A Word from the Pastor

Colossians 3:15-17 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
That passage plays a prominent role in this week’s bulletin, and also in last Wednesday’s sermon. Why the repetition? Due to the fact that we need to be called to trust the Timeless Truths of Holy Spirit-rooted peacefulness and thankfulness during these troubling times.
The hardest aspects of 2020 have not been the SARS-CoV2 virus or the contentious and now contested election. Our response to those things is the issue. The virus and the election are important, but most importantly they are opportunities for us to demonstrate that we really believe what we believe is true. Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts and being thankful in everything does not mean our heads are buried in the sand or that we are uninvolved. It does mean we are ruled by faith rather than fear and we live that faith in an inviting rather than uninviting manner.
Knowing truth is not as difficult as living truth. Praise God we have the “Spirit of truth…who will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). Follow Him. Not the news. Not your fear. Follow Christ Jesus.


Faith Is Not Blind

Psalm 56:11, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”


Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “There is a limit to pain, but no limit to fear.” Fear is impatient and does not trust. Fear demands relief now and it wants to be in charge. Scripture assumes that we will be afraid. Therefore, the command God most often repeats is “fear not.” To obey that command one must replace the fear of man with faith in God. Faith is about knowing the Lord Jesus in an intimate, personal way and trusting Him because He is trustworthy. Faith isn’t blind. God has proven, and will continue to prove that you can trust Him. Fear not. Have faith.


You Are Not in Control

But neither are your circumstances. So take heart from Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Fear haunts our hearts and freezes our footsteps. Fear threatens to rip us to shreds. Instead of focusing on your fear fix your heart on the Lord who is always with you. We have a choice. Live in fear of all the uncertainties, or cling to the reality of God’s sustaining and intervening presence in our lives. Be strengthened by the fact that you are not in control, and neither are your circumstances. Almighty God is on the throne and everything is working according to His good, wise, and loving plan. You may be unsure of what will happen next. God cannot be caught by surprise. Place your confidence there, in the God who is always good, only wise, completely loving, and all-powerful.


Fear and Doubt or Faith and Confidence

The way of life for an individual believer and a local church is the way of faith. We must choose to trust God, and that trust must be unlimited. Follow the link to read Proverbs 3:3-10, and consider…

Proverbs 3:5:

  • “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…” – Deliberately turn from doubt to God and His promises. Make a discernible choice to walk by faith instead of being trampled by doubt.
  • “And lean not unto thine own understanding…” – We cannot trust God with all our heart and depend on our own abilities at the same time. Our confidence is either in God or in ourselves. If we catch ourselves saying stuff like: “I know how to fix this” or “I don’t need any help” then we have a limited rather than unlimited trust in the Lord. We are not claiming the victory inherent to this promise if we doubt God’s Word and lean only on what we can see or figure out for ourselves.

Proverbs 3:6

  • “In all thy ways acknowledge him…” – In every choice, in every decision, in every detail of life, recognize God and factor in His participation. Seek to please God. In everything put Him first. That honors Him. Here is a real practical – and often contentious – example of doing this. It is called giving a tithe and offering. When the money is flowing or when the well runs dry, always give first to God. That means giving a tithe (10%) and an offering (anything above 10%) to your local church. If we acknowledge God in all our ways, then we will be confident that 90% (or 85%) with God’s help is more than 100% on our own without God. Put God first – even with your finances – and trust Him to keep His promises.
  • “And he shall direct thy paths.” – This is a conditional promise from God. He will direct our paths – make the way passable – but only if we trust, lean on, and acknowledge Him. God will pave the way. This does not mean it will be easy breezy. It does mean it will be possible with God’s help. All things are possible with God. He promises to do His part. Will we do ours? Do we think we will do better than God with our problem? God always proves true, because God is always in control. No matter what happens or comes our way, God is in complete control – that is what sovereignty means. God is never blind-sided. God is never caught flat-footed. His hold never slips, and you are in His hands, if you’ve trusted Him.
Trust God with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. Refuse to take your cues from what life looks like at the moment. Do not listen to – or speak – the doom and gloom theories that dominate our news. Instead, acknowledge God in all your ways, and He will pave the way for you.
He is in control.


Would You Bow Down?

Everybody lives by faith in something or someone. The difference between a true believe and an unbeliever is not the presence of faith but the object of their faith. Daniel 3 is the text for today’s study and this evening’s sermon. There we find that leaders and influencers from across the great Babylonian Empire were assembled to worship the 90′ high and 9′ wide golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. He wanted to unify his diverse empire by means of religion and fear. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Faith Tried by Fire

Trials are used by God to develop our faith. The same trials are used by the enemy to destroy us. During such times we will either be drawn closer to the Lord or further away from him. 
The Babylonian authorities showed up because of the King’s commands. They all stood up for the image’s dedication. When the music played they all bowed down. All except for three. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to break God’s Law. They had already proven a willingness to cooperate with their new pagan leaders, but they would not compromise the clear commands of scripture. Instead, they were willing to pay the price that comes with trusting God.
I wonder if the Apostle Peter had these three men in mind when he wrote 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego were confident in the Lord’s control of  their situation. They stood tall when everyone else bowed low.
Would you bow down?
That is a question to ask and answer as we work through Daniel 3 tonight at 7pm. 


Do You Know Jesus?

Do you know who Jesus is? The only way to truly answer that question is to search for answers in the scriptures. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Jesus is a DIVINE Person

  • “In the beginning” – That’s eternity 
  • “with God” – That’s equality 
  • “was God” – That’s divinity
Jesus is God spelling Himself out in a language we can understand.

Jesus is a HUMAN Person

In John 1:14 we learn that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” and John was an eyewitness to this so he parenthetically adds “(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
God the Son become the God-Man with His birth in Bethlehem. That was so because man has a problem. That problem is sin, and sin pays wages. Sin earns death. Men are spiritually dead by nature, and to physically die in that condition leads to eternal death and eternal punishment for our sin. Only man is able to pay for man’s sins, and only Christ’s death could purchase our pardon. The divine Christ became human in order to free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death (see Hebrews 2:14-18).

Jesus is the God-Man

Jesus understands us. He knows and cares. During His brief ministry on this earth He caused the blind to see, the crippled to walk, the deaf to hear, the mute to speak. All of that was to authenticate and demonstrate who He was, and how He alone is able to make you whole. Jesus never ceased being divine, and He will forever be a man. He was not and is not half-and-half. Jesus does not wear His divinity hat sometimes and His humanity hat other times. He is the only and the perfect God-Man.

Ask yourself two questions.

Do I know this Jesus? Does Jesus know me?
Jesus addressed a large group of religious people when He said…
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10:27-30
Do you know this Jesus? More importantly, does He know you?


Not Ashamed

Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
After his conversion the only thing Paul boasted in was the cross of Jesus Christ. The message of the cross was the core focus of his life and ministry. 2 Corinthians 2:1-2: “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Not Ashamed

Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel, he gloried in it! He incessantly proclaimed it. Think about it. Paul was….
  • beaten,
  • stoned,
  • imprisoned,
  • robbed,
  • shipwrecked, and
  • hated

All because he was joyfully committed to passionately and accurately preach the gospel to every creature everywhere. Paul was not ashamed of the cross or his Savior. He encouraged his young protégé Timothy to follow his example. 2 Timothy 1:8, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

There is no shame in believing and living the Good News of Jesus Christ. That message is powerful, for everyone, and the centerpiece of God’s revealed will for humanity. Believe the gospel message, and by God’s grace you will be justified –  made right before God in Christ. Behavior follows belief. Daily follow our Lord and Savior in faith and by His grace. We are saved and sustained by God’s grace. When we are tempted to be ashamed, refocus on God and what He has done and is doing in the world, and in us, rather than focusing on our embarrassment.



Be Peaceful Rather Than Fearful

Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Fear is powerful. There are two kinds. The fear of God and the fear of man. The fear of God is the foundation of knowledge and wisdom, the way to fruitfulness and joy. To fear man is to be disappointed and enslaved, if not in the short-term, then always in the long-term. Fear will rule our lives. That is not the question. The question is whether or not the fear that rules me is healthy or unhealthy.
Fearing God and the peace of God are connected. Peace – God’s peace – is not the absence of conflict or troubles but calm confidence and assurance during them. Real, lasting peace comes only from God, and is attained only through faith. Faith is not some nebulous, mysterious blob floating around that either hits or misses us. No one accidentally falls into or out of faith, because faith is a purposeful pursuit, and it is primarily thinkingnot feelingrightly about God: His attributes, words, works, power, and promises. The more we know about God the greater He becomes in our thinking, the greater our faith will be in Him, the more eager we will be to rejoice and be thankful regardless of the circumstances, and the greater will be our peace for any and all situations. That is a lot for which to be thankful!