Power of An Eyewitness

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

The amazing truth of the Good News is twofold: first, that Jesus died for our sins as the Scriptures said, and two, that there were numerous eyewitnesses to prove His resurrection. What Paul is referring to here are the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Both His death and resurrection are recorded hundreds, if not thousands of year before they actually took place. His death is predicted in Isaiah 53:5-6, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” Not only that, but His resurrection was recorded in Ps. 16:10, “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.” What this tells us is that the death and resurrection of Jesus, done for our benefit and to save us from our sin, was planned by God! We messed things up because of our stubborn and rebellious actions, but God loves us so much that He planned to send His own Son to sacrifice His life in our place. Wow, what an amazing display of love! Furthermore, He gave us victory over death and the grave by raising Jesus from the dead. Now because Jesus was risen we too have the promise of the resurrection. As my friend Dr. Horton writes, “The literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the bold proclamation to the universe that His death was efficacious and that indeed the hosts of darkness had been conquered and that in triumph the victorious Christ had risen from the grave, making His resurrection the guarantee of ours” (I & II Corinthians). The Bible, God’s written Word, affirms this to us. Happy reading!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Bringing Something To The Table

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 14:26 (NLT)
Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I had something to contribute to the church,” or “I wish I had the talent that they do?” Perhaps you see yourself as unimportant, untalented and insignificant in the Kingdom of God. Well let me tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong. You have at least one and maybe more gifts to contribute to the church. The reality of the Kingdom of God is that none of us is unimportant or ungifted. Paul clearly states that God has given all of us something to contribute to the church. He says in his letter to the Ephesians, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Eph. 1:3, NLT). In this verse Paul makes it quite clear that we all have something to give and something to contribute. According to my friend Dr. Stanley Horton, “‘Everyone has’ means that everyone should have a part and contribute something to the building up of the whole assembly. Over too much of church history, the body of Christ has been paralyzed, with clergy dominating the laity and smothering their gifts. We are not to be like a theater audience, where one or several paid actors act on the stage while everybody else merely looks on” (Horton, I & II Corinthians). This past summer our church put on its own Kids Crusade after several years of hiring someone to come in and do it for us. What we discovered is that we have a lot more to offer than we thought we did. People who at the outset said, “I can’t do anything,!” realized that they can do more than they realized. They discovered that they had talents and abilities that they had never used before because the never stepped out in faith and put them into action. We all have something to contribute, and God has blessed us with the ability to do more than we realize. The question isn’t do I have anything to contribute, but when I am going to start using what God has given me.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

In The Living Years

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Luke 1:18-20, 62-64 (NLT)
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time”… 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

Being a Father can be a difficult, and sometimes thankless job. As a Father you are required to love, nurture, teach, and provide for your children. None of this is ever easy, and all of us make mistakes along the road. When we think of all responsibility of holding the lives of young people in your hands, and all of the snap decisions we have to make, the task seems a bit daunting. Often I think of my own Dad and all of the things that he taught me over the years. Like most young people, there were times when I thought my Dad didn’t have a clue. However, as I look back and think of all the responsibility on his shoulders that I wish I had appreciated back then. Did my Dad make mistakes? Sure he did, probably lots of them, but there is no doubt in my mind that my Dad loved me from the bottom of his heart. How I wish he was here today so that I could tell him how much he meant to me, and how sorry I was for not appreciating him “in the living years,” as Mike and the Mechanics wrote. Biblical Father’s like Zechariah are an encouragement to us that we don’t always have to get it right. His life teaches us that we can make mistakes as long as we learn from them and give God the glory. Who knows maybe one day our children will grow up to be the next John the Baptist. To those of you reading this whose Dad’s are still with you I encourage you to appreciate your Dad “in the living years.” Let him know how much he means to you and how thankful you are to God for giving him to you. To those of you, like me, who only have a memory to hang on to, honor his memory by being the kind of person that would have make him proud.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Big Misunderstanding

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 14:5 (NLT)
I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

To say the church at large vastly misunderstands this verse, today would be an understatement. Some wrongly assume from this verse that Paul is saying that tongues are unspiritual and unnecessary. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Paul has, and will state further later in this chapter, that tongues are valuable in that they edify the one using them. Furthermore, here we see him saying that “I wish you could all speak in tongues…,” and he wishes that everyone could experience the incredible spiritual benefit that comes from this gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul is, one the other hand, saying that prophecy is more beneficial to entire church because in tongues the individual is strengthened but prophecy edifies all who hear it (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 220-221). Now there is nothing wrong with the individual being edified as Paul states here. That is valuable, and let’s faces it, we could all use to be built up and encouraged. Yet with prophecy more people than just the individual are encouraged. How sad it is that with so many hurting people that we do not see more use of this gift in the local congregation. Even sadder is the idea that some church leaders restrict, or in some cases, forbid the use of the gift during services. The idea is that it will scare some people away. Really? A message from God that encourages, strengthens, and builds up people’s faith will scare them away? It would seem to me that this is something that people are looking for today. Perhaps we have done a poor job of explaining what this is in our services, but does that mean we should stop it from happening? Certainly not! We should be encouraging it; not discouraging it. If God gives you a word to strengthen the church let it fly! Take a step of faith and ask Him to use you to help the rest of the church.

In Christ

Pastor Mark