Marsh Grove Community Church

Day 2 of Lent

We all at some point have heard or used the expression with our children “to be good little boys and girls.” And in societies eyes this is what all parents want of their children. Everyone loves to be told how wonderful or good their children are, at least I do. And we should continue to raise our children to be good, to seek good things and strive to bring good into the world in which they live. But in reality the Scripture tells a completely different story than what we are used to hearing and to some degree have come to believe. Romans 3:10-12 tells us “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seek for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one.” According to Romans we have a real misguided understanding about what it looks like to be good. It goes on to say that this applies to everyone—not just you or me. According to this we are all in the same boat facing the same deplorable situation that none of us appear to be to concerned about.

I know this sound really horrible and most of us really do not like to think of our self like this. But really in reality this is what our life was like before we came to faith in Christ. We walked around telling our self and others little white lies in order to feel good about our self and the thing we say and do. At least this is how the rest of the world sees themselves and wants you and I to believe.

I want us to take a few minutes today and just read Romans 3 the entire chapter and reflect for a bit on the miraculous grace that transpired from God to those who have placed faith and trust in what His Son did on the Cross and what His blood has done. Romans 3:23 declares that God “publicly,” and “openly” displayed His Son on the Cross in order that through His shed blood we—you, me and the rest of the world could have the opportunity to have all the guilt, shame, and unrighteousness removed from us physically and spiritually through the blood of Christ. While we read this chapter and really let it get absorbed into our spirit I want us to pray about the things that we allow to come into our life to interrupt the goodness of God grace and mercy in our life. And how we may ignore or wrestle with the Holy Spirit in our life as He attempts to convict us of things in our life that may not be so good and that may not reflect the righteousness of God in our life which points to Him.

Read Roman 3:1-31     

Marsh Grove Community Church

Ash Wednesday Day 1 of Lent

Ash Wednesday begins the first day Lent which last for 40 days until Easter. In the days of the early Church new converts to Christianity would during this time would be encouraged to emulate the Lord Jesus Christ during His time in the Wilderness when He was tried and tempted by Satan, during this time Jesus spent His time in prayer and fasting. New converts would also be encouraged to spend time in prayer and periodic fasting in order to draw closer to the Lord God so that on Easter morning they would be ready and fully prepared to be baptized in the likeness of Jesus’ death, burial, and raised up in new life from the waters in likeness of Jesus; resurrection.

This is a tradition many, many churches especially here in America have moved away from, holding baptisms on Easter Sunday for new converts. Lent was the time that these early believers would spend studying, if there was availability to the Scripture, and prayer. And in most cases these prayers would center around submitting oneself to God in an effort to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal things that still may have been tucked away in ones heart. This could be anything that from a spiritual perspective could eventually lead one away from the Lord or slowly lead one to sin against the Lord in which case severing the intimacy of the relationship each believer should have with the Lord God.

This is my desire for each and every one of us the season as we celebrate Lent, that each of you would spend some time in your day reading Scripture—of which I will supply you with. And allow the words of the Lord to churn our hearts and minds as the Holy Spirit moves and works through our life as we turn it over to Him for inspection. Much like a drill instructor would do, to and for new recruits in the military. I know many of you are seasoned Christians and have a firm faith and reliance upon the Lord in and through your life and walk with the Lord. But none the less we are all vulnerable to the attacks of Satan and sometimes he sneaks in unaware masquerading as something good when in reality it isn’t (2 Cor 11:14). Also, in recent times it has become customary for some during Lent to give up something for 40 days. And if that is what you would like to do that is certainly ok too.

But my primary focus is going to be centered on growing closer to the Lord God through mediation and reflection on Scripture, through prayer and letting ourselves (myself) be drawn in ever more closer to the Lord through the relationship we already share with Him. If anything, I want, and it is my desire for you to grow ever more faithful, trusting, and obedient in our relationship with God. And that is only possible if we begin to reflect and look to what Jesus has done and remember what He did on the Cross for us in order that we may have the same kind of relationship with God the Father that He has always had. Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, when He knew it was time to realign His focus towards what He was born to do Luke 9:51 says “He set His face to go to  Jerusalem.” As we celebrate Lent this is precisely what I want us to do, “to set our faces to go to Jerusalem” because it was where our Savior went, and it is there where we will have our souls restored (Psalm 23:3).

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Marsh Grove Community Church

Your New Wardrobe

Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 3:1-11

We live in a world and are exposed to elements in our environment that seeks to conform and shape us to the mold and the image of the world in which we live and currently have our existence. Almost a month into a New Year and already the things of the previous year are spilling over and overlapping the events and situations of a new and vibrant year. This is the very reason we should start the new year not only in prayer but also in Scripture. There are countless devotions and Bibles that have reading programs within them to help Christian to chart a successful reading pattern to read through the Bible in a year. And all of these are meant to keeping us focused on the truth of the God’s Word, the relevance of His Word for us in this day and time, and to develop us in the spiritual growth that the Holy Spirit desires to work in us. But stay in the world long enough and away from the Word of God and any good Christian will ultimately fall back into the old patterns of the world around us.

            It is so easy to conform ourselves to the patterns and the molds that just seem natural to everyday life. And so, when we come to faith in Christ if we don’t begin with new habits of reading and studying the Bible, getting connect with other believers in a NT Church, or even disconnecting ourselves from our non-believing friends. Then unfortunately we never truly set a pattern or establish any credibility to the world we live in or to other Christians that we have ever come to faith at all. This is precisely what Paul declares in Ephesians 4:21-22, he opens up with the statement that “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught Him, just as truth is in Jesus” then as such your life should demonstrate the truth that has been received, and believed, and begin to show some sort of evidence to the nature of the truth of Jesus Christ and what He is able to do.

            The Holy Spirit living in each and every believer who has ever trusted Christ for forgiveness and salvation has the promise of Him residing in each and every one of us forever (John 14:15-17). Jesus reminds us that He will, the Holy Spirit that is; will teach us all we need to know and will remind us of the words of the Lord (John 14:26). And one of the things that the Holy Spirit wants to do in us is to change our life from the inside out from what we used to know, how we used to be, as well as how we lived our life; to one that is now new and reveals the glorious work of God in and through our life. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that if we are what we claim we are then we need to begin by taking off the old clothes we are used to wearing and begin to wear the clothes from our new wardrobe that reflects the holiness of God and His work in us. We can’t do this on our own but rather we have to get into the Word of God to further see what God desires from those whom He calls His children. Paul tells Timothy to be diligent, or rather work hard in getting yourself in the word of God in order that Timothy would not find himself in a position to be ashamed or to be shamed for a lack of knowledge (2nd Tim 2:14). The world wants to get us tangled up in worldly affairs for one purpose only and that is so that we will be just like them, ungodly.

Therefore, we need to be in the Word daily saturating ourselves with the word of truth if we expect get welcomed, accepted or receive God’s blessings in this life. Second, we have to get into the habit of acting like what we say we are. Again, in Colossians 3:9-11 Paul says that we must take off the old man and his worldly habits and put on the new image or person who has been remade in the image of Christ. The Greek word in Colossians that Paul uses renew literally means that there is a transformation taking place in you that will be revealed on the outside. The Holy Spirit wants to pull back the curtain in order for the world around you to see the Light that is living in you that will hopefully attract those around you to see the work of God in you (Matt 5:14-16; 2nd Cor 5:20-21). And lastly, we should be in the word and allowing the Spirit to move and work in us like a tailor to fit us to His glorious image because this world really is no longer our home. Paul and Peter, both reminds us that we are no longer citizens of this world but rather are fellow citizen with all  the saints of God’s House (Ephesians 2:19; 1st Peter 2:11; Phil 3:20; Heb 11:13). In other words, we are now part of the family of God and so therefore we no longer represent our own interest but rather the interest and the image of God and His heavenly city. And if this is the case as Paul says, “if indeed this is the case” then we should clothe ourselves daily in our “new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24, NLT) .      

Marsh Grove Community Church

The Depth of God’s Love

Matthew 1-2:12; Luke 1-2:20

I hope everyone had a blessed and Merry Christmas. I also hope that as we celebrated Advent—the birth of the Jesus Christ each and every one of you were able to revisit a familiar story and have found or seen something that maybe you have never seen before. The good thing is you don’t have to wait till next Christmas to read it again. Jesus’ birth is told to us in Matthew and Luke’s Gospel. Together the two give us a glimpse into miraculous conception and their journey across Israel to Bethlehem in order to register for the census.

With the prophets giving hope for the future coming of a ruler that would be born in Bethlehem, Israel nonetheless would miss the coming of her King as Jesus remind them in Luke 19:42-44. Between the shepherds and the wise men there is one thing that seems to resonate from the announcement from the angelic host we find “good news of great joy.” I would say that if I turned on the TV and the local news told me they had good news of great joy I might just sit down and find out what this news was all about. And the thing about this news was no one was looking for it, no one was expecting it, and as a matter of fact most had even given up hope to some degree because for four hundred years there had been no word or prophesy from God. And all of a sudden Gabriel speaks to Zacharias in the Temple while offering prayers on behalf of Israel. Awestruck and fearful he is muted until the birth of his son John the Baptist who would be the forerunner of the Lord (Luke 1). What we read here in v.14 is that Zacharias would have joy and gladness and others would rejoice because of the preaching of John the Baptist. Right there says it all even before the baby Jesus is even born, we are told that the preaching of John the Baptist would bring with it rejoicing. The Shepherds experienced it through praising and glorifying God, the Wise men—as they traveled for at least a year. We are told they rejoiced with great joy when the star led them to the place house where Jesus was (Matt 2:10).

The reason for all the rejoicing was because the Savior had been born. You see the in the Greek the same word for Good News and Gospel comes from the same root word for evangelize. As a matter of fact, it is where we get the word for evangelize. Simply put what all of this means is that the from the cradle the birth of Christ looked to the Cross of Calvary. The good news is that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but rather to save those who would believe in Him through His own life (John 3:17). That right there is the good news! That someone loved you enough to send their own son into the world to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). I would have to say that is Newsworthy to be listening to, especially in the world in which we find ourselves today. And what is even better about this news is God is waiting for you to respond today if you never have. All it takes is praying a simple prayer, dear God, I thank you for the good news of the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ. God, I ask you right now to forgive me of my sins, cleanse me of all the things that make me a sinner by the power of the blood of your Son Jesus Christ. God bring me into your family and help me to live a life of joy by your Spirit in Jesus Name, Amen. And just like that you too can know and understand, experience the rejoicing that still brings great joy.

Marsh Grove Community Church

Signs and Wonders

Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12; 5:13-16; Genesis 1:14-19; Numbers 24:7

Men have studied the heavens as far back as we can possibly go. The heavenly bodies have mesmerized us since the dawn of creation and scientist and astrologers still study the cosmos. Instead of looking at stars and following the changes in the sky from season-to-season men are looking for other galaxies further and further into our Universe with telescopes and technology unheard of in the day of the Magi we find in Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew records, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”” (Matthew 2:1-2) These men from the East had been studying the night sky, keeping careful record of the movement of the stars and the other celestial occurrences, probably as indicators for certain things that were expected to take place at certain times throughout the year. Going back to the beginning in Genesis 1:14-19 we read where God created the sun, moon, and the stars as well as all the other celestial things that we find in the sky in the day as well as in the night. And what we read in v. 14 is that they were put in the sky to be for “signs and for seasons and for days and years.” The Hebrew word here for signs literally means to foretell the future in order to prove someone’s authority. And so, once these Wise Men see this new celestial appearance in the sky, they are immediately aware of the significance of this star. Now how they know it, we are not real sure, but Scripture does give us some clue that something significant would occur in the sky when the Messiah/King would be born. In Numbers 24:7 we again reads; “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel.” (emphasis added) As you can see the prophesy relating to the One who would rule from Israel would be made known by the appearance of a star.  

Two things we see from the three men—they recognize a new star in the sky and immediately connect it with the birth of the King of the Jews (v.2), they have come to worship Him. The second thing we find, they bring gifts that are fitting for a King. After conferring with Herod, they leave, and as they go the star leads them to where Jesus is (Matthew 2:9-12). These men are bringing their finest gifts to be laid before the King of the Jews and while in His presence they plan to worship Him. The idea we get from the Greek is that these men have come, they started their journey with the idea in mind not only to bring Him their best frankincense, myrrh, and gold all of which are fitting of royalty. But the word here for worship mean to become completely dependent and submissive to the King’s authority. These three wise men upon seeing the child, Jesus Christ, seeing the star, they rejoiced joyfully because it had brought them to the King. They were able to worship and take with them back home the joy that comes with being brought to the Lord Jesus Christ. As we go about this Christmas Season let the Spirit of the Lord guide you as the star guided the wise men. And allow the joy of your worship infect and spill over into the lives of those around you leading them and others ever so closer to where He is (Matt 5:13-16).

Merry Christmas!!!

Marsh Grove Community Church

Peace and Goodwill to Men

Luke 2:8-15; Isaiah 9:6; 1 Peter 1:1-9

As we find ourselves getting ever closer to Christmas Eve there doesn’t seem to be much Joy in the air around us. Just this weekend someone remarked how different the Christmas Season felt this year. Straightforward I remarked how correct she was. It seems, at least in the city where I live and work, and maybe yours as well, that nobody prepares and decorates for the Christmas Season as they used to. When I was young, I could remember the City would spend about a month putting out Christmas decoration, up and down Main St. The stores no matter where they were located would prepare and decorate as well. Without question you could tell the season you were in and somehow it just brought a warm feeling to the atmosphere, even if it was only for a season; you knew Christmas was coming.

Unfortunately, this does not happen anymore and so Christmas and what is supposed to be a Joyful time of year just seems like any other day of the year. The other thing that we see fewer of every year are Nativity Scene spread about from street corner to street corner. No matter where you went you could little baby Jesus laying in the manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, wise men and the heavenly angel heralding the birth of a Savior, the Christ, Jesus. Anymore the soft glow has turn into blinding LED, strange smells all around and chaos erupting all around us.

And the whole truth actually comes down to that one statement. You could take away all the fancy decoration, the lights, the Christmas Trees, and even Santa Claus, and have only the Nativity and somehow the glow and the warm feeling that comes with this time of year still brings about a Joyful spirit. But take away the Nativity scene and leave everything else as it is and unfortunately you lose hope, joy, and peace. You see really at the end of the day this is precisely what the Christmas Season should bring and is really all about. Yeah of course getting present and giving presents are meaningful. But if there is no birth of a Savior the love behind giving is lost and when we lose that joy flies out of the window with it.

Rehearsing the scene, we are reminded that after the birth of Jesus the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were nearby in the fields. It was there that the angel announced to them the Good News that would great joy. In a manger not far away, they would find in Bethlehem a baby who would be wrapped in clothes laying in a feed trough, because there was no more room left where the rest of the Joseph’s family was. So, the Savior of the world was born in what we would consider a barn, the Christ that had been promised and prophesied of by the prophets, made his entrance into His own at the sounds of animals in the cool night air of Bethlehem. This was where the shepherds found Jesus just as they were told by the heavenly host. Upon seeing the Child, they had to have overwhelmed with joy  because we are told they told everyone they saw what they themselves had seen.

Nonetheless what we find here is what I stated previously hope, joy, and peace. The hope that we find in the birth of Jesus, or in the Nativity is revealed by the angel, a Savior. In John’s gospel we read the account of the Samaritan woman who ultimately learned from Jesus, Himself precisely His title and His purpose and upon learning this she ran back to the town. Notice the joy that comes when even the woman at the well met Jesus, it was the same as what the shepherds experienced, she told what she had seen. And they said, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42). This is the hope we have, the promise not only of our spiritual salvation but of a personal Savior (“the One who saves to the uttermost” – Spurgeon) who one day will “rescue us from the wrath that is coming” (1Thessalonians 1:10). Second, we have peace, in Isaiah 9:6 the prophet tells us “that a child would be born, who is a son, and that the government would rest upon His shoulders.” Without doubt this is a prophetic statement concerning the coming Kingdom of God that Jesus will one day initiate in His Second Coming (Advent). And when He set up this Kingdom there will be worldwide peace like you have never known and will never know until He comes back. But what we are reminded of in this prophesy is that He, the Christ, Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). The angels in heavenly worship on that holy night in Bethlehem declared in euphoric chorus “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14) Each and every one of us who at some point in our life have come to faith in Christ, had our sins forgiven and welcomed by grace into the family God have experienced peace and because of Christ are not at peace with God (Ephesians 2:14, 15; Colossian 3:15), this is the very meaning of the angelic praise concerning peace toward men. And lastly joy, we not only have joy but Jesus said that His word are meant to bring joy, and to fill us with joy (John 15:11; 16:24). His desire is for us to experience His joy and to let joy rule our life from now until He returns to take us back with Him, where He is with God, the Father. This is not only Joy but in this very statement also is our Hope (John 17:13, 24-26).

Therefore, the only way to really truly enjoy the Season we find our self in is to allow the Joy of a Savior, and a King be made known and seen for the whole world to see. And His desire is that that through you and your exceedingly abundant rejoicing (1 Peter 1;8) others may come and see the Lord through you and make Him their Savior as well. No longer believing you but seeing and knowing for themselves the joy that only He can bring.  

Merry Christmas!!!

Marsh Grove Community Church

Prepare Him Room

Luke 2:1-20; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:6; 9:6-7

Around this time of year everyone has one thing in mind, getting through Thanksgiving in order to plan and prepare for Christmas. No sooner than the turkey cools down we begin to prepare for Christmas. Many, right after the Thanksgiving meal start to put up trees and put out decorations. Just the next day, Black Friday one of the busiest shopping days of the Christmas season many are out buying gifts, waiting in lines, and preparing for Christmas morning.

We are a busy people no matter what season or time we find ourselves in or involve with. We plan and prepare for everything that takes place around us. There are even things in which we are involved with that requires someone planning and preparing so that we can do the thing we enjoy doing. I’m sure many of you have heard some say, “you think all of this just happened by itself?” Meaning that someone took the time to think through everything necessary in order to provide us with the things that we need. A simple task like going to the store to pick up a present, we never think of all the logistical planning, the shipping and expediting, the hours required for manufacturing and finally getting all of that to several destination across America in time for a young child on Christmas morning. But the joy and excitement on a child’s face when they open those presents on Christmas and see that they got the very things they put on their Christmas list or asked Santa Clause is worth all the time and planning to see that look.

The same is true when we read the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel, for hundreds of years before the birth of Christ the prophets told of a coming child, a son who would bring Israel back to the Lord God. They knew what His name would be “a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:6). What He would be, a King sitting on David’s throne, and bring justice and righteousness with Him (Isaiah 9:7).

His very character is described by Isaiah a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). They had a promise from God, Himself that He was going to see this through.

Fast forward seven hundred years to a star lit night in Bethlehem and we find a young man named Joseph going through Bethlehem looking for a room for the night in order to give his wife Mary a warm and comfortable place to give birth. It would seem like any minute now their newborn baby would make His way into the world, but hopefully not before Joseph could find them a place to stay for the night. Many of you I’m sure know this story found in Luke 2:1-20. Mary is found pregnant by a divine act of God through the Holy Spirit and is carrying the Son of God, Jesus Christ in her womb. Joseph of course is comforted by the Lord God in dream revealing to him that what has taken place in Mary is a result of God’s divine intervention and he is encouraged to take Mary as his wife and to raise Jesus as if it was his son. There is a prophesy in Micah 5:2 that is declared by the Lord that the One who would rule Israel will be born in Bethlehem. This prophesy also is in direct line with the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth as well. With Mary and Joseph living in Galilee and actually preparing to make a home there and raise their son in the same region. And so, begins the work of God preparing and planning to bring Micah’s prophesy to fulfillment. We find that God put everything together by using Augustus Caesar to initiate a census that would require everyone in Israel to return to their tribal homeland to be register for the Census in Israel. This requires Joseph and Mary to pack up and return to Bethlehem since they both are in the ancestral line of King David. And so, then we find Joseph panicking to try to find his young bride and comfortable place because she is about to give birth. There is no amount of planning or preparing on Josephs part or Mary that could have orchestrated the events as they unfolded for their Child, Jesus to be born in the fields of Bethlehem. Only the Lord God’s planning and preparation could set the stage and move the actors to be where they needed to be at just the right moment to bring the Savior into the world. Just as God prepared for every step for Joseph and Mary to bring the Christ into the World and although they found no room. God also has prepared all of this for us as well, that while those then had no room but that we today would find room for Him. As the Christmas Hymn goes; “Joy to the World! The Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.” (Joy to the World) I would challenge you this Advent season no matter how faithful you may be, take a moment throughout this season and prepare room in your heart and life to let the Lord God be seen and to reach out to those who need something extra this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas!!!

Marsh Grove Community Church

Coming Hope

Hope That Brings Peace

Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Matthew 1:23; 2:2; Luke 2:11-12

With the warmer than normal sunny days it hard to fathom that we are in the last month of the year, December. Nevertheless, the days will slowly transition into a blustery chill as we prepare for old man winter who is sure to arrive. Many of you have probably decorated or at least moved closer to the arduous process of putting up the tree, the decorations, the lights and etc., will be followed by wrapping presents, of course.

With Christmas becoming more and more commercialized there becomes less room for the religious aspect of Christmas and the retelling of the story of the Wise men and the shepherds who came to see the birth of a savior in Bethlehem. Days have since gone where on almost every corner you could relive the grandeur of that faithful night when the Lord God, Himself step out of the eternal and gave Himself over to be as a baby in a manger.

Every year around the same time after Thanksgiving begins what has been celebrated for millennia throughout the age of the Church, and that is Advent, which of course is the coming of the Christ, or the birth of the Savior as we are told in the Gospels. And thus, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesy “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”” (Isaiah 7:14; Matt 1:23). The wise men from the East are led to Him by the star that appears in the sky, signaling, His birth (Matt 2:2). Luke tells us that an angel of the Lord appeared before the shepherd heralding the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

As we begin to celebrate His birth, His coming (advent) into the world and the work of redemption that has been accomplished through the Cross by the blood of Christ; we are also reminded that He is also coming back again. The same prophet Isaiah call us also to embrace another advent, not one in which we will find a “baby wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12 NKJV) but rather one, a Prince who will rule and reign from Jerusalem over Israel and all the world “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness, from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). His very character reveals who He is, what He will do and furthermore how it will take place.; the last verse tell that the Lord God, Himself will ensure that it will take place.

And so, as you celebrate the Christmas season let your hope this year rest in the Advent of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father (King) and the Prince of Peace. And let the light of His Star shine through your heart in this season bringing peace and hope to those that are looking for something better this year, give the gift of peace that only He can give!

Merry Christmas!!

Marsh Grove Community Church

Happy Thanksgiving

A Heart of Gratitude.

Leviticus 23:22; James 1:17; 2nd Corinthians 5:20

Thanksgiving has always been a warm and heartfelt season of the year regardless of the temperature outside. It is a time when we all come together, whether with family, friends or with our brothers and sister in Christ for a time of fellowship and gathering. For just a brief moment as we come together the world outside and around us will dissipate as we enjoy the company of those who we will share and celebrate this Thanksgiving with. All of which we should do with those whom we love and share a common bond of faith and love with.

            In years past, decades, centuries and millennia ago during this time of year celebrations would be centered around the fall harvest. The last crop of the year before the ground would lay dormant until the arrival of the Spring harvest season. And the festivities of course would be centered around a general attitude of thankfulness for the bounty of the harvest. And this spirit of thankfulness would in turn be celebrated with the community in which one lived; hardly the way in which we find ourselves celebrating today.

            Although we don’t have to reap the harvest of the fields, thresh the grain or anything else that comes with storing what has been gleaned from the fields. Instead, we will spend this day with our family and friends which we should. And as you celebrate this year allow me to give you two things to remember and share as you all come together. First, we should be thankful for all the Lord God has blessed us with throughout this year. Regardless of all the bad the devils throws in our way with all the good that we have seen or experienced. Nonetheless God has blessed us through it all; giving us what we needed throughout the year in His provision to overcome all the bad. That, above all else, is all the more reason to celebrate His goodness as it has come down to us (James 1:17). And so secondly, take the time to remember those who have no one to celebrate with, or a warm place in which to celebrate with others, be the provision that God wants to give them too.

Thanksgiving has become a time of reflection of all that God has blessed us with throughout the year. I would challenge all of you this Thanksgiving to allow yourself to be used of God to allow His blessing to reach those that are in need. The Lord reminds us “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:22; NLT). As God saw fit to meet the needs of the poor and the foreigners then, so to allow Him to reach them today through your obedience to Him as you celebrate what He has blessed you with. Let His provision for you continue to flow into the lives of the less fortunate. In doing this you give them cause to celebrate and give thanks  and to be thankful alongside you this Thanksgiving season for all that God desires to give to all of His creation.

Don’t let His blessing’s stop with you, let His bounty reach everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving from Marsh Grove Community Church!

Marsh Grove Community Church

Bearing Fruit In Any Season

(Jeremiah 17:5-8; John 16:31-33)

As Jesus had the cross on His mind and was preparing to take the sins of the whole world upon Himself, He still had concerns for His disciples whom He would be leaving soon. The world around them was in an uproar, simply because of Jesus Christ. His teaching opposed everything the Jewish leaders had taught concerning God, His Word, and the demand it placed upon holiness, righteousness, and mercy.

            John reminds us that although through Moses the Law had been given to Israel it would be through Jesus, the Son of God that grace and truth would come (John 1:17). And that because of the relationship between the two—God the Father and the God the Son, Jesus Christ; through Him, Jesus would reveal or as one translation read, He would make God known to us (ESV).

            Looking around at the world around us today we see some of the same things still taking place. There is chaos in the world, along with a great amount of deception. No matter where we look there are events going on that is keeping the rest of the world in a certain level of despair and uncertainty. This is certainly what Satan desires to do in an effort to draw people away from God, and to place our focus on man-made solutions.

            Going back to John 16:33 as Jesus was preparing to go to the cross as I shared with you in the beginning, His concern was for His disciples and listen to His word; “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

            For Christian’s today, in this season, during this time, in what seems to be the most pivotal election in American history when it seems like what we are hearing is one side over the other. We can have a certain level of stability, comfort and courage moving forward in the wave’s of uncertainty and chaos. As the means and the source of God’s divine favor and the ultimate source of truth spoken as well as written we can be at peace. Regardless of who is in control in Washington DC and in the midst of all the tribulation around us it has no victory over us because Jesus has already defeated the man-made institutions that Satan desires to work his will and purpose through (Jer 17:5-6).

In Jeremiah 17:8 we can gain a better understanding that ties Jesus’ command directly to what the Lord God revealed would take place for those who believe and trust the Lord. “Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream, and he will not fear when heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.” (NASB). This is precisely what Jesus declared when He said in a world filled with tribulation, we can have peace and courage. And all of this come about by the One in whom our trust and faith has been placed, in the Lord God, Himself. Jesus reminds His disciples of the same thing in John 16:31 when He answered and said, “do you now believe?”

This is how we find peace and courage and furthermore this is how we share with others how they too can find peace and courage in the midst of tribulation, by trusting God rather than man. And when we do, He will continue to produce in and through us the fruit that will draw other to God, Himself where they too will find Hope that holds through the storms of life and the tribulation that is in the world.