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Pastor's Points - June 2021

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Dear Church Family,

I am so thankful to be back in the normal rhythm of life in general, but particularly in our church family! Your love, care, and understanding have meant so much to me as your pastor.  I want to take just a moment to thank those who prayed for me, encouraged me through the sending of cards, and acts of kindness.  It was all so helpful and made my recovery better than it would have otherwise been. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Now that I am back to almost 100% capacity, I am looking forward to all that God has for us this summer!  Our summer schedule is out, and I want to encourage you and your family to be a part and enjoy the summer ahead. Our summer is full of opportunities for us to serve, fellowship, learn, grow, and love the Lord and one another. Please pray about who you could invite to come to our worship services during the summer as well as to our church wide family events. I am so excited that we can offer ministry opportunities that we could not offer last summer.

As we make our way through the summer you will see some improvements made to our South Campus bathrooms on the front children’s hallway, and the main bathrooms downstairs by the drink machines.  These improvements were to be a part of phase one of our plan that we presented to our church family last year.  Also, even though we paused our stewardship building campaign last October, we have been steadily working to refine our plan to be ready to go forward with our campaign this coming fall so we can begin in earnest the development and renovation of North and South Campus.  Exciting days are right around the corner!  It is amazing that God provided for us our North Campus right before the pandemic because we have been able to use the space through this time to help us spread out so we could continue with ministries like AWANA, Student Ministry, and on campus Life Groups.   It would have been very difficult to do this without North Campus.  God knew what we needed when we needed it!!  In the fall we will be able to raise the monies we need to begin to pay to develop this property out in a way that will allow us to use it for years to come!

This is a great time to be a part of the Oakhill family!!  God has so much for us!  All we must do is say yes Lord, walk in obedience, and watch what God does!!

I love you and I love being your pastor

 

Posted by Alan Scott with

Spare Change - June 2021

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Understanding Freedom in Christ

Freedom is one of the most dearly held virtues for Americans.  We cherish our freedom and rightly so!  Our founding fathers wanted to make sure that everyone would have maximum freedom and rights without infringing on others rights.  I have a feeling that they drew from the idea of freedom in scripture.  Albeit, the freedom talked about in scripture is not a personal freedom but a spiritual one.  This spiritual freedom, found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ, should be one of the most cherished values of all Christians.  I am sure we can all agree that it is important and we would all most likely affirm its value; however, many do not truly live the Christian life clinging to this truth.  How do I know that?  To understand that we need to turn to Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” 

The whole book of Galatians is a response to the infections of the Judaizers in the church at Galatia.  This group of people came after Paul had preached the gospel and wanted to add Jewish laws and customs to the Christian faith.  In essence, they were adding works to the gospel, which, as we know, makes the gospel not the gospel.  The gospel is only through faith in Jesus not by works of men.  Paul vehemently rebukes the church and the Judaizers.

His main concern is that the church is willing to be reenslaved under the law.  They once were under the law, meaning they were enslaved to it by their sin.  As we know there is no way for anyone to keep the law, therefore no one can obtain righteousness through it.  The law only leads to punishment, death, hell, and the grave.  Paul reminds them they are free from all of that.  They have been freed by the gospel to live as free people.  So they must stand firm against anything that is not the gospel, especially those that wanted to enslave them with the law or works.

That was great for the church back in the day but what does that have to do with us today?  Do we still struggle with this?  Philip Graham Ryken says, “We often do the same thing.  We forget that Christianity is a form of liberty and not slavery.  We reduce faith in Christ to a list of rules or traditions.  We evaluate our spiritual standing by what we do for God, rather than by what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.  In truth, we are all recovering Pharisees, in constant danger of forgetting to live only by faith and choosing instead to go right back under the law.”

If we live by our works, we will die by our works!  The only way to true salvation is faith in Jesus Christ which in turn helps us to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.  Paul reminds the church they do not need to worry about an outward showing of the faith, they must be concerned about the inward heart.  When we become a believer, God writes His law on our hearts, meaning we live by the Spirit.  The Spirit works righteousness into our hearts and it flows out of us.  So in essence we do righteous things and display holiness in our lives.  The difference is the gospel has produced that in us rather than us trying to produce it ourselves.  Galatians 5:22 reminds us that the Spirit bears good and righteous fruit in our lives.  When we live by the Spirit these things will come out of us and the law will be of no consequence to us.

The point in all of this is to walk by the Spirit which means we are anchored to the gospel.  For whatever reason Christians have always had the tendency to drift away from the truth of the gospel.  It has happened for thousands of years and if we are not anchored to it we will drift as well.  Think about a boat on a lake.  Even the calmest lake has a pull to it and eventually a boat will drift from the shore; but if that boat is anchored at the dock it cannot drift.  It might try to pull away but it is always brought back by a secure chain.  For the Christian we are that boat, always being pulled away from the dock, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must have a thick, heavy chain made from the Word of God to keep us anchored to that dock.  We must constantly stay in God’s word, going back to these truths, like our freedom in Christ.  We need to be reminded that we were not saved by our works, rather through faith in Jesus.  When we are anchored to this truth we can never drift away.

If there is any encouragement that I can leave you with it would be to keep your focus on Jesus Christ.  Take your focus off yourself, off your works, off your righteousness, because you have none, and look to Jesus. You cannot go wrong doing that!  And then you will truly understand freedom in Christ!

 

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

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