Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #13

 

John 17:18

“Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.” (NLT)

ON MISSION

(Part one)

            If you have hung around me for any length of time you will know that I believe very strongly that we all have a part in reaching the world for Christ. This is not relegated to only a select few. Notice in the above verse that Jesus didn’t say, “I’m sending a few, “special operations” people into the world… He says He’s sending THEM, that’s you and me as His disciples.

            God is at work in the world and He wants you and me to join Him. God wants us to have both a ministry in the body of Christ (the church) and a mission in the world. Our word “Mission” comes from the Latin word “Sending”.  Being a Christian means being sent into the world (as our theme verse for this devotional implies) as a representative of Jesus Christ.

            The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission. The reason this is so is because we are the body of Christ. We are carrying on what He started. One theologian wisely observed that “Jesus calls us not only to come to Him, but to go for Him.

            People all around us are looking for answers. They are confused and frightened and desperate to have some sort of peace within their hearts. Christian, you and I have a responsibility to share the good news that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. In fact the scriptures instruct us to do so. In a strong statement to the prophet Ezekiel, God warns him to speak to the wicked about their sin, failure to do so on his part would be that God would hold him responsible for their deaths.

Ezekiel 3:18

If I (God) warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you (Ezekiel) fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. (Bracketed words are mine)

            To share the good news with people is a wonderful privilege. A few weeks ago I had the satisfaction of leading someone to a saving knowledge of Christ in my office. What joy filled their heart and mine.

            You might wonder, “How do I get the conversation going with someone who I know needs Jesus?” Allow me to remind you of a little acrostic (I have taught this before) that will give you tracks to run on. B.L.E.S.S

Begin with Prayer: As you pray for someone, it will amaze you how God will orchestrate circumstances that will give you opportunity to share your faith. Ask Him to show you who you can BLESS.

Listen to their story: Everyone has a story to tell. Be a listening ear and it will open the doors for a more meaningful relationship.

Eat with them. Nothing like a meal to break down the awkwardness of relationship building.

Serve them. Look for opportunities to serve them in some way. (babysit, cut their lawn, grocery shop for them if they need it (etc.)

Share with them. Share what Jesus means to you. Jesus active and alive in your life is incredibly attractive to a lost and lonely person.

            This is enough for now, tomorrow we will continue with our topic of being “On Mission” for Christ.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #12

Psalms 14:1

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good. (NKJV)

NO FOOLING:

            Welcome to April. This first day of April has traditionally been labelled “April Fools Day” and often “tricks” are played on unsuspecting people for a good laugh. Some of you may remember Adam Robinson, who attended our church with his wife Angie and the children. They have since moved out west, but one year, On April 1st he had sent the church office a picture of a bun rising in an oven. We were so excited and called him to congratulate them on having another child. He said, “what are you talking about? I only wanted to send you a nice picture of bread rising in an oven…. Got ya!!!” We felt foolish but had a good laugh.

            What does the bible say about fools? We know that there are verses like the one above that speak of people who are fools.

            Some people believe that this verse to mean that atheists lacking intelligence. However, when we go back to the original language, we discover that this is not the only meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is “nabal”, which often refers to “an immoral person who has no perception of ethical or religious truth.” The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “sinful people do not believe in God.” In other words, it is a terrible thing to deny God, and a denial of God is often accompanied by a sinful lifestyle.

            One theologian in writing about this verse said it best: “Many atheists are very intelligent. It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.”

            Here is a truth that we must not miss. A lack of evidence of God’s existence is not the true reason atheists reject a belief in God. Belief in God is accompanied by a sense of accountability to God. So, to escape the condemnation of conscience, which itself was created by God, some simply deny the existence of God. Former Atheist’s have confirmed that this is indeed the main reason they rejected God.

The apostle Paul was writing about the fool when he penned these words in Romans 1.

“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God…. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.”

            Pray this week for those who have rejected God. Pray that they would turn from their wickedness. Let’s pray that the fool would find faith. Let’s pray that my life and yours would be a living testimony of the power of a very real and powerful God.

 

PR



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #11

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

TRUST

I thought I would pick up where we left off yesterday and develop Proverbs 3:5,6 today.

A major literary device in Hebrew poetry is called “parallelism.” Parallelism is the use of synonyms. The same idea is restated in different words, side by side. For example, Psalm 40:13 uses this technique.

Psalm 40:13 “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me!” (NKJV)  The author expresses the same idea, just said it differently.

In Proverbs 3:5 the Psalmist used a different writing technique. He used something called “Antithetical parallelism.” When this technique is used in writing the author provides a contrast.

A verse containing antithetical parallelism will bring together two different ideas that are in contrast to each other. Instead of saying the same thing twice, it says one thing and then a different thing. An example of this is found in Ecclesiastes 10:2 “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” Two hearts, two directions. The wise man’s heart desires one thing, and the fool’s heart desires something completely different. This is “antithetical parallelism.”

In Proverbs 3:5, we are told, positively, to trust the Lord and, negatively, not to trust our own understanding. Those two things are mutually exclusive. In other words, if we trust in the Lord, we cannot also depend upon our own ability to understand everything God is doing.

You might ask (and even if you aren’t, I’m asking it for you 😊), “Why is it so important to “not lean on my own understanding?” after all, some of us have a hard time to trust anything that we don’t fully understand. Again, I believe the scriptures have an answer for that. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:12. Paul wrote: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (NLT)

We only see part of the picture God is painting. If we are to truly trust Him, we must let go of the three big “P’s” in our lives. Our Pride, our Programs, and our Plans.

Most of us have a desperate desire to understand, but in so many areas we must acknowledge that we cannot understand. We must approve of God’s ways, even when we can’t comprehend them. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us why we often don’t understand what God is doing: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” God sees the whole picture, while we only see our tiny corner of it.

One wise person observed “To trust in the Lord with all our heart means we can’t place our right to understand above His right to direct our lives the way He sees fit.”

May we all learn to “let go and let God”. The sooner the better for your spiritual health and mine.

 



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #10

Psalm 5:11-12

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever.

Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love. (NLT)

 

FEAR

            Sometimes when life is not really normal and we have uncertainty surrounding us, we tend to fear or be fearful. Lot’s of unanswered or even unanswerable questions surround us. How should being a Christian male a difference in how we respond to undefined times?

            To begin with, not all fear is bad. In fact the bible talks about two kinds of fear. The first type is useful and is to be encouraged. The second type is a detriment and is to be overcome. The first type of fear is fear of the Lord. This type of fear does not necessarily mean to be afraid of something. Rather, it is a reverential awe of God, a reverence for His power and glory, A reverence for His grace and love. However, it is also important to have a proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, this type of fear is to have the mindset that acknowledges all that God is.

            The second type of fear mentioned in the Bible is not beneficial at all. This is the “spirit of fear” mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV). A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God.

            No one is perfect, and God knows this. That is why He has liberally sprinkled encouragement against fear throughout the Bible. Beginning in the book of Genesis and continuing throughout the book of Revelation, God reminds us to “Fear not.” In fact I read somewhere that there are 365 “fear Nots in the bible. Good for one “fear Not” for every day of the year.

Isaiah 41:10 encourages us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Maybe you are fearing the future and what will become of us. But Jesus reminds us in Matthew that God cares for the birds of the air, so how much more will He provide for His children? “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” Matthew 10:31. Notice what God is doing with the Bible, His Word, He is covering many different types of fear. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone, of being too weak, of not being heard, and of lacking physical necessities

            The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (NKJV)

            Are you afraid today? If you are not, it may be that you have already put your trust in the LORD. If you are, then I encourage you to learn to be obedient to Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #9

Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (NKJV).

When everything is going our way, patience is easy to demonstrate. I am the most patient person in the world until another car cuts me off in traffic; or when I am treated unfairly. Then patience flies out the window and I take firm control of the situation….  I would like to think I’m not alone in this battle with patience. Lately I was dismayed at my lack of patience and so I thought I’d dig into the scriptures to see if I could find a key to helping me out. Here is what |I discovered.

First of all, the Bible, praises patience as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which should be produced for all followers of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love.
Although most people consider patience to be a passive waiting or gentle tolerance, most of the Greek words translated “patience” in the New Testament are active words. Take for example, Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (NKJV). I don’t know anyone who runs a race by passively waiting for slow-pokes.The word translated “patience” in this verse means “endurance.” A Christian runs the race patiently by persevering through difficulties. In the Bible, patience is persevering towards a goal, enduring trials, or expectantly waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.

COVID 19 is certainly teaching us to run with endurance isn’t it? But remember, we have a great cloud of witnesses who are watching our every move. If we respond to this trial with endurance (patience) it can and will go a long way to showing the power of Christ in our lives. But:
Patience does not develop overnight. God’s power and goodness are crucial to the development of patience. Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience. Our patience is further developed and strengthened by resting in God’s perfect will and timing.

We must desire to be like Christ in all situations. But how do we display the patience that Jesus showed?

First, we thank God. A person’s first reaction is usually “Why me?”, but the Bible says to rejoice in God’s will (Philippians 4:4; 1 Peter 1:6).

Second, we seek His purposes. Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations so that we can be a witness. Other times, He might allow a trial to build our character..

Third, we remember His promises such as Romans 8:28, which tells us that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The “all things” include the things that try our patience.(go figure)

Remember, as Gods children, we are no longer in bondage to a “natural response” because we are new creations in Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17). Let’s live in that victory.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #8

 

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (NLT)

 

            Sometimes I feel that as Christians we shy away from the conversation of good deeds because we are afraid that some would interpret that good deeds get you to heaven. But the truth is that good deeds by Christians are vital perhaps not to our salvation but can aid in the salvation of those around us. Let me explain.

            The Bible is brimming with verses that link Christian conduct with how the world sees Christ. For example, we read in 2 Corinthians 9:13 “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” Also, in 1 Peter 2:12 “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (NLT)

            If we compare Christianity to a movie, our good works can be seen as the trailer. When unbelievers see the love Christians have for one another and the good works they perform, they may think all sorts of evil things about Christians, but they cannot fault their conduct, and this brings glory to God.

            Consider the alternative. If Christians act no differently from the outside world, what good is that? If the outside world is watching and they see no difference between themselves and Christians, what motivation if any, will there be for them to give up their unbelieving lifestyle?

            To be clear, no unbeliever will be saved by the good works of the Christian; the gospel must still be presented. Our actions can either help or hinder the gospel.

            During these days of waiting and watching, let us in the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #7

PASTORS PIECE

Tuesday March 24, 2020

 

2 Peter 1:5-8

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NLT)

 

2nd Peter 1:5–7 is one of the few places in Scripture that uses the term brotherly kindness, although many more passages discuss the idea: These character qualities can be considered steps of spiritual growth. Peter continues by telling us why these character traits, including brotherly kindness, are so important: “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What the New Living Translates as “brotherly kindness” other translations call “mutual affection” or simply “concern for others”. Now understand, Everyone adopted into the family of God through faith in Jesus is called a “brother” or “sister” in Christ, and we are to relate to each other as spiritual siblings. We don’t use that language as much in the church anymore but it wouldn’t hurt to use it from time to time to remind us of this truth. Then in Romans 12:10 it tells us what brotherly kindness should look like: “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.” In other words, we should outdo ourselves in honoring and loving one another”

As I study this theme, I have noticed that brotherly kindness is a major theme of the New Testament. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). In a healthy family, brothers and sisters love one another and look out for each other. If one family member is in trouble, the whole family rallies around to help.

The Bible gives examples of people practicing brotherly kindness. After David ascended to the throne of Israel, he asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). He had no relationship with Saul’s extended family, yet, because of his close friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan, he wanted to show brotherly kindness to Jonathan’s family. Mephibosheth became the recipient of David’s kindness.

When the church at Antioch heard that the church in Jerusalem would soon be suffering from a famine, they gave sacrificially to help relieve their brothers’ and sisters’ financial burden (Acts 11:27–30). Churches in Macedonia and Achaia also contributed to the poor in Jerusalem. These were acts of brotherly kindness.

How might you and I show brotherly kindness to one another in these unprecedented times? Ask God to show you how to show practical loving kindness to another person this week.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Piece #6

PASTORS PIECE on the MASTERS PEACE

Galatians 6:9-10
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (NKJV)

 

We are now into our second week of being mindful of the challenges of COVID -19. How then should we as Christians be responding?

Looking to the scriptures we see that Christians have the command to as it instructs us in 2 Peter 1:5. “make every effort to add to your faith goodness” We should be known for our goodness. When people hear the word Christian, their first thoughts should be of honour, integrity, kindness, and good deeds. The idea of doing good to all men echoes Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our lights shine when we follow Jesus’ example of doing good wherever we go (Acts 10:38).

In our efforts to do good, we must not overlook the priority Paul sets in Galatians 6:10. We are to do good to everyone, but we are to pay special attention to the family of Christ. How we treat our fellow believers is a sign of our faith: John 13:35 says  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. Love for the family of God shows itself in acts of goodness and charity. 1 John 3:17 puts it this way. “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” In fact, love toward others is proof of our salvation.

1 John 2:9He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.” (NKJV) We start doing good unto all men by softening our hearts toward our brothers and sisters in Christ and dedicating ourselves to their well-being, as though it were our own.

Part of doing good to all men is that we don’t return evil for evil (Romans 12:17). Jesus called us to set aside our natural reaction when someone wrongs us. Instead, we are to repay evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Another way we do good unto all men is that we actively search for ways we can bless people. Throughout history, Christians have led the way in building orphanages, founding schools, funding hospitals, digging water wells, and meeting the practical needs of people.

Doing good can start today, with little things. 

Last week our Prime Minister spoke of caring for one another in this time of crisis. Noble words for sure. Whatever our circumstance, if there is some way to do something good for someone today, do it, to the glory of God. A small goodness is better than no goodness and can, in fact, have a great impact. As Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do any.”

So proud of all of you for your sincere faith and strong desire to be a difference all around us.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #5

PASTORS PIECE on the MASTERS PEACE

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

 

“What does the Bible say about worry?”

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are not to worry. In Philippians 4:6, we are commanded, “Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In this Scripture, we learn that we should bring all our needs and concerns to God in prayer rather than worry about them. Also, as we’ve addressed in previous devotionals this week, we learned that Jesus encourages us to avoid worrying about our physical needs like clothing and food. Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father will take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Therefore, we have no need to worry about anything.

You might be thinking, Pastor Ralph, I really don’t want to worry, but so much is happening around me and I just can’t help myself.  Since worrying should not be a part of my life, how do I overcome worry?  In 1 Peter 5:7, we are instructed to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God does not want us to carry around the weight of problems and burdens. In this verse, God is telling us to give Him all  our worries and concerns. Why does God want to take on our problems? The Bible says it is because He cares for us. God is concerned about everything that happens to us. No worry is too big or too small for His attention. When we give God our problems, He promises to give us the peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Of course, for those who do not know the Saviour, worry and anxiety will be part of life. But to those who have given their lives to Him, Jesus promised, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Finally, remember that you are not in this alone.  Secondary to going first to God, we also know that we have one another to lean on. Galatians 6:2 “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (NLT) Please  know, that if you ever need to talk, give either pastor a call or facetime us. We are always ready to serve.



Pastor’s Piece on the Master’s Peace #4

Matthew 6:25-27
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (NLT)

 

When I read passages like Matthew 6 that is quoted above, I think of an old hymn that sums it up so well. By way of devotional, I have placed various scriptures beside certain lines. Look those up and give thanks to God. Here are the lyrics.

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

By Ira F.  Stanphill

Verse 1

I don’t know about tomorrow I just live from day to day (Matt 6:34)

I don’t borrow from its sunshine for its skies may turn to gray

I don’t worry o’er the future for I know what Jesus said (Matt 28:20)

And today I’ll walk beside Him for He knows what is ahead (Psalm 91:1-3)

Verse 2

Ev’ry step is getting brighter as the golden stairs I climb

Ev’ry burden’s getting lighter Ev’ry cloud is silver-lined (Matt 11:29-30)

There the sun is always shining there no tear will dim the eye (Rev 21:23)

At the ending of the rainbow where the mountains touch the sky

Verse 3

I don’t know about tomorrow it may bring me poverty (Phil 4:11)

But the One who feeds the sparrow Is the One who stands by me (Matthew 6:26)

And the path that is my portion may be through the flame or flood (Isa 43:2)

But His presence goes before me and I’m covered with His blood (1 John 1:7)

Chorus 1

Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand

But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand

 

            Be encouraged in the Lord today my friends. You are loved.




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