As of this moment we are still planning on opening up the food pantry on Friday March 20th.
In John 1:1-18, we are blessed to have a beautiful prologue to one of the most compelling, life changing pieces of literature ever written: the gospel of John. John begins the Gospel with a powerful image: Jesus as the word. In the Greek the word, word, is logos. Logos is more than just a simple word spoken. Logos is a life changing, paradigm shifting word that gives power, word that brings truth, and word that equips the person to live their life to the fullest.
This text is a great reminder of God’s salvation history. 1) The word was with God in the beginning. This distinction is important because the Father and the Son are both God. The Son has the power and authority to create, forgive sins, and redeem humanity. The Word was with God and the Word is God.
2) The prologue continues by reminding us of the clear contrast between light and darkness. The darkness is shown in this text as really pervasive and extensive, however the great comfort and promise is found in the truth that the darkness will not overcome the light. What a great truth, no matter how hard, how challenging, how daunting, the darkness is it will never overcome the light.
3) Finally, in the prologue we see the goal of salvation: God becoming a human being. I love how Eugene Peterson translates John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” God is here. He’s not going anywhere, and we have that great promise and truth this Christmas.
Friends, one of the more challenging epistles in scripture is John’s Revelation. In this gripping narrative John the Apostle is blessed to see many revelations through the power of the Holy Spirit of what the end of time will look like. My encouragement for all of us is to know what this powerful text says, to allow the text to fill us with wisdom, and to use the text as a preview of what is to come. Here are a few things I want to highlight in John’s Revelation:
- Pay attention to the letters to the churches. In Revelation 2-3 we see seven letters written to the churches of Asia Minor these letters were written many believe between 93-96 AD. These letters contain an admonition, warning, promise, and observation, these letters all have very powerful teachings to say to the church. We are called to be hot, not lukewarm (3:16), aware that God knows our deeds (3:8), and to wake up and be observant (3:2). This is not just prophetic literature this is good advice to the church of today: in the present there are too many churches that care about buildings over outreach, traditions of the past rather than addressing necessary needs in the present, and would rather be inward focus than outward committed. Those are just a few actions of lukewarm churches. It is time to be on fire for our faith! One of the great truths is that God fully knows us, who we are, and what we’ve done. What a freeing thought!! We can be real, open, and authentic in the presence of God. You don’t have to have it all together, because God already does. Rest in that great knowledge today, and it is time to be real and open in God’s presence:)
Stay tune for more insight on the book of Revelation!!
Throughout the next several weeks in church we will be looking at the book of Revelation during our worship time. This challenging book is one that gives us a glimpse at the end of time, and it is a reminder for all believers as Billy Graham so eloquently says, “I’ve read the last page, and I know that we win.” This is a challenging text, I’m not going to lie, but it is a text that when we understand a few things it can make reading it a little easier.
- There will be great chaos, but God will never lose control. I’m constantly in awe of the great control of God. Many times I look at our world, and I shudder thinking that God is losing control amidst all of the chaos. But, He never does. God allows us complete freedom while never losing control. Rest easy in that thought my friends. There has never been a point in human history where God has ever lost control, and He certainly will not during the end of time.
- God knows you and God understands you. During the midst of living in the chaotic soon to be end of days, and if you read Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21 about the end of time it certainly seems we are there. My encouragement is for you never to forget that God knows you, He has a deep, loving knowledge of who you are. God knows your hopes and dreams, but He also knows your fears and disappointments. Even in the midst of your failures and your weakness, and I believe the end of time will bring about a lot of failure and weakness from many people who do love Jesus, please know God understands and is ready to restore you and to guide you in the paths of righteousness.
Friends, this is an amazing journey. Let us celebrate, learn, and grow together for God is about to do something great in and through our midst.
This Sunday we are so blessed to be able to conclude our series on discipleship here at Second Ave. Church. During this journey we’ve looked at Peter, John, Phillip, Nathanael, Judas, and we’ll conclude by looking at Paul. This series has shown us many things, both good and bad for us as God’s children to incorporate into our discipleship journey. Here are a few things to highlight in this post.
- God uses ordinary people. With the exception of the Apostle Paul, most of the disciples were not chosen on merit, but rather on faithfulness. Granted all the disciples of Jesus grew, were equipped, and well prepared to live out the Great Commission, when they were called they were normal, ordinary tradesmen. Wherever your station in life is at the moment rest assured God can and will use you!
- Faithfulness should be our measuring tool, not success. It is really hard to be an enthusiastic, committed disciple of Jesus Christ when you’re not seeing fruits from your labor. Look at your efforts through the lens of faithfulness. Are you showing up? Are you faithfully praying for your church, its leadership, and mission? Are you a committed spouse? Parent? Son or Daughter? Are you showing support and devotion to your family? Are you faithfully giving financially where you can? Faithfully giving your time when you can? If you answered yes to all or a few of those questions know that God is using you and will continue to use your faithfulness to expand and make the Kingdom more apparent.
- Go in grace! In the Gospels Jesus sends His disciples out on numerous occasions. We as the people of God are always called to go and change the world. You’re not called to look like the world, embrace the world’s values, think like the world thinks, or be found in the world. God has called you to go and change the world. Now, is the time to go:)
Friends, we need more people in our world today who love truth. Their is a dearth of people who believe in absolute truth as taught in the word of God and tradition of our church, and that is a problem. However, the good news is God is still on the throne, God is not shaken by any of this, and in the end as Billy Graham says so well, “I’ve read the last page of the book, and we win.” But, in the meantime as we desire to live into who we are as people who live to establish the Kingdom of God through the work of the Holy Spirit, what happens in the present? The good news is discipleship looks different for different people, but it all has the same end: a renewed love and passion to know and live for Jesus Christ.
- Learn to be obedient in small things. One of the most compelling stories in the gospels is Jesus telling the parable of the talents. In this text, three men are given a certain amount of talents. One man was given five, another two, and the last man was given just one talent. The understanding from the master who gave each man a certain amount of talents was that they would be obedient and acquire more talents through the talents they had been given. The first man doubles his talents and now has ten. The second does the same and now has four talents. The third man, tells the master that since he was afraid of him, he hides his talent in the ground.
Unfortunately, the master is furious with the third man over his laziness and disobedience, so he throws him out of his house into the darkness. The narrative ends on a chilling note, but it does have quite a bit we can learn from it: 1) You are blessed with gifts. You have a certain gift or for quite a few of us gifts that you are blessed with and can use to bring God glory. Use your gift. Use your gift to bless others, and you will be amazed at what God can do. 2) Obedience comes in using your God given gift. Obedience is often seen a negative light where someone is yelling at someone to obey them and listen. Obedience is positive. It is freeing. Obedience is best understood as using your spiritual gift (s) and living as your were created to be. Use your gift! 3) Encourage others to use their gifts as well. The third man in this text was afraid and uncertain, wouldn’t it have been amazing if he had good people that came along side and encouraged him to use his talent? I know this story is a parable, but it symbolizes a lot of real life scenarios, we need good people to encourage others to use their gifts for the glory of God.
Encourage someone today. Believe in someone today. Pray for someone today.
Friends, we are children of the Resurrection. We worship on Sunday because that was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. But, what does living into the resurrection look like in the hear and now? Here are a few things to consider:
- For Resurrection to occur something has to die. That’s one of the toughest things for us to wrap our minds around, many times we as human beings want the joy of resurrection without having to have anything die. My encouragement is to die to yourself, die to your desires, die to your wants, die to your hopes, and dreams. But, allow God to resurrect His dreams, allow God to fill your heart with what His heart cares about. Resurrection only works when something dies.
- Vocalize progress. Living into the resurrection is a process. Many times people take big steps, but for a lot of people the process is much slower. But celebrate and vocalize progress. Celebrate when someone has a spiritual victory. Rejoice with them in victory, learn to offer ways to improve, but be very intentional about celebrating success.
- Finally, be present with people. Be with them in good times or bad. Pray with them. Love them. Encourage them. Life is meant to be together with people. Be with them.
In our journey through the book of Ruth this month, one of the most common themes is this journey from grief, hurt, confusion, loss, towards joy. Essentially, how do we as human beings move towards the blessing and promise? That is an easy question to ask, but it can be a particularly hard question to understand. I hope the ideas below help to bring some clarity.
- Understand your situation. One of the most common mistakes we make is to not fully understand why we’re in the tough situation we find ourselves in currently. Wrestle with and try to understand where you may be at fault, and begin to understand the smaller decisions that led to the current moment of trouble. The hurt and pain you are experiencing more than likely you had some part to play in it. Now, I’m not saying that you have to beat yourself up, but it is important to understand how you arrived at the moment you’re experiencing. So, understand, learn, and grow from the situation.
- In Ruth the answer is present, but it is not one that many like to hear: Ruth works and Ruth takes a big risk. Ruth shows that move forward in life many times prayer and hard work are the answer. I love what renowned author and preacher Charles Spurgeon says, “Work as though it all depended on you, but pray as it all depended on God.” Let’s learn how to work hard at work, in our relationships, in our home, and in our love and admiration for God. Ruth in chapter 3 takes a big risk by lying at Boaz’s feet. A foreign woman was not supposed to do this. But, Ruth takes a risk, trusts Naomi’s idea, and in the end is redeemed and now has a home and a family. Don’t get me wrong, risks do have inherit risks and can fail. But, we serve a God who desires His children to risk and step out in faith. So, don’t be afraid. Trust in the promise of God, and know that God will provide.
- Ruth is patient. Boaz drops quite a bombshell on her in chapter 3: someone else is closer to redeem you than I. Ruth returns to Naomi in the end of chapter 3, and she is instructed quite simply to be patient as Boaz will complete it all today. Friends in your journey be patient. God will show up and lead you to where you need to go.
I do apologize I’m not a super prolific blog writer. I hope to become much better:) Friends, we have been on an amazing journey through the book of Ruth these past two weeks and will finish up here in the next two weeks. If you haven’t been on this journey with us you are invited to come and experience what God is doing through this powerful story of pain, loss, drama, heartbreak, and ultimately redemption and faithfulness. God is good. God is faithful. The story of Ruth reminds us of that in powerful ways. Here are a few things to remember.
- Pain and loss are part of life’s journey. Ruth and Naomi in this powerful story endure heartbreak, pain, loss, and death in ways that many of us have experienced. The picture here is a reminder that even in the midst of loss and grief God is with you. You don’t have feel alone or abandoned. Now, in the moment of trial it can seem easy to forget how much and how great God loves you. But, we’re reminded in this story how God provides and how God takes tough situations and brings about great blessing for those who remain faithful. Wherever you find yourself at you’ll need to trust God, and let your trust be great and unconditional. Trust God to help heal your past, make sense of your present, and guide your future. Regardless of your situation, trust God and know that He is for you.
- People are many times what God uses to answer prayers. I challenge you to really wrestle with this notion: what are the instruments or the tools that God uses to answer prayers? Now, I believe in a powerful, big God who can use and do anything He pleases. However, God chooses many times to use people to answer prayers. When we pray for healing God sends people in our lives to encourage, comfort, and bless us. When we pray for wisdom God has a way of bringing people to us who often have great and wise things to say. One of the primary ways God answers prayers is through people. As chapter 2 unfolds I encourage you to see that Boaz is a redeemer, family member, but also an answer to Naomi and Ruth’s prayer. Boaz is generous, kind, and willing to give Ruth a chance. This week I challenge you to be generous, be kind, and give someone a chance. You’ll be amazed at how God can open doors.
Friends, what a joy it was yesterday to walk with the women to the tomb and find it out that it was in fact empty! Christ has Risen! Those three words are words of love, words of hope, and words of life. But, I don’t want us to hear those words and think they bare no meaning in the present. Those aren’t just good words of the past or a hope for the future. Rather the words, He has Risen, are for us now. Here are a few ways that we as God’s people can live faithfully into the resurrection.
- Being kind and being grateful
One of the main characteristics people should always say of Christians is they are kind and grateful people. Sadly, that is not always the case. Living into the Resurrection helps us see life as God only always intended it to be. We as humans are loved and precious. When we live life through the lens of the resurrection we see ourselves as God intended and that changes everything and allows us to be kind even when we find it difficult. Living into the Resurrection allows us to look at life and be incredibly grateful, because life makes more sense through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let’s strive as God’s people to always hold and challenge each other to live into the Resurrection, so we can be a church and the people of God that the world can see are kind and grateful.
2) Brings peace in the midst of death.
Death is one of the most scary, uncertain times for people. The sad reality is we all have been affected by the death of a loved one. Without the Resurrection of Jesus, the reality is there is not much comfort or hope. But, since Christ has been raised from the dead, and that is one of the most verified facts in human history, we have the hope, peace, and comfort knowing that are loved ones who have died have been raised to be with Christ. What happened to Jesus that first Easter Sunday will in fact happen to us as well! When we live into the Resurrection it will bring peace in the midst of death.
Friends, we live in a world that is looking for hope, looking for understanding, and looking for something to believe in, let’s be a people that live into the Resurrection both now and forevermore.
We are coming to a Sunday in our church calendar that is filled with emotion, memory, and wonder. On Sunday November 5th we are going to be celebrating a day where we remember all the amazing men and women who passed away from last All Saint’s Day.
We will remember their witness, their love, their generosity, and their testimony for Jesus Christ on this side of eternity. All Saint’s Day is a day of celebration and a remembrance that the faith of many in the past has set our church up for the present and will prepare our church for the future.
So get ready to celebrate, to remember, and to know that it is because of the Saints of that our faith is strong. Use the day to learn, to remember, and to share stories. Please contact the church office to ensure that we have your loved one’s name recorded on the official list.
Over the past few weeks our messages have taken us to the book of Daniel where we’ve asked a tough question, “In the midst of trying, chaotic times can we as followers of Jesus live fearlessly? If so what does that look like?” To be honest, the only person who did it perfectly was Jesus Christ, Himself, but lots of good examples Biblical and throughout history have come close. Here are just a few take away points from our journey:
- God has to have first place in your life.
One common theme throughout scripture is that God doesn’t like to be in second place. God doesn’t just deserve first place, in fact He is deserves every place and every moment of our being. Daniel’s story is a great example of how we can make sure that God always retains first place in our lives.
Daniel turns down the King’s choice wine and meats in Daniel 1 to stay pure to the dietary restrictions he knew following Yahweh. Daniel steps out in faith to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, giving God the glory and sparing many, many lives of the wise men of the Kingdom. His mind and heart are focused on lifting up Yahweh and making Him great above all earthly pleasures, comforts, or even people thinking well of him. Daniel is a great example of how to give God first place in your life.
2. A second reality is to be the same person at all times.
This can be very difficult. I struggle with being the same and genuine quite a bit, because there are people who push my buttons, people who say one thing and do another, and people who we flat out disagree with, I’m inclined to believe that authenticity and genuineness is a struggle for most people, not all people, but most. Daniel even in the midst of great political unrest, Nebuchadnezzar running into the fields and becoming somewhat wild and deranged, he never loses sight of who he is and never stops being real and authentic in the story.
Pastor Levi Lusko had a great word to remind us how to stay the same person at all times, he says that when we know who Jesus is, our identity becomes very apparent. Meaning if we know Jesus is the great shepherd, there’s no doubt we are in fact a sheep. Daniel knew Yahweh was a God of love and grace and his protector. Daniel knew God could be trusted and that shaped all of his time in Babylon. Know who God is and who you are will become apparent.
3. Don’t be afraid to jump in the water.
My daughter is a three year old diva. She is three probably going on fourteen. But, she does have certain things she is afraid of. We are working with her at being able to jump into the pool without being afraid. We’ve always told her that Mommy or Daddy will catch her, but she’s afraid of having her head under water, afraid she won’t be caught, and the list can go on. We as humans are great at making lists, but after awhile she jumped, she was caught, and she loved it!
This life is an amazing adventure, don’t be afraid to jump into something unknown, because God will catch you and be with you through it all.
Our recent sermon series has been very rewarding on the Holy Spirit. It has been very fulfilling and rewarding to dive into a study where we examine, observe, and learn a lot about the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in our day and time. Here are a few things for us to take away and continue for us to be talking about:
- The Holy Spirit is still working.
This has been one of the overarching themes in our entire series. The Holy Spirit is still working in our day and time. When Christ the spirit of truth would come (John 14:16), Christ never said that the Spirit was coming temporarily rather that this Spirit would come until the Second Coming. Friends, the Holy Spirit is still working and moving in our world in big ways and small ways.
Relationships being restored, addicts being pulled out of addiction, marriages being healed, angry hearts being filled with compassion, and forgiveness being offered are just a few examples of the Holy Spirit’s continual work in our lives. We won’t always understand, like, or even agree with the Holy Spirit does but we do know that everything He does is good and gives Christ the glory. Be in awe and amazed that Christ is still working.
2. The Holy Spirit helps our hearts become more like Jesus.
One of the biggest goals of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives is for us to become more and more like Jesus every day. The Holy Spirit is one of the biggest factors in Christians moving further and further on their path of discipleship. Moving in our discipleship journey often involves using our spiritual gifts, bearing spiritual fruit, and being able to use the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to determine what is Biblical and theologically sound.
This is a process that the Holy Spirit looks to finish in all of our lives. Some of us move very slowly and others mature much faster. The key is not the rate of spiritual maturity, but the fact that we are maturing more and more all the time. The Holy Spirit is excellent at helping people mature as disciples of Jesus Christ, so trust in His ability to help you become more and more like Jesus as you bear spiritual fruit.
3. The Holy Spirit will never fully be understood but can be trusted.
A proper dose of fear is appropriate when viewing the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person who is powerful, mighty, and can be far greater than our wildest hopes and dreams. His power is infinite, but I firmly believe His love is greater. If there are questions you have in regards to the Holy Spirit that’s okay. Fully being able to understand the Holy Spirit would put Him down on our level as a human being, and human beings aren’t worthy of our worship only God is. You can trust the Holy Spirit. He loves you, wants to use your gifts and skills in mighty ways, and will continue to move and work in our fallen, broken world.
Church, we have a brand new series coming out starting this Sunday. It is only a two week series, but I will tell you the series more than likely will return in the future. We are looking at heroes of our Christian faith. Now, I will say it is impossible to choose everyone, because our faith has had some giants come before us. However, who we have chosen are two people who can teach us, inspire us, and remind of our task in 2017: to pass our faith on to the next generation. Here are a few things to remember as we begin our time.
- Faith is an art not a science.
It is true that there is only way to receive salvation, and it is only through the saving blood of Jesus Christ. However, when we begin to live our faith out it will look drastically different for different people, because we all have different gifts. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or a missionary, but we all are called to be committed. We all are called to zealously pursue a loving, intimate relationship with Jesus every day of the week, not just Sunday morning.
Bloom where you’re planted, do what you’re gifted at and what brings you joy, and above all serve the Lord with gladness and thanksgiving. God will use people who are obedient to do some amazing things in this life. We all have different gifts, and when we use them toward the glory of God the Kingdom expands on earth.
2. We are part of an amazing story that will continue.
God’s salvation story predates us, and it will continue after us. We live in an amazing story, and God is just looking for us to play a small part in a narrative that brings Him the honor and the glory. Be blessed in also knowing that you and I know the end of the story. God wins. There is no better peace than that my friends. But, for a lot of us we still wait, and we know the end is not here yet.
I just want to remind you of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Hold fast friends, the end is coming, but just not yet. In the meantime let’s make this one of the best chapters ever in God’s salvation story.
One of the most challenging areas in our spirituality is to live for Jesus everyday, all the time. It’s easy to be on fire and passionate about your faith when you are on a mission trip, a retreat, during a major holiday, or a big personal event in your life such as a wedding and even a funeral. But, during the mundane ordinary moments of our lives, does our faith suffer in the ordinary times? For many of us even myself, I think that answer is a resounding yes! The question remains how do we prepare and not succumb to the spiritual lull of the ordinary times? Here are a few suggestions.
- Don’t See the Resurrection as just an Easter Event.
The enemy desires to strip the power and importance from the Resurrection. Nothing would make the enemy happier than to silence our mouths about the Resurrection on 51 Sundays out of the year. The Resurrection is any every day celebration and every day reality. When we wake up in the morning we can arise with hope, when our heart continues to beat day in and day out we can thank Jesus for the life we’ve been blessed with, and when our heart stops beating one day we can have the assurance and hope that we will be physically resurrected as well.
The Resurrection changes everything. It is the Christian’s message, hope, source of comfort, source, of power, and moment of victory. Don’t just put it on one Sunday out of the entire year.
2. Serve and Grow in your Faith in Areas of Life you Enjoy
God is calling us to a life of fulfillment and purpose. In so doing God is looking to use people in areas where they are already gifted to help build the Kingdom. If you enjoy opening your home to others, look to begin a Bible study, or have someone over for dinner who doesn’t receive many invitations. If you enjoy fishing look to begin to make friendships and relationships with those who fish at a similar lake, God will use these friendships to open up conversations about spirituality. If you enjoy to teach, look to sign-up to teach or help a Sunday school class. Church, the list is endless, you will find much enjoyment and satisfaction in your life when you use what you’re gifted in as a ministry for the Kingdom.
3. This One is Self Explanatory: Find Effective Meaningful Worship
God is powerful enough to be worshiped in many ways. Look to worship God and connect with Him all the time. We often lose our way when we only seek to worship God for one hour on Sunday morning. Look for ways that feel authentic and meaningful to you to worship God, and you will be blessed and strengthened in the ordinary moments of life.