He’s Making a List and Checking It Twice
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness that we might learn to fear you. (Psalm 130:3-4)
How often do you honk your car horn at other people? There’s some who never do it because they feel it is to confronting, even behind the anonymity of a steering wheel. On the other hand, there’s those that honk just because it’s fun! I used to resist honking, feeling it was too abrasive, but in the past few years I’ve become more lenient in who gets a honk. I like to start off with a gentle short double honk as a courtesy of, “Hey, look alive. Light is green!” It’s somewhat empowering to give people a honk, but whether you’re in the wrong or not, we’re always put on the defensive when someone honks at us.
How many times do you think you’ve been honked at, or at least should have been because of your poor driving? Thankfully, there’s no government record of how many times we’ve made small errors in our driving. Just hits to our pride when we get that blaring horn. Can you imagine how many honks you’ve acquired since you have begun driving? If you were to take that number and compile the data, do you think it could be argued that you should have your license revoked?
If we were to compile a records of our sins - all of the times we’ve hurt others, put ourselves before others, did what we wanted instead of what God has instructed - our lists are ridiculously long. Imagine bringing that massive book of wrongs we have committed, whether consciously or not, before the holy, righteous God. What words could we ever muster up to justify or explain why we have done what we’ve done? The answer is - there are none! Thankfully, as the Psalms for today say, God has not kept any such record. When we receive forgiveness through the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice, those sins are forever gone. It’d be too good to be true if it weren’t in Scripture. This forgiveness offered isn’t extended as a get out of jail free card, but rather as a method to help us learn how to fear God. How to value and understand God’s sovereignty and holiness. Today, you are forgiven. There’s no list. Thank God.
Not only was Ephesus a desirable city to live in during Biblical times, it also had an amazing church. Started by the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey, the church continued to grow in maturity after he spent a considerable amount of time there during his third trip. Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos were also part of team who nurtured them. Most historians believe that it was the Apostle John who pastored the church later in the first century.
There are so many great things that can be said about this church. There was a great love for God and others. They grew in faith and love. They grew in numbers. They joyfully served the Lord.
In Revelation 2, God gives them an assessment through John’s letter. Here are the results: they worked hard, they persevered, they didn’t tolerate wicked people, their doctrine was solid enough to weed out false teaching, they endured, and they didn’t grow weary.
However, they left their first love. Unfortunately, the church died in the second century. Not a pleasant ending.
I want to encourage you today to never leave your first love. Your first love is the love that you had for God when you first were saved. It is a love of being accepted into the family of God. It is a love of thankfulness and gratefulness. The Ephesians got caught up in loving other things instead of loving God. Let us not love busyness, doctrine, church events, our past leaders, or simply loving how things were then loving God. Let us return to our first love.
Pasto Armin Colón
For years, the people of God were forced to live in foreign lands. The exile was the worst punishment that Israel could’ve received. A lot of people died and those who were still alive were suffering slaves. They wept as they thought of the lost land. They were not able to sing – much lees worship- in those places of torment (Psalm 137:1-4).
When after 70 years they returned to the Promised Land, they were filled with laughter and joy. This was a monumental miracle as they were brought back to their land.
As years passed, the memory of what God did by bringing them back from exile was a source of hope and comfort as they faced trying times.
In today’s reading, we discover 3 important principles on how to face trying times.
1. Remember all the times God has had mercy on you (Psalm 126:1-3).
How many times He answered your prayers, or opened doors, or provided, or healed you? Remember how you felt when you saw God working on your behalf.
2. Ask God to work on your behalf once again (Psalm 126:4, NLT).
Trust that God will intervene in your situation as just He did last time. Pray “Father, what you did last time we are asking you to do again at this time.”
3. Do that which God has called you to do (Psalm 126:5-6, NLT).
Share the gospel even when you are still waiting for your miracle. Tell others about the goodness of God even if you have not seen a door open just yet. Do the will of God even if you have to cry and weep as you do it, because you know that the one who had mercy on you in the past will have mercy on you again.
2 John 1:1-13
Verse of the Day:
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” (Psalm 125:1)
Have you ever witnessed a toddler learning how to walk? I have had the awesome opportunity to see this with my four children. All four of them fell, had bumps and bruises, but after each struggle, they would try to walk again. Today, all four of them are sturdy walkers. They can run, jump, and do flips off my couch. They may still fall and get hurt, but they don’t ever give up on walking.
In Psalm 125, David is telling us, when we trust in the Lord, we can remain strong and anchored like a mountain. When we are stable and rooted in the truths of God, the storm may rage around us, but we have a peace inside of us. God never promises once you become a Christian all your troubles will cease. In James 1:2 we read, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” We see it’s not a matter of if, but WHEN trials come. Storms, trials, difficult situations, temptation, and hardship will come our way. How we respond to these situations, is an indicator of our stability and whom we put our trust. We have all seen people who have endured tremendous difficulties, yet their faith in God remained unshaken. When we look closer at these people, we notice before the trials came, they had a strong prayer life, regularly read their bible, served others, and surrounded themselves around other believers. They were anchored in the ways of God.
In order to become sturdy Christians that don’t crumble when trials come, we should be anchored in the ways of God.Occasionally, you may still fall, and get some bumps and bruises; you may have times where we feel defeated, get hurt, or have a heavy heart .And just like my children do not give up on walking when they fall, we should not give up on God when struggles come our way. In Psalm 16:8, David says, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” When we put our trust in God, no matter our circumstances, we too can be unshakable.
The Beauty of Permanent Relationship
Pastor Jon Brooks
1 John 5:1-21
Verse of the day:
Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” (Hosea 3:1)
The story of Hosea provides us a powerful picture of God’s faithfulness when we are unfaithful. The story also demonstrates God’s love for us when we don’t love him in return. God asks his prophet Hosea to marry a known prostitute named Gomer. Strange advice, isn’t it? Hosea had nothing to gain from loving Gomer. But Hosea’s love did not depend on what Gomer did or did not do. In this way, Hosea is a picture of God, while Gomer represents you and me. God is interested in permanent relationships, while we as humans have a hard time sustaining friendships and marriages over the years.
God loves us even if we run and even if we choose not to love Him back. God chases after us because He hurts when we hurt. God knows that even the best the world can offer us will not satisfy the longing in our souls.
I think each of us can think of a time when we were tempted to walk away from God in search of a more exciting life. Whatever we pursued, we ate it up, and were still hungry. At altar calls my dad will often reference the ‘God-shaped void’ each of us have. Vacations, relationships, drugs, money or sex can’t fill that unique space in our souls.
Here’s the good news: as Gomer runs away, God tells Hosea to go after her. No matter how far we run, God chases us. His love is unconditional and his grace is unending.
More Than a Feeling
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
1 John 4:1-21
Verse of the day:
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
Like many of you we have been getting into the Christmas spirit by having cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies on in the evening when we are home. Most of these movies have a predictable storyline that centers on people falling in love at Christmastime. By the end of these movies even after all the cheese you feel good about love.
As much as I enjoy these movies they have the concept of love all wrong. It is depicted as a feeling and an emotion instead of an action. 1 John 4:9-10 says, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” God’s love is not just a nice emotion it requires action and sacrifice. This is the love that He asks us to show to others if He truly lives in us.
How can you show His love this Christmas? This time of year can be hard and lonely for many people. Could God be asking you to reach out and show His love to the hurting and broken in your life? If no one comes to mind ask God to open your eyes to how to show His love. God wants to use you to be a vessel to show His love through action to the world around you!
1 John 3:7-24
Verse of the Day:
“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.” (Proverbs 29:1)
Have you ever gone back to look at an art project you made as a child? Unless you were an art prodigy, the chances are it wasn’t very good. And yet, if your mom is anything like mine, she proudly displayed it for all to see and told you what an amazing job you did. Now if I tried to do one of those same art projects again with the same quality of product, there would definitely be a different reception. There would be levels of criticism and suggestions on how to make it better, because more would be expected of me.
As we mature, criticism becomes a necessary part of life. We learn behaviors that are not acceptable and are expected to adjust. We hone our skills as we attempt things, and then receive critical instruction on how to do something better. It is a humbling, and yet very necessary part of life. We can feel very protective of our efforts or our actions, and to have someone tell us that it wasn’t good enough is damaging to our pride.
In my life, songwriting is one of my favorite things that I get to do. When I look back on songs that I wrote when I was much younger, I can’t help but laugh at how bad they are. As I’ve grown, and allowed people to be able to critique my work, I’ve been able to develop the skill more and the end product has been better. It was EXTREMELY difficult at first. The lyrics I wrote were so personal to me, and I felt that only I could make it perfect, but that was just the pride in me talking. When I finally began to share with people more experienced than me, I found their suggestions extremely helpful, and the end products have been better as a result. Now if I would have chosen to refuse the criticism, the end result would not have been as good. I had to set aside my personal pride to allow God to shape the song how he really wanted in a way that people could connect in worship.
This is the case in so many areas of life. When we are unable or unwilling to accept the criticism from the people God has placed in our lives, we see things begin to fall apart. The longer we let that pattern go, the closer we get to being destroyed beyond recovery like the verse in Proverbs says. I would much rather go through the pain of setting aside my pride early when someone can speak life over me and correct a mistake I am making, than dealing with the consequences of doing it my way, and seeing it all fall apart. There are so many people God has put in my life that are much wiser than me, and I am so appreciative of the ways they speak into my life, and I would challenge you to find those people to speak in your life.
To Know Him
Have you ever been in the presence of a “name dropper”? Or have you ever been that person that drops a couple of names in a conversation? I think we all have a time or two. It’s a way we try to establish rapport with individuals and sometimes it just makes us feel a little more important.
Saying you know someone doesn’t usually come with a lot of strings attached. Usually when you’re dropping a name, that person isn’t there to call you out on the fact that maybe you don’t REALLY know them. So you can feel pretty safe in doing so.
To the contrary, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. So when you say that you know God, you better be ready to back it up.
This passage of scripture says, “And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.” To be sure you know him means you are confident and have no doubt that you know him & that’s a pretty great position to be in. So what do we need to know to get to that place with God? It’s actually summed up very simply: obey his commandments.
So many stories in the Bible are centered around this principle of obedience: Abraham and Isaac, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, Job. All these stories highlight individuals who were obedient to God’s commands. Jonah, Saul, and Adam and Eve are stories of people who disobeyed God and did things their own way. If we look at the Kings of Israel, you can categorize them into two groups: those who obeyed God and those who disobeyed God. The end result is that those who obey God, know him and those who disobey God, don’t.
Our lives are not that different from these well-known Bible characters. We can look back on times in our life when we have disobeyed God and because of it have felt far from Him. But we can also think of times when we’ve heard the voice of God or felt him leading us in a direction and out of faith and obedience, we moved where God told us to move. I can say that every time I’ve obeyed God, even when I haven’t wanted to, I’ve grown closer to God because I know him more.
Maybe you’re feeling God leading you in a direction right now that seems impossible or maybe He’s calling you to repair a relationship with a family member as we close 2018. Whatever it is that God is speaking to you, I urge you to be obedient today. When you do so, you will be confident in saying you know Him.
Pastor Dan Wootton
1 John 1:1-10
Verse of the day:
“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” (I John 1:5)
Do you like anticipating a great experience? Or do you like being surprised? If you really like being surprised, you may want to stop reading. We’ve been in tech rehearsals this week for “How To Have The Best Christmas Ever”, and I couldn’t be more excited! Some of the lighting effects alone are awe-inspiring. In the first 20 minutes, you’ll see over 8000 Christmas lights come in and out of the action. A beautiful candlelit scene features a white-robed children’s choir, angelic dancers, and 100 candles surrounding the sanctuary. It’s breathtaking.
I love the message of light at Christmas time. When you see it, that awe points you straight to heaven. Every twinkling light on our set or in your home is a reminder of the one true light. John said it so well. “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”
We want this musical, our church, and our hearts to radiate with light this December. I want to encourage you to take five minutes today to invite friends and family to join us for “How To Have The Best Christmas Ever.” We believe this event will be the highlight of your Christmas season and a shining opportunity to encourage our community toward Christ.
Feel free to share this link to our musical trailer. Have a great day!