Archive

Archive for October, 2015

THE NECESSITY OF A REAL VISION

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment

About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

It can be tempting as a pastor to just preach with a vision for lost souls and leading God’s people in service to Him. What is more difficult is leading a church in activities that will bring people in to hear that preaching. I’ve been talking for a while about this idea that “The Back-of-the-Church-is-the-front-of-the-church. On the first Saturday of this month we rallied as the people of God to take the first steps in making this happen. Will it work? Only God knows, but we are going to move forward and do the best we can. We’ll adjust as we go and if this isn’t of God we will have to find some other vision to follow.

Friends, if we fail as the Lord’s churches to have a vision, not a vision of our own making, but God’s vision for us, we lose our pioneering spirit. We will become ineffective. So we need to have the courage to try different things even if some of those things are different or unusual. Even if we aren’t sure if they will work. Not trying new things means things will stay just as they are. Just as they are cannot work for us because God has called us to grow His church. We need:

The courage of vision to say “Lord if that is you, let me come to you walking on the water.”

  • The courage of vision to say “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  • The courage of vision to say “If God be for us, who can be against us.”

I believe the Lord has a vision for our church and for each of us. I know that unless we are moving in the right direction, we cannot be content in life. Vision for ministry is a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through us to build His kingdom. So let’s pull together by working, contributing, suggesting and having the courage not to be “comfortable”. Who’s with me?

Pastor Rich

 

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Missions: God’s Blessing

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment

This month we are going to look at Missions. Typically we expect to go right to the Great Commission in Matthew 28 about ‘going to all the world’. But the idea of missionary work did not just begin in the New Testament, it has been part of God’s plan all along. Missions is part of our purpose in God’s great plan. When our lives align with God’s plans, when God’s church is in line with the purposes of God, then we are prepared to receive the blessings of God. All the way back in Genesis Chapter 11 the stage is set for this idea of missions. Here we find the story of the Tower of Babel. We gain insight from this passage as to the origin of the over 3,000 languages that exist today. We read in Genesis 11:4 that man wants to make a name for himself at the expense of God. God responds in accordance with his righteous nature and punishes those who have sought their own glory. The Sin of the tower of Babel is followed by the punishment of scattering the people and scrambling their language. Here we see that instead of one unified people, God has separated the people into peoples, ethno-linguistic units. Following the Tower of Babel, God traces the genealogy of Abraham back, even before the tower of Babel, back to the flood. This is followed by the glorious message of salvation and in Genesis 12:1-3 which becomes the Biblical foundation of Missions.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

The “and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” is the crucial, often neglected and central aspect in understanding the purposes of God. We have a responsibility that goes hand in hand with our blessings. When Abraham obeyed God we read how God responded. Genesis 17:18 “And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.” Today as believers in Christ we are Abraham’s offspring. We are called to obedience and faith. Obedience is part of Abraham’s call. This obedience goes right along with Abraham’s blessing. We didn’t get where we are today without obedience and faith. God has tested us over the years as he tested Abraham. God now says in vs 2, “I will make you a great nation”. God promised Abraham to have so many offspring that you could not even count them. Obviously God’s blessing to Abraham meant more than the here and now. Galatians chapter 3 tells us that God was giving the Gospel in advance to Abraham. All those who believe in Jesus and are justified by faith are the children of Abraham. So why has God blessed us? Is it simply for us to count our blessings? I hope by now you can see the answer! God has not poured out His blessing on us for us to stockpile them. God has called us out, set us apart to bestow his great Love on us. But there is much more than only that. God has blessed us for the same reason He blessed Abraham, to bless all the families of the earth. Jesus reconfirmed that God has blessed us to bless others when he gave us the Great Commission. Jesus told us to “Go and Make disciples of all Nations”.

The great commission is more accurately a call to reach all people groups rather than to reach political nations. The great commission is a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bless all the families. The great commission is to go and make disciples of all these peoples. (nations). We are the instruments through whom God has chosen to bless the families of the earth. Why did God bless us? It is for us to be a blessing to the ethnic groups of the earth. Evangelism is not enough for the road ahead. It is missions, going to bless the unreached peoples that is needed. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 4:48). God has redeemed (blessed) us so that, the blessing of Abraham may come to the Gentiles in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:14) He has blessed us to be a great blessing by bringing Christ to the unreached peoples.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Rich

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Vacation in Paradise

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment

By the time most of you read this, my family and I will be heading out for a short vacation. Going on Vacation can be a very pleasurable experience…as long as you know where you are going. For example, my family and I are traveling through three states! Actually, we drive from Downey to Laughlin, NV then cross the bridge to Bullhead City, AZ. Not actually that expansive a trip. And we will soon return to Downey because that’s where we live – for now. But Peter reminds us that we are “strangers in the world.” (I Peter 1:1) We don’t actually belong here. Downey, CA isn’t really our home. We were re-born to live somewhere else. And IF we don’t remember that, we can get truly frustrated in this life. Jesus told us – “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) Peter also tells the Christians he’s writings to the same thing: “…for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:6)

We need to walk and run and dance because we’ve been given something the rest of the world doesn’t have. Let’s put a spring in our step because we’ve got grace and peace and mercy and hope. The reason we can walk like that is because we don’t belong here. We are just passing through. Our citizenship is in Heaven. You and I are CHRISTIANS – we are a free people. We are part of THE most powerful Kingdom on the face of the earth. And nothing this world can threaten us with can rob us of the blessings of that freedom. We should understand we are vacationing in a foreign land. You live right now in one of the richest nations on earth and you have advantages locals in many foreign lands you might visit don’t have.

And what advantages as Christians do we have??? For one thing, we’ve got the power to start our lives all over again… to begin anew. And because our best blessings are in heaven we have one more advantage over the world. That advantage? We don’t have to fear death. We have an inheritance that “… can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).

This world is not our home. We’re just a passing through. I can’t feel at home in this world anymore, because this world is NOT my home. Life is only a short time here compared to eternity in our true home: HEAVEN! That’s one of the beauties of what God has explained to us. The grave will not hold us. One day we’ll hear the voice of the angel and the trumpet call of God and we will rise from the grave to meet Jesus in the sky. We’ll be going home! That’s the promise we’ve had ever since we became Christians. That’s promise that was declared to us in our baptism. This world is NOT our home. Our present life is like a vacation in that sense. It’s a short time for us to be here while we are away from home.

And when people get home from their vacations they share their memories. They show the pictures they’ve taken to friends and relatives. They post them on their computers. It’s almost like the most important part of our vacations are the memories we hope will last a life time. When you get home to heaven… what memories will you be able to share? What lives have you touched for Jesus? What people will be able to be in heaven with you because you took them to church? Or introduced them to Jesus?

Blessings,

Pastor Rich

 

Categories: Uncategorized