Feb 27, 2017

Word of the Week: REBELLION

This Wednesday begins the season of Lent.  As we prepare for Lent, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us into a study of the word "rebellion" as it is defined in God's Word.  Rebellion means “opposition to one in authority or dominance.” So the notion of rebellion presupposes the existence of authority. We often think of children rebelling against parents authority – not wanting to do what their parents tell them to do, and instead wanting to do those things their parents tell them not to do. Adults, too have engaged in many forms of rebellion from the household to the workplace. People don’t want to be governed and bound by a set of rules. We want what we want, when we want it, and we don’t want anyone or anything to get in our way.  The first rebel was Satan. Satan rebelled against God’s authority and was intent on setting himself up as the Most High. And when that didn’t work, Satan tempted Eve to rebel against God’s authority by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since those initial acts of rebellion, Satan has led mankind into a perpetual series of rebellions and the result has been chaos, destruction, and misery.  God warns us in His Word that rebellion is not a harmless and natural part of growing up, but it is a desperately wicked part of our sinful nature. There are terrifying consequences for rebellion. Samuel warned Israel in 1 Sam 12:15, “if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” Maybe the most frightening consequence of rebellion against God is that God simply allows us to destroy ourselves if we remain rebellious. In Romans 1 verses 21 and 28 Paul writes, “Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.… Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."
What was true of ancient man is still true today. We are all rebels at heart. We don’t want to listen to God. As Psalm 107:11 says we have “rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High.” We have that same sinful nature that has been passed on to us by Adam and Eve. Paul writes in Romans 8:7, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Since people have dismissed the concept of God, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” as Romans 3:18 says. Spiritual things are ridiculous to the natural man. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
By nature we rebel against God and as a result rely upon our own experience, reason, and feelings to guide our beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, and they won’t lead us in a godly direction. Our rebellion only leads away from God, and we deserve God’s punishment for our rebellion. Thank God that He has turned us from our rebellious nature. By His grace, the Lord leads us to repent of our sins, and as we turn to the Lord in repentance, the Lord comes to us with His love and forgiveness.

Maybe the best picture of this in all of Scripture is Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal son is the picture of rebellion. The prodigal son did not want to be under his father’s authority. He asked for his inheritance early so that he could go off and live as he wanted under no one’s authority. The father gave him the inheritance and so he went out and lived a rebellious life. But things didn’t turn out as He had hoped. He quickly got himself into trouble. The son repented, went back to his father to confess his sins and to beg his father to make him one of his hired servants.  And how did the father react? With pure joy at the sight of his son. He saw his son returning and ran out to meet him. The prodigal son confessed his sins of rebellion, but couldn’t even get out the part about being treated as a servant. The father was so overcome with joy that he had his son back that he right away completely reinstated him as his son. In this parable, we are the prodigal son, and the Father is God the Father. And that’s how He reacts to us when we repent of our rebellious ways and turn to Him. It’s that same love that moved Him to send His Son to live the perfect life in our place, never rebelling against the Father’s authority and will. And then he went to the cross to die for all of our sins of rebellion. Thanks be to God for His love in the face of our rebellion. 

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Feb 20, 2017

Word of the Week: AUTHORITY

On this Presidents' Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into God's explanation of the word "authority" in His Word.  In Romans 13 we are told that all authority comes from God. Authority given by God is to be used for the good, blessing and service of all involved. But it often doesn’t work out that way. Because of sin we often see abuse of authority in many areas of life. Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” The government is entrusted with authority over its citizens. In Romans 13:1-3 Paul writes: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”
God has given those in government authority to be used for the protection of society and the punishment of evil. When government leaders do not carry out that responsibility, or abuse their authority at the expense of others, they will be held accountable by God (Consider the account of Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 21). At the same time, it is the responsibility of citizens to obey those who are in authority in government, even when we disagree with them! The only time we have a God given right to disobey our government is when our government forces us, by its laws or actions, to go against the command of God. In such a case Peter says, “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:39). When our government forms laws in areas where God has not spoken, even if we disagree for good reason, we are commanded by God to submit to those who are in authority. We are also called to pray for those who are in authority. He writes: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1).  Paul doesn’t say that we should only pray for those leaders we like or agree with. He says we should pray for “all who are in authority” so that we might be able to lead a life that brings glory to God through our words and actions.  Lord give us good and faithful leaders, and help us to be good and faithful citizens!

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Feb 13, 2017

Word of the Week: LOVE

As we approach Valentine's Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the Biblical definition of the word "Love."  The word love is one of the most well known words in the English language. Even young children express their affection by saying, “I love you!” But in English, the word “love” is based on our feelings - on how we feel about someone else. Think of that same young child’s declaration when they are told something they don’t like: “I don’t love you anymore.”  In the Bible love is not based on feelings, but is an attitude of service toward another, even those who are may be “unworthy” or our actions. Love finds its definition and source in what God has done for us as Paul says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God didn’t wait until we were worthy of His love before He sent His Son to bear our sins. He did this while we were still the enemies of God (1 John 4:7-11).  The love of God was not based on His feelings, but based on our need and His promise. Secondly, God’s love shown to us in Christ Jesus gives us an example of how we are to love others. Christians are to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5). Husbands are to love their wives (Col 3:19). Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). And even more, we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-28,32-33).
Finally, Paul's familiar words about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a description of true self-sacrificing love as demonstrated clearly by God to sinners through Jesus. Lord, help us to appreciate Your love for us in Jesus, and to show that same kind of love to You and everyone around us!

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Feb 6, 2017

Word of the Week: ENMITY

Today Pastor Nathanael Mayhew defines the word Enmity as described in Scripture.  Enmity or hatred is obvious in the world around us as seen in human interactions like political rallies or racial riots.  There are many differences between human beings, but Christians have been called out of the world and are to be different than the world.  They are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and to love their enemies (Mattew 5:44).  Christians have been called out of the world, because the world is enmity against God (James 4:4 and Romans 8:7).  Christ came to bring unity, not just between those who believe in Him, no matter who they are or what they have done, but more importantly to bring peace between God and man (Ephesians 2:15-16).  This was the purpose for Jesus coming to earth as a man and living and dying for sinners.  He came to remove the enmity which stood between sinners and a just and holy God.  May that truth bring you peace and comfort in the assurance of your sins forgiven in Christ Jesus!

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Jan 30, 2017

Word of the Week: GOSPEL

As we contine in the Epiphany season, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word Gospel in the Scriptures.  The word Gospel is used so often in our society that it looses its meaning in the true Biblical meaning.  Literally the word means "Good News" or "Evangelism."  Isaiah says that the Good News of Salvation is what the Gospel is.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this Gospel.  Jesus preached the Gospel and healed people from sickenesses.  There is a distinction between these two.  Paul says that the Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).  The Gospel why we have the hope of heaven (Colossians 1:5,23).  The real Gospel message is not about prosperity here on earth or political or social causes, but simply about the forgiveness of sins through Christ.  Thanks be to God!

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Jan 23, 2017

Word of the Week: GENTILE

As we contine in the Epiphany season, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the word Gentile in the Scriptures.  The word Gentile is used in both the Old and New Testaments to distinguish between God's Old Testament people Israel and the other nations of the world.  While Christianity is often veiwed by people in the world as an exclusive religion, just the opposite is actually true.  From the very beginning of His choosing Abraham as the father of His people, God's plan was to bring about a Savior for all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3).  This continued to be revealed througout the Old Testament as God reached out through His Old Testament people to save Gentiles like Rahab, Ruth, Naaman, and even the people of Nineveh.  In the same way God reaches out through His New Testament people to save those who are lost today. Peter writes: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10). Christianity proclaims a salvation through Jesus Christ that has been won for all sinners, whether Jew or Gentile.  Paul writes:  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16).  Thanks be to God for the inclusive nature of His salvation for all sinners through faith in Jesus!

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Jan 16, 2017

Word of the Week: EQUALITY

As our country remembers Martin Luther King Jr. on this day, Pastor Mark Tiefel discusses the word "Equality."  True equality is found in Christ Jesus who became "poor" that we might become "rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).  Jesus humbled Himself unto death that we might be reconciled to God.  In Christ, we have been set free, and through Christ all arbitrary distinctions of the world have been erased through faith.  Paul says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).  But we are not to use our freedom as a reason to or excuse for sin.  Quite often the world calls for "equality" that is actually in opposition to God's Word.  We find this in the home, in the church, and with respect to our leaders in government.  When one fights for freedom that is opposed to God's Word it actually detracts from the liberty that is found in Christ.  Ultimately our lives center on God our Savior who has come for us and paid for our sins.

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Jan 9, 2017

Word of the Week: EPIPHANY

As we enter a new season of the Church Year with Epiphany, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses the word Epiphany in our Word of the Week.  The word Epiphany comes from the Greek and means "appearing" or "manifestation" in English.  Epiphany celebrates the incarnation of Jesus into the world for sinners.  But there is a difference between Christmas and Epiphany.  Epipany was known as "Christmas for the Gentiles" and presents the Good News of salvation in Jesus not just for the Jews, but also for Gentiles.  Maybe you are familiar with the account of the Gentile Wise Men who came to visit Jesus in Bethlehem.  Jesus was revealed as the Savior of all people, Jews and Gentiles alike.  Jesus was revealed the the promised Messiah and Savior through His words and miracles throughout His ministry, but also will be manifested as the Savior of all on the Last Day when He comes again.  Let us rejoice during this Epiphany season that Jesus has come and has been revealed as the Savior of all people, including me! 

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Jan 4, 2017

Word of the Week: PROVIDENCE

As we begin a new year Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word providence in our Word of the Week. At the very begining of the world God assures us that He will care for His creation and provides for all people.  The knowledge of God's providence or care for all creation is meant to lead us to a knowledge of God's love for us and His salvation.  Jesus reminds us that if God cares for the birds and the flowers of creation, we can be sure that He cares for us because we are of more value than they.  We don't need to worry, but we can be confident that as He cares for us physically, he will also care for us spiritually.  If He gave His own Son for us, what won't He give for us?  If God is for us, no enemy can stand against us!  May the Lord encourage and comfort you with that truth throughout this new year of His grace!

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Dec 26, 2016

Word of the Week: INCARNATION

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word Incarnation. The teaching of the incarnation comes to the forefront in the birth of Jesus.  Literally, the word incarnate means to become flesh.  Jesus had to become human because God promised that it would happen this way (Isaiah 7:14).  Jesus would be Immanuel, God with us.  He also had to be human to suffer and die for us as our perfect substitute as Paul says in Galatians 4:4-5.  Jesus had to be born under the law to redeem sinners.  Jesus is true God, but also became true Man for our salvation (John 1:1,14).  If Jesus did not have a human body he could not endure the punishment for our sins.  Jesus had to become incanate, because it is how our Savior offered Himself for our sins.  This is what Christmas is all about.

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