Sound The Alarm

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Joel 2:1 (NLT)

Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the LORD is upon us.

In my nearly 20 years of ministry I’ve never really considered myself a “Hell, Fire, and Brimstone” preachers. My preference has always been to focus on God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. However, there are times when we need to warn people that a life of sin results in some dire consequences. For example a life of alcohol and drug abuse can have some substantial effects to our bodies. Yet there are other ramifications to a life of sin, and there are eternal. It’s a nice thought that all of us no matter what we do in our lives we go to heaven when we die, but the Bible paints for us a completely different picture. Scripture is very clear that a life filled with sin and rebellion against God results in an eternity in hell. Now I know that people don’t life to hear about hell, nor do they want to talk about it, but it is a reality for those who refuse to repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their Savior. Another thing that Scripture is clear about is that we as believers have a responsibility to warn people about hell. For example, the Prophet Ezekiel tells us, “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ 11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die” (Ezek. 33:10-11). Just a few verses before this the Lord warns Ezekiel the consequences for him if he doesn’t tell them, “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezek. 33:7-9). So we as believers have a responsibility to warn others about the consequences of not accepting Christ. Are you being a faithful messenger of God’s truth?

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Dealing With The Problem

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

 In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.” He goes on to say, “It is revival without reformation, without repentance.” The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. ’By their fruits you shall know them’ is as applicable to the right method of judging ourselves as of judging others. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. Do you have a hold on the sin in your life or does it have a hold of you?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

It’s Not Too Late

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Luke 2:6-7 (NLT)

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.  7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

 Those of you who have been with us for our morning worship services know that I have been preaching a Christmas series based on Max Lucado’s book Because of Bethlehem. This is an expert from that book that talks about the fact that it is never too late. “I was called to the bedside of a dying man a few days back, an eighty-year-old scoundrel. Yes, a scoundrel! He spent the final decade of his life with time on his hands, money at his disposal, and women on his mind. His exploits would have made Hugh Hefner blush. But as his health began to fail, his conscience began to stir. When the doctor told him to get his affairs in order, he called me. He wanted to get right with God. He made a deathbed confession of faith. Might I make a confession of my own? I left the hospital room with a scroogy scowl. That’s too easy, I thought. A guy like him deserves to be routed through purgatory on the way to paradise. But God didn’t tell me to screen the applicants, just to teach them. And according to God’s great grace, if my scoundrel friend’s confession was sincere, he is walking the same heavenly streets as Paul and Peter and King David. Each a scoundrel in his own right. It’s never too late to come to Christ for help. Your stack of sins is never too high. Your list of failures is never too long. That knock at the door of your heart? That’s Jesus. It’s one thing to miss a message from your spouse but to miss a message from God? That’s a mistake you don’t want to make. All you have to do is open the door” (Max Lucado. “Because of Bethlehem.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/546E_.lExcerpt From: Max Lucado. “Because of Bethlehem (with Bonus Content).” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/546E_.l). Marry Christmas!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

The Power Of Giving Thanks

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Something to reflect on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner:

If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks? Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621. They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home – Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in. The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. “That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases…. There died sometimes two or three of a day.”

When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates. If you had been there in 1621 – if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy – would you have felt grateful?

However, they were thankful! In 1621, Edward Winslow, one of the fifty or so members of the Plymouth colony, wrote these words, describing the first harvest festival: “Our harvest of corn came in well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian Corn, and our Barley crop was also good, but our crop of peas wasn’t worth the gathering – they were sown too late, and although they came up very well and blossomed, the sun parched them in the blossom. Once our harvest was brought in, our Governor sent four men out to hunt fowl, in order that we might have a special celebration, rejoicing together over the fruit of our labors. Those four hunters, in one day, killed enough fowl to feed our Company for almost a week. We were joined, in our celebration, by many Indians: the great Indian King Massasoyt, along with some ninety Indian men, joined us for three days of entertainment and feasting. The Indians themselves went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and gave as gifts to our Governor, and to our Captain, and others. And although our harvests are not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish that you could be partakers of our plenty.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Malice Toward None

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 13:33-35 (NLT)

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you cant come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.” – (Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865).

These two quotes, one from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the other from the greatest President in our nation’s history, are ones that our country needs to hear right now. As we sit in the after effects of this past week’s election we see hate being spewed on both sides of the political fence. One the one side you have those who were on the winning side gloating over a political victory in probably the most heated election in our lifetime, and the other side expressing hate, violence and disrespect for our nation and its flag. Excuse me, but I thought we were the UNITED States of America? Whatever side of this campaign you were on can’t we just respect and love one another as Americans? Jesus certainly would not advocate hatred, violence and disrespect. Come on America we can do better than this!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

At The Crossroads

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

Psalm 33:12 (NLT)
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
    whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

While I realize we are all tired of all the political adds that we have been bombarded with in the past several months, and sick of all the mud slinging from politicians on all sides. However, we must come to grips with the fact that our nation is at a crossroads, and this election will determine the course of our country for generations to come. Therefore, I think we should reflect of the words of perhaps the greatest leader our nation has ever produced. In the midst of a Civil War, President Lincoln said, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord. We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us” (Abraham Lincoln, Oct 1863). Lincoln recognized that our problems are more spiritual and moral than they are anything else. His words are just as true today as they were in his time. Let’s hope that we take them to heart.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Real Problem

Indians Game

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 8:10-11 (NLT)

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

 In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis helps us gain balance when he says, “If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity (sexual sin) as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual. The pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me. . . they are the animal self and the diabolical self; and the diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.” Then he adds, “But of course it is better to be neither ”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark