Sunday – April 10, 2016 John 6 verses 36 to 58 “I Am the Bread of Life”

Sunday – April 10, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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John 6:53-56
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.”

Perhaps the Sunday after Friday Night Fellowship is not the time to ask, “What are you eating?” Being in a church with so many good cooks, it is hard to diet and attend so many pot luck dinners. But that’s the question that Jesus wants us to consider: “What are you eating?” – not physically, but spiritually. We hear a lot these days about the importance of a healthy diet. You are what you eat and a lot of Americans eat a lot of junk food, resulting in a lot of serious, but avoidable health problems. Most of us could benefit by being careful about what we eat.

It’s the same spiritually. If you gorge yourself on the latest movies or on the fare that is offered every night on TV, and you seldom feed on the Bible, don’t be surprised if you’re not spiritually healthy. If your spiritual intake consists of a sugary devotional that you grab on the run, like a donut, and an occasional sermon when you aren’t doing something else on Sunday, don’t be surprised if you’re feeling kind of spiritually sluggish. You are what you eat. In John 6, after He fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, Jesus repeatedly offers Himself as the spiritual food that gives eternal life and eternal satisfaction to all who eat.

Some interpret these verses to refer to partaking of communion. The Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church base their views of transubstantiation (the view that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Christ) in part on John 6:53. But there are many reasons John 6 does not refer to communion. First, communion had not yet been instituted. Jesus instituted it on the night He was betrayed. Second, Jesus was speaking here to unbelievers and communion is for believers. Third, the Lord’s Supper does not produce the results that are attributed to eating and drinking Christ. If the words of Jesus here refer to communion, then you gain eternal life by partaking, which contradicts many other Scriptures that show that salvation is through faith in Christ, not through participating in a ritual.

There is a satisfaction factor about eating, isn’t there? That’s why we overeat – because it tastes so good and it’s pleasurable. Good bread nourishes and sustains life, but also it’s enjoyable. To smell bread baking in the oven and then to butter and eat a warm slice is delightful. Even so, feeding on Jesus by faith is enjoyable in this life and it will continue in His eternal presence, where, as David exults (Ps. 16:11), “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Sunday – August 16, 2015 Revelation 2 verses 9 to 11

Sunday – August 16, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 2:10
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Secular society has a theology of suffering easily summed up in two words seen on bumper stickers all across the country. While I cannot quote the bumper sticker exactly, you will recognize it when I tell you it reads, “… happens.” Or as the  King James translation would read, “Dung Happens.” If we were to “exegete” this slogan, we would see the fruit of this theology provides the following affirmations (not truths). First, suffering equals dung. Suffering is not just worthless; it is repugnant and disgusting. It has no value. Second, suffering is random and senseless, similar to a drive-by shooting which comes upon innocent victims unexpectedly without reason or provocation. It just happens.

Sadly, many contemporary Christians’ theology of suffering believes suffering is unpredictable and unavoidable; we can do nothing to avoid it and certainly we cannot make something of it. We can only passively accept and endure, hoping it will end as soon as possible. One reason this has become so prevalent in the Church today is the wide-spread preaching of a distorted gospel in which Christ is presented as the key to earthly bliss and the solution to all our problems.  As a result, many think Christians do not suffer. Such pseudo-Christianity becomes evident when suffering does occur and the misinformed believers abandon their profession of faith.

Christians must categorically disagree with this theology of suffering. First, we know that while God does not “cause” all suffering, no suffering comes our way but that which God has purposed for our good and for His glory. God may not “cause all things” but He does “cause all things to work together for good, to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Therefore, the Christian dares not view suffering as a negative experience (“dung”) but as something positive. Suffering is neither random nor senseless; it is part of the divine plan. We also dare not look upon suffering as something we merely endure; for the Christian, suffering is an experience in which we may rejoice.

Only salvation through Christ can transform one’s values the way our Lord desired the saints in Smyrna to be transformed about suffering. Only when we see Christ as precious do we see the things of this world as valueless, indeed, even detrimental. That will include persecution and suffering just as much as comfort and riches. Have you found Him to be precious? Have you trusted in His shed blood as God’s provision for your sin? I earnestly urge you to do so, even now.

Sunday – June 21, 2015 Elder Ken McAuley “The Father’s Great Love Must Be Given Away”

Sunday – June 21, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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John 14: 2-3
2: In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3: If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

When we think of our Father God, it is usually in a rather distant, obscure way that is full of wonderment and awe. I think it can be more wonderful than that. In this passage, Jesus talks about His Father’s house in a way in which we can relate, as if He were going home. Isn’t that how we want to picture Heaven? He is going to prepare a place for us in our Father’s home where we can expect to stay eternally. The Father wants the Family to be together where we can fellowship with Him in a loving, peaceful relationship, full of trust and worship.

Worship may sound kind of strange to us, but our fathers are fallible and insecure and learning as they go along, hoping we will learn from them and remember the good and the wise things they try to pass along to us. We are not expected to worship them even though they would seem to desire it from time to time. So, worship should be natural to us when it is our Father God we are looking to.

He is our Creator, Healer, Comforter, Provider, Protector in Whom we can place our complete trust because He knows all, sees all, hears all; nothing can sneak up on Him or surprise Him. He knows the BEST answer, the BEST way and we don’t have to wonder if He made the right decision. I wonder sometimes if we maybe compare Him to our fathers rather than comparing our fathers to Him. Perhaps it’s because we don’t put enough effort into finding out a little more about Him. The Scriptures are full of references to and about Him from which we can gather a lot of information and insights.

He’s not a big comfortable teddy bear that only provides comfort and cuddle. He’s more like a lion. In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, the question was asked of Mr. Beaver, is he (the lion, Aslan) safe? “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” He’s good and kind and loving, but also just, merciful, forgiving, righteous, holy; there’s nothing wrong with Him. But we tend not to trust him because we compare Him to our own fathers. Let’s make a conscious decision today to make Him our pattern of Fatherhood and encourage our own fathers to be more like Him as we love and obey Him.

Sunday May 31, 2015 “The Man Who Won a War Without Fighting” 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

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2 Chronicles 20:5-6
“Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the new court, and he said, “O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.”

The story of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, provides us with helpful instruction on the subject of prayer and trusting God when we face severe trials. Jehoshaphat was basically a good king who sought to follow the Lord and bring God’s people back to Him (19:4-11). He ruled in the southern kingdom at the same time that the wicked Ahab ruled in the north. But although he was a good king, Jehoshaphat had a character flaw: He made wrongful alliances with the godless Ahab. His motive in these alliances may have been good, to reunite the divided kingdom. But he was unwise and wrong.

One morning Jehoshaphat was shaken when his intelligence sources came running in with the horrifying news: the enemy army was about 15 miles south of Jerusalem, on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat’s life and his entire kingdom were on the brink of extinction. What would you do if you heard some threatening news that affected your future and maybe your life? This godly king did the right thing: He called a national prayer meeting and encouraged the people to trust God in the face of this overwhelming crisis. They did it, and literally won the war by prayer alone, without swinging a single sword.

It’s easy to read this story and miss what a great thing it was for Jehoshaphat to call the nation to prayer over this crisis. It would have been very human to panic. When he heard the news of this army within his borders, we could understand if he yelled, “Call all my top generals. Get the army mobilized immediately. We don’t have a second to waste.” As soon as the troops were mustered, if there was time, he could have stopped for a quick word of prayer. But for Jehoshaphat to turn his attention to seek the Lord and to call the nation to prayer and fasting was not automatic.

God never fails those who trust Him and obey His Word. That is not to say that He delivers everyone who trusts Him from suffering or even death. There are many who have trusted God and lost their heads (Heb. 11:36-40)! But this earthly life isn’t the final chapter. All who suffer loss for Jesus will be richly rewarded in heaven or God is a liar. Just as Israel was enriched literally by the spoils of victory, so we will always be enriched spiritually through our trials if we recognize our great need, pray to our great God, and trust in Him alone, not in the arm of the flesh.

Sunday May 24, 2015 – Thom Rachford “Illusion or Reality”

Sunday – May 24, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Illusion or Reality

The word illusion is from the Latin illusio, which means “the action of mocking”. Illusion is defined as the action of deceiving, the state or fact of being intellectually deceived or misled or the perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature. Deceit is the core present in all Illusion.

Reality on the other hand is defined as the quality or state of being real; a real event, entity or state of affairs; something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily in actual fact. Truth is the core present in reality.

In today’s world Illusion is presented as the norm. At all levels of society from the government, the media, education, and from people in general conversation we hear illusions presented as fact or truth. And we like the illusions. Illusions usually make the world and our lives seem better, easier, less troublesome, more comforting and less requiring of action, some times difficult action, on our part. In general, we like to hear the illusion, we want to believe the illusion because the illusion seems to be more fun or more fulfilling, or more safe or satisfying than the reality.

The problem with illusion is that it is not only false but it is only temporary. For example, the illusion that there is no Hell or that everyone who is “good” goes to Heaven. For the person who does not know Jesus these illusions are comforting. Illusion frees the mind and spirit from restraints. If there is no Hell, that implies that there are no spiritual consequences to actions. If there is no Hell, there are no absolutes that govern whether or not I go to Hell. This allows me to do anything as long as I can stand or better yet, avoid societies’ consequences. And if there is a Heaven, I certainly am good enough to go there. After all, I am better than Hitler, or Stalin, or a mass murderer, etc.

No matter how “bad” we are, we cling to the illusion that “the good/bad line is drawn just below just us. It is people below the line who don’t qualify for Heaven. I am always above the line. This illusion is comforting until the day you die.

Then the temporary euphoria disappears as the reality becomes strikingly apparent in a nano second.   At death, the reality of Heaven (being with the Lord) with all its reward and blessings, or the reality of Hell (being without the Lord) and all Hell’s consequences, rushes upon us. The reality or truth of Heaven or Hell is immediately evident and unfortunately for those in Hell recognized as unchangeable. Every person who ever lives will experience the reality of Heaven or Hell, whether you physically die or you are among the raptured.

Believers in Jesus can rely on being in heaven. In John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. Where is the Father? Heaven.InJohn 14:3 Jesus said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”. Where is Jesus? Heaven. Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”.

Sunday April 12, 2015 New Series OLD TESTAMENT LESSONS ON PRAYER “The Man Who Bargained With God“ -Genesis 18:16-33

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Genesis 18:23-26
“Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

One of the interesting things about traveling in a foreign country is the opportunity to bargain for goods in the marketplace. In America you know that if the price tag says $19.95, you’re going to pay $19.95, so you don’t bother to dicker about the price. But in Mexico, there’s a much better chance that the merchant is willing to haggle over the price. If you’re good enough at the game (and get enough practice), you might only pay $10 instead of $20. You can get some good deals if you’re good at bargaining.

But can you imagine being bold enough to bargain with God? When you’re bargaining with a merchant, you hold the money and he holds the merchandise. You each have something the other person wants, so you have some bargaining power. But when it comes to God, He holds everything. Who could imagine bargaining with the God of the universe? Yet, surprisingly, the first instance of intercessory prayer found in the Bible shows Abraham bargaining with God for the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah!

At first you may think Abraham to be a bit brash to do such a thing. But as you examine the story, you discover that God was actually encouraging Abraham in this venture of prayer. God took the initiative by revealing His purpose to Abraham, His friend, who was moved to pray, based on what he knew of God’s character, for a city that teetered on the brink of judgment. In the same way, we who know the character of God and the purpose of God to seek and save those who are lost, are encouraged to intercede on their behalf.

I don’t understand why or how God works out His eternal plan in cooperation with the prayers of His saints, but He does! Knowing God’s purpose, to call out a people for Himself from every nation; and, knowing God’s person, that He is both merciful and just; we who have experienced His mercy have the privilege of praying for a lost world. Someday we will have the joy of meeting in heaven those who were delivered from God’s judgment through our prayers! What could be more joyous than that?

Sunday – November 23, 2014 Thanksgiving Celebration

Sunday – November 23, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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Psalms 136:1-3
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

We’re not supposed to give thanks to the Lord only one day each year, when we stuff ourselves with turkey and all the trimmings. Giving thanks to our gracious God should not be seasonal, but perpetual: “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:20). And so this psalm is appropriate for any and every day of the year but most importantly at this time of Thanksgiving. The psalmist tells us to always give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 136 is a unique psalm in that the same refrain is repeated 26 times. The only thing close is when Psalm 118:1-4 repeats, “His lovingkindness is everlasting” four times. Probably, Psalm 136 was designed for public worship. The Jews called it the Great Hallel (Praise), and it was especially sung at the Passover. Perhaps the worship leader would recite the first line of each verse, followed by the congregation repeating together the response, “for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” John Calvin said that the repeated refrain teaches us that to praise the Lord properly, we must acknowledge that everything we receive from Him is bestowed by His grace.

The lesson for us is that it is important for us to know Scripture (including the Old Testament!) so well that we respond to trials and other situations in our lives with biblical language and thought patterns. The stories in the Old Testament that Psalm 136 speak about were written for our instruction so that we would not crave evil things as they did, nor be idolaters, nor try the Lord, nor grumble. If you are not familiar with these stories, so that they shape your worldview, you will not apply them when you most need to. Rather than thanking the Lord for His everlasting love, you will fall into grumbling with the rest of the world.

Why does the psalmist hammer home 26 times the theme that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting? It’s because the enemy wants us to doubt it, especially when trials hit. This truth was so important that David appointed singers whose job was to repeat at the tabernacle, “give thanks to the Lord, because His lovingkindness is everlasting” (1 Chron. 16:41). Later, when the ark was brought into the newly completed temple, Solomon appointed singers to sing, “He indeed is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 5:13). God’s response was to fill the temple with the cloud of His glory. These things are for our instruction. In every situation, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting”.