Share the Good News

by Brian Reigart
 

I’m sure we all agree that 2020 was a difficult, crazy year. Who would have imagined we would have a pandemic, civil
unrest, and an election like no other. I admit that I was caught up in the election media-hype and rhetoric more than I should have been.

Like many people, I wondered what could possibly happen next? Would it get worse? What could possibly happen to me or my family? As God is wont to do, he showed me a devotion about being content based on Hebrews 13:5-6. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” That verse and devotion certainly helped calm my fears and put my mind at ease.

With all that going on in the world, my thoughts turned toward the end times. We know that before Jesus returns there will be troubles. But before He returns, He had to come to earth and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The babe of Christmas, Emmanuel God with us, who became the perfect Lamb and gave himself for our sins. That sacrifice is what we celebrate at Easter.

So as we look forward to Easter, let’s put aside the cares of this world and focus on the salvation provided by His sacrifice and His resurrection.

Do you KNOW He made that sacrifice for you? Have you ACCEPTED Him as your Savior? Have you ASKED Him into your heart?

If you know Him, are you willing to share the Good News of His sacrifice with others? There has never been a better time. People are wondering what is happening in the world and what is coming. Let’s tell them about Jesus, His sacrifice, and His return.

As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I want to know Christ- yes to know the power of His resurrection…not that I have already obtained it….But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind [and around us in this world] and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14)

God has called each of us to a heavenly prize but given us an earthly task, to share the news about the Savior.

Let’s prepare to celebrate Easter and Jesus’ resurrection and to share that Good News with those around us.


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Scripture Focus: Jesus Predicts His Death

Jesus Predicts His Death

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’”

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the
concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.’”

“‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’”

(Matthew 16:21-28)


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Living in Limbo

by Deb Trojak
 

Waiting. Oh, how I dislike to wait. And yet, that is what the past year of my life has been. Honestly, it is what the majority of my life has been. When I was younger, I thought life began at 13 because it was then that I could wear make-up, get my ears pierced, and babysit. (Yes, I definitely had my priorities straight….) During high school I could not wait until college. Then college came and I was super excited to graduate, get a job, get married. Then once married, I couldn’t wait to have kids. And now that I have kids…well of course, now I’m not waiting for anything. (Mmmhmmm.)

Then along came this past year – a year of blank calendars, uncertainty, and…yep…waiting. Some of that because of the pandemic but a lot of it was also from becoming a foster family. There is so much living in limbo when you become a foster parent. For a couple months we weren’t sure what children would be placed with us. We waited expectantly to see how many, what ages, genders, personalities, etc.

Since July and the arrival of our foster kiddos, it has been a long process of living with uncertainty with no foreseeable end in sight. Will they get to stay with us? Will the courts decide to give them back to their parents? Each month brings about delays and pushed back hearings. And yet, in the midst of all of this unknown – life happens. We continue to discover who these three beautiful children are and how they fit into our family. We continue to live. I’ve realized that this kind of living is very much how we are to live as Christians. In Hebrews 11:1 it says – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We do not know when Christ will return, but we do know He will return. There’s a theological concept called the “already-not yet.” It’s the idea that we as believers live in a time of tension. Christ’s first coming started the end times, but it is not “the end” until He comes again. So we are to live in the present, while holding on to the promises for the future.

And life continues to happen in the waiting. Thankfully, as a Christian, the expectation of what is to come makes the wait worth it. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet
inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

On the days I lose heart, I need to change where my focus is. These circumstances are temporary. At some point, it will become clear whether these children will stay in our home or not. (And at that point, I will then have to start waiting for something else.)

The wonderful thing in the midst of all the “momentary troubles” is that at the end there is an “eternal glory.” So in the small amount of time I have with these children, I can hopefully have an impact that is eternal. I can be present in the
moment, while looking forward to the certainty of what Christ has for me and for them.


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The Splendor of the Heavens

by Keith Bortner
 

“O Lord , our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord , our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalms 8: 1-9)

Ever since I was a little kid, the night sky has fascinated me and the more I learn about the things in that sky, and about how far away they are and how big they are, the more I’m in awe of what God has created.

It took about 10 years of taking pictures from a satellite in space to get all of the exposures required to create the Hubble Extreme Deep Field image, which is part of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The Hubble space telescope was pointed to an area of the sky that, to our eyes, appears to be completely black, like there is absolutely nothing there. In the resulting image of that apparently empty region of space, there are approximately 5,500 galaxies, each made up of thousands or millions of stars. The Hubble Extreme Deep Field is 1/32,000,000th of the sky.

Our God has made, and continues to make, an amazing universe. The vast majority of what He has made we will never see. The universe is full of things we can’t possibly fathom and we are minute little specks in it. Really, the entire galaxy in which we live is a minute little speck in this universe! And yet, what does Psalm 8 say about man? That God has made mankind a little lower than Himself, that he has crowned mankind with His glory and majesty! That He has put all things under our feet. God, the creator of all that there is, wants to take our hand and wants us to rule with Him, wants us to shape our world into something beautiful by being His image bearers, wants us to bring His love to those who don’t know him.

That love is what all of this is for. He created this nearly infinitely vast universe and placed us into it simply because He wants to love us and wants us to love Him and to love each other. Hopefully, when we see how small we are, but that God made everything there is because of His love for us, and also that He came to us in order to fix the relationship that we broke, we can see not how insignificant we are in the universe, but rather how much God loves us and how much we mean to Him, and then go share that love with those around us.


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It Is My Sin

by Chris Thomas
 

For the past few months, I have been participating in a Women’s Bible study on two of Max Lucado’s books, Because of Bethlehem and He Chose the Nails. I have learned so much from the ladies in that group and I’m so glad to be with them and to hear their thoughts.

In one chapter of the book He Chose the Nails, Max Lucado writes about the way the guards abused Jesus. He said, “Herod wanted a show. Pilot wanted out. But the guards, they wanted blood.” So, they blindfolded him, beat him, shoved the crown of thorns on his head, tore his beard, and scourged him. I think that if that had happened to a mere mortal, he would not have survived even a tiny inkling of the physical abuse Jesus endured. Have you ever seen the whip they used? I literally get upset every time I think about it. He could have summoned the angels to whisk him away at any time. Why didn’t He? He could have killed all of the soldiers who abused him. Why didn’t He? He could have miraculously healed himself. Why didn’t He? Because He had to endure so He could wipe away my sin. It was what He was born to do. It was why He gave up everything to become a man. It was His purpose. He is my Savior.

Mr. Lucado goes on to question the fact that Jesus never once reached up to wipe away the spittle that the guards spat on Him. He wore that spittle on His face, all the way to the cross. That spittle? That is my sin.

One of the ladies in our group, Deb Trojak, shared that she finds it amazing that it was not all of the physical punishment bestowed on Him that killed Him. It was the weight of the emotion of all of the sins of the world that finally killed Him. All of the sin of all of the world for all time. That’s what finally killed him. Me, you, every soul that came before us, and every soul that will come after us. Can you imagine how heavy that was? I cannot.

2 Corinthians 5:21 reads, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Are we worthy? I think not.

But by the pure and holy grace of God, He thinks we are.


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God Is Always With Us

by Greg Gross
 

Hi, Church Family. My name is Greg.

Every year I get a calendar for the year. Last year I went to “Hearts and Minds” to get a calendar. I found one with the poem, “Footprints”; this poem tells me God is always with me, no matter what happens in my life.

When I was 14, I decided I didn’t need God. A lot of bad things started to happen to me. That’s when He put His arms around me and carried me. That was some time ago.

As I live and love my Jesus, I find out that things still happen. Life is not fair. Two years ago I lost my wife to cancer. As I was leaving the hospital that morning, a song popped into my head from Sidewalk Prophets—“Soldier On”.

I believe He was telling me don’t worry, He’s got me.

Last year was a little different and this year we will see. Don’t forget the poem “Footprints”. He does truly love us.
When I got baptized, Pastor Todd gave me Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your path straight.”

As I read the Bible, other verses pop out at me…like Joshua 1-9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Lord, thank you for being with us, in every part of our lives. Thank you for loving us. Help us to not be discouraged and to always look towards You. Amen.


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