SUNDAY – APRIL 21, 2024

“’Sing, O barren, you who have not borne!  Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child!

For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord.”  Isaiah 54:1

 

A few weeks ago during one of his sermons, Pastor Brandon asked a question about the resurrection of Jesus.  He asked, “Was that the greatest miracle of God?”  That’s a very important question to consider, but light filled my mind when he asked the question.  It was light about the very nature of God and all of the miracles that He has done and will do.  There is a categorical type of miracle that was first expressed when He created the world.  The theologians describe creation as being accomplished “ex nihilo,” meaning from or out of nothing.  God is the only one who can produce something from nothing.  All other beings, including you and I, must begin with raw materials; we must have some substance in order to create or produce something “new.” Only God can take nothing and make something!  That is the greatest miracle or act of God!  The following was written by Dr. Dennis Kinlaw for April 13 in his daily devotional This Day With The Master.

 

     “Scripture insists that God is capable of bringing life out of barrenness.  When God came to Abraham, He told him that all of human history would be different because of Abraham’s life, that out of Abraham’s descendants would come a lineage that would lead to the redemption of the world.  I can image Abraham and God’s conversation after God told him that.  I can hear Abraham saying, ‘You obviously aren’t from around here.’

     “’Oh, really, what do you mean?’ God asks.

     “’If you were from around here, then you would know that when a man is seventy-five and his wife is sixty-five, there is no chance for them to produce a child.’

     “’That’s right; I am not from around here.  In the place from which I come, there is One who makes the impossible possible.’

     “I am sure God has a sense of humor.  He made Abraham wait twenty-four years before He started the fulfillment of that promise.  How could one get a better illustration of the fact that God is the kind of God who can bring life out of barrenness.  God is saying that He is the One who can bring water from a rock, fruit from sterility, life from death. . ..   Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist, and Jesus are all witnesses to what God can do.

     “God can bring something out of your barren and sterile heart too.  If you open your life to Him, you will find the     unexpected.  Out of you will flow living water that will reach a world for His glory.  What could be a higher privilege?” (or greater miracle?)

 

The old hymn writer declared, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”  You and I bring nothing, and God produces life from our nothingness!  Hallelujah!

 

I live in the amazement of God’s great power!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY – APRIL 14, 2024

“Restore us, O God, of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease.  Will You be angry with us forever?

Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?  Will you not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?

Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation.”  Psalm 85:4-7

 

Are we interested in a genuine “move of God’s Spirit” in our world and our fellowship that could be described in no other way than revival?  Do we long for a sovereign work of God that would disrupt our “normal” spiritual practices to the extent that our only hope of “straightening things out” will be a display of God’s power and glory?  Are we willing to begin praying for that kind of renewing in the church?  Mr. A. W. Tozer preached a sermon entitled “How To Pray For Revival” that the following has been taken from.

 

     “What this country needs, what the Church needs, is the restoration of the vision of the Most High God.  Now, hear me.  I’m not just making up a sermon here to preach to you.  This is sound theology and can be checked and tested.  What we need more than we need anything else is a restoration of the vision of the Most High God.  The honor of God has been lost to men.  And the God of today’s Christianity is a weakling.  He is a little, cheap, palsied “god” that you can run and pal around with.  He’s the “Man upstairs.”  He’s the fellow that will help you when you’re in difficulty and not bother you too much when you’re not.

     “We have a stuffed “god,” now, in evangelical circles – a “god” that can be appealed to by anybody at any time for any reason.

     “The clown on the radio will break into his fun and say, ‘Now, we’ll have a minute of prayer.’

     “The half-converted cowboy, dressed like an idiot, will say after he has twanged some sexy number, ‘Now, I’ll do you a holy number.’  And he sings a ‘holy number.’

     “God is approached by everybody, because that kind of God can be approached by anybody.”

 

Then Mr. Tozer continued later: “There are a good many of us who are on the “rocks” because the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ isn’t here.  Our God is a cheap, handmade God – a composite of various theological ideas and choruses and stories we heard evangelists tell.  But we need the glory of God again.  And the returning of the glory of God to the Church is the primary imperative; it is absolutely necessary.  It is even more important than the salvation of souls.

     “But God, in His great love, has so ordered that when His glory returns, more souls will be converted as a result.  So, you don’t have to take your choice.  It isn’t an either-or; it’s a both-and.  And the trying to get souls saved at the expense of the glory of God is to cheat God out of His glory and not get souls saved anyhow.  We just make proselytes who aren’t Christians, but are something else.”

 

Remember that when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray corporately, He said that the “hallowing of the name of God” is the first and most important request!

 

I want to live wholly for the glory of God!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY – APRIL 7, 2024

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God,

and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29

 

Some folks have the attitude that “whatever will be, will be.”  They seem to believe that the events of life are disconnected from anything that we do or say as individuals.  They have a fatalistic outlook on life and think that there is nothing we can do to “improve” our experience of this existence of ours.  Even in certain Christian theologies, there is the thought of “unconditional” salvation and eternal destiny.  It seems that our behavior has no impact on even the outcome of our faith.  It doesn’t require a “deep” study of the Bible to discover that there are conditions that God expects in our lives that will produce certain results.  The Holy Scriptures do not teach a “fatalistic” view but rather state many “if-clauses” which encourage us to choose certain thought patterns and behaviors.  All those “if-clauses” teach that outcomes in this life and the next are very conditional!

 

This past week, E. M. Bounds in The Power of Prayer gave some good encouragement about meeting some conditions in our hearts that will affect outcomes in our lives.  Prayer and the condition of “desire” are expressed in his following words.

    “Desire precedes and accompanies prayer.  Prayer is the verbal expression of desire.  Prayer comes out into the open.  Desire is silent.  Prayer is heard.  The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer.

     “Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words.  Such uninterested, formal praying, with no heart, feeling, or real  desire, is to be avoided like a plague.  Its exercise is a waste of precious time; no real blessing results from it.”

 

The next day, Mr. Bounds wrote about the condition of our hearts in worship and song.

     “When God is in a person’s heart, heaven is present and melody is found there.  This is as true in the private life of the believer as it is in the congregations of saints.  The decay of singing means the decline of grace in the heart and the absence of God’s presence from the people.

     “The main purpose of singing is for God’s ear; to attract His attention and to please Him.  Certainly it is not for the         glorification of the paid choir, nor to draw people to the church, but it is for the glory of God and the good of the souls of the congregation!”

 

We certainly do not want the words of Isaiah to be true of us!  “And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition (without any thought of the meaning).”  Isaiah 29:13, Amp

I am drawing near to God with all my heart!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

THE RESURRECTION DAY

Easter Sunday     MARCH 31, 2024

“And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.” Matthew 28:7b  “…After He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”  Acts 1:2b, 3.

 

What we declare and believe is that Jesus Christ was crucified, He was buried in a tomb because He indeed was dead, and just as He predicted, He was raised from death and the tomb to be alive forever.  We know that not all people share our belief and confidence in the reports of the resurrection.  Paul wrote that even in the 1st century there were those who said that “there is no resurrection of the dead.” (See I Corinthians 15:12)  Those who don’t believe lived at the very same time as those who did believe and testified that they saw, touched, and talked with the resurrected Savior.  It is no different in our day.  There are those who say that resurrection is impossible, and there are those who say that resurrection is the promise of God.

 

What Paul says in I Corinthians 15:12-19 is that the resurrection is essential to what we as Christians preach and believe.  He lists several items that would be worthless if Christ had not been raised from the dead.  He uses words such as “our preaching is empty,” “your faith is empty,” and we (i.e. the 1st century followers of Jesus Christ) “are found false witnesses of God.”  Then Paul wrote, “But (my favorite word in the Bible!) now Christ is risen from the dead!” (See I Corinthians 15:20)

 

He believed just as many thousands believed in the 1st century that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and by that fact He established the guarantee of the promises of God.  There are two such promises that are found in I Corinthians 15:12-19 that really excite me.  Paul wrote that without the resurrection of Christ we all would still be in our sins.  He also said that all who died would have perished forever.  What a terrible plight for those who do not believe (or know) that Christ is indeed risen.  Think about those two extremely significant promises: the forgiveness of our sins, and everlasting life with God! Hallelujah!  Because of the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ we can have assurance that those promises are certain for us who believe.  “I know, I know my sins are forgiven, and I’m on my way to a place that’s called heaven!” Those are the words of an old gospel song which I embrace with my whole life.  I hope that you do too!

“I’m gonna live forever; I’m gonna die, no never!  Jesus died on the tree for me, and I’m gonna live forever!”
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

6th Sunday in Lent

PALM SUNDAY     MARCH 24, 2024

“Lift up your heads, O you gates!  Lift up, you everlasting doors!  And the king of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?  The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.”  Psalm 24:9-10

“Save now (Hosanna), I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Psalm 118:25-26

 

There is an old song in our hymnal which starts with a line that has been repeating itself in my mind.  The hymn is entitled “Lead Me to Calvary.” (See #310 in The Celebration Hymnal)  It is filled with phrases about the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, but it begins with the first verse: “King of my life, I crown Thee now; Thine shall the glory be; Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary.”  On the first Palm Sunday, the crowd was shouting that Jesus was their King!  They were saying in essence the first line of the old hymn, “King of my life, I crown Thee now!”  Most of them did not really understand what they were shouting.  There was probably only a small amount of individuals that were making a genuinely personal commitment to the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Beyond that, the only person who understood that Calvary was coming with the Cross of suffering and shame for the redemption of all humanity was King Jesus Himself.  It is easier for us to know the “rest of the story” because we are living on the “other side” of Calvary and the Cross.  We know Jesus has been, is now, and always will be the King of Glory!  We also know that He suffered, bled, and died for our salvation!  Hallelujah!  What a King and Savior that we have!  We are blessed, blessed, blessed!

 

I indicated that the phrase “King of my life” keeps repeating itself in my mind.  I have asked myself if I can honestly sing or say those words?  Is Jesus my personal King?  Is He King of my life?  For several days when I make a decision or do a particular thing, I think about that statement.  I ask in the choosing or doing, is Jesus “King of my life?”  Do my life’s activities reflect the kingship of Jesus?  Am I honoring Jesus as my King?

 

As the children of God, we want to “crown” Jesus as King and give glory to Him.  Certainly we can only celebrate this     Sunday, Palm Sunday, by honoring and glorifying Jesus as the King of glory!  We know that He is going to return, and then every knee will bow and honor Him as the King that He truly is!  We say, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”  In the meantime, we should live everyday in a manner that “crowns” Jesus as our King!

Jesus is my only King!
     Pastor Doug

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

5th Sunday in Lent

MARCH 17, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

 

Do you really believe that God cares about you?  Do you believe that He will take care of you throughout all your life?  Peter wrote that we are to be “casting all our care (everything that is a concern in our life) upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)  One of my favorite childhood hymns is “God Will Take Care of You. “Be not dismayed whate’er betide; God will take care of you… All you may need, He will provide; God will take care of you.  Nothing you ask will be denied; God will take care of you.”  So the theme of the hymn is obviously that God cares for and about us!  If you sing all four verses with the refrain, you will state 20 times that He (God) will take care of you!  It should be a strong encouragement to trust Him!

 

Sunday through Wednesday of this past week, many of us have been encouraged to actually trust in God’s concern about our lives.  E. M. Bounds wrote something each of those days about trusting God for “earthly needs.”  Here are some passages from those four days in The Power of Prayer devotional.

     “The possibilities of prayer are to be seen in its accomplishments in earthly matters.  Prayer reaches to everything that concerns people, whether it be the body, the mind, or the soul.

     “Prayer takes in the needs of the body, such as food and clothes, and concerns itself with business and finances – in fact, everything that belongs to this life, as well as those things that have to do with the eternal interests of the soul.”

     “Earthly matters are of a lower order than the spiritual, but they concern us greatly.  They are the main source of our cares and worries.  We have bodies with needs, pains, disabilities, and limitations.  That which concerns our bodies necessarily engages our minds.  These are subjects of prayer.”

     “If we do not pray about worldly matters, we exclude God from a large area of our lives.”

     “To leave business and time out of prayer is to leave religion and eternity out of it.  He who does not pray about worldly matters cannot pray with confidence about spiritual matters… He who does not put God in his struggling toil for daily bread will never put Him in his struggle for heaven.”

     “Both body and soul are dependent on God, and prayer is but the crying expression of that dependence!”

     “Disbelief that God is concerned about even the smallest affairs that affect our happiness and comfort limits the Holy One of Israel and makes our lives altogether devoid of real happiness.”

 

Another hymn asks, “Does Jesus Care?”  The refrain answers, “O yes, He cares; I know He cares.  His heart is touched by my grief!”

I know He cares for me!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

4th Sunday in Lent

MARCH 10, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

 

On Tuesday, we were reminded by the devotion material in Torn that God is the Father of those who believe in Jesus.  He is not the Father of everyone physically born in this world, but He sent His Son to make it possible for everyone to become a child of God.  When an individual calls on the name of Jesus for salvation, that person will be born again, and the Holy Spirit will impart new spiritual life to him or her.  Paul declared, “You have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:15-16)  So as children of God, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life!  Hallelujah!  God wants you to know the reality of His Presence in your life.

 

The sad fact is that many believers never come into the realization of the Lord’s Presence with them.  They cannot see this wonderful truth, and they miss the tremendous blessing of His Presence.  Dennis Kinlaw wrote about the two men walking on the road to Emmaus without being able to “see” the Lord’s Presence with them.

     “It was the Sunday after the crucifixion.  There were two men, not preachers or apostles, but laymen who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They were lovers of Jesus, and now the Christ they had known and in whom they had trusted was dead.  They were mourning, and they wept as they walked.  Suddenly a stranger joined them on the road.  When He learned the cause of their grief, He opened up the Old Testament to them and explained the meaning of the Cross.  He stopped to eat with the two men, and when He broke the bread, their eyes were opened, and they knew it was Jesus Himself.

     The living Christ is really present, as literally present in your life as He was with Cleopas and his friend that night.  They never knew He was there until He opened their eyes.  Whatever your circumstances are today, they are not as hopeless as Cleopas and his friend believed theirs to be.  Jesus is present in those situations that seem the most destitute and horrifying.  It is His presence that will make sense of your situation.  It is His presence that will bring hope and joy into your circumstances.  Christ is with you.  Have you forgotten that?  Let Him open your eyes so you can see Him.” (March 6th entry in This Day with the Master)

 

It is our prayer that you will realize in your life the Presence of the living Lord Jesus Christ!

He walks with me, and He talks with me!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

3rd Sunday in Lent

MARCH 3, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

 

We are in the season of Lent during which we are all encouraged to participate by reading, thinking, praying, and writing about the theme TORN.  This theme is based on the event that took place in the Temple at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.  The huge veil that hung in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  It proved the accomplishment of reconciliation through the Savior’s sacrifice, and “opened” a “new and living” way for us to approach the very Presence of God!  Hallelujah!  God wants us to “enter” into His divine Presence with confident hope for experiencing the “abundant life” that Jesus said He came to give to us.

 

One of the great promises of God is that you and I are known and identified as children of God because we believe in the  finished work of salvation that happened at the Cross.  We are definitely loved, accepted, and added to The Family of God.  I have shared several times about the Gaither’s song with that title, The Family of God.  There has been mention of it in the bulletin, and we have talked about it at Bible study on Wednesday evenings.  The chorus of the song can be found at #419 in our hymnal, but there are two verses that are not printed in our present hymnal.  The last hymnal that we used had the complete song in it, and we sang the song frequently.  Many of us remember the words, and I want to give you the second verse that I think is filled with a faith-building, hope-establishing, and promise-encouraging message.

 

“From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,

No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;

From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,

I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!”

 

An old hymn contained the repeated phrase, “I’m a child of the King, child of the King, with Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King.”  This is more than rhetoric, empty words!  This is a reality that God wants everyone of us to experience as an     actuality in our personal lives.

 

I am a child of the King!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

2nd Sunday in Lent

FEBRUARY 25, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

 

The Bible is filled with statements that express the fact that God loves us.  Probably the most well-known verse is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” This expression seems to have a corporate or group application.  Matthew recorded a time in the ministry of Jesus when He “went about all the cities and villages” performing acts of ministry amongst the crowds.  “But when He (i.e. Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)  This is another example of our Lord’s concern and love for the group that He encountered.   It is certainly true that Jesus has love that extends to the entire world, but what about me?  What about you?  How does Jesus look on each of us as individuals?

 

In the Gospel of John, the miracle of the dead man, Lazarus, being raised to life on this earth by Jesus is presented as one of the signs that proves Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  There is no doubt that the miracle of present resurrection declares the intervention of divine power.  No ordinary human strength could do such a thing.  When Jesus called Lazarus from his grave and he came forth in his grave clothes, the identification of Jesus was clearly established.  But there is another line in the story.   Jesus had asked where Lazarus’ tomb was, and they said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then the shortest verse in the Bible is recorded, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)  Next John recorded, “Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’” (John 11:36)  To the Jews, the tears of Jesus were an expression of His personal love for an individual, Lazarus.  In fact, the Jews probably didn’t see the clear expression of His identity, but they did recognize a clear declaration of Jesus’ love for His friend Lazarus.  Jesus was not loving a multitude at the grave; He was loving Lazarus!  He loved an individual!

 

Jesus had an encounter with a “rich young ruler.”  The young man came to Jesus seeking guidance about his personal      spiritual emptiness.  He asked Jesus, “What shall I do?”  Jesus talked to him about the 10 Commandments, which the young man said he had kept since the days of his childhood.  Here is the next line of scripture, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” (Mark 10:21)  What a statement about the personal love Jesus had for an individual!

 

You and I are surely included in the “multitudes” and the “world” that God loves, but the exciting news is that He loves us individually!  He loves us personally!  Do you know how much He loves YOU?

 

I am loved by Jesus!
     Pastor Doug
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

1st Sunday in Lent

FEBRUARY 18, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

 

The season of Lent has been observed traditionally by Christians for many centuries as a time of preparing for new life.  Indeed the entire season will culminate with the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection and the promise of eternal life that is offered to us because of His victory over sin and the grave.  Jesus has defeated death!  Yet Lent is a reminder that Jesus had to die because of our sins and failures.  Lent is to be a time of self-examination, meditation, and reflection on our sorrow for our sin.  It is a time to strip away the false and to expose truth.  Things need to be torn apart and turned inside out.  It is the time of “Spring housecleaning”  preparing for the fresh cleansing spring showers, sun and warmth which create that special time of new life!  While we will be celebrating Lent by using our devotional, Torn, we want to remind you of the special family relationship that God desires with each one of us.  I just had to share Dr. Kinlaw’s third part on Fatherhood of God from the February 8th entry in This Day With The Master.

 

     “We as Christians often forget how privileged we are.  We enjoy many benefits of the gospel that people in other religions never understand.  Several years ago I had the honor of hearing a woman from Pakistan tell about her conversion.  For many years her husband had been a major figure in the Pakistani government.  She told about reading the New Testament and how impossible it was for her to believe that people could begin a prayer with the words ‘Our Father.’  One thing she knew about Allah was that he was not like humans.  He was greater than human beings and infinitely different; human categories could never be used to describe him, certainly not one as personal and direct as ‘father.’

     “She said that when she came to faith in Jesus Christ, her first response was to lift her heart and say, ‘Father,’ and the moment she uttered the word, she fell on the floor in absolute terror of being killed for her impertinence.  But instead, the heavenly Father came to her in all His love and compassion, and she heard one word: ‘Daughter.’  She recalled, ‘I wept  uncontrollably at the reality that God in His sovereignty and greatness could belong to me in that kind of relationship.’

     “He is our Father.  Do we need a reminder of the depth of the love and compassion He has for us?”

 

Remember that family is the most foundational image of God and His plan for mankind you can find in the Scriptures.  Are you part of the Family of God?

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY – FEBRUARY 11, 2024

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”  I John 3:1a

 

Gloria and Bill Gaither wrote a “little” song in 1970 which became a very popular chorus among evangelical Christians over the next several decades.  The song was entitled The Family of God.  The chorus is “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God; I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!  Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, for I’m part of the family, the  family of God.”  As the congregation at NBC, we sang the song very regularly until many of the “old-timers” can sing it from memory.  (Just the chorus is found in our present hymnal at number 419.)

 

It is important to understand the biblical truth about the “family of God” because it is based on the very character and nature of God.  The following excerpts come from Dennis Kinlaw’s devotional This Day With the Master, the February 6th reading entitled Fatherhood of God.

     “In the bosom of eternity, before there was time or space or humanity, the second person of the triune Godhead called the first person of the Trinity not Lord, but Father.  So the family is a more ultimate social reality than the kingdom.  The origin of the  family is not in time, but in God.

     “The parent-child relationship – the family – is an eternal concept, not merely a temporal or historical one.  Everyone you will ever meet has a family.  People come in families.  Is that because God does too?  The early Christians understood that He does when they began their affirmation of faith with the words “I believe in God the Father.”  (The Apostles’ Creed)

     “Do you need to allow the Holy Spirit to change your response when you hear the word Father or the word family?  Some of us come from such broken families that we assume that God the Father is not good and that a heavenly family would be a nightmare of our earthly reality.  It’s not true.  Don’t let your brokenness keep you from finding healing in the perfect family.”

 

Remember the words of Apostle Paul in Romans 8:15-17.  “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…!”

 

I’m so glad I belong to the family of God!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY – FEBRUARY 4, 2024

“I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises.  I will behave wisely in a perfect way.

Oh, when will You come to me?  I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  Psalm 101:1-2

 

We believe that God has called us to work for the “salvation” of many individuals.  This includes children, adults, married people, and single people, and even the institutions that serve those individuals.  We want to do all we can to minister to “save” the church and the home.  We believe that God has given us a very specific responsibility to preserve the biblically defined image of the family.  We believe in a life-long relationship between one biologically born man and one biologically born woman.  The addition of children as God blesses that relationship forms “the family.”  This is the design that is clearly revealed throughout the Bible, and we believe that this model is the surest way to restore and maintain righteousness in our land.

 

The following is entitled “Setting An Example” and was written by Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of the late evangelist Billy Graham and the daughter of a missionary family in China.  It can be found on the back cover of the January issue of the Decision magazine.

     “I was blessed by being reared in a missionary’s home in China.  My father was head of the surgical department of a mission hospital.  Mother helped in the women’s clinic.  I grew up watching their concern for other people.  Daddy was a doctor, yet he felt that mission hospital existed primarily to tell people about Jesus Christ.

     “And I saw their concern for our family.  I never got up in the morning, for instance, without seeing Daddy reading his Bible.  I never went to tell him goodnight without finding him on his knees, praying.  Mother might not have had time to read her Bible in the mornings – she was getting breakfast – but she always read her Bible in bed at night.

     “They didn’t know that these and other things made a deep impression on me.

     “As you read this and consider the example you are setting for your family, are you so weighed down by your sins that you feel it is quite hopeless to try?  You are the sort of person God loves.  A mother of 13 children was asked which one she loved most.  She replied, ‘The one that is sick until he is well, and the one that is lost until he’s found.’  God has been     missing you, loving you, searching for you.  I don’t know the burdens you are carrying, but He does.  This business of     raising a family, with all its problems, is a difficult job.  Give your burdens to Him; He’ll take care of them.  All He asks is that you love Him and live for Him.”

 

May God bless us all, and may His grace make our families Christian!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY –  JANUARY 28, 2024

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”  Psalm 107:8-9

 

In Psalm 107, that exact phrase about the Lord’s goodness is stated four times.  The Lord’s goodness is the obvious theme of the psalm, and it starts, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (verse 1)  We often declare that fact about our God in our public, corporate worship times.  One says, “God is good!”  Then the rest of the group says, “All the time!”  Then the same person says, “All the time!”  The group responds, “God is good!”  Finally everyone says, “Glory!”  It is very important that we repeat this truth about the character of our God.  Our faith and our resultant prayers are based on God’s character.  The strength of our prayers of faith seems to be in direct proportion with our understanding and confidence in our God’s character.  We must be convinced that “God is good!”

 

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw explains that we human beings live “on a razor’s edge called the present” which is “gone before it can be named.”  He believes that having a past “we cannot shake” and a “future we cannot control” is a constant source of possible anxiety.  He then explains that a believer has resources to help him that nonbelievers do not have.  He writes in This Day With the Master, on January 24: “The Christian has equipment and resources not available to any other.  First, the believer knows the One, the only One, not caught in our transience, the sovereign God who created this finite existence, who rules His creation with a sovereignty greater than that with which a Beethoven arbitrarily corrects a score.  The Christian knows the Maker of the future.

     “The Christian also knows that God is kindly disposed to human beings.  God has demonstrated that in nature, in grace, in life’s bounty, and in Christ’s Cross.  He has revealed it in the character of the person of Jesus Christ, His Son.  His will toward us is good.  It cannot be otherwise, because that is His nature.  He is love.  Love for you.

     “But His love is conditioned by truth.  Jesus never spoke much about His love; rather, He demonstrated it.  He spoke about truth and the right way to live.  God, in His sovereign goodness, has a way for you into the future, and it is good.  Find that way, and you will witness His goodness and love.  Make your own way, and futility, emptiness, and discontent will force you to call Him Judge.  Find His way, and you will call Him Friend and Father.”

 

I want to declare what I know is true!  God is good!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY –  JANUARY 21, 2024

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served…

or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

 

We know that many people simply want to live their lives as they do until death, and then they don’t really care what follows.  Perhaps you have heard individuals even say, “I won’t be here, so why should I care what anybody does then.”  As believers we should realize that every generation must consider “passing the torch” to those who are in the following generations.  The Bible gives unmistakable instructions for teaching succeeding generations the “faith” and truth of God.  It is our responsibility to “put things in order” so that the foundational truths we have learned will be preserved and last far beyond our mortal lives.

 

Dennis Kinlaw wrote about the “covenant renewal at Shechem” as Joshua’s attempt to pass the torch to those who would live beyond his own years.  It can be found at the January 17th entry in This Day with the Master.

     “The closing chapters of the book of Joshua are Joshua’s final words to the people of Israel.  Israel is in the promised land, and Joshua wishes to renew the covenant between Israel and Yahweh before he dies.  He reviews the history of the covenant and speaks about God’s faithfulness to His people.  He calls them to choose whether or not they will serve Yahweh.  Joshua is very aware that after his death temptation for compromise with the Canaanites will be strong, and a compromise would mean death for Israel’s culture and faith.  Joshua is anxious for the people of God to reaffirm their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Moses, Sinai, and the conquest, so he calls them to do so.  The people acknowledge God’s actions for them, and they pledge their allegiance to Yahweh.

     “Joshua’s appeal to the people is based on God’s actions for Israel and not on Israel’s actions for God.  God has chosen and blessed Israel, and their motive for serving Him must be His great mercy and grace to them.  The same is true today.  The important thing is not what we have done for God, but what God has done for us. . .

     “The effectiveness of Joshua’s plea is indicated in the closing verses of his book.  ‘Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel’ (Joshua 24:31).  It is necessary for every individual in every successive generation to see the work of God personally.  Each of us must come to a meeting with God in which we enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh.  Therefore the word to us is still: ‘Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.’”

 

God has been so faithful in His blessing the ministry of NBC!  We certainly want this ministry and work of God to continue until Jesus comes!

To God be the glory, always and forever!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY –  JANUARY 14, 2024

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.   You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:13-14

 

The Church of Jesus Christ has been placed in a position of great responsibility.  In essence, the Church is the Body of Christ on the earth.  We, believers are literally His hands and feet, and we have been called and appointed to do His work in the world.  We are to “preach the gospel,” “heal the brokenhearted,” “provide liberty to oppressed captives,” and “proclaim the day of salvation” to a lost and dying world.  It should appear pretty clearly to us that the heart of the matter is sharing the love of God as it has been demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus.  There is another, perhaps more difficult task that we must do.  It is the mission given to the prophet Jeremiah recorded in Chapter 1, verse 10: “To root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

 

If we are going to stand-up for Jesus, it will mean that we will be in opposition to much that the world and our culture propagates.  The following is excerpted from Dennis Kinlaw’s This Day with the Master, the January 10th entry.

     “The prophet Jeremiah was a timid man living in a time that called for courage.  When God called him to be His voice, Jeremiah tried to excuse himself because of his youth.  At times during Jeremiah’s ministry he wished to flee the pressures of God’s call.  Once he decided to keep quiet and speak no more about the voice of God within him, yet the message burned inside his heart.  He could not keep silent; he had to proclaim the word of truth.  Sometimes Jeremiah wished that he had never been born, for his mission was not an easy one, and he seemed poorly suited for it.  In a wonderful way God chooses weak instruments to do His bidding.  Jeremiah was a man with human frailties, but he was a chosen instrument of God.  …To this tender, sensitive, shrinking soul was given the task of proclaiming the judgment of God upon the existing order in Israel and preparing the way for a new kingdom.  He was to stand alone; he was opposed, suspected, and scorned throughout his entire ministry.  Jeremiah had to deliver his message in the most public places and on the most public occasions.  He was mistreated, imprisoned, and finally (according to tradition) martyred for proclaiming that message, but when Jesus came, some people thought he was Jeremiah come back to life (Matthew 16:14).”

 

We, the Church are not called to be popular and “the favorite place to be” in the minds of the world’s people.  We are called to stand for truth and to oppose all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  We are commissioned to proclaim the judgments of the Lord!  Let us all pursue holiness so that we might see God!

 

I want to be “salty” salt!
     Pastor Doug

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

SUNDAY –  JANUARY 7, 2024

“For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  Matthew 6:32-33

 

“These things” as Jesus referred to them are “things” that we eat, drink, or wear.  It is a reference to the basic necessities for life.  The Apostle Paul also discussed “these things” in his letter to his “spiritual son” about “stuff” that money buys.  He wrote, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (See I Timothy 6:6-10)  Jesus taught that “these things” which provide contentment will be “given” or provided to everyone who “seeks the kingdom of God first.”  God wants us to trust Him and to know that when He is the first, primary object of our affection and desire, we will have “all these things” that we need!

 

I like how Dr. Dennis Kinlaw explained this idea in his devotional, This Day With the Master.  “God is God alone and is to have no rival or competitor in our lives.  He is offended and grieved when we let anything invade that central place  intended for Him.  He is saddened because we inevitably suffer when we let anything encroach on His rights and place.  The psalmist understood this.  In Psalm 16:4 he notes that sorrows increase for those who ‘run after other gods,’ so he will not participate in offerings or praises given by those with divided hearts.  He confesses that Yahweh is Lord and that even the good ceases to be good when God is not in control.  That is why Jesus was firm in His insistence that we should seek His rule first (Matthew 6:33).”

 

The best decision for any of us to make is to put Jesus first in our lives!  He is certainly worthy of that place in each of our hearts, but it is also the most practical choice we can make for our own benefit.  We have nothing to fear when we choose to live completely for Jesus!  There is no loss in any life of those who have made seeking God’s kingdom their priority.  I am praying for each of us that we will be blessed to overflowing because Jesus is the greatest love in our lives! 

 

Oh, how I love Jesus!
     Pastor Doug