While some look at the events of the past 11 months as tragic, I’m looking to see the opportunities in the midst of the discomfort, pain and inconvenience.
This isn’t always easy. Pain has a way of clouding our vision and judgement. However, please be aware of the reality that you are not the only one hurting. As a follower of Christ, while we hurt and grieve, we have HOPE!
It’s possible you have friends, co-workers or classmates who are in desperate need of that hope. Please be watching and praying for opportunities to infuse life, hope and God’s grace into your next conversation. You might be surprised how God can use that moment.
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6 NLT)
You gotta tell somebody!
After taking this surfer’s picture, we exchanged information. Sure enough, he posted it on his instagram profile the next day. When something good happens, or in this case is captured, we HAVE to share it!
Watching good surfers always reminds me of a simple truth in life. We don’t often change our circumstances (the things that happen to us), but we can learn to go with the flow and let the power of the wave take us to new places.
When life hits hard, look for God’s movement, His will, and take that for a ride. When God brings good out of our pain, people will actually ask us about it. So…be ready to tell them the Good News!
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
I need others to help share my struggles. I’m a believer we were wired that way by our Creator so that we’d never be truly independent…of Him or others. We have a strong sense of individualism in America, but maybe there’s a better way to do life. Maybe what God is leading us to is simply inter-dependence.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy some alone time, but not ALL the time!
Lyndon Johnson once said, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.”
Many times I’m shooting (photography) by myself, but it’s always much more enjoyable capturing the beauty of God’s creation with someone with whom I can share the experience.
Life is like that. We have lots to do, capture and experience, but it’s always going to be better with a friend.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)
What’s the big deal???
I understand things are weird with Covid. Church attendance in-person is down across the country. Fortunately, we do have online options. However, the following quote comes more out of a current (in the last decade for sure) attitude towards church attendance/involvement.
“Some of you may have tried church and have given up (if not literally, perhaps emotionally), because you were receiving a minimal return on you investment of precious time. Some of you stopped attending, not because you were against church but because you found its impact not significant enough to make the short list of activities for which you had time. I suspect you may be more ambivalent toward church than against it—a reasonable attitude if you see church as merely another world to manage. Yet, the writings of Scripture lead one to conclude that God intends the church, not to be one more bolt on the wheel of activity in our lives, but the very hub at the center of one’s life and community.” -The Connecting Church, Randy Frazee
Maybe we’ve lost the importance of this gathering because we ONLY consider what WE can GET out of it…
Instead…we need to keep asking what we can give.
- Maybe today…someone else needed your encouragement.
- Maybe today…someone else needed your hug.
- Maybe today…someone else needed your prayer.
- Maybe today…someone else needed your reassurance.
- Maybe today…someone else needed your laughter, smile, high five!
Yes, we’re online for those who are vulnerable or have family members who are, but we are IN PERSON in all of our weekend services. Maybe it’s time to join us…not because you need it, but because others need you!
“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25 MSG)
Bankrupt without Love!
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 MSG)
Now I want you to see this LOVE as it connects to our commitments at Community.
Every Day with Jesus: Because of our love, we long to spend time WITH Him in His word.
Practical Love: Introduce Him to others. We’re so in love…we want them to experience a life-giving relationship with Jesus!
Intentional Ministry: Love for Jesus pours over into love for others…in practical ways of ministry and service.
Comprehensive Investment: There is giving without love, but there is no love without giving. People in love are generous with those they love!
Consumed…in the right way
“The goal of the gospel is to produce a type of people consumed with passion for God and love for others. We certainly don’t seem to have that right. A Christianity that does not have as its primary focus the deepening of passions for God is a false Christianity, no matter how zealously it seeks conversions or how forcefully it advocates righteous behavior. Being converted to Jesus is not just about learning to obey some rules. Being converted to Jesus is learning to so adore God that we would gladly renounce everything we have to follow Him.” -J. D. Greear, Book: Gospel
I came across this quote about a year ago. I recently went back to it because I was looking at what I was teaching right before the pandemic hit.
Now I’m wondering. We’ve been so consumed with everything Covid related. I hope we can say we’re even more consumed with a deepening passion for knowing God…and making Him known to others!
“Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV)
Never stop learning
When I started into photography I visited what I like to call “YouTube University.” Seriously, there is so much there, and not just about photography. I learned how to fix my garage door opener, disposal in my house, … You get the idea.
Photography was more than just knowing about how my camera works. It was about composition, editing, and so much more. In fact, I’m still learning all the time.
While I have learned a bunch from YouTube, I enjoy learning from my friends even more. I love hanging out with other photographers. I ask questions and watch how they do things. One of these friends you see in the image is Jay. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see us doing some stuff together.
Now you can apply this to any hobby, but more importantly, you can apply it to your walk with Jesus. It’s why we regularly emphasize the importance of Rooted groups and LifeGroups. We need other people in our lives who can teach us, encourage us, show us and simply help us learn more and more about how to do life with Jesus as our Lord.
Now, find some people who will help you…and starting hanging out with them!
“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” (Proverbs 9:9 NLT)
Forgiving is Essential
As I’ve been working on this next weekend’s message I’ve been thinking a lot about these words of Jesus in Matthew 6.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)
Like it or not. We need to forgive others. We HAVE to forgive others.
Fortunately, as deep as the wounds can go, God is right there to help us through this process.
Please be praying for our weekend services. There’s a lot of healing about to happen!
This past weekend at Community we were taking about cooperating with God in the changes He wants to bring to our lives. We’re working on our character flaws, sin and habits that do not honor Him.
I ended with these verses and wanted you to have a moment to read through…and pray through them as you start your week.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)
Whatever the world throws our way, we are in this together. Being united doesn’t always come easy, but it’s always worth the effort.
From personal experience I’ve noticed when unity and togetherness are struggling, usually pride is in the mix.
Lets all commit these following verses to our heart, life, experience and relationships. Then, TOGETHER, we can seriously make a difference.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)
We live in a world where even Burger King tells us we can have it “our way.” While that’s nice and convenient in many ways and for many things, it just doesn’t work that way in the most important area.
God offers us salvation through what Jesus did for us. There’s not a smorgasbord of different viable options we get to choose from, taking bits from this one and chunks from another.
There is simply THE OPTION. Take some time today to thank Jesus for all He has and continues to do for your salvation.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)
This past weekend we had more people take the plunge and go public with their commitment to Jesus as the Lord of the lives! It’s always a joy to see people get baptized!!
As I reflected on the weekend, these verses came to mind:
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NLT)
Now that you said you’re “ALL IN”… (Part 3)
Here’s one more in our look at the NEXT STEPS to take when we’re ready to be ALL IN with Jesus…
But first, did you notice social media blowing up Monday with it SNOWING in Hemet? Maybe, like me you posted pics/videos and texted my friends in other places saying, “LOOK AT THIS!” After all, snow in Hemet is not an every-Winter kinda sight. Right? We have to tell others!
Now that leads us in to today’s blog. WE HAVE TO TELL OTHERS!
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’” (John 1:45 NIV)
After finding Jesus, the first thing Philip did was find his friend and tell him about Jesus.
So, who are you telling?
When we go all in, we just HAVE to tell other people what Jesus has done for us!
Now with so many watching online, even if you can’t “bring them with you to church”, you can share church with them! Here are two ways you can do that:
1. Send them the link to watch us LIVE on Sunday mornings on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CommunityHemet
2. Send them the link to watch the message on our website: https://community.cc/messages/
Now that you said you’re “ALL IN”… (Part 2)
Continuing our closer look at the NEXT STEPS to take when we’re ready to be ALL IN with Jesus…
The Bible makes it clear one of our big next steps is getting baptized. In the Bible, those who chose to follow Jesus were baptized.
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:37-38 NIV)
In our weekend services this coming Thursday evening at 6:30pm and Sunday morning at 9 & 10:45am we’ll be all set up for you to take this plunge! ALL IN!!
If you’re ready to do this, please show up 15 minutes early and check in with one of our greeters to let us know you’re here and ready to go!
This brings up another next step…TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Use your baptism as a great excuse to invite your friends and family. Who knows, they might want to know more after the’ve been in one of our weekend services!!
Now that you said you’re “ALL IN”…
Many of you took a stand this past weekend (Thursday night or Sunday morning) and declared you are ALL IN! I’m so proud of you!!
Last Friday I said there are three next steps that will be a huge help to us in this decision. This week I want to spend a little more time on each of those three steps.
Let me begin by talking about how you could be reading through the book of John. Each day as you read, be looking for these things…
- Claims of Jesus. The book of John is filled with Jesus’ claims in the form of “I AM…”. You’ll see them, and when you do, notice what Jesus is helping you understand about Himself.
- Interactions with Jesus. Watch how He treats people, even the ones that are seriously messed up. Watch the gentle, loving way He deals with people.
There’s more there, but just paying attention to these two things will help you get to know Jesus even better. Enjoy the journey!
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31 NIV)
When we say YES to Jesus’ incredible invitation, we are ready to truly shift to a New Normal!
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
When we say YES, here are a few next steps…
- Get baptized. In the Bible, those who chose to followed Jesus were baptized.
- Start readying through the book of John. You don’t have to read it all in one day. But spend some time EVERY day with Jesus, getting to know Him better.
- Tell someone else what you’ve decided. Tell another Christian so they can support and pray for you. Tell someone who may not know Jesus yet, so they’ll want to know more.
INAUGURATION DAY… Our call to pray!
While the events leading up to our Inauguration Day have been…different, we have a clear duty today.
As followers of Jesus, our role in today’s proceedings is simple. PRAY!
And this call is not just for today, but for each day we want God to work on this great Country.
Don’t stop with our new President, but pray for our local authorities, city councils, state leaders and Governors.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV)
Better than Hate!
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
As we’ve entered 2021 it seems there is more hate, more finger pointing, more division than ever.
As followers of Christ, what should we do in the midst of it all?
I understand we all have our beliefs and convictions, but many of those things are not truly “essential”. This week I want to deal with what is essential for every Christ-follower as we navigate this season of politics, racism and hate in general.
We should take our stand. We should share our viewpoints. However, the moment we move into a conversation with anger and hatred…we’ve lost.
In fact, if you care more about a persons political affiliation more than their relationship with Jesus…you’ve lost.
“Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
Ever wonder why?
Ever wonder why I use a verse or verses from God’s Word in every blog? Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway.
I have nothing you need. On my best day, my wisdom is never going to be enough. However, if I can get you into the Word of God…you’ll find all that you need.
Dig deep my friends. It’s refreshing, convicting, hope-filled, correcting…and all in love from our Father.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
What’s the Point?
I’m sure we’ve all asked WHY about a thousands times in the past several months. Why things happen is one question. What’s the point of it all…is another?
What is the point? What is my purpose? Why am I here…now…?
If you’ve been asking any of these questions lately, please go to the One who made you for those kinds of answers. He knows you and loves you and has had His eye on you for your whole life!
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” (Ephesians 1:11-12 MSG)
Keep on Keeping on
The Country is not the only one under the gun right now. The Church is also at a critical point. With nearly 10 months of figuring out how to do church during this pandemic, we can’t forget WE ARE THE CHURCH.
Too much of the time we’re talking about being open or online or in person… (which are conversations we need to have) but, we need to be able to still BE the church throughout the week, regardless of how/when we meet.
So, as crazy as things are in our world today, we all would definitely benefit from the CHURCH being right out in the mix sharing Christ’s love, grace and hope.
It may be a bizarre season, but do not get tired of doing what is good! There will be a harvest!!
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
The events of this past week in our Nation’s Capitol have left me feeling a bit discouraged. I’ve watched now for months as those who take peaceful protest to a very violent and destructive end simply serve to embarrass us as a nation. People from all sides and all ideologies have turned to hate as the answer. And yet…when is it ever right for us followers of Jesus to HATE? Never!
Jesus said the PEACEMAKERS are those who will be blessed. So, I want to encourage you to keep praying, keep loving, keep sharing the love of Jesus with EVERYONE you meet.
While you’re doing that…don’t stress about all the other stuff. Here’s why…
“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:1-7 NLT)
God often has a different view of success than we do in America. However, if we align our lives with His definition, we’ll always be better off.
In this verse, God is showing us how to really succeed. It has nothing to do with our job/career or our money. It has to do with coming clean.
“You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you. ” (Proverbs 28:13 GNB)
When you’re upset, it’s not always helpful for someone to say, “CHILL OUT!” However, it might be exactly what you need to do.
As we turn the page and move into 2021, there will be things that surprise and even upset us. How we handle those things can not only help us, it can help many who are watching!
Let this promise be a reminder to you that it’s not all ON YOU. God’s got this. So just follow Him into the unknown.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? … Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:1 & 14 NLT)
What a Promise!
First of all, I’ll be taking a break next week and I’ll see you again with the blog in 2021!!
Now, I’d just like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours. Thank you for following my blog and walking through another year (a very weird year) with me.
May God bless you as we enter another season of life. No doubt 2021 will bring many unexpected things, but one thing we can always count on is this: GOD IS WITH US!
We were told the good news at the first Christmas, and now God’s promise rings true as we enter another year.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23 NLT)
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Jesus (Matthew 28:20b NLT)
It might be impossible for any of us to put ourselves completely in Mary’s shoes. The announcement from an angel gave Mary a mind and heart full of information. She would be the mother of the Messiah.
While we can’t imagine what it would be like to be her, we do know how she responded? She, for all of us, is the perfect example of how to respond when God calls us…
“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38 NLT)
Another Christmas Story!
While not the traditional Christmas story, the Apostle John starts with creation and then moves to the profound arrival of Jesus in a human body. I love the way The Message puts this text in everyday language.
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14 MSG)
The wait was over!
I absolutely love the fulfillment of prophecy that happens with Jesus’ arrival on the scene in human flesh. Over 300 prophecies would be fulfilled in His life on earth.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:22-23 NIV)
Behind the scene
Here’s a different way to begin the Christmas story.
As the Apostle John prepares to let us know that Jesus put on flesh and came onto the scene, he gives us this all-important behind the scene glimpse into the big picture.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:1-5 NLT)
Don’t wait for Christmas!
We’re only a handful of days away from Christmas, but you don’t have to wait until the actual day to let the Good News sink in.
The angels made this special announcement to the shepherds on that sacred night and now their words continue to ring true throughout the centuries. It is still good news that causes great joy.
God has a plan that includes you and me. Let that truth sink in today!
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. ” (Luke 2:10 NIV)
How cool is this???
God just can’t lie! Seriously. So, when He makes a promise…it’s good. You can count on it, because you can count on Him.
“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” (Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
As Christmas approaches I’ve just started working my way through Matthew chapter 1. It’s a list of the ancestors leading up to the birth of Jesus.
If you don’t already, come join me on this journey as Christmas approaches.
“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1 NLT)
Faith may be internal, but that doesn’t mean others don’t SEE it. When we walk with Jesus, we have this change happening in us which eventually shows up on the outside.
This life-changing relationship is founded on the firm foundation of God’s promises. When he makes a promise, we can count on it. That is called “confident hope,” and it changes everything!
Who doesn’t need this kind of hope in 2020??
“For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.” (Colossians 1:4-5 NLT)
When you see all that God has created you’re left with the reality of His power, His creativity, His shear size!
However, we should be left with more than that. We should also realize the plan behind the plan. The purpose of all this creativity. Truth is, God had you and me in mind BEFORE He made anything. He not only had us in mind, He wanted to bring us into His family. WOW.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT)
Start your day right
While I agree that the best time to have your quiet time is when you’re at your best…for me it’s worked out to be the FIRST THING OF THE DAY.
In the past year, while there have been fewer than 5 days total where I had to switch it to another time of day, I have loved the rhythm of starting every day with Him for years now.
Even if you can’t read first thing, begin talking to Jesus in prayer right out of the gate. Come to grips with the reality you can spend all day in His presence!!
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97 NIV)
Work hard because…
While, “God helps those who help themselves,” is NOT in the Bible, there is plenty in there about not being idle or lazy. In fact, the Bible often encourages us to do something productive so that we can not only take care of our family, but also to have something to share with those who are not able to care from themselves.
Additionally, there’s one more powerful reason why we are to be productive. When we carry our own weight with integrity and faithfulness, we gain the respect of those who we work with or live near.
A good work ethic is not just a good idea, it’s a part of our witness.
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT)
On Thanksgiving day, for my daily reading (Every Day With Jesus), I was in Matthew 27. It wasn’t the only chapter I read, but when I got to the crucifixion of Jesus, I thought how fitting it was.
Is there anything I’m more grateful, more thankful for? I don’t think so. With His death, he ripped that temple curtain that separated people from the presence of God. Now we have access to our God because the penalty of our sin has been paid for.
Thank you JESUS!!!
“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:50-51a NLT)
I can’t go through this week without saying thank you to all of you who follow this blog, most of whom go to Community. What a great church we have. What an amazing group of people!!!
So thank you for being such an encouragement to Michelle and I throughout the years.
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Philippians 1:3-6 MSG)
One DEBT I need!
While working our way through several Biblical principles for handling our money in our weekend services, we’ve been reminded over and over of the dangers of debt.
However, there is one debt that should continue to help us, guide us, and motivate us. It’s the debt of love we owe to each other.
This Thanksgiving week, could you take a moment and call or text a friend that has loved you and thank them for their investment in your life? I’m pretty sure you both will be happy you did!
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Proverbs 3:5-10 MSG)
Trust & …
The old hymn says to “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Trust is at the heart of this passage in Proverbs 3:5-10. When you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re ready to trust and obey!
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.” (Proverbs 3:5-10 MSG)
Our seasonal changes in Southern California are interesting. We can have Summer, Winter and Autumn all in the same week!
However these changes come for us, they are a reminder of the importance of change. They even remind us of the beauty of change. As temperatures drop and leaves change their colors, we know that Spring is also right around the corner.
Embrace the changes that 2020 have brought your way. I know many of them have been excruciating, but these changes have showed us some unique ways that God can work through these times…even in 2020.
Without focusing on the pain causing the change, take a moment and see any good that God has brought to you through the circumstances…and thank Him for being with you.
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7 NIV)
If 2020 has taught us anything, it has showed us the value of living a life of integrity. When the storm hits…and this year it sure has…we are able to weather the storm with our character intact.
Why is this important? It’s not only for our own benefit, but it’s for all those who are watching. And trust me, people are watching you!
I know my conversations are not always as gracious and attractive as I’d like, but this verse reminds me to never stop working on it. There’s just too much at stake!
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6 NLT)
Wise or Stupid?
While we are in our series at Community called, “Financial Freedom,” I want to share with you some of the verses I’ve been using so you can spend a little more time with them.
This one reflects the truth in today’s culture that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Or, as this proverb puts it, they spend it as fast as they get it.
There’s got to be a better way…AND THERE IS!
“Wise people live in wealth and luxury, but stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.” (Proverbs 21:20 GNB)
Why aren’t we ever happy, satisfied or content?
Our true satisfaction will only come from a deep and rich relationship with God made available by Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to have nice stuff. We just can’t afford to have our nice stuff have us!
“The one who loves money is never satisfied with money, Nor the one who loves wealth with big profits. More smoke.
The more loot you get, the more looters show up. And what fun is that—to be robbed in broad daylight?
Hard and honest work earns a good night’s sleep, Whether supper is beans or steak. But a rich man’s belly gives him insomnia.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 MSG)
The division runs deep
Oh, I’m not even talking about our Country and the divide between parties. I’m talking about the divide in our own heart. God is either #1…or He’s not.
I talked about it this weekend at Community, but money is the number 1 competitor for God in our lives. Our attention, affection, energy and dreams that should be focused on our God too easily get caught up in our pursuit of money and stuff.
Listen to Jesus words…and then ask God to help you be ALL IN with Him.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)
It doesn’t get any better
In my daily reading this week I again came to a familiar couple of verses in the book of Galatians. These verses give a powerful reminder that it’s impossible for us to “earn” our salvation by good deeds and keeping the law. Actually it says, if that was possible, Jesus died for nothing!
These verses also remind me of what it really means to “live for Christ.” I want my whole life, not just parts of it, to be lived in a way that honors the One who gave it all for me.
As we enter another weekend, can you simply take a moment and re-surrender ALL of your life to Him. Leave nothing out. Give Him everything. After all, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!!!
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:20-21 NLT)
A Country Divided
It didn’t take another election to help us see how divided our Nation is. It didn’t take reporters pointing out the obvious to be reminded how deep the divide feels. For me, however, I hope it’s all a wake up call for us to PRAY.
At the end of this passage in 1 Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul reminds us of God’s primary agenda. He wants everyone saved.
Please continue praying for our Nation, our leaders and…and neighbors. People will be led to God one at a time. Let’s all be loving and leading the next one into a relationship with Christ.
One last thing…whoever our Nation’s leader may be…we have ONE KING: JESUS!
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. ” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT)
God’s Creation Speaks Volumes
This past week I got to spend one whole day, from sun-up to sun-down, in Yosemite National Park. Just seeing this magnificent area reminds me of one of my favorite passages regarding God’s creation.
Watch for the connection between Creation and Christ. Then be in awe and realize this is why we worship Him!!!
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:15-17 NLT)
Over the years I’ve found that it’s increasingly important for me to have time alone. When you work with people all of the time, you need to be able to get your batteries charged. In reading my Bible I see Jesus getting away by Himself. Hey, if He needed it, how much more do I!?!?
That alone time needs to be constructive. It can be relaxing, but it also needs to be refueling. We’re not all the same, but I know we all need some alone time. However, I also know we are not made to do life alone. It’s unhealthy to be alone too much. We need others who can also help refuel our lives.
Who do you have that helps you get back on track? WHO??
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)
This past weekend we had 12 people take a stand and take the plunge to surrender their lives to Jesus. YES!
We are excited for and proud of each person who was baptized this past weekend at Community.
As a reminder, we do these anytime someone is ready. If you’re thinking about it, please let us know and we’ll help you with this amazing decision!
“That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.” (Romans 6:3-5 MSG)