Looking Ahead

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

This has long been one of my favorite Scripture verses. It reminds us that God has something much better than what we have temporarily here and now. The early Pentecostals sang many songs about the glories of heaven. It is a shame that we have gotten away from that theme today (although “Imagine” is a good example of a modern song that talks about heaven). They sang songs like “Just Over In the Glory Land,” and “What A Day That Will Be.” Paul tells us that we cannot even imagine what awaits us on the other side. In this verse the “Mind” is the Greek kardia, usually translated “heart,” but here it speaks of the inner mind, the deepest thoughts, and even includes the imagination (Horton, I & II Corinthians). We cannot even in “our wildest dreams” imagine what God has in store for us. God has something better than anything this temporary world has to offer. Live and enjoy the limited time you have in this life, but don’t get too attached to it because God has something amazing in store for you!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Christmas Memories

 

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Luke 2:8-14 (NLT)
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Christmas is finally upon us, and just like that first Christmas it is a time of rejoicing! However, for some of us we may not see it as a time of rejoicing. Perhaps, like myself, you are thinking about the loved ones who will not be with you this Christmas. Personally, I am thinking about my Mother and Father, who went to be with the Lord several years ago, and more recently my brother John who went to be with the Lord only a few months ago. As painful as it may be to think of a loved one who has past on at this time of year, for me it is helpful to think back to some of the things that made Christmas special for us when we were younger. When I do this my mind goes almost immediately to some of the Christmas shows I used to watch on TV (and I still watch them today). Unquestionably, the greatest of those shows for me is A Charlie Brown Christmas. In this story Charlie Brown is feeling a bit left out and abandoned by people. He simply was not feeling it! Does that sound familiar to anyone right now? As the show progresses Charlie Brown cries out in frustration, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?” It is at this point that his best friend Linus steps in and quotes the above Scripture passage from Luke 2:8-14. It is perhaps one of the best TV sermons ever delivered. It changes Charlie Brown’s attitude toward Christmas as well as that of his friends. Maybe we should let it change ours too? Maybe we should remember what Christmas is really all about? Perhaps we should consider that if it wasn’t for the reason that first Christmas happened to begin with, Jesus coming to the earth to save us, that would have the hope of one day being reunited with our loved ones in a place where there is no more sorrow and no more pain. Do you remember the song that ended that great Christmas show? If my memory serves me well it went something like, “Hark the hearald angels sing, ‘Glory to the new born King.’ Peace on earth a mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Merry Christmas Charlie Brown! Merry Christmas everyone.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

John 1:14 (NLT)
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

In one of the great Christmas Carol’s of all-time, “O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” it says, “O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel. That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” In this song we see some very important aspects of Christmas that is often overlooked. When it comes to Christmas we at best focus on Jesus’ birth, and at worst we focus on our selfish desires and ourselves. However, the true meaning behind Christmas is that Jesus, who was God the Son, became human and lived among us. Furthermore, He didn’t just come to be born and live as a human, but he did it to “ransom” us from the chains of sin and death. He came to set us free! In order to do this He had to become like us so that He could stand in our place on the cross. John makes a very powerful and blunt statement. He says that the Word became human. The Greek literally reads “and the Word became flesh.” He uses a term that put the incarnation of Jesus in its true light. In one short but powerful phrase John gets to the heart of the Gospel by saying that the Word became human in order to save us from our sins (Morris, NICNT: John, 91-93). What are you focusing on this Christmas? Are you focusing on the trappings of a Holiday that is becoming more and more secularized? Are you focusing on Jesus as a baby? Or are you focusing on the miracle of the Incarnation and it’s real purpose? As the Angel’s told the shepherd’s many years ago, “but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David” (Luke 2:10-11, NLT)! Let us rejoice, for Emmanuel, God with us, has come!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Growing Pains

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NLT)
6 Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.
7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began.
8 But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.

There comes a time when children have to grow up. Far too many Christians use the term “Baby Christian” as an excuse not to become mature in the faith. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong” (Heb. 5:12-14). To the Corinthians Paul made the point that when he speaks to immature Christians he speaks with plain language, but with mature believers about the deeper truths of God. It is not the wisdom of the world that Paul talks about, but the higher wisdom of God. Paul “knew and proclaimed a higher wisdom, a better wisdom, than all the wisdom of this age, including that of the human rulers of this age…Paul made this better wisdom, this true wisdom, available to mature believers. He implies, however, that many of the Corinthian believers were not yet mature, even though they thought they were. They were still spiritual babies (Horotn, I & II Corinthians). We need to move beyond the basics into the deeper truths of God’s Word and become mature believers. We cannot stay content with the bare minimum, we must press on to something better. Let’s grow up!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark