Christ Our Victory and Inner Desire-19

Hope For Today – Encouragement From Our Pastors

 

July 3, 2020

Is there still hope for today?  Pastor Joe Garber

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I
remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his
faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my
inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to
those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”

The prophet Jeremiah wrote these words of lament after his homeland and the people living there
suffered great loss of life and property. Really, life seemed like it was over. The city of
Jerusalem was destroyed by fire including their temple of worship. Over 4000 people were taken
as prisoners of war and made to walk several hundred miles to the country who had taken them
captive. Jeremiah the prophet says, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: What follows is also very good for us to remember
today.

We have not all lost our houses, fields and jobs, although some have suffered great losses in this
time. We have not walked tirelessly as prisoners of war into the land of our captors, but we
have been carried away into what seems to be a new land…the land of covid. This land is filled
with anger, loss and a growing mistrust of those in authority. Today I am encouraging us to say
with the prophet Jeremiah, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I
still dare to hope when I remember this: Let us consider together what we need to remember
while in this new land that we are now all living.

Today we choose to focus our thoughts on what Jeremiah chose to focus on. As you read each
one pause for a moment and consider what it means to focus on what you just read. I will insert
the word pause to encourage you to pause. What you will read is about the nature of God. If you
lack understanding of what you read then ask God to give you understanding. He really has not
forgotten you. Therefore, let us say together, “We dare to hope again when we remember this:

  • First: The faithful love of the Lord never ends. Pause
  • Second: The mercies of the Lord never cease. Pause
  • Third: Great is the Lord’s faithfulness. Pause
  • Fourth: The Lord’s mercies are fresh and new each morning when I awake. Pause
  • Fifth: The Lord is my inheritance. Pause
  • Sixth: The Lord is good when I depend on him. Pause
  • Seventh; The Lord is good when I search for him. Pause
  • Eighth: The Lord is my salvation. Pause

Let us return to the phrase Jeremiah began with, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve
over my loss.” Pause.

Below is Psalm 29 which is a writing where David reflects on life as he experienced it: the
power, the majesty, a shaking, a twisting, a striking and a thundering of the voice of the Lord that
drew David’s heart even closer to the heart of God in absolute worship. Can this happen for me
in this “new land” where I find myself and my family living? Will I permit myself to be drawn deeper into the grip of his love for me? Will I ascribe to God the glory due his majestic name
even while my mind is filled with confusion and at times anger and frustration?

As we close today worship the Lord together with David. Dare to hope again in the Lord God.

Psalm 29 (NIV)
A psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Prayer:
Our Father, I repent for the times where I have failed to represent you well in this “new land”. I
repent of anger and judgments that I have made. I repent for those times where I failed to show
love, honor and respect. I ask you to cleanse my heart with the blood of Jesus and forgive me of
all my sins. Thank you, Father. Today, I choose to hope again in you my Lord and my King. In
the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

June 15, 2020

Hope for Today: Greatest Resistance and Greatest Love

Jesus chose the path of greatest resistance when he chose to come from heaven to earth. He chose
the path of greatest challenges, greatest pain, greatest injustices, greatest loneliness, greatest
misunderstood by others yet it was the path of greatest love. Have you ever stopped to consider the path
of vulnerability that Jesus chose to take when he chose earth and not heaven? He chose the limitations of
time and not eternity, he chose the effects of sin and sinful humanity as opposed to the purity of heaven
and he chose skin and bone as opposed to an immortal body. Jesus chose skin color and race with all of
its limitations and stereotypes to represent and bring the Kingdom of God from heaven to earth.
In John 18:37 when Jesus was on trial prior to his crucifixion Pilate questioned Jesus about who he
was and Jesus said…” In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the
truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul tells us that…” Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners.” These two verses create context, a window into the choice that
Jesus made when he chose the path of greatest resistance: he chose to come from heaven to earth.
Why am I writing this today? There has always been resistance and trouble in the world. Struggles and
injustices in life are not some new thing for 2020. Life as we know it today with its countless number of
miseries has been the pattern of life from the time sin entered the human race. This is the reason that I
remind us today about the choice that Jesus made to come from heaven to earth. He chose combat,
struggle and tension when he chose to testify to the truth from heaven in the presence of the lie on earth.
Jesus vividly portrayed that when he said, at the place of idol worship in Philippi, “upon this rock I will
build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18).
Choosing Light over darkness is to choose the path of greatest resistance. Like Jesus we do as he did.
We obey as he obeyed and teach as he taught. We did not choose to take on humanity like Jesus did,
rather he made that choice for us and gave us humanity and skin color so that we could choose to take on
Jesus. Skin color and race are created by God and are good. When we choose to not only be a Christian
but also a disciple of Jesus then our life lived in our skin color becomes his life lived through our skin
color in the Kingdom of God with many other skin colors now transformed as the body of Christ with his
“skin color” as a testimony of the truth that came from heaven to earth. With the power of Jesus living
through all of us as the body of Christ we can choose the path of greatest resistance as Jesus did and see
the Kingdom of God come to earth.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their
cross daily and follow me.” The call of Jesus is to follow while walking on the path of greatest
resistance…Light faces darkness, hope faces hopelessness, life faces death, truth faces the lie, justice
faces injustice and suffering faces complacency. This is a path of daily movement and engagement within
the Kingdom of God together with many other skin colors, races, ethnicities, tribes and nations, as the
body of Christ representing Truth to a sin torn world.
 Pray focusing inwardly to be firmly rooted in your choice to be a disciple of Jesus.
 Pray focusing outwardly for your “neighbor” to come to know and believe in Jesus.
 Pray focusing upwardly to worship the one who chose the path of greatest resistance and brought
the Truth from heaven to earth for the salvation of all who believe.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Jesus has spoken with authority as ruler of both heaven and earth..”Go make disciples, baptize and
teach…” The path of greatest resistance and greatest love to the glory of God.
Pastor Joe Garber

June 11, 2020

Our society seems so protective. When I think of my generation, we are the generation that transitioned from no seat belts to seat belts.   We are the most seat-belted, bike-helmeted, air-bagged, knee-pad wearing, private-schooled, gluten free, hand sanitized, peanut avoiding, sunscreen-slathering, massively medicated, pass-word protected, security-system-ed, and now mask wearing generation in history—and all it has done is made everyone more afraid of everything.
Now with COVID-19  we are so afraid of uncertainty, that we refuse to venture out—to take any risks. We insulate, inoculate, isolate, then pray that we’ll be kept free from harm.  Never to face any real challenges.
The problem with that is, unless  we’re willing to take risks we won’t succeed in life. Yes, there’s a time for playing it safe. But when caution becomes a lifestyle, we get bogged down in mediocrity and self preservation while life passes us by.
If we truly pray and search the scriptures, and listen to Godly counsel we will see we’ve got to step out in faith.
Four lepers sat outside the besieged famine-stricken city of Samaria. They considered their situation. “We’re starving to death. There’s food in the enemy camp. Enemy soldiers are swarming over it. We can play it safe, sit here and die. Or go into the camp and see whether they feed us or kill us!” They knew their worst option was playing it safe and doing nothing. So what happened?

“Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.” So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives. When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it.” 2 Kings 7:3-8

They were saved by taking a step of faith. Now, our risks may be less dramatic, but unless we take them we’ll be stuck in this same place for a long time.
Here’s  the big question: When did we as Christians get the idea that God calls us to safe places to do the easy things? Where do you see that in the Bible? Abraham was called to leave everything he knew to follow God and was never even told where he would be going. Moses was called to go back to the country that wanted him for murder and deliver generations of slaves. David was called to face Goliath, a shepherd boy in a life and death battle with a trained and skilled soldier.  We could go on and on and on.

God calls us to take risks.  Let’s take risks today for his glory.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Blessings,

Pastor Jay

May 26, 2020

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

Psalm 13:1-6

People say time flies when you’re having fun, but when things shift into a slower pace, life seems to move in slow motion. We often find ourselves thinking, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to get out of these circumstances.”

This verse contains a recurring question: “How long? How long?” David’s circumstances aren’t described, but he clearly feels forgotten and forsaken—a feeling we all can relate to.

To be isolated from human relationships is, without question, crushing, but what David writes of here is even more significant. He’s expressing a feeling of isolation from God, Himself. In his emerging depression, we discover that his perception, as is often the case with our own, does not reflect reality. What he feels to be true does not align with what he knows to be true.

The psalmist’s sentiment is shared by many of God’s people throughout Scripture. In Isaiah, God’s exiled people cry out, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me”(Isaiah 49:14).  Many Christians —genuine followers and servants of Jesus—have occasionally felt like saying, “I believe the Lord has actually forgotten us. If He has not forgotten us, if He was still with us, how would we be in this predicament? If He truly was watching over us, surely we would not have to endure these trials.”

Christians, let’s not believe the lie of isolation that our emotions can feed us. We can find rest in God’s comforting response to His forgetful people: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:15–16).

God’s care for His children is like the sun: it’s constant. Even when the clouds obscure it, it’s still there. It’s always there.

Will we trust in God’s constancy today? Amidst our feeling forsaken, God looks at His hands, engraved with each and every one of our names, and He says, “There you are. I have not forgotten you.”

Pastor Jay

 

May 22, 2020

The power of fear and the power of love

1 John 4:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
16  We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  17  And as we live in God,
our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face
him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of
punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Fear can arise in our hearts from the challenges that we face in life that loom bigger than we are.
In other words, we see no way of escape. That may well be how the disciples felt when they
locked themselves behind a door after the crucifixion of Jesus. John 20:19 for fear of the Jews.
Fear causes us to isolate ourselves. We chose to hide behind a locked door for fear of…The
verses that we are looking at today do give us hope for today. Do we know how much God loves
us? Have we put our trust in Him? Do we know that God is love? Do we truly comprehend that
when we live in this love we live in God and God lives in us? The Bible tells us that when we
live in the love of God our love grows toward perfection. In this way become more like Jesus as
we live in the world.

This begs the question, why is fear so powerful? How can fear rob me from the love that I have
when I am in Christ? How can the Word of God become truth to my troubled soul? Can this
perfect love of God really drive away the fear that plagues my soul?
This week I was reminded of these verses from a testimony that I read which came from a church
leader in Cameroon. Fear had plagued the heart of the outreach team when the outreach location
was changed from the one village which felt safe to go to another village which had political
unrest and fighting. Fear gripped the team with the thought of even going to that village. They
had the choice of going to their room and shutting the door in fear like the disciples did
following the death of Jesus. They also had the choice of going to their room and shutting the
door like the disciples did when they waited in prayer for an answer from God. Acts 1:12-14. In
prayer God showed this team that they should not fear but go to the village that had political
unrest. In obedience to God they risked their lives, people came to know Jesus and a church
began.

The current world events, national events, local events and our own home events give reason to
fear. We can be persuaded to lock our door for fear of what we feel is too big to be resolved.
Today the Word of God encourages us towards prayer when we shut our door as opposed to fear
when we shut our door.

In prayer we acknowledge to God who is love that we desire to live in His love and to grow in
this love which has the power to drive out my fear. Now this is hope for today. What will happen
behind your door today?

Pastor Joe

 

Praise and Worship

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Praise & Worship Songs for April 5