The Greatest Miracle

Reverend Jack spoke about the simplest definition of faith being bringing yourself and your needs to God. He also spoke about forgiveness being the greatest miracle because it’s already in place before you are even born. God has decided to leave our sins behind. Forgiveness is always there for us we just have to access it through our faith. God will always forgive when we ask. Reverend Jack went on to make several points about forgiveness.

Only God can forgive sins. You can’t make another person right before God or yourself either for that matter. You can only receive forgiveness by coming to God for it. It can be difficult to forgive someone who has really hurt you, but letting their sins against you go is a miracle and will provide you with peace.

God will always forgive, but it can’t be earned. Forgiveness is a gift. God has removed all the barriers and the path to Him is open. Anyone can come to God, all you have to do is respond in faith.

Forgiveness is a decision not a feeling. You choose to forgive. You may be angry, hurt and you may still think about it. Everyday you need to choose to put that behind you and eventually the feeling will catch up with your decision.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. Healthy relationships are built on trust and you can’t trust everyone. Even Jesus knew that. Forgiveness will set you free from resentment. Reverend Jack says that resentment is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die. All of the feelings of anger, bitterness, and hate that you carry around only affect you. The other person is living their life oblivious to all of the baggage that you are holding onto. Forgiveness allows you to move on.

Forgiveness means that you try to heal every relationship possible and be at peace with them if you can. There may be times when the other person doesn’t acknowledge their part in what they’ve done to you, but you have the ability to remove all of the negativity on your end. In order for relationships to heal, you need to apologize for hurting someone as soon as you become aware of it. Is there someone you need to forgive?

Easter 2016-The Epicenter of it All!

Acts 4:10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Pastor Michael opened today by taking us back 1,986 years ago to the crucifixion of Jesus and reminding us that He would not receive a proper burial. Jesus’ body would be left to rot. Mary Magdalene was a famous follower and believer of Jesus. She believed He was dead and would remain dead. She went to the tomb to re-prepare His body to make sure He was embalmed properly, only to find the tomb was open. Mary thought someone had stolen His body, but an angel came saying Jesus rose from the grave just like He said He would. Mary told her story to the disciples, but it sounded like nonsense to them. Peter went to the tomb and saw the empty linen wrappings wondering what had happened.

Pastor Michael talked about Peter’s character and how he transformed from being a scared liar into a bold man within a short period of time. Peter lied saying that he did not know Jesus in order to save himself. He was afraid that they would kill him too if he admitted that he was a follower of Jesus. A week later as Peter and John were going to the temple to pray, a crippled beggar asked Peter for some money. Peter said he didn’t have any money, but told the beggar in the name of Jesus to get up and walk.

The beggar did, as he had been healed. How did that happen? Peter boldly declared to the authorities that Jesus had healed that man. Yes, the same man that was rejected and crucified by you who God rose from the dead had healed the beggar. Peter continued by stating that there is salvation in no one other than Jesus and you need to change or you won’t go to Heaven, as Jesus is the only path there.

What caused Peter to change? The Resurrection did. Everything that Jesus said was true as the Resurrection validated it. Easter is a true story about an event in history that changed everything. We are not perfect, but Jesus is. It was God’s plan for us to have eternal life through Jesus. The epicenter of our faith is to believe in the Resurrection. It’s about trusting God’s plan and trusting that Jesus will bring you to Heaven when you die. You do not need to understand the entire Bible or everything that Jesus taught to be a Christian. What makes you a Christian is accepting Jesus, placing your faith in Him and believing that He died for your sins and then rose again.

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:8-9  And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

Pastor Michael opened by expressing his love for the Easter season as it is all about Jesus.   We were also given a reminder that Jesus accepts us wherever we are in life and He has a place for us in His house.  Palm Sunday is an event in history that is still relevant to us today.

Pastor Michael reviewed the story leading up to the death of Jesus.  The prophet, Zechariah, announced that one day the king would come to us riding on a donkey.  The donkey being a symbol of peace versus the horse being a symbol of war.  Jesus did fulfill that prophecy and rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.   On the first day, Palm Sunday, the people made Him a King.   Jesus was there to bring peace between them and God that would last for eternity, but they thought He was there to save them from their current circumstances.  That would mean overthrowing the Roman government.  They were hoping for a military Messiah.  On the fifth day, the people realized that was not His plan so they voted to execute Jesus.   The people had some faith in Jesus that He would save them from the Romans, but not enough faith to trust that He knew how to save them.  When Jesus didn’t do things the way they thought it should be done, they tossed whatever faith they had in Him.  Jesus was bringing freedom from death and peace between them and God, but they wanted freedom from the Roman rule.

How do you react when God’s actions don’t line up with your expectations?  We have to remember that God is working in us and in the world.  He goes in directions that we often don’t understand or anticipate.  When that happens, do you toss your faith like the waves or continue to trust that God knows best?  You don’t have to like what circumstances God has chosen for you, but you do have to continue to trust that He knows what is best for you.  We can’t assume that just because His answer is different than our plan that something is wrong.  When we choose to follow God no matter what, that is what real faith looks like.

Call of Duty – Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:10-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Bill Atchison spoke about being strong in the Lord, putting on our armor and standing our ground against the evil at work in the world.  We are fighting a battle for the advancement of the Gospel.  Jesus is supreme.

The belt of truth allows us to move freely.  When we live our lives the way God wants us to, we do not need to worry about what other people say.  We are not hypocrites as we are clothed in the breastplate of righteousness making us invincible.  The shoes of peace allow us to go out and share the news of Jesus.  There are people in the world crying out that they want their lives to change, but they don’t know how.  Jesus is the truth and those people need Him.  It is up to us to show them the way.  The shield of faith extinguishes the fiery darts of temptation, which come from the adversary when he attacks.  How we think is how we act and the helmet of salvation secures that nothing in all Creation can separate us from the love of Jesus.  He is ours and we are His.  We are loved by Him and are part of his eternal family.  The sword of the spirit has a double edge, being sharp on both sides.  There is a defensive side keeping us from sin and a protective side used against the temptations of the world.  The power of prayer is how Jesus fights our battles for us.   Prayer needs to be applied continuously with passion and energy that focuses on specific targets for the benefit of others.  Prayer is mighty and powerful.  Prayer is hard work.

Our call of duty is to be strong in the Lord, to put our armor on and keep it on and to focus on Jesus.  Don’t doubt in the dark what you can see in the light.