Dear Church Family,
As we enter the month of February, we find ourselves in the middle of unknown times. Two of the biggest unknowns are the corona virus, and the new political landscape that we find ourselves in. How long will the virus last, what about the vaccine, what new policies will be put in place by the new president and how will they affect us personally, and corporately as a church? Good questions that I do not have the answers to. As we have been discussing in our recent sermon series, we have choices to make when facing the unknown. How will we respond when we find ourselves surprised by situations? Or how will we respond when we have no control over the situations we face? More good questions that we will answer by our responses to the unknown.
I have had recent conversations with people that are very concerned about the future. Their future, and our collective future as a church. So much is changing! So much is out of our control! So much is unknown! These statements are all true, but we serve a God that does not change, who is in perfect control, and is clearly known to us!! We of all people have reason to hope in 2021!! Our God is still on His throne!
God began leading me back in October to begin preaching through the book of Acts when the new year begun. And that is what I am going to do beginning in February. I do not believe there is a more relevant part of scripture for us to spend time in right now than this book. We will be encouraged as we look back at the testimony and faith of the first generation of Christians, and the power of the Holy Spirit on full display.
One theme we will find in Acts is that of apologetics. Apologetics is the branch of theology that is concerned with defending Christianity against accusations and error. One article I was reading stated, “In the early days of the church, many were accusing the Christians of being seditious against the Roman imperial government. Luke recorded several courtroom scenes and made it clear that whenever Christians came before the Romans, the Romans recognized that the Christians were good, peaceful citizens. The real trouble, Luke showed, came from those Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah, and who thus were angry at the Christians who claimed Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.” In our day we are going to have to be willing to give a defense as to why we believe what we believe, and confidently proclaim to our culture that Jesus Christ truly is the promised Messiah. He is the Savior of the world!
But then another theme that we will see time and time again is the power of God on full display in the lives of His children. The story of the works and power of the Holy Spirit in Acts is truly amazing, inspirational, and encouraging. Listen to what Andreas Köstenberger says in his work on Acts… “If the first generation of the Christian church proves anything, it is this: the power of God is infinitely greater than any human obstacles in its way. A humble Galilean craftsman, who suffered an untimely death and accumulated no earthly possessions, wrote no books, and left behind nothing but a small band of disheartened followers, spawned a movement so powerful that it took the Roman Empire by storm.”
We are a part of that same movement today! And the power of our great God is still infinitely greater than any obstacles that get in our way!! Our God is greater than a virus, financial hardship, political unrest, or even persecution itself!! Let’s keep looking to Jesus, let’s be ready to give an answer, and let’s keep trusting Him every step of the way!!!
I love you and I love being your pastor
Dear Church Family,
THAT’S NOT FAIR! How many times have you heard that? I am sure we have all heard this phrase uttered many times before, especially those of us that have kids. How many times have you said it yourself or, even more convicting, how many times have you just thought it? The problem is when we camp out with the “not fair” kind of thinking it affects how we act. It can lead to pride, hatred, unforgiveness, idolatry and a host of other sins. While we will tell our kids, “Tough, life’s not fair!” to their cries about imbalances in life; do we as adult Christians live that way as well?
The problem is the world is full of unfairness. It has been a part of the fabric of our universe ever since the fall. Even the fairest system of justice is tainted by sin. It affects us on the playground, on the ballfield, in our homes, in our jobs, and every other aspect of life. It is something the Christian must come to grips with. True fairness or justice will not be achieved until we live in the New Heavens and New Earth under God’s direct rule.
However, in one respect I am thankful that things are not fair. If fairness was God’s primary way of dealing with us, then there would be no grace. I am overjoyed that God does not give me what I deserve. Rather, through the blood of Jesus, I get what I do not deserve--mercy! So, in that respect we can be grateful for the unfairness of God; but that does not make the unfairness of the world any easier to swallow.
The difficult thing is if Christians want to live according to the scriptures then we do not have the luxury of beating the drum of unfairness. We must respond with grace and humility and that is easier said than done. The wonderful thing is we have a great example in our Savior, Jesus Christ, of how to handle unfairness. He taught us how to respond to it in His teaching and then lived it out in His life. The greatest example we can see is how He was treated when He was arrested and sentenced to death. Even as deplorable as His death by crucifixion was, He asked the Father to forgive those that hung Him on the cross! What an example of grace and humility in the face of vicious cruelty. That is the attitude with which we are to live every day.
To do this we look to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:38-43, You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
There is so much here, more than we have time to unpack, but the long and short is this verse is pointing us to show extreme grace in the face of unfairness. The examples given in the passage show us we should be able to see an injustice done to us and give grace. We need to read these verses carefully and understand the illustrations Jesus is using. He is not saying that sinners are not guilty or that people that break the law should not be punished. He is keying in on how we react to injustices done to us specifically. Instead of getting angry and lashing out we must be reserved and have a gospel mindset. One that serves, loves, and prays for the offending party. That is how Jesus handled things in his life and that is how we are expected to act.
I know...I know...I know...this seems impossible, right? I believe with the power of the Holy Spirit we can live like this. We must make Jesus number one and do away with our proclivity to get offended easily. If we do that, we can live out the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22) which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is the only way we can live as Jesus prescribed. And, yes, we will have to give more grace than we want to give and receive much less than we think we deserve. But isn’t that what Jesus did His whole life? I am thankful I have a Lord and Savior that does not treat me fairly! I pray I can do the same for those around me.