Blog
January 8, 2018, 3:27 PM

Pastor's New Year Message

Welcome 2018!! Does it seem to you that we all blinked and 2017 became history?  President Trump has been in office a full year, Easter, Christmas and every holiday were here and gone in a flash.  It will seem like 2018 will go even faster.  Since the pace life seems like it is accelerating it is all the more important to take time to slow down and assess what is happening around us.  When life is fast and furious we crave peace and comfort, when life is depressing we yearn for encouragement, when life is exhausting we crave rest.  As we embark on a new year, it is important to ask where peace, encouragement and rest can come from? If we seek and trust Him, God is the source of these life giving things and more for us and for those around us. 

As Paul attests God is the source of grace, peace, comfort and encouragement even in the midst of the harshest trails and tribulations of life. In the beginning of his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth Paul writesGrace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.   If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  

We do not want you , to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.   Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.   He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..(2Co 1:2-10). The word translated as “comfort” in the NIV could also be translated as “encourage”.  God gives comfort and encouragement to us so that we are blessed and are a blessing to others. That fact is that everyone has a constant need for encouragement during the daily trials of life.  Encouragement requires understanding of truth and love together.  Encouragement fully acknowledges the truth of hardship but then adds love to inspire people to hope and action. Paul makes it clear that the God of love and truth is the perfect source of encouragement. People are so needy for encouragement we are capable of seeking it from many things. Hardships put the sources of encouragement to the test.  Death is the ultimate test.   All sources of encouragement other than God may hold for a time but ultimately collapse under the pressure that Paul calls deadly peril. Christ sought His encouragement from God even through the hardship of the cross and emerged victorious from the tomb.  Paul received the sentence of death but sought encouragement from fellowship with Christ. 

Every one of us faces tribulation in life and ultimately will face death. Every source of encouragement other than God will fail, but the encouragement and comfort that come from God will deliver us and continue to deliver us as Paul attests.       Life seems to becoming more and more fast and furious. We face a sense of futility and may even feel sentence of death threatening our comfort and encouragement.  If that is the case we may be encouraged by something other that the God, the Holy Spirit, the God of all encouragement and comfort. As the chapter of our lives is written in 2018, I seek the eternal encouragement and comfort from God that gives life to us and to others through us as we live in His encouragement.                Jon




December 9, 2017, 1:40 PM

Christmas

 

     People are naturally empty and trust themselves to be filled.  A perfect Christmas season includes being filled and is the top priority for everyone.  We expect to be filled with food, good cheer and certainly Christmas gifts!   It is so easy, and even natural, at Christmas for us to be self centered and driven by the desires of our hearts to be filled by many other things other than God. 

     But Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of God’s love that was embodied in the gift of Christ.  Our sinful hearts covet things, people, and feelings of fulfillment that are temporary.   A heart turned toward God celebrates the precious gift of the love of God and relishes an eternal relationship with Him. The love of God fills a faithful heart and His love over flows through to others.

     A perfect Christmas season certainly involves physical, tangible gifts;  but the true power of perfection is the love of God given through Christ.  As we gather together with friends and loved ones this Christmas, I pray that you will truly remember that Christmas is all about His perfect love. Ask Jesus by the power of the Spirit to show His love to you because His love is truly what your heart desires.  In that same conversation, ask Him how to show His love to others because His love is what every heart truly desires. 

      Your children,  spouse, friends, neighbors, the hungry, the homeless the sick, the lonely, and everyone ask for things at Christmas; but what every heart truly needs is love.  People in need ask for what they think will stop their pain with intensity determined by the need they feel.  Even deeper then, any felt need is the need for Jesus’ love.

     So as you give to others this Christmas, ask God to show you how to come alongside others to love them as deeply as he does.

     Coming to God for love and truth should be for us like breathing.  The gift of Christ, the word of God incarnate, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are to once a year gifts, they are gifts that are given again and again.  They also are meant to be received again and again.  If we refuse to receive and give love from God, then we may continue to breathe for a while, but true life will not be in us.  May we all give and receive abundantly this Christmas and in the New Year!

     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Sharpe Family! 

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