the fire didn’t mean they were finished. Someone had to keep putting logs on the fire and stoking the fire to keep it going all evening. Without that the fire would soon die out and we would be left with just coals that would soon go out.
So it is with our spiritual walk. I remember how “on fire” I was when I first became a Christian and I was so stoked to tell others about what Jesus has done for me. I think that so many times I tend to let the fire die down because I get so caught up in the day to day routine of life that I don’t take the time to stoke the fire and put some new logs on the fire. This whole thing with the Covid-19 has caused me to fall into a time like that. I have never been one that was prone to depression or feeling really down until lately. I realized the other day that maybe I needed to take my eyes off of what is happening in our world and stop listening to the fake news around me and start fanning the fire that is a gift of God in my life. Get more into the Word and into the music of His voice in my ear.
I know I am not the only one that is feeling this slump, but I also know in whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. So let’s get out our fans, pass out the white hankies, and start dancing in the isles. Let’s fan the fire and start a revival in our hearts that will spread out to all those around us. Things may not be like we like them in our world today but HE is the same yesterday, today and forever! Satan you are not going to win this fight! Want to join me? I will have the white hankies waiting at the welcome center, the music on in the sanctuary and I will clear the isles so we can run up and down dancing and shouting His praises. Let the revival begin!
Where does a discussion of the holiness of God lead us? It leads us to celebrate his grace.
Because of his grace, we know that our Lord is holy.
Because of his grace, we're accepted and not rejected by him.
Because of his grace, we're comforted by his holy rule.
Because of his grace, we become aware of the gravity of the sin that infects all of us.
Because of his grace, we run to God for help and not away from him in fear.
Because of his grace, God appointed his perfect Son to be the perfect sacrifice for imperfect people.
Because of his grace operating within us, we experience both the conviction of sin and a desire to live holy lives.
Because of his grace, we have been invited to live in God's holy presence forever and ever.
The holiness of God decimates our autonomy and self-sufficiency and drives us to the Savior, who alone is able, by his life and death, to unite unholy people to a holy God.
God reveals his holiness to us not as a warning that we should run from him in eternal terror, but as a welcome to us to run to him, where weak and failing sinners always find grace that lasts forever.
May you celebrate God’s grace and rejoice in God’s holy presence this very day.