In less than 24 hours we begin a new year. Starting a new year is always a good time to do some evaluation, looking back at the previous year as well as anticipating the coming year. This Sunday Ron had us recall recent messages about abiding in the vine from John 15 suggesting that looking back we need to ask, “Have I done that?” or “How has that gone”. Has it been a successful year of walking with God…abiding in the vine? Like driving a car, we need to look in the rear view mirror once in awhile. But then, even more importantly we best look forward to see where we’re going.
As we begin the new year take some time to think about your walk with God. Does the kind of devotion and righteousness that God’s word described as characterizing Simeon and Anna’s lives characterize your life? Ron gave us three things needful if we are to make progress in abiding in the vine and growing more like those saints whose devoted faith is recorded for us in Hebrews 11.
We must know our Purpose - to glorify God by loving and serving Him
We must share God’s Goal – the consolation/salvation of others
We must be Intentional – Doing whatever it takes to serve God and bring salvation to others.
New Years resolutions can be good but instead of making self-serving resolutions why not make this a year where we intentionally rearrange your lives around our purpose and God’s goal, doing whatever it takes to make it a daily reality in our lives.
"Lately l have seen and heard how people want to create there own GOD" especially at work and as our Pastor has been preaching to us about this and so much more. Not to lift the pastor up but GOD has blessed him with such love for people and the truth of CHRIST and his word : I have seen it at work, on TV, on the radio and even with friends and family.
Critics of the Bible say there are many inconsistencies between the Old Testament and the New Testament. They say God in the Old Testament is vindictive, judgmental, and harsh. Whereas in the New Testament, God is only grace and love with no judgment. Careful study shows us that there are no inconsistencies.
Various scholars point to what they perceive as discrepancies as if there are two different Gods of the Bible. As Christians, we know there is only one God, Triune in nature – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It means the babe in the manger who created all things and will judge all things. The writer of Hebrews says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
God has not changed.
The fact is, however, that the Old Testament contains numerous testimonies of the love and merciful loving-kindness of God. The Psalms are filled with praises to God for His mercy and love.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s" (Psalm 103:2-5).
David, praises the LORD for all the kindness He shows. In another Psalm we read, "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 89:1).
Still another Psalm of David says, "Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Psalm 36:5).
These Psalms, and many more, sing praise for God’s kindness and mercy. If God had revealed Himself in Old Testament times as only angry and ready to dole out judgment these praises would be in vain. We have challenges in our walk but never separate the true GOD of the whole Bible and l praise the LORD for a Pastor who preaches all of the Bible. Bless you all and as Pastor tells us finish the race and stand firm on the whole word of GOD
Jim had suggested that if anyone wanted to write on the church blog, just send him our thoughts. So I decided (anonymously) to do just that.
There was no outline this week since we had a guest speaker. But looking back over the Adult Sunday School Class, music, and message – God already had an outline.
This week was the 3rd Sunday in Advent. Pastor Ron asked what the significance of the pink candle is in the Advent wreath. The season of Advent at its origin, was to be a time of repentance and recognition of our need for salvation. The purple candles (purple also being a color representative of Lent), are meant for contemplation of our penitence. The pink candle, as we look forward to the coming Savior, is one of Joy. It has also been called the Shepherd candle.
Randy Williams (Gideons) brought us a message full of expectation. Those in the past and the present waiting for their Savior. Mary expecting a miracle child from God, shepherds hearing the angels proclaim their newborn King, and Simeon holding the child Jesus and seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise.
And our music in the same vein. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, and Joy to the World.
I left the morning service with a renewed sense of the joy of life in Christ, and more importantly with great expectation of His return. The Christmas season sometimes leaves people with unmet expectations, but we come with hope. Advent prepares us for eternal things, the hope of things not seen.
God’s outline was pretty awesome.
This past Sunday, the second week of Advent, we looked at what God reveals to us about Jesus through Jesus' most used name for Himself, the "Son of Man". When I meditate on this name and all it means to us it is too much to fully comprehend. We must not let the challenge of trying to understand all that this name means, keep us from pressing on and gleaning all we can from it... God is speaking to us through this weeks message.
I was reminded of one of many books I have found helpful by A.W. Tozer entitled: "Jesus, Our Man in Glory". The book is a compilation of Tozer Sermons on the first half of the book of Hebrews.
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven". (Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV)
God's final word is His Son, Jesus, Our Man in Glory... and He is still speaking today!
The link below is to a devotional piece on the web that I hope you will find helpful as you meditate on Sunday's message, it's meaning and implications for you.
There have been a number of resources or aids referenced in our Adult Sunday School classes that I want to make available. Some of them we used in class, others we just didn't get to.
That Incredible Christian - Ron quoted from this book by A.W. Tozer, specifically Chapter 18 (page 19 of the book). It is well worth the time it takes to read it.
What Is a Revival? by C.H. Spurgeon from the December 1866 "Sword and Trowel" - one of the best descriptions of revival I have come across.
Self Discovery - a tool by A.W. Tozer to help in detecting areas in our lives where self/idolatry may be going undetected.
My Heart Christ' Home - by Robert B. Munger - An allegory of the process of sanctification; the journey from our initial response to Christ and His work in us to bring us to the point that we surrender all and accept His call to become a living sacrifice.
Discerning Idolatry in Desire -12 Ways to Recognize the Rise of Covetousness - by John Piper. With the Bible equating covetousness to idolatry, John Piper recommends some questions to help us do some self evaluation and to detect the rise of covetousness in our own lives so we can take corrective action.
Please feel free to comment on your interaction with these resources; they are posted in the hope that they may help you live a life worthy of your calling.
Blog posts may be authored by a variety of individuals including but not limited to Pastor Ron, Church Elders, Sunday School Teachers, Small Group Leaders and Ministry Leaders.