Christ is the standard

“For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law; The one who does these things will live by them.  But the righteousness that comes from faith speaks like this: Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ that is, to bring Christ down or, ‘Who will go down into the abyss?’ that is to bring Christ up from the dead. On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame,’ for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:5-13  This is a wonderful message to answer those who have the tendency to judge. For if a person believes in Jesus, but has a little different way of living, we have this tendency to judge them. In other words, to bring the righteousness by works into play, thinking of the “right” things they are doing, or the “wrong” things they are doing.  That is not the righteousness of the heart brought about through belief in Him. For the message is clear, and the message is being taught us and confirmed to us through the Holy Spirit and the Word.  If you believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead, and God did this, and if you confess your faith in Christ verbally, you will be saved. This is because verbal confession  is what comes from the heart. We don’t have to be evaluators of whether people are living “Christian” lives, for if we do, on what basis are we judging them against?  But if someone makes a confession, who are we to think  that they might not be truly saved, or that they might be. The point of the matter is confession and belief.  Truly this confession and belief changes a person and that person’s life becomes different than what it was before. But oftentimes we are harshest on those who profess Jesus but don’t fit our mold of what that looks like, for it doesn’t look like us. It’s time to start looking at the heart of the individual instead of the actions by which they behave. Remember Jesus is still working on all of us to sanctify us, to grow us into what we all will be in Christ.  This is not an endorsement to live however we want to live, but it is a warning for all believers to not be so hard on people whose faith might not be as strong, but who confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Let’s concentrate on our faith, and our growth, and let the message of the heart ring out to everyone we meet, then even some will deny us for we will make them uncomfortable with our testimony. But testimony without judgment is faith in action. So let’s get active for Christ, not by doing, but by living our lives as true believers, focused on Christ, and transforming our lives to be more like Him. Pastor Andy

Be The Example

Many nominal Christians and those who don’t believe in Christ, will use the Bible as a way to prove their distorted points. They will say things like, ‘Look at the evil that God’s people did in the Old Testament.” or they will say to justify their own thinking that, “the Bible is filled with evil things.” While that may be true, what are the evil things that are done, that is recorded in Scripture for. Maybe this will help: ‘Now I want you to know brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did.  Don’t be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. Let us not commit sexual immorality some of them did, and in a single day 23,000 people fell dead. Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes. Nor should we complain as some of them did and were killed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10: 1-11  We have been given in Scripture, examples of what kind of behavior the Lord expects out of us, and what kind of behavior He detests. All given to us as a warning to take-a-look at our own behavior. Every time we read scripture, we ought to be thinking two things. How am I to live then; and how might I be living that is wrong. We all want to be examples for others and for our children.  I remember a long time ago there was this smoking ad that had a small boy following his dad around and trying to copy him in everything the dad did. Then they sat down by a tree and the father lit up a cigarette. The picture zoomed in on the boy then looking at the cigarette package, and the words came across the screen, “Like father, like son.”  I never forgot that, for that short commercial made me realize how my actions would very much be an example for my children to follow. I know that I wasn’t perfect, but I made a conscious decision long ago that my family was my first church, and If I ministered incorrectly to them, what would I be ministering to those outside of the family. You and I who have kids have been given much and instructed much in scripture about things we should do and things we should not do, and we have been given real examples of this, so think about what kind of example you are, then check that with what example the scriptures tell you to be and see how you measure up.  We all still might need to change a little. Pastor Andy

Be Jesus To Someone Today

An extremely important scripture for us to not only memorize, but to also take to heart is found in Matthew the 25th Chapter. It is the story of the sheep and the goats. Scripture tells us: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  Matthew 25: 31-34  He then gave an example of those who were considered “Sheep”, and those who were considered “Goats.”  With both He spoke the same thing but in opposites, such as: “I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.” Vs 35-36  He spoke that to the ones on the right the Sheep. To those on the left, the Goats, He wrote the same thing, but in the negative. You did not do any of these things!  Both the Sheep and the Goats wanted to know when they did or when they did not do these things.  You see, even those who did take care of others didn’t realize it because their hearts were to serve without thinking that it was Jesus they were serving. They just wanted to be like Him. Those on the left, the Goats, wondered when they did NOT do these things. This goes along with what Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21-23  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.  On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!”  Those on the left think they are doing the Lord’s work, but they will be shifted to the left as goats and separated. Why is that?  It’s because of the motivation behind what they did and did not do. Many Christians are so afraid of faith based on works, that they fail to work. Jesus wants us to be like Him, because we emulate Him, and want to be like Him. The work that He has us doing, isn’t work but it is a compelling need to care for others.  Do you have someone who is on your heart? That one who the Spirit compels you to love, even if they are unlovable?  Do you want to get as far away from that person as possible, or do you want to keep them close, to be there when they need you? Be Jesus to someone today. You might just be the only representation of Him to those you are sent to.  Not for the sake of having to, but for the sake of being blessed to be able to. Pastor Andy

Eat What Does Not Perish

You know, I love to eat! And sometimes I eat too much, especially if it’s something I really like.  Turn on any channel on the TV and you will see a commercial about food, or a cooking channel.  All focus seems to be on food, and many people pursue food as a source of pleasure. The people of Jesus’ time were no different. Here is what Jesus says about food:  “Jesus answered, ‘I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.’ “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, ‘This is the work of God that you believe in the One He has sent.’  “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they asked. “What are You going to perform?” John 6:26-30  I wonder what would happen to us if we sought after the Bread of Life like we do the bread of the earth? God wants us to pursue His love like He pursues us. He wants us to see Him as our sustenance, as the very reason for the lives we live.  I suspect that many who have issues with eating are still trying to fill a void that they feel in themselves. Either it is for emotion, or to meet some need within ourselves.  But I often wonder what things would be like for us, if we pursued Jesus like He actually is, the Bread of Life.  You know that which we feel we couldn’t live without. The willingness to travel to other places just to taste the food that delights the palate.  So the next time you work hard to fix that meal that means so much to you, think about the true food that gives so much more. Think about Jesus. I know He wants us to enjoy life, and to enjoy the foods of the earth, but He tells us NOT to work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life.  He is the taste that satisfies! He is the only food that truly satisfies, while the food we eat of earth, no matter how good it is, only lasts a few hours, then we are hungry again. But with the food of eternity, will never leave us feeling empty or hungry, except for the hunger of wanting more of this food, the food that satisfies- Jesus! Pastor Andy

Wisdom

I was reading about Solomon this morning, hoping that a little wisdom would be poured out on me from the Holy Spirit, for who could not benefit from a little wisdom? He was writing about the emptiness of possessions, and he sought after all kinds of possessions, but it did not fill him, and he called it, “I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind.” But then He turns to wisdom, and this gives me hope. Here is what he says: “Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. ‘The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.” Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, ‘What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise? And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 But still he understands that wisdom is better than all else, and at the end of the lesson, he writes: “When all has been heard , the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” Ecc. 12:13-14 So what is the lesson I can learn today? What is the lesson I can share? When life happens to us all, we can enjoy that which we have or acquire, but the end product is the desire to have the wisdom, taught by God for our good. It is the desire of the heart to enjoy that which is around us, but to also realize that all is temporary. Our focus, our true focus needs to be on that which will live long after we have left this earth, for even our legacies will eventually fade away. But our life will go on, our faith will remain in Him, our presence with the Master will continue on in eternity. You and I cannot possibly fathom what that means, but through faith we trust that God is building us to something so much better. He is preparing us for something much more permanent. He is preparing us to be with Him forever. All that we learn here on this earth is preparation for that time. We can be wise and learn that all this is a building block for eternity and to keep our eyes fixed on what is above, or we can squander the time with the temporary. Today, I want to encourage you to set your eyes on the future. Set your mind on what will be when we see Jesus. Even now we cannot know what will be, neither can we know what tomorrow will bring, so if we are going to focus on something, let’s not make it about tomorrow, but on that day, when all will be made clear, and we will be in the very presence of God Himself, and walk with Jesus forevermore. Pastor Andy

Mercies are new today

Music is such a large part of life! I have played the drums in various churches we have attended and tinker around with the guitar. If I say, “Don’t worry …”, some of you might respond, “Be happy!” When Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” comes on, everyone waits for that drum intro and then flails around playing it on their air drum set! That song has transcended generations. I played it in a class I was teaching to 20 and 30-somethings and paused it right at the drum intro waiting to see what they would do! They were ticked at me! “Turn it back on!” they yelled!

In being a little transparent today, I have been struggling lately. Personal stuff … mostly between my ears by listening to negative self-talk. The enemy will try to play “songs” or themes for you to keep you bound up in all of the muck and mire. But, as my loving savior knows the impact of music in my life, He allowed me to hear a song that really spoke to me which led to listening to an album that has just been a blessing. Christian artist, Micah Tyler, has an album out called “New Today” and the title song from that album has been amazing for me. The first verse and chorus are:

I’ve been hard on myself lately
Every morning I feel the weight, mmm
When it’s hard to just get out of bed
Tell my heart, ’cause sometimes I forget That Your mercies are new today


Your mercies are new today, oh
I can rest on Your shoulders
There is grace to start over
Your mercies are new today, oh
Your mercies are new today

22 God tells us in Lamentations 3:22-23, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]  his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness.

Another song on the album is titled “By Name” and talks about how God does not point out all of our weaknesses and problems, not that he doesn’t know them, but instead calls us by name. Some lyrics are:

I don’t call you by your darkest secret
I don’t call you by your loneliness
The reasons you hide away from the light
They could never make me love you less

I don’t call you by your broken family
I don’t call you by what you can’t change
The past like a cloud can chase you around
But hear my voice whisper through the rain

I know your story
I wrote every line
Planned every step that you’ll take
Lift up your head
And believe what I say
I don’t call you by your guilt or shame
I call you by name By name

All the voices in your head are lying
They’re saying this is how it’s always gonna be
But they’re all gonna bow at the strong, tender sound
When I tell you who you are to me

The song goes on to say He also calls us:

Beloved, forgiven
And bought at a price
My son, my daughter
Forever you’re mine

I have included links to the two songs below. I don’t know the artist personally, nor gain anything by recommending his songs to you, but if music is as prominent in your life as it is in mine, these are some good songs to add to your play list!

Blessings to you! As God says in Numbers 6:24-26:

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord [a]lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”

Micah Tyler – New Today (Official Lyric Video) – YouTube

Micah Tyler – By Name (Official Audio) – YouTube

Name Above All Others

I find it interesting how hard it is for some “professing believers” to say the name of Jesus Christ in public. They will use the term “God” but have difficulty saying the name of Jesus. Why do you suppose that is? Jesus was talking to the disciples and those gathered to listen to Him and He said this: ‘And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.” Luke 12:8-12 We need to get more used to speaking the name of Christ, for if we have faith in Him, He will guide us into all truth through the Holy Spirit who lives inside us. But what if the Holy Spirit does not live in you? Perhaps you have grown up in church and understand some of what is said, and because your parents believed, you speak as though you believe also, by the mere fact that your family believes. But going through religious behavior without leaning on, or knowing the Holy Spirit is the One who guides, is nothing more than works, trying to be good enough. Maybe that’s even the way you were raised, not hearing about Jesus, but only about God and His goodness, and that you have to be good also, so that you can go to heaven. There will be a lot of disappointed people on that day that think they know the Lord, but have never accepted Him as personal Lord and Savior. You can recognize Jesus as the head of a movement, but He is either Lord of your life, or He is not. Matthew would write something else Jesus said: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 It’s not something that can’t be corrected if you don’t have that personal relationship with Jesus. You can do it now! You know Him as the Son of God, now just ask Him to be Lord of your life.

Have Faith

In the three years of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He revealed the power of God in Him more than 40 times. That’s a lot of activity, and we can see when we read how His notoriety spread so quickly during that time. He performed these miracles out of compassion, and for the purpose of revealing the power of God to others, and to show who He is, and because of His mercy. Yet, so many still would not believe. Many of those who would not believe were of the established religious community. Many of the crowds wanted to know “what they could do to perform the works of God!” (John 6:28) but when Jesus replied, “This is the work of God – that you believe in the One He has sent.” They went on to ask Him: “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” 6:29-30 They had already been witness to some extraordinary things that Jesus did, which were far beyond the capabilities of man, yet they wouldn’t believe, even if He showed them one more. He actually did many more miracles after that, and I’m sure some put their faith in Him, but many more still would not believe. John would end his gospel this way: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:24-25 So here we are today. Many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, seen by John and others, which is also a great miracle of God, but we still do not believe. How many of you have innocently prayed for the Lord to show you something like a miracle so that you would believe? In the 20th Chapter of John, Jesus would say to Thomas, who was not present when He appeared to the disciple one time, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer. Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” John 20:27-29 How can we ever move past the “seeing is believing” part and realize that, “faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 Faith tells us the truth, spoken to our souls by the Holy Spirit Himself, and if we will listen, He will tell us all truth concerning our Lord and our life. Pastor Andy

Memorial Day

First, I apologize. This should have been yesterday, but we were traveling.

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, it brings to mind the legacy of family members on my wife’s and my sides of the family and all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Pastor Andy Anderson is a vet and a medical professional who served during the Vietnam conflict. He penned a devotional where he lists some of those he will be remembering this weekend, but also the One who paid it all:

There is One other I also want to remember above all else. And that is the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. People today don’t even want to mention His name, yet whether they like Him or not, doesn’t change the fact that in the time of great spiritual warfare, He met the challenge. He gave His life for the sake of others including you and me. We are to remember Him above all, because the greatest act of mercy and love are attributed to Him. On the day before He was to be crucified, He said to His disciples: “When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, ‘I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He also took the cup after Supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.” Luke 22:14-20 So it’s okay to use this Monday to enjoy yourselves, for it is a special day and given for the sake of remembering. It is a day to spend with others, with family and friends, so that you can all remember those who have paid the price so that we can indeed celebrate. This freedom that we take so much for granted was bought with blood and sacrifice, and the greatest sacrifice was the one bought by Jesus for you and me to have freedom in Him and so that we can be with Him forever. So here’s to you my friends, I love you. Here’s to You Jesus! I love You, and I remember what you did for me. Thank You for dying for me, so that I, through You, may live in eternity. “Greater love hath no man than to give his life for a friend.”

Remember Yahweh!

Sometimes I feel like Jonah in the belly of a fish, dying on the inside, wanting to do something, wanting to just get out, or even get away from all the hate, the bitterness, and the division that is happening. It honestly disquiets my soul and causes me angst. I just happened into Jonah this morning and part caught my attention. It was the prayer of Jonah when he was swallowed by a giant fish. Let me share that prayer with you this morning, because I think many of us might feel this way: “I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me. I cried out for help in the belly of Sheol; You heard my voice. You threw me into the depths, into the heart of the seas, and the current overcame me. All Your breakers and Your billows swept over me. But I said: I have been banished from Your sight, yet I will look once more toward Your holy temple. The waters engulfed me up to the neck; the watery depths overcame me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. I sank to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its prison bars closed behind me forever! But You raised my life from the pit, Lord my God! As my life was fading away, I remembered Yahweh. My prayer came to You, to Your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord! Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Jonah 2: 2-10 Don’t you feel like you are in a cage sometime? Especially during the season of unprecedented snow and bad weather that keeps us from going anywhere, but still attacks us with frozen pipes and no electricity.  It changes our comfort zone and puts us in the belly of the whale. But when we find ourselves at a place where the stress wants to make us cry out, let’s cry out to God. Let’s pray what Jonah prayed. He said, ‘As my life was fading away, I remembered Yahweh!.  Now are the times of remembrance. Now is the time to let go and let God, for He knows your situation, and He knows your trials. And He waits for you to call on Him, to put your hope in Him, no matter what the outcome is, when He is our focus, and when He is our hope, we will not fear, even if the “whale” swallows us. Jonah got into trouble because He tried to run away from God. Perhaps that’s what is happening to us even now. We might very well be running away from God, running to our own devices, to try to dig out from the pit we have fallen into. But we are just wasting our time, for we cannot escape from the belly of the whale when it has swallowed us, but God can make the situation bearable; He can make our time precious when we put our hope in Him. Today, don’t look at the damage that is happening around us, look at the Caretaker of our Souls, and let’s sacrifice a voice of thanksgiving to Him, and fulfill the vow of love, even from the depths of the pit. Pastor Andy