Archive | October 2012

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 11:25-26

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”                 NKJV

We need to understand what it means to truly forgive.  Forgiveness is not an emotion. It is a conscious choice that has nothing to do with how we feel.  Forgiveness happens when we choose that we will no longer expect those who hurt us to repay us for the harm that was done.  We choose to move on with our lives and no longer dwell on the hurt.

Forgiveness is not initially about the person who wronged us but, rather it is about us.  If we will not forgive someone who failed to meet our expectations, we begin to change on the inside.  We grow in anger and resentment.  The quality of our own life suffers and we compound the wrongdoing until it becomes something far more damaging than it originally was.  One of the most important reasons we must forgive is that we cannot grow into Christ’s image with all that hurt and animosity building up inside of us.  By forgiving, we release ourselves from our own dungeon of bitterness.

Forgiveness does not mean that we forget the offense nor does it does it mean that we need to stay in a relationship with the one who wronged us.  If someone abused one of my children, I would certainly never forget it and would never again allow them to be near my children.  If it were a friend of mine who did such a terrible thing, then we could no longer be friends after such a violation of trust.  Forgiveness does not require that relationships never change, but it does require that we move past the incident in our hearts and that we refrain from dwelling on it or continue reminding the person that we have forgiven of the incident.

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is also not optional.  Our Lord commands it in our passage as a requirement for our own sins being forgiven.

Are you having difficulty forgiving someone?  Is the hurt so big you just can’t let it go?  Remember, the bigger the hurt, the longer your prison term of bitterness, resentment, and, anger will be.  Forgiveness is about you, not the other person.  Your pain will not subside until you make the choice to forgive.  Ask God for strength and make a choice!                        Peter Okereke Jr.

 

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 11:23-24

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.                  NKJV

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.”  We are to believe that we have received—this very moment.  It is natural to want some evidence that our request is granted before we believe, but when we “live by faith” (II Cor. 5:7), we need no evidence other than God’s Word.  He has spoken, and in harmony with our faith it will be done.  We will see because we have believed and true faith will sustain us in the most trying times.  Faith that believes it will see, will keep us from becoming discouraged.  We will laugh at seemingly impossible situations while we watch with delight to see how God is going to move the mountain that bars our way.

It is in these places of severe testing, with no human way out of our difficulty that our faith grows and is strengthened.  Lift up your head and begin praising God right now for the deliverance that is on its way to you.                       From Life of Praise

Have we come to the point where we have met God in His everlasting now?            A.B. Simpson

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 11:15

So they came to Jerusalem.  Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.                  NKJV

The Holy Scripture records Jesus cleansing the temple twice during His time on Earth.  The first time was during His first visit to Jerusalem after He had begun His public ministry (John 2:13-17).  The second cleansing, which is recorded in our text as well as in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels, took place during His final visit to the city of Jerusalem.

As Christians, we are the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16-17).  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20).  We are bought with a price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and as such are to glorify God in our body and spirit.  When we recognize and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we need to remember that what we do in our body affects the entire body of Christ.  Our actions and words do make a difference to others.  Our neglect and abuse of our body hinders our effectiveness in serving the Lord.  Many Christians have neglected their health for years and are paying the price for it today.

After we are saved, we often give up a lot of unhealthy habits, but still there are still things which cling stubbornly within our hearts and interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming our lives.  Sometimes we focus self-righteously on what others need to change or give up and we are blind to our own faults.  Sometimes our prideful self-reliance upon our own learning and knowledge overload our minds and leave no room for the wisdom of God.  These things should make us so spiritually uncomfortable that the cloak of humility would squeeze the pride right out of our minds and hearts.  Then truly our own temples would be cleansed.

 

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Psalm 31:15

My times are in Your hand; . . .                       NKJV

Like David, we can take great comfort and courage in knowing that God is in control of every detail of our lives (Acts 17:26).  We know that He sits at the helm of our life when it rocks most and that His invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, steering it wherever it goes (Isa. 46:9-10).  The reassuring knowledge that our God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11) prepares us for everything that may come our way.  We look over the stormy seas and see the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ walking smoothly on its churning surface and we hear His voice saying, “It is I, do not be afraid.”  We also know that God is always wise; that there are no accidents, no mistakes; that whatever occurs, it happens for our best interest (Rom. 8:28).  We can say with confidence, “If I should lose everything I have, it is better that I should lose it all than have it, if God so wills.  The worst calamity is the wisest, kindest, and best thing that could happen to me if God decrees it to be so.”

Everything works together for the good of those who love God.  The poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing.  Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes.  The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what you will, my God, so long as it comes from You; there never came an ill portion from Your table to any of Your children.”                                      Charles Haddon Spurgeon

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Galatians 4:4

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, . . .                     NKJV

It is important to note that Jesus was not merely born; he was sent.  God “sent” forth his Son.

This sending is absolutely fundamental to our understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is not merely a man, He is God Himself in human flesh (John 1:14, Colossians 2:9), sent forth by and from God the Father.  This sending (from the Greek word, exapesteilen, the root of which is exapostello)involves a sending out from something or somewhere.  Jesus was sent out from God the Father and this, necessarily, implies pre-existence.

Jesus’ existence did not begin with His birth in a stable in Bethlehem nor with His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  Before Jesus was conceived, He was already (John 1:1, 8:58).  And this pre-existence implies something even more glorious.

The birth of Jesus is unique among all other births in human history.  The virgin birth of Christ was miraculous because Jesus was and is unique and altogether glorious.  He is not merely an adopted child of God (as you and I are the adopted children of God).  He is the Son of God and His arrival on earth was not simply happenstance.  God the Father sent him forth in accordance with His eternal plan and timing.  God the Father intervenes decisively in human history by sending forth his Son into human history.

Consider anew the glory of this truth.  Christ, the pre-existent Son of God, was sent by God the Father to become a human being.  The eternal Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.  This Son, the divine creator of all things (John 1:3, Col.1:15-17), became a man.  He humbled Himself and took upon Himself all of the sufferings and frailties of humanity (Phil. 2:6-8).  This Son is both God and man. He is the God-Man.

This glorious truth lies at the heart of the good news of the Gospel.  God not only came to us, but became as one of us.