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If You Love Me…

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 (NIV)

The Lord expects us to display our love for Him, and it is to be a daily demonstration in the life of the Christian.

Those who believe Jesus is the Christ are born of God, and those people will love God and love their fellow believers. It is impossible for an unbeliever to truly love God, because they are not capable of it.

One of the displays of our love and affection toward God comes in the form of obedience. Obedience is one of the things God commands of His children. We know it is important because the command to obey the Lord and His Word appears more than 30 times in the New Testament alone! When we love Him we will obey His commands to respond in love toward Him and also to love others.

If you are like me, you struggle with obedience. I have a really hard time obeying in every incidence, even when I know I should. I suspect there are times I allow my emotions to rule over my theological understanding, and so I decide to do what I want to do, rather than following the Scriptures. Those are decisions and choices I think we face multiple times a day! In fact, there are times when disobedience becomes habitual and my heart becomes calloused in a particular area. It is for this reason that regular self-examination is needed.

There is nothing like a time of self-examination to bring humility into my life. Sitting with the Lord and asking Him to open my heart before Him as David did:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind Psalm 26:2 (NASB)

I also take time to consider my interactions with others; has a friend commented on something I said or did as not being very Christ-like? Did I react or did I respond with gracious consideration? I am bound by my love for God to consider if those who rebuke or correct me are acting as “Nathan’s” in my life (2 Samuel 12). Are they God’s mouthpiece in those moments?

If you are unsure if someone has pointed out sin or their preference, go to the Word for clarification. It is important to note that we are not bound to obey someone’s extra-biblical expectation, but to obey God’s clearly laid out commands in the Bible.

Perhaps your conviction is heavy by this point in your reading. I don’t mean to add to your burden, but to reveal it and to help you to lighten your load (Galatians 6:1-2). It is so important that we confess our sin to God, and that our known sin is confessed prior to partaking in the communion elements. We must not make light of the sacrifice of the Lord’s sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:27-30), so agree with Him where sin is present in your life. Take that opportunity to move forward in the grace that He provides.

All of these are disciplines of the Christian life and should be a regular part of your sanctification journey. If you are having a “dry spell” in your spiritual life, you are slipping into old behavior patterns as a result or if the fires are burning low, ask the Lord to examine your heart for disobedience.

With confession and repentance, you will find you have a renewed desire to love, serve, and obey the Lord. You may experience a passionate ignition for the Word and for righteousness as a result. He is faithful to reward those who seek Him.  Spend some time today in self-examination, and remember to express your love for Him.

Finding Hope in Hopeless Situations

My daily meetings with women make it clear that many of you are living with circumstances that you believe are beyond your ability to tolerate.

My goal is to give you hope. Hope is at the center of the gospel story! Hope is found in the resurrection. We must always remember to give hope to people in desperate circumstances. A lack of hope is the reason people commit suicide. They can see no way out, and no change looms on the horizon, so they choose a permanent solution to what they do not understand is truly a temporary situation. I am not being insensitive here, but suicide is not God’s will or His way of handling any situation, no matter how hopeless it appears.

We face many things that feel hopeless; abuse, rape, drunkenness, and so on. Even in these horrible circumstances, hope can be found. One woman told me that her sexual assault was what brought her to Christ, another said her family history of drunkenness and being shuffled to relatives all around the country is what exposed her to the gospel.

Last week I wrote an article about how means all things for the good of the Christian. He allows things for the purpose of our being conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). What a source of hope and security these two verses are! No matter what challenge, pain, or hurt we face along the way, we can be confident that God is using it to prosper us in some way. It is for this reason that I can say with confidence that God is concerned with how we go through things. This is an anchor in the storms of life to know that God is at work for our ultimate good and the fulfillment of His good promises.

When we find security in the God we know and love, we also see with eyes of faith beyond the sorrow and suffering we are experiencing.  We can see the Father who never forgets His child, His plan, or His purposes.

When we take our eyes off the Lord and focus on the present hurt or circumstance, the result is insecurity. We forget the big picture of sanctification and are swallowed up by the fears and fantasies of our minds. This brings hopelessness and even panic. We lose sight of the God of the universe as sovereign and omnipotent, and we begin to think of Him as confused and impotent!

If you have lost your focus begin by returning to the Word and diligent prayer. Suffering and hardship cannot bring our lives to a grinding halt; we must adjust and move on. We must take the initiative and do whatever we can do humanly speaking as well, and then leave the rest to the Lord.

As you read the Word, you will begin to think as He thinks. You will begin to desire what He desires and this will lead you to Christ-like responses.

If this seems impossible to you, I would ask you to consider the type of input that may be affecting your attitude. If you spend more time watching television and reading books and only a few minutes (or no minutes) reading the Bible, you will not see God’s purpose or plan for you. It’s just not possible to respond with a godly response when you have little to no godly input.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday… Psalm 37:4-6 (NASB)

Commit your life to Him, not only on Sunday or when it is convenient; do it every day of your life. Trust God to take over your world, your home, your children, job, and anything else that you have and do. When you actively and joyfully do this, He will direct your thoughts, plans, and dreams for the day. Yield to Him all that He has graciously allowed you to have and be a steward over. He is completely trustworthy, and loves you deeply.

Yielding also means being flexible. Pray, and submit your plan to God for His approval. Remember that He is the Author of your days, and if He changes your plans seek to see His hand in the new plan and submit to His will. It is not important why God does this, just graciously submit to His will with thanksgiving.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)

Julie is the Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center and a member of FCC.

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That He May Silence The Enemy

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have ordained strength,

Because of Your enemies

That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

In God’s plan to conquer the world — you do know that He has placed all things under the authority of His Son Jesus, and that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, right? It’s in the Bible 🙂 — in His plan to conquer the world, the humble and weak exult over the arrogant and strong. The enemy and the avenger, those who prey on the weak, who are proud and have no fear of God, are shut up by the praise of little children. This is true and absolute victory, and it is as sure as the Word of God.

May, 2018. There have been two recent news stories from out of the UK regarding small children with grave deformities who, though their parents wished to take them out of the UK to countries where physicians were willing to treat the children, the parents were nonetheless barred by the British High Court from moving their children elsewhere to seek treatment. If you wish to research these events, the children’s names were Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans. Charlie Gard died on July 28, 2017. Alfie Evans died April 28, 2018.

The details of their stories are heart-crushing and infuriating, and this is not only an English Single-Payer Socialized Medicine problem. Neglect and euthanasia may be technically against the law in Kansas and Missouri, but don’t doubt for a second that it happens in secret, with the knowledge, if not the active participation, of doctors, nurses, insurance companies, and politicians. Terri Schiavo was starved to death at the order of an American judge in Florida, though her parents wished to keep caring for her. This is an American sin, too.

As with all sin, not only is the murder and abandonment of the weak a despicable wickedness and injustice in its own right, but it tells a lie about God. When parents murder their unborn children in abortion, they are telling a lie about the fatherhood of God. When governments execute the innocent under their jurisdiction, they are telling a lie about the justice of God.

In Justin Clark’s Sunday School class on the early church, he took us through The Letter To Diognetus, an early apologetic defense of Christianity to the Romans. In it, the author observes that Christians “marry, and have children, but do not destroy their offspring,” that is, in contrast with the Greco-Roman practices of abortion and child exposure. Child exposure was simply taking a baby out to the wilderness, and leaving him to die, by starvation, predation, or by heat or cold exposure. Other early A.D. writings attest to the Christian practice of rescuing the children abandoned to the elements.

This set the early Christians apart. By this they bore witness to the God who loves the weak.

For us here at FCC, in Kansas City, Middle America, I want to zero in on five things we can do to bear witness for God in the face of these horrors, and stand with the great cloud of Christian witnesses who went before us:

(1) If you have participated in abortion or in the abandonment of someone who was frail and helpless, repent. Name your sin, confess it, without any self-justification or rationalization agree with God that it is heinous, and receive God’s forgiveness in the name of Jesus.

(2) Prepare to be deliverers of the weak.

1 Timothy 5:8 reads:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

Christian men, this is part of our duty to provide for our families: preparation. Think through the scenarios of caring for your families should they need exceptional medical care. Make sure your medical providers also uphold the dignity of life, and affirm with you that starving, suffocating, or euthanizing the infirm is murder. Be on the lookout for these dangers, before they come.

(3) Pray imprecatory Psalms.

If you’re not already regularly praying Scripture as a practice, please do! Praying Scripture will shape your love for God, will shape your desires to be in accordance with His will, and will help Scripture take root in your soul.

In the face of abortion, abandonment, needless and unjust violence, how many thousands of times have you felt helpless. It’s in these circumstances we should turn to the imprecatory Psalms, and pray God’s vengeance against the darkness. Imprecation means “cursing,” and the Psalms are full of imprecation against God’s enemies. The most widely recognized imprecatory Psalms are Pss 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140.

Both Jesus and Paul appeal to the imprecatory Psalm 69 (see John 2:17, 15:25; Romans 11:9-10, 15:3). The Apostles turned to the imprecatory Psalm 109:8 to guide them in replacing Judas (Acts 1:20).

Plead with God to arise in His anger to deliver the helpless (Psalm 7:6), to make the oppressor quake with fear and feel the indignation of God (Psalm 69: 23), to put to shame and confusion those who pursue the innocent (Psalm 70:2), to bring to ruin and swift judgment those who persecute the innocent (Psalm 109).

This does not preclude wishing for the repentance of the wicked. Pray for that too. But as with Church Discipline, when we have come to the place of seeing only hardness of heart and arrogant defiance against the God of Heaven, we ask God to ride to war to defend His name as the God of righteousness, the protector of the orphan and widow.

(4) Stand with Stand With Faith.

Proverbs 24:11-12 reads:

Deliver those who are drawn toward death,

And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”

Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?

He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?

And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

Every month members from FCC gather outside Planned Parenthood and bear witness to the Good News that God has come to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, to forgive sins, and to defend the helpless. We cannot run in and save the babies being murdered, but we can stand as witnesses to the truth. Come out and stand, pray, evangelize, and witness.

(5) Give to the benevolence fund.

If Americans continue to devalue human life even further, the institutions we as Americans have relied upon to care for the disabled and infirm – social welfare and medical insurance programs, public and private homes for the disabled, etc. – will officially and openly begin to abandon and murder those who need extraordinary intervention. We, together as a church, will have to come together to support each other financially as we obey God in caring for the poor and the weak.

Let not any of us say, “I didn’t know.” Let us bear witness to the truth, and let us do what we can to rescue those being carried off to the slaughter. And let the enemy and avenger be shut up by the praise of infants and nursing babes.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC. Joe is Kate’s husband, and father of four. 

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When Fear Overtakes You

The first time my husband went to Africa a few years ago, it was pretty horrible here without him. He believes Satan was attacking each of the four people on the trip weeks before they left, but especially while they were gone. I ran our family business while he was gone and there was a car accident in a snowstorm among other problems while he was away. I was terribly sick while trying to work full time and still keep up our home with our four kids (including school work, meals, etc). We also received the news that my mother in law’s cancer had spread to her brain. So when he told me that he was asked to go back this past winter, my first thought was to wonder what could go wrong with this trip.

We began praying more intentionally for this trip and for all 3 team members who were going this time. We also set up an agreement with one another so that I would not send him bad news until we were able to establish voice contact with each other. The first trip was not only hard on me, but on him since he was getting messages, but not able to communicate back for several days

Fortunately, communication technology was much improved this trip.For the first part of the trip we were able to talk each day. I looked forward to hearing what work was being accomplished there and he was grateful to hear things were going smoothly here. We didn’t have many problems at home this trip either, which we accounted to God’s goodness and answers to many praying for us.The first Saturday he was there, he was able to contact me a second time. He had checked in at bedtime like he has been doing each day and then again when he was awoken in the middle of the night by a huge cockroach crawling across his hand. He was unable to sleep after that so he could talk an extra time that day.

Then, at 3:30 am Kansas City time, my phone rang with a What’sApp call from my husband. I wasn’t sure what time it was there, but I figured it would have to be early morning by then. I answered by saying “Hello” and then said,“John, are you there?” Trying not to wake anyone else up, I went to our living room repeatedly saying, “John are you there? Is everything okay?” I just kept hearing banging; like things being thrown around the room. Lots of noise here and there, but no talking. I finally said, “John, can you talk? You’re scaring me. Is someone there?” Still nothing. All of a sudden I heard John say “I smell gas” in a really low voice. I freaked out and started crying. I have never been this frightened before in my life. I had this picture in my mind. The group all hiding under a table or something while some armed people were robbing them all while threatening to catch the place on fire after. It was horrible. I did not know what to do. I kept saying, “Please just say you’re okay and tell me why I have to listen to this. I did not know what to do.”

So then I did a selfish thing – I went downstairs and woke up my 17-year old daughter. Remember this is 3:40 am and I am sobbing and shaking. I told her something was wrong in Africa and that her dad had said he smelled gas and that he was not saying anything since that. We sat there listening to more loud noises, like metal hitting the floor over and over. I was thankful for the cockroach that woke him up so we could say that we loved each other earlier. She suggested we stop and pray together. Thank you Lord for giving me this child who reminded me what was most important in my time of need. We prayed out loud and cried harder. Then through the phone we heard liquid pouring and I lost it. I decided I should try to call another friend in Africa to go and check on them. Right when Ashlyn agreed that was a good idea, the phone call ended. I lost it again! I don’t think I have ever felt this kind of sadness before. Nothing can compare to the helplessness I felt. I couldn’t figure out why he would have me listen to this and just not say anything but “I smell gas.” Why would God allow this to be the last time I heard his voice?

About a minute later, my husband called and asked if I had called him. He sounded completely normal.How could this be? I told him that he had called me and explained why I was crying so hard. He couldn’t believe it. He said that his phone had been in the kitchen on the counter far from where he was standing and that he was trying to get the gas stove to work. Yes, he spoke out loud to himself and said, “I can smell gas” in the process, but he had no idea I was on the phone listening. He asked if the sound I heard was a specific loud banging he could reproduce. Yes, it was the same noise we had been listening to over and over, it was just the door to the kitchen! He was also clicking the stove over and over which makes a loud noise too. The worst part was that he was making hot tea so when he poured the water into a kettle near the phone, it made a liquid pouring sound! Yep, the part I had envisioned as gas being poured all over the house was just tea. I couldn’t believe it. They were making breakfast before church where he was going to preach and everything was fine. I kept crying and was able to talk to him for about 10 minutes which was the longest time since he has been gone. I left my daughter to fall back asleep and then went back to bed to try to sleep (which was impossible). Why did this all happen? How could I imagine something that seemed so real?And how did I not once think that he accidentally called me?

When fear begins to creep in and all the “what-if” situations begin to consume our minds, there are several things we need to remember:

  1. God’s truth. Is what I’m thinking about really happening? Or is it just my imagination running wild? Paul reminds us to dwell on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (Phil 4:8)
  2. God’s presence. We can be comforted remembering that we are not alone. God is with us. “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength. (Psalm 31:1-4)
  3. God’s sovereignty. God is in control over every situation in our lives.“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”(Eph 1:11-12)
  4. God’s trustworthiness. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)
  5. God’s grace. God promises to provide us with his all-sufficient grace for every trial that comes our way. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” Jesus told Paul. And therefore, with Paul, we can “boast all the more gladly of [our] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [us.]” (2 Cor 12:9)

Prepare yourself for battle before your fear happens. Don’t let the enemy use fear to seize you and take you captive. Fight him off with the promises of God’s word and His unchanging character. And remember these things in your moment of fear!

 

Deanna Hanson is a member of FCC and helps with our website. She and her husband, John, have four children and own a small business in North Kansas City.

 

 

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The Gospel Cordial

An excerpt from a sermon entitled “The Gospel Cordial,” delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington on Lord’s Day Evening, September 20th, 1863. Available for free from the Christians Classics Etheral Library: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/proverbs.xlv.html

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. —Proverbs 31:6, 7.

[T]here is most comforting cordial in the Gospel. Dr. Watts truly sings—

Salvation! oh, the joyful sound!
‘Tis pleasure to our ears;
A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for our fears.

I will take first, the case of a true believer in Jesus who is sorely tried with cares and losses and crosses. I will suppose that you have come in here to-night dreading what may happen to you to-morrow. Perhaps your trouble my brother, is that your business is failing and that want is staring you in the face. Possibly you, my sister, are sorrowing over that dear child who lies in her little coffin in the quiet room upstairs at home. Or it may be that you, my friend, have a sick wife, and day by day you see fresh signs and tokens of the great loss that is surely awaiting you. I cannot mention all the causes of sad heart in the believing members of this great assembly, but my Master has sent me here with his own blessed cordial, which is more than sufficient to comfort every sorrowing saint here.

Remember beloved, that all that happens to you comes in the course of divine providence. Your loving heavenly Father has foreseen, foreknown, and I venture to say, foreordained it all. The medicine you have to drink is very bitter, but the unerring Physician measured all the ingredients drop by drop, and then mixed them in the very way in which they could best work for your highest good. Nothing in this world happens by chance. That great God – who sitteth upon the circle of the heavens, to whom all things that he hath made are but as the small dust of the balance, who maketh the clouds his chariot, and rideth upon the wings of the wind – that same God careth for you with such special care that he has even numbered the very hairs of your head and put your tears in his bottle. You may therefore rest assured that even those experiences which are causing you so much sorrow are all in accordance with his eternal counsel and decree. Doth not this divine cordial make you forget your poverty and remember your misery no more?

I might keep on all night trying thus to comfort tried saints, but I must content myself by giving them just one more sip of this divine cordial, and that shall be this – remember how soon all these trials will be over. Be of good courage, weary pilgrim; the heavenly mansion where thou art to rest for ever is almost in sight; and thou mayest well sing—

My Father’s house on high,
Home of my soul! how near,
At times, to faith’s foreseeing eye,
Thy golden gates appear!

How fast the years fly by, and our trials and troubles are flying just as fast. Beloved, Paul truly wrote concerning “our light affliction which is but for a moment;” for after all, our afflictions are only like a troubled dream, a little starting in the sleep of life, and then we wake to sleep no more for ever. This world is, to the believer, like a country inn by the wayside, where there are many constantly coming and going, and there are such disturbing noises that no one can rest. Well, never mind, thou art only tarrying there for one short night, and then thou shalt be up and away to thine eternal home, to go no more out for ever. Will not this divine cordial make thee forget thy poverty and remember thy misery no more?

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Be Encouraged to Persevere

Life in this sin cursed world can be downright difficult at times. One of my favorite go-to verses on these occasions is Psalm 42:11, “Why are you in despair O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” “Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him” are words to cling too! There will, in the future, be cause to rejoice even though my soul is, at the moment, grieved to the point of despair. The last part of the verse says:  the help of my countenance and my God” – the God who gives us hope even helps our countenance!

When you were a child, did you ever play with those colorful magnetic letters? I did. I decided to put them to use again when I became a mom. Growing up my dad used to remind me, on a regular basis, that I needed to preach to myself. We are blessed, as a church, to have a pastor and elders who do the same thing for us. Our emotions can’t be trusted, they are so easily effected by our circumstances, but God’s word can be trusted!  It needs to be our focus, our meditation, our trust, and our confidence so we can persevere. “Persevere” is a word I have on my refrigerator, written in magnetic letters, as a reminder that I must keep pressing on and “keep believing” as Pastor Tim so often reminds us. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9). Verse 10 goes on to say…”so then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”(Galatians 6:10). When we are doing good things for others, especially our fellow believers, it helps us take our eyes off our circumstances. This in turn reminds us that it is the Lord Christ we serve (Colossians 3:24) and in serving others we serve Him.

As Christians we are engaged in a battle. Paul reminds us of whose strength we fight in, of our armor and the importance of prayer in Ephesians 6:10-18:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of the wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Paul then reminds us of what prayer can accomplish in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Our battle is waged in the mind! In Romans 8:6 we are told, “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” and in the book of Isaiah 26:3-4 we see that “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”

I find singing and meditating on hymns that contain sound doctrine is another way to focus my mind on the truth of God’s word. Two of my favorites are Solid Rock by Edward Mote and He Giveth More Grace by Annie Johnson Flint. The second verse of He Giveth More Grace says…”When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Fathers full giving is only begun.”

Let us keep our minds fixed on the white part of the rope which extends throughout eternity and not the small red part which represents our short life here on earth. (In case you missed it, check out Pastor Tim’s Easter Sunday sermon on Sermon Audio)., so that we can one day say with the Apostle Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

“Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13.

 

Jackie Rebiger is a member of FCC.  She and her husband, Scott, have ten children and five grandchildren.

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Excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, April 24

“And because of all this we make a sure covenant.”

Nehemiah 9:38

There are many occasions in our experience when we may very rightly, and with benefit, renew our covenant with God. After recovery from sickness when, like Hezekiah, we have had a new term of years added to our life, we may fitly do it. After any deliverance from trouble, when our joys bud forth anew, let us again visit the foot of the cross, and renew our consecration. Especially, let us do this after any sin which has grieved the Holy Spirit, or brought dishonour upon the cause of God; let us then look to that blood which can make us whiter than snow, and again offer ourselves unto the Lord. We should not only let our troubles confirm our dedication to God, but our prosperity should do the same. If we ever meet with occasions which deserve to be called “crowning mercies” then, surely, if he hath crowned us, we ought also to crown our God; let us bring forth anew all the jewels of the divine regalia which have been stored in the jewel-closet of our heart, and let our God sit upon the throne of our love, arrayed in royal apparel. If we would learn to profit by our prosperity, we should not need so much adversity. If we would gather from a kiss all the good it might confer upon us, we should not so often smart under the rod. Have we lately received some blessing which we little expected? Has the Lord put our feet in a large room? Can we sing of mercies multiplied? Then this is the day to put our hand upon the horns of the altar, and say, “Bind me here, my God; bind me here with cords, even forever.” Inasmuch as we need the fulfilment of new promises from God, let us offer renewed prayers that our old vows may not be dishonoured. Let us this morning make with him a sure covenant, because of the pains of Jesus which for the last month we have been considering with gratitude.

~

Evening, April 24

“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

Song of Solomon 2:12

Sweet is the season of spring: the long and dreary winter helps us appreciate its genial warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights. After periods of depression of spirit, it is delightful to behold again the light of the Sun of Righteousness; then our slumbering graces rise from their lethargy, like the crocus and the daffodil from their beds of earth; then is our heart made merry with delicious notes of gratitude, far more melodious than the warbling of birds–and the comforting assurance of peace, infinitely more delightful than the turtle’s note, is heard within the soul. Now is the time for the soul to seek communion with her Beloved; now must she rise from her native sordidness, and come away from her old associations. If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favourable, we shall be blameworthy: times of refreshing ought not to pass over us unimproved. When Jesus himself visits us in tenderness, and entreats us to arise, can we be so base as to refuse his request? He has himself risen that he may draw us after him: he now by his Holy Spirit has revived us that we may, in newness of life, ascend into the heavenlies, and hold communion with himself. Let our wintry state suffice us for coldness and indifference; when the Lord creates a spring within, let our sap flow with vigour, and our branch blossom with high resolve. O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from thee. Oh! the long and dreary winter, when wilt thou bring it to an end? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul! quicken thou me! restore me, and have mercy on me! This very night I would earnestly implore the Lord to take pity upon his servant, and send me a happy revival of spiritual life!

Public Domain, Published on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Posted in: Bible study

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Brother

Will you sit with me in the ashes?

Can you wait it out; be silent,
As I wonder what comes next?

Will you hold my hand and squeeze it,
Fearless of the tears that come?
Will you hold me up and ceaseless pray
Until this day is done?

Will you dress my wounds with Scripture,
Doing all you do in love;
Taking my hand gently to help me stand back up?

Will you sit with me in the ashes?
And proclaim God’s character to me;
Remind me of His endless grace
And boundless love for me?

Will you stand firm beside me, and not grow weary or lose heart;
Encourage and point me to the One, who knows my walk is hard?

Will you sit with me in the ashes?
Until this day is through,
And my God has brought me through this,
Using all that you did do?

Svea Goertzen

Amidst trial, I sought solace in the book of Job. I ultimately landed on these verses in Job 2. . .

11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

. . . and I ultimately landed at the same campground that Job found himself when his friends showed up to comfort him. I was struck by the fact that Job’s friends were just that—friends. They cared about him; came to comfort him; wept for him; and, finally sat down with him on the ground silently, “for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Then, each, in turn, opened his mouth and put his foot right in. It occurred to me that, like the Israelites, they can become easy targets—it’s easy to point a finger and judge these men who ultimately failed their friend with their words, but, just as quickly, I find myself doing the same thing. I guess what drives this home is just the sort of trial where a longsuffering friend sits down beside me in the ashes.

So, I set about to prepare a litmus test (for me too), of what a suffering brother or sister in Christ needs from me—according to what I saw in the verses above. The words I wrote above are a pleading for that kind of friend; an exhortation to be that kind of friend; and, finally, a grateful heart—for there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are uniquely qualified to be that kind of friend—and they are a dear provision from God.

 

Svea Goertzen is a member of FCC and works for Faith Christian Academy. She and her husband, Steve, have two daughters.

Posted in: Poetry

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“A Slave-Trader Who Wrote Christian Lyrics” from The Story of Our Hymns

By Ernest Edwin Ryden – Public Domain

The Name above All Names, John Newton, 1779

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis Manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary Rest.

Dear Name! the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding-place;
My never-failing Treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace.

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled:
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death.

~

In one of England’s famous old churches there is a tablet marking the last resting-place of one of its rectors, and on the tablet this epitaph:

“John Newton, clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa,
was, by the rich Mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored,
pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.”

This inscription, written by Newton himself before his death, tells the strange story of the life of the man who wrote “How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds,” and scores of other beautiful hymns.

Newton was born in London, July 24, 1725. His father was a sea captain.His mother, a deeply pious woman, though frail in health, found her greatest joy in teaching her boy Scripture passages and hymns. When he was only four years old he was able to read the Catechism.

The faithful mother often expressed the hope to her son that he might become a minister. However, when the lad was only seven years of age, the mother died, and he was left to shift largely for himself. On his 11th birthday he joined his father at sea, and made five voyages to the Mediterranean. Through the influence of evil companions and the reading of infidel literature, he began to live a godless and abandoned life.

Being pressed into the navy when a war seemed imminent, young Newton deserted. He was captured, however, and flogged at the mast, after which he was degraded.

At this point his life teems with reckless adventures and strange escapes. Falling into the hands of an unscrupulous slave-dealer in Africa, he himself was reduced practically to the abject condition of a slave. In his misery he gave himself up to nameless sins. The memory of his mother, however, and the religious truths which she had implanted in his soul as a child gave his conscience no peace.

The reading of “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas à Kempis, also exerted a profound influence over him, and a terrifying experience in a storm at sea, together with his deliverance from a malignant fever in Africa, served to bring the prodigal as a penitent to the throne of mercy.

After six years as the captain of a slaveship, during which time Newton passed through many severe struggles in trying to find peace with God through the observance of a strict moral life, he met on his last voyage a pious captain who helped to bring him to a truer and deeper faith in Christ.

For nine years at Liverpool he was closely associated with Whitefield and the Wesleys, studying the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, and occasionally preaching at religious gatherings of the dissenters. In 1764 he was ordained as curate of Olney, where he formed the famous friendship with the poet William Cowper that gave to the world so many beautiful hymns.

It was at Newton’s suggestion that the two undertook to write a hymn-book. The famous collection known as “The Olney Hymns,” was the result of this endeavor. Of the 349 hymns in this book, Cowper is credited with sixty-six, while Newton wrote the remainder. “How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds” appeared for the first time in this collection. It is a hymn of surpassing tenderness, and ranks among the finest in the English language.

Other notable hymns, by Newton are: “Come, my soul, thy suit prepare,” “Approach, my soul, the mercy-seat,” “While with ceaseless course the sun,” “One there is above all others,” “For a season called to part,” “Safely through another week,” “On what has now been sown,” “May the grace of Christ our Saviour,” “Though troubles assail us, and dangers affright,” “Day of judgment, day of wonders,” and “Glorious things of thee are spoken.”

Newton’s life came to a close in London in 1807, after he had served for twenty-eight years as rector of St. Mary Woolnoth. Among his converts were numbered Claudius Buchanan, missionary to the East Indies, and Thomas Scott, the Bible commentator. In 1805, when his eyesight began to fail and he could no longer read his text, his friends advised him to cease preaching. His answer was: “What! shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?”

When he was nearly eighty years old it was necessary for a helper to stand in the pulpit to help him read his manuscript sermons. One Sunday Newton had twice read the words, “Jesus Christ is precious.” “You have already said that twice,” whispered his helper; “go on.” “John,” said Newton, turning to his assistant in the pulpit, “I said that twice, and I am going to say it again.” Then the rafters rang as the old preacher shouted, “Jesus Christ is precious!”

Newton’s whole life may be said to be summed up in the words of one of his appealing hymns:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found–
Was blind, but now I see.

Posted in: Biography

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Orchestrated Ironing

An Original Poem

Who is the one with loving care,
that watches o’er us everywhere?

The one with understanding eyes
that lifts our burdens to the skies.

Whose hands create our very lives
and ears can hear our fervent cries.

For peace on earth and peace of mind,
for open hearts and eyes not blind.

Who is this body hung up by nails,
where at his feet a woman wails.

The one that’s mocked and crucified
by those He loves, for whom He dies.

Who is this man so plain, so pure,
He is the Son of God, I’m sure

– Autumn, 1964

Several weeks prior to writing the verses above, I had come home from a long day at work and was eager to get changed into comfortable clothes and relax.

As I reached into the closet for my favorite snuggly sweater, I noticed a small basket of laundry still needing to be ironed. I thought to myself, “I am just too tired to tackle this tonight.” However, as I was closing the closet door, I noticed one of the items in the basket was a blouse I had intended to wear to work the next day. I paused for a moment, gave a sigh and then decided if I could find an interesting TV program to watch, surely I could endure ironing my blouse and a few other items.

I turned on the television, set up my ironing board and went to the kitchen. When I returned, the program being televised featured a choir singing beautiful hymns. I felt refreshed by the music and the ironing was no longer a task.

After the choir finished singing, a very young Billy Graham stepped up to the podium to pray before delivering his message for the evening. His opening statement said he would be preaching on the blood of Christ. He proceeded to explain why it was necessary for Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, to shed his innocent blood as an atonement for man’s sin: without the shedding blood, there could be no atonement.

Never before had I heard a message on the necessity of Christ’s blood being shed in order for man’s sin’s to be forgiven. This was a pivotal point in my life and a prelude to my salvation.

I am overwhelmed by God’s immense love, patience and great mercy. God is omnipotent, having ultimate power and influence. That fall evening in 1964, I believe the Lord orchestrated “an evening of ironing” for me. It was the exact right time and place for me to hear one of God’s servant messengers enlighten the eyes of my understanding: man’s sin could only be atoned for by Christ’s blood being shed on the cross.

I am so very thankful for all the individuals, family members and various ministries throughout the years who have invested in my life and prayed for me.

My prayer for myself, my family and others is this: may we learn to align our will with God’s and live our lives in His priorities.

Lord God – I am most thankful to you for shedding your precious Blood for me, forgiving my sins and saving my soul.

Sharon Feiser is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Christian Living

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The Face of Faith

Years ago, while on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I noticed something that I have often thought about since.  How is it that we communicate so much non-verbally?  Most have heard that non-verbal communication plays a large part in the way humans communicate, the face being of primary importance. While in a country that speaks a different language, this becomes evident.

My two friends, one after the other, were sharing their testimonies of God’s work in their lives at a church service.  There was a translator that would repeat each phrase in Spanish after my friends each would say a phrase in English.  What struck me was the look on each of their faces as they were sharing.  The glow of the Holy Spirit shone through as they were speaking and waiting for translation.  I remember thinking that the testimony of their faces was so convincing of changed lives from darkness to light and that the words being interpreted were just to give the details.  The look on their faces needed no interpretation!

I have mentioned that to others as we go on mission trips around the world. The look on our faces will communicate volumes to those we meet and interact with.

As we look at scripture related to this, I see a couple of things. First, there is a look on a face that communicates evil.  Regarding the wicked kings of Israel, Isaiah 3:9 says: “The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it.”  Other emotions can come across on your face as well, including fear, anger, irritation, disinterestedness, surprise, and many others.  The second look on a face in the Bible that catches my attention and reminds me of my friends on the mission trip, is the look on Stephen’s face as he was being stoned for his faith.  Acts 6:15 says, they “saw his face like the face of an angel.”  This glowing face reminds us of Moses as he would come down the mountain after being in the presence of God.  Now in the new covenant, having the Spirit of God living in us, as believers, our faces are affected – or at least should be!

There is a transformation that occurs as we behold the glory of the Lord, and we are being changed or sanctified as we live this life in Christ.  1Cor 4:6 says that “God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of glory of God in the face of Christ.”

May the Lord’s face shine through us as we interact with one another and with a lost world – with faces of faith!

 

Dr. Brent Evers is an Elder at FCC. He and his wife, Cari, have three children.

Posted in: Christian Living

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