Yesterday, I missed Pastor Frank’s message. I was teaching the children about the cycles of sin in Judges, and how we need to be careful to not get so comfortable in life that we stop serving our Great God!
I love the tender brevity of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. We don’t know her name. We don’t know her relationship with Peter. Mark’s account uses the word “immediately” in regards to leaving the synagogue and the sharing of illness that put this woman in bed. You can feel their concern. Andrew and Peter it seems eagerly told Jesus she was there and ill.
Jesus lifted her up. Mark records, “And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31). In a time when we know women were not esteemed Jesus raised her from her bed. This was during the time when the Pharisees said a man could get out of supporting honoring his mother and father, the sick woman who touched Jesus was an outcast, the woman at the well we infer was not welcome with the other women, and Mary had 7 demons cast out of her.
Jesus, on a holy day, a day when no work was to be done, cared for a woman. In gratefulness Mark 1:31 concludes, “and she began to serve them.”
Believers in Jesus, don’t stop serving our Great God! Learn from this woman.
Imagine this, Sunday morning you hear your pastor emphatically say “preach the gospel to every creature.” You nod passionately in agreement, and think to yourself, “Self, he is speaking to us. Let’s evangelize the world!” On the way out of church, you thank your pastor for the challenge and ask him to pray for you this week as you hope to share the gospel boldly.
Sunday lunch is delicious. The nap afterwards leaves you ready to take on the world. You go to sleep thinking of all of the awesome opportunities God is going to provide to share Jesus at work.
However, that project ends up needing to be tweaked, you spend 90% percent of your time behind a computer and the remaining time listening to Loud Larry gripe about the cost of braces and the current political environment. You manage to mention you had a great time at church Sunday, to which Loud Larry bellyaches about the ills of organized religion (you think about how funny it would be to start singing a hymn as a joke of the problems with disorganized religion, nonetheless let the conversation drop).
You feel like a failure, you haven’t preached the gospel to anyone, and think to yourself, “Self, is this what Paul and Peter faced?”
All of the thoughts of evangelism slip as you drive home. You happily think about how great game night is going to be and it only momentarily crosses your mind that you might get a chance to share the gospel. But, you think to yourself, “Self, how would that even work?”
Does this sound at all familiar?
We want you to be confident in the gospel and sharing the gospel. Before you ever get a presentation out there, take a step back and try a different strategy.
First, pray. Pray that God would provide the opportunity to share the gospel. Jesus said we are to pray to the Lord of the Harvest for laborers in the harvest, and Paul said to pray that door would be open to share. Ask the One who said He would do the work for opportunity and boldness.
Second, pay attention. Play the games well. You will be a better representation of Jesus if you follow the rules, know what is going on, and are competitive. Some game nights are party game nights for fun, others are serious gamers who want to play. Know what is going on and be present.
Get to know the gamers you are playing with and be interested and interesting! Don’t be the conversation killer. Ask questions, inquire about families, work, hobbies, and life. Be friendly.
Finally, take the opportunities the Lord provides. Don’t “Jesus juke”. Don’t say things like, “This game is fun … want to know what else is fun? Following Jesus!” Or, “I will let you win if you come to church Sunday.” Or, “tough loss, the greatest loss a man can experience is losing his soul to hell.”
Celebrate wins (not just in the game, but newborns, graduations, promotions, etc.). Mourn losses (life is genuinely hard and if someone shares a loss, they are being vulnerable). Look for the right time. If someone asks you “what must I do to be saved?” You know the answer, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
If the conversation instead goes to “I spend as much time out of my house because I find it difficult to be around my wife,” you have an opening. Ask a question, perhaps “what makes it so difficult for you?” Or make a true statement, “when I struggle to honor my wife, I like to remember that she is to be treated like a weaker vessel, it helps.”
The Philippian Jailer asking “what must I do to be saved?” is only recorded once in scripture. Paul reasoned daily in the marketplace. Peter lived in Jerusalem for a time. Jesus used both men to share the gospel and He saved people through their preaching the good news.
God put you where He wants you and is bringing people into your life to impact. You might share a great gospel presentation, and it might fall on deaf ears. You might bumble your way through a conversation, only to discover God used it to bring someone to faith in Jesus. Game nights are one of many opportunities to preach the gospel to every creature.
1. Pray. 2. Pay attention. 3. Take the opportunities God provides
I believe it is time to go to war. Though I don’t believe we need to shed any blood. Our war is not against humans we see (check out Ephesians 6:10-12). Our war is against our sinful desires, the false teaching that leads men and women from truth, and all that is unholy.
When it comes to mankind, we pursue peace. Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 ESV).
James wrote “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17, 18 ESV).
These are only 2 of the many times believers are instructed to chase peace. If it was so important to God to tell us to be peacemaker, perhaps we ought to listen. Now is the time be at peace with those around us, so that we might boldly confront whatever is leading them from following the Prince of Peace.
I encourage you to put away the cacophony of voices that rile up dissension, wrath, and clamor. Listen to the wisdom from above and enjoy God’s perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Have you thought these questions? I have heard them uttered. I have read them as well. I even heard them in the tone of the guy in line outside of Home Depot Saturday.
The truth of scripture reminds me when I am anxious or afraid that God is right where He has always been. He is on His throne. Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Exodus 24:10 “and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.” Revelation 5:1 “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”
The rule of God has never been lessened. He is in control. He is steering and guiding and controlling the virus to bring about His will! Glory to His name! Also, He is extending His manifold mercies and abundant grace throughout the world! How could He allow this to happen? Because He is bringing about the plan He has been working before the foundation of the earth. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
Where is God during this pandemic? He is on the throne! We can be confident in His direction, even when there is upheaval. We can rejoice that even if His hand of provision is taken away, He has not left us or forsaken us!
Remember the great words of Psalm 46:10 when, like me, you find yourself anxious. “”Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Are you looking for a new read? Most of that list is a great time investment. Specifically, the cheap Kindle version of Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther and the free Pilgrim’s Progress are ones everyone should pick up.
Virtual Coffee Hour continues Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am. Drop in, stay the whole time, and learn something new about each other https://zoom.us/j/202192408.
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Many of you have asked how they can help. Would you send a text, make a phone call, mail a card, or email the people you would regularly see on Sunday? This will help us to stay connected with each other.
Cornerstone Bible Church has been “building on Jesus verse by verse” for nearly 8 years. We have sought to reach our community with the gospel, encourage believers to grow in maturity, and train leaders for the days to come. All of this work has been done because men, women, and children to know the only Savior, Jesus.
How are we going to expand with the growth of Cornerstone? We are going to draw believers into fellowship, evangelize the lost, and equip those willing to serve. You can join in Building Up through drawing new families into fellowship. Invite them to eat with you, attend small group, or even sit near you Sunday. Take the time to share what the Lord is teaching you in your walk with Christ, or ask how you can pray for them this week.
“Building on Jesus verse by verse” will be our aim until He returns. After all, the Lord’s Supper reminds us, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We don’t know the day nor the hour, but we know He will return, and we will keep building up until that day.
There is a viral video of woman experiencing literal push back from reclining her seat on an airplane. Whether you have seen the video or not, it is a reminder that we live in close proximity to one another.
There is danger in living in close proximity, if we are not guided by clear standard of conduct. Romans 12:16, 17 tell us “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
Our unity is through the work of the gospel to save us from the eternal consequences of sin, and to create a people who belong to Jesus and are zealous for good works. Pastor Frank reminded us of those good works this past Sunday. This Sunday, we are going to study the boundaries of good works, looking at John’s warnings to not misconstrue doing good with living in sin.
Living in harmony requires work on everyone’s part. Though poor choices (sin) will happen, we are always able to come back to living in harmony. The best way to live in harmony is to build on Jesus, verse by verse.
Sunday, I set up the PowerPoint to have the announcements rotating before the service. What I did not know was my attempt to be helpful was disruptive to the Sunday morning worship service. I threw off the flow, created an awkward space in the service, and had to scramble to help solve the issue.
This is not the first time I was frazzled at the start of a Church service. Sometimes I have arrived frazzled because of what happened at the breakfast table or while getting ready Sunday morning; sometimes because of the events of the past week, as I was burdened or feeling defeated; and, sometimes because of whatever was going on inside of my head left me on edge.
Just as at those other times, as I sang of God’s wonderful work and reflected upon the Bible, I was reminded that I was at church to corporately praise His name, build others up in Jesus, and find ways to speak truth into the lives of those who are present. While I could have dwelt on whatever was weighing me down, I choose instead to cast my cares upon Jesus (1 Peter 5:7).
Sunday ended up being a really great service. Both my wife and I connected with some who were hurting and with some who were serving. I don’t go to church to be perfect. I go to church be a better follower of the One who is perfect. He has promised to use flawed people to bring about His perfect will.
If you find yourself considering skipping church because you’re frazzled, don’t stay home. You might think that it is too much, and you will find that it was just what you needed.
P.S. Cornerstone is looking for someone to manage the PowerPoint slides.
7.5 billion people call earth home. There are 330,000,000 who live in the US. In Utah, there are 3.1 million people. In Davis County there are roughly 350,000 people. Every one of them is guilty of sin. 100% deserve wrath, because they have turned to their own way. Not one is righteous because of their deeds. Romans 2:6 and 8 read “He will render to each one according to his works: … but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
With such a bleak picture of humanity who can God save? If all of mankind is guilty, how can any of them be justified? The Bible gives the answer clearly, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And, Peter, preaching to those who many thought were beyond the possibility of salvation said “To Him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”
God can and will save all who believe in Jesus. There are no persons who are beyond the grace of God if they have breath in their lungs. For they can hear the word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved! May the Apostle Paul’s request for prayer be ours as well, “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:20).
Sunday, I mentioned that the church throughout history has not always been patient while people mature in their faith. We strongly desire for people to believe in Jesus and embrace the life as a child of God. Then, we expect those new believers to act mature, though they are immature in the Lord.
Thankfully, the Bible instructs us how we might improve. “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Like our biological family, we have an opportunity to help our family in Christ. Through patience, encouragement, and wise reminders, we can lead our brothers and sisters in Jesus to live the way the Bible teaches.
Our Lord says “let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me” (Isaiah 27:5). While the church has not always done a great job, we can start now and be there for those who need help, and go to those who the Lord will use to help us.