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4-10-21 – Pastor Ben

Ready and Expectant

 

In Luke 12:35-48, we hear Jesus’ teaching on being ready for His appearing and judgment. From this passage, we see that the Lord is urging anyone who would follow Him to:  be ready now (v.35), stay ready from now on (v.35), and to live life eagerly expecting Him (v.36). If these things are true of our lives, Jesus says we will be blessed (v.37).

As Jesus is teaching the people, Peter wants to clarify exactly whom Jesus is addressing, saying, “Lord are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And Jesus answers Peter’s question with another question: “Who then is the faithful and wise manager…?” Who are those who are eagerly waiting in readiness, co-laboring, and serving? Who are those guarding the sacred trust to which the Lord has called them?

Certainly, the disciples had given up everything to follow Him, but there would be more Kingdom laborers who would enter into the service of the King. It seems that Jesus is reminding Peter of the reality that it will become self-evident who these people are as they would look around in the Lord’s field and be able to clearly notice those faithfully co-laboring with them in His harvest.

How about you? Are you fully engaged in the Lord’s mission- knowing that the Kingdom is already at hand, and that Jesus is coming?

There is little reward or joy in waiting for the Lord’s return with a lazy heart, inaction, or self-indulgence. But there is such excitement and joy when we are consistently found faithful living for Him by serving Him daily.

Are you ready, serving, and expecting Him today?

4-9-21 – Pastor Chris

Luke 12:32

“Do not fear, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom.”

We are an anxious people. One thing that the recent pandemic has made clear is the rise of anxiety. Across all ages and stages of life, the circumstances of the day bring to light the fact that an ever-increasing number of people struggle with a lack of insight and a lack of control.

 

This is not really unique to us in our generation. In reality, people from the past also struggled with the lack of control they had in the world. Further, we are never told to think otherwise! We are never told to rely on our control or to get better control of the world around us; rather; we are told to place our confidence in the One who never lost control of anything!

 

Notice in this verse (which is a favorite of mine) a couple of key truths which bring me a great deal of comfort.

 

  • First, we are told to “fear not” or “do not fear.” God never instructs us to do the impossible; so, we discern here that it is possible to live without fear or anxiousness.
  • Second, we are reminded of our relationship. He is our “Father,” and we are His flock. Both of these powerful images remind us to trust our Shepherd King and our Father who guards and protects us. We are led to green pastures and still waters. Further, we are never abandoned in the dark valleys of the shadow of death.
  • Third, The Father has already chosen that our inheritance is the Kingdom. We cannot earn it; therefore, we cannot lose it. It is wholly His and therefore it is assuredly ours.
  • Finally, the Father does not do this begrudgingly, but gladly. He wants to give us the Kingdom. He wants to provide for us. He wants to care for us. He wants us to rely on Him.

 

As a child, I learned to sing “He’s got the whole world…in His hands.” We can still trust in the truths of this song today. He does control it all and He desires to provide all we need from His own abundance.

 

4-8-21 – Mark Stauffer

Psalm 98:1

Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous things
 
Ask most people what their favorite song is, and they’ll probably respond with a song they’ve known for years.  Music is like that.  It stays with you and often recalls memories of past events, emotions, and experiences.  Just as it is often true with things like food, hobbies, and even friendships, we are prone to populate our ‘favorites’ lists with the familiar.
 

There is nothing wrong with this! There are countless songs handed down through the ages and decades that proclaim the virtues of God and enable us to bring our worship before Him in spirit and in truth.  But in this verse, as in many others like it in the book of Psalms, God doesn’t remind us to sing old songs, but rather to praise Him with new songs.

 

Why is this?

Perhaps He knows we need no reminder to sing songs of praise that are already firmly embedded in our hearts and minds.

Or maybe He wants us to have to expend the energy required to create or learn something new as part of our sacrifice of praise.

Or could it be that His ongoing grace and mercy that is displayed in new ways requires new expressions of thanksgiving and glory unto Him?
 

I believe we will be creating new music with which to worship the Lord through all eternity.  Everything that is now old was once new.  The only way for music to remain new is to tap into the creative part of God’s image that is in us all and sing a new song!

 

Let me give you a worship arts push out of your comfort zone!  Sometime when you are verbally praying – thanking God for what He has done in your life, praising Him for His love and faithfulness, or lifting up a prayer request; just try making up a melody to go with your words.  That’s it!  You’re singing a new song. 

 

Notice this verse does NOT say “Sing well to the Lord a new song,” or “Sing to the Lord a new well-composed song!”  If you’re self conscious about it, do it when no one else is around!  (It’s not for them anyway.)  And if they catch you and look at you like you’re crazy, just tell them you’ve been reading e-connects and blame it on me!

 

Let me conclude by offering my appreciation for how our church family receives new music.  It is a great blessing to me to see congregation members of all ages singing the new and unfamiliar with smiling faces and raised hands.  Thank you for remembering what it is all about.  Whether the song itself is like an old familiar friend or a brand new creation, let us always focus our hearts on the One who has done marvelous things!

4-7-21 – Pastor Dylan

Teach Us…

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1

 

The disciples saw Jesus feed thousands from the lunch sack of a young boy, cast out demons, heal many sick, and bring people back from the dead! However, only one time in the 89 chapters of the Gospels do they ask Jesus to teach them something specifically. What did they ask him to teach them? Surely they wanted to know how to do one of those things?! Nope! Maybe they asked Jesus to teach them how to walk on water or calm the waves? Nope! What did they ask him? “Lord, teach us to pray…”

 

Observing the life of Jesus through the Gospels, a pattern becomes very obvious. Before the Lord encountered a major trial or experience, he often went to be alone to pray. THE SOVEREIGN LORD OF THE UNIVERSE! THE ONE THROUGH WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE! Do you think that the disciples might have noticed this? Do you think the disciples made the connection between the prayer life of our Lord and the power of our Lord? In a letter to his students, the great Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “We not only ought to pray more, but we must.” 

 

Christ follower, our Lord Jesus gave his disciples and us a great example to follow! The importance of prayer in the life of a believer cannot be overstated! Prayer is as essential to us as the very breath that we breathe. 

 

Do you want to live a Godly life? Pray.

Do you want peace? Pray.

Do you want the power of God in your life? Pray. 

Do you want boldness to share the gospel? Pray. 

Do you want to be led by the Spirit? Pray.

Do you want understanding of God’s Word? Pray.

Do you want to be free from the bondage of sin? Pray.

Do you want to want what God wants? Pray. 

Even if you do not want any of those things…PRAY! 

 

Friend, walk today and every day in the spirit of prayer. If you have placed your faith in Jesus, you always have an open line of communication with the Father! Take advantage of it! Begin this day and every day by attuning your heart to his through precious communion with him at the mercy seat. 

4-6-21 – Pastor Charles

At the Feet of Jesus!

She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. – Luke 10:39
 

The words “He is Risen” are still ringing in my ears and dancing in my heart from Sunday’s Easter Celebration! It is true, He has Risen indeed, and this truth should motivate us to experience the will of God for our lives.

 

In today’s Bible reading, in Luke 10, the words “at the Lord’s feet” just grabbed me and caused me to meditate on those precious words! The truth, “He is Risen” should motivate and cause me to be at the Lord’s feet!

In the gospel of Luke, we see several times the words,  “at His feet”:

Luke 7:38 she is weeping “at His feet”
Luke 8:35 he is sitting “at His feet”
Luke 8:41 he fell “at His feet”
Luke 17:16 he is praising “at His feet”
Luke 10:39 she is listening “at His feet”

Today, spend time at our Lord’s feet! I believe for the truth “He is Risen” to make the most impact on us, we must be at His feet continuously. At His feet, is an attitude of worship and intimacy for the believer. There are many things that can and will distract us from being at our Lord’s feet, so ask the Father to help you put away those things and anything that would keep you from experiencing intimacy with Him today!

4-5-21 – Pastor Jordan

When Jesus spoke of the “harvest” in this passage, He was referring to the vast amount of people who were separated from Christ at that time. There were very few Christ-followers; yet, the people who did follow Jesus had an enormous impact by being faithful in sharing the good news. We read in the Bible of times when thousands would hear the gospel and repent all at once. Being a follower of Jesus who was not involved in sharing the gospel wasn’t the norm then. A person who was born again was always a person concerned with the lostness around them and would intend to impact it.

Before Jesus sent the seventy-two out on this mission we read about in Luke 10, He gave them two commands:

First, He commanded them to PRAY. Jesus pointed out that there were multitudes of people in whom the Holy Spirit was working; many who had not heard the gospel and were lost in their sin. Prayer is the first work that Jesus calls His people to in carrying out the Great Commission. Before we even consider His next command, we must ask ourselves, “Am I praying earnestly to the Lord to send out laborers into His harvest?” 

Second, notice that for every person whom Jesus commanded to pray, He also said to GO. This commissioning we read of in Luke 10:3 is applicable to every Christian, not just “exceptional Christians.” As a sent out believer, you are to be “going” every day. Wherever you go today – your job, your neighborhood, maybe even in your home, there is lostness. He may be calling some of you to go to a far away place to share the gospel where the people have no opportunity to hear. What the Scripture is teaching here is, as you HAVE been praying and as you ARE going, share the gospel. 

Jesus said, “Go your way, I am sending you out.”

4-4-21 – Pastor Gene

Don’t miss the staggering weightiness that comes in verse 51. Jesus was not only on mission, but He was resolute in the execution of that mission. Resolutely: (adjective) Firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion. Jerusalem would be his Colosseum, and Jesus would be on display as He received His beatings, betrayal, mockery, heartache, and a bloody cross. Jesus was resolute that He would receive each excruciating lash, each callous slur, and each piercing nail so that not one human being would miss the opportunity to be a part of the mission.

Resolute brings with it an awareness that all other matters, regardless of their importance, have no place in the sight of the gun barrel. Jesus never once requested, “First, let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” He never inquired, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” There is a time for those things, but this was not it. In the middle of the war, the soldier must be resolute on seeing victory is realized. You can be sure, Satan is resolute in his mission.

It’s no coincidence that just a few verses later, Jesus encounters some well-meaning prospective followers. At first blush, they would seem to be prime candidates. They have been impacted by the miracles, the teachings, the pageantry that accompanied Jesus. Nonetheless, they had not come to a place where they were resolute in the mission. The cares of this world had clouded their vision and split their allegiance. They were not battle ready nor aligned for the struggles that were yet to come.      

On this Easter Sunday, aren’t you grateful we serve a resolute God? The grave was but a mere interlude, a dramatic pause, to the phenomenal reappearing at his glorious resurrection. He is not distracted by what’s going on in the Whirlpool galaxy or even in Washington DC. His mission is our mission. This is Jesus, triumphant over sin and death, bearer of all wisdom and knowledge, son of God who is still saying today, “Follow me.” On those occasions when your resolve seems to have dissolved, follow Jesus. He knows the way, and He remains resolute.

4-3-21 – Pastor Ben

A godly mother is a treasure. This truth can be seen clearly in the instructions given in Proverbs 31.

We have all heard of the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” but did you know that Proverbs 31 was written as a poetic picture from the point of view of a mother to her son? In this Proverb, the woman is instructing her son to be a godly man.

So often, we glance over the first nine verses, and forget that it is King Lemuel’s mother who is teaching him about how he needs to be a “Proverbs 31 Man.” The kind of man she is encouraging her son to be is a man of godly integrity towards women, and a man not given to the dangers of alcohol. Along with these first two precautions, she thirdly instructs him to be a leader who rules justly and to help the oppressed. In these verses, we see a woman who has lived long enough to see some common pitfalls of men, and she wants something much better for her own son. In verse 10, she continues by giving him a portrait of the kind of woman that he is to look for and cling to for life. What a godly mother, and what a lasting legacy! If only the young men of our generation could have mothers and fathers who give such sound instruction to their sons!

Proverbs 31 is an instructive picture of both excellent womanhood and manhood. For the man who would rightly value such a woman must himself be a man of character. Men who know Christ ought to live with the same integrity, restraint, and passionate purpose to reach others with the gospel.

Oh that we would all heed and fulfill the instruction given in these wonderful verses. And then, that we would pass them on as godly parents to our sons and daughters into every generation to His glory.

4-2-21 – Pastor Chris

Today’s devotional focuses on Good Friday. Honestly, this day, from our perspective, may be hard to describe as good. When we look at the cross, we do not see good. We do see the results of the cross as good. Crucifixion can be described in a ton of ways, but none of them are good. 
 
If it were up to us, we would prefer a sanitized and sweet salvation story. We long for salvation but wince at the price paid to secure it. It is important to remember a couple of things as we think about Good Friday:

  • No one forced the cross on Jesus. He was not a victim of circumstance but a willing sacrifice.
  • No sin was left unanswered. The severity of the cross reflected the pervasiveness of sin and the absolute holiness of God.
  • Friday is not Sunday. Friday provoked reflection. Sunday evokes celebration.

Let me leave you with this powerful truth from Pastor S.M. Lockridge.
 
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.

4-1-21 – Mark Stauffer

Think back to the last time you saw a drama, show, or movie about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you ever get tired of that scene where the earth shakes, the light shines, and the stone rolls away to reveal an empty tomb? I don’t!

I always look forward to Sunday worship with our whole church family, but I especially look forward to it on Easter Sunday. This Sunday, we celebrate the victory of all victories, the triumph of all triumphs. It’s bigger than all the Super Bowls, World Series, Olympics, and championship games rolled into one. Jesus has risen! He is alive!

There’s a wonderful phrase that follows the one mentioned above in Psalm 104 that says, “I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Imagine this line of reasoning as a circle:

  • We sing praise to Him for what He has done for us by defeating death.
  • Because He has defeated death, we will live with Him forever.
  • Because we will live with Him forever, we will sing praises to Him forever.
  • We will sing praise to Him forever for what He has done for us…

It is a story that will never grow old, a topic of which we will never get tired, a circle of praise that will spiral upward, magnifying the Lord for all eternity! May the glory of the Lord endure forever. It’s His plan, His action, His triumph – may the Lord rejoice in His works!

I hope you too, are looking forward to worship both tonight at 6:30 PM and Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. Bring your friends and family. We’ve got something to celebrate now and forever. Come let us sing for joy to the Lord our God as we celebrate all He has done for us through Jesus!

3-31-21 – Pastor Dylan

Our culture revolves around time. We have all heard the adage, “time is money.” Most of us have said something like, “There are just not enough hours in the day.” Many judge punctuality as a sign of respect in our culture because we place such a high value on time. We get paid by the hour, we measure our age in years, and every one of us always has a clock on us, either on our wrist or in our pocket. Time is a crucial resource that is limited and that we have no control over. 

Our Psalm for the day is Psalm 90. I love the prayers of Scripture, and this prayer is all about time. The psalmist writes of time from two points of view, Gods and ours. 
 
God’s:

  • God was here before time began and will be here long after it ends. (v. 2)
  • God is sovereign over time and is not bound by it. (v. 4)
Ours:
  • Our time is limited. (v. 10)
  • We have no control over time. (v. 3)

It is obvious that we do not see or experience time in the way that God does. The Psalmist goes in depth about how the Lord has used time to punish Israel for their wrongdoing. The Psalmist is aware of how limited his days are and that God is the only one in control of them. 

So, what do we do with this information? We pray, as the Psalmist, and beg the Lord to teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom! Our time is so short, and we should strive to live each day with wisdom! The writer of Proverbs tells us that the “fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). What does that mean for our life? Well, what we spend our time on shows us if we truly fear the Lord or not. 

  • How much time do you spend streaming Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+?
  • How much time do you spend scrolling on social media? 
  • How much time do you spend on the ball field?
  • How much time do you spend on Candy Crush, Wordscapes, or Fortnite? 

Now, compare that with how much time you spend on things that have eternal value. Don’t lose sleep over growing another year older, focus on what this day holds, walk in the fear of the Lord, and seek wisdom! 

3-30-21 – Pastor Charles

God is faithful indeed! While Psalm 88 ends with a chorus of despair, Psalm 89 begins with a melody declaring God’s faithfulness. Pastor Paul Purvis wrote these words about Psalm 88 and 89, “Though the writers of Psalm 88 and 89 are not the same individual, they wrote in the midst of similar circumstances, but with different perspectives. Perhaps this is why the writer of Psalm 89 is compared to Solomon in his wisdom. Godly wisdom allows you to recognize that this world’s fiery trials pale in comparison to God’s otherworldly faithfulness. God’s wisdom allows you to sing of His mercies even when most believe the music has faded.” What a good reminder for us today to remember, reflect on, and rely on God’s faithfulness no matter what is happening around us.
My prayer is that today, we will rely on God’s great power, wisdom, and word as we live out this day!
Take time this morning and throughout the day to reflect on God’s faithfulness to you. Remember how He saved you, and remember how His grace sustains you! Take time to write down some of those experiences on paper and then spend time thanking Him for working in your life. After that, take another step and do the last part of Verse 1, “To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.” Yes, tell someone today of His faithfulness! Make Him known today with every opportunity you have, and don’t forget that He is faithful indeed!
Precious Father, I bless You and praise You for Your faithfulness! I bless Your name – Savior, Redeemer, Holy One, and Friend. Praise Your Name! Amen.

3-29-21 – Pastor Jordan

In our passage today, we see a classic example of Jesus telling His disciples to do as He does. Jesus taught His disciples as they walked through life together, and in this example, He is teaching them about forgiveness and graciousness. He’s teaching them that it is uncharacteristic of a Christ-follower to be judgmental or to look for the fault in others when we have faults of our own. 

It would have been tempting for the disciples to become self-absorbed or conceited since, after all, they were chosen by the Son of God to be His followers. The temptation was real for them to begin looking down upon others. But, Jesus was quick to remind them that they were to be gracious and forgiving as He was. He was telling them to look at His example and treat others the way that they were treated by Jesus. They had been shown tremendous amounts of grace and forgiveness. 

Jesus made it clear to His disciples that they were to follow Him in order that they would become like Him. As we follow Jesus, we should become more like He is. Also, in following Jesus’ example in how He taught, we should also have people following us as we follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Even as Jesus gave the Great Commission to us, He implored us to “make disciples, teaching them to obey.”

Here’s the application for us, today.

  1. Are you following Jesus? Are you reading His Word and spending time in prayer with Him daily?
  2. Are you following someone who has been following Jesus longer than you have? Is another believer pouring into your life?
  3. Who is following you? Who are you pointing to Jesus and training and discipling?