Celebration 

Nehemiah 8:10
“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

Chapter 8 brings us to the climax of the book of Nehemiah. After the grueling task of building the walls was completed, the people gathered together to celebrate the Lord. Ezra the priest, stood on the a stage and began reading and explaining the Word of God. One by one the people began to weep as their sins were exposed in light of the Word.

I find it interesting that Nehemiah told the people not to weep. In essence, he was saying this was not a day to weep, but to rejoice. His reason, this was a holy day. The word holy carries the idea of separation. This day was to be dedicated to the Lord, and instead of sorrowing over past failures, they should be celebrating the work of God. There is nothing more worthy of our celebration than when a person turns to Christ. The Bible teaches us, when that happens, sins are forgiven, eternal life is granted, and the work of the Spirit begins transforming us into the image of Christ.

While it is important that we realize our sins and turn from them, it is also important that we move past them into the wonderful mercy of God. As long as we let the past hold onto us, we will be hindered from moving forward in the Lord. It is time to let go of our failures, trust the mercy of the Lord, and move into the life He has written for us.

Pastor Jim

 

In The Congregation 

Psalm 111:1
“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”

God created us as social beings; pwe need the companionship of one another. Knowing that being together is a necessary part of healthy development and spiritual growth, God established seven feasts that took place during three different seasons of the Jewish calendar year. During these feasts the children of Israel were to journey together to the city of Jerusalem. The journey itself became a time of celebration. The closer they came to the city, the more they would celebrate. As they hiked up the hills where Jerusalem sat, they would sing a series of psalms, now known as the Psalms of Ascent. Upon arriving, the feasts consisted of corporate gatherings, sacrifices, teachings, worship and eating. Like the festive times in our calendar year, I am sure these were the highlight of the year for the people.

In the New Testament, God established another means by which to satisfy the social needs of His people. He created the church. Now the primary purpose of the church is to be a place where God is glorified, and the Word of God is taught, but in order to do those things, we must gather together in corporate worship. When that becomes a regular part of your weekly schedule, you will find you are not only growing closer to Christ, investing in eternal things, but you are also much healthier, socially. God knows our needs and designed corporate worship for our benefit.  When it is neglected, our growth is stunted, but when we regularly participate in it, we begin to grow in ways that we never thought possible.

Let’s follow the example of the Psalmist, determining that we will praise the Lord in the assembly of the righteous. Here are a few tips that will enhance our worship experience. First, determine now that you will not be a random attendee in your local church. Plan now to attend Sunday morning and a mid week service. Plan for things that regularly interfere, perhaps even making dinner in advance. Get the kids involved with the ministry at their age level. My kids love church because of the relationships they established with others.

Corporate worship is key to spiritual growth. Get plugged in today

Pastor Jim

 

Lost And Found

Luke 15:2
“This Man receives sinners . . .”

20140227-074349.jpgMan lives as though God and eternity are a mystery. Even before I became a Christian, I had heard the pseudo–verse, “God works in mysterious ways.” Here, in Luke 15, the mysterious ways of God are revealed. We see clearly how he feels about the lost, as well as what He does about it.

Jesus tells three stories, and in each one, He is played by a different character. In the first, He is the man who has a lost sheep and leaves all He has to find it. In the second, He is played by the woman who searches diligently to find the one lost coin. Finally, in the third, He is played by the father who patiently waits, while his son wastes his life. We see clearly the heart of God toward the lost and wayward. He willingly gave up all, clothed Himself in humanity, to seek and save the lost.

The message is clear. If you are wayward, come back to Him. He loves you and wants to forgive you. If someone you love is wayward, express to them the same loving grace that the father showed his son, as you pray and await their return.

Pastor Jim