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January 16, 2022
At the third station of the cross, the way from the garden of grief to the garden of gladness, Jesus stands trial before Israel’s high priest, one who sadly, had already made up his mind about Jesus. Because so many have already done the same, Jesus still stands trial today by people unable or unwilling to see Him beyond a closed mind. Jesus stands trial every time we “turn our nose up” to His words, every time we think we’ve heard it all before, every time we’re too full to taste anymore, every time we’re so secure we no longer need a refuge. But there is hope! Jesus says, “you all will see!” Revealing himself for who He is, He loves us too much to leave us unchallenged and unchanged.
January 9, 2022
Jesus doesn’t play by our rules; he startles and surprises us; he will not be “tamed.” We can either accept and rest in this, or — we can stumble over it, falling into either trying to control him or to counter (stop) him. Judas and the other disciples chose the first option, the crowd and those who sent them chose the later; neither worked! We can try to control Jesus; we can come against Jesus, but we will never stop Jesus! We do better to embrace Jesus!
January 2, 2022
To journey with Jesus, to say "be glorified in me," is to journey with Him from the garden of Gethsemane to the garden tomb, from saying "not my will but thine" to saying "into your hands I commend my Spirit." It's to journey with Jesus from the prayer of surrender to the place of surrender - and every point in between, those points what have commonly been called the stations of the cross: the significant intersections and encounters Jesus had on the way to dying for us.
December 26, 2021
Joseph's dream ends with the angel declaring the central message of the Gospel and the hope of all who've put their trust in Emmanuel, the son Mary bore: Jesus Saves! He willingly does what we cannot do ourselves and He does it to the uttermost! This is His work for us, His welcome to us: saving His people from their sins!
December 19, 2021
The message of the angel in Joseph’s dream is Good News! Mary will give birth to a son! From this unlikely birth, from this unlikely vessel, in this unlikely place, in this unlikely way: the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. The words are a reminder to us that God is indeed no respecter of persons or circumstances. And in case we’re still not convinced, the Son given, is the seal and unshakable sign that God will do all He has said He will do!
December 12, 2021
Prior to the angel’s appearance, Joseph was planning to do the right thing, but He wasn’t yet seeing God’s fingerprints on his life or the life of his bride. So God speaks in a dream saying, "what is conceived in Mary is from the Holy Spirit!" - "what you're seeing as a problem Joseph, you need to see as a possibility!" It's a reminder to us that if God is in it, there are no limits. If God is in it, things fantastic and impossible can and do happen; things fantastic and impossible are normal, if God is in it!
December 5, 2021
Fear is real, and is best dealt with rather than denied. In Joseph's dream, after addressing him by name and assuring him of the promise, the angel speaks the words to Joseph that God has been speaking from the very beginning: "Do not be afraid!" Joseph heard those words and responded - in spite of his fears! And over the course of three more dreams, Joseph's obedience undoubtedly became more natural and easy, rooted in his being.
November 28, 2021
In the first chapter of Matthew, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus has a dream that will change the course of his life. Joseph had decided on a plan of action to deal with a situation he didn’t understand; but God, speaking through an angel in a dream, meets Joseph to help him take a different path.
November 21, 2021
Rich and his wife Wanda are Assemblies of God Missionaries to Peru.
November 14, 2021
It’s great to have something; it’s better to KNOW you have something: to know God always answers our prayers, to know the depth of His love towards us sinners, to know how good Jesus is, to know the joy of His ongoing rescue. “That we would know” these things, is why John has written!
November 7, 2021
There are three that testify says John: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. The water is the willingness of Jesus at his baptism to enter the life God called Him to; the blood, the wounds He shed to secure that life for us; the Spirit is God using that willingness and those wounds to draw us to himself saying: "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased! Listen to Him and learn from Him!" This is the Life!
October 31, 2021
We CAN live in love! As Moses told the Israelites on the verge of entering the land of promise: "what I am commanding you today is not too difficult...or beyond your reach." John echoes Moses; he wants us to know that living in love (living in God!) is not only pleasant and productive (good for you, good for others) it’s also possible! But we won’t find out if we’re not willing to try.
October 24, 2021
We’ve been talking a lot about the Love of God — that’s because John talks a lot about the Love of God! Yet, as much as we crave love, we also fear it! But John, the one who calls us friends, doesn’t give up on us, and he wants us to know: neither does God! As John has already told us: God is Love! God cannot, not love — it’s who He is! So if the fact that God is love is settled, what remains? For us to acknowledge and accept it! For us to make love our life’s aim.
October 17, 2021
John says: God is love! — that All God does, flows out of all God is! This is what sets the Living God apart from all others! — what makes Him the light in whom there is no darkness at all. Our God is love! — a love that parts seas, causes the sun to back-up, and turns water into wine; but more than these, a love that: reveals God’s Heart, removes barriers that keep us from loving like He does, and completely redirects the tone and temper of our lives!
October 10, 2021
Recognizing and Responding to God's Voice is the essential task of those who call Him Lord. We do this by "testing the spirits to see whether they are from Him;" and we are able to test spirits, only when we're continually immersed, taking the time to listen to the voice of Jesus, by His Holy Spirit.
October 3, 2021
Our hearts are broken: incapable, incurable, and incomprehensible. Thankfully, the God who knows everything is greater than our hearts! When we choose to be guided by a faithful Savior rather than a faulty heart, we receive the blessings of that good decision: the witness that we are His, the well-being of resting in Him, and the oneness with Him that welcomes His Holy Spirit and enables us to pray, “Lord, make your love complete in me that I might be made complete in You!”
September 5, 2021
“Love” IS the message, and has been the message from the very beginning! God’s love can be seen in everything He has made! In fact, John says that it IS the way He has made!: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Any goal pursued without love is a goal pursued without God. And any goal pursued without God is a goal pursued in folly.
August 29, 2021
Like the dust that blankets the furniture in our homes, we all deal with sin, ours and others', on a daily basis. Because of this, remaining free from sin is a daily exercise! We don’t remain free from the power of sin by accepting Jesus, that's simply where we start. We remain free from the power of sin by abiding in Jesus.
August 22, 2021
John, in short, direct, one sentence sermons, has given us a lot to consider. Now he says: “Continue!” That word reminds us that it’s not just knowing what to do that’s important; it’s also doing what we know!
August 15, 2021
The Light has come! even as the world remains largely in darkness. To walk in the light as Jesus is in the Light, we must understand the day we live in and guard against the darkness creeping into our hearts. In short, we must Remain in Jesus!
August 8, 2021
We can be so busy doing so many things that we neglect the ONE thing of tending to the knowledge that enables us to overcome: the knowledge of who we are, what we’ve been given and where our life is found.
August 1, 2021
There is no greater command of God than to Love; and there is no greater way we demonstrate that we know God, than to fully obey that command - living in the light as Jesus did, with nothing within us that causes stumbling.
July 25, 2021
Walking in the Light, John's description of being in right relationship with God and man, consists of receiving God's Forgiveness, experiencing Freedom from sin, and enjoying Fellowship with God and man. God, who is pure light and no darkness, has freely given these to all; all we have to do is reach out and take hold of them!
July 18, 2021
1 John begins with a proclamation of Jesus, "the Word of Life." John says we have seen, heard, and touched Him; this is the Gospel News that God has come into the world! But the news doesn't end there, because John says the reason we proclaim the Gospel News, is so that you may have fellowship with us. This is the Good News of the Gospel: We can KNOW God! - experience the Word of Life ourselves! No wonder John speaks of joy being made complete! There is no greater wonder than being caught up in Christ!
July 11, 2021
"God Alone!" leads to God's Glory! That's where Isaiah has been taking us in this journey through the book that bears his name. The final chapter calls us to be a people who live for the glory of God and the benefit of the world: a people willing to model what God prizes, receive what He promises, and participate in what He's preparing. The world is marching towards hell; the Lord wants to use us to turn them to the road that leads to every tongue, tribe, and nation worshiping Him at His holy mountain.
July 4, 2021
God’s creating something new — and it includes Us! This is why He says “Behold!” and why “Behold!” is such a powerful word! "Behold" is more than just observing, it’s “taking it all in!” God hasn’t made himself “found by us” just for us to believe, He wants us to “behold!” If you’ve confessed Christ, you once were lost, but now you’ve been found; you once were blind, but now you’re beginning to see. Are we willing to say to Jesus, "Lord, I want to behold!"?
June 27, 2021
Isaiah prayed, "Oh that you would rend the heavens!" God answers, "I already have!" To rejoice and respond to what God is doing, we need to recover a holy wonder again for what He's already done! Living in marvel leads to living in step with God and His ways.
June 20, 2021
The prophet's prayer near the end of the book of Isaiah is a prayer of rescue, a prayer that recognizes the things that slow God's entry and runs toward the things that speed it. It's Isaiah confessing with us, "God, have mercy on me a sinner!" - a prayer that God always hears and will never reject!
June 13, 2021
The prophet's vision in Isaiah 63 reminds us that we have a Savior who's willing to get his garments dirty to save us! More than that, it challenges us to ask where He is, and to get our clothes dirty for the sake of those around us!
June 6, 2021
Why do we press on even when weary? What enables us to forge ahead when we're tempted to become cynical instead? Isaiah says it's "for Zion's sake!" Keeping Zion before us - God's good activity in the world today - is what can keep us going when everything else fails us. Zion is how God reveals Himself; Zion is God's delight; Zion is where God's working; Zion is God's reward!
May 30, 2021
The opening words of Isaiah 61 were the same words Jesus used to open His ministry. They're the same words he wants our lives to display as "oaks of righteousness," bringing forth a harvest of righteousness and praise before all nations.
May 23, 2021
Guest speaker Zach Holdeman talks about the three things that motivate him to do the work of missions.
May 9, 2021; Mother's Day message by Stephanie Lade
Our highest calling is to reflect the Light! We are not the light, but God in His mercy shines His glorious light on us that we might, like the moon reflecting the Sun, give light to those living in darkness and glorify our Father in Heaven!
May 2, 2021
There is no lack with God; He is always ready to help, always ready to save. The lack is on our part, when we’re not ready to let Him! For those who will come to Him in sorrow, truth, and humility though, He remains an eveready spring, a well of living water that quenches our thirst daily and washes away the silent killer of sin and self.
April 25, 2021
When it comes to religious observance, God is looking for more than just our diligence, He's looking too for our devotion, the attitude behind all our activity. Is our religious observance activating mercy, accelerating giving, arresting judging, and agreeing with God’s way? If not, it’s falling short of what the world needs and God desires! But as we begin to see our sin and selfishness for what they are (not His thoughts; not His ways), we’ll begin to lose a taste for them ,and begin again, to taste and see that THE LORD is good!
April 18, 2021
Erosion of the soils is one thing; erosion of our souls is quite another! But to guard our hearts, let alone to see what threatens them, we dare not trust in ourselves, we must instead humbly come to the one who promises rest in all our restlessness.
April 11, 2021
Rest has to be entered, and we have to actively decide, make every effort, to enter it! This rest God invites us into today is embodied in the Sabbath day, the seventh day in Genesis where God ceased from His labor. It's seen too in the sacred day after Good Friday where Jesus lay in the tomb, waiting, trusting, knowing, resurrection was at hand! Finally, it's revealed by God to Isaiah - not just to a few, but to any and all who will come and accept the invitation!
April 4, 2021; Easter Sunday
On Resurrection Day, the disciples of Jesus came to the tomb, saw the grave clothes of Jesus, and believed! But they didn't understand, and so went back to the place where they were staying. The challenge of Easter Sunday, and every Sunday, is not just to believe, it's to act on our belief. It's to respond to what we've seen and become convinced of, and then follow Jesus into the new world He's opened to us!
April 2, 2021; Good Friday
We ARE forever grateful for what Jesus has done for us, but not so sure we want to linger there (after all, if it is finished! why do we need to keep revisiting this?). But God never calls us to move on from the cross. He calls us instead to linger at the place where His power was displayed even more potently than the empty tomb three days later: the power to remain silent rather than to curse, to reject retaliation, to love his oppressors, and to willingly die.
March 28, 2021; Palm Sunday
We are in the midst of a pandemic — but not the one you may think. We are cynical; and perhaps, rightly so. We’ve been lied to; we’ve been let down; we’ve seen so much of the worst of us, and so little of the best. “Buyer beware” is not just an old adage; it’s survival! But — it might also be the death of us! because our cynicism, without us always realizing it, can seep into our souls, make us closed and indifferent to God, keep us from hearing his word with fresh wonder, cause us to second-guess what God’s saying, and filter it through our own well-reasoned thinking. This is why asking ourselves: “What do I think?” is the wrong question; the real question is: “What does God think?” We may not comprehend our continual need to feed on Him, but here in Isaiah 55 we see that He does!
March 21, 2021
Because the world and the desires it causes are disappearing (1 John 2:17 CEV), we’d better be finding our Joy in something greater! — the Someone greater we’ve witnessed in the One who was pierced for our transgressions,and crushed for our iniquities. Isaiah 54 calls us to respond to this, to contemplate what we’ve seen and been told of this Suffering Servant, to let it not only INform us, but also TRANSform us! As that previous passage of Isaiah called us to “Awake” and “See,” so this chapter calls us to something too; it calls us to “Sing!” and “Shout for joy!” — to celebrate, that we might anticipate, and recalibrate!
March 14, 2021
In the final, and perhaps most glorious of the Servant Songs, the suffering Servant — is a Lamb! -- the spotless and sinless One who stretches out God’s “holy arm” on a cross. This is what Isaiah’s been moving toward; this is where his visions of the Servant of the Lord are taking us as we’re again making our way to Jerusalem and Holy week, Gethsemane and Good Friday. They’re taking us to the cross, that inevitable place all must go to, if they wish to see God. Without the cross, there is no Gospel, no forgiveness or reconciliation, no life, or life to come, no heaven, only hell!
February 28, 2021
Throughout the book of Isaiah, God’s people have faced a crisis: their exile to Babylon, having their land taken over by a pagan king. But instead of taking a critical look at themselves, they’d become critics of God. They’d fallen — for the blame game. God meets their cry: “Awake, awake,” with a proclamation: “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Comfort doesn't come by us saying “Wake up" to God; it comes when we hear Him saying “Awake, Awake” to us.
February 21, 2021
The third Servant Song of Isaiah teaches us a better way; it begins here in Isaiah 50, where the Servant begins singing in verse 4: "The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away." What’s he telling us? If you want to speak words that heal; you’ve got to be tuned into the Healer!
February 14, 2021
As we come to chapter 49, Israel’s been told for 48 chapters God’s going to see her through. But that doesn’t change her present reality: the fact that it doesn’t “feel” like God’s going to come through. Her fears are still there! Those fears stand front and center in our text today. For every word of encouragement, every promise God gives, Israel has a rebuttal, some reason why she can’t accept it. This is the danger of our fears, not that we have them; we all do, but that they become more real than our Redeemer.
February 7, 2021
The greatest threat we Christians face is not the world; it’s you and I not being Christ in the world! We’re really good at wanting to be good, and failing at it! at saying all the right things, but then neglecting to do them. Does that mean we’re not “saved”? No — it means we’re still being saved! still needing to pray “deliver us from evil,” still needing to rely on His grace and mercy every moment, still needing to see that it’s all God and not us!
January 31, 2021
For better or worse, we are what we carry! For instance, carry a grudge and where does it lead you? It leads to resentment, bitterness, and self-righteousness; it leads to sin! But carry the Gospel — carry forgiveness, empathy, grace, and mercy, and it leads to freedom, joy, peace, and well-being! Isaiah 46 and 47 are words directed toward Babylon, the empire that overtook God’s people, and would itself be overtaken. But we dare not make the mistake of thinking these chapters have nothing to say to us, because the truth of the matter is, many in the church are carrying around the same baggage as so many in the world!
January 24, 2021
God doesn’t come to us on our terms; He calls us to come to Him, and follow Him — on His terms: A voice...from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." (Luke 9:35). God’s terms — are "Jesus!" Are we listening today? Are we willing to keep listening even when we don’t get our way? even when God’s way doesn’t make sense? even when we’re tempted to think we know better? That’s what the prophet confronts us with today, to put feet to what our mouths have spoken: “There is a God, And we are not Him” — to walk with God — as God!
January 17, 2021
When our lives are reduced to merely going through the motions, when we’ve lost the wonder of being made in His image, when we’ve forgotten the glory of Ephesians 2:10, that tells us: “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Life becomes little more than a hamster wheel: lots of activity, but little accomplishment, constantly moving, but never getting anywhere. Surely, God has rescued us for more than this!
January 10, 2021
Do we need revival? Absolutely! But revival without reform (without resurrection!) will leave us empty and aimless, doomed to continue down the same old path we’ve been trodding. People are enthusiastic about revival, coming back to life ‒ but not so much about reform ‒ about being changed in the process! Revival is dancing in the aisles… Reform is praying at the altar… Revival is saying “rouse me,” Reform is saying “rearrange me Lord!” Revival is a reaction; Reform is a response; Revival is exciting! Reform can be excruciating! a process the prophet likens to going through flood and fire.
January 3, 2021
In the first of four "servant songs" in the book of Isaiah, God points to the One who comes in lowliness and says: "Behold my Servant!" But why does He come as a whisper? One who doesn’t need to shout, cry out, or raise his voice in the streets? For the same reason he comes as an infant in a manger full of straw, the son of a humble carpenter! The whisper of God is loud enough to get our attention, to arrest and welcome us, and to transform us!
December 27, 2020
This past year has been a year that at times has felt like dreamless sleep, a year that has reduced us to the stillness of feeling helpless, a year that has darkened our streets, dashed our hopes and increased our fears. But dreamless sleep and dark streets aren’t our problem; they never have been and never will be! Our problem -- is not seeing and hearing God. Our problem -- is the idols we too often pin our hopes to. But idols don’t make history; God does! Idols are made by us, but we are made by God! Idols have to be propped up, but God props us up! Idols are lifeless, but God is life-giving!
December 24, 2020
Guest Speaker: Jonathan Lade
December 20, 2020
The Savior Isaiah saw — the One we see in Jesus, is not like Chicken Little, carrying on that the sky is falling, that all is lost, and hope is gone. It is NOT! The Savior Isaiah saw — is “God with us,” conveying that the Kingdom has come! It is for this — that He has come to us! to reveal what has always been, is now, and will ever be! God and His perfect justice! Just as our Savior is altogether different, so is this justice that He proclaims and practices.
December 13, 2020
The Root is Good; the Branch is Good; the Fruit is Good! Isaiah wants us to know this beyond a shadow of a doubt! He wants us to be able to stand on this, when all we see is a little sprout in the stump! to know that this promised Savior, this “Righteous Branch,” can be trusted!
December 6, 2020
We all go through seasons of our lives that are difficult. where it seems everything's failing and nothing's working. For many, this year has been that: something that feels like a rotting stump: no fruit, no growth, no shade. But God promises hope, even in the middle of a forest of stumps. The promise of Isaiah 11:1, "a shoot will come forth from the stump," is not just for a people who lived long ago, it's a promise for us today, fulfilled in Christ, who came as the embodiment of that shoot, who from the roots, bears beautiful fruit in the lives of all who will receive Him.
November 29, 2020
On the first Sunday of Advent, the season of waiting and the beginning of a new church year, Bryan Hutson with Rescue Me Ministries, shares his gifts and passion in a Christmas Concert to prepare our hearts to welcome Christ Jesus, our Savior, anew.
November 22, 2020
As 2020 nears an end, we’re weary and tired. We wonder how many more waves we can withstand. We pray we’re being made better -- refined in the fire, but face the constant threat of just getting bitter -- resentful in the flames. But this is no time to give-in to the deceptions of an embittered heart! It’s time to guard our hearts! It’s time to bathe in God’s Word. It’s time to wait patiently for the Lord. It’s time to lean into Jesus.
November 15, 2020
We have great "ups," seasons and moments where we’re strong in faith and love, and God seems more real and close than ever before. But we also have downs: valleys and shadows that come upon us, dark nights that test our faith and expose our ongoing need for salvation. What all this means is that we cannot rest in how we overcame yesterday, because each new day forces us to choose to overcome -- today!
November 8, 2020
Up to this point in the book of Isaiah, the prophet has spoken of things to come, things outstanding. But now, those he's spoken to, are facing the harsh reality of what Isaiah has warned them of again and again -- right outside their window. No longer are the prophet's words mere poetic pleading; now they are the very hope God's people must choose to receive and walk in, lest the threats that surround them overwhelm and overtake them.
November 1, 2020
Chapters 34 and 35 of the book of Isaiah tell two stories. The first, in chapter 34, is the sad story of where sin takes us, a place of pain and pointlessness. Buy in Isaiah 35, the prophet turns the page and tells us a better story, a story of what happens when we finally, fully come to God, and allow Him to be a fire that heals us, instead on one we fear will harm us.
October 25, 2020
It’s taken 32 chapters, but at long last, God’s people seem to be beginning to get the message: “God Alone is all you need!” Their recognition starts where ours must, with a brief, sincere, honest, and uncluttered prayer. Once we do this, what follows is a new back and forth between us and God that, like the continuous rhythm of a clock, provides a “tick” for every “tock!” Let’s start keeping time with the Lord!
October 18, 2020
The promises of God are precious; not one has ever failed. But unless we believe them, we will not enjoy the full benefit of them. How we know whether we believe or not is not a matter merely of the head, it’s also a matter of the heart, of whether or not we’ve allowed His promises to get deep inside us. In the end, it is our behavior that broadcasts our belief or lack thereof.
October 11, 2020
Freedom is something we prize, especially in the west. But freedom can and does often lead to an unintended consequence -- slavery to what we think makes us free! The Gospel (and the prophet Isaiah) speaks of another kind of freedom, real freedom that leads to life -- and paradoxically, is found in making ourselves slaves to the One who has truly given us all things, including the freedom to be wholly His!
October 4, 2020
Bill Chappel, missionary to Hungary, gives an update from the field.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
We like the perks of following Christ, but we don’t always like the costs. God, in Isaiah 29, challenges his people to appreciate both, and to see that with Him -- it’s all good!
Sunday, September 20, 2020
God Alone is enough! So why do we settle for other saviors? In Isaiah 28, God rebukes His people for taking pride in earthly crowns when He himself promises to be their glorious Crown. Earthly crowns always fail and are destined to become dust; earthly crowns hamper our hearing and cause us to overlook God's wisdom, rest, and protection. May we, gazing intently upon Jesus, take hold of the only Crown that is worth pursuing -- the Lord Himself!
Sunday, September 13, 2020
The prophet finishes his third of three songs of praise, reminding God's people of the wonderful freedom that's found "on this mountain" in this "strong city." Not only has our enemy been utterly and completely defeated, God has planted us as His very own vineyard, watering and guarding over us with a passion that frees us to be fruitful for Him.
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Isaiah sings it loud and strong: "We have a strong city!" Others may rely on the crumbling cities of man, but Isaiah says this city's walls and ramparts are God and His salvation! With gates that never close, this city is open and accessible to all who will enter with honest humility and longing - a place to hide until the storm has passed.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
In the first of three songs of praise to the Lord, the prophet sings that it is "on this mountain" (and no other) that true nourishment, clear vision and real rest are found! Why would we climb any other hill? Why wouldn't we want to go to where God has provided a feast, cleared the fog, and caused his hand is resting?
Sunday, August 23, 2020
In Isaiah 24 the prophet, with conflicting emotions, paints a stark picture of where sin takes us: a moonscape of despair, destruction, and desolation. While the people of God rejoice in God's justice (nobody gets away with anything), we also mourn the wages of sin that lead to death, real life flesh and blood people suffering the real consequences of their sins. For our "Engage" brochure mentioned at the the end of the sermon, please follow this link.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
God's people live IN the world; but we live AS citizens of heaven. That's the message of the prophet Isaiah as he closes out his words of judgment against the kingdoms of man. And because God is replacing earthly kingdoms rather than redeeming them, He calls his people to take what the world gives and spend it on what the world needs -- things like justice, mercy, and faithfulness (see Mt 23:23).
Sunday, August 9, 2020
If you want a good view of things, you don't go down into your basement, you climb the stairs and go up to where you can see. When Isaiah speaks of the "valley of vision" in chapter 22, he's talking about being in a place where we cannot clearly see what's going on, and the consequences of that blindness -- reminding us that "without vision, people truly do perish!"
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Pastor Brian, pastor of one of our sister churches in Elkhart, and the Indiana Assemblies of God NE Area Presbyter, shares a message on dealing with distractions
Sunday, July 26, 2020
Nothing lasts forever... except the Kingdom of God! If we put our hope in anything less, we will be building on a kingdom of desperation and distraction that leads only to destruction. Better to store up treasures in heaven, says Jesus, "where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
Sunday, July 19, 2020
It's amazing how much we miss -- simply because we're not listening. As the birds are ever singing, whether we've taken the time to hear them or not, so God is ever speaking, ever wanting to reveal his heart and mind to us. But, as this judgment of Edom reminds us, we need to have ears to hear what the Lord is saying. Otherwise, like Edom, we'll fall into the trap of seeking rescue without repentance, resurrection without a cross, and new life without dying to the old.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
The old poem goes, "Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!" So it is with the sea, a seemingly endless supply, but none of it suitable to quench our thirst or sustain human life. Isaiah cries out to a people who'd looked to one nation after another for help and rescue, "Babylon has fallen!" Like a great desert sea, she cannot quench your thirst; she cannot restore your soul! If we look to Babylon for salvation, we will suffer the same fate as Babylon. Better to say with the psalmist, "All my fountains are in You Lord!"
Sunday, July 5, 2020
In Isaiah 20, in an act designed to demonstrate how the Lord humbles all earthly powers and those who put their trust in them, the prophet is told to strip down and go about for three years naked and barefoot. The prophetic act he was called to undertake to was not only unusual, it was also humiliating! When God asks us to lay aside every weight and the sins that so easily entangle us, it's not to punish us, it's to purify us -- to bring us to a place of hope and trust not in man or man's government, but in God and God Alone!
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Correction is hard -- even correction from a perfect and loving God. But its purpose is not to tear us down; it's to transform us! And while it can be a messy process, God digging up and exposing things that have remained hidden under the surface of our self-made paths, its outcome is a smooth new way God calls a highway -- his way that brings new life and peace not only with Him, but with our fellow sinners. Thank God He loves us enough to discipline us!
Sunday, June 21, 2020
It's easy to think nothing is happening... when we don't see anything happening. But God reminds us in Isaiah 18 that he is at work even in the silence; and that He's big enough to handle what we've been tempted to assume He's not. We can rest in His good promise: "All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it (Isaiah 18:3)."
Sunday, June 14, 2020
The church is being called in this hour to forsake anything we have made into an idol, whether that be people, places, politics, philosophical postions, or even... ourselves. If we will lay down our idols, Isaiah tells us their glory will fade, God-consciousness will return, and all our grand construction will crumble, leaving behind only what cannot be shaken.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
The Moabites were an easy enemy to ignore; they had been feuding with Israel for generations and even called for the cursing of God's people. But in Isaiah 15 and 16, the prophet demonstrates the fullness of a God who is perfect in Mercy AND Judgement. Isaiah looks beyond the symptoms, hears the cries of the world, and allows himself to enter into Moab's misery like the One who was to come, who in "judging would seek justice and speed the cause of righteousness (Isaiah 16:5).
Sunday, May 31, 2020
The Philistines, Israel's ancient foe, finally got what they wanted, the power of their enemy broken. But God says something strange: "Do not rejoice!" God says this not because he doesn't care, but exactly because he does! Like the Philistines we too often fear the wrong enemies, invest in the wrong causes, and sow the wrong seed. Doing so, invites a self-inflicted famine that keeps us from the feast he's prepared for us.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Missionary Service with Bernie and Brenda Smith, Assemblies of God missionaries serving in Togo, West Africa at the West Africa Advanced School of Theology
Sunday, May 17, 2020
In chapters 13 and 14 of Isaiah, the Lord begins his judgment of the nations. First up, is Babylon. Babylon is not just Israel's Assyria though, Babylon is the polluting pride of every government, system, and culture of man that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Babylon builds a tower in Genesis, crucifies Christ in the Gospels, and seduces the masses as a prostitute in the Revelation. Babylon is all too often, alive and well in each of us, and is the evil we're taught to pray to our Father to deliver us from.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
When Isaiah declares, "In that day, you will say," he's talking about what the Redeemed say! what those who've seen the Lord, come to the Lord, and been transformed by the Lord speak! And what they speak, the prophet describes as a song of praise! Anybody can complain and curse, but the Redeemed rejoice and are glad -- for they are the light of the world!
Sunday, May 3, 2020
If ever there was good news, this is it! Isaiah tells us that "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." In the middle of our devastation and despair... Jesus! Jesus (and those who are in vital connection with him), changes the burnt over landscape into something beautiful and fruit-bearing. Enemies make peace, the poor and needy get justice, and the wisdom of a child is finally seen for what it is... the knowledge of the Lord that neither harms or destroys! We can either be a highway or an off-ramp; God desires we be paths to Him not away from him.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
God uses all kinds of people and circumstances to bring about His good will and purposes. But we mustn't mistake His use with his approval. If we do, we'll adopt the same attitudes Assyria did, and suffer the same awful affliction: being consumed by God's holy fire instead of purified by it!
Sunday, April 19, 2020
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light! That's how Isaiah 9 begins! But the chapter ends reminding us that we have to walk in that light so as not to be swallowed up again by the darkness of our sin -- the cancer within each of us God is passionate about destroying that we might be made fit for His kingdom. (For Part Two of this message, click here).
Sunday, April 12, 2020
The Resurrection of Jesus is not just an historical fact to be celebrated; it's a life altering encounter to be experienced. Jesus, raised from the dead, walks with us TODAY; Jesus, ever-living, can be seen and heard on every page of scripture; Jesus, reigning and ruling, still moves on the hearts of those who will break bread with Him! May we LIVE in the fullness of all He's done!
Friday, April 10, 2020
Two Thieves witnessed the murder of Jesus in a way no one else did, by being crucified alongside Him. Only one though, received the gift being offered; the other, blinded by hate, fear, and pain, couldn't see what was right before his eyes, couldn't enter what was freely being given.
Sunday, April 5, 2020
Jesus arrives on Palm Sunday on "a colt which no one had ever ridden." That colt, was the Peace Donkey of Good News to the poor, blessing not cursing, forgiveness rather than punishment. Jesus still arrives today, and in the same manner; will we recognize the time of his visitation among us?
Sunday, March 29, 2020
In the last verse of Isaiah 8, the prophet laments: "Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom." But we’re not stuck at the end of a chapter! We’re not stuck, because Isaiah 9 begins with a great declaration for those who will look up to see it! "A light has dawned!" Are we living as if this is so?
Sunday, March 22, 2020
The Apostle James tells us to consider it "pure joy" whenever we face trials of many kinds. While trials aren't pure joy, this choice to consider them so is ours, because we know God is producing something beautiful in us through them - that we're being transformed into Christ's image with ever-increasing glory as we choose the fountain over the flood, the "good fight" over futile fighting, and the fear of the Lord over the fear of falling!
Sunday, March 15, 2020
There has been much in the news lately about covid-19 -- the coronavirus… And yet the greatest danger probably isn’t the virus itself, but our response to the threat. It’s not that the threat isn’t real (it is!), it’s that the greater threat is more real! More real because it has to do with our souls: the kind of people we’re becoming,how we treat others who bear the image of God, and where our confidence lies
Sunday, March 1, 2020
To see differently, we've got to see ourselves as we are. To see ourselves as we are, we've got to see God as He is. To see God as He is, we've got to be willing to open our eyes, giving Him the time and space to reveal Himself to us.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
The parable of the vineyard in Isaiah 5, reminds us that God in his mercy, does all the work, all the planning, all the prepping, all the planting, all the protecting. Our work -- is to simply grow in all that He’s provided us! to receive God’s grace with thanksgiving and humility! Regrettably -- we don’t always live up to that vocation!
Sunday, February 16, 2020
In Isaiah 4, the prophet sees two alternate realities "in that day": In one, desperate people chase after and cling to those who can offer no help (see Isaiah 3:7); in the other, those who dwell in the Holy City, cling to the One called the Branch, who offers not only hope, but also "refuge and a hiding place from the storm."
Sunday, February 9, 2020
We don't like loss. Loss feels like defeat and deprivation. And yet often, the only way we can gain... is by losing. God, in his mercy, is the giver of all good things; but because self-sufficiency is God-deficiency, He is also the "taker" of those things that keep us from growing in the grace and knowledge of Him. Thanks be to God that he "gives AND takes away!"
Sunday, February 2, 2020
Isaiah's vision in chapter two is not JUST for some far off time and place after Jesus comes back for his own. No, the prophet says: "Come, let US walk in the light of the Lord!" If we are not living as if God's Kingdom is here, as if "His mountain is the highest of all mountains, exalted above the hills," we may very well live as if it never will be!
Sunday, January 26, 2020
A great paradox of walking with Jesus is that to stay true to Him, we must always be changing - growing, being formed in Christ. The more we try to remain the same, the more we will find ourselves drifting to a place further away from God, rather than closer.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
An elephant in your soup is anything that keeps you from Christ and becoming like Him. While you can try to skim around it, you cannot ignore it. That elephant must be tamed or it will trample you!
Sunday, January 12, 2020
We often imagine God as either angry or apathetic: filled with rage or to big to care. God's posture towards us however is neither. God cares deeply about us (as demonstrated in sending His Son); God is also a God of matchless mercy (as demonstrated His Son dying on a cross!). Isaiah from the outset, shows us a God who grieves, whose heart aches for us to know Him. Do we recognize our need?
Sunday, December 30, 2019
The overarching message of the Prophet Isaiah is this: "God Alone!" Isaiah’s trying to get the eyes of God’s people -- back on God! If he were writing today, he might say: Put down the phone! Turn down that radio! Unplug for a while! The urgency of his call is captured not only in the brevity of his introduction in Isaiah 1:1, it’s also captured between the lines of his introduction (what we’re told in this one verse about his message).