Kellie, Isabella, Isaiah, and Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Daily Word November 2, 2011

 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
(Jonah 1:11-16 ESV)

I have really thought much over these verses over the past few days and I want to highlight something that I missed on Sunday.  Remembering the context - God is angry.  Jonah has been disobedient and God is justifiably angry in this moment.  His wrath must be satisfied.  In God's eyes, wrath can only be satisfied through sacrifice.  That sacrifice is either a sacrifice provided or it must be our own lives.  After all, our own sin is what has angered a holy God, therefore, it is just and holy of God to carry out his wrath against us, it is what we deserve.  The sailors, they ask Jonah, "What can we do?" - Really, "What can we do to appease God's anger against us?"  Jonah has two options.  First, he could have confessed his sin and offered a propitiation offering according to the Old Testament Law.  Second, he could face the wrath upon himself.  But who would want the latter?  Who wants to face God's wrath?

Yet Jonah is in such a terrible place spiritually, that he would prefer to face God's wrath than obey God's voice.  He is at the height of arrogance.  He is bound and determined to run his own life.  What a terrible place to be in, yet it wasn't that long of a road to travel.  Beloved, now is the time to learn about the damage of pride and self dependence.  God forgive me for when I am like Jonah.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Daily Word November 1, 2011

 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
(Jonah 1:8-10 ESV)

So God is showing himself providential, the cat is now out of the bag, the jury has made its conclusion - everything is the result of Jonah's disobedience.  One can only imagine, how this must have weighed on Jonah, certainly this was why he was sleeping - he was worn out and tired of running from God.  He knew who was to blame and he probably forsook life itself.  What is remarkable however, is not that Jonah's sin found him out, what is remarkable is how his sin is now beginning to do something in the heart of the pagan sailors.  Remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom - these sailors were fearing the Lord!  Certainly they did not have it all figured out, they were not making professions of faith at this moment, but we can see how God is using Jonah's disobedience to begin to do a work in these pagan sailors' lives.

Just an interesting thought that I had today - Jonah was running from his calling.  Remember that God had called Jonah to be his messenger, to carry his message.  Jonah had refused.  But in spite of Jonah's refusal, guess what? - Jonah was still being God's messenger!  Isn't it uplifting to realize that even though we sin and mess up, God's plans are not thwarted?!  Beloved this can be our only confidence.

When I consider how rotten and sinful I am, it is easy to wonder how God could use me.  I cannot speak for everyone else, but I know that in so many ways I am Jonah, no I am worse than Jonah.  And yet - God is faithful to carry out His purposes!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Daily Word October 31, 2011

First, let me take a minute to thank all of your for your continued prayers and support!  We have been so blessed by the many prayers offered on our behalf over the past week and we are so thankful for all that you do.

"And they said to one another, 'Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.'  So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah."
Jonah 1:7

Don't you know old Jonah knew exactly who the lot was about to fall upon?!  He like the prodigal, could no longer sit around and blame everyone else.  He needed to look into the mirror and see who was to blame and if he was unwilling, God would hold the mirror right up in front of him.  It wasn't God's fault that he was on a boat to Tarshish.  It wasn't the Ninevite's fault that he wasn't in Nineveh.  It was his own wandering heart that had brought him to the middle of the sea. 
Beloved, we often times want to look around and blame everyone else for the problems we experience.  I know I do!  It's the easy thing to do. To look around and to see everyone shortcomings isn't hard or brave.  The courageous thing to do is to look inwardly and discover our own sin.  Yet, if we are unwilling, just as God showed Jonah who was to blame through a superstitious game, God will hold the mirror in front of us and show us the culprit.  So today, I will look in the mirror and if I'm in a boat headed to Tarshish, I'll know who is to blame.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Word October 24, 2011

Jonah 1:1
"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai..."

In just a few short words, we learn that Jonah was a child of promise.  His name means "dove" and so often in the Bible, God's messengers are called, pictured, or told to be like doves.  Second, it says that his father was "Amittai" - faithfulness.  So he is called a messenger who was the son of faithfulness - Jonah had the right mommy and daddy.  Third, the "word of the Lord" came to him - he knew how to hear God's voice.  He had been given the unique and special privilege to be a prophet of God.  He would hear directly from God and then give that message to a people.  There is also an interesting tradition about Jonah.  There is a tradition that Jonah was the son of the widow of Zeraphath who was raised from the dead in 1 Kings 17.  If that is true, which we really have no way to prove, then Jonah had experienced the power of God very personally in his own life.

So here is Jonah, full of promise.  Yet as we read through the pages of his story, we see not the man of faith we expect.  Instead, we see one who is running from "the presence of the Lord", one who is filled with nationalistic pride that doesn't want Nineveh to repent, and one who is "hot under the collar."  How did he go so wrong?  While we don't have all of the answers to that question, I believe the story of Jonah is a lesson to us all about the fact that no one is "above" disobedience.  Even the stars fall, even the moon can be covered by the clouds.  No one is ever so spiritual, that they cannot be headed to Tarshish.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Word October 19, 2011

"I have sinned against heaven and before you."

After the prodigal came to the guilty party - himself - he now had to confess that sin.  He promises himself that he will tell his father that he had sinned from "heaven to earth" or "against heaven and before you."  Either interpretation leads us to the same truth, his sin had ramifications beyond the earthly realm.  His sin had eternal effects.  But confession - it was a step in the right direction.

Beloved, it is easy for most to realize who is at fault, the difficulty is coming to the point where you are willing to admit it.  But God blesses brokeness.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daily Word October 18, 2011

Luke 15:17
"When he came to himself..."

You can imagine this teenage boy was acting like...well, a teenage boy.  He was wallowing in the hog slop pretending that it was everyone else's fault that he was in the position he was.  He blamed mother nature for the famine, his brother for his attitude, his dad for being a bad manager of his inherritance, the casino for cheating him, and the list goes on.  But then all of a sudden, as he blamed the entire courtroom, the only person left in the room was the person staring him back in the mirror.  I imagine (the key is that I imagine), he was feeding the hogs and he stopped to get a drink from the stream.  He saw his reflection in the water and he "came to himself."  He realized that the only person to blame for being in this position was himself.

Beloved, it is easy for us to blame everything and everyone for our circumstances.  The truth is that we are our own worst enemies.  If we are in the pig pen, it is probably not someone else's fault...its probably my own doing.  But this is the point of repentance - we are empty of ourselves and recognize the responsibility that rests on our own shoulders.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week of October 9-15

I will begin a revival this Sunday and will be out of the office until Thursday.  Therefore, my blog will be down next week.  Please pray that God will move in the hearts of the church in Jackson, Mo - Shawnee Hlls Baptist Church.  Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daily Word October 4, 2011

The Value of A Pig

Acts 15:13-14
"Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.  And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need."

So this son, who has laid his plans and cashed in his property, continues to make bad decision after bad decision.  It was shameful to plot and scheme what he would do with his inheritance, it was indescribable to make the request to his father the way that he did, but now he has really gone off the deep end.  Here he is a Jewish teenager and he decides living at home is no longer the best idea, so he leaves home and goes into a distant country.  Watch the transition - He was in the wrong frame of mind, with the wrong attitude yesterday.  Today he is now in the wrong place.  Then he squandered his property in reckless living - he essentially gave it away, he got nothing from it.  But notice the transition that comes next, "When he had spent everything, a sever famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need."  Almost as though it were a providential famine, when he had no resources of his own, he learned he needed to be dependent upon another.  This is the lesson he is learning. 

But here is our truth for today - the famine did not bring him into need, it only showed him the point of his need.  What has God brought into your life recently to show you the point of your need?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Daily Word October 3, 2011

The Value of a Pig?
Luke 15:11-16
"And he siad, 'There was a man who had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.'  And he divided his property between them.  Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.  And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.  And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.'"

It is a familiar story no doubt, but not for the reasons perhaps you may be thinking.  It is a familiar story from the standpoint that almost all of us, if not all of us, have at one point or another represented this young man.  Foolish and arrogant, he makes a shameful request before his father.  He requests that his dad not only give him his inheritance before his time, but also, in reality, that his dad allow him to live his life however he chose.  In other words, this rutty young man is filled with arrogance and pride, he decides it is time to stop taking orders, no one is going to tell him what to do, he is his own boss.  It is interesting, that upon receiving the property, it says, "Not many days later..." - it implies that the young man had it all planned out.

Ever been there before?  Planning out the moves - "If I was in charge, I would...I know how to run my life better than...I can run this company better than my boss..."  There we often are, filling ourselves with pride and self-ambition, we are about to head down the road of the prodigal son.  Today, let's stop - we haven't gone to far.  There's time to turn around...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011 Daily Word

2 Cor. 1:9
"But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

For me, the last part of the verse is inspiring.  It could be that the apostle is referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that glorious Easter morning.  It was a display of power and might for sure, as the prinicipalities and powers had seemingly won the victory.  But in a marvelous display of might, just as he said that he would, Christ thundered forth from the tomb.  Or perhaps the apostle is speaking about our resurrection from the dead.  Our spiritual resurrection from death to life (Ephesians 2) is a powerful display of might.  Our future resurrection from the dead surely is a display of power and might.  You see, it doesn't matter which of these he is really referring to - all of them display in wondrous accord the power of God.

Therefore, we rely not on ourselves - because we are not that powerfully.  But instead, we depend/rely on the God who had/has the power to raise the dead!  He has real power - so why do we not tap into that power?  Because we are to often full of ourselves, depending upon our own ability.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daily Word September 27, 2011

2 Corinthians 1:8b
"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself."

Can you imagine?  Trying to do great things for God, trying to just be obedient to God's calling - to be a witness to the ends of the earth for the gospel.  You would think everything would be great...not so fast.  It seems we have been on this subject for a long time - but it is an important one.  Understanding that just because its not smoothe sailing is not the test of whether or not one is being obedient and faithful.  Paul says that he began to despair life itself - he just wanted to die.

Ever been there?  So worn out from trying to do the right thing?  Seem like your "burdened beyond your strength"?  I am certain that if you have ever tried to be faithful, you have felt burdened beyond strength.  Perhaps that is why the Bible speaks so much about endurance, because endurance will produce faithfulness?  What's worse, in verse 9, he says they thought there may have been a curse upon their lives.  But this is not the end.

"But this was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." - There was a reason for the teach dependence upon God.  What's your struggle about? - Could God be teaching you dependence?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daily Word September 23, 2011

Acts 8:1
"And Saul approved of his execution.  And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

So we have been watching this persecution unfold.  We have seen its timing - when the church was on the move.  We have seen two responses to it - some scattered and others stayed the course.  Now this morning, let's reflect on what God was doing in the middle of the persecution.

Often times as believers, we assume that if we are going in God's direction, being obedient to God's command for our lives, that everything will be wonderful and perfect, the skies aren't cloudy all day, "nothing but blue skies", and so on.  When in reality, when we are most faithful, it seems our circumstances seem to often become more difficult.  But persecution is not to be seen as the absence of God's presence.  Instead, we should see persecution as an opportunity for God to move.  Here in Acts 8, the great Apostle Paul is introduced to us.  While he is not shown in a positive light, the very mention of his name shows us that God was doing something with him.  Not only this, but the apostles were given the responsibility of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth and now with this great dispersion (because of the persecution), we see that happening.  Before, the gospel had been confined primarily to Jerusalem.  But now, the people were forced to expand their borders as the persecution caused them to run for their lives.

Beloved, God is not watching the storm from a distance, He is right in the middle of it.  That's our thought for the day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

Acts 8:1
"And there arose on that day a great persecution amongst the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

So this great persecution arises...what is the church to do?  It is interesting that so often, times of difficulty and trial will either bring a people closer together, or it will divide them further.  What we see at the rise of this persecution were two responses.
First, some scattered.  Afraid for their lives, they decided the cost was to great.  It was to much to expect them to die for this cause.  They were on board with Jesus and the disciples while the going was good, but the moment someone died, this was a little to much.  Now it is easy to sit behind my beautiful desk, staring at pictures of my wonderful family, sipping on my starbucks coffee - it is easy to begin to reign down condemnation upon these people.  But I wonder, what would I have really done, forced into that situation.
Second, the apostles showed great strength and stayed together.  Certainly these men had been through much, but now they were being bonded together like brothers in arms.  They saw the value in staying the course.

A part of every church that is growing and accomplishing much for God's glory, faces difficult times of persecution.  The question is not whether difficulty will come, but how will we respond?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daily Word September 20, 2011

Acts 8:1b
"And there arose on that day a great persecution amongst the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

And everything was going so well!...Every step of the way, the church is pressing forward, charging the gates of hell at break neck speed.  There were challenges no doubt, but they were met and defeated each and every time.  But now on this day, the "worst" has happened.  A man full of the Holy Spirit by the name of Stephen has been killed.  Apparently this killing has made the crowds blood thirsty - they have decided to be violent in their persecution.  It was apparent that warnings and beatings were no longer enough, the persecution was going to have to be brought up a notch.

Isn't it interesting how things can be so great one day, and so bad the next.  It seems that as the church is on the move for the glory of God, there always is the enemy ready to destroy the people of God.  In fact, it seems in the New Testament, that only those who are not living obedient lives, striving for God's glory, only those escape the difficulties of life.  Sometimes the persecution is bloody, sometimes it is passive, sometimes it is in the mind, sometimes it is in the body; but those who work for God always face persecution.  And here it is in Acts.  We knew the story was to good to be true - right?! 

Beloved, the question is not whether trouble may come, but rather "How do I react to that trouble?"  Today, if you seek to honor God, trouble is on its way - "How will you deal with it?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daily Word September 14, 2011

Acts 6:2
"It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables."

The apostles had a monumental task in front of them.  They were charged with taking the gospel to the ends of the earth - that's a long way.  As we read through the chapters of Acts, we see the church is growing by leaps and bounds.  It must have been difficult to keep up with everything going on.  But now the apostles are faced with a difficult decision.  They must address the growing problems, while at the same time continuing the work of ministry.  It is the same difficulty every growing church encounters.  So they gathered men together to meet the needs of the people.  The picture is clear, people were responsible for the ministry.  It is a shift from the ministry resting solely in the hands of the apostles to the hands of the people.  The apostles would preach, but the people would serve.  Our churches today, should follow this model.  Equipping and charging people with the ministry and service of the church.

Question for today: "What can I be doing to serve the local church?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daily Word September 13, 2011

Acts 6:2
"And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples..."

When there was a complaint in front of the church, a challenge to unity, the response was intriguing.  It was so simple that it is often missed, taken for granted.  When the Hellenists had a complaint against the Hebrews, the apostles gathered the entire group - not just the Hellenists or just the Hebrews.  Out of this group, they selected 7 men to serve as deacons.  This decision brought unity to the people because it involved everyone.  There were representatives from each group, so every group that was gathered was represented, their voices heard and their problems addressed.  Often times in the modern church, it is a few people from a select group making the decisions.  But the apostles gave us a "problem solving model" by showing us that such times of complaint can bring us closer together or tear us further apart.  It's not much, but because it is so simple, most churches over look it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Daily Word September 12, 2011

Acts 6:1
"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution."

"The devil is in the details", is an old expression.  Here it comes to life as we see this church that is experiencing multiplication type growth have a challenge to unity.  It was not that he apostles were purposely neglecting these widows, it was an administration hiccup.  The truth is that in the life of every growing church, there will be these hiccups - unintentional mishaps that are just a by product of growth.  However, while it was an innocent mistake, it was mistake none the less, and it needed to be addressed. 

Question for today: "What can I do to help solve the growing pain problems of the church?"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Daily Word September 9, 2011

Acts 5:11

I wonder, if you had been there and watched everything unfold as it did, as Ananias and Sapphira drop in their tracks, what would you have thought?  Everything in the church is seemingly going smoothe, the power of God is on display through healings and various unexplanable things, people are being added to the congregation day by day by day - everybody is happy.  In a split second, two of the faithful members are dead and everyone knows it was the judgment of God.  What are you thinking?

I know I would have been like the crowd, "and great fear came upon them all and all who heard these things."  But what about the "Grace-Full" God they had been preaching about?  Why didn't God have grace in this moment?  After all, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal what they did, does it?  Or perhaps think about it like this - in Acts 3, Peter tells the people who crucified Christ, they can be forgiven for this act.  But Ananias and Sapphira tell a little lie about how much they sold their property for, and God strikes them dead?...Beloved, it teaches us two things.
        1.  Just because God brought judgment, doesn't mean they were any less forgiven.
        2.   While they may have been forgiven ("saved"), God was not going to allow them to hurt his church.
God takes His church very serious and will defend her in her faithfulness, discipline her in her wrongness, and restore her in her brokeness....Just my thoughts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Daily Word September 8, 2011

So sorry I have fallen behind this week!  It has been a great week, but also a busy week...

Acts 4:32 - All the believers were of one heart and mind and spirit.

Following this statement and picture (through Barnabus) of the church being in perfect unity, came the terrible story of Ananias and Sapphira.  What was their sin?  It was a multitude of things, but mostly they presented themselves as a danger to the church and what God was doing in their midst because they were not on the same boat.  It reminded me again of Proverbs 29:18 - "Where there is no prophetic vision, the people will cast off restraint."  It is crucial to our growth, spiritually and numerically, that God's people be headed in the same direction. 

How can you promote unity and harmony within His church this week?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daily Word September 1, 2011

"Times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord..."

Remember that this spoke of the relief that comes at the end of a plague.  A relief like that of a cool rain on a dry and weary land.  How much has sin cost you?  How much has sin worn you out?  How much has sin taken away?  Do you feel enslaved by it, like you just can't get away from it no matter how hard you try?  The apostle told the people, if they turned to God, they would experience relief.  In context, the people had crucified the savior.  They must have in this moment of power (the lame beggar is healed), been reminded that they were personally responsible for the death of the one who had come to save them.  They could be haunted for the rest of their lives by this heinous crime.  But Peter says, "turn to God...experience times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord (the very one they had crucified)".  What an amazing thought!  If God could do this for those who crucified His Son, what could He do for you in your life?

Daily Word August 31, 2011

"Turn back to God and you will receive forgiveness for your sins..."

The people were promised that the moment they repented of their sins, God would blot out, wash away, or forgive their sin.  They would be cleansed, given a new slate, as it were, so that a new message could be written about their lives.  Imagine with me for a moment, you are in the courtroom, there is the list of charges.  You are guilty of 140 counts of failures and mistakes.  But in a sweeping moment, each of those charges is wiped away, and in their place stands a new list of perfect and right actions (the righteousness of Christ)!

What would you think and feel in that moment?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Daily Word August 29, 2011

Acts 4:17 "Repent and turn back to God..."

As I thought about these words, I was reminded of what the children have been learning at FX.  We have been looking at the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  It is a perfect picture of what Peter was telling these people.  They had forsaken their heavenly father, decided to run their lives in the manner they thought best, and so on.  But Peter was telling them, "Come to your senses!  Turn back to God."  Luke records that the prodigal son came to himself, that is that he came to the "end" of himself and realized how much he had messed up his life. 
You know this is a good place to be from time to time.  To realize how bad we have screwed up and really see ourselves for who we are.  But this is not a good place to stay.  Instead, we should do as the prodigal did and get out of the pig pen and come back to our Father.

So what is it that you have been trying to run on your own power and authority?  Have you come to the end of yourself?  Maybe you need to waive the white flag of surrender and be saved?  Maybe you are already saved but you have had things that you have been trying to orchestrate instead of "letting go and letting God."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Daily Word August 26, 2011

Sorry it has been a few days, Kellie and I had doctors appointments, so I am just catching up.

Acts 3:8-11
"And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms.  And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.  While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's."

Why was the miracle performed?  It is so easy to see that the miracle was performed so the man could walk.  But think with me for a moment, is this the best thing that happened?  As we dig deeper, we see there were two other results of the miracle:
1.  Everyone saw this miracle, they were filled with awe, and they began to glorify God.
2.  In verse 11, it was done in order to give Peter an opportunity to preach the gospel.
Certainly God loved the man and showed his grace to him.  But it is also important to note that God was about the business of glorifying himself and making sure that the gospel was given opportunity to be proclaimed.

At the heart of every blessing that God gives to me, is an opportunity to present the gospel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Word August 23, 2011

"I have no silver and gold..." (Acts 3:6a)

As we discussed on Sunday, chances are that Peter and John had money, or at the very least had money available to him.  After all, the new testament church was "having all things in common" and Peter was the lead pastor.  John came from a fairly wealthy family.  But money was not the issue.  It would have been easy for them to flip a coin into his basket, but instead they saw the real need, not what he was simply asking for.  They knew that a few coins will help in the moment, but miss the real opportunity to display the power of God.  Not only this, but of the 10 temple gates, only this particular gate (the Beautiful Gate) was without gold.  It wass made of Corinthian bronze.  It is possible that Peter was telling this man, "silver and gold are not what make you valuable...You can be beautiful without those things."

Here's the challenge - I need to look past, on a consistent basis, that which people are asking for and see what they really need, the power of God experienced through the gospel!  It is easy to meet a benevolent need, it is difficult (or so it seems) to take the time to really get to the heart of that need.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Daily Word August 21, 2011

"And Peter directed his gaze toward him, as did John..." (Acts 3:4)

This man had become accustomed to less than cordial greetings.  The temple goers, most certainly had grown cold of his existence, he was merely another noise amongst everything else going on.  Those who did take the time to put money in his basket, probably didn't take the time to learn of his story or even share a few moments of conversation.  But these apostles did something unexpected.  They stopped and directed their attention, looked intently into the man's eyes.  They were seemingly stopped in time, in order, to empathize with the man's pain.  They saw the one laid at their gate.

For me, it is easy to get caught up in the business of church and even religion.  It is relatively simple to get settled in doing good things, but miss the individuals in front of us.  Taking a few more moments to listen, taking a few more moments to look, and taking a few more moments to ask questions is what I need to do.  Then I will see the individual and not the problem.  How about you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily Word August 18, 2011

Point #4 - "They devoted themselves to prayer."

No doubt prayer was an important component of the early church.  But why?  Going back to our series on prayer, prayer is for the purpose of conforming my will to the will of God.  Therefore, prayer was so important to the early church because they were utterly dependent upon God to make His will and plans known to them.  They knew that any success would be based on abiding in God's will and the only way to abide in God's will is to know what it is.  Also, prayer is for the purpose of intimacy.  Christ had ascended into heaven and for the first time, these apostles were now on their own in ministry.  They knew that they must daily seek after Christ and grow in relationship with him, which could only be done through prayer.

Today we often forsake praying because we are not dependent upon God for success.  However, just as it was for the early church, prayer would be the power to drive the engine.  I can improve by meeting regularly with church leadership.  In those meetings, spend our time in prayer, as oposed to planning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Word August 17, 2011

Point #3 - "Devoting themselves to the breaking of bread."

The early church took special time and attention to spending time with one another.  They met in their houses for worship, prayer, fellowship and so on.   There was a special bond that was formed because of these intimate settings.  They shared their lives with one another as they felt comfortable to do so.  In some ways, the modern church has lost this because of our big buildings and "star-lit" services.  On top of all this, the early church was going through much persecution.  As they engaged with one another, dining with one another, there was a bond formed like that of men at war.  They were really brothers and sisters.  The church must return to our herritage of engaging with one another through intimate fellowship.

What can I do?  Be intentional about finding prayer warriors and friends in the church.  Find people who I can be transparent with, as we labor together and share one another's burdens.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily Word August 16, 2011 - "Devoted Themselves To the Fellowship"

Today, we move on to point #2 from Acts 2:42 - "They devoted themselves to the Fellowship".  Remember that the "Fellowship" consisted of those who had been saved and baptized, who were submitting their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  They dedicated themselves to meeting together, praying together, observing the Lord's Supper, worshipping together, etc.  In short, they dedicated themselves to faithfully attending church, their assemblies in homes and temples.

In today's society, there are many things which try to steal our fellowship.  It could be sports, work, school, or a variety of other involvements.  But for a believer to be an effective witness, he must be willing to sacrifice some things, in order to be devoted to fellowship.  The very word "devoted" implies that it has become a primary focus.  For my part, I can be more devoted to fellowship by not being as caught up in the list of things that need to be accomplished on a Sunday morning and more concerned with just worshipping.

How about you?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Daily Word August 15, 2011

Starting today, I want to begin a new format.  Let's try to make this as interactive as possible.  What I would like to do on a daily basis is revisit the previous Sunday's message.  Each day we will look at one point or two and discuss the practical ramifications and outworkings of that point.

Today, we begin with the 4 basic methods of growth in the New Testament church of Acts.  Remember that these are found in Acts 2:42.  A growing church Devotes Themselves To:
                  1.  The Word of God
                  2.  The Fellowship
                  3.  The Breaking of Bread
                 4.  Praying

Now the question is, "how do I practically do these things?"

For my response, I will take up point number one - Devoted to the Word of God.  I can devote myself to the Word of God by committing to set aside time out of every day to spend studying God's Word.  Then having studied, I can journal about that which God has shown me in my life that needs to change.  Having acknowledged the things that need to change, I can keep a progress report privately to measure my conformity to God's Teaching.
What about you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Daily Word August 3, 2011 - "We Recount Your Wondrous Deeds"

Psalm 75:1
We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.
Sometimes life is good...sometimes life is hard...But what gets us through it all?  The Psalmist says that he "recounted" God's wondrous deeds.  That is that he "counted again".  He thought hard upon the things that God had done.  Perhaps he had them written down, maybe he just began to count all of things God had done for Him in his life.  Whatever the case, as we consider everything God has done for us, it is easy to see hope through the storm as we remember God's actions toward us.  I can only speak for myself but, God has done to many things for me to count.  If he never blessed me the rest of my life, he has done to much already.  But God's wondrous deeds towards me are a constant reminder of His constant and abiding love.  God does not love in word only, but in deed and action.  Today: recount (count again) all that God has done for you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daily Word August 2, 2011 - "Of Old..."

Psalm 74:12
 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Here the people are looking around at everything going on, and hope seems to be fading...They are losing their optimism for the ways of the world, they see no prophets speaking the Word of God, and people are continually minimizing the sanctuary of God.  Hope is gone...but then, he says, "Yet God my King is from old."  Our hope rests fully in who God is and from whence he came.  He is from eternity past and will be from eternity future.  He is never changing and always perfect.  When hope is gone, "Yet God".  This is our faith.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Daily Word July 29, 2011 - "A Wearisome Task"

Psalm 73:16-17
"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."

The psalmist is looking around at the ways of the world and he explains that he cannot understand them.  He says specifically that it became a "wearisome task".  He was overwhelmed with everything, it was to much to take in.  But when he went to the sanctuary of God, he found understanding.  Beloved, we find our understanding not in our intellectual ability or knowledge.  Rather, understanding is always found as we come into the presence of God.  Seek His presence, find His answers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily Word July 28, 2011 - "A Righteous Nation"

Psalm 72:1-4
"Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!  May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!  Let the mountains bear properity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!  May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!"

What is the government's job?  Whenever the pastor talks politics, the people get nervous!  But hang with me, did you know that God has a lot to say about politics?!  And it just so happens our verse for today tells us what God's expectations are for a king - or in America, the President.  God's will is for them to judge the people with righteousness, grant to the poor justice, and to crush the oppressor.  Judging in righteousness speaks of a desire to see the king judge with God's heart, for him not to look at things with the world's eyes, but rather to make decisions through the eyes of the written Word of God.  To bring justice to the poor tells us that God wants us to love on those who can't help themselves.  In their day, the poor were always taken advantage of, they had no value and their testimony didn't help them in court.  But God wants justice for all.  And finally, to crush the oppressor.  God wants our leaders to keep us safe. 

So with all of the politics running rampant, let us pray for these three things to be found in our leaders today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Word July 27, 2011 - "My Hope and Trust"

Psalm 71:5&6
"For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.  Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb.  My praise is continually of you."
Words to remind us of the great truth that all of our hope and strength is measured in the Lord.  From the moment of our creation, the human being is totally dependent upon God.  I like how the psalmist says, "upon you I have leaned from before my birth..."  It is a true statement that we are not in control - from the moment of conception, we are totally dependent upon God's provision.  As children, we lean more heavily because we recognize our inadequacies and our inabilities (i.e. "I'm to short to get the cereal for myself!").  But suddenly as teenagers and then into adulthood, we are now ready to make our own decisions.  Blessed is the man or woman who still finds his hope and trust only in the Lord. 

Beloved, what is it that you cannot control today that you need God to take care of?...Then ask Him.

July 27, 2011

I know that it has been a long time since I was able to get this ministry up and running again, but we should be back on schedule.  With all of the hustle and bustle of church and family, it was the one thing that seemed to get forgotten.  Starting today, however, I will do my best to get the blog up and running full speed!

Held By Grace,
Pastor Chris

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Isabella Eleanor & Isaiah Calvin

We are happy to announce the birth of Isabella Eleanor Guffey (4lbs 9 oz – 17in) and Isaiah Calvin Guffey (6lbs 7oz – 19in).  They were born at 7:59 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., respectively, on Monday morning.  Kellie had a very difficult delivery, but is doing great.  This morning she was on her feet for the first time and now seems to be coming back to her usual self. 
Isaiah is very healthy and doing well.  He has blonde hair and blue eyes at this time.  He had only a few breathing problems after delivery, but after about 30 minutes was stable and breathing on his own.  He has reacted very well to all of the tests, except being cranky afterwards.
Isabella is a miracle, no doubt.  We were told that we would not get to see her after the delivery.  The doctors has predicted that she would probably go home with the Lord within a few minutes of delivery.  If she didn’t, they believed she would be rushed to NICU, where they hoped they could give everyone the opportunity to bond on Tuesday.  However, she shocked everyone when she came out.  She was stable, breathing on her own, good blood sugar counts, good blood pressure, seemingly perfectly healthy.  So instead of having to wait to meet her, Isaiah, Isabella, and myself were waiting to see Kellie in recovery. 
With all of that said, we have kept this information close to us because we knew there were still some obstacles ahead.  Yesterday, the staff was unable to get Isabella to eat and maintain a healthy body temperature.  Around 10:00 p.m. the decision was made to go ahead and take her to NICU.  They have done several tests today, including mri’s and ultrasounds of her brain.  The results have been good and bad.  The piece of her brain that was thought to be missing during the pregnancy is not missing!  This is obviously great news that everyone was excited to hear.  However, it is much smaller than it is supposed to be, which probably will affect her motor skills (one doctor said, “she will be clumsy for the rest of her life”).  While I am sure this was bad news to him, for us, we can deal with clumsy.  The water and subsequent pressure that was seen on her brain is still present.  This has led for the staff to bring in a brain surgeon, who specializes in children.  We have several options in front of us, with some difficult decisions to make.  At this time, we would covet your prayers as we consider what the best option is.  With that said, for an unexplained reason, she has already begun to “self-decompress” which is a great thing, so long as she does not go too far.  Right now the greatest threat facing her is her inability to eat.  She has the skills to swallow and from what we can tell, her organs seem to be operating perfectly.  However, we do not know why she is not eating.  It could be that because of her size, she is spending all of her energy trying to stay warm and just doesn’t have the energy to eat – this would be the best solution.  The other option is that while the brain was compressed with fluid, it is possible that the pressure damaged the part of the brain which tells the body when and how to eat.  If this is the case, the outlook would not be good.  So the only thing we can do at this time is simply wait and see how she responds after being put into an incubator and given a feeding tube for a few days.  Hopefully with some new found strength and energy, she will be able to regulate her temperature and eat properly.  The final problem is that her brain stem and spinal chord have been arranged crooked because of the pressure on the brain.  Again, only time will answer questions about her mobility and so forth, but at the present she is passing all of the reaction tests that they did not expect her to be passing.  All in all, we have not learned anything we did not know before we came in for delivery.  The only bits of information that are new are that she is surprising everyone with her responses and ability to continue to fight for life.  We were told today that Kellie and Isaiah will probably be discharged on Wednesday or Thursday.  However, we will probably be spending the next 10-14 days with Isabella here at the hospital.  Right now, we are working on hotel arrangements and my work schedule.
Kellie and I are doing great!  We are excited about these blessings from God!  If something were to happen to Isabella, God has blessed us so much by giving us the last two days.  There has been a song stuck in my head for the past few days, the words of the second stanza and chorus summarize our thoughts.  “Worthy of reverence, worthy of fear, worthy of love and devotion, worthy of bowing and bending of knees, worthy of all this and added to these – You are worthy, Father, Creator; You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer; You are worthy, worthy and wonderful, worthy of worship and praise.” 
Many are asking about coming and visiting.  We would love to see all of you.  With that said, in the interest of baby Isabella, it would be best to keep visits to a minimum.  Now that she is in the NICU, we are the only ones allowed to sit with her.  However, we are here with Isaiah and if you want to visit the only thing we ask is that you please call and set up a time with us.  That which we need most at this time is your prayers.  Pray continually that Isabella would gain strength and begin to eat.  This would be a sign that the problem is not a brain problem and would get the doctors closer to the right treatment quickly.  I am sorry that I had to miss this Sunday, know that we missed being in your presence greatly.  I will be back in the office, with a schedule worked out as soon as possible.  Thank you for your continual support.
Held By Grace,
Pastor Chris, Kellie, Isabella, and Isaiah Guffey

Daily Word June 14, 2011 - Psalm 107:1-3

1     "Oh give thanks to the Lordfor he is good,
      for his steadfast love endures forever!
2      Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
      whom he has redeemed from trouble
3      and gathered in from the lands,
      from the east and from the west,
      from the north and from the south."

           To often we get caught up in the day-to-day and just find ourselves going through the motions. When this happens everything seems to blend together and we lose sight of what God has done for us. Take time to be thankful for what the Lord has given you today. Give thanks to Him because He is good! Let us show the world what the Lord has done for us.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Daily Word June 13, 2011 - John 4:39

Experience, Express, Encourage

John 4:39 - Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did."

Many know the story of the woman at the well. This woman came to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day, and she also came alone. Women would usually came in the cooler parts of the day to draw water from the well. This would suggest that the woman was ashamed of something and didn't want contact with any of the other women. However, to her surprise she met Jesus that day. The woman at the well experienced grace and came in contact with Christ. Jesus offered her the gift of living water that day, a gift from God which only He could give. He began to explain and teach the woman her need for such water. After this Jesus revealed to this woman all that she had done, her sin. So moved by what Jesus had to say, the woman left her water jar and rushed back to the town to tell everyone what had happened. She left her present need of water so that she could tell others about what had happened. The woman at the well experienced Christ then went back to the people she knew and expressed to them what had happened when she met Jesus. Then she encouraged them to come experience it for themselves. 

As believers we all have found ourselves in times where we were ashamed of something we did. Maybe it is now or maybe it was a long time ago. Regardless, as Christians we know that we have found forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ. Many of us have experienced it for ourselves, but when is the last time we went out of the way to share with someone what God has done in our life? When is the last time we invited someone to experience it for themselves? The woman at the well left what she was doing and rushed back to tell others what happened and encouraged them to come meet Jesus. If you have experienced Jesus work in your life then express it and encourage others to experience Him too. Let your testimony lead others to Christ just as this woman's did.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daily Word June 9, 2011 - "Psalm 40"

Psalm 40:1-2 "Restored"
"I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure."
Ever done something wrong?  Offended the coworker or dissappointed the boss?  Let your spouse or your children down?  You know the feeling, right?  That feeling of utter grief and dismay.  You feel like everything you do will be wrong.  The more you try to fix the problem, the worse the problem becomes.  But then comes that moment when the offended begins takes notice of you.  They sit down and discuss what happened.  They talk about forgiveness and how to make the problem better.  Here the psalmist finds himself.  He has wandered with his sin and grief for long enough.  He has made the problem worse with every futile attempt.  But suddenly the Lord hears him.  Listen to God's restoration: "He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock..."  No more quicksand, no more continually sinking deeper into the destruction, but a new day.  A day of restoration and security.  Only God can do this.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daily Word June 7, 2011 - Psalm 39:1

Psalm 39:1
"I said, 'I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence."
We all know the power of the tongue.  When words are spoken, they are out there.  They can never be taken back or changed, regardless of how pure a desire of the heart to withdraw them, they are gone.  The first verses of this psalm are all about guarding the tongue.  I like how the psalmist says in verse 2, "I was mute and silent..."  Today, "God guard my tongue.  Do not allow me to say what I should not, teach me to hold my tongue and stay silent as I should."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Daily Word June 2, 2011 - Psalm 38

Psalm 38:18
"I confess my iniquity, I am sorry for my sin."
Here is a psalm rittled with pain.  As you read all of psalm 38, what we find is a man overcome by suffering.  What is the cause of his suffering?  Two things.  First, is the discipline of the Lord.  Apparently, he has sinned against God and God is exercising his paternal duties.  He is disciplining his child, making him new.  But discipline never seems pleasant in its time, says the Hebrew writer, and the psalmist is ready for it to come to completion.  Second, he has tumult in his heart over the grief of his sin.  Sin not only effects our relationship with God, it causes turmoil inside our souls if we are a believer. 
For these reasons, this is not a sad psalm.  I am sure the psalmist was sad when he wrote it.  But in proper season, as he reflected upon these words, there was probably some happiness.  Why?  Because discipline showed him that God loved him and grief over sin showed him that he was a child of God.  We should be thankful when we are convicted of sin, it bears witness to the fact that we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us, who will not let us rest in our disobedience.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Daily Word June 1, 2011 - Psalm 36:7-9

Psalm 36:7-9
"How precious is your steadfast love, O God!  The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."
The psalmist here describes the "fulness" of the child of God.  He is not contentious, always looking for more, or never satisfied.  He is not "getting by", but rather he says of him that he is "feasting" on the abundance of God's house.  I wonder - "Are you feasting?"  Feasting is not just eating enough to get by, but rather having more than you could possibly want.  But this is not the "health and wealth" message you may hear on tv.  Instead, vs. 9 is the key.  The reason that they are feasting is because "with you is the fountain of life..."  Who is the fountain of life?  Jesus Christ.
Feasting in the riches of God are found in the delight of Jesus Christ.  When the heart has found its source of satisfaction in Christ, it is steadfastly anchored at the table of God's blessing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daily Word May 31, 2011 - Psalm 32:5

Psalm 32:5
"Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."
Great words of hope and encouragement to the one who faces trial and tribulation.  This past week, as you know, our city was hit by a tornado.  It has been difficult for many to understand and deal with the damage and loss.  But for the believer, we have great hope and peace.  Vs. 4 of this psalm says, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears."  God does not forsake his people, especially when they call out to him. 
Now picture with me - "Those who look to him are radiant"...They reflect the wonderful and majestic glory upon which they are gazing.  Like the moon reflecting the light of the sun.  Those who turn their faces toward God, reflect the radiance of his glory.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daily Word May 24, 2011 - "Blessed"

Psalm 32:1-2
"Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit."
One of my favorite passages is psalm 32.  I have meditated on it many times.  As we look at the psalm as a whole we see the pain of unforgiveness in verses 3 & 4.  The guilt of sin can wear us out.  But verse 5 for me is the key to the man's "blessedness" - "I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity..."  When we are transparent and honest with a holy God, when we come to the end of ourselves and confess our failures - we serve a God who is faithful to forgive.  When he has forgiven - blessedness (happiness) is all that is left.  As a child many times I failed my parents.  Hiding that from them caused more grief than the discipline ever could.  With God, we find the same.  Dealing with our sin is difficult, but liberating.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Daily Word May 20, 2011 - "Psalm 121"

Psalm 121
"I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore."
Great promise and hope are found in these words.  My life is not my own, it is not up to the righteous to protect themselves.  The reality is that every life has its ups and downs, but there is one constant - Jesus Christ.  He keeps our lives and stables our footing, he never grows weary and never sleeps.  He is never caught off guard or by surprise, he is always in control.  Great words of hope and promise!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daily Word May 17, 2011 - "Continual Cleansing"

Psalm 51:10
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
We are continuing our way through Psalm 51 as we learn about worship.  David has asked God to cleanse him with hyssop - the idea being that he is ready for service.  Now he says that cleansing the outside is not enough.  He asks God to create a clean heart.  David knew that you could wash away the mud but if you did not take away the desire to get into the mud, then you had accomplished nothing.  If God made him ready for worship by cleansing his sin, but did not also effect his natural desire for sin, then David would continually be coming before God asking forgiveness.  So now David says, 'give me new desires.'  And then he follows it up with and "renew a right spirit within me."  'Give me the right desires and emotions as I look at what you are doing', this is the psalmist prayer.  Though the word worship is not here, you can hear its heartbeat as David strives for intimacy with God.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daily Word May 12, 2011 - Psalm 51 Part II

Psalm 51:7-8a
"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness..."
In the Old Testament, purging with hyssop was a cleansing for the priest.  They would wash with hyssop so that they were prepared for service.  As David looks at his fallen condition, his failures, and his sin; he asks God to prepare him for service.  Those who are cleansed and ready for worship, are also excited about serving.  Then he says, "let me hear joy and gladness..."  He was worn out with all of the negative.  He knew his shortcomings, now he wanted God to speak joy into his heart.  What do you think?  Is David close to being ready for worship?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daily Word May 10, 2011 - Psalm 51

Psalm 51:1-2
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."
On Sundays we have been dealing with the topic of worship.  One of the things which we shall discover as we go along is the role that sin plays in blocking us from experiencing real worship.  Here David has a problem.  There is a divide in his relationship with God, that divide was his sin.  Sin had separated him from worship.  In Psalm 51, we hear his prayer.  He begins by praying, "have mercy on me."  He continues, "wash me...cleanse me."  David wanted to be totally clean as he stood before the Lord.  He wanted to be ready for worship.  Real worship always occurs after deep spiritual cleansing, which only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daily Word May 4, 2011 - Psalm 63:1

Psalm 63:1
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Here the psalmist gives us insight to his relationship with God.  He says that he "earnestly seeks", which speaks of an intentional behavior.  He doesn't stumble into God in the morning, but rather, he goes after God.  Then he says that his soul thirsts and faints, as in a dry and weary land.  In other words, he longs after God as one who longs after a cup of water in the middle of a famine.  We can only imagine for a moment the thirst for a relationship.  A thirst that is not satisfied with anything except that which it thirsts for.  The psalmist is saying that nothing else will do, he must have God and God alone.  I wonder today, is this a picture of your relationship with God?  A relationship that cannot be quenched by the things of this world?  A relationship that intentionally runs after its object?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Weekend

What a wonderful week we just came out of!  It began with those who came and observed the Lord's Supper on Thursday night, commemorating the final supper between our Lord and his disciples.  Followed by Saturday night, Sonrise, and 10:45 worship.  It was a great week with the Lord and His people.  I hope that you enjoyed it and grew together.  Remember, every Sunday is the Lord's Day, Resurrection Day!

Daily Word, April 27, 2011 - "Psalm 117"

Psalm 117
"Praise the LORD, all nations!  Extol him, all peoples!  For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.  Praise the LORD!"
One of the shortest psalms in scripture and yet it teaches us much about worship.  At church this week, we begin a series about worship.  This series is designed to help us understand worship from God's viewpoint.  In this study, this particular psalm spoke to me.  What does it tell us?  It tells us that worship is a deserved offering to God.  We worship for many reasons in the modern church.  We worship so we don't have to hear an hour of preaching, we worship so we can stay attentive during the service, we worship because it is our particular style of music, and the list goes on.  But real worship isn't about people or even me.  Real worship is about something, dare I say someone, much greater.  The Psalmist says to praise and extol the Lord, why?  Because "great is his steadfast love...and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."  Because of who God is, because of what He has done, we worship!  It is time that the bride of Christ turn their worship and attention toward the One who is worthy of it.  Praise the Lord, all nations!  Extol him, all peoples!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daily Word April 21, 2011 - "The King"

John 19:16-22
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
When we left off last time, the Jews were telling Pilate that they had no king, except Caesar.  I claimed that this was a glimpse into their hearts.  But notice what Pilate does.  Having delivered Jesus to them to be crucified, marched him up the hill, and strung him upon the cross; he then has written above his head "King of the Jews".  This truth of who Jesus was, was inescapable.  No matter how hard they tried to run away from the truth of who he was, it continually was put in front of them.  Still today, the truth is inescapable that he was and is the King of God's people.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Daily Word April 20, 2011 - "The Conversation - Part II"

John 19:12-16
12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic [1] Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. [2] He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
After the reality of who Christ was, the Bible says that Pilate sought to release him.  But at every turn, the crowd screamed for his blood all the more.  Remember that their charge against him was that he was blaspheming God, by claiming to be God.  But this is not a capital offense with the Romans, in fact, it is no offense at all.  So now they change their charge.  "Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."  In simple terms, 'He is a threat to Rome.  He is setting himself up as a king over Caesar.'  It is interesting that Pilate does not dispute this claim.  Instead, he makes a prophetic claim, "Behold your King!"  Now there is no doubt that in this moment he was being sarcastic, and yet was he incorrect?  But what is more interesting is that the Jews responded in a manner which shows their heart.  "We have no king but Caesar."  This was true, Jesus was not their king.  Though they were God's people, God was not their king.  They had lost sight of the spiritual and had fully turned their eyes on the physical.  This man was saving them of their sin, and yet they could not see him for who he was.  Do you see Jesus for who He is?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daily Word April 19, 2011 - "The Conversation - Part I"

John 19:1-11
19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
John is an interesting gospel writer, because he often shows us the heart of individuals through the conversations that take place.  He seems to take us into the inner circle and allow us to hear things that perhaps other gospel writers left out.  With that said, for the first part of this week, as we turn our attention to the work of Christ on the cross, I want us to see a conversation that took place between Pilate and Jesus.  In these first verses, we see that Jesus has been given over to Pilate.  Pilate receives him and he tells the crowd, 'do with him what you are wanting to do (crucify), but the Jews respond that only Pilate has the authority to crucify him.  Their reason for wanting this done, "he has made himself the Son of God."  What they were saying was 'He thinks he is God.'  Now Pilate is not the nicest of guys, in fact, he was known for his cruelty.  And yet, John shows us that Pilate saw something in this man that puzzled him.  I wonder if he did not have a searching heart, if he did not see more to life than what he was experiencing.  He says to him, "Where are you from?"  He was wondering, 'are you really the Son of God?'  But Jesus goes silent, perhaps because he knows Pilate is not ready to receive the truth, perhaps because he has resigned to the truth of what is about to happen.  This silence was deafening to Pilate and he says, 'Don't you know who I am?  I have the authority to release or crucify you.'  But here was Jesus answer to Pilate's question.  He tells him that the only authority he has, is given from heaven.  This was implicitly saying, 'I am indeed the Son of God, and what is about to happen, I am in control.'  In this moment, he didn't seem to be in control, and yet, he was.  Indeed, this man was the sovereign, eternal Word of God in flesh.  How will Pilate respond?  When faced with the truth of who Christ is, how do you respond?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Daily Word April 13, 2011 - "Through Many Tribulations"

Acts 14:22c
"...through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven."
It is funny that so often we measure success and even God's will according to how smoothly things go.  We think, "Oh, this is way to hard, it must not be God's will for my life."  Or the opposite, "Everything is perfect!  This must be the will of God."  In our passage, Paul has just been beaten for his preaching of the gospel.  Beaten so severely that they thought he was dead.  But instead, he gets up and goes and continues to preach the gospel some more.  When he is done, he takes a breather to encourage the other saints who had not received this punishment.  What does he tell them?  "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven."  In other words, "It's all part of it guys, don't worry about it."  Oh to have the attitude nad mindset of Paul, to be able to endure and know that sometimes before the crown comes the cross.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Daily Word April 4, 2011 - Isaiah 6:1

Isaiah 6:1
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple."
Our guest speaker, Bro. Jeff Anders, said last night - "Anytime God has ever done anything or used anyone, first he revealed himself to them."  As I thought about that statement, the examples were limitless.  There was Abraham, Moses, Noah, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Nathan, Joshua, and so many more.  What a marvelous thought, that before we could receive the battle instructions, first we saw the commander.  One thing that really spoke to me in this verse was the position that Isaiah saw the Lord.  Yes he was high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple - speaking to His holiness (His utter distinctness).  But notice that he was "seated".  He was not standing or walking around.  He was not pacing as though the crisis had caught him off guard or by surprise.  Rather, he was seated, which speaks to his being "comfortable" or "controlled".  He was in complete sovereign control of the crisis.