Dec 13

Resolutions

As the Christmas season comes to an end and the New Year begins, many of us make resolutions.  Are you one of them?  Maybe it is losing weight, obtaining a promotion, being there for your kids more often, learning another language, or going back to school.  How about your spiritual life?  Have you made any resolutions, as far as church?  Maybe you want to read the Bible more, go to church more often, or spend more time with the Lord in prayer.  Whatever it is, I believe all of us have made resolutions at one time or another. The problem is keeping the resolution.  There are three things that need to happen to keep the resolution. First, we need to look at our past to see how we got to this point. The point at which we realize we need to make a change.  Second, we need to make a plan that will allow us to obtain the goal or resolution we set.  Third, we must daily work our plan until we have reached our goal.  This is very important.  I believe the third step is where most of us fail because we do not daily discipline ourselves to keep doing what is necessary to reach the goal we want.

In Joshua 24, Joshua’s final address to the people, he challenged the Israelites with these three points:   

First – Remember:Oh Israel, remember what God did.  How He led our forefathers out of captivity, out of the hand of the Egyptians. By His power, the red sea was parted, our forefathers crossed over dry land, and the Egytians were consumed when God returned the red sea to normal and the pursuing Egyptians drowned. Remember how He brought us over the Jordan and fought the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and the Jebusites for us.  He drove them out of the land that He gave us.  Notice that Joshua tells the nation of Israel to remember what God had done for them.  We need to do the same thing.  We need to remember the many blessings He has given us.  How God has taken care of us.  Above all, we need to remember why God sent His only begotten Son.  At Christmas time we remember Christ’s birth. At Easter, we remember Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.  Without that, we would have no hope.  We need to always remember the great sacrifice God made for us.  

Second – Make a Resolution or Plan

Joshua said, “… choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15.  A choice was given to the Israelites.  Either go and serve false gods, like their forefathers did, or serve the one and only true God.  Go back and worship the Egyptian gods, the Amorite gods, Baal, or some other god you want, or worship the God of the Bible.  He is the one that delivered Israel. Like Israel, we have a choice to make.  What is more important?  Your job, money, sports?  Is there anything wrong of these things?  No. However, if they are more important to you than serving God, they become gods to you.  Anything that takes the place of God becomes your idol. Joshua made his resolution, “…choose you this day whom ye will serve … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  He didn’t care what everyone else was doing.  He didn’t care how hard it might be.  Nothing was going to stop him and his family from serving God.  How about you?

Third – Daily Work Your Plan

Joshua 24:19-21, “… God: he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.  And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.”  Do not turn back and serve other gods.  Do not forsake God. That is what Joshua was saying to the Israelites.  They were not to serve other gods, nor are we.  Daily, they had to choose to follow God and daily we need to put God first.  Each person needs to learn this and the next generation needs to be taught this.

Finally:

As this year comes to a close and the New Year begins, I leave you with this.  “ Choose you this [year] whom ye will serve.  Fear the Lord, and serve him [with your whole heart.]”  All resolutions begin with a choice.  Will you choose to serve God this new year and for the rest of your life?  Daily, remember what the Lord has done for you and seek the Lord in prayer, Bible reading, and in every action you do.  Put God first in your life and do not allow anything else to take His place.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Pastor Harry

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Dec 12

Are you part of the “Inn crowd” or the “Stable crowd”

Are we part of the “inn crowd” or part of the “stable crowd.”  This of course is a play on the Christmas story.  There was no room found in the inn for Mary and Joseph, but the King of kings was worshipped by shepherds in a stable.  One of our church members went on a trip, and on the trip picked up a sign that another church used.  The sign and my reading in the Gospel of Luke made me think about things that are happening in our country today.  It also reminded me of a conversation that I had with another gentleman recently.  I recently had a conversation with a gentleman about the truths found in Scripture.  He was bothered by some of the statements that Jesus made.  I doubt that this man is alone in his feelings about some of Jesus’ sayings.  I explained that there are a few things that we need to realize about Jesus and His teachings.  First, truth is truth no matter if we like it or accept it or not.  Second, Jesus wasn’t worried about making friends and pleasing people.  His desire was to do the will of His Father.  Finally, Jesus’ words often offend us because He didn’t do things or say things that way that we think He should.  In the opening of Luke 17, Jesus tells a story about 10 lepers being healed of their disease.  Yet, only one of them came back and praised God for His work in healing them.  Jesus says this man was a Samaritan.  For most of us, that isn’t a big deal.  However, to a Jewish person that was a huge deal. In those days, Samaritans were hated by the Jews.  A Samaritan was someone who has a Jewish ancestry, but they chose to marry outside of the Jewish race during the Old Testament times.  To a Jewish person, a Samaritan was a traitor.  Jews actually tolerated Gentiles better than they tolerated a Samaritan.  Therefore, when Jesus presented a Samaritan as doing the right thing, this was highly offensive to Jesus’ Jewish audience.  For a Jewish person, they believed they would automatically go to heaven because they were Jewish.  Yet, Jesus had been teaching that it is faith that saves a person, not your ancestry or your works.  I believe we are seeing a lot of this same thinking in America today.  We often have a “me vs. them” mentality.  I am grateful that God allows me to live in America,  to have heard the Gospel, as well as, the freedom to be able to go and worship Him anytime and any place that I desire.  While I am proud to be an American, my first allegiance and loyalty is to the kingdom of God.  I am a disciple of Jesus first, a citizen of America second.  However, we as Christians in America must understand that the Gospel is bigger than America.  Jesus said that it is meant to go to the ends of the earth.  In His sovereignty, God is bringing the nations to us.  We must not waste our opportunity in sharing the Gospel with those who are here.  Yes, I believe the immigration issue needs to be settled.  However, while the government is working through this situation, I as a citizen of the kingdom of God, must evangelize those who are here. I need to be more concerned with their salvation than their country of origin.  To do anything different than this dishonors my Lord, and misrepresents the truths of Scripture and the kingdom of God.  I realize that some may misunderstand what I am saying here.  It is not my intention to be offensive or controversial.  Rather, I seek to honor my Lord and Savior in presenting the truths of Scripture as they are recorded.  May we love the Lord and others as we are commanded, and take the Gospel to those that God sends us to and brings to us.

 

-Pastor Justin

 

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Nov 06

Biblical Wisdom In The Social Media Age

This blog is a follow-up from this past Sunday’s message on biblical wisdom. The main point of this past Sunday was that we as Christians need to make sure that we act according to biblical wisdom.  Biblical wisdom considers not only the immediate consequences of our words and actions. But it also considers how an action today could affect me or my loved ones down the road.  The key thought I want to express here is for us to remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.  We implore you in Christ’s stead: Be reconciled to God.”  As a Christian we have a mission, that is to make disciples of Jesus of all nations.  We are His representatives to the world.  Therefore, we must give careful consideration to how we live, what we say, and especially in today’s digital world, what we post.

We live in a social media age.  Most everyone has at least one social media account.  Social media can be a good thing.  However, it can also be a very dangerous thing or a destructive thing. Because of our social media age, people feel free to write and post whatever they want, think, or feel in the moment.  Because you are behind a computer screen, you don’t have to be concerned with the tone of your message or how someone may react to your message.  Unfortunately, very little thought is put into most social media posts or the potential ramifications of your posts.  Most people don’t realize that employers or potential future employers look at your social media pages.  People don’t realize that employers make decisions every day to not hire or to hire someone based on their social media accounts.  Your social media activity can even be causation for termination at your job if you reflect poorly upon your employer.  So wisdom here would ask a few questions.  First, what is right or wrong about my post according to God?  Second, will my post honor God or turn people off from God?  Finally, how could this post cause problems in the future for me or those closest to me?  Simply put, think before you post!  If you are angry or fired up about something, write it all out on your social media timeline, and before you hit post, delete it all.  Or if you are going to send an angry e-mail to someone, write it all out, and before you hit send, delete the message.  You will feel better for having gotten all your thoughts out, but without the negative consequences and future ramifications of a lack of knowledge and understanding.  Plus it is a great way for God to reveal what is truly in your heart, so you can confess your sin and ask Him for help in overcoming your sinful thoughts, words, and attitudes.

Remember, everything you say, do, or post reflects not only on you as a person, but it also reflects on the God you say you love.  Let’s make sure that we represent Jesus in a biblically faithful way whether in person or on social media.

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Oct 14

Easier to Preach 10 Than to Live 1

As a pastor, I routinely preach how we are to love God more than anyone and anything else in our life, and how that will call us to also love others.  One proof that we love God the way we should is that we will love others enough to share the Gospel with them.  I routinely preach how there is no greater need that a person has than their need for salvation.  I stand behind all of those statements, because they are biblical statements.  However, today was a reminder that it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out.  James 1:22 says, “Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only, deceiving yourselves.”  Romans 12:19-21 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.  Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  I admit that I have preached on those verses multiple times throughout my ministry.  Yet, today was a rough reminder that I have such a long way to go because it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out.  I could make a lot of excuses, I could tell others all that occurred and many would be on my side. However, the bottom line is that God was not glorified in how I handled a situation. I  have to admit that just typing that last sentence out brought such a heavy weight crashing down on me.  Yet, there is no one to blame but me.

I believe those called into leadership are held to a higher standard by God.  I believe we are called to live to those standards that we routinely preach about.  However, today reminded me that although I am a child of God who has been saved by His grace, inside of me is a sin nature at war with the Holy Spirit of God who lives in me.  Today, I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s predicament when he said, “the things I shouldn’t do, those are the things I do; and the things that I should do, those are the things that I don’t do.  O wretched man that I am, who can save me from this?”

Have you ever been there?  Do you understand what I’m feeling?  I think most Christians have been at some time or another.  In those difficult moments, when it is obvious that you chose to allow your sin nature to win out over the new nature given to us by Christ, what are we to do?  I will tell you what we can’t do.  We can’t wallow in it, because that is what satan wants us to do.  He is the author of shame and guilt, not God.  So then, what do we do?  I think the first thing we need to do is allow this to remind us of our need for Jesus.  If we could remember everything, perfectly obey in everything ,and behave perfectly in everything, then Jesus would have died in vain.  There would have been no point in Jesus’ death, if we could be good enough.  But God knew we could never be good enough.  He knew that even on days when we are obedient to Him and His Word that there is still sin in our lives.  That is the reason that Jesus came to die on the cross.  He who was good enough to appease God’s wrath died in the place of those who could never be good enough.  Allow this truth to wash over you, and allow you to praise God for His grace.  It doesn’t mean that we have a license to sin.  When we sin, our hearts should break over our sin, because God’s heart breaks over our sin.  Yet, we need to remember that where sin did abound, grace much more abounds we are told in Romans 5.  Second, we need to confess our sin.  To confess means to agree with God that what we said, did, or thought was wrong.  We don’t need to try and sweep it under the rug, or pretend that it didn’t happen.  We need to own it, confess it, and then seek God’s help to learn from it and grow from it.  That’s the final thing, we need to repent.  To repent means to turn around, to go the other way.  We can never repent apart from God and His help.  Repentance is something that the Holy Spirit does in our heart and in our lives.  So we need to cry out to Jesus for help.

It’s ok to feel guilt over our sin, we should feel it in fact. However, we can’t live there.  We must look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  We must confess our sin, forsake it, and seek God’s help to grow from it. Days like today make me appreciate God’s amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.  But it also gives me hope, that if God can save someone like me, then He can certainly save you.  You simply need to admit your sin and surrender to His grace.  If you aren’t sure how to or you want to, please reach out to us here at Westlake Baptist.  We would love the privilege of telling you how you can have the greatest relationship anyone could ever have.  You can reach us at westlakebc@gmail.com.  Thank you Jesus for saving a sinner such as me!

Pastor Justin

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Oct 08

A Ghost Story

The pendulum swung faster and faster, as I asked it questions.  At times, I felt as if the pendulum was going to pull my arm down to the table.  My dad was impressed with the fact that the Kreskin’s ESP game would answer my questions, especially since I was only nine.  Yes/no questions and spell out an answer for me were the types of questions I would ask it.

Along with using the Kreskin’s ESP game, my parents sometimes would have a lady come to the house and pull out tarot cards.  I heard my parents ask the lady various questions about the future and this lady would start laying the tarot cards on the table and answer their questions.

Growing up, I had experienced some strange and eerie events in that house.  One night, I woke up and saw a ghost-like woman floating above me.  I thought I was seeing things so I pulled the covers over my head and waited for a couple minutes.  When I pulled the covers back, she was still there.  I was afraid to move but I again pulled the covers over my head.  When I pulled the covers back she was gone.  Over the years, my parents and other adults talked about seeing things in the house.

Going down into the basement was an adventure too.  I hated to go down to the basement by myself. Whether I went by myself or with someone else, I would sometimes sense there was someone there but there wasn’t. When I got older, my dad shared with me that he also felt that presence sometimes, when he was down in the basement late at night.

These experiences drove me to find out why these things happened. In my search, I found out that my grandparents had built the house and that my parents had bought the house off my grandparents.   Other relatives told me that while my grandparents had owned the house, nothing strange happened.  It was only after my parents had bought it that strange things started happening.

My answer didn’t come until I became a Christian and searched for answers in the Bible.  God, in Deut 18:9-14, commanded the Israelites not to do or teach others to do the abominations of the other nations.  He told them not to perform human sacrifices of their children, go to fortune-tellers, trust in the constellations (like we do with horoscopes,) cast spells, go to or become a witch or wizard, or conduct a séance to contact the dead or have someone perform a séance to contact the dead for them.

God said all these things are an abomination to Him.  It means that it is disgusting and repugnant to Him. The Israelites were to possess the land God had given them and worship Jehovah God, the one and only true God, without doing as the other nations did.

In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul asks a woman at Endor to contact the prophet Samuel, who had died.   While she was trying to contact the dead, she cried out and said, “I saw gods ascending out of the earth.”

She was literally saying I saw a godlike one coming out of the ground. In other words, she had contacted demons and they were communicating with her.  She went on to tell him that he and his sons were going to be killed in battle.  This was the price God required of Samuel for his disobedience.

I realized that what I and others experienced in the house I grew up in was demonic.  By using the Kreskin’s ESP game, tarot cards, Ouija boards, and other similar things, the door to demonic forces were opened and supernatural and unwanted events occurred.

God told the Israelites to stay away from such things and Christians should heed that warning as well.  Christians have no business messing with anything that is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.  Let’s not trust in demonic forces but in the one who is all powerful.  Jesus Christ is the only one we need and He is the one that has all the answers.  Don’t turn to fortune-telling.  Instead, turn to God.

Pastor Harry

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Oct 01

The Thin Line Between Genius and Goat

As I was driving this morning, I was listening to the radio.  In this instance, I was listening to Fox Sports Radio, and listening to some recaps of some football games yesterday.  The host talked about two specific games, in which there was a somewhat similar situation in each game, but the outcome was a different.  In one game, the coach gambled on fourth down, went for it, made it, and the team scored the winning touchdown.  In the other game, the coach gambled on fourth down, didn’t make it, and as a result his team went on to lose the game.  I will admit a few things.  First, I didn’t see either game.  Second, the situations were similar, but not identical.  However, it illustrates the title of this blog.  There is a thin line between genius and goat.  If you gamble and it pays off, then they talk about you as being gutsy, smart, and a winner.  However, if you gamble and it doesn’t pay off then you are a buffoon, a guy who doesn’t understand the game, etc.  But what this really illustrates is this, if you live by the praise of man then you will also die by the lack of praise by man.  One thing that Diana and I try to tell our children over and over is this, know who you are in Jesus, and live to please Him.  We in this country have an epidemic of people-pleasers. Whether it is in politics, sports, movies, or school-aged children.  As a result of this epidemic, mental illness, negative self-esteem, and even suicide find their ways into our headlines on an almost daily basis.  There has to be a better way!

I believe Scripture gives us that better way.  The apostle Paul in writing his final instructions to the church in Ephesus, deals with a lot of topics.  Towards the end of the book of Ephesians, Paul talks a lot about the family.  Then we see Paul drop this nugget on the Ephesians in Ephesians 6, “not serving when eyes are on you, but as pleasing men as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing any man does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is enslaved or free” (Eph. 6:6-8).  Paul here is talking about who we as Christians should strive to please.  We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, because we want to please God.  In order to do this, we must first know who we are in Jesus.  If we are going to break this negative cycle of people-pleasing, we must be confident in our relationship with Jesus.  We must know what He says about us.  We must care more about what Jesus says about us than what man says about us.  Then, we must make up our minds to strive to please God, even if that means other people won’t agree with us or like us.

Do you know who you are in Christ?  Do you seek His glory and to please Him, or do you find yourself on the constant merry-g0-round of trying to make others happy?  If you’re not sure who you are in Jesus, reach out to a trusted Christian friend or your pastor.  Allow them to share some Bible passages for you to read to remind you of who you are, and how you can live for the glory of God and to please Him in all that you do.  With the world, their opinion of you can change by the day.  But what God says about you, never changes.  So anchor yourself in Him and His Word.

Pastor Justin

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Sep 23

Sermon Outline from 1 Cor. 12

Sometimes the Lord just wants to move and speak in a different way than was planned.  Certainly this morning was one of those times.  Therefore, as promised, here is the outline that was used for the sermon, T.E.A.M.  The podcast will be available in iTunes a little later today.

To Remain Unified We Must Remember:

  • The Gospel gives unity to the church (vv. 12-13).
  • The church is bigger than one person (v. 14).
  • Everyone is needed in the church (vv. 15-17).

Application:

  • Become part of the team. We started this morning by saying, the most important number in this text was the number one.  There is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one baptism.  Well, there is another important number one, that is, there is only one way to be saved.  Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.”  Then in Ephesians 2:8-9 it says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourself, it is the free gift of God; not of works, so that no one can boast.”
  • Show love and appreciation to each other. Remember, Jesus said how the world will know we love Him and belong to Him is by how we treat each other.  We must treats others as though they matter more to us than we matter to us.  If someone misses a Sunday, call them, text them, or visit them. Send them a card on their birthday.  If you know they are struggling, go spend some time with them.
  • Do your part. Nothing will bring the morale on a team down further than finger pointing and blaming others for the poor performance of the team.  In the same way, nothing defames the Gospel like church members who talk about each other in a negative way.  If you have time to talk about someone else, there is a good chance that you aren’t doing what you are supposed to.  At the end of the day, you are hurting the team more than someone who may not be doing the best job at something in the church. The cure for this is for you to know your spiritual gift, and then focus on using it for the glory of God and the good of the church.  If you don’t know what your spiritual gifting is, please see me after service.  I would love to be able to help you discover it, and begin using it. In fact, we need you.  The church won’t become all we are to be until we are all doing what we have been called to do.

May the Lord use His people for His glory, the salvation of the lost, and the building up of His church.

Pastor Justin

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Sep 12

Jacob deGrom and Evangelism

Unless you are a New York Mets fan or a baseball fan in general, you have probably never heard of Jacob deGrom.  Yet last night, he broke a record that had stood for over 100 years.  Yet, there was very little reason to celebrate.  Each year in baseball, Major League Baseball  awards a specific award to a pitcher in each the American League and the National League.  The award is call the CY Young Award.  It is typically given to the best pitcher in each league.  However, that will most likely not be the case in the National League this year.  That is because according to most stats, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League.  However, he is on one of the worst teams in all of baseball.  Last night, deGrom broke the record for the most quality starts for a pitcher.  A quality start is considered to happen when a pitcher pitches at least six innings in a game and gives up less than three earned runs in that time.  As a former pitcher I have to say that is amazing.  But rather than being able to celebrate this historic feat, deGrom had to watch his team waste another great outing of his as the Mets lost the game.  For what it’s worth (which is very little honestly), I think deGrom should absolutely be given strong consideration for the CY Young Award even though his wins-losses record isn’t as good as some other pitchers.  He has done over the course of the year everything he could to help his team win.  Maybe you are wondering, what does this have to do with Christianity or evangelism?  It actually perfectly illustrates evangelism and salvation.

Jacob deGrom is one player on a Major League Baseball team.  He pitches every fifth game, but he is only one player out of nine in games that he pitches.  All he can do is give his best, and put his team in the best position possible to win the game.  In the same way, all you and I can do when it comes to sharing the Gospel is share the Gospel.  No amount of eloquent speech, charisma, or a flawless Gospel presentation can guarantee that the person places their faith in Jesus.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility.  Romans 10:13-15 clearly says that God has sent us to preach the Gospel, and as we do God has promised to save some.  But we aren’t in control of how many people surrender their lives to the grace of God and place all their faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.  All we can do is pray before we share the Gospel, share the Gospel, and pray after we have shared the Gospel.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, he planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gives the increase.

We can’t save a person, but we can certainly tell them how they can be saved.  Let us remember Jesus’ words in Luke 10, “see that the fields are white for harvest.  Pray that the Lord would send forth more laborers.”  Each day, pray that you would be obedient to share the Gospel and pray for other Christians you know to be obedient in sharing the Gospel as well.  Then pray that God would soften the hearts of those who will hear the Gospel that day, that they may surrender to God’s grace and be saved.

Pastor Justin

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Aug 23

A Worthy Life

Today’s devotion comes from a guest blogger, one of WBC’s own, Pastor Harry Martin.  Harry and his wife, Pam, are a welcomed addition to our WBC family, and they are certainly a blessing.  On top of being a church member here at WBC, attending Bible classes, writing blogs, and leading our G.R.O.W. ministry, Harry also runs a local jail ministry.  We pray these words will encourage you in your walk with God.

Our fast-paced society has us scrambling from one activity to another. We go to work to feed our family, buy nice things, go on fancy vacations, allow our kids to take part in sports and other activities, and send our children to college.  From the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed, we are busy doing something.  Before we realize it, years pass and we wonder where it all went.  When the time comes and our life draws to a close, how can we make sure the life we lived is filled with joy and happiness and not with missed opportunities and regret?

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”    This means to live our lives in a way that is worthy of the call to salvation and the benefits thereof.

To live a worthy life, one must first have the Lord in his or her life. No matter how much money or possessions a person accumulates, there will always be an empty feeling until sin is dealt with.  The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Because of our sin, we are separated from God. “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Notice the second part of the last verse. Eternal life is a gift from God.  This gift is completely free to us but it cost God everything.  God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the ultimate sacrifice for us.  His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection paid for our sins and allows us to go to heaven.  All we need to do is accept God’s free gift, His Son.

Secondly, a person that lives a worthy life will make Christ the Lord of his or her life.  This means to put God first in our lives.  It is no longer what we want but what God wants for our lives.  Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”  This passage tells us, when we put God first, He will provide for our needs and will guide us in the direction we need to go.  So many times we want to control our lives. We decide what job we take, who we marry, and what house and other possessions we buy.  When we do this, we live for ourselves and make a mess out of our lives.  On the other hand, when God is first in our lives, material possessions do not matter and our lives are full of joy and happiness because God leads us, takes care of our needs, and gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Finally, a worthy life is one of humility and patience.  Ephesians 4:2 says, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”  A person surrendered to God will humbly serve Him with joy and patiently love fellow believers while bearing one another’s burdens.

When we have a personal relationship with Christ and live our lives for Him, we will not look back with regret but rather we will have lived a life worthy of the call to salvation.

Pastor Harry

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Aug 20

Your Move

A few years ago my oldest son took up the game of chess.  He played on his elementary school team.  To help him practice between days that they met for official practice, I would play him in a game of chess.  He certainly got better over time, and even on one occasion he beat me because he finally listened to his old man.  The one thing I noticed about him was that he would already have a move ready in his mind.  It didn’t matter that I hadn’t made my move yet. He was ready, or so he thought.  Many of the times when he would lose to me, it wasn’t because I was a superior player.  Before he started playing chess, I had never played the game myself.  The primary difference between the two of us was that I would try to take my time and think not only about the move I was going to make, but also I would try to think two to three moves ahead.  Andrew on the other hand, just wanted to make his move.  There were multiple times that as soon as I would make my move, he would immediately make his and say “your move dad.”  The time that he beat me, he took his time, surveyed the board, saw what he wanted to do, and even tried to think through how I would play my moves.  I would like to say that that occurred shortly after we started playing, but to the best of my recollection, it took about three or four months.  I would always plead with him to slow down, take his time, and think through what he was doing.  I got to thinking about this story when I read through a familiar Bible story the other day.

The Bible story is found in Matthew 19.  It is about a young man who came to Jesus.  The young man wanted to know how he could be saved.  After Jesus and this young man had a conversation, Jesus got to the heart of the issue.  This young man thought he could do something to earn his way into heaven.  He was convinced that he had followed the Mosaic Law and treated others the way he should have.  Then Jesus drops this bomb on him, “If you will be perfect (complete in your faith), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” (Mt. 19:21).  Jesus had a two-fold reason for His answer.  First, He wanted to show this young man that he didn’t really love others as much as he thought he did.  Second, Jesus wanted to reveal to this young man who his god really was.  Jesus’ declaration of giving it all away and following Him was meant to show that this young man loved his stuff more than he loved the Savior.  But this isn’t even the thought that ran through my mind at the time.  What was running through my mind was how Jesus handled the situation.  It is clear that Jesus loved this young man.  He stopped, had a conversation with him, corrected some faulty theology the young man had, and even told him how he could be saved.  But what we don’t see is Jesus bargaining with this young man.  He told him what he needed to do in order to be saved, and then left it right there.  Jesus essentially looked at this young man and said “your move.”

Jesus does the same for you and I today.  He isn’t going to bargain with us, He isn’t going to beat us over the head in order for us to surrender to His grace that we might be saved.  He is going to tell us what we need to know and what we need to do, and then He is going to leave it right there.  The next move is our response to Jesus and His grace.  Jesus has told us how to be saved, and He has told us how to live a life that brings Him glory and is for our good.  If we love Jesus, we will obey Him (John 14:15).  It’s great that we say that we love Jesus.  The question is does our life reflect that?  Jesus has given us all we need to know, so it’s our move.  We will move closer to Him through loving obedience, or will we move further from Him?

Pastor Justin

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