He’s Our Living Hope

Scripture: 1Peter 1:3-5

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Isaiah 36,37; Psalms 76; 1 Peter 1 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation: Our hope is not in dead tradition, nor in prophets that have passed away, but rather our hope is alive forevermore, He is risen, He is Lord!

Application: We serve a Living Savior who has been resurrected by the Power of God The Father and who is actively involved in our lives.

Mom sent me this video  Ressurection Painting in a forward this week and I think it goes along very well with the scripture from Peter this morning.  Christ is Alive!  He has conquered death and Hell and he holds the keys!  Because he has overcome, WE can overcome.  There is NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING greater than our Lord!

Prayer: Living Lord,

Thank you for overcoming the grave and being the catalyst for me into eternal life.  I praise you for your power.  Unto you be Glory forever!

Love Michael

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God Rewards Persistent Faith

Scripture: James 1:4

4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isaiah 29,30,31; James 1 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation:  If you’re able to continue your walk with God through the trials and tribulations that you face in life you will be abundantly rewarded and will grow spiritually closer to The Father.

Application:  A friend of mine named Charles who is a member of one of the first churches that I served told me a story once that I think of  whenever I think of perseverance through struggles.  Charles is a farmer and likes to ride mules, so I think that made this story stick in my memory even more.  I don’t know if I can get it word for word like he told it, but I think I can retell the heart of it for you.

There was once a farmer who was digging a well on his land, and one of his mules wandered by after dark and fell into the open well.  The farmer wasn’t able to get the mule out, even though he tried several times.  Finally the farmer decided that the only choice he had was to just bury the mule down there in the well and put him out of his misery so he would at least not starve to death.

So the farmer went out to fill in the well and bury his mule.  To the Farmer’s surprise, every time he shoveled some dirt into the well it would fall down and hit the mule on his back and the old mule would just shake it off under his feet and shuffle around on top of it.  He would throw more dirt down, and the mule would shake it off and stomp it down.  The more the farmer filled the well, the more the mule shook off the dirt, and stomped it down, and higher and higher the mule was.

The mule shook off the dirt that was thrown on him, and stood on top of it all the way to the top of the well and back to the field from which he fell.  That is a good lesson in perseverance for us!  We may feel like we’ve fallen down a well sometimes, and that the world keeps trying to bury us by heaping more and more dirt down the well, but if we have God on our side He will give us the strength that we need to shake off the dirt and stomp it down under our feet so that we can rise back up and walk once again in green pastures.

4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Prayer:  Father God Almighty,

Help me to be persistent and stubborn enough to keep shaking off the dirt and stomping it down under my feet. I thank you for your love, grace, and Lord – Thanks for throwing down the dirt.

Love Michael

Have Confidence in God

Scripture: Hebrews 10:35-37

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
   “He who is coming will come and will not delay.

Observation: We can have true confidence in our salvation.

Application: I’ve talked to people many times about the condition of their souls.  One question that is frequently asked in an evangelical way is “If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?” Far too often, even those who are true members of the faith, who know Jesus as their Savior don’t know how to answer that question.  I’ve heard people say, “I hope so,”  “I think so,”  and “I don’t know.” 

If we were under the old law those kind of uncertainties would be understandable because perhaps we have sinned and not even realized it, and it could be that we have not atoned for that sin and that it will still be held against us as we stand before God.  We would be doing all we could do to make sure that we were safe from judgment and able to enter into God’s grace. The old law is unable to save us because we were never able to have confidence in our relationship with God.  That is why God sent Jesus to be the atonement for our sins.  Now we can stand before God with confidence in our Savior!  Our sentence has been repealed and we are set free. 

We could never do enough, we could never have enough good deeds under our belts, or make enough sacrifices, or minister to enough people to wash away our sins, but God was able though His sacrifice to stand in our place and atone for us Himself.  Jesus is the answer, He is our confidence!  You can know right now today where you stand with God by looking at your relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  Cast not away your confidence!  Christ died for you so that you could stand boldly before the throne of God.

Prayer: Father God,

Thank you for providing me sure and certain salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ.  Help me always to stand confidently under the new covenant of His blood.

Love Michael

Our Savior and Lord

Scripture Hebrews 6: 19-20

19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Observation: We must see Christ not only as our Savior, but also as our Lord.

Application: This reference of Christ being a high priest in the order of Melchizedek is used to show us that Christ is not only a spiritual leader but also a King.  Not only are Christ’s words to us good spiritual advice but they are commands on how we are to live and serve God.  When Jesus says  to Peter in John 21 “feed my sheep” this is not just a suggestion, it’s a command which all Christians should obey.

The way we serve God is by loving each other and showing compassion and understanding to those who need it most.  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you must also know that He is your Lord.  His words are serious business, not recommendations to make you feel better.  The way of the cross is one of love, and you are commanded by your Lord to love others as you have been loved by Him. 

Prayer: Lord and Savior,

Help me to remember that you are not only my High Priest, but also my King.  Help me to serve you by ministering to others in whom you put me in contact with. 

Love Michael

The Living Word

Scripture: Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Observation: God’s Word speaks to us in powerful and specific ways which are meant to reach us where we are at the given time in which we prayerfully turn to Him.

Application: There are many different versions of the Holy Bible.  I’m not one to get hung up on any one version.  I think the most important thing about the Bible is that it can be used by God to communicate to us.  It is through the Bible that I learned of the great love that God has for me and what He has done for me though Jesus Christ His Son.  Whatever version you like, whether its KJV, NIV, NRSV, MSG, CSB, or any other of the long list of abbreviations that mark a specific translation or paraphrase of the scriptures the most important thing, I think, is that you can understand it and that God speaks to you through it.

When we enter into a time of reading God’s Word we should always be prayerful and open to hearing what He has to say to us through it.  The message that I get from Hebrews 4 today may not be the same message I get a year from now, or even a month from now, or even tomorrow because as we change and grow and as our circumstances evolve God uses things like the Bible we are reading to relay to us spiritual messages of his love, and purpose and plan for us.  That’s how the word of God is living and active, it speaks to us where we are.  But don’t think that God can only be found in the pages of scripture that you read each day, He is also all around us in nature and in the people we meet who have invited Him into their lives and hearts.  You may not hear a booming voice from the sky but if you are open to His Spirit, His Word is potent, powerful, and present in your life.

Prayer:  Living God,

Thank you for making yourself present in my life and making your word available to me when and where I need it most.

Help me to always have ears to hear.

Love Michael

Dealing With Temptation

Scripture: Hebrews 2:

18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hosea 2,3,4,5; Hebrews 2 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

 

Observation: We have the power to overcome temptations through Christ Jesus who strengthens us.

Application: I know that in my life there have been many times when I have been tempted by one thing or another and I’ve given in.  Temptation is not an easy thing to deal with on our own.  The things we are tempted by are usually things that are enjoyable to the body, or things that seem to make life easier, I suppose that’s why they tempt us.  The list of specific things that tempt each one of us vary from person to person, but I think that the one thing that makes temptation bad for all of us is that it is always something which leads us away from God in some way.

The good news for Christians is that we have the Spirit of God within us to help us overcome temptation.  Far too often we fail to call upon His help when we find ourselves tempted.  We have to remember that it is not by our own power that we overcome, but it is only through His strength and guidance and help that we can ever hope to effectively deal with the temptations that we all face.  Jesus was tempted and overcame, and as long as we stay connected to Him like the branch to the vine we have the ability to call on his help when we face temptation.

Don’t carry the burden of fighting temptation all on your own shoulders, turn it over to Jesus.  He has told us that in this world we will certainly have temptations, trials and sorrows but the good news is that He has overcome the world and through Him we can do the same.

Prayer: Almighty Father,

Thank you for granting us the connection to you that we have through Jesus Christ your Son and Your Holy Spirit.  Help me God to turn to you when I find myself being struck by temptations and teach me to lean on your strength and not my own to overcome the things of this world.

Love Michael

Serving God

 Scripture: Psalms 116:

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
       and call on the name of the LORD.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
       in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
       is the death of his saints.

16 O LORD, truly I am your servant;
       I am your servant, the son of your maidservant [c] ;
       you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
       and call on the name of the LORD.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
       in the presence of all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—

Isaiah 4,5; Psalms 115,116; Jude – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway.com

Observation:  Serving God is not always easy, but it IS always a blessing!

Application: My family and I have moved into a new parsonage in Chapel Hill and are settling in to the community.  We have been welcomed and shown a great deal of love by our new Church family and feel very blessed.

It’s always difficult to start off in a new place.  Loading everything that you own into a truck and putting it somewhere new is not only difficult physically but also emotionally. We made some wonderful friends whom we love dearly at Pisgah and moving away from them is the hardest part.   I’m sure that most of us know this from experience and understand the pressures that come with a move. But I think that the blessings far outweigh the struggles, especially when you know that God is involved and leading you.

When I started in the ministry I said "Lord, lead me where you want me to be and I’ll go." and I have tried to be loyal to that and I think that God honors a willingness to serve and enables you in ways that you are not able to accomplish alone. 

God has certainly opened the door for us here and my family and I are so excited to be serving Him in a new place.

Prayer

God, help us to serve you with your people wherever we are and wherever you lead.  Thank you for guiding us into a new era of ministry and help us always to glorify you in all that we do.

Amen