Here you will find outlines of current and past sermons, listed by date of delivery, as well as special notes from Pastor Jim.
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Lent - Not Mine But His - 3/17/19

LENT; … NOT MINE BUT HIS 03 17 2019

Romans 12: 1

The “Christ” in Action
Our symptoms revealed it. … The diagnosis defined it.
From vain thoughts to unkind words, … from unthinkable acts of cruelty to the
mindless threat of violence, … a cold disregard for humanity, … a casual
indifference to God; … all of these pointed to the condition of a rebellious heart.
The clinical term for it; … sin (and we all suffer from it), … is an involuntary and
fatal condition: … brutal, indiscriminate, and unforgiving. … Those who have
tried to control it only found themselves ultimately consumed by it. … For you see,
… it cannot be tamed … because; … “there is none righteous, no not one”.
It does not play favorites, … because; … “all have sinned and come short of the
glory of God.” … It takes no prisoners; … “for the wages of sin is death …”
Unless we forget, … you and I were guilty of this treason. … All of us played a
part in the evil episodes of our existence, … not as mere victims …
but as co-conspirators of our own demise. … Having been born in sin …
and shaped in iniquity, … we were the unacceptable creation; …
wicked, … lost, … fallen.
On one occasion some member of this is fragile motley crew called humanity cried
out of frustration; … “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this
dying body?” (Romans 7: 24) … Who indeed can deliver us from deception and
depravity? … Who can save us from sin and from self? … Is there one among us
who can pay so great a debt?
Time passed on, and when there was none to be found; … no champion to be
named amongst the human concern, … “   But God proves His own love for us in
that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” … (Romans 5: 8).
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God” (Romans 12: 1a)
This is what this “therefore”, … is … “therefore”, … to remind us of … and call
us to, … a time of reflection.
To remember with confidence and gratitude that Jesus has conquered sin and
death. … It is Jesus who has paid … our balance due; … and our debt on high.
Fore where we suffer from sin, … Jesus the Christ suffered for us!
This was the Christ in action.

2
Repentance: … The “Cause” of Action
Therefore, … in light of the “Christ” in action, … we are urged as brothers and
sisters in Christ by the cause of action; … something the Apostle calls; …
“the mercies of God” (Romans 12: 1); … these undeserved acts of kindness that
should move us to lay down our sword and shield … and study war no more.
Too move from “idol” worship … to the image of God, … from condemned to
deliverance, … from reflection to repentance, … or “What should we say
then? Should we continue in sin?” (Romans 6: 1) …
“For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Romans 6: 10)
Let me be clear, … our sin is the cause of this action … and yet, what are these
“mercies of God?” … Mercy means compassion; … pity. … It is God looking
upon our fallen nature … and sympathizing with us.
“Sympathize” is a word with both Greek and Latin origins, … meaning to suffer
with. … God chose to suffer with us.
So what then do we make of these mercies? … Clearly there are many …because
wherever we are, … much mercy will be needed.
Mercy; … it is kind treatment towards the undeserving and unrighteous. …
Mercy; … it is God’s complement to our ugliness. …
Mercy; … it is the Samaritan’s deeds to the robbed, the weak and wounded.
At its best, … it is divine intervention making provision for human corruption.
For this reason, … these mercies are best summarized by two words; … “loved”,
and “gave”.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that
everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16)
This is why the Apostle is so compassionate and urgent with his plea; …
“by the mercies of God”, … because in light of what God has done in the person
and work of Jesus Christ, … we must show contrition, repent, and turn from our
sinful ways.
Restoration: … The “Call” to Action
If we are turning from our sinful ways, … then what are we turning to?
Where we reflect on the “Christ” in action … and repent for the “cause” of action,
… we are then restored, in part, … by His “call” to action: … “present your bodies
as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (Romans 12: 1)

3

This is a call to complete submission. … It is you and I tithing ourselves to God …
because our lives are now His … and we belong to Him.
He has consecrated us in the precious blood of the Lamb; … Jesus the Christ.
How do we present our self? … We present our bodies, … “living” and “holy”.
“Living”; … it speaks of our total being; … active and animated … for the glory of
God. …
When living is experienced in Jesus, … it is the complete expression and
fulfillment of all that life can be! (repeat) … This is the most dynamic and
profound statement I will ever be able to share with you!
It is freedom in every way … that one can be free.
It is the unfailing experience of love … where each day with the Lord Jesus gets
sweeter and sweeter.
It is not the mere confession of faith, … it is the intentional conforming of the
heart, the head and the hand.
It is counter to the culture. … It is you and I living, moving, and having our being
witnessed in the face of prejudice; … witnessed in our restraint, … witnessed in
our love for those who despitefully use us.
This call to action is necessary … because it is important for the world to see …
and you and I to live in view of that fact that we are an Easter people living in a
Good Friday world … but … we are also to present our bodies, … holy.
“Holy”: …This describes the type of life that is presented to God and before the
world. … Holiness is something that God is … and makes possible for us to be.
It cannot be manufactured or faked. … For you and I, … it most accurately speaks
of our newness of nature in Christ Jesus. … It is living a life that is set apart from
all that God calls wicked. … Those who are outside this covenant of grace will
mock and make fun of us … because what the world calls deprivation … God calls
enrichment.
With that said, … during this Lenten season, … a period practice that predates the
Roman Catholic Church … and is observed by the vast majority of Christian
denominations globally, … I share with this message, … that the Holy Spirit is
asking that we sacrifice something far more valuable than materials, … meals …
or media.
The sacrifice that God requires is not superficial. …
It is a call that is further in and deeper down within the soul of the believer. …
It is a call to sacrifice our self, … not in death … but in our life.

4

Recovering from my own death bed of sin, … stricken with my love of what the
world labels as important, … I came to realize that Jesus did not die to make bad
people good. … He was resurrected to make the dead, … live!
We are called to live in this world but not be a part of this world.
I appeal to you during this Lenten season, … to sacrifice anger, …conflict, …
gossip and backstabbing; … idolatry, …infidelity, … prejudice … and pride.
Give up that one obstacle that has hindered your walk with Jesus Christ …
and I promise … you will be glad you did.
T’was grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
~Stanzas from Amazing Grace
AMEN

Transfigured - 3/3/2019

TRANSFIGURED; … IT’S HERE AND THERE

Matthew 17: 1-13

Recently, I misplaced my good pen that Karen had given me and I was looking for
it everywhere. … I looked in drawers, … I looked under mail and magazines on
the dining table, … behind, around and under, … I looked on the floor … but it
was nowhere to be found, … then miraculously it was there!; … I was holding it
between my teeth the whole time.
That is the way that life often is. … We miss stuff that has been there the whole
time. … It’s like when I was single and my future bride worked with my best
friend … but I never really saw her when I would go by to visit Al or take him to
lunch. … Then one day, … Al set us up on a blind date. … She had been there the
whole time … but now I actually saw her in my world … and just below God, …
she has been my world ever since.
That is the story of the Transfiguration. … Jesus showed His disciples a part of the
world that had been there all along … but it had not really been a part of their
world. … They were bewildered, … astonished … and trembling with fear when
they saw and understood that Heaven was already here … in their world …
and that Jesus was the King of Heaven.
As I began to think about the story of the transfiguration, … I realized that there is
a connection between this event and Moses going up to receive the law on Mt.
Sinai. … The transfiguration was about a new covenant God was making with the
human family.
Moses went up Mt. Sinai to speak with God and receive the laws of God.
Exodus 24:15-16 : … “When Moses went up the mountain, the cloud covered
it.  16  The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six
days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the cloud.”  …
So Matthew is tying the transfiguration to what happened with Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Jesus is the new Moses. … Moses came down the mountain with a covenant
written on stone. … Jesus comes down the mountain with a new covenant to be
written on flesh; … in the human heart.
Both Moses and Jesus are surrounded by a cloud which represented the presence of
God. … It was the Shekina; … a cloud of glory that made both of them shine like
the sun.
Again Matthew makes a connection to the Old Testament as he reports that Moses
appeared to Jesus … and along with Moses, Elijah the prophet appears.

Moses represents the Old Testament Law and Elijah represents the Old Testament
Prophets. … Jesus is not divorced from the Old Testament … but inseparably
linked to it. … He does not discard the Old Covenant … but transforms it and
builds upon it … but what’s interesting is that at the transfiguration, … although
God affirms Jesus as His “beloved Son” … and “takes delight in Him”, then
impresses them with His words: … “Listen to Him”, … says nothing to or about
Moses or Elijah.
Peter, James and John are overcome with fear. … They did not know what to do or
say, … so Peter blurts out: … “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If You want, I will
make  three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for
Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4) … but he is interrupted by the voice from the cloud of
glory saying; … “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to
Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
Peter is impetuous and doesn’t realize what he is saying. … Jesus is not among
equals (as important as Moses and Elijah are). … Three tents would not have been
appropriate, … because Jesus is not on par with Moses as another law-giver …
and neither is He one of the prophets like Elijah. …
He is different; … completely different. … He is the Son of God.
He is without equal!
The story of the Transfiguration actually starts in the previous chapter. …
It reads: … “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His
disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14  And they said, “Some
say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15  “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” 16  Simon Peter
answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” 17  And Jesus
responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not
reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18  And I also say to you that you are
Peter,  and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not
overpower it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)
Jesus is not another John the Baptist, … he is not Elijah, Jeremiah or another one
of the prophets; … He is unique, … without equal … and especially, … in our
world today, … we need to understand that Jesus is not just another religious
leader; … He stands alone. … There is no one with whom He can be compared.
Singer Sheryl Crow said in a New York Post interview: … “I believe in God. I
believe in Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed and all those that were enlightened.

I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m a strict Christian. I’m not sure I believe in
heaven.”
Sheryl Crow is where many people are today; … they believe in everything …
and nothing. … They are not sure they believe in the Kingdom of God.
They believe in this and that … but at some point, … one is going to have to
land on both feet and have them go in the same direction.
In order to be aware of the kingdom of God around us, … we have to believe in the
Kingdom of God … and the One who is the King of that Kingdom.
What is interesting … is that Matthew says when the disciples looked up after
falling to the ground and cowering in fear, “… they saw no one except Him—Jesus
alone.”
Moses was gone, … Elijah was gone … and Jesus stood alone.
No one is like Him.
No one can compare with Him.
He is one of a kind; … He alone is the unique and universal Savior of the world;
… The transfiguration answers the question: … “Who is Jesus?”.
The law and the prophets had served their purpose … and Jesus came to fulfill all
that they had said.
Jesus thought that the kingdom of God was so important that it should be our
highest priority. … He said; … “But seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33).
The point of the transfiguration is to not only point to Jesus … but to point to the
reality of the Kingdom of God. … It helps us to see that the Kingdom of God is not
out there somewhere … but right next to us. … It is what people often miss, even
though they may have been looking for it, … like I was looking for my pen.
It is something that has been there all along. … Peter wanted to mark the spot and
make it sacred. … He wanted to set up three shelters, … actually the original
language says “tents” or “tabernacles”; … places of worship.
He wanted to mark the spot as sacred, … not realizing that there are not just a few
spots which are sacred. … The whole world is sacred. … It belongs to God.
He has created it all … and inhabits it all.
When we go home today, … look at the ground your house is sitting on. …
It is holy ground. … Try this: …Take off your shoes. … It is holy ground because
God is there. … Some of us know that because we met Him in our home before we
came here today.

Once, … having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would
come, … Jesus replied, … “The kingdom of God is not coming with something
observable;  21  no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of
God is among you.”  (Luke 17:20-21)
We are so used to thinking about Heaven being a place to go when we die.
We think of it as being way out there somewhere … but Jesus was showing that
Heaven is all around us … and within us. … It is not something for when we die,
… it is something for when we live . … The Kingdom of God is not for the future,
… God invites us to live in the Kingdom now, …in the present.
The Kingdom of God is not out there in a distant place and in the future, … it is
right here right now. … The Kingdom of God is not just for Church, … it is for our
home and our place of work. … It is for you … and in you, … wherever you go.
Dallas Willard (an American philosopher also known for his writings on Christian
spiritual formation) … puts it this way: … “The Gospel is not about getting into
Heaven when we die, it is getting into Heaven before we die.”
We get to participate in the life of God and take on His image and character before
we die.
The people of ancient times, … used to talk about the “thin places”.
The thin places are when the Kingdom of God rubs up against the kingdom of the
world and breaks into our world … or should I say; … breaks into our
consciousness. … It has been here all along; … we just did not have eyes to see it.
In the Bible, … the thin places would be situations like God talking to Adam and
Eve in the garden, … God speaking to Moses in the burning bush, … Steven
seeing the Heavens open as he was being stoned, … Jesus healing people and
rising from the dead.
These were the times when the veil separating the kingdom of this world …
and the Kingdom of God were so thin, … that they merged … and the Kingdom of
God became visible.
That is what happened at the transfiguration. … Peter, James and John had their
eyes opened to see that the Kingdom was not a future event … but a present
reality. … When we walk from this place today, … we will be surrounded by the
Kingdom of God. … Whether we see it or feel it is beside the point; … it is there!
Our part is to be aware of it. … Our part is to live in that reality … and actively
participate in the life of God … as it surrounds us and is within us.

In one of my classes at Jarvis Christian College, … another ministerial candidate
spoke these words: … “The Christian faith is not just about looking forward to an
eternity in Heaven, … it is about living a Jesus-led life that brings a bit of Heaven
on earth.”
Charleston based lawyer, …David Yarborough tells the story from one of Max
Lucado’s books of a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the
turn of the century, … was quite wealthy … but also very frugal.
The people were surprised when she decided to be among the first to have
electricity in her home. … Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader
appeared at her door. … He asked if her electricity was working well and she
assured him it was. … “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he
said. … “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. … Are you using your power?”
“Certainly,” she answered. … “ Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my
lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”
Yarborough goes on to say, … “She tapped into the power but did not use it.
Her house is connected, but not altered. … Don’t we make the same mistake?
We, too — with our souls saved but our hearts unchanged — are connected but not
altered. … Trusting Christ for salvation … but resisting transformation.
We occasionally flip the switch, … but most of the time we settle for shadows.”
We don’t want to be like those who were unaware and missed the kingdom of God;
… we want to be those who not only see it and recognize it … but those who plug
into its power; … the transforming and renewing power … as it lives in us …
and is turned on every day.
AMEN

Giants - 2/24/19

GIANTS! 02 24 2019
1 Samuel 17: 26b

Here’s the background setting for the time and history leading up to this event:
We learn from the book of Ruth that the period of Israel’s history before the time
of the Kings was a very dark point. … There was no law and order. … Every man
did that which was right in their own eyes. … The nation lived and repeated a
seemingly endless cycle of wandering from God, … receiving God’s judgment, …
crying out to God, … God sending a deliver, … they would live for God as long as
the deliver was alive; … and once the deliverer died, … they would repeat the
cycle again. … This was even the theme of our sermon for February 10 th titled
ONE STRANGE COVENANT.
Before we get to critical and say things like: … “How dense were they?” … or
“How could they not see that one coming?”, … we need to remember that often we
do the very same in our lives in dealing with sin.
If we look a bit closer, the history to this point in Israel’s life goes much further
back than just the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David. … Let’s take a brief trip back
and see where many of these problems started: … Boiling it down to the core
issue, … we see a very real illustration of the difference between God’s perfect
will and God’s permissible will. … It all started back in Genesis 29:10-21;25-
26;30-31;35. We can see in these passages that Jacob loved Rachel more than
Leah. … Rachel was his choice for a wife; … however, the more we study
Scripture, … it is Leah who God notices, … blesses, … leaves her father and his
gods (Genesis 31:19) … and eventually is the one that Jacob requests to be buried
with. (Genesis 50:31)
It is through Leah that we get the Messiah. … It is through Leah that we get King
David, God’s choice for Israel; … however, … it is through Rachel that we get
King Saul; … the common people’s choice for Israel!
After going through the cycle of lawlessness, judgment and deliverance, …
Israel had enough. … Once again, they took their eyes off God and places them
upon the other nations. … Interesting fact is; … had they obeyed God in the first
place and destroyed all the people previously occupying the promise land, …
there would have been no other nations to put their eyes on!
Seeing these other nations operate relatively peacefully under a King’s rule, …
Israel decided that they now wanted a visible king to rule over them … and no
longer be under a complete Theocracy. … God through Samuel, … warned them
that having a king would come with a cost (1 Samuel 8:6-22).

Despite the cost of having a king, … Israel still wanted to be like the other nations,
… accepted the King and the consequences that came with having one.
At this point, Samuel anoints Saul to be King in Israel. … The Bible records that
Saul stood head and shoulders above the rest. … He was a man’s man. … He was
the people’s choice to be king. … God did use Saul in some great ways; …
however, … Saul eventually went his own way and disobeyed God.
Samuel then anointed David to be the next king because he was God’s choice.
The Bible records this about David; … “a man after mine own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
… or as my translation puts it: … “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man
loyal to Me”
David did not immediately become King. … He remained faithfully tending his
father’s sheep. … He served as a musician to the Kings. … Now, … in the story of
our text, … David was sent by his father to bring supplies to his brothers who were
at war with the Philistines. … At this point, … we will now enter into this account
and see how David overcame the Giant of Goliath. … Mind you, … In the same
way, … you and I can also overcome the many giants in our lives.
* Realize the situation at hand.
Although Goliath was calling out the national of Israel, … he was really standing
against Israel’s God! … David understood this principle.
All of the trained military men and even the King, could only see the giant before
them. … They could not look past him. … Each one had heard and seen the many
miracles of their God. … I am sure the accounts of life in Egypt, … God’s
deliverance from Pharaoh, … God’s provision in the Wilderness … and all the
ways He has gone before them since, … were known by the king and these men.
But rather than looking to God for strength and help, … the soldiers were either
looking to Saul for help … or could not get their eyes off the giant that stood
before them calling them out!
Now before we get to down on these men here, … let’s take a look at what they
were looking at: …
Goliath’s height: … Bible describes him as 9 foot, 9 inches (6 cubits + 1 span)
Goliath’s armor and helmet weighed 125 pounds
The head of his spear weighed 15 pound
They were not fitting an ordinary man. … He would have been very intimidating!
No one had faced such a man in battle before! …

Since their eyes were either focused on Goliath or on Saul for help, … they had
forgotten the power of the God they served. … They had forgot how He defeated
the entire army of Pharaoh without them lifting a weapon in battle. … They forgot
how God brought the walls of Jericho down so they could walk in and take the
mighty city.
Often, … when giants come into our lives, … they cause us to take our eyes off our
God and place them on the giant. … It is no wonder we live just as a defeated life
… as these soldiers were living … when David walked onto the scene.
* Remain faithful to the task at hand.
Despite being anointed King of Israel, … David was still faithfully serving his
father by tending to the sheep. … When Jesse called him to go bring supplies to his
brothers, … he was faithful to obey his father. … Before leaving to his new
assignment, … David made sure that the sheep were taken care of by leaving them
with a keeper. (vs.20)
David understood the principle of being faithful in the little points of life, …
before God would give him bigger tasks to tackle.
* Resist going with the status quo. (vs. 23-27)
When David arrived, he could not believe that no one would put a stop to this
Philistine. … Why were the men so afraid when they served such a great God?
Why would people let God’s name be blasphemed by this Philistine? …
Today, … is not the cause of Christ … something worth giving our life for?
* Restrain our reaction to criticism (vs. 28-30)
When his brother heard this, he falsely accused David. …
We should all understand, … when everyone else is not looking to God, …
it will make them very uncomfortable to be around someone who is doing just that!
David refused to go with the flow … because David knew he served a great God
who could do the impossible!
NEVER listen to people who point out the strengths of the giants in front of us …
but forget about the even Greater God … that is with us!
Remember God’s promise: … “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion
and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (Vs. 37)
His Provisions: … “he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from
the wadi and put them in the pouch, in his shepherd’s bag. Then, with his sling in
his hand, he approached the Philistine.” (Vs. 40)

Purpose: … “Today, the LORD will hand you over to me. Today, I’ll strike you
down, cut your head off, and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of
the sky and the creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that Israel has
a God” (vs 46)
Receive God’s victory in our life!: … (Vs. 41-54) As David, with God’s hand, …
defeated Goliath, … Israel’s army routing the Philistines … and David being
brought before King Saul and recognized as the battle’s patriarch, … we also, …
can be the victor when we trust in God’s mighty strength!
To conclude: …
What giants are in our life today? … Is it the Giant of Doubt, … Fear, …
Prayerlessness, … Distress, … Sickness, … Complacency, … or one of many
others?
Where have we been focusing our eyes? … Are we only seeing the giant … or are
we seeing our God, … who is bigger than any giant in our life?
If we are here this morning and do not have a relationship with God, …
then the biggest giant we face and must deal with … is the Giant of Sin.
Sin is what separates us from God. … As long as this giant controls our life, …
God cannot … and will not … have a relationship with us.
Possibly, … the more we try to overcome sin in our life, … the more we fail at
doing so: …
just like the army of Israel, … in their own strength, … ran and hid from Goliath.
To deal with this giant of sin, … we need someone to fight the battle for us … and
Jesus Christ is that Champion. … We can try religion, works, money …
or whatever we want … and we soon discover that none of them will defeat this
Giant. 
John 14:6, … Jesus pledged: … “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus died on the cross in our place. … He died to pay for our sins because the
“wages of sin is death”.
Jesus did not stay dead … but rather rose again the third day.
This fact means that He has defeated the Giant of Sin … and offers the victory to
all who will accept His finished work on the cross as their payment for sin.
Brothers and Sisters, … I am not sure what giants are in your life today!; …
but I can assure you, … the God you serve is much bigger than any giant you may
face. … We must get our eyes off the giants and back onto our God.

We must remain faithful to what He has given us to do. … We must resist going
with the status quo and reacting to criticism. … We must always remember God’s
promises to us, … His provisions in our life … and His purpose for our life.
When we are able to do all of this, … then we, like David, …
will be able to have great victory over the giants in our lives!
AMEN

Who Is This Word? - 2/17/19

WHO IS THIS “WORD” 02 17 2019

John 1: 1-5

The Bible, … it’s not just for Sunday anymore.
The problem is, … most people wouldn’t know the Bible … or the truth of the
Bible, … if it hit them square in the middle of their face.
In our nation today, … we have an embarrassing high Biblical illiteracy rate.
On a cold winter day, January 12, 2007, … A man wearing blue jeans, a long-
sleeved T-shirt and a Washington National ball Cap, … went into a metro
(subway) station in Washington DC … and near the entrance, next to some
garbage cans, … opened his violin case, … took out his violin and began to play,
… leaving his violin case open to collect tips.
He played six “Bach” pieces for about 45 minutes. … During that time, since it
was rush hour, over a thousand people went through the station, … most of them
on their way to work. … Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed
there was musician playing. … He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds
… but then hurried up to meet his schedule. … A minute later, the violinist
received his first dollar tip: … a woman threw the money in the till and without
stopping continued to walk. … A few minutes later, … someone leaned against the
wall to listen to him … but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again;
… clearly he was late for work. … The one who paid the most attention was a
three year old boy. … His mother tugged him along but the kid forced a stop to
look at the violinist. … Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to
walk turning his head to look back all the time. … This action was repeated by
several other children. … All the parents, without exception, … forced them to
move on. … In the 45 minutes the musician played, … only six people stopped and
listened for a while. … About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their
normal pace. … He collected $32.17. … When he finished playing and silence
took over, … no one noticed it; … no one applauded.
The subway would-be audience didn’t know this … but the violinist was Joshua
Bell, … one of the absolute best violinist in the world. … His violin was a rare
Stradivarius made in 1713 … and worth 3.5 million dollars. … Three days before
his playing in the subway, … Joshua Bell played at a sold out Boston’s stately
Symphony Hall where the seats average $100 each. … This is a real story.
Joshua Bell playing, incognito in the metro station, … was organized by the
Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and
priorities of people.

The outlines were: … In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: …
Do we perceive beauty? … Do we stop to appreciate it? … Do we recognize the
talent in an unexpected context?
Jesus experienced much the same lack of fanfare: …
John 1:10: … “He was in the world, and the world was created through Him,
yet the world did not recognize Him.”
Jesus, … who made the world, … came into the world … but the world did not
know Him … and even today, still does not know Him … but He left us His Word.
Why Trust the Word? … Why should we believe?; … Because Jesus is the Word!
Read this for yourselves in John 1:1–5
The Gospel of John introduces Jesus far different from the other Gospels.
Matthew and Luke list Jesus’ genealogy and prophecies plus describes the events
surrounding His incarnation as a baby, born of Mary, in the little town of
Bethlehem.
Mark starts off by introducing John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus’
public ministry.
But John is way different. … Through John’s Gospel, it was clearly John’s purpose
to let people know in no uncertain terms that Jesus came from God and that Jesus
is God.
John 20:31: … “But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.”
In fact, … even to the most casual observer, … John’s Gospel starts off in a very
familiar way; … John 1:1a: … “In the beginning”
We know these words from Genesis 1:1: … “In the Beginning God created the
heavens and the earth.”
Jesus was in the beginning. … Time has a beginning and it is clearly documented
in Genesis 1:1. … Jesus was there at that beginning point of which time was
created. … Like God the Father, … Jesus was present before there was time.
We could use the term, … “eternity past” … but what is eternity?
Our mind cannot comprehend the non-existence of time … but the scriptures are
clear. … Time itself is a creation of God … and time had a beginning … and time
will have end.
So eternity is not so much as time without end … but timelessness: …
And there was Jesus before time began.
Isn’t it interesting that John introduces Jesus as the Word: … “In the Beginning
was the Word”

In the Greek, … the word is “logos”. … In Greek culture, the Stoics understood
“logos” to be the rational principle by which everything exists … and which is of
the essence of the rational human soul.
More generally, … “logos” can refer to inner thought, … hence ‘reason’, …
even ‘science’.
“logos” can refer to outward expression, … as in “speech” or “message”, …
which is why “Word” is still thought by many to be the most appropriate term, …
provided it does not narrowly refer to a mere linguistic sign … but is understood to
mean something like “message”, … as in the following: …
1 Corinthians 1:18: … “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who
are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved”
“Message” … in this verse is the Greek “logos”
Jesus is God’s message to us. … Jesus is God’s “Word” … because … “the Word
was with God.”; …but John 1:1 goes even further. … Not only was the Word, …
the Logos, … from God … and the Logos was with God … but John makes it very
clear; … “and the Word was God”
This is foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity. … Though the Holy Spirit will
be included later, … the fact is, … Jesus the Word, … Jesus the Logos, … is God!
Take caution of anyone who tries to tell you differently. …
The Jehovah Witnesses have a Bible Translation called … “The New World
Translation” … which is an atrocity. … They translate this verse as; …
“The Word was a god.” … Anything that denies the deity and co-equal status of
Jesus with God the Father is heresy. … As the Word that was with God … and the
Word that is God, … we see that the Word was the very agent of creation.
Psalm 33:6: … “The heavens were made by the word of the LORD, and all the stars,
by the breath of His mouth.”
Psalm 33:9: … “For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it
came into existence.”
God spoke the “Logos” … and creation happened.
Colossians 1:16: … “For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
The Word of God we hold in our hands is the very power of the universe. …
Through these Words, Jesus calls Himself: … “I am the Alpha and the
Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the
Almighty.” (Revelation 1: 8)

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. … Notice the
last two words; … “The Almighty.”
Those words are reserved for God alone. … Jesus is God and Jesus is all in all and
Jesus is everything. … So John introduces Jesus, … as the One from the very
beginning.
John 1:2–3: … “He was with God in the beginning. 3  All things were
created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.”
Again; … The Word, … the Logos; … Jesus is from the very beginning.
The Word of God, … spoken by God, … who was God, … spoke all things into
existence. …
Friends, … the very words and deeds of Jesus … are the words and deeds of God.
So what is this to us?
John 1:4: … “ Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.”
The Word, … the Logos, … does not merely possess life; … He is life …
and the giver of life.
John 11:25: … “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one
who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.”  … Jesus gives, not only physical
life … but more importantly, … He gives us spiritual life in Him.
Knowing Jesus, … knowing the Word, … the Logos is with God … and the Logos
that is God, … is the very definition of eternal life … and that life is; … “the light
of men.”
John 8:12: … “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk
in the darkness but will have the light of life.” … Jesus is that light … but there is a
problem with that light; … the darkness doesn’t like the light
John 1:5: …  “That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome
it.”
Like the world class violinist who played in the subway as a street musician, …
those who passed by did not hear or appreciate the talent right before them. …
Jesus came and brought light into a world of darkness … but the world failed to
see or to even notice … and still does not see today.
In the Gospel of John, … life and light are central themes. … Isn’t it interesting
about life and light in comparison to death and darkness. … Death is the absence
of life … and darkness is the absence of light.
John 3:19: …  “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and
people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”

Because men reject the very light that is life, … they are clearly choosing their
own death … because they reject the One who is life … but here is the greatest
miracle of all time, … the greatest miracle of the entire universe: …
John 1:14: …  “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.”
Why is this so significant?
John 3:16: …  “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only
Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
This is truly Good New. … This is truly the Gospel … but even though God sent
the Word, … the Logos, … He sent Himself into the world, … to be the Light of
the world … and Life that brings life, … that Light that is life; … it is rejected by
men.
John 1:11: … “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”
The “Word” we hold in our hands, is all about Jesus through and through. … It is
in this understanding that all of scripture need to be viewed and interpreted.
John 5: 39: … “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal
life in them, … yet they testify about Me.”
The “Word” points us to Jesus; … the “Word” testifies of Jesus; … the “Word” is
Jesus. … Moses pointed out to the children of Israel in the desert: …
Deuteronomy 30:19: … “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that
you and your descendants may live,” (Prophetic words for today!)
Moses put it out plain and simple; … choose life! … Yet this insane world will
painstakingly choose death. … The Word is rejected. … The Word that is light, …
the Word that is life.
Profoundly, … our Lord’s message was Himself. … He did not come merely to
preach a Gospel; … He Himself is that Gospel. … He did not come simply to give
bread; … He said, &quot;I am the bread.&quot; (John 6:35); … He did not come only to shed
light; … He said, &quot;I am the light.&quot; (John 8:12); … He did not come purely to show
the door; … He said, &quot;I am the door.&quot; (John 10:7); … He did not come solely to
point the way; … He said, &quot;I am the way, the truth, and the life.&quot; (John 14:6)
Why trust the Word?; … The Word is all about Jesus. … The Word is Jesus.
John 1:12: …  “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be
children of God, to those who believe in His name,

Have you received the Word, … the Logos, … have you received Jesus?
There is no other way!
AMEN

Personal Note - 1/27/19

Pastor’s Corner 01 27 2019

At the time of this writing (01-23-2019), I am about 17 hours away from surgery on my neck; …
more precisely, the C-3 and C-4 vertebrate. Compared to my previous neck surgery in 2012, this
should be a walk-in-the-park! Having said that, no cutting on the human body comes without risk
… yet, isn’t it amazing what science, through the Hand of God, can do, now!
These surgeons work with such skill, … it is hard for a lay person, such as myself, to grasp.
We think this is amazing, … approaching miracle status, … what those precision hands can do
… but how much credit do we give to the Hands that invented their hands?
“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
(Psalm 139: 13)
Our Holy God conceived of those hands before they even took form! Without God, there would
be no neck to work on, … no hands to initiate the healing.
Just today, I was given the news of a person on our prayer list that was soon to begin treatment
for cancer. Yes, … the big “C” word. Cancer that was diagnosed to be in the lymph glands
already. She was scanned yesterday … and the result was; … no sign of cancer at all!
Was this a misdiagnosis … or was it the healing power of God through the many prayers that had
gone up for this individual?
I will accept this as a miraculous healing of God.
Why doesn’t this happen every time we pray for someone in dire circumstances?; … I simply
don’t know but this does not take away form God’s ability to heal and our faith in Him as the
ultimate healer.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s
declaration.” (Isaiah 55: 8)
I am just one of thousands that will be experiencing the surgeon’s knife this week and there is
only one God to oversee all of that … but I praise Him and worship Him for all He is in my life
… and what He offers to all who would listen.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who
believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16)
This is the real healing; … the healing of our perishable bodies and this diminishing planet … so
that we can be in His presence for eternity.
With that assurance, I / we, can face anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim

Raging Bull - 1/13/19

RAGING BULL 01 13 2019
Ephesians 4: 28-32

For most of us there are certain things in life that when we think of them …
bring us a feeling we often describe as bitterness. … This could be an event that
took place years, … if not, decades ago; … something someone said and even
though that individual has long forgotten about what they did, .. we haven’t …
and as a result, … we now have bitterness.
Bitterness comes in different forms and causes a variety of different results.
Certain foods have a bitter taste. … This lemon is one of them. … Let me ask; …
does the mere mention of lemon juice just do something to your mouth? …
It brings a kind of bitterness to us.
OR, … Perhaps we are involved in a conversation with someone and they bring
something up; … an event or a person; … it could be from years ago … but the
feeling we have; … perhaps even the bad taste we get in our mouths for that
person, … comes back to us immediately. … Have you experienced that before?
I know I have.
I believe we all have … and we may even stop and think: … “I haven’t thought
about that for a long time” … or maybe we are one who might actually say: …
“I think about it all the time.”
The writer of Hebrews understood this emotion and wrote these words: … “Pursue
peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.  15  Make
sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness
springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many” (Hebrews 12: 14-15)
Now when it comes to this emotion called bitterness, … I think there are several
points we could agree on today: …
1. At one time or another … every one of us have had … or have now … feelings
of bitterness toward another person.
2. Many times we know the source of our bitterness … but not always.
3. Most of the time we do not know what to do with this emotion.
Fortunately for us the apostle Paul did know what to do. … Paul has plenty of
reasons to hold bitterness in his heart. … To name a few: ….
*Three times they beat him with rods for sharing his faith.
*Once they stoned him, … somehow he survived
*Five times the Jews gave him 39 lashes with a whip. … It was thought that if an
individual received 40 lashes, it would kill them. … He literally was beaten within
an inch of his life five times.

2

Paul said that every day he felt pressured; …why? … Because he was serving the
Lord. … Ever tried to do something good … and yet you are criticized for it?!
It happens and it can bring a great deal of bitterness into our life.
Bitterness; … the way I would define it is like this; … Bitterness is an intense
feeling caused by some event where we have been wronged / mistreated.
It happened to most of the disciples; … it happened to the Old Testament prophets,
… to Paul, … Stephen … and of course, … to Jesus.
They stoned Stephen because of his faith. … He performed miracles. … He helped
a lot of people, … so they lied about him, … produced false witnesses to testify
against him … and then they stoned him.
The Bible says this… “They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit!”  60  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do
not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.”
I’ll be honest, … I’m not sure that would be my response … and I’m not sure it
would be yours either.
For most of us this root of bitterness gets hold of us and it does exactly what the
New Testament warns (for this, … I like The New Living Translation); … “Watch
out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many”.
All of us know what poison does. … It destroys life. … Fortunately, Paul tells us
what to do to prevent being poisoned.
I am not aware of any problem Paul mentions where he did not also offer a
solution. … That’s a good way for us all to live. … We have too many experts who
know everything that is wrong … but few who can offer solutions.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a problem … but it does
take one to know what to do with the problem.
Years ago a man named Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory which was
having some kind of problem. … Ford asked him if he could help him identify the
problem with his generator. … He told Tesla that none of his own repairmen knew
how to fix it. … Tesla walked up to a wall and made a small X in chalk on one of
the boilerplates and said your problem is right there. … Ford was thrilled and told
him to send him a bill. … The bill arrived for $10,000. … Ford asked him to break
it down and he replied: … “sure, 1 dollar for marking the wall with an X and 9,999
dollars for knowing where to put it.”
Paul begins here by telling us to get rid of: … “All bitterness, anger and wrath,
shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice”.

3

Why does he put all of these together in one basket? … Simple; … They’re all
connected. … To us, … this is fighting, … brawling; … we say someone got into a
brawl … but really it’s not as much a fist fight … as it is fighting with words.
Somebody slanders us; … they say something about … your mama …
and bitterness turns to rage, … which turns to anger … and suddenly a fight breaks
out.
It’s a poison … and the longer poison is in our system, … the worse off we are.
Paul says get rid of it!
So how do we do that? …
When two or more irritations are connected … and that connection is causing a
problem, … we have to take one of two actions: … (1) either break the connection
… or … (2) make one of the two go away. … This is how I see the connection: …
(1) Bitterness can lead to rage. … It’s like the Incredible Hulk. … Come on; …
you remember your old comic books and the TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou
Ferrigno!
Bitterness is that root! … If we keep putting our hand into a vat of poison, …
eventually, enough poison may absorb through our skin to damage the whole body.
You see, … we are the one who controls what comes into our body. …
That’s why Paul tells us to get rid of it … and we can get rid of it before it destroys
us.
(2) Anger can cause brawling. … In fact, that is the primary reason any brawl
actually takes place. … Two or more people are angry. … The anger escalates …
and suddenly there is a brawl.
(3) Slander can cause us to feel malice toward someone. … Malice is the desire to
cause injury to another. … A person tells a lie … and our character is damaged.
It is then our desire develops to hurt them back; … to exact revenge. …
That’s what malice is.
Now we know this but let me spell it out; … the size of the root determines the
quality of the tree. … Strong roots; … strong tree. … Damaged roots; … damaged
tree / damaged character.
Paul say get rid of the damage. … Get rid of the bitterness … and keeping with
Paul’s style of teaching, … when he directs us to get rid of something, …
he tells us what to put in its place. … Like breaking a bad habit, … it is often
effective to put something good in its place.

4

Here are three suggestions Paul gives us: …
(1) Be kind to each other. … One thing is for sure, … if we show kindness to
someone who has hurt us, .. we just succeeded in confusing them. … They won’t
know how to respond. (Proverbs 25:21-22) … “If your enemy is hungry, give him
food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22  for you will heap burning
coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
(2) Show compassion. … Show mercy to those around you, …even to your
enemies. … (Matthew 5: 43-44, 46) “You have heard that it was said, Love your
neighbor and hate your enemy.  44  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you,” 46  For if you love those who love you, what reward will
you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
Jesus always placed the responsibility for doing the right thing on the believer.
We wonder how can someone be that way; … how could they hurt me or someone
else so badly? … The truth is if they don’t know Christ they don’t really know any
better … and until they see that Christ has really made a difference in our life …
then they may not realize that Christ can make a difference in theirs as well.
Be kind. … Show compassion.
(3) Forgive, … just like Jesus forgives us.
Harry Houdini, the great escape artist gave a certain challenge wherever he went.
He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed and set himself free
quickly and easily. … He always kept his promise except on one occasion.
Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; … the heavy, metal doors clanged
shut behind him. … He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, … strong
and flexible. … He set to work immediately but something seemed to be unusual
about this lock. … For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere. … An hour passed,
and still he had not opened the door. … By now he was covered in sweat but he
still could not pick the lock. … Finally, … after laboring for two hours, … Harry
Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock.
But when he fell against the door, … it swung open!
It had never been locked in the first place!; … But in his mind, … it was locked …
and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the
jail cell.
If we have bitterness toward someone, … we will stay locked up. … We will never
be set free. … When we refuse to forgive someone, … they hold us … as the
hostage.
When we refuse to forgive, … there is no one we will hurt more than our self!!
AMEN

Faithfulness - 1/6/19

FAITHFULNESS
Galatians 5: 22

Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary has a pretty extensive entry under
“Faith/Faithfulness.” … That’s expected because “Faith” and “faithfulness” are
pretty big subjects in the Bible. … But here’s the part in the Holman’s definition
that caught my eye: … “… faith (a human response to God) … and faithfulness (a
virtue of God and his servants).”
It seems like the more we study Holy Scripture, … the idea that these attributes
(the fruit of the Spirit) that God wants us to have … are really qualities of God
Himself. … We’ve lived under this idea (at least I have) … that the Bible is a list
of rules for human behavior: … “God wants you to be good, to be faithful, to be
kind, to be gentle, to love, to experience joy, to have peace” … but the bigger
message is that God is good, … God is kind, … God is gentle, … God is the author
of love, … joy … and peace.
God is simply saying; … “Be like Me.”
It’s a lot more personal than many of us would have imagined.
So, … in light of Holman’s definition, … what’s the difference between “faith”
and “faithfulness”? … To me, … it’s the difference between an act … and a habit.
When I started to truly absorb the Gospel, … the message of who God is and how
He wants to interact with me, … I either had to accept that it might be true …
or might not be true.
If I accepted that the message might be true, … I had to believe in it enough to act
on it. … When I acted on it, … that was faith.
That initial act of faith may not have been too powerful on my account; …
I probably just raised my hand in public or mouthed a silent prayer; … but it was
sufficient as far as God was concerned … for the moment.
If you’re old enough, … you remember what a “Red Man Writing Tablet” was.
It had a red paper cover with a picture of an Indian on the front. … The pages were
a sort of wood-pulpy grayish-white and they had rows of lines printed on them.
Each row consisted of a solid top and bottom line with a dashed line in the middle.
If you recall, … these were the tablets on which we practiced writing our ABC’s in
first grade. … We were taught to stay inside the lines and that the capital letters
reached from top to bottom … but the lower-case letters couldn’t come above
dashed line in the middle (unless they had little sticks like b’s and d’s).
My six year-old intuition told me that that’s why they were called … “lower-case.”

2

Technically, … I learned to write when I was six. … Upper-case, lower-case; …
Aa, Bb, Cc; … I learned them all, … all twenty-six of them.
That was my first act of writing.
As the years went by and I progressed through the first grade, second grade and
beyond; … I practiced and my writing advanced. … By third grade I was learning
cursive. … By sixth grade I was writing stories. … By eighth grade I had a
pen-pal. … The older I got … the more I learned what writing was all about.
Today in my 70’s, I’m still writing. … Some days I do a lot better than those
stories I wrote in grade school; … some days I wonder.
I do know; … I’m a lot better at writing today than I was that first day I put pencil
to my Red Man tablet. … I’m hoping (if I’m still around) … that ten years from
now I’ll be a lot better at writing than I am today.
It’s a progression; a habit. … The more I practice it, … the more I learn.
That’s about as close as I can come to explaining faith and faithfulness.
For us, … faith is that first act; … like the first time I focused all my concentration
on making that first “A a”. … Then it’s on to the next act and the next.
Each act of faith grows us just a little.
With each act of faith … we become just a little more comfortable with acting out
our faith. … By persistence we get better; … but then the challenges to our faith
tend to get a little bigger also … and that’s good!
It’s like writing lessons. … The lessons I faced in fifth grade composition were a
lot tougher than those I conquered in third grade cursive. … The educational
system planned it that way. … It was a progression. … I was supposed to be
making progress with each lesson; … tackling tougher problems as I practiced.
Faith is a progression. … Each lesson is a little tougher than the last. … When that
progression becomes a habit, … or as Holman puts it; … “a virtue,” …
faith becomes faithfulness. … Faithfulness is a kind of running record of acting
on faith.
Another thing I noticed was that the Bible mentions God’s faithfulness many
times … but never states that God has faith … or acted on faith.
Faithfulness is a sign that, … through the Holy Spirit, … we’re taking on God’s
qualities; … having faith … or acting on faith … is not an attribute of God.
That’s our territory only. … God doesn’t need faith … and He doesn’t need to act
on faith … but He is faithful.

3

“Faith”, … according to Webster, … is “trust, confidence, complete acceptance of
a truth which cannot be demonstrated or proved by the process of logical thought.”
That’s why God doesn’t need faith. … He’s the author of all truth; … He was there
at the beginning … and He will be there at the end … or the Second Advent.
As a matter of fact, … concepts like beginning and ending … don’t have the same
relevance to God as they do to us; … because He exists beyond our sense of time
and space; … beyond past and future. … He knows the past and future because He
is in the past … and He is in the future.
He’s not “was” … or “going to be.” … He just is.
That perception defies our logic; … which is exactly why we need faith …
and He doesn’t!
Faithfulness is another matter. … Faithfulness signifies “reliability” …
or “trustworthiness to adhere to an original precept.”
Faithfulness, … on God’s side of the equation, … means that He can be trusted to
reliably complete what He started … or bring about what He promised.
Faithfulness; … on our side of the equation, … if faith is defined as “humanity’s
response to God,” … translates a reliability … in responding to God.
To respond to God by trusting that what He says is true and then acting upon it …
is faith. … To make a habit of reliably responding to God by trusting that what He
says is true and continually acting upon it, … is faithfulness.
Faithfulness then, … in the relationship between us and God, … is God reliably
doing what He says He will do … and us trusting that He will … and reliably …
acting on it.
So how do we develop the “virtue” of faithfulness?: … Practice, practice, practice!
Respond to God. … Trust that what He’s saying is true, … in spite of our ability to
justify it logically.
Act (another word for obey) … based on what we know God wants us to do …
and trust that He’ll keep His promise. … Do it over and over again until it becomes
part of our resume.
That’s faithfulness.
God doesn’t expect us to live a life of blind trust. … He’ll throw evidence our way
that our faith is working. … Be prepared!!!! …
Like I said, … this faithfulness stuff is a process. … Just when we think we’re
getting the hang of it, … a challenge comes along that our logic can’t cope with.
That’s why it’s called faith; … each step gets a little bigger.

4

I really don’t think that Jesus was just being metaphorical when He told His
disciples, … “…For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you
will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be
impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 20)
We make it a metaphor because we don’t believe it; … it defies our logic …
but that’s kind of the point of faith; … isn’t it?
What defies our logic right now? … What’s the situation we know we’re supposed
to do, … that we can’t do, … because it’s impossible?
If God says that nothing is impossible and we, … “respond to God” by obeying
Him even though the chances of success … “cannot be demonstrated or proved by
the process of logical thought.”
That my friend, … is acting on faith.
We act on faith, … God proves Himself faithful … and the task our logic told us
was impossible yesterday … is now possible.
Our logic readjusts and we’re ready to move up to the next … “impossible”
undertaking.
It’s a progression. … Keep at it long enough … and moving the mountain doesn’t
seem so metaphorical.
By-the-way, … I didn’t learn to write that day I scratched my first capital “A” on
the Red Man page. … I haven’t finished learning to write yet. … It’s a process, …
a progression.
If we think “faithfulness” began and ended the day we lifted our hand in Church
… or mouthed a silent prayer, … think again.
That was an act of faith; … our first … but not our last.
“Faithfulness” is a progression. … If we’re sitting fat and happy in the Christian
life and our faith hasn’t been challenged for a while, … we’d better check our
progress chart!
The Holy Spirit’s job is to mold us into the likeness of God. … How we know
that’s working is demonstrated when we start taking on attributes that belong to
God; … kindness, … goodness, … faithfulness; … the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“Fruit” means “produce” … “product” … or “result.” … The end result of the
Holy Spirit doing its work in us … is that we begin to take on the likeness of God.
It’s not a single event; … it’s a lifelong process.
I promise, … you and I are not there yet; … but we will be one day. … That’s the
way He meant for us to be in the beginning … and that’s the way we will to be in
the end.
AMEN

Year-End 2018 - 12/30/18

Pastor’s Corner 12 30 2018

The last Pastor’s Corner, I was amazed that Advent 2018 was already upon us. Well, this is even
more shocking to me; … 2018 is GONE!
Of course, that proclaims that 2019 is on us!
What will we do different in 2019 that will add our little part to the Kingdom of God?”
Well first, … we might just get our act together. We make these resolutions every year, whether
we want to admit it or not, and to what end. A year passes, … we didn’t follow through, …
everything remains the same.
Why is that? We mean well each January 1 st … but few of the task ever get done.
I would suggest that we are missing out on the number one priority for every year and that is to:
… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The
second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37, 39).
Do we really love the Lord like that? … We love our family, we love our boat, we love our
truck, we love our dog or cat. If that is the case, where have we left room for our Lord and
Savior, Jesus the Christ? See what I mean about “the number one priority for every year”.
Do we really love our neighbor as our self? We concern our self with personal home security,
many of us carry a firearm for protection, we build a fence, if not a wall, we teach our children
not to speak to strangers, we look with distrust at those who are not exactly like us in appearance
and speech … but do we really try to get to know that neighbor that we put so many barriers up
in front of?
I’m no exception; … I often find myself in this personal abyss.
What do you think 2019 would be like if once a week, we denied our self just one luxury and
gave that time, money or honor to God? What do you think 2019 would be like if just once a
week, we made it a priority to truly get to know a neighbor (that can be our next door neighbor
or a total stranger in the line at Walmart)?
That may not sound like much but that would amount to 52 extra acknowledgements of our Lord
and 52 souls that have now been affected by our walk with Jesus Christ. Take those and their
Godly acts that they apply to life around them … and the snow ball gets bigger and bigger!
Let’s pray for 2019 that we all can: … “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself”.
That resolution is one that will affect not only you and those close to you … but possibly the
World!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim

Advent "Hope" - 12/2/18

ADVENT “HOPE” 12 02 2018

Romans 5: 1-5

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who
know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater
to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself
comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus
comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons.)
Advent is the season of preparation for welcoming Jesus into our lives and into our
world. … Now, I worded that very carefully; … not as “the season of preparing for
Christmas” … but rather, … I jumped to the end point. … At Christmas, … we
celebrate that Jesus came, … the manger story, … the shepherds and angels, …
the gift given and then passed on.
The point of that, … or the application of that story for our lives today, … is we
welcome Jesus into our lives and into our world.
That we would be transformed by the living reality of God, with us.
Every moment, … every day, … every decision, action and purpose, … lived with
the reality of a God who loves us so much that He would leave Heaven and walk
this earth with us. … Christmas takes us to that place … of welcoming God into
our lives, … choosing to make Him the center … and so the season of Advent is
the season of preparing to welcome Jesus into our lives.
I began with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor killed just at the end of WWII
for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler because of his world view!
It begins with our need. … With our recognition that we need God to be a part of
our life, … that we know we are “poor and imperfect”, … that we need to be
rescued, … we need to be forgiven, … we need to be adopted by God and
transformed from slaves to children of our King.
One of Bonhoeffer’s account is those … “who look forward to something greater
to come.”
That line is all about hope.
A Kingdom of Hope:
This first week of Advent, … we focus our preparation on the theme of hope.
We lit the first candle, … which leads us in reflecting on the hope that we have; …
that just as God came once in flesh, … God still comes. … Our role, as “Joy To
The World” reminds us, … is to … “let every heart prepare Him room.”

2

Hope is one of those words that I always feel the need to re-define. …
In our daily use, … the word “hope” generally means; … “something I’m unsure
about, but would really be nice.”
For example, … “I hope it would be 76 degrees tomorrow”, … or … “I hope my
brother is in a better mood”, … possibly, … “I hope I get lots of Christmas
presents”.
When we turn to Scripture, … which we will in just a moment, … the word “hope”
carries a much different meaning.
In Scripture, … “hope as expectation of good is closely linked with trust… this
hope is not a consoling dream of the imagination… this hope is thus trust… this
hopeful trust is always demanded. The righteous are always referred to what God
will do, so that hope is not directed to anything specific, nor does it project its own
view of the future, but it consists rather in general confidence in God’s protection
and help.” (from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT)  , 2:522-
523).
We see the difference: … when Scripture uses the word “hope”, … it is a confident
assurance of something good in the future. … It is trust; … a trust based on the
character of God and the promises of God, … the “general confidence in God’s
protection and help”.
We need to keep that definition in mind as we read Romans 5:1-5: “Therefore,
since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ.  2  We have also obtained access through Him by faith into
this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  3  And
not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction
produces endurance,  4  endurance produces proven character, and proven
character produces hope.  5  This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love
has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
To unpack this Scripture: …
This is classic Romans; … jam packed with truth. … It is full of beautiful words
and concepts, like; … “declared righteous”, “faith”, “peace” “obtained access”,
“grace”, “rejoice”, “hope”, “endurance”, “character”.
We don’t have the time this morning to address each of those, so instead I want to
read the passage again, … this time from a different translation.
It unloads a number of those concepts in the translation … and helps us to
understand it a little better:

3

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace
with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  2  Because of our
faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now
stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they
help us develop endurance.  4  And endurance develops strength of character, and
character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5  And this hope will not lead
to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us
the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (New Living Translation)
Before narrowing our focus to the topic of hope, … I want to point out the passage
is focused on Jesus. … That is clear in vs. 1; … all of this is because of what Jesus
has done. … Also in vs. 2; … Jesus is the one who “brought us into this place”.
Vs. 5 brings us right back to that same focus; … now on God the Father and on the
Holy Spirit.
This is critical because that is where our hope comes from.
Our hope is not the; … “I hope it will be warmer soon” variety; … our hope is the
“my hope is in Jesus … and in Jesus everything will be good” variety.
We have confident assurance, … not wishful thinking … because Jesus came, …
died … and rose again!
What do we realize about hope?
With this foundation, … what does the Holy Scripture tell us about hope?
The last line in vs. 2 (in the first translation) says, … “we rejoice in the hope of the
glory of God”. …
The second translation declares; … “we confidently and joyfully look forward to
sharing God’s glory”.
It tells us that our hope is something to rejoice in, … to be excited about, …
to draw strength from because our road, … no matter what potholes, … mountains
… and struggles it may contain today; … our road leads to the glory of God!
That is our destination … because of what Jesus has done!
The second point we need to understand about hope … is that it is the end point of
the process that suffering causes us to go through. … Paul tells us that suffering
yields perseverance (or endurance), … next comes character, … and after character
comes hope. … When God allows us to go through suffering, … He wants to bring
us to hope (that may be difficult for some of us to grasp).

4

That makes sense when we remember this idea that hope is trust for the future
based on the character of God; … through suffering, … God’s desire is that we
come to rely on Him more than ourselves, … that we have this confident assurance
that because of God’s character, … everything will work out for good!
The last encouragement we grasp about hope is in vs. 5: … “this hope will not
disappoint us.”
Why?
Because of God’s love, … experienced in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
Our hope is solid. … Our hope is sure. … Our hope is a certainty; … it is as
certain as the very love of God for us.
How do we apply this?: …
What does it mean to live in hope? … This is where I tie back in to our theme of
the Kingdom of God. … We know we live, now, … in the Kingdom of God.
It is not just something for after we die. … Hope ties the “now”, … which is real
but incomplete … and the “not yet” together.
Hope is the anchor, … the cable that ties those two together.
We can live now … because of the hope we have for tomorrow, … which is based
on the character of God … which is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Living in hope is about trust, … it is about confident assurance, … it is even
about recognizing that whatever struggles and sufferings we face today, …
God’s love is stronger.
God’s love is permanent. … God’s love is constant … and that is something we
can hold on to.
AMEN

Advent - 12/2/2018

Pastor’s Corner 12 02 2018

Can you believe it; … here we are at the beginning of Advent 2018! I guess the saying; … “The
older you get, … the faster time flies” is becoming more relevant the older I get (how do you get
“70” to sound like middle age?).
Last Sunday, the congregation banded together to decorate the sanctuary for the Christmas
Season and what a GREAT job they did! It is absolutely beautiful!
But isn’t that what Christmas is?: … “Beautiful”. It is not only a beautiful time of the year with
all the Fall colors in their full glory … but it is the time we celebrate God coming down .. so we
can go up! If we believe there is beauty here in our community, … can we imagine the beauty of
Heaven?! Can we picture in our mind’s eye, the angels in all their magnificence, hurrying about
doing the Triune God’s work and the singing of His glory! Heaven is described as having streets
of gold … but that is only so we mere mortals can picture it … but when we get there, we will
see a reality that makes the image of gold look like mud. After the Second Advent when our
Spirit is reunited with our perfect physical body, we will behold not only our self but all of those
loved ones gone before us in a brilliance that is beyond our mortal comprehension!
This is the “Beauty” Jesus (the Second Person of the Triune Godhead) left to come to earth as a
simple human baby to an impoverished set of parents with His first home shared with stable
animals and what they leave behind, to lie in a bed of dirty straw rapped in rags for clothing.
Jesus left the majesty of Heaven behind to not only be born fully human into a situation that
would frighten us today … but to be on the earth for about 33 years to face the cross, nails,
thorns and suffocation.
He came down, … so we can go up!
16  “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who
believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3: 16
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim
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