Good afternoon all!
Yesterday was a bit schizophrenic, wasn’t it? It was snowing in the morning, and later in the afternoon it was actually on the warm side! Spring in Michigan, eh? Can’t wait to dig into the dirt!
Please let me share one of my deepest concerns for you all, and in fact, for the whole Christian church: Bible illiteracy. The ability to be literate in Scripture is absolutely ESSENTIAL. If anyone tries to tell you that it’s not is LYING. It becomes a doubtful claim that a Christian can be one without opening the Bible. Scripture tells us that our faith shows itself by the fruit it bears. One of those fruits is the activities of Bible study and prayer. Think about this statement: “I’m a Christian but…” For this discussion I want you to insert the words “I don’t read the Bible”. Try “I don’t pray regularly.” It’s pretty impossible to be an “I’m a Christian, but…” Christian.
There’s to be no “but’s” in our claims to be followers of Christ. (For those of you who are married, how do you think it would have worked out if at your wedding vows, you said “In the name of God, I, (groom/bride's name), take you, (groom/bride's name), to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow, but…”) Bet that would make the other spouse-to-be feel pretty confident as to the sincerity and longevity of that new life “together.”
I know, the popular thought is that “all I need is a relationship with God.” Yup, that’s true. How’s those other relationships where there’s no or minimal communication? Are they healthy? Are they vibrant? Are they even relationships at that point?
The takeaway from all of this? The One who loves you the most in all of the world and beyond wants a real relationship with you! Yes, He will always hear you when you call out His Name, but He absolutely wants to hear from you. Too busy? Sounds like you may have to cut back on Candy Crush and all of those other more important things? Too tired? Sounds like there’s too many other way-more-important activities going on. I had a boss once who said “Run ‘em out of excuses” when my suppliers would not be meeting their deadlines. Part of my job is to “run you out of excuses.
To that end, I’ve attached a simple sheet of various Scripture passages that you can download and snip the verse for the week and place it in some conspicuous place. Commuting? Tape it to your dash. Already at work? Thumbtack it to your cubicle wall. Phone in your hand constantly? Cut and paste a verse and make it your lock screen.
If you don’t currently read much of the Bible regularly, please try this exercise. It’s going to cover the rest of April and also May & June. Please give it an honorable effort! Please let me know how it’s going. Please let me know if there’s anything new in your faith walk at the end of June.
Praying for you all,
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. God is timeless and His power is limitless.
Our human perspectives are limited. We cannot understand the width and breadth of His time span, but we can witness His authority over time through His revelations of infinite power and wisdom.
God is the before, the now, and the forever after. He will never leave us. He is the only constant in our lives and beyond our earthly lives.
Praise God for His everlasting presence!
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 NLT
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (ESV). Because of belief in Jesus through faith in what his death and resurrection means for us, the Spirit of God comes to live inside you. This is one of the greatest blessings of salvation: You don’t have to go through someone else to get to God. He dwells in your heart and you can learn to hear His voice.
The best way to hear from God and know how He wants you to live is to pray to hear His voice and know what the Bible, His Word, says. God’s Word gives us wisdom. God's Spirit gives us direction and guidance. As we study the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to apply the truth of God's Word to our lives, our mind is renewed (see Romans 12:2), so we no longer just think the way the world thinks – we can think the way God thinks!
When you go beyond what you want, what you think, and what you feel, and do what the Word and the Spirit of God tell you to do, you are able to come to a place where the blessings of God – His righteousness, peace and joy – overflow in your life.
The cross is at the center of our journey as Christians. Jesus came to heal us from the consequences of sin, through forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus reminds us from the cross that forgiveness comes from the father's loving heart and we must extend this forgiveness to others. This brings healing to our body and spirit! When we extended freedom to others it sets our hearts free to receive new life from God.
#dailytruth #newlife #freedom #sin #forgiveness #life #spirit #cross #jesus #stclair #saintclair
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
What a heart wrenching question from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus has been sharing an unhindered relationship with his father since eternity and is now driven to say these words. While we might think he is tempted to doubt his father’s love, question his motives, or speak from a place of fear, he cries out using the words of scripture in Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” From the depths of his earthly pain he quotes scripture.
Jesus here is identifying with the sufferings of this world and experiences what it means to be concealed from God’s love. He enters our struggle and feelings of abandonment and experiences what each one of us goes through when we abandon the love of God for other lesser loves, doubt our faith, or can’t see past the pain of our circumstances. He is expressing his humanness and taking on the wrath of the father as he dies for our sin. His heart is heavy with our sins and he cries out in grief over the full weight of them.
Jesus is the head. We, his disciples, are the body.
Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22-23.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
When Jesus cries out to the Father, he is praying as the head and as the body. Jesus’ cry unites him with all our suffering and unites us with the Father.
As Christians, our suffering is not private. Jesus identifies with us.
“So He had to be made like His brothers in every way, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, in order to make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18
Our suffering is also not private because we are a community of believers. Ideally, we ought to suffer with those who are suffering.
Today, let us remember that our suffering is not an isolated experience, but we have Jesus who suffers with us. Let us also remember those who are suffering so that we may walk beside them and offer our help and assistance. In our pain, we can be tempted to think we are isolated, and that no one cares what we are going through. We might feel Jesus isn’t doing enough to alleviate our suffering. Sometimes he seems to allow us to go deeper in our despair. A heart that is not open and vulnerable cannot receive true healing. Sometimes he brings us to that place where we realize God is all we have, so that we can recognize that God is all we need at that moment.
In Scripture, it is clear every person stands in need of redemption. Why? Because every person has sinned.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. The following verse then reveals we are "justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24. Hebrews 9:15 says that Jesus "is the mediator of a new covenant . . . since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant."
When we are redeemed, we become different people.
When God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, He made them a new nation and gave them a new land. Likewise, the Christian has a new identity in Christ. No longer is the Christian a captive to sin and death. Instead, he has become a citizen of God's kingdom. Christians now live in anticipation of our eternal home with our heavenly Father.
When we are redeemed, God can redeem our suffering.
Redeem. That one word changes everything. It speaks of purpose. It speaks of the promise that our suffering is not in vain. It comforts us when pain envelops us, and darkness is our closest friend. God does not delight in our suffering, but weeps with us as he did in John 11. But his tears are not all that he gives us. He gives us hope and assurance that suffering is not in vain. Just as Jesus cried with Mary before he raised Lazarus (John 11:32–35), the Lord cries with us, knowing he will redeem our suffering.
Suffering It is not meant to be an individual experience but a cooperative experience of redemption with Jesus and with others. Let Jesus’ involvement in human suffering and his cry of abandonment remind you of this today, on this Good Friday.
“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.” Isaiah 53:5 NLT
During the Easter season, we are even more aware of what Jesus went through on earth so that we could be made new children of God, blameless and holy in His sight. That God would send His Son to suffer and die for our sins is unlike any other world religion. Three days later He would rise to forgive, redeem, and sustain us with his strength and love. Our God is an awesome God, and He loves us beyond measure. The price He paid for us means we are free. Continue to walk in that freedom. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36) Remember that as you continue through your week.
In John 17, Jesus prays for His disciples — that they wouldn’t be taken out of this world, but rather, would be strengthened to be used for God’s glory.
Because we are believers and disciples of Christ today, His prayer also applies to you and me! That means you have been sent into this world with strength and power.
When trials come, there’s no reason to have a pity party about them, saying, “Poor me; I’m under attack.” Jesus has already overcome the world, so in Him we are overcomers. He gives us everything we need pertaining to “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). It’s already ours. We have to wake up and actually use it, but we don’t have to strive to attain it.
We already have everything we need to walk in the victory won for us in Christ. The Holy Spirit that lives within you is inviting you to “live and move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28). He is the One who overcomes. In Him so do we.
#dailytruth #freshhope #hope #overcomer #victory #relyongod #holyspiritpower #health #stclair #saintclair
Are you feeling down today? How’s your “Hope Tank?” If you lack hope, the good news is you can ask God for it! He is the source of true hope (Romans 15:13)! This is the kind of hope that beckons us to keep going, even when we don’t feel like it. The hope that says, don’t give up. The hope that says God has a plan and a purpose for you. And that purpose is good, and you don’t have to be afraid of your future. The hope that says even though you feel pressed on all sides and near despair, Jesus is greater and stronger than what you fear, and He can do all things. The hope that says sin no longer holds you captive. The hope that says God’s love is unfailing, and nothing can ever separate us from His love. The Hope that says, in this storm, Jesus is your calm.
Jesus said to ask for anything in His name and He will do it, because the Father is good and wants us to experience the goodness of His glory through Jesus (John 14:13-14). God is not a slot machine in the sky, delivering material goods anytime we ask for them, but he will hear and answer the prayer that is built on the promises of His Word.
If a friend came to you in need, would you not help them out of the love and concern you have for them? In the same way, God wants us to “beat on His door” to ask for the life-giving things that He can give us, like the friend asking for bread at midnight (Luke 11:5-8) until He gives them to us. The hope that God offers us is not uncertain, like when I say that I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I have plans to be outside. The biblical definition of hope is "confident expectation." Hope is a firm assurance that His promises are true and that we have access to them now, and even more fully in the life to come! (Hebrews 11, Romans 8)
#dailytruth #freshhope #hopetank #victory #hope #faith #trust #truth #peace #peaceofmind #stclair #saintclair
How to Seek God So You Will Know What to Do...
“Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.”
Proverbs 4:7 NLT
Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Sounds simple. Then why do we find it so hard to make decisions?
First, what is wisdom?
Search for images of “wisdom” on the internet. You’ll likely get images of books and owls! But book knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. The world thinks that wisdom is something you purchase with tuition and class fees, rather than being a daily, lifelong process of growth. The kind of wisdom that God wants us to ask for us the kind that helps us discern His voice daily so that we can receive His guidance, walk in His will for our lives, and have peace. This kind of spiritual wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3).
Getting wisdom is important because it is the spiritual knowledge by which we gain true and lasting happiness. Proverbs 3:13 says, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding." Proverbs 24:13–14 says, "My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off."
Gaining wisdom provides hope! The hope we receive from God is the hope that does not fail us.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
Wisdom is the key to lasting happiness. Proverbs 19:8 says, "He who gets wisdom loves himself." In other words, do something good for yourself: Get wisdom! In Proverbs 8:32–36 “wisdom” is speaking and she says, "And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways . . . Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death." Gaining wisdom and insight is a true gift that will encourage and strengthen us to live in a world that does not seek God. Proverbs 16:16 says, "To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver." It is a matter of life and death. The ultimate, eternal happiness that all people long for will only be found by those who first "get wisdom" from God.
How do we get wisdom? Simply ask for it!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Next, what is judgement?
Judgement is a close relative of wisdom. If wisdom is the spiritual knowledge we need to obtain life, happiness, hope, and peace, then judgement is the discernment of knowing how and when to apply God’s wisdom in our lives. Judgement helps us make spiritually healthy and positive choices in life that lead us to God's will.
How do we develop good judgement?
Anything that needs to be developed requires exercise, practice, and repetition. If we want to develop muscles, we must exercise, lift weights, eat right and be consistent. Developing judgement requires the ability to learn from our mistakes, have patience with ourselves and others, seek God’s guidance before making decisions, and seeking wisdom! If you want to develop good judgement, spend time each day talking with God in prayer, reading His Word, and asking for wisdom as you consider the choices you have to make in life. Often times when we wait on God’s answer to a choice we need to make we will see God open the way to a resolution or show us the next step to take. Having patience is key! How many times do we rush head to make a decision, and then ask God to bless it?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
"But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord”" (1 Kings 22:5).
God’s wisdom is well beyond the knowledge of man. When we are in a place of needing direction and insight for life’s problems, we can seek after God’s counsel to receive wisdom and understanding for our next steps. He knows the beginning and end; therefore, we can’t go wrong with His guidance. We can write out the pros and cons. We can try to weigh out every option in our minds. We can talk about our situation to death. However, we all have to come to a time of trusting and believing in God to lead us in the right decision as we seek His voice and wait patiently for the next step. When we put all our trust in Him, He gives us the direction we need to move in. His faithfulness will come through for us as we press forward in faith, in spite of the odds often being stacked against us! Making a decision with God’s wisdom will often look different than what the world expects us to do.
Developing good judgement also comes from asking God to renew our minds and by not following the wisdom of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” The renewing of our minds is not a one-time occurrence rather it is a daily process.
As we engage in the process of renewing our minds and seeking a personal and intimate knowledge of the Holy One through the Word, we will develop the wisdom and judgement that shows us the way to walk each day!
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”” John 14:21 NLT
Will God love us more if we follow his commands?
Earlier in the book of John, Jesus told the disciples in the upper room on the night before He was crucified that he was not leaving them alone. He would send the Holy Spirit to indwell the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The key word “love” (“agapao” in Greek) appears over 20 times in John 13-17. This is a kind of love that is self-sacrificing and unselfish. It means to love another dearly and fondly. That kind of love has a divine origin and was demonstrated by Jesus dying on the cross for us.
Two types of people are mentioned in John 14:15-24 – those who love the Lord and those who do not. The first are believers, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and who obey His commands. They love the Lord and the evidence of this is seen in their words and actions. They have a heart surrendered to God’s will for them. The others are unbelievers, who do not have the Holy Spirit and do not obey the Lord’s commands. They cannot obey them because they do not love the Author of the commands. They don’t know His heart and how much He loves them.
John 14:21 says that obeying the Lord’s commands is evidence that one is a believer. For example, the disciples were told to “love one another” and this would show others that they were followers of Christ (John 13:34-35). The believer is loved by God the Father and God the Son, and they will make Themselves known to him in a special way: “We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23-26). Of course unbelievers are also loved by God, but it’s a one-sided relationship as the love is not reciprocal: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8; John 3:16).
John 14:21-26 shows that because believers have a relationship with the Lord and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Son reveals Himself to them in a way that is not possible for unbelievers to understand or experience. So, increased love for God and obedience to His commands doesn’t mean that He will love us more, but it is evidence that we will experience the special intimacy of knowing Him better in response to Him loving us first.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
FISHERS COMMUNITY CHURCH
Pastor Joseph Doenges
WORSHIP SUNDAY 10:00 AM
301 N. 6th Street
St. Clair, MI 48079
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization