A Congregation of Conservative Evangelical Christians

Communion Thought

July 5th, 2020 by Diane Krystalowich

“I Am Weary. Not just tired. But weary – body, mind, soul. The events of the last months have taken a toll on everyone. There is so much suffering. We have gone from isolation from those we love, shut down of our whole economy – to rioting in the streets with thousands of people. It appears we cannot meet in large groups to have church, say farewell to loved ones, get married but riots in the streets are OK. I just do not understand what is happening in this world. So many conflicting reports that my head is spinning and I wonder what information is true and who can I trust.

Then in the times, when I quiet my heart and soul from the outside world, I hear Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not grow faint”, Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you – Do not fear, I will help you” and Matthew 6:34 “So do not be anxious for tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrows too. Live one day at a time”.

So why are these things happening and why do we suffer? Is it Satan’s attempt to get us to condemn God for things that happen in our lives when it is truly Satan doing these things? (And yes, I believe Satan is alive and well on this earth). Is Satan trying to get us to turn our back on God instead of feeling the love, comfort and peace He can give us when everything is going wrong?

When I hurt, I image Jesus bending close, maybe holding me in His arms. I image Him listening. I picture His eyes misting and a pierced hand brushing away our tears…He, who was also once alone, understands.

God is in control. We know who has the final victory over this earth, over Satan’s evil ways. We need to remember that what doesn’t kill us may sometimes drop kick us into a new and better place – a place we might not have gotten to any other way. So Satan’s attempt to crush is turned into “good for those who love the Lord.” We learn to comfort others, trust God and give thanks.

God loves us sooooo much. He does not expect us to be perfect people – He knows us too well for that; after all He made us. His desire is for us to be with Him forever. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, what whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

June 28th,2020 submitted by Allen Webber

“Focusing on God

                1 Corinthians 11:28 says, ‘But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.’ But there can be a danger of us dwelling too much on being self-reflective and guilt-driven. We can think that this time is primarily about what we need to do to fix things. We might remember and confess every sin we have committed this past week. And even feel guilty for how short we have fallen. Consequently, we can make the Lord’s Supper more about us and our sin instead of Jesus and His grace.
                But for most followers of Christ, the reality is we come to church and to this communion aware of how sinful and undeserving we are. We bring our burdens and pain here and we need God to refresh us with His grace. We bring our doubts and fears into this sanctuary and we need God to grant us assurance. We come aware of our sins and how messy we are and how much we need the gospel of free grace applied to our hearts. And that is exactly why God gave us the Lord’s Supper.
                This isn’t what we do once we’ve gotten things right on our end. We do it believing God makes us right through the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, this is a time to confess our sins, but instead of trying to clean ourselves up or staying in a place of guilt, come to Jesus in the Lord’s Supper as an act of faith where you say He is the answer and He alone is what I need. The Lord’s Supper is not about our worthiness or fitness, but rather about the worthiness of Jesus Christ and how He, in amazing grace makes us fit, to sit at God’s table.
                So as you eat and drink of these two emblems, do so with an awareness that Jesus is still today, in this moment, a sufficient saviour for all our sins and He offers to us grace to help in any situation we’re up against. As we take in this bread and wine, may God give us a powerful taste of the forgiveness and fullness of Jesus for us. This Supper is an invitation not for those who’ve got things under control and are good people. Rather, it’s the invitation for sinful and weak Christians in need of Christ’s grace.
                Jesus invites us to come to Him in the Lord’s Supper. All who are thirsty, come! All who are weak and wounded, come! All who are aware of their sin and need grace, come!
                As you eat the bread, remember and find hope in the fact that Christ’s body was crushed under wrath so that you might get nothing but grace.
                And as you drink the juice, remember and rejoice that Jesus’ blood paid for our unrighteousness and purchased our redemption.”
Dustin Crowe

June 21st, 2020 by Pastor Dave

When a son or daughter is born, it’s OK for the father to dream a little of maybe playing catch, or going fishing, watching his child win a race or sing beautifully, and eventually become a doctor, maybe even a pastor!

But often those dreams turn into expectations, which can be good or bad. Depending if the bad is they are unrealistic or pushed in demanding and unloving ways. Or good if they come with love, support, and a growing freedom.

I don’t know if my Dad dreamed of anything special when I was born, but as I grew up, I learned of his expectations. I learned that he expected me to do what I was told and if given a chore to do it right. I learned also that there could be consequences when I did the wrong thing, or maybe when I didn’t do it at all.

If Jesus had not been one with the Father His expectations might have been too much for Jesus. It certainly would overwhelm any of us. But Jesus did what God expected. Now, I believe, there is an expectation of us, as His ambassadors to a broken world, to show and tell them to be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5: 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

June 14th, 2020 given by Ken Hartung based upon the writings of David Jeremiah – Sanctuary (Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God) and Jon Courson – Application Commentary

A SURE HOPE

Colossians 1:27 (ESV)
27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Though World War II did not officially end until 1945, it can be safely said that it was over on June 6, 1944. That was D-Day (71 years ago yesterday), when 176,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in France. Eventually, three-quarters of a million troops assembled in France to liberate Europe from the Axis powers led by Adolf Hitler. Many fierce battles followed D-Day before the Axis armies were defeated. But the die was cast on D-Day when hope came once again to the free world.

The same may be said of our Christian experience. Though the day is yet in the future when evil will be eradicated from earth completely, we know it will happen because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By His death, Christ freed believers from the debt of sin. And by His resurrection, death, the last great enemy, was conquered so we might live again and forever. Are you in a battle or skirmish today with the world, the flesh, or the devil? Don’t wish things were different. Instead, put your hope in the fact that with the invasion of Christ into this world, victory was won. True hope is available to all allies of the conquering Christ. True hope is not wishful thinking; it is faith in fact.

The Communion Table

The Lords Table is the very place for the person struggling with sin, wrestling with temptation, or caught up in carnality, for it is there that we can say, “Lord, I desperately need You in my life. I eat of Your body and I drink of Your blood, knowing I am forgiven. Thank You, Lord. I celebrate what You did for me.”

June 7th, 2020 by Murray Markert

“As we come to Communion this morning for my devotional, I would like to talk not so much about Communion and Jesus Christ, but rather talk about why we have it. To understand something, sometimes it is necessary to go back to the beginning to understand its foundation. If we do this, it helps us comprehend who God is.

Who is God?

God is the Maker and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth. He is the Supreme Being – He is the Alpha and the Omega.

What are God’s attributes?

  1. God is all powerful; He can do everything that is meaningful and possible. He cannot sin and He cannot make good evil. As well, He cannot make mistakes.
  2. God is all knowing; He knows the present and the future. He even knows the number of hairs on our head.
  3. God is all good; it is impossible for Him to be evil.

Why did God create us?

That is a question I am sure we all ponder from time to time. As we look around us we see the chaos that we stir up. The only reasonable reason that God would have chosen to create us and create us in His image would have been out of His great love. That is the only possible reason. Because we are created in God’s image does not make us exactly like Him. It certainly does not make us “little gods”. We have the ability to reflect His character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness. Knowing we are created in God’s image, gives us a foundation or footing for our self worth. These are the things that give us our self worth, not our possessions, achievements, physical attraction or self worth.

In the beginning, all things were good and then came the fall of mankind. When Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, man was separated from God. Adam and Eve thought there was a better way – they hid and then they tried to make up excuses for what they did. Sounds familiar when we fall away from God. God in all His power, knowledge, and goodness knew that we would separate ourselves from Him. So He sent us Jesus Christ to mediate on our behalf and God wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. Through that personal relationship, we will start dropping our excuses on why we do things, we will stop trying to hide from Him and actually seek Him out in our times of need. It will lead us to the basic truth that God’s way is a better way.

That brings us to Communion, an outward sign, we as believers are receiving God’s grace. A time to remember Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. A time to exchange our thoughts and feelings with Jesus, a time for an intimate talk and fellowship with the One who placed Himself on the cross for us so we do not have to be eternally separated from God.

Our prayer is to give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.

May 31st, 2020 by Brian Markert
“Boldly responding to the will of God?

The Bible is full of history of God, people and nations interacting for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God. Lets “zoom” in on some scripture and look at individual reactions to the will of God. Lets start with a big one, the birth of Jesus.

How did Joseph respond???   Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

How did Mary respond???   Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary and Joseph had plans for their lives. We don’t know what they were but we do know they were different then what God’s were. Joseph’s intent was to divorce Mary because when he looked at the evidence around him his logic told him that she had been unfaithful to him and had broken the laws that God had set out for his people.  Joseph humbly submitted to God’s will despite the risk of shame or ridicule that might come from the religious community around him. Mary was a pregnant teenager, but not because of her actions. In today’s world some argue that she has a choice to stay pregnant or not. I am sure that in those times there were still many abortions taking place in the exact circumstances that Mary found herself in. She chose to keep the baby that was inside of her despite how others would look upon her or how it would alter her future plans.

Both Mary and Joseph humbly submitted to the will of God. God didn’t ask them to change the current path that they were walking. He asked them to stay the course despite the knowledge that it would greatly alter where the path would lead them. Not very far in the future God did ask Mary and Joseph to boldly respond. He told them to pick up and move to Egypt. They didn’t say goodbye to their families. They fled in the middle of the night.”

May 24th, 2020 by Allen Webber with excerpts from Joseph Tkach

“The Threefold Meaning of the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of what Jesus did in the past, a symbol of our present relationship with Him, and a promise of what He will do in the future. On the evening He was betrayed, while Jesus was eating a meal with the disciples, He took some bread and said, “This is My body given to you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). When we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we eat a small piece of bread or cracker in remembrance of Jesus. In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (verse 20). When we drink a small amount of grape juice at the Lord’s Supper, we remember that Jesus’ blood was shed for us, and that His blood inaugurated the new covenant. Just as the old covenant was sealed with the sprinkling of blood, the new covenant was established by Jesus’ blood. Paul said,

“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). The Lord’s Supper looks back to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.


We can look at Jesus’ death and all its brutality and dwell on these aspects, but the bigger picture is that it is wonderful news for all of us. Jesus’ death was a tremendous and precious gift. And we should receive it with great gratitude, as an expression of great love. We rejoice that Jesus has conquered death, and has set free all who were enslaved by a fear of death. We remember Jesus’ death with the happy knowledge that He has triumphed over sin and death.
The crucifixion of Christ has a continuing significance to all who have taken up the cross to follow Him. We continue to participate in His death and the new covenant because we participate in His life. When we have communion, we show that we share in Jesus Christ. And we are united with Him.
When we take communion we are reminded of the future, of Jesus’ return. Jesus said he would not drink the fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it new with you in My Fathers Kingdom. (Matthew 26:29). Whenever we participate we are reminded of this promise. There will be a great messianic “wedding supper” of celebration. The bread and wine of communion are miniature rehearsals of what will be the greatest victory celebration in all history. And again we can refer to 1Cor. 11:26,

“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” We know by our faith that He will come again.

May 17th by Herb Harder

“Father Forgive Them           

As we celebrate the Sacraments as a forgiven people, we always remember at this time the cross on which the tremendous sacrifice was laid out for our benefit. The benefit of course being freedom in Christ by the atonement of our sins by the shedding of Jesus’s blood and broken body given up for you and me providing, we by faith choose to accept this sacrificial gift. Easy right? The book of Hebrews describes how and why this came to be. The old testament times tells us how the high priests provided the means for themselves and others by the shedding of blood, provided by killing of animals, to atone for the sins committed at that time. This was an ongoing thing that had to take place. (Tough on animals). A true high priest had to be chosen by God as was Aaron. Unfortunately there were those who sought the honour and priestliness (if that is in fact a word) that were not chosen by God, purely for their own sense of power and greed and this of course did not fulfill God’s law and plan.(We see this in some of our situations today both political and spiritual). God’s resolve for this problem thus came in the form of a baby, Jesus Christ who then though tempted like we are, yet without sin became the high priest enabling us to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace in our time of need. Heb: 4:16. Jesus, made perfect became the author of eternal salvation for all those who love and obey God.             

As important as this is you may be thinking, Yes. this is old news and I’ve heard this before many times. Thanks for the reminder. The other truth is, it also made it possible for you and I to come directly to God with prayers and supplications, no need for a human high priest, and in fact the bible teaches that the spirit often goes ahead of us presenting our needs and prayers to God. How wonderful and cool is that? No more misrepresentation by a human heart that may not be what it appears to be.     

On the more serious thought, even our hearts as Christians may not always be as they should be and that is where the beauty of this message is. I wonder how often our Lord repeats the phrase on our behalf, just like was said at the cross. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. As we eat and drink in memory today, let us be thankful for all the times he shows his grace by praying, Father forgive them.”

May 10th given by Pastor Dave

Mother’s Day Poem

(Inspired by Paul Harvey’s ‘So God Made a Farmer’ author unknown)
And on the 6th day, God looked down on Adam in his planned paradise and said, “I need a nurturer.” So God made a mother.

God said, “I need someone who feels deeply and loves fiercely, whose tears flow just as abundantly as their laughter, whose heart is as warm as their ability to guide and set limits is strong. I need someone whose influence on those that they nurture is eternal.” So God made a mother.

God said “I need someone who can hear a sneeze through closed doors, in the middle of the night, 3 bedrooms away while daddy snores next to her, who could kiss the ‘boo boos’, scare away the monsters under the bed, clean up the middle-of-the-night accidents, and live off of 4 hours of interrupted sleep. So God made a Mother.

God said, “I need someone who can ride the roller-coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride with an outward appearance of calm assurance as she sends her child off to his first day of school. I need someone who will buy the school supplies, drive for the field trips, help study for the history tests, fill out the permission forms, clap from the back row of the spring musical, and help coach a sport she’s never played. I need someone to teach a child to tie her shoes, make new friends, handle disappointments, shop for a prom dress, and drive a stick shift. And when that child is 18, I need someone to ride that roller coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride again as she sends her child away to college with the same calm confident outside exterior.” So God made a mother.

God said, “I need someone who is willing to jump in a car and drive children to school, soccer games, and piano lessons on a daily basis. I need someone who can run to the grocery store twice in a day, because someone forgot to add something to the list. I need someone who can take the animals to the vet, drop off the dry cleaning and pick up prescriptions and still make sure dinner in on the table for the family to eat.” So God created a Mother.

“Somebody who realizes that children need to be allowed to grow, gain confidence in themselves and be encouraged to be independent individuals and accept the path they choose. Somebody who realizes that their job is one where the better they are the more surely they won’t be needed in the long run. “

“Somebody whose breath will be taken away when they visit their first newborn grandchild in the hospital and their daughter looks at them with loving eyes and says “I hope I can be the kind of mom you are, mom.” So God made a mother.

Mary, mother of Jesus, followed her son through out His ministry, right to the cross. And Jesus made sure His Mom was taken care of before He left – “John, this is your Mom and Mom this is your son”

In remembrance of Him

May 3rd, 2020 given by Ken Hartung
“Why Is Communion a Celebration of Jesus Death and Resurrection?

Just before Jesus died, he gathered his disciples together for one more meal with them. It was at that time that he gave them a ceremony to help them remember that he had died for their sins, their healing and that he would come again to take them to heaven. We call this ceremony “Communion” or “the Lord’s Supper.”
Jesus took ordinary food items. He took a piece of bread and broke it in pieces and gave the pieces to his disciples. He said, “This is my body given for you: do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took a cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.” Churches today use bread or crackers, and wine or grape juice. It really doesn’t matter what is used for Communion; what’s important is remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Communion is a sacrament in which the cup and bread symbolize Christ’s death on the cross and the shedding of his blood for the sins of mankind. When believers participate in communion, they acknowledge with great joy that Christ died for them personally.
What’s odd is that these early followers of Jesus didn’t get together to celebrate his teachings or how wonderful he was. They came together regularly to have a celebration meal for one reason: to remember that Jesus had been publicly slaughtered in a grotesque and humiliating way.
Think about this in modern terms. If a group of people loved John F. Kennedy, they might meet regularly to remember his confrontation with Russia, his promotion of civil rights, and his charismatic personality. But they’re not going to celebrate the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered him!
How could great joy accompany the acknowledgment of the horrifying death of the founder of one’s religion unless that death was followed by a resurrection that offers personal redemption?
The celebration of communion only makes sense on the basis of conviction that Jesus truly arose from the dead on the third day after his death, as the Scriptures record.

And you can be sure that Jesus is alive today!”

Josh McDowell
Sean McDowell

April 26th, 2020 by Brian Markert

When I look at what is going on in the world around us it is easy to allow the troubles of the world around me to suck the oxygen from my lungs. We can’t go visit those who need us the most. We aren’t able to celebrate the big things of life the same way we used to. There are no wedding celebrations, birthday parties or even family dinners. We can’t even mourn the loss of a life the way that we used to. Everyone’s lives have changed; some more than others. During these times it is easy to be deflated. We, however, have reason for hope. As Christians we know that God is in control.

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

As verse 1 puts it, there is a season for everything under the sun. These words don’t necessarily make what is going on around us any easier but there is more. 

Ecclesiastes 3:11:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

April 19th, 2020 by Murray Markert

“Depending on your occupation or your position in life will help determine how you are spending your hours or days in this ‘lock down’ that is upon us.  Some have been laid off and our at home, some are working from home and get out only to get groceries and other necessities.  Retired people and seniors are much the same; at home only and only getting out occasionally but probably less than others because of their susceptibility.  There there is the other group of people – the health care workers who are going full out.  People supplying necessary services under more difficulty circumstances are working hard.  Others who work in the food chain are having trouble meeting the demand.  Then there are people like myself who work in the livestock sector, who need to care for their animals just like before but again under challenging circumstances.  Still having to get out and get the supplies to keep the wheels moving, making sure the animals are getting fed, and getting needed supplies for animal care, I see once busy highways and streets now nearly deserted.  There has to be a lot of people who never thought they head a moment of space/time to just sit and listen or to think about life itself and how it was created and how it is sustained.  They now find themselves able to do that.

We have two groups; one group has their world spinning out of control wondering is this ever going to end and the other group with time on their hands to ponder life itself.  To the group that is overwhelmed, I give you Exodus 14:14.  Moses said this to the Israelites as they camped on the lands of the Red Sea and the Egyptians were almost upon them with their chariots; “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” God is in control of all things at all times.  Among all the busyness we need to ponder that and remember that God will redeem us when the time is right. To the second group of people who have time on their hands, I would like you to consider Psalm 14:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”  Two different verses written under different circumstances but with the same message.  God is in control – turn to Him!

As we take time to commune with the Lord today, talk to Him and listen to what He has to say to you in return.  His answer may not and probably will not be a verbal response, it may be a shiver down the spine, a contentment in your soul, or it just might be the circumstances that our placed in front of you.  Whatever it is you can be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ is before us, reaching out to touch us.

Our pray this morning:  “Lord, may You comfort us, direct us, and keep us in the days to come.  In Jesus Name we pray; Amen”.

Easter, April 12th by Allen Webber
“Then Came the Morning

Consider the period of time immediately after Christ’s death and before His resurrection. Can you imagine what was going on in the lives of the believers who were close to Jesus? Each one would probably be experiencing different kinds and levels of grief as they process what has happened. They are all in shock, disbelief and tremendous pain. After all, this man they thought was the Messiah, the Saviour, was brutally tortured and executed. They had seen Him perform miracles, physically healing people right before their eyes. He provided meals for multitudes when there was no food. He taught love and compassion. He preached and taught of a Saviour for all people. So, if He was the Saviour, how could what happened, have just happened? How could He be a Saviour if He was dead? But, in reality, He ‘was’ their Saviour, but their expectations were vastly different from His real purpose. A purpose they were about to discover that would eternally change their lives.
Think now of the three women who went to the tomb in the morning of the third day to prepare the body with burial spices and such. Imagine their shock and horror at seeing the stone rolled away. The tomb was to be sealed and guarded. But here it was with the stone rolled away, with no guards and no Jesus. To have the life of their Messiah be wiped out in such a disgraceful way. And now this.
But then, the encounter with the ‘gardener’. At first, Mary thought she was conversing with a gardener but Jesus opened her eyes and heart to allow her to recognize Him and to allow her to understand His purpose. Her countenance changed to that of great despair to great elation. When the news given to the others only Peter and a friend thought it was possible but still not quite believing. It wasn’t until a little while later when Jesus appeared to them, as well as others, that they would see and believe that Jesus was truly resurrected and alive, thereby fulfilling Scriptures.
I think of the chorus in this song.

“Then came the morning – night turned into day.
The stone was rolled away, hope rose with the dawn.
Then came the morning –
shadows vanished before the sun.
Death had lost and life had won,
for morning had come.”

I think to understand and empathize with these early Christians and their firsthand experience also allows us to appreciate our salvation all the more. We go from the despair of understanding our sin nature and hell to the glorious salvation in Jesus Christ to eternity with God. Such a contrast.
In Ephesians 1:18-21, we can find these words. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,…”
Have a blessed Easter.”

Good Friday, April 10th by Herb Harder

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+26%3A65-69&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+27%3A27-31&version=NIV

“Anyone who is a parent or grandparent knows the sad but sometimes helpless feelings when our child comes home upset from being bullied or teased relentlessly about something.  There are times when they even feel threatened and frightened about their situation.  As a parent we may offer advice like ‘it will be okay’, or ‘suck it up buttercup’, but if it is too serious we may have to step in and face the situation head on and try to shut it down.  In even doing so, it can break our hearts to see an innocent victim undergo these kinds of treatment while often undeserving them.

Can you imagine our heavenly Father, all powerful, able to do anything He chooses, watch His only Son endure the things He did, knowing this all had to happen to achieve the new covenant for His creation that never appreciated it.  It may be understandable if an honest mistake had been made about the Son of God and a punishment was laid out, but to mock a man the way the Bible describes they did and to carry on mostly because of the religious leaders being afraid for their positions and the others just being caught up in the moment.  It describes them as actually enjoying this mockery and that is what bothers me the most of this whole event.  Maybe this is why the story of Easter saddens me even though I know the end of it is victorious.

Maybe it also saddens me because when I think about it, I am also guilty of mocking my Lord by simple attitudes like, ‘I’ve got this’, or ‘I can handle this’, or possibly worrying about day to day finances or future finances.  Speaking an unkind word to friends or family can also be a form of mockery when the promises of God are laid out for us to depend on, whether personally or as a church family, and we don’t trust them.  Maybe we are not literally striking our Lord or spitting on Him, but the sadness felt by the Father by my actions are no doubt there.

The great news I find comfort in is found in Romans 7:15-25. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+7%3A15-25&version=NIV We all fail and fall short, but the forgiveness by the means of what Jesus endured and what the Father allowed for me is a promise that is amazing.  Let us avoid any mockery these days and every day and recognize the sacrifice made as we partake in the Sacraments of Communion with a clean and appreciative heart.”

April 5th by Pastor Dave
Palm Sunday – The Beginning of “Decision Week”

We love the images of the little baby laying in the manger, and the gentle shepherd cradling a lamb; but we would rather not face the anger of Jesus who turns over tables in the temple.

We praise Jesus the ethical teacher and prophetic preacher; but we would prefer not to hear His call to pick up our cross and follow Him.

We love the images of Jesus riding that little donkey into Jerusalem on that First Palm Sunday with the crowds waving palms shouting “Hosanne, Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”; we prefer not to hear about the week unfolding and as the cheers turn into “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” as Jesus is wrongly charged, beaten and put to death on a cross.

We love to hear about those faithful disciples walking in the parade of Palm Sunday with their Lord; but are surprised and disappointed in them as they deny and flee.  Or is it we can’t bear to think ‘what would I have done?’

We love to focus on the “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem that Palm Sunday and the “Triumphal Resurrection” of Easter Sunday; perhaps preferring to discard the events between.

It’s “Decision Week

Will you satisfy yourself with the babe in the manger (Poinsettia) and the  empty tomb of Resurrection Sunday (Easter lily) and look good to the world?

OR…

Matthew 16 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

March 29th, given by Ken Hartung from “Thoughts” from Chuck Colson

St. Patrick
March 17 is celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. Although there wasn’t a lot of celebration here, the news media revealed it was an important day in many cities. Large parades and green shamrocks and lots of beer drinking honored the occasion. But who was St. Patrick? The book “How Then Shall We Live” by Chuck Colson reveals who St. Patrick was and I’d like to share that with you.
The Dark Ages began with a cold snap. In 406A.D. the Rhine River froze, forming a bridge of ice that allowed a band of barbarians to cross from the Germanic territories into Roman territory. In the following years, waves of vandals and terrorists overran the Roman Empire and Europe, reducing cities to rubble and decimating populations. The entire substructure of Roman civilization was destroyed, to be replaced by small kingdoms ruled by illiterate, barbaric warrior-kings.
As the shadow of the Dark Ages fell over Western Europe, who emerged from the rubble? Who rebuilt Western Civilization? The answer is the Christian Church.
In 401 A.D. a sixteen year old British boy named Patricius was abducted by a raiding Irish war party and sold to a petty Irish chieftain named Miliucc, who sent the boy out to shepherd his flocks. Patircius spent months alone in the hills, hunger gnawing in is stomach and the clammy cold biting into his limbs, until finally he sought help from the only source left. He began to pray.
Before this time, Patricius had NOT believed in the God his Christian parents had taught him about, and he thought priests were fools. But he found in God a source of strength that helped him endure six long years of bitter isolation and deprivation. “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly during daylight hours,” he wrote later. “The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more—and faith grew and the Spirit was roused.”
Then one night, Patricius was awakened by a mysterious voice telling him that he was going home. “Look, your ship is ready,” said the voice. Although uncertain of the direction or distance, Patricius set out for the sea. More than two hundred miles later, he found a ship bound for England.
When he reached his homeland, however, Patricius discovered that he no longer fit in with his people. “Hardened physically and psychologically by difficult experiences and far behind his peers in education, he could not settle down. Then one night the former slave boy heard Christ’s voice again, this time telling him to return to Ireland. He entered theological training and eventually returned as Patrick, missionary to the Irish.
This was no romantic return as modern day songs and parades would indicate. When St. Patrick began his mission, he faced Pagan Irish priests who still practiced ritual human sacrifice to their monstrous Celtic gods. These gods were often portrayed eating people. The fierce Irish warriors, believing that the human head was the seat of the soul, hung their enemies’ skulls from their belts as trophies.
Into this bloodthirsty culture St. Patrick brought the Christian message of love and forgiveness and established monasteries throughout the land. The monastic movement in Ireland began to revolutionize the world, replacing the old values of a warrior society with the new values of Christianity. Within St. Patrick’s lifetime, warriors cast aside their swords of battle, intertribal warfare decreased greatly, and the slave trade ended. A culture of battle and brute power was transformed by an ethic that sanctified manual labor, poverty and service. A culture of illiteracy and ignorance became a culture of learning.
After the fall of Rome, the Irish monasteries also became refuges for large numbers of Christian scholars and monks fleeing the barbarians, streaming in from all across Europe and even as far away as Egypt, Armenia and Syria. As a result for almost 100 years, western Christianity survived by clinging in small isolated places in Ireland. And Christianity did survive and eventually a flood of missionaries from Ireland fanned out across Scotland, England and the European continent. All along the way the monks established monasteries and carried on their tradition of copying and preserving the Bible, along with every other book they could get their hands on including the great classics of the Greeks and Romans, some of which had not been seen in Europe for centuries. They also taught their converts Latin, music and painting.
To give an idea of their success, by the early 600s nearly seven hundred monastic communities had been established along the rocky coasts and mountains of Scotland alone, and between 650 – 850 A.D. more than half of all known biblical commentaries were written by Irishmen. Everywhere they went, the Irish monks carried their Bibles and books around their waists just as the Irish pagans had once tied their enemies’ skulls to their belts.
This is how the Irish saved civilization for it was the disciplined labor of the monks that turned the tide of barbarism across Europe, preserved the best of the Roman culture and kindled new life in the monastic system of the continent. The monastery became the center of culture and education and began transforming life and lives.
Christianity had an incredible impact throughout the Dark Ages. From the north, Vikings repeatedly swooped down on the coasts or sailed deep inland on the rivers to loot and destroy, murdering people, ruining fields, plundering wealth, and burning cities across Europe. From the east terrorists came and left similar devastation and death in their wake. But each time Christianity showed its unquenchable, supernatural power of spiritual regeneration. Each time, the monastic communities arose from the rubble to become islands of peace and spiritual order.
The monks first concern was to nourish the inner life of faith.
But spiritual reform led to social change as they defended the oppressed and spoke boldly against evil in high places. Lawless feudal nobles who cared nothing for morality or law recognized the presence of something stronger than brute force in the monks. There was supernatural power here they could not ignore.
Lasting peace did not come to Europe until the barbarians themselves were evangelized. And one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Christian church is the transformation of the barbarians from bloodthirsty warriors into peace-loving farmers, determined to live by the work of their own hands instead of by theft and plunder. As the barbarians were converted and the destructive invasions ceased, European society began to flourish. Cities grew and ideas of representative government took root.
In this setting, Christianity gave birth to a new institution, the university eventually replacing the monasteries as centers of learning and culture. Later the Reformation would influence a gigantic leap in culture formation, inspiring a new work ethic that would fuel the industrial revolution and create a political climate that made free democracies possible.
This is how Christianity is meant to function in society…not just a private faith but a creative force in culture. The inner life of faith must shape our actions out in the world…a life giving and peace loving lifestyle.
As we celebrate Holy Communion this morning as a people of God let us stand together as a people of God. Let us show the world just as St. Patrick and the Irish did centuries ago that Christianity is not only true…it is humanity’s one great hope.”

March 22nd by Allen Webber
Calm in the Midst of the Storm

When we first heard of the Covid 19 coronavirus back in November and December, it was one of a hundred news stories that was somewhere in a far away country. We carried on with our lives in a rather complacent and predictable fashion. But in a few days we learned the disease was expanding its territory and was something we had not seen in a long time. By January, we started seeing it in other countries and we started to take notice here in Canada. However, we still felt safe and carried on with our lives. In the meantime, the disease was gathering steam and really starting to wreak havoc in many places in the world. Then, by the end of February, the first case was on Canadian soil, and by the middle of March, it has found its way across the country.

Our lives have been completely turned upside down. Our daily routines have been changed and our focus now is on preventing ourselves and others from contracting the virus. In all the confusion and uncertainty of what each new day brings, many things are happening that have an effect on our lives. The stock markets have taken a severe step back. Delivery of goods and services have been severely disrupted. All manner of events, institutions, and businesses have been cancelled or are practicing restraint to try to stem the spread of the virus. And our lives have been disrupted to the point of isolating ourselves from contact with family and friends. All of this can cause us to feel disappointment, fatigue, sadness and fear.

… but GOD. When everything else is cancelled or the doors are closed, God says, “My arms are open wide.” When the health department says to practice social distancing, Jesus says, “Come to Me.” Matthew 11:28 – 29 says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”

So, when our communication systems preach hysteria and fear, the Holy Spirit says I will comfort you and give you rest. Galatians 5:22 – 23 teaches us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.” For the world to see Jesus and to have hope in the midst of this coronavirus, we Christians need to practice and display these gifts of the Spirit. Even though we are self isolating, we can still love and encourage our family and friends.

March 8th, 2020 given by Ken Hartung from Thru the Bible J Vernon McGee and Courson’s Application Commentary Jon Courson

Psalm 18:1-3  (KJV) ”  18 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.   The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
  1. I will love You, O Lord, my strength – the Hebrew word used for love denotes the tenderest affection, to love deeply.  To tell the Lord you love Him is one of the most wonderful things you can do.   Praise toward God begins because He loves us and has provided a salvation for us.  He preserves us and His wisdom watches over us.
  2. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower – David gives a number of endearing names for God in these verses.  He calls the Lord his strength, his rock, his fortress, and his deliverer in all of this He is his Savior.  Then he says again that He is his strength, He is his (buckler) shield, his horn , and his high tower.  David says:  He is my shield – He protects me.  He is omy horn (refers to strength or power).  This is how we need to hold on to our God today.  The Lord, our Savior, is our horn.  The Lord is my high tower – a rocky citadel well beyond the reach of the enemy; and from its heights, the one who lives there may confidently survey a crumbling world around him.  I’m safe in You says David; I get perspective from You.  And the same is available to us.  We might be surrounded by confusion and questions, but when we get away and seek the Lord, suddenly we see things clearly.  This verse contains excellent names for our God.  The word that interests me a great deal is the personal pronoun MY; David says, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer.”  It is one thing to talk about the attributes of God and say He is all powerful, but the important thing is to say He is my srrength.  It is one thing to say He is a shepherd.  David could have said, “The Lord is a shepherd,” and He is, but it is altogether different to say, “He is my shepherd.”  I think I can illustrate what I am talking about.   One day I went to the school to pick up Hailey and James.  Terry and Jodie were busy so I gladly helped out.  There were lots of little boys and girls at the school.  They were all precious children, and as I looked at them I smiled  Then all of a sudden here comes a couple of kids that are different.   Do you know what makes them different?  They are MY grandchildren.  There were lots of parents and grandparents there, and oh, how sentimental we grandparents can become!  Their grandchildren were just as special to them as mine are to me – all because of the little possessive pronoun MY.  Can you say “The Lord is my shepherd, He is my high tower; He is my horn; He is my shield; He is my strength; He is my deliverer; He is my rock; He is my fortress”?
  3. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies – because the Lord had defended and delivered David from all his enemies, He was worthy of David’s praise or in other words Worship.  Worship comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word worth.  Worship is that which is extended to the one who is worthy.  David sang, ” I will call upon the Lord” – and why?  Because He is “worthy to be praised.”

March 1st, 2020 by Benjamin Heide

“God has a way to move and work in our lives that isn’t normal.  He draws on and loves to use imperfect people and can work through and heal and maximize their brokenness to bring glory to His Son.

A couple of weeks ago now, I had a molar that cracked in half.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t painful, but still it needed to be taken care of.  A trip to the dentist on a weekend revealed just how bad things were and what it was going to take to save the tooth.  Funky roots compounded the problem and the dentist recommended that I consult with a dental surgeon for a proper root canal or even an extraction as the roots curled around like fingers in a fist and were actually grabbing onto a chuck on bone.

As broken people, we often have the sinful roots of our problems wrapped around people, things or situations that are hard to let go of and heal our brokenness.  There are times when we simple refuse help from the Spirit of God and would rather be broken as our sinful desires define who we are.

Jesus is and His perfect sacrifice on the cross offer complete removal of the consequences of sin – as He took the pain of our sin on Himself.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t still have cavities and brokenness, however.  It means that He has the ability and the desire to dig out the root of the brokenness and the skill to completely remove the brokenness, if we surrender to Him and let Him.

In the end, my tooth was removed.  It served its purpose and served me faithfully for 30+ years (it cam in when I was about 12), but the brokenness was all but unrepairable.  It needed a dentist to remove it.  In life, we have sin, struggles, thoughts, things and relationships that keep us broken and we need the “Good Physician” to remove it.  Jesus came to do that and more and He fulfilled this work on the Cross of Calvary.

1 Corinthians 11:23-29 New International Version (NIV)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

February 23rd, 2020 by Pastor Dave
“Jesus took my place…

One of the most beautiful confessions of faith ever made was made by the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20.  Paul encompasses salvation and our Christian life in one verse.  There that this servant of Jesus Christ was led by the Holy Spirit to write:   “I am crucified with Christ:   nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me:  and that life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

These words were written by God not just so we might understand what He was saying nor even to understand what Paul may have meant, but it was given by the Holy Spirit that you and I might claim it as our own.   It is to be ‘engraved’ upon hearts by the Holy Spirit.

For the children of God, if by grace you belong personally to Jesus Christ, these words are not merely letters upon a page.  But they are the rejoicing of  your heart:  “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”

February 16th, 2020 by Allen Webber
“My Lord and My God

If you will recall Pastor Dave’s message from last week, entitled “Seeing is Believing”.  I want to focus on one small portion of it, specifically the example he used from Scripture regarding doubting Thomas.  John 20:27 says, “Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your fingers, and see my Hands; and reach here your hand and put it here in My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and My God!””

At first blush, we tend to look at this event and only consider the physical details.  But there is another aspect to it that has commonality with all mankind through all the ages.  Just as with Thomas, we can have difficulty believing in the resurrected Christ.  Even though he had spent three years learning and doing the Gospel with Jesus, Thomas still had doubts until he could be assured in his own heart and mind of the reality of Jesus Christ.  And Thomas had set forth a specific set of parameters that had to be met before he would believe.  Now remember, quite a few people had seen Jesus at this point and had told Thomas about Him, but he remained skeptical.  In verse 25 we read, “…Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And when Thomas came into the room, Jesus came to over to him.  He presented Himself to Thomas, not the other way around, and instructed him to specifically do the things that Thomas needed to do to fully believe.  Jesus knew exactly what Thomas needed.  I think it is important to note that Jesus came to him, which suggests that Jesus and His Gospel will make Himself know to each one of us and we will respond as to whether we accept Him or reject Him.  Because, you see, at this point Thomas still had the choice of belief or unbelief.  But the truth was presented to him in all its simple glory and that was his ‘watershed moment’.  And I think his response was one of personalized, satisfied, relieved completeness.  And I think even those four words are inadequate to explain what Thomas felt.  Just “My Lord and my God!”  The Gospel came to life in a very specific way and at the most appropriate time to have the greatest effect.

This communion reminds us of the fact the Jesus’ body was broken and His blood shed for our sins, but it also should remind us of the hope we have in the resurrection that we too will be in His presence and see and feel the nail scars in His hands and the scar in His side and declare, “My Lord and my God!”

February 9th, 2020 by Murray Markert
Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The last verse is where we start losing our desire to rejoice.  We start to detour from God’s understanding, thinking that at first, we could give God a little advice.  Then thinking His boundaries are to restrictive for us – things are different now then they use to be; God maybe really doesn’t understand today’s world.  Once that seed is planted and germinated, our troubles begin and sin enters our world.  The next step is we start to struggle, then justify our actions.  We do this despite being warned not to lean on our own understanding.  If we go back and submit our prayers and petitions to Him, He will guide us back to wanting to rejoice.  But the guiding back may not be quite as gentle as we would like.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples understood for the first time many of the prophecies they had missed along the way.  Jesus’ words and actions took on a new meaning and more sense.  In retrospect, the disciples saw how Jesus had led them into a deeper and better understanding of His truth.  So, stop now, and think about the events in your life leading up to where you are now.  How has God led you to this point?  So, stop now and rejoice for His involvement in your life.  Take the time as we partake of these elements and communion with the Lord to give thanks and present our prayers and petitions to Him.”

February 2nd, 2020 given by Ken Hartung
Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NIV) The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

Now this passage of Scripture is referring to Israel. Israel will rise again, at the word of the Lord. The God who brought creation into being by His powerful word will restore His people to their life and land.

But let’s spiritualize here a little.

Life is hard. Broken. It wears you down and tears your heart up. By the time you get halfway through life, if not before then, you are stunned at the wear and tear of this world. With your heart broken and your strength well stretched out of shape, you realize, “it’s not going well. Life is not what I hoped it would be. I am so tired I am broken into pieces, scattered about, dry, empty.” When you are in this place, what do you do? How do you gather yourself back up and come together again?

The Sovereign Lord asked you, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Your best answer to the question is exactly what Ezekiel said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know!”

The situation is beyond human help. Only God can make these bleached and crumbling bones live. And only God can restore and bring meaning your life.

The part that comes next is important.

Ezekiel 37:4–6 (NIV)

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”

Do you believe God can breathe new life into you? Are you willing to obey what he asks you to do? These are critical questions that, when answered, will either pull you into his miracles or leave you sitting on the side lines discouraged and alone…… dried up in the heat.

In this predicament what does your Sovereign Lord have to say:

– I will make breath enter you.
– I will make you come to life again.
– I will attach and reconnect your innermost parts.
– I will make you into a lovely human I had mind when I created you.
– I will cover you and protect you if you will trust me and obey.
– I will breathe hope and strength back into you.
– Then you will know that I am the Lord.

This is the process the Lord takes you through over and over through your life. Losses, sorrows, hardships, sin, disease, brokenness, health issues – continually threaten to tear you apart and undo you into a pile of dried up bones.

If you dare to believe and obey, you will come alive again to finish your journey. You will be brought up from the effects of sin and death, and you be brought back to a place of rest. What is that place of rest? It is dwelling in Christ forever even though He dwells in you forever. Forever starts now.

God wants to do this for you. Do you believe him? He will put his spirit in you and help you live in fresh new energy. He will settle you into your own place. Do you believe the son of God/son of man?

The rest of the story in Ezekiel is this:

As Ezekiel was giving this prophecy, he saw a remarkable thing. The bones came together (Ezek. 37:7), flesh developed, skin covered them (v. 8), breath entered them, and they stood up (v. 10).

We are helpless……..The Spirit of God is the One who has to bring life. That is the only way life can come.

This vision is being given to us to let us know we do have a hope.

Despicable We – Brenda Wolfe
Thru the Bible – J Vernon McGee
The Bible Guide – Andrew Knowles

January 26th, 2020 given by Allen Webber
“How Hard Was it for Jesus?

When we come to Communion, we focus on Jesus Christ and what it means to each of us in our personal relationship with Him.  That is as it should be.  Scripture tells us to examine ourselves and our relationship with Christ to see if we are worthy.  But I want us to consider this a bit more from Jesus’ side of the equation.  How hard was it for Jesus?

-To begin with, it meant a physical separation from the intimate relationship that He had with God, the Father.  Now that in itself is something that, for the most part, we can barely comprehend, given the limits of our intellectual capacity.
-He had to leave all His heavenly glory behind and live through our emotional up and down existence.
-He had to fulfill in detail all the Old Testament prophecies, whether He’d read about them or not – right from the time of His birth to His ascension into heaven.
-He had to be born human, born as a baby, vulnerable and helpless, and
experience the sin of the world as we know it and as we feel it.
-He had to give up all things we consider as earthly rights.  Justice and mercy were denied Him.
-He had to give up His own will completely, and do only what His Father wanted Him to say and do.
-He had to live 100% for others, and not Himself.
-He had to live with no permanent address or roof over His head – living off the support of others, no stability at all.
-He had to be sinless.   He had to live in all our filth and destructive habits and remain sinless.
-He had to live knowing He would die, and even on which day He would die.  It would have to be at Passover – to fulfill Scriptures.
-He even knew He would be crucified on a cross.
-He had to overcome death, arise from the grave and send the Holy Spirit.
-He had to leave His friends behind, knowing that they too would be killed for their faith.
-Through all this He had to love His enemies.  After all, He was dying for them as well.
-What a great love that is.  He is our Lord and Saviour, our Great Redeemer, our High Priest, our God, and our Friend.”  – author unknown

January 19th, 2020 given by Pastor Dave

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV)
A Call to Persevere in Faith

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

January 12th, 2020 given by Herb Harder based on the devotion “After Christmas Downer”

“The time leading up to Christmas is usually an exciting time especially as a child.  The anticipation of Christmas wish lists (us old guys went through the Sears catalog), now web sites and television ads, Amazon, and stores advertising well in advance of the season all the things they just know you want and need.  There were school programs, Sunday School programs, extra baking and treats all leading up to the holidays.  My mother was a Sunday School teacher and my father, an Usher, so missing the Sunday School program was not an option – no matter how badly I wanted NOT to participate – not an actor and never wanted to be one!

The best was when Christmas morning, all the family, who had left home and made lives for themselves, came back to the farm.  Not too early, however, because on Christmas Eve they were celebrating on their spouses’ side of the family.  Being eight years younger than the next youngest sibling made me an only child for a few years so when they all came home, it was a blast – food, family and fun – Oh and noise!

Then on Boxing Day, when everyone left and it became quiet again, the Christmas “downer” began.  No mater how great Christmas was, it seemed the expectation never quite met the reality.

Maybe you’ve never experienced that feeling about Christmas, but you’ve felt it at other times somewhere.  On this side of heaven nothing will quite match up to our expectations and dreams.  Not that things are bad, but it never delivers on what we have attached to them.  Not that things are bad, but it never delivers on what we have attached to them.  We may have a great job, but all jobs have their days.  We may have a happy, fulfilling marriage, but all marriages have their days.  We may even prosper but in this fallen world we always seem to want just a little bit more.  Often our dissatisfaction is due to sin and the fallen world.  Even if we have not fallen ourselves, we can long for more.  We may experience restlessness and anxiety until we meet our Lord face to face.  In Romans 8, Paul talks about this and related the longing for the restoration of all things.  We know in our hearts that we exist for something more, something better than what created things can offer.

Praise the Lord we know that if we are in Christ there is something more and much better than we can imagine and it is guaranteed to us.  His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf makes it possible to be in His presence forever if we accept this tremendous gift.  No more disappointments, dissatisfaction, nor more Christmas “downers”.  Friend in Christ.  The best is yet to come!”

“And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?”  ‘Everything” lyrics by Lifehouse

January 5th, 2020 given by Ken Hartung from Luke Commentary John MacArthur, Bible Exposition Commentary Warren Wiersbe, and The Interpretation of Luke Lenski

“The Jews in the Old Testament temple worship sacrificed lambs to cover for sins.  The lambs were raised in Bethlehem that were used in temple sacrifice.
Luke 2:10-11 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The shepherds – It is a wonderful thing that the story should tell that the first announcement of God came to some shepherds.  Shepherds were despised by the orthodox good people of the day.  They were quite unable to keep the details of the ceremonial law; they could not observe all the meticulous hand washings and rules and regulations.  Their flocks made constant demands on them; and so the orthodox looked down on them.  The shepherds would take turns watching the flock at night to guard against wolves and thieves.  God selected hardworking men to be the first witnesses that His Son had come into the world.  It is most likely that these shepherds were in charge of the sheep used in Temple sacrifices.  It is an interesting thought that the shepherds who looked after the Temple lambs were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Fear not – To see this supernatural heavenly host the shepherds first response was fear.  The angel reassured the stunned and frightened shepherds.  If brave shepherds were afraid at what they saw and heard, then you can be sure it was real!

I bring you Good News – The angel then gave them the details of that good news, “I announce to you good news, a great joy which shall be to all the people”  He used the word which means “to preach the Good News” used often in the New Testament.  The Good News is for everybody, not just the Jews but for everyone who believes in Him.

That very day, in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), history’s most significant birth had taken place.  It happened in the most unlikely of places – in the city of David (the tiny hamlet of Bethlehem).  God’s glory came to earth in the person of His Son.  That lowly manager was a holy of holies because Jesus was there!

Savior, Christ, Lord – The angel did not give the Child’s earthly name, Jesus; these are all titles the angel used.

Savior – Everyone is guilty of breaking God’s holy law and deserves eternal punishment in hell.  The true gospel message is that Jesus Christ came into the world to rescue people from sin and guilt.

Christ – The name of Christ and the Old Testament Word Messiah and Christ both me “anointed one”; one placed in a high office and worthy of exaltation and honor.  Jesus was anointed first in the sense that he is God’s appointed King, the “King of Kings (Rev. 17:14; 19:16), who will sit on David’s throne and reign forever, as Gabriel told Mary (1:32-33).  He was also anointed to be the great High Priest (Heb. 3:1) for His people; the mediator between them and God (1 Tim. 2:5) who makes intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).

Lord – To say that this Child is Lord is to say that He is God.  The most fundamental and basic confession of Christianity is “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3).  No one who does not affirm Christ’s full deity and equality with God the Father can be saved for, as He warned the Jews, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you will die in your sins.  If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

December 29th, 2019 by Murray Markert

“Matthew opens his Gospel with a genealogy to prove that Jesus is the descendant of both King David and Abraham just as the Old Testament had predicted.  The Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah to appear.  When He was born the Jews didn’t recognize Him because they were looking for a different kind of King.  Luke records Mary’s genealogy which goes all the way back to Adam showing she was related to all human beings.  Matthew breaks down Israel’s history into three sets of fourteen generations.  Fourteen generations from Abraham to King David.  Fourteen generations from David to the exile to Babylon and fourteen generations from the exile to Jesus’ birth.  The genealogies show who the ancestors of Jesus were.  These ancestors varied considerably in personality, spirituality and experience.  Some were heroes of the faith, some had shady reputations and many were just very ordinary people.  If you look at all of them – even the heroes of the faith, we have deceivers, adulterers, murderers, worshipers of foreign gods, one not so smart, others who refused to listen to God and ones who started out running the race but never made it to the finish line.  Just as God used all kinds of people to bring His Son into the world, He uses all kinds today to accomplish His will.  Just as God uses a variety of people to serve Him.  When we choose to follow Christ, we have a variety of ways opened to us to deal with situations that we would have never considered.

We have just passed Christmas where we have focused on the immaculate conception, Christ’s birth, and the fact He is the Son of the Living God.  The genealogy shows His human side.  So we can see how Christ is wholly God and wholly human.  Knowing Christ walked this earth in the human form and suffered as no one else has or ever will, as He bore the sins of the entire world on the cross – is reassuring of His love for us.  But more specifically, He was sacrificed for my sins or your sins – each of us hammering the nails into His hands and feet – so that some day we will be presentable to our Living God.”

December 22nd, 2019 given by Allen Webber in part, “A Christmas Message” from Billy Graham, 2005

“Once again the world celebrates Christmas.  There have been many trips to the malls and stores to buy every kind of gift imaginable.  Christmas trees and houses have all been decorated.  Various concerts have been held where many Christmas songs have been performed.  The Sunday School program has come and gone for another year.  A number of turkey dinners have been consumed as well as other pot blessings.   Plans have been prepared for families to get together for fellowship, meals and gifts.

Everyone is busily preparing for the holiday season, but in the midst of all these preparations, millions of people are missing the real meaning of Christmas.  The precise meaning of that first Christmas is clear – God came to earth in human form.  In Isaiah we learn of the prophecy that foretold the coming of the Saviour of mankind.  And in Luke we read of the angel that told Mary that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son, “and you shall name Him Jesus.”  As well, an angel revealed to the wondering and trembling shepherds the glorious news that in the city of David a “Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Israel had looked for the One who would deliver them from bondage of Rome and restore their nation to an even greater glory and prosperity than was enjoyed in the days of King David.  They never dreamed that this little Babe in Bethlehem’s manger was the anointed One, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  For centuries these children of God had walked in the light of the law and the prophets, but all the while they looked up to heaven and longed to have God step down.  And 2000 years ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, that is precisely what God did.

The Christmas message is this:  “God was reconciling the world the Himself in Christ.”  But because people were blind to their sins, they saw no beauty in Christ that they should desire Him.  They crucified the Christ who yearned to save  them from their sins and the tragic consequences that inevitably followed their rejection of God’s anointed One.  Christmas emphasizes the glorious truth that salvation is provided apart from us, that into this sin-cursed world came One whose supreme mission was to save sinners.

Christ does for us what no other has been able to do.  He removes our guilt and reconciles us to God.  He raises us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.  He reconciles us to life and our fellow humans.  He implants within us new hopes, new aims, new enthusiasms.  He regenerates our affections, our desires and our energies, and He strengthens our wills.  When Christ comes into a life, He revolutionizes it so that person becomes a “new creation”.  This, and this alone is our hope.”

December 8th, 2019 by Pastor Dave Sarsons

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Revelations 1:8 ““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

A quote from Henri Nouwen

God is a God of the Present

The real enemies of our life are the “oughts” (shoulda -Pastor Dave says) and the “ifs.” They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and the now. God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful or painful. When Jesus spoke about God, he always spoke about God as being where and when you are. “When you see me, you see God. When you hear me, you hear God.” God is not someone who was or will be, but the One who is, and who is for me in the present moment. That’s why Jesus came to wipe away the burden of the past and the worries of the future. He wants us to discover God right where we are, here and now.

John 14:9-11 “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.””

December 1st, 2019 by Ken Hartung referencing “Celebrate His Love” – David Jeremiah and “Thru the Bible” – J. Vernon McGee

“A.W. Tozer wrote, “The coming of Jesus Christ into this world represents a truth more profound than any philosophy that the world has ever known.  All of the great thinkers of the world together could never have produced anything even remotely approaching the wonder and profundity disclosed in the message of these words: He came…They tell us that all of mankind, sitting in darkness, has been visited by the Light of the world.”

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14 ESV

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  Galatians 4:4 ESV

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Is this the way we would have done it?  Would this have been your master plan to rescue lost mankind?  Would you have had your Redeemer delivered to a manger and wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth?  Would you have had Him born in a stable built for cattle?  Would you have had His first visitors the hated shepherds of the hillside?  Have you ever heard of a royal story quite like that?

Paul was right – great is the mystery of godliness!  God was manifested in the flesh.  I would be afraid of God were it not for the fact that He has come to show me that I don’t need to be.  He has come as a man, to walk among men and reveal Himself to us, one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man, but truly human.  And that’s what we often forget.  It is a mystery, this birth of our Savior, born in Bethlehem so many years ago.  Isaiah the Prophet said, Jesus grew up “as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground,” and, “He has nor form or majesty; and what we see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him. (He’s not that much to look at.)  Sometimes Biblical writers can seem so cruel (Posted a picture of our new grandson Jaxtyn a couple of weeks ago.  Would have felt badly if everyone said he was nothing to look at.)

He is despised and rejected of men,  a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:2-3)

The circumstances which led up to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem are so familiar to us that we may not realize how remarkable they were.  We know the story…Caesar Augustus signed the tax bill which moved Mary out of Nazareth.  If that little donkey on which Mary rode had stumbled and Mary had fallen, Jesus could have been born somewhere along the route.  That little donkey could not have stumbled, because 700 years earlier the prophet Micah in the Old Testament had written that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.  The little donkey get her there on schedule; it was perfectly timed from eternity.  When questioned why He spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).  In other words, “My priority is people who are hurting, people who are in need.”  Jesus goes to Bethlehem…insignificant Bethlehem…the obscure little village, where outcasts hang out like the shepherds, the hurting, insignificant person.  And I’m so thankful He does because that’s me.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this little town became renowned for all time.  He changed it.  He made it a place highly esteemed in the hearts of all who love Him.  Any place or person was transformed when they came in contact with Jesus Christ.

Lord, we know You came for people like us, so leave Your mark on our lives.

If you’re feeling unworthy, insignificant, un-together – you are a perfect candidate for the Bethlehem miracle.  If you allow Jesus to be born in your life, if you open the door of your heart to Him, you will be remembered for all eternity because your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life”.

November 24th, 2019 by Allen Webber – in part from Dave Quinn, original concept
“Jesus’ Words from the Cross

I found this devotional where the author examines all the words of Jesus during the crucifixion.  One thing that really sticks out was how Jesus remained focused on those around Him and what He came for, even during this horrific event.

The first words that are recorded from Jesus on the cross show that even in this situation of great agony, He is prepared to forgive His accusers, His torturers, His enemies, as He cries out, “Father forgive the, for they know not what they are doing.”

Secondly, He turns to one of the thieves that are on the two crosses on either side of Him, who has cried out for remembrance when Jesus comes into His kingdom.  Jesus replies, “Truly, today you will be with me paradise.”  As soon as they both die, they can enjoy being in the presence of God the Father in eternal bliss.

Thirdly, Jesus turns to His mother and to His close friend, John the disciples, and says, “Woman, behold your son.  Son, behold your mother.”  Even on the cross, He has not forgotten those closest to Him.

Fourthly, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Jesus felt some awareness of now being separated from His heavenly Father.  The closeness and intimacy that He had enjoyed throughout His life was being broken.

Fifthly, He cries out, “I thirst.”  And yet He refuses to drink what was meant either as a painkiller or a poison, anything that would relieve His suffering or speed up the process of His death.  And so, His statement, “I thirst”, is probably not merely a statement of human anguish but also one of spiritual anguish following His acknowledgment of the separation from God.

Sixthly, He says “It is finished” – certainly referring to His life, but again perhaps we are meant to see the whole plan of salvation has now been accomplished.

And finally, He cries out, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.”

So, to summarize, Jesus asked God to forgive the people who crucified Him, indicating that forgiveness comes from God through Jesus Christ and is available for even the most vile of sinners.  He offered salvation to one of the thieves, which tells us that not all will respond to the invitation of salvation.  He asked John to take care of His mother, which teaches us that we are to look after our fellow man.  He felt separation from God for the first time and said He thirsted for God, both are feelings we have when we first recognize that our humanity separates us from God.  He said that work of salvation was done, telling us that there is nothing more that is needed to be done or accomplished to make it any more than it is right now.  And last, but not least, He committed His spirit to God, giving Christians hope of our final destination – eternity with God.

Right until the end, Jesus focused on us and those around Him.  The only detour in His words was to say that He was feeling the pain of being separated from His Father.  The entire gospel message was encapsulated and displayed in just a few brief moments.”

November 17th, 2019 by Murray Markert

“For this morning’s Communion Thought I will reference one Scripture and one Christian Poem; first Daniel 3:24-25:

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”  They replied, “Certainly, O King.”  25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

The second reference is from the poem “Footprints”  The last verse reads;

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

A few weeks back Wendy wrote in one of her blogs about us taking for granted how God works in our lives daily.  We tend to take little or no notice of it – we chalk it up to coincidence.  Since then my senses have been on high alert.  I would like to tell about a story that happened this week and one that culminated yesterday.  Over the course of the last few months Lynne’s sister Gail and Wendy have spent many days going through Lynne’s sewing room.  They have been sorting, categorizing, eliminating, and treasure hunting.  This last week they sort of finished their project.  As we were talking, Wendy asked if I had heard from this particular friend of Lynne’s.  We will call her ‘Mary Lou’.  I told her the last time I had talked to her was when she phoned and asked if she could pick Saskatoons.  I had told her sure, but it was going to cost her – a Saskatoon pie – and I added to Wendy that I haven’t collected the pie yet.  The very next day I get a call from Mary Lou saying the pie is coming.  That pie ended up in a long conversation on grieving that we both needed.  Just wasn’t by chance.

The second story culminated yesterday.  One of the ‘treasures’ that Gail and Wendy found in their treasure hunt was a baby quilt that only required a binding and to be quilted.  Wendy had taken it home the previous week unknown to me and had brought it back completed and she asked me, “Who are you giving this to?”  I presume everyone has heard about the arrival of Julie’s baby this week.  Probably a lot of you know Julie and Lynne had a very special relationship.  Lynne had no idea Julia was going to have a baby.  Yet yesterday I mailed that baby’s quilt to Jaxtyn and tears came to my eyes as I realized again how great our Triune God is – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

That’s the ‘good stuff’; now back to Wendy’s blog.  If we start taking all these things for granted, all the ‘good stuff’, when our trials and testing – the not so nice things – come along, we start questioning God and His plans.  Maybe, just maybe to the point of yelling out to heaven “Why, Why did You let this happen?  Why have You forsaken me?”  The truth is we are never forsaken.  I believe that the fourth man in the furnace, the one Nebuchadnezzar referred to as the “son of the gods”, was in fact Jesus the Son of man.  I believe He was illustrating to us no matter how hot or fiery our circumstances become, He will be there walking with us.  If we become so weak we cannot go on, He will pick us up and carry us.  That is who our God, our Jesus, our Savior is!”

November 10th, 2019 given by Herb Harder
“Do We Look Back and Wonder or Do We Look Back in Wonder?

Have you ever looked back on your life and your accomplishments, or perhaps lack of accomplishments and wonder what might have been?  Questions like our choice of career, was it the right one?  Could I have chosen better?  Did I choose the right place to live and raise a family?  Did I do all I could to be a good parent?  Did I marry too early in life?  Did I marry too late in life?  Second guessing ourselves and questioning our past and decisions are endless if you let them, OR

Do we LOOK BACK IN WONDER, especially if we are followers of Christ?  Even if our choices weren’t stellar, look back at how through good times and tough times, Jesus saw us through.   How through His grace and mercy He called you to Himself whether in a huge amazing revelation or a dramatic change, or just a gentle calling throughout your whole life.  Think of the times in our recklessness He chose to save our physical lives by avoiding circumstances or perilous situations, possible may times when we were not even aware of them.  My point being:   LOOK BACK IN WONDER and remember Proverbs 16:9.  The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord established his steps.  For Christians this should be comforting.  He has got your back, your front, and our future.

“There are times God allows things that He hates in order to accomplish the things He loves.”  No matter where we are at, it is important to realize that this includes the sacrifice of His one and only Son, for us.  Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him.  After His death and resurrection, He didn’t search out for revenge or have the ‘I told you so’ attitude.  He didn’t appear to Pilate or the Chief Priests or those who brutally beat Him.  He appeared to those who loved Him and followed Him.  Those who He knew needed the reassurance of His purpose and their purpose.

He never healed anyone with strings attached – I’ll-heal-you, but-you’ve-got-to-follow-and-obey-me.  His comment was more like go and sin no more, or take up your mat and walk, or because of your faith you are healed.  The rest was up to them by accepting His grace and mercy.

As we partake in the sacraments and enjoy His life saving grace and mercy, do we ask ourselves:  For what He has done, what is up to to us?  what is our duty?  what is our response?  Look BACK IN WONDER with appreciation and love, then follow Him.”

October 27th, 2019 by Allen Webber
“The Irish Potato Famine

The Irish Potato Famine began in 1845, when a fungus-like organism spread throughout the country.  The infestation ruined about half the potato crop the first year and about three quarters of the crop in the subsequent seven years.  When it was all said and done, approximately one million people had died from starvation or related causes, and another million were forced to flee to the other parts of the world.

One story arising out of the catastrophe sees a young boy stowing  away on an American ship.  At sea, the ship struck on iceberg and began to sink.  As people scrambled frantically for the lifeboats, the captain supervised the process and was the last to leave the sinking vessel.  When he looked back at the ship, he saw the young boy come out of hiding.  The brave captain ordered his lifeboat back to the sinking ship.  He climbed aboard and rescued the boy putting him in the seat that he had vacated – the only place available in the lifeboat.  As the lifeboat slowly pulled away for the second time, leaving the captain to go down with his ship, he yelled to the boy, “Son, never forget what has been done for you today.”  And I suspect he never did.

When Jesus instituted the Last Supper, it was His way to saying, “Never forget what has been done for you on the cross.  Never forget the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice.”  In the broken bread, He reminds us of His body that was broken to meet our hunger for salvation.  In His brokenness, Jesus received our sin.  In the poured wine, He reminds us of His blood that was spilled out to meet our thirst for life.  Through His blood, Jesus erased our sin.  And in so doing, He became the perfect sacrifice.  He atoned for our sin, our sinking ship, and saved us for all eternity.”

October 20th, 2019 given by Ken Hartung with references of “Thru the Bible” J Vernon McGee, “Colossians Commentary” John MacArthur and
“Letters to Colossians” William Barkley

Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV)

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Delivered – “to rescue”.  God drew us out of Satan’s kingdom to Himself.   That event was the new birth.  We are not gradually, progressively delivered from Satan’s power.  When we place our faith in Christ, we were instantly delivered.
Domain of darkness – to refer to the supernatural forces of Satan.  At Jesus’ arrest before His crucifixion, He used this term as the satanic forces that were coming against Him.  The triumph of the domain of darkness was short-lived, however.  A few hours later, Jesus forever shattered Satan’s power by His death on the cross.  You need not fear that power, for “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  Through His death, Jesus crushed Satan and delivered us from his dark kingdom.
Transferred – means to remove or change – speaks here of our total removal from the domain of satanic darkness to the glorious light of the kingdom of Christ.
Kingdom – the kingdom is a spiritual reality right now.
Transfered…to the kingdom of His beloved Son. – The Eternal Kingdom of Christ.

The once might Napoleon is reported to have made this statement:  “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires, but on what foundation did we rest the creatures of our genius?  Upon force.  But Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love, and at this hour, millions of persons would die for Him.  I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth to become food for the worms.  Such is the fate of him who has been called the ‘great Napoleon'”.  And then Napoleon stated, “What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored and is still existing over the whole earth”.

The Father gives the kingdom to the Son He loves, then to everyone who loves the Son.  He reigns in eternity, rules over His church, and one day will return to rule the earth as King of kings.  The character of the kingdom of God cannot be changed to suit the sinful nature of man, so man must be transformed if they would dwell in the kingdom of God.  Jesus’ belief in life after death was central and crucial to all His teaching.  The message of the Gospel is so simple that to become a Christian even a child can do it.  In fact, to enter the kingdom of heaven, Jesus taught that we must become as children (Matthew 18:3).  In simple faith, we must place our trust in Christ, whether we be college professors or people who have never finished grammar school.

In Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – God does not arbitrarily and sentimentally forgive sins.  We have redemption through His blood – redemption – means “to buy back and set free an enslaved people.”  He paid a price to deliver us out of slavery.  Because Christ redeemed us, God has sent away our sins; they will never be found again.  “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  So Christ’s death on our behalf paid the price to redeem us.  On that basis – God forgave our sins, granted us an inheritance, delivered us from the power of darkness, and made us subjects of Christ’s kingdom.  Those wonderful truths should cause us to give thanks to God.”

October 6th, 2019 by Murray Markert based on Footnotes of the Living Life Bible

“How privileged we are to be able to come to this building as a body of believers and sit in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ as co heirs of His kingdom.

“What Jesus taught and what He did are tied inseparable to who He is.  Jesus was fully human and fully God.  Although Jesus took upon Himself full humanity and lived as a man, He never ceased to be the eternal God Who has always existed – the Creator and Sustainer of all things and the source of Eternal Life.  This is the truth about Jesus and the foundation of all truth.  If we cannot or do not believe this basic truth, we will not have enough faith to trust our eternal destiny to  Him.  Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God.”  Power for Living

It is Communion time; a time to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ to partake of these elements.  The bread, which represents Jesus’ broken body and the wine which represents Jesus’ blood which was poured out to enable the forgiveness of sin.  It is a time to come to the Lord to share your innermost thoughts and concerns.  It is a time to ask Him those questions of why – “why did this happen?” – “why me?” – “why now?” and “how would You have me use the gifts You have given me?”  It is time to have a conversation with the Son of God Who was present at Creation, the center of the Crucifixion and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.  And it is time to give thanks to Him for His part in our lives and for paying the ultimate price – for dying on a cross and shedding His blood so we can spend eternity with Him.  In our conversations with Him we may not get the answer we want.  We may not be able to decipher His answer and He may not even answer at all.  But one thing we must never forget is His Grace – is sufficient for all things.”

September 29th, 2019 by Allen Webber
“Eight Things About Jesus

Each of us, in our own way, can have many distractions in our lives that cause us to not focus on Jesus Christ.  They can be family, occupation, world events, politics, the weather, idleness, or any number of things that pull our focus to these things and away from God.  And consequently, it can be challenging to sit calmly for a few minutes in communion and put our cares aside and think of Jesus rather than us.  So, I would like to give you a few things to think about for your meditations.

  1. Jesus is the Son of God.  Luke 1:34, “The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy child shall be called the Son of God.”
  2. Jesus gives life.  In John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
  3. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.   In John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
  4. Jesus gave His life.  In John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  5. Jesus is the only way to God.  In John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me.”
  6. Jesus is the Head of the Church.  In Colossians 1:18, “Christ is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
  7. Jesus is faithful.  In 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
  8. Jesus is coming again.  In Acts 1:10-11, “And they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, “Men of Galilee why do you stand looking into the sky?  This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you watch Him go into heaven.”

September 22nd, 2019 by Pastor Dave Sarsons

“Carl Boberg had recently quit his work as a sailor and started working as a lay-minister in his native Sweden (he would later go on to be a newspaper editor and a member of Swedish Parliament).  In 1885, he was inspired by the sound of church bells ringing during a wild thunderstorm and penned the poem “O Great God”.  Although “O Great God” was published, Borberg’s nine-verse poem didn’t really catch on, and it seemed destined to be all but forgotten.  However, three years later someone out there like it enough to match the words with a traditional Swedish melody, and when Boberg found out about it, he quickly published the poem once again in his own newspaper in 1891, this time with the musical notation added.

Fast forward a few decades to the 1930’s – Somehow this poem put to music had traveled across borders, and English missionary Stuart Hine heard the song (in Russian) while in Poland.  Deeply moved by the song, he translated it into English, tweaked the musical arrangement, some of the wording, and took it home with him to England.  In English, the song was now called “How Great Thou Art”.

On to the 1940’s – Evangelist Dr. Edwin Orr heard this new version of the song being sung by native tribal people in Assam, India, and being deeply inspired by it he brought the song back to the United States.  We are still unsure how the song ever got to India to start with.

In 1954, the song found its way into the hands of George Beverly Shea, who sang it nearly 100 times during Billy Graham’s 1957 New York Crusade (16 weeks at Madison Square Gardens).

In 1959, it became the theme song for Billy Graham’s weekly radio broadcast, bringing “How Great Thou Art” into the national consciousness.

How astonishing that this song, recorded over 1,800 times in the last 50 years, had its origins as a poem in a small town in Sweden, written by a sailor, turned lay-minister, and somehow wound its way around the globe.

The question was “What good could ever come out of Nazareth?”  When God came to walk with us some 2000 years ago, He changed EVERTHING FOR ETERNITY!”

Matthew 19:26 New International Version (NIV)

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

September 15th, 2019 given by Ken Hartung from “Thru the Bible” – J Vernon McGee; “Romans New Testament Commentary” – John MacArthur and “Romans High Definition Commentary” – Steven E. Runge

Romans 8:38-39 
“38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Sure –  convinced – The apostle assures his readers that he was not teaching them anything about which he himself was not fully convinced.  He was convinced because he had experienced most of the things mentioned and they did not separate him from Christ.  You can’t hurt people like that.

Death – “death” cannot separate us – in fact, it will take us into His presence.  The response of many of the early Christian martyrs when they were threatened with death was, “Thank you, you will transport me right into the presence of my Savior.”

A well know pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse told a personal story that beautifully illustrates death’s powerlessness over Christians.  When his wife died, his children were still quite young, and Dr. Barnhouse wondered how he could explain their mother’s death in a way their childish minds could understand.  As they drove home from the funeral, a large truck passed them and briefly cast a dark shadow over the car.  Immediately the father had the illustration he was looking for, and he asked the children, “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by the shadow of a truck?”  “That’s easy, Daddy,” they replied.  “We would rather get run over by the shadow, because that wouldn’t hurt.”  Their father then said, “Well, children, your mother just went through the shadow death, and there’s no pain there, either.”

Life – We think of life as something positive.  But it is in our present earthly life that spiritual dangers lie.  It is while we still have this life that we face tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword (8:35) and the many other trials that Paul could have mentioned.  But because we have eternal life in Christ, the threats during our present life are empty.

Angels nor rulers – and I think he means fallen angels – “principalities and powers” are spiritual enemies, evil beings, specifically demons.  Angels would not and demons could not undo God’s relationship with His redeemed ones.  Paul is saying that no supernatural created being, good nor evil, an sever our relationship to Christ.

Things present and things to come represent everything we are experiencing and will yet experience.

Powers – refers to miracles or mighty deeds…or a miracle worker.  It was also used figuratively of persons in positions of authority and power.  Regardless of the specific meaning Paul had in mind here, powers represent another obstacle that Christians need not fear.

Height nor depth – the idea that Christ’s love secures a believer from the beginning to the end of life’s path.  Or perhaps he used the terms to signify the infinity of space, which is endless in every direction.  In either case, the basic meaning is that of totality.

Nor anything else in all creation – Since only God, Himself, is uncreated, everyone else and everything else is excluded.

There is nothing anywhere at any time that shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.  Our salvation was secured by God’s decree from eternity past and will be held secure by Christ’s love through all future time and throughout all eternity.

I am going to have to trust God Who was faithful enough to us to send His only Son…He will remain committed to finishing the job.”

September 8th, 2019 by Allen Webber
“Jesus Tells About the Future

In this age of mass electronic communications, we are inundated by all manner of information from all parts of the world.  A generation ago and beyond, information discovery was tempered by time, distance, reduced technology, and a limit to storage capacity.  But today we learn about things and occurrences at such a volume and with such speed that it boggles the mind.  We can watch and keep track of these events as they occur in real time.  Rather than wait for days or even weeks to read an abbreviated account in a newspaper, we can watch it unfold right before our eyes on satellite TV or cellphones.

We have been able to watch minute by minute progress of a hurricane following up the east coast of Canada.  We have seen the civil unrest and riots in Hong Kong.  We can watch daily the turmoil in Britain and the Brexit negotiations.  It seems we hear of new strife every day in the Middle East with all the tribal countries warring over their piece of the sand box.  Every country in the world is bickering over political power.  Even on a more individual basis, families are being torn apart by strife and unrest.  It seems everyday people are dealing with external forces that are pulling them in different directions.  One can not fault another for thinking the world is coming to an end.

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus was questioned about the end times.. And He had this to say, “See to it that no one misleads you.  Many will come in My Name, saying ‘I am He!’ and mislead many.  When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not the end yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines.  These things are merely birth pangs.  Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise against parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by all because of My Name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

But Jesus offers this encouragement.   “Be on guard so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life.  But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.  These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

September 1st, 2019 presented by Herb Harder
“Interesting:  But Does It Really Matter?

Most everyone enjoys receiving a letter; now text or email, providing its good news.  How would you enjoy a letter from Jesus?  In Revelation, there were some churches who received letters from Jesus albeit though His servant John.  The letter I want to address today is the one in Revelation 3:14-16.  I recall the interpretation of these verses as Jesus being dissatisfied with the church’s works being neither cold nor hot.  The theory being that hot was good as being on fire for God; cold being clearly not acquainted with God or the accepting of His salvation and lukewarm being useless or lazy so that God would spew them out of His mouth.  Lukewarm is being associated with negativity.  But what if?

The history and geography of Laodicean tells us that it was situated in a place where the water supply was not usable.  They, therefore, had to access water from another town called Hierapolis, which was built on a plateau with natural medicinal hot springs that were used for bathing and healing as it came out of the earth full of natural minerals.  The other source came from a settlement called Colassae about 10 miles away which had a spring of cold fresh water that was excellent for drinking.  Through a system of aqueducts, these sources supplied the Laodiceans with the water they needed.  They had access to both hot and cold water; both very useful and necessary.

If this in fact is correct, Jesus knew this and had a gift for speaking to people in a way that they could identify with.  In this case, the water in Laodicean.  He wanted them to be like hot water, useful for healing and bathing, or cold water; refreshing to drink.  No one seems to enjoy lukewarm water for drinking or washing, but hot or cold water were useful examples.  He was asking them to be useful, profitable servants.  If they are not hot nor cold, He says, He will spit them out of His mouth; a warning that God will not abide by lukewarm Christianity nor a heart that is only partially His.  Interesting?

Whichever interpretation you choose to accept however, does not change the true message of the gospel.  I am in fact glad that our church and pastor makes it clear that there is only one way to salvation and that is through the cross and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made for us and that, in fact, does really matter.  As John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by me.”

August 11th, 2019 given by Ken Hartung from Jon Courson’s Application Commentary

“Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me.  You have been so, so good to me.  Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me, You have been so, so kind to me.  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God.  Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’mm found, leaves the ninety-nine.  I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away.  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”

8:1a…There is therefore now no condemnation…

To the woman taken in the act of adultery, Jesus said, “Where are your accusers?  Go your way and sin no more” (John 8:10,11).  So too, when, in total honesty, you say to the Lord, “I know I’m a sinner, but realize You are my Savior…what You did on the Cross is sufficient to pay the price for my sin,” then you can go free.  “Wait a minute”, you  may protest…”what human good do I need to contribute here?”  “Yes, Jesus said, ‘Go your way’, but He also said, ‘and sin no more’.  I don’t believe Jesus’ tone with the woman taken in adultery was, “I’ll let you off the hook this time, lady.  But if it happens again, you’ll be in big trouble.”  No, I believe His tone was, “Go your way a free woman.  By the Word I’m sharing with you, and the love I’m showing to you, I’m giving you liberation from your tendency to live this type of life, and freeing you to live in an entirely different lifestyle.”  And I believe there was a smile on His face, not a finger in her face as He said it.

8:1b…to them which are in Christ Jesus…

That’s the key.  Let’s look at Noah and the Ark for a minute.  The Lord said to Noah, make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. (Genesis 6:14).  The word “pitch” is the same word in the old Testament for “atonement”.  Atonement means “correct mistakes”, so the ark is a perfect picture of our salvation, for when the rain began to fall, the Lord shut Noah and his family in (Genesis 7:16).  He didn’t say, “I’m going to put eight pegs on the outside of the ark, Noah.  You and your family are to hang on for dear life, and as long as you hang on, you’ll make it through.”  No, He said, “I’m going to put you in.”

And the same is true of us.  It’s not a matter of holding on, hoping that if we can keep from sinning, we’ll be okay.  No, our ARK is Jesus Christ; and we are in Him.  Therefore there is no condemnation.  No matter how rough the seas might be or how heavy the rain comes down, we’re sealed, safe and secure.  When the Father looks at you, He doesn’t see you with all your failings and shortcomings.  No, He sees you robed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus (Isaiah 61:10).  He doesn’t see you in your sin; He sees you in His Son. Therefore, there’s no condemnation whatsoever.  Regardless of where you’ve been or how badly you’ve failed, regardless of who you are or where you are, there is no condemnation.

August 4th, 2019 given by Allen Webber
“Desires, Dependence and Devotion by Jordan Standridge

On the night before Jesus died, He instituted this communion mean.  He expects us to regularly partake of it.  He believes it will make a difference in our lives.  The Lord’s Supper can have many effects for a believer but I would like you to consider these three today.

  1. The Lord’s Supper challenges your desires.  Jesus gave up His life.  No one took it from Him.  Not only did He know He was born to die, but He knew the way He would die.  But He also knew about a last supper He would eat with His disciples.  He had looked forward to this meal for a very long time.  Why was He so eager?  Partly because this meal was a transition meal.  This meal would be the final God-ordained Passover meal that the world would ever see, but it would also prove to be the first God-ordained Lord’s Supper.  The disciples and their followers (this includes you and me) would go on to eat thousands of Lord’s Suppers in their lifetimes, but Jesus would not.  This would the be the first and last Lord’s Supper that He would partake of before the millennial kingdom.  He was looking forward to this meal in the future – a meal He will partake in with all believers.  He eagerly waits for that day.  Are you?
  2. The Lord’s Supper confirms your dependence.  Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper to remind us about how we are constantly in need of remembering Him and what He was about to do.  We depend on Christ in our salvation.  Entirely.  There isn’t one ounce of spirituality that we bring to this table, we are utterly bankrupt.  And Jesus, on the cross, by giving up His body and shedding His blood, completely satisfied God’s requirement and opened up the gates of heaven for anyone who believes in Him.  Each time we come to the Lord’s table we are reminded of our dependence on Him in our salvation.
  3. The Lord’s Supper checks your devotion.  The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to examine our hearts.  We are bad judges.  We have a hard time discerning why other people do what they do.  The main reason is simply because we cannot see people’s hearts.  Consider that the disciples had no idea who would betray Jesus.  The lived beside Judas for three years and yet had no idea that he wasn’t truly saved, even after Jesus had made it explicit.  So, what are we suppose to do?  Scripture teaches us to take the plank out of our own eye before we take the speck out of another’s eye.  We are to take a serious look at our own hearts.  We are to examine it to see if we are in the faith.  Secondly, we are to encourage those around us to do the same.  Ultimately each person is responsible for their walk with Christ.  We must trail ourselves to do these self checks and the Lord’s Supper is a good place to start.”

July 21st, 2019 given by Pastor Dave
“Laying it all on the table…by Tim Plyes (Pastor Church of Christ, Tulsa, Oklahoma)

In numerous worship assemblies this Sunday morning there will be a sincere, well-meaning soul who says something to the effect of:

“Let’s completely focus our minds on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins and remove all other worldly concerns from our hearts as we share in the bread and the juice.”

“Whatever else might be going on in our lives right now with our families, our work, our finances, or our health, let’s put these things out of our minds for the next few moments as we completely center our thoughts on the cross in remembrance of Jesus.”

For most of my life, I have heard statements similar to these shared in communion thoughts before the Lord’s Supper or expressed more indirectly in the prayers that are offered prior to sharing the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine.  Despite the sincerity and noble intentions of such abominations for us to our empty minds of “worldly concerns” during this memorial feast, I would like to suggest that:
1) it isn’t possible and 2) it isn’t necessary or advisable.

As to the possibility of self-induced, temporary amnesia, try this…don’t think about a banana…or your favorite sports team…or the name of your first pet.  How well did you do?  By merely mentioning “whatever else is going on in our lives right now”, our thoughts instantly lock on to our most pressing concern, the heaviest burden of our heart, our deepest pain, or the most recent source of our anxiety or guilt.  “So, now that you’ve identified it, stop thinking about it!”  Can we just instantly change channels like that?  I don’t think so.  But here’s the cool thing:  I don’t think we have to.

Let me clarify something, lest some readers misunderstand.  I completely agree that, in the solemnity and celebration of remembering the Christ Who died for us, we dare not profane the feast and dishonor the Lamb by mere mechanical participation in the Lord’s Supper.  However, to suggest that our relationships, vocations, finances, and physical health are merely “secular” concerns which have “no place at the table” reinforces the erroneous notion of a compartmentalized faith in which our worship of God and our communion with Christ have nothing to do with “real life”.  On the contrary, there i s no facet or aspect of my life that is to be exempt from His Lordship.  “All He wants is all of me!”

So bring your troubled marriage to the table as you remember the One Who convicts and challenges us to sacrificially offer agape love to one another as husbands and wives, just as He did in laying down His life for His bride, the church.   Since God has declared the crucified and resurrected Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, let’s submit to His teaching and recommit ourselves to the hard work of “becoming one’ and resolve to let nothing or no one separate what God has joined together.

Rather than seeking to temporarily ignore our burdens, doubts and struggles, and failings, let’s bring them with us to the foot of the cross.  As we remember the sacrificial body and blood of the Lord Who saves us from sin, let us also lay claim to His power to redeem and restore whatever is burdening our hearts.

Let’s lay it all on the table.

 

July 14th, 2019 by Brian Markert

“Shari and I decided that we would like to become confident kayakers so we can enjoy the river and take others with us so they can do the same. Last year we went to the U of C outdoors program and signed up for some courses and clinics. Through those we became much better kayakers. Since then we’ve taken our boats out and have worked on our strokes and our rolls. Yesterday I signed up for a course that matched my skill level and I went out on the river with a guide and a group who were at a similar skill set as I am. I was expecting that we would be hitting some more challenging features and have a run on some pretty fun water. I was wrong. We spent the entire day in four or five different eddies.

We practiced our exits and entries in those eddies over and over again. On the exit we would have a goal of what we needed to do and we would know the theory of how to do it. We would attempt the exit and either succeed or fail then enter the bottom of the eddy and come back to the top to try again.

Was the course what I was hoping for? No. Did it make me a better kayaker than if I had gotten what I wanted? Absolutely. I still had a great time learning new skills and making new friends.

Last week to paraphrase something that Dat said that resonated with me is that God has a plan and a purpose. He will carry out that plan with or without you and if you are willing He can use you in doing so.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

So lets look at the next step. Lets assume that you want to align your life with Gods will. What does that look like? I want to share two Scriptures:

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

On the river, my goal is to become a better paddler. In life, my goal is to strive for the same prize as Paul, to really know Jesus and to love and serve others to the same extent as he does. Sometimes the days in life seem as monotonous as going in and out of an eddy. But what if we were to treat those humdrum days as a practice eddy. You leave the eddy in the morning and then you come back in the bottom at night. Suddenly something clicks in your repetitions and you say that’s a way better way of entering my day or I got a way better response out of my grouchy coworker when I approached him that way or I didn’t lose my mind on my kids when they tracked dirt across the floor I just vacuumed when I took time to pray in the morning. If you are striving for daily improvements God can use you to carry out His will. That change in how you approached your grouchy coworker may be the exact approach God needed for you to talk to a parent on your kid’s baseball team who is angry with God.

Life, like a river, has a flow to it that neither you nor I can control. Sometimes it’s predictable and sometimes it flips you over and all you can do is hang on to your boat and swim for shore. God’s plan and purpose for your life isn’t for you to sit on the flat water in an eddy and not go anywhere. God’s goal is to build you up and refine you so that you can find the joy in going through life’s white water with Him.”

July 7th, 2019 given by Allen Webber
“A Substitute – Tom Claibourne

When a person starts to read through the Bible, in no time at all, they encounter blood.  The Bible is a very bloody book.  Two thirds of the books mention blood, with upwards to 500 total references.  One can get bogged down in the seemingly endless details concerning animal sacrifices.  Why so many sacrifices?  Why so much blood, when the Bible clearly states that the blood of animals cannot take away sins?

The Old Testament sacrificial system was part of a symbolic process God used to prepare the world for the coming of the Saviour, Jesus, to die for the sins of the world.  It was merely a shadow of what was to come.  The animal sacrifices ultimately impressed upon people their need for forgiveness and what God was willing to do about it.  Each time an animal died in their place, the Jewish people vividly saw the messy and destructive results of sin.  Sin devastates lives.  Sin creates a barrier between us and a Holy God, resulting in death, just as God had warned mankind from the beginning.

The sacrificial system also provided a powerful lesson about the grace and mercy of God.  It forcefully announced that He was willing to accept a substitute to die in our place. Yet long before God issued instructions concerning animal sacrifices, He had already demonstrated His willing grace.

After Adam and Eve fell into sin, the Bible says, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”  An animal died in their stead. A substitute.  Later, when God interceded to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, He provided a ram for Abraham to offer ‘instead of his son’.  A substitute.

Solomon’s temple was built many years later on Mount Moriah and became the site of countless bloody sacrifices.  Substitutes.  God’s grace shone forth even though the sacrifices were inadequate for the removal of sin.

The city of Jerusalem grew and expanded in the area around Mount Moriah.  This was not a geographical coincidence.  God knew back in the days of Adam, and in the days of Abraham, that His own Son would one day give His life as a ransom for sinners just outside Jerusalem.

Jesus died on a cross in our place not far from the hill of sacrifices known as Mount Moriah.  Jesus was our Substitute, and we are made holy through His redeeming sacrifice.

These emblems at this communion table should prompt us to consider the high cost of our sin, the matchless grace of God, and the selfless gift of Jesus.  His blood was shed to free us.  He was the Substitute we needed.”

June 30th, 2019 given by Herb Harder
“What are Your Distractions?

Distractions come in all forms.  It can be our work ethics, our time or type of play and relaxation, our dedication to whatever takes our time and efforts over and above of what they should be.  Today’s headline news can be a huge distractions for our everyday life and more importantly our spiritual life.  Our Bible, the Word of God, gives good guidelines on how to manage all these efforts from acknowledging our heavenly Father, our daily work and play as well as spending time with friends and fellow believers, it has it all.

Even in the beginning, we discover that man was distracted in the Garden of Eden by satan and the temptation of wanting what was forbidden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  King David with all his victories and God’s annointing gave way to distraction with adulterous actions, leading to murder before seeking forgiveness.

These examples of distraction unfortunately lead to destruction for Adam and Eve and God’s original plan and for King David and his family.  How could God’s creation and annointed go so wrong.  Here’s the third ‘D’ word.  Deception.  In most cases if not all, things go against God’s plan from Distraction, then Deception, followed by Destruction.  Fortunately complete destruction can be minimized by believing and accepting the gift of life that Jesus offers by sacrifice for us on the cross.

It then becomes our decision of where our loyalty lies.  There are so many forces (distractions) in this world that compete for our loyalty and it becomes a fight to redirect that loyalty.  The final question being, upon realizing the perfect sacrifice made for you and me, to Whom do we belong, and to Who will our loyalty belong.”

June 23rd, 2019 given by Ken Hartung from Believers Bible Commentary
Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee
MacArthur New Testament Commentary

“The Wisdom of God

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The cross divides men. The cross divides the saved from the unsaved, but it doesn’t divide the saved people. It should unite them.
Michelangelo painted a picture called “The Last Judgment.” It depicts the throne of God, and away from that throne the lost are falling into space. And as they fall, they cling together.
This is an accurate picture of the one world that men are working for today. The lost want to come together in one great unity, and they are going to accomplish a great union in the last days.
But cutting across the grain of this environment and the contemporary thought is the gospel of Christ.
Jesus called Himself a divider of men, and the dividing line is His cross. The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto the saved person it is the power of God.

Men are continually trying to figure out on their own what life is all about—where it came from, where it is going, what it signifies (if anything), and what can and should be done about it (if anything).
Modern man has made gods of education and human opinion. Although human ideas are constantly changing, appearing and disappearing, conflicting with and contradicting each other, men continue to put faith in them. As long as they reject divine authority, they have no other option.
The reason men love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. Human good seeks to add some qualities to add to future eternal destiny.
For the same reason some men scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes man’s sin and crushes man’s pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.
That one man (even the Son of God) could die on a piece of wood on a nondescript hill in a nondescript part of the world and thereby determine the destiny of every person who has ever lived seems stupid. It allows no place for man’s merit, man’s attainment, man’s understanding, or man’s pride. This word of the cross is foolishness
the word of the cross includes the entire gospel message and work, God’s plan and provision for man’s redemption.
In its fullest sense it is God’s total revelation, for His revelation centers in the cross.
God’s whole redemption story and His whole redemption process seem foolish to unbelievers. And because Christ’s work on the cross is the pinnacle of God’s revealed Word and work, to reject the cross is to reject His revelation, and to perish.
To those who are being saved, the gospel is the power of God. They hear the message, they accept it by faith, and the miracle of regeneration takes place in their lives. Notice the solemn fact in this verse that there are only two classes of people, those who perish and those who are saved. There is no in-between class. Men may love their human wisdom but only the gospel leads to salvation.

June 16th, 2019 given by Allen Webber from “Revelation Megathemes NASB”
“Revelation Overview

God is sovereign.  He is greater than any power of the universe.  God is not to be compared with any leader, government, or religion.  He controls history for the purpose of uniting true believers in loving fellowship with Him.  Though Satan’s power may temporarily increase, we are not to be led astray.  God is in control.  He will bring His true family safely into eternal life.  Because He cares for us, we can trust Him with our very life.

Jesus Christ came to earth as a “Lamb”, the symbol of His perfect sacrifice for our sin.  He will return as the triumphant “Lion”, the rightful Ruler and Conqueror.  He will defeat Satan, settle accounts with all those who reject Him, and bring His faithful people into eternity.  The assurance of Christ’s return gives Christian the strength to endure.  We can look forward to His return as King and Judge.  Since no one knows the time of His return, we must be ready at all times by keeping our faith strong.

John wrote this book to encourage the church to resist the demands of the world.  He warns all God’s faithful people to be devoted only to Christ.  The book of Revelation identifies who the faithful people are and what they should be doing until Christ returns.  We can take our places in the ranks of God’s faithful people by believing in Christ.  Victory is sure for those who resist temptation and make loyalty to Christ their top priority.

One day God’s anger toward sin will be fully and completely unleashed.  Satan will be defeated along with all of his agents.  False religion will be destroyed.  God will reward the faithful with eternal life, but all who refuse to believe Him will face eternal punishment.  Evil and injustice will not prevail forever.  God’s final judgment will put an end to these.  We need to be certain of our commitment to Jesus if we want to escape this great final judgment.  No one who rejects Christ will escape God’s punishment.

One day God will create a new heaven and a new earth.  All believers will live with Him forever and in perfect peace and security.  Those who have already died will be raised to life.  These promises for the future bring us hope.  When we have confidence in our final destination, we can follow Christ with unwavering dedication no matter what we must face.  We can be encouraged by hoping Christ’s return.”

June 9th, 2019 by Pastor Dave

Matthew 26:36-56 New International Version (NIV)
Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

We are not just called to come to church, but we are called to be the watchmen, to pray, to stand in the gap for each other.  Have we fallen asleep?  https://youtu.be/oZ-MQzveKvI

June 2nd, 2019 given by Allen Webber from NASB Commentary

“1 John 4:7-9 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

Everyone believes that love is important but love is usually thought of as a feeling.  In reality love is a choice and an action.  God is the source of our love.  In this love He chose to sacrifice His Son for us.  Jesus is our example of what it means to love, everything He did in life and death was supremely loving.  And the Holy Spirit gives us the power to love, He lives in our hearts and makes us more and more like Christ.  God’s love always involves a choice and an action and our love should be like His.  The question we might ask ourselves in our communion meditations is “how well do we display our love for God in the choices we make and the actions we take?”

John says, “God is love”, not “love is God”.  Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love.  The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is alright to sacrifice moral principles in order to obtain such ‘love’.  But that isn’t real love.  It is the exact opposite.  It is selfishness.  And God is not that kind of love.  Real love is like God, Who is holy, just and perfect.  If we truly know God, we will love as He does.

“By this love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

May 26th, 2019 by Ken Hartung from The Teachers’ Commentary by Larry Richards; Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald, The MacArthur NT Commentary by John MacArthur and Thru the Bible by J. Vernon McGee

John 1:12 (NASB)12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

What does God truly want with us?  How does He react when we fail to meet His standards?  The Creator entered the world He had made.  He came to His own people, to whom He had given life.  But His own people would not receive Him.  He was rejected, scorned, and ultimately crucified.  In spite of this, He reached out to individuals who would receive Him, and He gave them the right to become the children of God.  The human race did not seek out a family relationship with God.  The reaching out was God’s, and His alone.  In spite of mankind’s failure, God drew men and women to Himself and lifted them up, adopting them as His children and heirs.  In this act of pure grace, a glorious light bursts into history.  In Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, we discover that God’s ultimate morality is one of love and grace.  Jesus, full of grace and truth, unveiled now the relationship which God the Father had always wanted to have with humankind.  And we, as His sons and daughters, must learn a way of life guided by the splendor of grace.  He offers Himself to all mankind and to those who receive Him, He gives the right or authority to become children of God.  This verse tells us clearly how we can become children of God.  It is not by good works, not by church membership, not be doing one’s best – but by receiving Him, by believing in His Name.  His Name refers to the totality of Christ’s being, all that He is and does.  Thus it is not possible to separate His deity from His humanity, His being Savior from His being Lord, or His person from His redemptive work.  Saving faith accepts Jesus Christ in all that Scripture reveals concerning Him.

1 John 3:2 (NASB) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

I wish I were a better man, and I wish I knew more about the Word of God.  I wish I were farther along than I am.  But don’t be discouraged with me, and I won’t be discouraged with you because of the fact that “it has not appeared as yet what we will be“.  “But we know that, when He shall appear we shall be like Him”.  This is a wonderful prospect!  He sees in you and in me what He will make out of us.  I’m thankful that God is not through with me.  If I thought He was through with me now, I would be very much discouraged, but He is yet to perform a work.

The story is told that when a great big piece of marble was brought in to Michelangelo; he walked around it, looking at it, and then said, “My isn’t it beautiful!”  One of his helpers, who was standing there, said, “Well, all I see is a great big piece of marble – that’s all.”  Michelangelo exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot.  You don’t see what I see.  I see a statue of David there.”  The helper looked again and replied, “Well, I don’t see it.”  Michelangelo said, “That is because it is now in my own mind, but I am going to translate it into this piece of marble.”  And that is what he did.

God says, “it has not appeared as yet what we will be.”  He sees what He is going to make out of us someday…God sees us as we shall be…when He shall appear…and we shall be like Him.  What a glorious prospect for us!  “We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”  We are going to see the glorified Christ.

May 19th, 2019 by Brian Markert

“I have always been confused by 1 Corinthians 1:10 as well as other versus that give the same message. This week I was with my brother and sisters and we were discussing some things about life. There were some things that we just couldn’t agree on. We were all raised in the same town, went to the same church and have very similar beliefs, yet we were definitely not on the same page.
1 Corinthians 1:10  “ I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

In this verse Paul is addressing some divisions that had started to exist within the early church of Corinth. Never have I been part of a group of Christians that completely agree on something. There are times when I don’t agree with my own thoughts, yet Paul instructs us to be perfectly united in mind and thought. There are some things that we can learn through study and there are others that we learn through experience.

  • If we all studied the scriptures and prayed fervently our minds and thoughts would unite. There is a lot of truth to this but when we are studying scriptures we are studying the Living Word and it is just that, living. God uses it to speak directly and individually to us so we can all get something different.
  • Paul is speaking more to the essentials or really important things.

Mark 12:30-31 New International Version (NIV)

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

This also is definitely true and in context of the scripture that follows. Why should we boast about anything man does? We should be completely focused on Christ.  Now for the part that experience has taught me.

1 Corinthians 12:15-22 New International Version (NIV)

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.

Something that I have learned over the past seven or eight months starting when mom found out she had cancer to now is what it is like to be a weaker or injured body part and how without the other body parts I wouldn’t be able to effectively function or heal.  If a knee smashes a rock and becomes cut and bruised it is dependent on the eyes and hands to be cleaned and bandaged as well as all the internal blood vessels and organs to clot the wound and to start and carry out the healing process. Just like in the body of Christ if someone is hurting and needs bandaging that person is dependent on the other body parts. After mom died I was reminded of all the surrogate moms I have in Vulcan.

This is the part that I was missing in “being perfectly united in thought and mind.” If we are to be truly united then we start with Christ as the head and we focus on the most important things. But you can’t be united without knowing each other on more than a surface level. When Dave tells us to go shake hands with at least five or six people before we leave this is what he is encouraging us to do. Alls that does is maybe break down a barrier. There is still a long way to go before you know somebody. A great example is when James and Lori organized a family fun night. We got to start knowing each other deeper than surface level; or the conversations that I have had while working on the cabins. Doing life together gets you deeper than surface for sure but it still doesn’t perfectly unite us in thought and mind. That’s where the deeper conversations need to be had; the prayer together needs to happen. In order to be untied in mind and thought, we need to know each other deeply enough that our joy and pain flows over and is felt by everyone in our church. What is it that prevents us from being closer to each other? I don’t have these answers but a great place to start is with intentional conversation. When you go out for lunch today of sit around the campfire this afternoon ask each other way that we could know each other better. If a great idea comes to you, share it with the rest of us.”

May 12th, 2019 by Allen Webber
“No Yeast, Yeast

As part of the requirements of the Passover meal, the Israelites were instructed to use unleavened bread.  It was important that the bread was made without yeast.  I have thought this to be rather peculiar because the juice or wine required leavening or yeast to begin the fermentation process.  Yeast or leavening was often used to illustrate sin.  In Matthew, Jesus warned the disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”  The disciples did not immediately grasp that He was speaking of the religious leaders’ doctrine, which was characterized by sin and hypocrisy.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that a bit of leaven leavens the whole lump?”

For leavening to work, it has to permeate all other ingredients.  Live bacteria will replicate very quickly and give off gas bubbles as a by-product.  And consequently, these gas bubbles cause the dough to rise.  Sin is similar.  It begins small, like a germ or infection, then grows bigger and bigger.  In many cases, it can totally overtake an individual.  But to make the Passover bread without leavening was to firstly, imply the sinless nature of Jesus but also render the bread a lifeless product which represents the crucified body of Christ.

Now contrast this with the ‘fruit of the vine’ whether it be wine or grape juice.  It is very much alive.  It contains yeast to start the fermentation process.  You may want to suggest to me that grape juice doesn’t contain any yeast but just leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days and taste it.  It most definitely will have started to ferment by then.

The law of Moses teach us that the life is in the blood.  And so, as the communion moves from lifeless bread to living wine, we can see the symbolism.  The Lord’s Supper is about from death to life – remembering that through Jesus we died to our worldly, earthly selves in order to live anew as righteous, spiritual beings.

But, although God sees us as sinless in His grace, we really aren’t are we?  We need this weekly reminder that we are ‘suppose’ to be and that a truly awful price was paid to make our new lives possible, and that we live in Christ only because of His death and resurrection.”

May 5th, 2019 by Pastor Dave Sarsons
“Story of Sacrificial Love

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard.  She never reached her destination, and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found by searchers beneath a mound of snow.  But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it around her baby.  When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well.  She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of sacrificial love.  Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain near the end of the First World War – 1916 to 1922.

I went onto Google, thinking this must have had such a huge impact on his life and more of his story, only to read and understand his mother did pass away, but not until David Lloyd George was 36 YEARS OLD.

I was disappointed, annoyed and probably frustrated to think I got conned like that.

But then the truth, His Truth, struck me.  That is EXACTLY what Jesus did for you and me.  He took off all His outer clothing and covered us with His body.  Perhaps not physically, but certainly spiritually as He took the whipping for you and for me, and the nails in His hands and feet.  We have been surrounded by His Sacrificial Love, even to the Cross.

‘Do This In Remembrance of Me’ because He died for you and for me, even when we were still sinners.  And by His Stripes we are healed, saved, given Eternal Life if we choose!”

April 28th, 2019 by Herb Harder
“What’s Important to God

  1. The Ark of the Covenant was sacred to God and to the Israelites
  2. During the conflicts with the Israelites and the Philistines, Israel was losing.
  3. They thought that the Ark of the Covenant would save them in their battles.  They used it as a magic bullet instead of obeying, trusting and loving God.
  4. This resulted in not only losing the battles but the loss of the Ark as well.  When they reluctantly reported the loss of the battles, casualties and the Ark to the priest Eli, he was so shocked that he fell over backwards in his chair and broke his neck from the fall and died.
  5. His covetous of the Ark became the means of his demise.
  6. What can we learn from this passage in 1 Samuel 4?  That even though church attendance, taking communion and even baptism is important, God would rather we live to please Him by obedience first and foremost.  Insuring our hearts are right with Him should be our priority as we come to the communion table, come to church and fellowship with others.  Going through the motions even if they are the right motions is insufficient to fully please the Lord.  He does not want our sacrifices if we do not intend to obey Him in other matters.  It is vital that we strive to do what the Lord wants us to do in all things and that we quickly and truly repent when we have failed to obey Him.”

April 21st, 2019 by Brian Markert

“When we read the Easter story in the bible it is very easy for us to wonder how all of the people during that time could have gotten it so wrong. Peter denied Christ three times. Thomas wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen until he stuck his fingers in his side and hands. The same crowd that hailed Jesus as a Saviour on Palm Sunday crucified him on Friday. The one that really gets me is the religious leaders of the day were continually plotting and scheming ways to trap Jesus and prove him wrong and eventually kill him.

To summarise, the people who were the most educated in the scriptures and the disciples who were closest to Jesus and were in conversation with him daily still didn’t understand what Jesus’ purpose on earth actually was.

This morning my kids were asking questions about the cross and about Jesus and God being the same but different. If they didn’t understand something their response was, “I don’t get it.” So I would try to think of another way of explaining it. Jesus instructs us to come to him like a child, full of wonder and having no preconceived ideas.

So if Peter or Thomas or the Pharisees didn’t get it don’t be surprised if you don’t get it.

The Pharisees tried to squash anything that didn’t fit into their understanding. Where did it get them? They released a murderer and killed the son of God.

Thomas was labelled the doubter but there are two things that doubt can do. One, it can cripple you and make it so you give up on what you once knew to be right or, two, it can drive you to seek answers and discover the truth. Thomas never gave up on the disciples despite his scepticism of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus never rebuked Thomas for his doubt.

John 20:28-29
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

When, not if, we doubt, we can let it cripple us or drive us.

Peter denied knowing Christ three times just as Jesus said he would. Peter was filled with remorse Luke 22:62 says he went outside and wept. Despite this Jesus charged Peter with feeding his sheep in John 21.

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Jesus didn’t ask him three times to rub salt in a wound but to remind Peter that despite his failures he was to be used by God to spread the message that Christ died for the redemption of our sins and to reconcile us back to God.

These three examples really sum us up. We can either try to crush the things that we don’t understand or we can be like children and allow God to use our doubts and failures to further understand him and Glorify him.

I will repeat myself. If Peter or Thomas or the Pharisees didn’t get it don’t be surprised if you don’t get it. Also don’t be surprised when God shows you what you thought you understood to be right isn’t.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God has a plan for us as individuals and as the body of Christ. We may not understand it at any given time just like Peter and Thomas but God is in control and we just have to trust him.”

ril 14th, 2019 given by Allen Webber with excerpts from Jean Niven Lenk message

Luke 18:31 – “Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.”

This Sunday marks the beginning of the week that Jesus would be crucified, and the great Passover feast was about to begin.  Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world during this week long celebration.  Many in the crowds had heard of or seen Jesus and were hoping He would come to the temple.  Jesus did come, not as a warring king on a horse or in a chariot but as a gentle and peaceable king on a donkey’s colt just as Zechariah had predicted.

At first, He was received like a king.  People were lining the streets and cheering wildly.  They shouted ‘Hosanna’, which means save us.  They wanted to believe that Jesus would destroy their enemies and renew God’s children as a free, honoured and chosen people.  Instead He came as God’s Son, to break the power structures of oppression, hate and death.

Jesus is a different kind of Sovereign.  His Godly kingship is not about might but about mercy; not about power but about peace; and not about retribution but about redemption.  And Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem turned out not to be a parade for a king but a death march for the Son of God.

As the week unfolded, Jesus’ preaching became more pointed, His words and actions more radical.  He overturned the tables of the moneychangers, threatened the power that be, and His actions united the religious and business leaders against Him.  He wanted to make the temple a house of prayer for all people; He proclaimed God’s acceptance and life-changing love to the blind and the lame; and He welcomed the tax collectors and prostitutes into God’s kingdom ahead of the priests, scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus failed to live up to the expectations of the crowd, and in response, they turned on Him.  Slowly at first, and then with increasing rapidity, the cheers turned to jeers.

Jesus stood silent and trumped up charges, first before the council and then Pilate, as He was mocked and beaten.  He could have turned from His path of radical obedience to God’s will, from His self-giving love of us.  Right until the end He could have avoided suffering and death – having been abandoned by His followers, He could have abandoned us.  And yet, Jesus chose to endure it all, so that we might know the full height and breadth and depth of God’s love for us, a God who would stoop to take on our common lot and endure what it means to be human – right through to the end.

Behind Him are His sermons – ahead is His suffering.  Behind Him are His parables – ahead is His passion.  Behind Him are His suppers of fellowship – ahead is His last supper of betrayal.  Behind Him Galilee – ahead Gethsemane.

On the cross, Jesus looks humanity’s brutality and cruelty in the face and says, “I forgive you.”  Even as we pound the nails into His hands and feet, Jesus says to us, “Nothing can separate you from my love.”  Even as we throw dice for His bloody clothes, Jesus promises to clothe us with radiant garments fit for a heavenly court.  Even as His arms are stretched wide on the crossbeam, Jesus freely offers to us an embrace of eternal love.

It’s easy to be one of those people in the crowd, lining the streets in Jerusalem to see the king enter.  It’s easy to be an admirer.  And it’s easy to be among those who are disappointed when the king we envision turns out to be something different.  But, it’s harder to be a follower, standing in the huddled group at the foot of the cross.  Because following Christ means living against the grain.  It means telling the truth in a world of lies.  It means giving in a world of take.  It means loving in a world of hate, serving in a world that loves to be served, worshipping in a world that entertains.  And it means carrying a cross in a world who crucifies the One who loves.”

April 7th, 2019 given by Ken Hartung from J Vernon McGee “Thru the Bible”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ”For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;  and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

Why did Paul go to the ends of the earth to preach this message?

For the love of Christ controls us – He says it is the love of Christ pushing us out.  It is the love of Christ that is motivating us.  It is the love of Christ that causes us to give out the Word of God.
Having concluded this – if one died for all, then were all dead.  It was this that sent Paul out to the ends of the earth with the message of the gospel.
That if one died for all, then were all dead – mankind is under the sentence of death.

When Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he was our federal head; he was the head of that old creation.  That old creation was on trial in Adam.  God told him, “…From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17).  Adam deliberately disobeyed God.  He came under the sentence of death, and when he did that, he took the entire human race down with him, for all were represented in him.  You and I have been born in to a family of death.  All mankind now is under the sentence of death.  Someone has said, “The very moment that gives you life it begins to take it away from you.”

When David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4), he was not referring to the end of life; he was saying that all of life is like walking down through the great canyon of death, which gets darker and narrower until, finally, we must go through the doorway of death.

and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf – Jesus came to the valley of the shadow of death.  The Lord Jesus Christ came to this world all the way from heaven.  He was the absolutely sinless One.  He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.  So what did He do?  He came down into the valley.  He came down into the place of death where all men are.  “And that he died for all.”  Because men were dead.  He went down into death, and now He brings believers up with Him into resurrection life.  He takes them with Him into the heavenlies.  We who believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ are now seated in the heavenlies.  He has “…raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly place in Christ Jesus.”  He takes them all the way up to the heavenlies.  Christ took our place.  And if we are going to live, it is going to be by faith in Him.  Christ died, not only that we should be delivered from death and judgment, but also that we should be brought up from our state of death into newness of life.  Now our lives should be devoted to Him that we should now live to the glory of God.”

March 31st, 2019 given by Herb Harder
“Tell All Your Friends, Tell Everyone

What would you consider to be the happiest day of your life.  Day of your marriage?  Time of your first born’s arrival?  Perhaps the time you gave your life to Christ?  All these times are memorable and important to us but likely become slightly vague over time.  That is why we take pictures of the event, buy mementos and/or tell stories about it to help us remember.

In Joshua, there is an event where the Israelites cross the river Jordan carrying the Ark of the Covenant.  The priests were to carry it across first followed by the twelve tribes.  Once again God provided the miracle of holding back the waters of the Jordan river so that this could be achieved.  This was the second miracle the Israelites experienced in this fashion as generations before with Moses crossing the Red Sea.  As the tribes crossed the river, they were instructed for one person from each tribe to pick up a rock from the river and form a monument from them so as to set a remembrance of the event.  This was done at Gilgal and every time someone would come across this monument of rocks, it would remind them of the miracle of God and they were to relate the story to their children and families as it took place of their ancestors.

The Bible instructs us to create a remembrance of two events as well.  Our baptism and the sacrifice Jesus provided on the cross.  It seems we all have short memories in our busy lives and I believe God knew this and why He said, “As often as you partake of these symbols, do this in remembrance of Me”.  I pray that as we do this, the true miracle of the cross would overtake our minds and spirits and we would feel it important to share the story with our loved ones and colleagues.  The God that created the miracles for our ancestors, no matter how long ago, is still the God creating miracles for us today.  Let us remember together.”

March 24th, 2019 by Allen Webber
“God’s Wisdom

1 Corinthians 1:18-21 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”  Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

For a great number of people in the world, we are considered, a best, rather peculiar for celebrating communion and at worst, heretics and blasphemers.  In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he summarizes a passage from Isaiah to emphasize a point Jesus often made – God’s way of thinking is not the world’s way.  The big difference is God offers eternal life which the world can never give.  We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn to have a personal relationship with God.

The Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish and blaspheming, because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles.  In reality, here was the King of kings, coming as a baby, then growing to a man, teaching of the saving grace of God with signs and miracles.  But the Sanhedrin missed it.  In the end, Jesus was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal become a saviour?

The Greeks too considered the Gospel foolish.  THey did not believe in a bodily resurrection.  They did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.  To them, death was defeat, not victory.

And the Romans didn’t want to have anything to do with Jesus at all.  They were so self absorbed in their empire and its accumulations and indulgences that Jesus was a mere distraction and inconvenience for them.

These three people groups based their societies on their own wisdom and knowledge.  And the Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.  Our society still worships power, influence and wealth.  But Jesus came as a humble poor servant and He offers His kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good and wise deeds to try to earn His gift.  This communion looks foolish to the world, but Christ is our power, the only was we can be saved.  Knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone could have.”

March 17th, 2019 by Pastor Dave Sarsons taken from Lita Cosner’s Excerpt

“It shouldn’t be surprising to believers that, as the post-Christian society rejects more and more of the historical Christian foundation which was assumed by almost everyone less than a generation ago, the blessings that grew out of that foundation are fading as well.  It is easy to be discouraged as we read depressing headlines about corruption, political division, crime, and abuse.  But this bleak picture gives Christians a backdrop against which the Gospel stands in stark contrast.  To illustrate the problem, we often think of things like societal breakdown, murder, as ‘the problem’.  However, they are symptoms of the real problem, just like a fever is a symptom of an infection.  Really, the problem is a faulty worldview that says that man decides the truth!

On the other hand, the good things we want to see in society, like charity, valuing the sanctity of life, are also fruit of a worldview that accepts God’s Word as truth and God as the Creator.

Some people wish we could go back to the days when the culture was explicitly Christian, and laws reflected that consensus.  But while that was better in a lot of ways, it also tended to blur the distinction between Christians and non-Christians, because your average, law-abiding, moral, patriotic citizen could look like a good Christian.  While that may reap some cultural benefits, having ‘Christian’ governments or Christian laws are not enough to save someone.

Today, Christians are being forced to stand up for biblical morality that was taken for granted even in the recent past.  This means that we are opened up to criticism and even persecution, but it also clarifies who is a Christian and who is not, and thus, who needs to be saved.  This means that Christians who are prepared to present the Gospel in a compelling and winsome way in a hostile culture may have unprecedented Gospel opportunities.

So rather than going back to the days of cultural Christianity, Christians should prepare to go foward into the Christ-less culture and present the Bible’s teaching, and share the Gospel to sinners just like Jesus did – our ultimate example.  We can have confidence that the Gospel will win out, because God’s truth will always withstand the false worldviews which oppose it.”

March 10th, 2019 by Ken Hartung

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“This verse is one of the most important in all of Scripture for understanding the meaning of the atonement and justification.  God the Father made Christ to be regarded and treated as “sin” even though Christ Himself never sinned.  Sinners cannot devise their own religious approach to God, because they are “dead in their trespasses and sins”(Ephesians 2:1).  The damning lie of false religion is that man can reconcile himself to God by his own efforts, but all attempts to do so are futile.  As a result, “There is none righteous, not even one…” (Romans 3:10)j.

Jesus, therefore, did not go to the cross because fickle people turned on Him, though they did.  He did not go to the cross because demon-deceived false religious leaders plotted His death, though they did.  He did not go to the cross because Judas betrayed Him, though he did.  He did not die because and angry, unruly mob intimidated a Roman governor into sentencing Him to crucifixion, though they did.  Jesus went to the cross as the outworking of God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. In the first Christian sermon every preached, Peter declared to the nation of Israel that Jesus was “delivered over to death by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God”.

Only God could design an atonement of sin that would satisfy the demands of His justice, appease His wrath, and be consistent with His love, grace and mercy.  Only God could conceive the plan in which the second person of the Trinity would be, “found in appearance as a man, humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).  Only God knew what it woiuld take to rescue sinners “from the domain of darkness, and transfer them to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), making them “qualified…to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:12).  Only God knew how to make sinners, deserving of hell, acceptable in His sight and fit to spend eternity in His presence.  Therefore, only God could author and execute the plan of redemption and reconcile sinners to Himself.  That plan is so utterly beyond the comprehension of the unregenerated that it seems foolishness to them.  No religion of human design has anything like it.

But Christianity proclaims the glorious, liberating truth that God is neither hostile nor indifferent but a loving Savior by nature.  He does not need to be appeased and indeed cannot be by any human means.  Instead, He, Himself, has provided His own appeasement for justice and the means of sinners to become His beloved children through the sacrifice of His Son.  This then, is the heart of the doctrine of justification:  God regards or counts believers as forgiven and God declares and treats them as forgiven.  Because God the Father has imputed the believer’s sin to Christ and because God the Father likewise imputes Christ’s righteousness to the believer.

This communion table represents this important point:  On the cross God treated Jesus as if He had lived our lives with all our sins, so that God could then treat us as if we lived Christ’s life of pure holiness that we lived absolutely perfect.”  English Standard Version Study Bible John Mac Arthur Commentary 2 Corinthians

March 3rd, 2019 by Allen Webber
“The Meal

Luke 22:19-20 “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.””

Generally, in North America, we have become accustomed to great varieties of food as well as great volumes of food.  We can eat anytime, anywhere, and as much as we want.  A few times of the year we will have great banquets and family meals that have abundances to satisfy every want and desire.

But the most important meal you can eat is this meal of communion.  Jesus wants us to remember Him and He uses food as a means to connect with Him.  The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death and over satan and his allies.  Engaging in this meal is a powerful testimony to the world that Jesus is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

But how can eating a small morsel of bread and drinking a small amount of juice do that?  Back in the Garden of Eden, an act of eating plunged the world into sin.  One bite of disobedience led to death for Adam and Eve – and for us.  It caused thorns and weeds to grow in the garden.  It caused pain childbirth.  It led to sibling rivalry between their sons Cain and Abel.  All this came about through that act of disobedience and rebellion against God.

Jesus, the Son of God, Who became human and gave us His body and blood for our sake has made new life and restoration possible for us.  Eating at His table signifies our participation in what He accomplished on our behalf.  He paid fully for all our sin.”

February 24th by Herb Harder

“For the first many years, Christianity did not survive because of a written document that we can enjoy today (the Bible).  Some say our Bible was not totally formed for quite some time near 300 A.D.  This brings me back to the topic of our brother Brian who, some time ago in his communion thought, asked us if Jesus dying is enough.  For Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, and Paul, and others the risen Lord was enough.  They didn’t care or know how old the earth was; whether it be 6000 years old or millions.  They didn’t know that ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.  Their experience with the Savior, the risen Lord, was enough.  So it is for us.

In our men’s group we’ve been studying the pursuit of holiness.  We discover how much God hates sin.  So much does He hate sin that He gave His Son’s life for our benefit.  Our deliverance becomes our union with Christ in His death.

Brian’s communion thought begs the question:  if someone close to us had to give their life every time we sin, would that change the way we live?”

“Search me O God, and know my heart.  Try me O Savior, know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me to everlastin life.” Amen

February 17th by Dale Doner

“What does it look like when God takes over an available life?

Precedents:
1. David – Samuel went to Bethlehem to see Jesse for a king.  Samuel went through all the sons and then he chose the discounted one in David.
2. Joseph – He went from sibling rivalry to a pit to being a leader of Egypt as Pharoah’s number one guy.
3. Hannah – She went from a childless woman to a mother of quite possibly Israel’s greatest judge.
4. Peter – He went from a common fisherman to the rock (John 21)  to preaching Acts Chapter 3.
5. Mary – She was taken from a questioning girl ‘how an this be since I am a virgin (Luke 1:26-36) to the mother of Jesus.
6. Allan Doner – His graveyard message was “Allan Doner – plumber by trade” to three continents of Canada, the United States and Nigeria fighting over where to bury him each claiming him as their own son.
7. Lynne Markert (with great respect) – was used by God in such a mighty way and she was available to Him as seen by our community’s outpouring of love.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “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”.  God’s Word is for us to commit our ways to Him and He will direct our paths vs. satan’s word that tell us that God is not directing.

Our instruction, therefore, is to live our lives as if God might be directing your steps and to pay attention.  This leads to Him showing us some dramatic life trajectory stories.  We need to look at values and priorities and make Him a vital part of everything we do then He will guide you because He is working to accomplish His purpose.”

February 10th, by Allen Webber
“Communion from Hebrews

From Hebrews 10:19-25, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

The Holy of Holies in the temple was sealed from view by a veil.  The ark of the covenant was in this room.  The most important aspect of this was the Glory of the Lord was between the two cherubim that was at either end of the lid.  Only the high priest could enter this holy room and he did so only once a year on the day of atonement when he offered the sacrifice for his nation’s sins.  He was to follow a very detailed procedure in carrying out his duties.  So much so that if he deviated from it, he would be killed.  But Jesus’ death removed that veil and now all believers can come into God’s presence at any time.

We have significant privileges associated with our new life in Christ.
1. We have personal access to God through Christ and can draw near Him without an elaborate process of works.
2. As we grow in our faith, we can overcome our doubts and questions we might have and thereby deepen our relationship with God.
3. We can enjoy encouragement with other believers.
4. We enjoy the benefits of worshiping with one another.

For Christians to neglect meeting together is to give up the encouragement and help we can give to others in the Lord.  As time passes, we will experience more and more worldly struggles as well as more and more spiritual struggles.  Increasingly, we will see anti-Christian forces and even persecutions for our faith.  Therefore, it becomes even more important to meet as a group of believers for that strength and encouragement.

So, as we partake of this communion, examine your vertical relationship with God but also your horizontal relationship with the people sitting beside you.”

February 3rd, 2019 by Ken Hartung
“The Authority of Jesus

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Mathew 29:18-20 (ESV)

Authority denotes active power, the full ability to do as one wills.  Two domains are mentioned:  “in heaven and on earth“.  All authority in each.  Nothing could be more comprehensive.  Who can fathom this brief utterance of Jesus?  The kingly authority of Jesus embraces heaven, all that lives and has its being there, angels and archangels, powers, principalities, might, dominion, thrones and the saints in glory.  This authority is exercised also over the evil spirit world, whose prince is conquered and ruined, and whose armies lie in humble submission beneath Jesus’ feet.  All the powers of heaven are in His hand to do His bidding without question or pause.

This authority has been given to Jesus by the Father and now He is instructing the disciples to go on the basis of that authority.  Their field was to include all nations, not just Israel.  They were to make disciples by proclaiming the truth concerning Jesus.  Their hearers were to be evangelized and enlisted as Jesus’ followers.  This the disciples are to realized as Jesus sends them forth into the world.  Never did a human army have such resources behind it.  Without the Messiah’s authority, the mission of the disciples and the mission for our church today would be doomed to failure.

Everything on the earth is also subject to Him; its inhabitants, both friend and foe, and all the powers that are in the earth.
– the means of transportation takes the ambassadors of Jesus all over the world,
– economics and commerce paves the way for the work of missions,
-the science of language and Bible translation for the preaching of the gospel in people’s own languages,
-the spread of culture helps to break down the stronghold of evil oppression.

He had the authority to lay down His own life and to take it up again.  He has the authority to give eternal life to believers as the symbols of this Communion table represent.

As the world gets more chaotic and rushing itself into tyranny, realize that this is under Christ’s authority and is fulfilling His plan and His purpose.  This will pass under Jesus’ command.  Jesus, Himself, described His coming dominion.  “The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky,” He said, “and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory”.  When Jesus returns and sits on His glorious throne, Christ will impose righteousness on the world world.   Until then, the kingdom continues as a hidden thing, revealed only to the eyes of faith, and experienced only by those who follow in the footsteps of the King.”

Lenski Commentary on Matthew; MacArthur Commentary on Matthew; Bible Knowledge Commentary; Teacher’s Commentary

January 27th, 2019 by Dale Doner

January 20th, 2019 by Allen Webber taken from The Road of Grace
“Our Indissoluble Union

When we consider communion, its ultimate meaning is our union with Jesus Christ.  That is, when we partake of this sacrament we are united with Christ in such a way that we participate both in the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ.  This is the point of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 16, “Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?  Is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”

For Christians, participation in the Lord’s Supper is nothing less than the union with Christ.  However, this also means we are united to one another.  The two go together, union with Christ and union with other Christians.  This union with Christ and with other believers is both exhibited and manifested by participation in the Lord’s Supper.  Basic to this union with Christ is a union of hearts.  This union of hearts between the believer and his Lord is the basis of a union of hearts that knits us together into one family of the children of God.

This basic affirmation – that Holy Communion should be understood as union with Christ – can be expressed in a number of biblical figures.  One would be Christ is the head of the body and we are all members of one body.  It can also be expressed by the figure of the Temple built on the rock or again it can be expressed by a metaphor from marriage.  Christ is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride.  One can also speak of the vital union between Christ and the believer wherein believers are given the Spirit of Christ, which gives us spiritual power.

Communion also functions as a solemn representation and seal.  In the celebration of the sacrament, we behold the family of God gathered around the Lord’s table, enjoying the benefits our Father has provided for us.  The bread and the grape juice remind us of the passionate love of Christ for us in going to the cross of His free will.  Furthermore, the Lord’s Supper is a seal because it confirms a promise and assures us that a covenant has been ratified.  However, this seal works in both directions.  It is a seal of the promises of God and it is a seal of the believer’s vows of faith.  The sacrament is also a seal and assurance on the part of the participants that they come to this table to accept Christ and that they wish to join themselves to Christ.

This union also points us to the promise of life after death.  Our union with Christ cannot be dissolved, even through death.  In death, our souls is the presence of Christ, and is in perfect agreement with Him.  The communion between Christ and the believer, which is experienced here and now, will become complete in eternity.  Moreover, this communion will be enjoyed in His presence rather than enjoyed from the distance between heaven and earth.”

January 13th, 2019 by Ken Hartung

“As a church, we have an input into this story with our support of Hart Ministries in the Ukraine.  This story is about an Ukrainian pastor, who enters into Eastern Ukraine where he occasionally goes to do ministry work.  Ever since the Russians moved in a couple of years ago, Eastern Ukraine has been occupied by Russia and this pastor must go through a Checkpoint.  At this Checkpoint, he is asked whether he is prepared to not return as he must prepare for Russian sniper fire.  He goes through the Checkpoint and as he progresses, hears a Russian missile coming towards him.  Apparently a missile coming towards you makes a very eerie sound.  This is the type of missile that explodes overheard and destroys everything beneath it.  At this time, the pastor has an incredible instantaneous communication with God, where he can hear Him in his heart and mind.  This is the way the conversation went,

“God, I’m going to die today right?”  God says, “No, you are not going to die today”.

So the pastor asks three questions of God as to why he wasn’t going to die from this missile…

  1. “Is it because I am doing Your will – helping the poor, giving them food and clothing?”  God’s replies, “No”.
  2. “Is it because I am sacrificing my life – leaving my family to go into dangerous places for Your glory?”  God’s replies, “No”.
  3. “Is it because I am so cool – doing amazing things for You?”  God replies, “No, you are not going to die today because people are praying for you!”

This missile landed just ahead of him and it did not explode – it was a dud.

This story shows the importance of praying for our Christian leaders; for our pastor and the missionaries we support.  Second Thessalonians 3:1-3 gives us instructions of how we are to pray for those in ministry.

“Pray for Us
3 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

Paul recognized the importance of people praying for him and it is important for us to bring this Scripture to our day and pray for our missionaries and Pastor Dave.  Paul also faithfully prayed for the Thessalonians and for the others he ministered to likewise as I’m sure our pastor prays for us.  In Paul’s travels where he faced difficulty, danger and loneliness, he needed their prayers.  He has to either support himself or rely on the support of others to help him.  He also usually preached to audiences who did not want to hear him and at places to which people did not invite him in the first place.  Paul depended on God’s power to strengthen and sustain him and he knew the prayers of believers before God’s throne opened that divine power to work through him.  In the same way, as we bring prayers before God’s throne for Pastor Dave, it opens divine  power through him.  Pastor Dave and our missionaries depend on our prayers to carry on their work and remain steadfast in their lives.  Paul’s request for prayer reminds us that we never reach a place in our Christian maturity or service where we progress beyond the need of prayer because the prayer that agrees with Christ’s will always results in divine empowerment.

Verse 1 “…the word of the Lord” is the good news of salvation; that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ alone.  This message is to “speed ahead”, spread rapidly, make progress.  Paul wanted them to pray that the Word would advance like a strong runner, moving ahead unobstructed and unhindered, to attain new ground.  Be “..honored” or glorified expresses the apostle’s desire that the gospel be received with the proper respect, that people would accept and affirm it as the saving truth of God.

Verse 2 “and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men.  For not all have faith” was Paul’s desire to be delivered from the threats and power of such enemies of the gospel whom satan used to prevent him from preaching the saving message.  The word “evil” describes active hatred.  “Not all have faith” showed that not all will believe and those who reject the gospel may be hostile towards it.  Paul’s request for personal safety and rescue is not from the desire of personal ease, but from his longing for the gospel to move ahead unhindered.  The gospel produces either faith and joyful obedience or a contentious refusal to God’s truth.  The gospel does not always find receptive hearts.

Verse 3 “But the Lord is faithful.  He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”  Whatever humans can hurl against the Christian, God always triumphs because He is faithful and unrelenting in His purpose.  He has made a covenant between Himself and humankind and seals it with the blood of Jesus Christ.  God is in control, and He keeps a protective guard aground the believer.  When Christians experience harm or even death because of righteousness, it is not evil which triumphs, but the plan of God which succeeds.”

January 6th, 2019 by Herb Harder
“Renewal of Our Minds

Often when reading Scripture, I put myself in the place of some of the characters in the passage.  In this case, the Scripture leading up to the crucifixion of our Lord.  The characters we will observe today is Peter versus Judas.  Both were disciples of the Jesus, but they had two different personalities, two different objectives and two very different outcomes to their lives.  Both shared the experience to participating in Jesus’ walk of life and both of them denied the Lord.

Peter was at many times the spokesman for the disciples, and he made a statement that he would follow Jesus to the death which spoke out of his own confidence and in his own power.  He didn’t realize his weakness and later he found himself powerless and denying the Lord.  Judas, who also spent time with Jesus, had the ulterior motive in his commitment to Jesus.  He hoped that Jesus would be the one to deliver them from the Roman’s control.  When this wasn’t the case, frustration occurred which led to a radical corruption of sin which took over his mind.  The outcome for both these men would have been forgiveness and we see in Scripture that only Peter was.  So what was the difference?

I believe that Peter was remorseful and sorrowful whereas Judas felt guilty of his actions which lead to ending things in his own strength.  Peter lived on for several more decades becoming an apostle and is then put to death for his faith to be forever with the Lord.  Whereas Judas, as far as we know, kills himself in guild and despair, likely unforgiven.

So which character do I share common ground with?  Do I willfully sin and deal with it on my own strength and guilt or do I seek wisdom and strength from God’s Word and receive the forgiveness from HE WHO IS ABLE TO KEEP ME FROM FALLING?

“The failure of Judas and Peter and their fellow disciples should cause us to fall to our knees in surrender, asking Christ to cause us to stand.  Only by His power will we remain loyal to Him.  We dare not trust in ourselves but only in the power of Christ to keep us faithful to Him.”

Upon knowing this story it is easy to say I would never have done that or been like that, but it is easy to misunderstand Jesus just as the disciples did, but not through any fault of Jesus.  That misunderstanding comes from sin.  The ignorance or lack of faith can be overcome by the cross and by grace through the study of God’s Word and prayer.  Therefore let us be “transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).  That includes attending church with our fellow believers and taking part in the Sacraments today, humbly accepting God’s mighty grace and pardon.”