Archive | December 2013

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Philippians 3:13-14

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.                NKJV

Do you roll your imperfections over and over in your mind, until they are the only part of yourself that you can really see?  Are you paralyzed by the sins of your past?  Are you harboring pains from your past that you just can’t seem to let go?  You are not alone.  Most people, Christians included, spend more time staring at their pasts than they spend looking toward their futures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   But, did you know that God loves you just as you are? I’m sure you have heard someone say it before, but do you really know it deep inside of your heart? The One who knows you better than anyone else, thought you were worth dying for.  He came to earth so that you could trade in your sins, mistakes, and pain, for His righteousness, perfection, and peace.

Paul tells the Philippians that he is really only focused on one thing – forgetting the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead. What if we all made that our New Year’s Resolution – releasing our past to Jesus, and receiving our futures in Him?

Have you committed grievous sins or made unbelievable mistakes that have haunted and tormented you ? Release Them! Have you held on to pains from hurtful experiences in your past? Release Them!

Jesus is ready and willing to carry all of your burdens, if you are finally ready to hand them over to Him. But, if you really want to stay free, you will have to walk in forgiveness; not just with those around you, but also with yourself.

Why not start this year fresh and new?  After all, that’s what Jesus came to offer you – a fresh start.  So why not take Him up on His offer?  I can tell you from personal experience that it is definitely worthwhile.


From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Luke 2:20

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.                    NKJV

The subject of the shepherd’s praise should be our focus as well this season.  Christmas is not about presents, and decorations, and feasting, and football; it is about Christ Jesus, the Savior.

The shepherds praised God for what they had heard—for the good tidings of great joy that a Savior was born unto them. Let us copy them; let us also raise a song of thanksgiving that we have heard of Jesus and His wonderful salvation.

The shepherds also praised God for what they had seen. Likewise, we should praise God for what we have experienced, for what He has changed within us, what we have made our own through trusting in Him as our personal Savior. It is not enough to hear about Jesus: mere hearing may tune a harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music. If you have seen Jesus with the God-given sight of faith, do not allow cobwebs of doubt to linger among the harp strings, but awaken your harp and loudly praise God for His saving grace.

One point for which the shepherds praised God was the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen. Notice the last part of the sentence—“As it was told them.” Haven’t you found the gospel to be in yourselves just what the Bible said it would be? Jesus said He would give you rest—haven’t you enjoyed the sweetest peace in Him? He said you should have joy, and comfort, and life through believing in Him—haven’t you received all of these? Aren’t His ways ways of pleasantness, and His paths paths of peace? Surely you can say with the queen of Sheba, “The half was not told me.” I have found Jesus even sweeter than all His disciples ever said He was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I looked upon Jesus’ likeness as they painted it, but it was a mere paint smear compared with Himself; for the King in his beauty outshines all imaginable loveliness. . . .  Let us, then, glorify and praise God for a Savior so precious, and so satisfying.                    Charles H. Spurgeon

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 16:9

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.            NKJV

Mary Magdalene was the victim of a terrible evil . She was possessed by not just one demon, but seven. These dreadful fallen angels caused much pain and filth to her poor body in which they had taken up residence. Hers was a horrible and hopeless case. She could not rescue herself, nor could any human attempt at deliverance save her. But Jesus passed that way, and unsought, and likely even resisted by the poor demon possessed woman, He spoke a word of power, and Mary Magdalene became the beneficiary of the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ . All seven of the demons departed from her body, never to return, forcibly cast out by the omnipotent Lord of all creation. What a blessed deliverance! What a joyful transformation! From possession to peace, from despair to delight, from hell to heaven!

Immediately after her deliverance, Mary became a constant follower of Jesus, listening for His every word, following in His wondering path, sharing in the trials of His life; and in all things she became His generous helper, first among that band of healed and grateful women who ministered unto Him with whatever possessions they had. When Jesus suffered on the cross, Mary remained at Calvary.  We find her looking on from a distance, and then drawing near to the foot of His cross. She could not die on the cross with Jesus, but she stood as near to it as she could, and when His crucified body was taken down, she watched to see how and where it was laid to rest. She was the faithful and watchful believer, last at the tomb where Jesus body was deposited, first at the grave from which He arose. Her exceeding faithfulness made her a favored beholder of her beloved Lord, who called her by her name, and made her His messenger of good news  to the trembling Apostles.

Grace found Mary Magdalene a maniac and made her a minister, cast out demons and gave her to behold angels, delivered her from Satan, and united her forever to the Lord Jesus. May I also be such a miracle of grace!            Charles H. Spurgeon

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 16:6-7

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”                NKJV

The words of the angel to these women contain the answer to all the skepticism of over twenty centuries. For the things that the angel said to them answers most of the claims that have ever been raised in questioning the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. The first thing the angel said was, “This Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and whom you seek, has been raised from the dead.” Many of the attempts to explain this away say that the women went to the wrong tomb or that they found the wrong person. This ridiculous assertion is refuted here by the words of the angel who says to the women, “This very same Jesus who you knew from Nazareth, who was crucified, whom you saw die on the cross, this very same Jesus is risen from the dead.

Then the angel said to them, “He is not here.” That is, He is not only risen; He is not here. And in those words he makes clear that, though Jesus is risen, there is nevertheless a real tie with our humanity. He is not just a spirit. This is not a spiritual resurrection but a bodily resurrection. It was the physical body of Jesus that rose from the dead. There are cults today who claim that what happened was that the spirit of Jesus rose, and He now lives spiritually only. But the Bible declares that it was the dead body that was put into the grave, which also rose from the dead. He is not here. He is a human person with a human body—changed, yes—but still human. And in that human body He rose from the dead.

The third thing the angel says is put in these extraordinary words found only in Mark account of the gospel: But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you into Galilee.’ What a wonderful touch and a gentle, tender word this is! The last time we saw Peter in this gospel account, he was standing in the courtyard of the high priest during the trial of Jesus. And a servant girl kept following him around, saying, “I know you. You were with Him, weren’t you?” Peter kept denying it. He went out into the darkness of the night, weeping bitterly. What a tender thing it is for the angel to say to these women, Go and tell the disciples and Peter that He goes before you to into Galilee. It puts him right back into the apostolic group.

We see that Jesus is available to individuals—not just to the crowd at large, not just to the world in general, or the church as a group, but to you individually. You can put your own name in there. This accessibility to each individual has been the hallmark of Christianity ever since Jesus’ resurrection.

Each one of us can know Him personally, intimately—not just as a figure of history nor as a coming king nor in a general sense, as we know about the president of the United States, but in that close, personal, real, conscious sense of knowing that we share in the most intimate human communion.                    Ray Stedman

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Psalm 147:3-4

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.                        NKJV

This psalm should make us stop to consider more deeply the infinite creative power of God. He created all of the celestial bodies including all of the stars and He knows their exact number. In late 2003 astronomers discovered what they call “the largest structure in the observable universe.” The Sloan Great Wall is a giant wall of galaxies with a total length of 1.37 billion light years. This so-called super-cluster includes at least 11 galaxies and 18 quasars containing hundreds of billions of stars. Certainly an amazing discovery made even more astounding when we read in this psalm that God has a name for every object in every one of the galaxies in that super-cluster. But even that thought pales beside the greater truth that this same God actually cares about each (compared to Him, insignificant) person on this tiny blue speck that we call Earth.

God is in the business of healing broken and wounded hearts. Maybe this evening it would be a good reminder of how glorious God is if each of us would step outside into the night air and simply look up for a few minutes at the 10,000 or so stars that we can see with our naked eyes. The wonder of God’s vast creation will help lead us to praise the Creator for who He is and how much He cares for us. The Creator of the cosmos is also the Great Physician who lovingly attends to our individual needs when we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

It doesn’t matter how complex our problem or heavy our burden God Almighty, the One who spoke galaxies into existence, has power enough to meet our every need today.              
Ed Rea