Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mission of the Church

In his sermon on February 20, 2011, Pastor Collins spoke from Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As he has promised, Jesus meets his disciples on a mountain in Galilee. They worshipped him, though some doubted. Jesus claims all authority in heaven and on earth and then commissions his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them all he has commanded.

The mission is clearly stated and entrusted to the disciples, and to readers of the Gospel, who are obedient to the Lord’s command carry on the Lord’s mission with the promise of his presence and power. He commissioned the Disciples to go and make disciples for the kingdom just as he had done. The disciples’ community is authorized to “teach” in his name and is entrusted with “the works” of Jesus and the promise to be with us always to the end of the age.

by: Ahmad Stevenson
written for my 8th grade
Religion Class Essay

Monday, February 28, 2011

Discovering A Way in the Wilderness

Scripture Reference: Genesis 21:17-20

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

In this scripture we see that God's pity is greater than ours. Ishmael's moans and his cries pierce the heart of God. Vs.17 tells us "God heard the boy crying." The omniscient God hears every sound in the world. God, who revealed Himself to Hagar telling her Ishmael is alive, and promised, "I will make him into a great nation," God sees life flow through Ishmael for generations to come. God tells Hagar that He needs Ishmael as a link to future generations.

When God opened her eyes Hagar saw a well of water. Sadness and sorrow often have a blinding effect on us, cutting us off from reality. During times of gloom and despair the devil finds it easy to manipulate our feelings. This is why it is important that we praise God when misery and disaster falls upon us. Worshipping him will keep us in touch with reality. The well is there, the only thing we need is an eye-opener.

Isaiah 6:10 gives a clear picture of sin: It “Make the heart of this people callused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and be healed.” Isaiah was to awaken the people of Israel to the reality of their sinful condition. Sorrow, dejection and despair can have the same effect on us because they are an offspring of sin.

When God leaves us destitute of his direction and takes away his grace from us, we must ask, not only that he would bestow upon us such things as will be useful to us. That he will also teach caution to enable us to use them; otherwise, it will be our lot to faint, with closed eyes, in the midst of fountains.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meeting God on the Mountain

Scripture Reference:
Genesis  Chapter 31

There once was a man and a mountain. On that mountain, the man encounteed God and shared that experience, as best he could, with his brothers.

Jacob had been on the run when Laban, his father-in-law, caught up with him. It was not a pleasant encounter, but they talked things out. On the mountain, Jacob and Laban made peace and built a heap between them.  Then they parted, having taken an oath in the Name of th God of Abraham.

Then, Jacob worshipped God.  He did so by making a sacrifice.  He did so freely, not out of compulsion.

What if we were to mark great events in our life with worship?

Finally, they tarried.  There was not hurry about getting off the mountain.  there was no complusion to leave.  The time of fleeing was past.  It was time to tarry.

What if we slowed down and celebrated the presence of God? What if we took time to enjoy each other's company?  What if we were not in such a hurry?

Hurry was the characteristic of Jacob's flight from Laban's pursuit. It was no longer necessary.  He was free to worship, fellowship and tarry.

God is willing and able to bring this kind of peace and quiet to our lives as well, if we let Him.

Source: Master Sunday Bulletins

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holy Scripture tells this story about the wise men and the child Jesus:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, "In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 'And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.'"

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." 

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 
(Matthew 2:1-15, KJV)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recognize Where Your Help Comes From

Scripture Reference:
Psalm 121 (NIV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Three times each year, the men of Israel were to go to the temple and present themselves before the Lord. (See Deut. 16:16). The fifteen Psalms (120 through 134) are the songs of degrees, meaning, elevation, a journey to a higher place or go up, were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.

The first verse is referring to the City of Jerusalem located in the hill country of Israel. This city was the place that God had designated as His (See 2Chr. 6:6). Mount Zion, Moriah, and Olives are all names associated with the city of Jerusalem. The author is lifting his eyes to the one place designated as God’s dwelling place on earth.

“I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain” Joel 3:17. The Psalmist was not expecting help from the hills; he was expecting help from God. Many times when we pray, we raise our eyes toward heaven the place were our savior lives. However, God dwells in the believer through the Holy Spirit.

Believers should remember that our help comes from God the creator and master of the universe. God is our protector, in this scripture help mean to depend on Him. He is aware of each believer’s spiritual needs.

Satan never lets up he looks for every opportunity to attach. Nevertheless, God is forever present “He neither slumber nor sleep”. When night comes, our guard is down and we become confronted with temptation, do not worry you are not alone. God is there He is vigilant and will deliver and protect us.

This scripture tells us that God is forever, He never leaves us whether day or night. He has a hedge around us protecting us from all evil. He protects us from harm in the physical and spiritual existence. God is invincible, for the faithful it is impossible for the enemy to attack.

Christian friends we can trust in God completely for protection and guidance. “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time for the, and even for evermore.” God is with us for now and until the end shielding us from all harm.

by: Barbara Stevenson

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What A Blessing !

Scripture Reference
Ephesians 2:1-6
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

All of us at one time were the walking dead; we were controlled by the flesh, being used by Satan. Until we accepted Jesus in our lives, we were the devil’s tools on earth. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul reminds the Ephesians that they were followers of Lucifer doing his bidding on earth.

Believers today forget that they were once under enemy control; that as sinners we were doomed, separated from God. “Gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (verse 3). We must realize that as saints we have a new life we are born again; set apart for God’s use.

So many of us feel that because we attend church it is a reason to be treated special. We have the impression that God should be excited that we choose his side; with all of our old baggage; all of our worldly expertise. It is so amazing that He chose us when we were unlikable. While we were yet sinners, Jesus left glory, came to this earth, He became flesh and dwelled among. He who was sinless became sin so that we might live. Christ did what no man would do He willingly went to Calvary for us.

Paul tells the church of the wonderful blessing of God love bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ. By grace we were raised up and seated in heavenly places with Him. This stresses the divinely formed unity shared between Christ and Christians. What was accomplished in the past is still a reality today and forever.

As believers we should rejoice in the knowledge of Gods divine grace, and understand His immeasurable love for us. God’s love pursues us, makes a way for us, keeps us alive and does not give up on us until we finally accepts all that He wants to give us.

by: Barbara Stevenson

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why Gethsemane?

Scripture Reference
Matthew 26: 36-38

36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and sore troubled. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: abide ye here, and watch with me. (American Standard Version)

Jesus led His disciples out of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley and over to the Mount of Olives to a garden called Gethsemane. Gethsemane means "Olive Press", and most likely it was a walled olive grove where Jesus would go to be alone with His Father.

Eight of the disciples were left at the gate and told to pray. Jesus took the other three, Peter, James and John, with Him further into the garden to pray. These three chosen for the more intimate view of Christ's agony, had previously enjoyed a closer proximity than the others at the raising of Jairus' daughter, and upon the mount of transfiguration.

Pastor Collins, asked the question, “Why Gethsemane?” The Mount of Olives was intimately connected with the private, and devotional life of the Savior. There He often sat with His disciples, telling them of wondrous events yet to come, of the destruction of the Holy City; of the sufferings, the persecution, and the final triumph of His followers (Matthew. 24).

Jesus went to the garden to retire each evening for meditation, and prayer, and rest of body, when weary and harassed by the labors and trials of the day (Luke 21:37); The Garden of Gethsemane is considered the holy of hollies. The place where Christ went on the night of his betrayal to utter the wonderful prayer, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). And when the cup of God's wrath had been drunk, and death and the grave conquered, He led His disciples out again over the Mount of Olives as far as Bethany, and after a parting blessing ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:12).

The one purpose of Christ's coming into the world was to make an atonement, through death, for man's sin; Without Gethsemane there would be no agony of the cross. Christ in the garden, sinless and Holy God incarnate was able to perceive the horror of sin in a way we cannot. "Not as I will, but as thou wilt." This very human prayer gives insight into the sufferings of Christ and should enhance human appreciation of his unselfish deed.

As believers, we should be in awe of what we see in the Garden of Gethsemane, and we should be moved by that awe to surrender or wills, service and worship as we see the Father and Son’s Love in the plan of our redemption.