2018, Uncategorized

DECEMBER FROM OUR PASTORS

GOD COMES TO GIVE LIFE ONCE MORE

“In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.” (Isaiah 9:1)    

The prophet Isaiah spoke to a people guilty of sin about the coming Messiah Instead of turning to God, the people had gone to consult “mediums and spiritists” (Isa. 8:19). They had given their affection and devotion to other gods, to other “lovers” as God describes them (Jer. 3:1). Despite God having brought the people of Israel to a “fertile land to eat its produce” (Jer. 2:7), Israel had given their hearts to the world instead of God. 

To humble His people, God allowed foreign enemies to rule over them. The prophet Isaiah refers to two regions in Israel called Naphtali and Zebulun that God had allowed the foreign enemies of Syria and Assyria to claim as their first possessions. 

Because the people abandoned God, God allowed the people of these lands, and eventually the rest of Israel, to feel what life would be like without Him. They lived in distress, darkness, and hunger (Isa. 8:20-21). 

But this humbling would not last forever. While Naphtail and Zebulun were the first to experience foreign occupation, the would be the first to experience the occupation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Isaiah says, “In the future He will honor Galilee of the nations (Isa. 9:1). Naphtali and Zebulun are in the region that are more commonly known as Galilee, and it was in Galilee that Jesus would start His ministry. Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 3.28.16 PM

It may seem ordinary or insignificant, but think about it — the place that God first allowed enemies to take over would be the first place He would come to reclaim! Galilee, having lived in darkness, would be the first to experience the miracles of Jesus. They would be the first to experience the healings of Jesus, they would be the first to experience God’s favor, the first to experience the message of God:  come to me and have life (John 5:40). 

God had allowed the people to live in darkness, but His desire was not that they would stay distressed and become overcome by darkness. His desire was and still is for none to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus came to pay to price for our sins on the cross, to clear all our debts with God, and then restore us to life through the power of His Holy Spirit living in us. 

The only “price” we pay is that of a repentant heart that is willing to come to Jesus and confess our sins. It’s as we place our hearts in God’s hands that He can begin to take over and grant us the peace and life we long for.

During this season, take time to bring your hearts back to God so that you may receive His forgiveness and peace. As John the Baptist says, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” (Luke 2:4) Don’t just give God lip- service, but be real with Him. Spend time with God that you wouldn’t ordinarily spend. Perhaps before you go to bed at night, read a passage of Scripture and let God’s word be the last word on your mind. Give Him your heart, and let the Prince of Peace complete you and give you true life and true peace. 

Love and Blessings Always, 

Pastors Garritt and Sanette 

 

2018, Uncategorized

NOVEMBER FROM OUR PASTORS

HARVEST TIME

There is a song we love to listen to, one of the lines says, “Im reaping the harvest God promised me, taking back what the devil stole from me.” What better time to be reminded of the power that we have, to reclaim the harvest stolen from us, than now. We are in the harvest season. 

Throughout the Bible, harvest has always carried great spiritual significance. It is used in parables such as fund in Luke 8:4-8 and as a way of describing spiritual growth and health as found in 2 Corinthians 9:10 and James 3:18. While harvest has also been used to explain the natural cycles of farming crops, Jesus also spoke of the spiritual harvest. 

In the John 4:35-38, Jesus spoke of the spiritual harvest to the woman at the well, His disciples, and the Samaritans. Jesus said, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). In the days following this statement, many of the Samaritans became believers in Christ (verse 41). Jesus saw the spiritual harvest of souls waiting in that village. In fact, by their own testimony, the Samaritans said we believe, “for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:44) 

We find in the Gospel of Matthew, particularly in chapter nine verses thirty-six through thirty-eight, Jesus yet again spoke of the spiritual harvest, “He saw the crowds, and he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Here, Jesus referred to the many souls needing to be brought to repentance and faith as a harvest waiting to be realized.

A spiritual harvest is the result of God’s work in the heart of man. It is clear from the parable of the sower that some people’s hearts are good soil; when the Word of God is sown there, the person accepts it and continues to mature in Christ (Luke 8:9-15). We as laborers in Christ harvest cannot change the soil—that is God’s job (Ezekiel 36:26). However, we can be faithful to sow the seed which is the word of God, or help the plants (the people) to grow, or reap the harvest.  God will positions each and every one of us where he needs us the most.

The process of spiritual growth and maturity, from the heart’s regeneration to the recognition of faith, is often a long journey. In fact, the Bible indicates that the sower, the tender, and the reaper are likely to be different people at different times. Read John 4:35-38 and 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.

It is important to note that, God never desires for us to be in harms way or to suffer. The will of the Lord concerning us has always been for good and for life. Sin, has robbed us of that good which the Lord reserved for us in this life. Sin has also robbed many of Christ’s provisions of eternal life to come. For these reasons, harvest time should be especially important. First, we need to take back for ourselves what the sin has taken from us. We do this by acknowledging Jesus Christ as our soul authority every day and in all things. 

Next, the harvest is important because, as the laborers of Christ in His fields, we plant the seed of His word, we nourish the seed of His word, and pray to Jesus on behalf of others so that they may claim their inheritance of eternal life, through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus told us in Matthew 9:38 to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more laborers. We should pray about all aspects of the spiritual harvest process, including the preparation of the soil, which is the heart. We can ask God to change our hearts and the hearts of others. But remember, we can plant, we can water, we can till the soil, and we can harvest the fruit, but we cannot make the plant grow. Essentially, the heart transformation is between each person and Christ. We are simply obedient laborers whose primary tool is prayer. 

Love and Blessings Always,

Pastors Sanette and Garritt 

2018, Uncategorized

October From Our Pastors

What is Our Purpose? 

“One Sunday morning when the young Robert Blair had stayed home from church he looked out of the window to see ‘the sun brightly shining, and a cow with a full udder.’ Blair remembered that the sun was made to give light and the cow to give milk, which made him realize how little he understood the purpose of his own life. Shortly thereafter, he was converted while listening to a sermon.”

Have you ever felt like you didn’t have a purpose in your life, a reason for waking up each day, a sense of direction of what you were should be doing with your time? To wonder these things is not to suggest that there is something wrong with you but to say that each of us has a longing in us to fulfill something, to carry out a task, to find direction in our lives. The reason that so many of us struggle to find the answer to this question, to me, suggests that the answer cannot come from ourselves, but that it needs to come from above, from the One who made us. 

What is my purpose? Young Robert Blair, a Puritan living during Colonial times, wondered this as he stared out his window one morning — the sun has a purpose, the cows have a purpose. Now the focus came to him — if all these were made to serve a function, to do something, then surely I was made to have a function in this world. But what is that? The question led him to God, to His creator.

Perhaps the best place to start for an understanding of our purpose is to look to the book of Genesis, the start of it all. After He created the earth and everything in it, the Lord said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26) From this passage we see that God’s intention for our lives was that we would be just like Him and that we would take care of the creation that God had made (Genesis 2:15). 

In the freewill that God gave to us, however, we chose not to act like Him — we listened to the temptation of the evil one and chose to disobey the will of God for our lives. How can two things that are evil produce something good? How can two red apples create a green apple? The answer is, they can’t. Adam and Eve’s offspring all struggled with a predisposition to turn from the ways of God, and that includes us. Adam and Eve couldn’t clean themselves; only God could clean them. Jesus said to the disciples, “Unless I wash you, you have not part with me” (John 13:8). Jesus came to restore us all to the true image of God:  “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12). God said that through His new covenant made through Jesus, He will put a new heart in us and a new spirit within us, that He will remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

God’s transforming work in us shows itself in many ways:  in new attitudes and Godly responses; in healing of relationships and physical ailments; in a peace of mind and thankfulness in our hearts that lets us know that we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has things for us to do!

As new creations made through God, we realize that we no longer belong to ourselves but that we live for the Lord (Romans 14:7). We see that we are vessels given light by God to shine before others so that they too might know God (Matthew 5:16). We are told that in whatever we do, whether collecting garbage or serving food to those who can’t feed themselves, we are to “work at it with all [our] heart, as working for the Lord and not human masters” (Colossians 3:23). Our purpose, unlike those who built the tower of Babel “so that they could make a name for [themselves]” (Genesis 11:3), is to make God’s name known. Our purpose is to serve God, as we realize, as King David did, that everything in heaven and earth is God’s. “Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and earth is yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11). We are but stewards. We are stewards of all the earth to love it and take care of it as God originally commanded us in Genesis. We are also stewards life-giving words given to us through the Bible (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) and stewards of the grace given by the Holy Spirit to interpret those words and to serve one another and God (2 Timothy 1:14). God’s counting on us to spread our knowledge of and love for Him. 

What is our purpose? I wonder what Robert Blair truly discovered as he came to know God, but perhaps it was this:  Perhaps he realized that he was a special creation meant to praise and serve a loving creator, but that somewhere along the way he, as we all do, stumbled. He came to know that through Jesus, he could turn his life back to God. And he came to experience the joy of being in fellowship with His Creator once again, and the simple joy of living for Him each day. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). May this be theme and purpose to all our lives. Amen.