Faith

Hope for the Church

By Ty Haguewood

I am always blown away as I think about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. We have an abundance of hope for our lives because the God who saved us is the God of hope. We often talk about the hope that each one of us as in Jesus yet we sometimes belittle the hope that we have as the church. So let me put it this way:

The body of Christ, also known as the church, has a fullness of hope as God has lavished hope on us through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want us to take a deeper look at this.

  1. Jesus is the rock and foundation of the church

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ solidified His authority and place as the Victorious King. We as believers must always first remember Jesus as Victor and Savior of our souls. The church is most hopeful and healthy when we have a right view of God and all that He has done, is doing, and will do. The moment the church loses a right view of God is the moment the church slips into a place of hopelessness.

We must remember that sin has lost it’s power, death has lost it’s sting, and Jesus reigns supreme forever. The church is founded and rooted in the God who conquered death.

We have so much to celebrate and hope in.

  1. The Holy Spirit is the power of the church

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:4-8

In Acts 1, Jesus told the disciples to not leave Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. He did not let them go do anything based on their own power, instead, Jesus told them that they were going to receive a great power.

God never calls us to be the savior of humanity nor the King of Kings; God calls us to believe, follow, and be available for Him to use. We, as the church, must never attempt to do the work of God without the power of God. The church is never more crippled than when we try to do God’s work without God’s presence.

We have a power available to us unparalleled to anything else, why would we depend on ourselves if have the Holy Spirit? We must be a people totally dependent and desperate to be used by God and filled with His Spirit.

The church has hope in the reality that God is our power and He will never leave us to our own ability to do His work.

Some Closing Thoughts

I pray that we would spend less time designing programs and events and spend more time on our knees praying for God to move in our community. We have a God that conquered death yet we so often rely on ourselves. Let us be a people on our faces before God asking Him to transform our community.

The church has so much hope, let’s turn to God and trust Him. He will guide us, provide for us, protect us, empower us, and never leave us. Let’s surrender and watch Him transform this city.

 

 

Strong Foundation

By Karen Polich

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God.

His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 6-9

This isn’t shaky ground. We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God.

Yet, we often sit in worry and fear. It’s easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power. We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

How has God worked in your life? Write down what He is doing and has done. How has He shown His strength and faithfulness? Share His goodness with others. You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

 

Confident Living

By Karen Polich

A solid foundation means we can live in complete confidence. It means we can walk with assurance all the time.

At the suggestion of Dr. Sullins, I placed a rock on my desk this week and started to think about my foundations. (You can listen to his message on foundations here). I found myself in 2 Corinthians and was reminded of God’s great power. I came back to the following post that first appeared on Beyond First in 2016.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians (NT8)

This isn’t shaky ground. We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God. Yet, why do we often sit in worry and fear? Of course it is easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power.  We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God. His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

List the ways you have seen God work in your life and share them! How has He shown His strength and faithfulness? You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to the Cross Part Two

By Elizabeth Thomas

As a leader in Kid’s Klub, I am often surprised at how the lessons I teach the kids affect my life too. I find that although the material is written for them, it also speaks to directly to me. This week, I was faced with a difficult lesson – following God’s plan instead of my own.

Last Sunday, we taught the kids about Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a fun story to teach! Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, while people laid their coats and palm branches down. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) and everyone seemed excited that He had arrived! It’s the hopeful, joyful part of Jesus’ journey to the cross. But as we all know, the excitement didn’t last long.

The people were hopeful because Jesus had said He came to save them (Luke 19:10). But they wanted Him to save them from Roman rule.  Even those closest to Him thought He was going to establish His Kingdom here on Earth. But that wasn’t His plan. Instead of challenging the Roman government, He challenged the Pharisees and religious leaders. Instead of setting up His political throne, He cleansed the temple. He didn’t free them from Rome like they wanted. So, the people began to doubt Jesus. Was He really going to do what He said? The Pharisees took advantage of this dissention and started acting out their plan to kill Him. The opposition among the people grew when they realized Jesus wasn’t following through with “their plans”. Eventually, they turned on Him and pleaded for His crucifixion. When He didn’t fit their plan, they lost their faith.

Isn’t this just like us? When our plans unravel, so does our faith?

I have often wondered how the people who saw Jesus perform miracles could have turned on Him so quickly. How could they have crucified the Man who came to save them? To be in the presence of God, to see His power firsthand, only to abandon Him and turn away. But then, I remember how many times I have turned away from God. How many times have I seen His power in my life and then lost my faith in Him when things don’t go my way? How many times have I forgotten to trust Him when things are difficult? How many times have I questioned His plan, without remembering His sacrifice for me?

The great news is, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. His plan was to redeem us eternally, and He did so on the cross. Aren’t you glad that He is up in Heaven now, preparing his Heavenly kingdom for all those who chose to follow Him? During this week of remembrance, don’t forget that God still has a plan. It didn’t end with Christ’s sacrifice. He has a bigger plan for your life. He is calling you to something greater. The question is, will you follow His plan or your own?

Disappointment and the Holidays

By Karen Polich

The holiday season is like a magnifying glass to disappointment and struggle. It starts before Thanksgiving and builds into Christmas. Challenges that may have been before us all year long become intensified. Deep loss and the grief that follows shakes us to our core. While we may be prepared for a setback here and there, the long-term disappointments that linger for months and years often knock us off our feet.

Pastor Michael M. Cook examined a part of the Christmas story that shows us what it is like to live in disappointment while remaining deeply faithful to God. Listen to the podcast here. Zechariah and Elizabeth spent most of their lives not expecting a child. Yet, their hearts desired to be parents. To add insult to injury, in their culture, it would be seen as disgraceful to not have a child. They were deeply faithful but deeply disappointed. Read Luke 1:5-25.

Zechariah was fulfilling his duties as a priest when the angel came to him. He was a disappointed man lighting incense for a disappointed people. His story of disappointment mirrored the story of God’s people. They had been waiting a long time for God to fulfill His promise of a Messiah. Zechariah and Elizabeth were intertwined with Joseph and Mary. Their story is part of the Christmas story and the story of God’s redemptive plan.

One of the magnificent marks of maturity is the ability to move forward in your faith in disappointing seasons of life. – Michael M. Cook

God is present. He is there in the times of joy and He is there in the disappointment and struggle. Are you swimming in grief? God is right there with you. Can’t see beyond the darkness? God is with you. Stuck where you don’t want to be? God is there.

What do we need to keep faith through disappointment? Time and trust. Time can allow us to see things from a different perspective. While God may or may not reveal the answer to our “Why?”, He will help us see Him more clearly and will build our character through the agony and pain. Disappointment doesn’t mean ultimate defeat. Often we think God has checked out of the situation, but in truth, we have checked out. Trust is the key.

The rare capacity of trusting God while in the midst of struggle is crucial.

When we are in a place we don’t want to be in, we have a choice to trust Him, or turn from Him. When we choose to trust with faith, we are staying in the fray and letting God do His work.

Remain steadfast. God is at work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our World – Star Wars

By Karen Polich

Our Lord would much rather deliver those who cry out to Him than judge them. – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series, Our World, continued with the story of God’s people and Deborah in Judges 4-5. Listen to the Our World sermon series here.

The Israelites never seem to learn. We find them back in the cycle crying out to God for deliverance. Once again, their sin has brought them into bondage.

God is always working for us. We find a woman, a warrior and a Wonder. Deborah, a prophetess was the moral compass of God’s people at this time. She sent for Barak to lead the army, but he would not go into battle without her. They faced a mighty opponent, Sisera who had nine hundred chariots.

God’s people could not win on their own, but had faith. Faith sees the way. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. Judges 5:20 God was with them. Even the stars were fighting for God’s people. They were victorious.

God is more than capable. He is at work in our lives even when we cannot see it. The one we fight against is sailing a doomed ship. Despite the crashing waves, seeming to ensure defeat, God’s tide is sure to win. In struggles, remember the worst cannot defeat you with God on your side. Have faith. He is working to deliver you.

Wrong cannot win. Faithfulness will not fail.  – Michael M. Cook

Some of My Least Favorite Verses

By LuAnn Edwards

By nature, I am a pessimist. It is something I am very good at; I don’t even have to try. To me, the glass is always half empty. For a pessimist like me, there are some verses in the Bible that are hard to accept. When we do accept them, however, they bring hope and grow our faith.

In the midst of a pity-party and feeling as though nothing is going right in my messy life, I read Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Really? What about that job that went sour?

James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Joy? When I could barely go into work each day?

When I want to bring up past hurts and dwell in them, I find, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). But I have to attend this function and she will be there! She deeply hurt me! I cannot forget that!

As a pessimist, these verses were not very helpful. That is, not until I accepted them as truth. By faith in Christ and His Word, I have learned to acknowledge, “…all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). These verses have become a source of strength and power in my life.

When my faith overpowers my pessimism, I can focus on Christ and His power in me working all things together for my good.

I know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I can find joy in my trials knowing God is in control and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17). By faith I can press on and let go of my past hurts because I know that if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31).

I have also learned that when pessimism tries to creep back into my mind, I can pray and gain strength and victory over its lies. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). I have confidence in prayer to come boldly before the Lord to ask Him for what I have need of and to believe that He hears me and will answer.

If you, too, are a pessimist by nature, accept His Word as truth. Read His promises over and over to yourself; then read them out loud for His Words are powerful and worth hearing. Fill your mind with these promises and meditate upon them daily until they abide in your heart. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in a whole new way so you can acknowledge that “all things are possible with Him.”