His Purpose; Our Presence

His Purpose; Our Presence

God is a God of purpose. You can find this expressed numerous times in Scripture. From the creation account in Genesis to climaxing of human history in Revelation, the pages of Holy Scripture abound with references to the fact that God is a God of purpose. One of the amazing truths of this is that God has included mankind in his purpose. Paul speaks of those persons who are called according to God’s purpose, Romans 8:28. When a thing, a person, a plan, a project, an action, a word, church…to name a few, when these are God’s purpose, you can be sure that He will attend to that which is according to His purpose.

What started out as Pine Hills Church of the Nazarene, which then became New Life Church of the Nazarene and is now called Metro West Church of the Nazarene, from its inception, has been slated for God’s purpose. For sixty years, this movement has been engaged in its God-given purpose. Undaunted by the threatening, destructive and disruptive presence of all sorts of prevailing elements, the Lord of the church continues to lead His church in triumph. I am not sure to whom to credit this statement, but I have heard it said that “it is better to perish with a cause that will triumph than to triumph with a cause that will perish”. In the midst of various sort of the unpleasantness, the apostle Paul is confident that God is always leading his church in triumph through Christ, 2 Cor. 2:14.

The community of believers remain constantly confident in God’s ability to lead His church, to love His church and to lavish his church with his grace. God will never change His purpose for His church. While we may change our allegiance and loyalty from one denomination to the next and even question the church’s legitimacy, our discontent and disagreement will not affect God’s purpose. Knowing that the church is God’s purpose, there are those individuals who willingly and delightfully commit their all to Christ and His purpose. The church for them is not a gig. It is not a hangout spot. It is not even a place. It is a force, a movement, a mystical community built on the indestructible and unchangeable foundation of Jesus Christ as its firm foundation. The purpose of God is eternal. Therefore, the church has to be eternal. This should cause us to be extremely humble. God has made it possible for us, mortal and temporal beings to be a part of His eternal purpose. We must remember that His purpose was before our presence.

Our presence as God’s representatives and heralds of his love and grace must bear witness to this awesome God who deeply cares for the world. Our presence must be a redeeming one. It must be seen and felt. The Great Commission in its various forms in the Gospels suggests the necessity of our presence. This is the same way God executed redemption for us. There was Presence…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The concept is further borne out in two of the Metaphors that Christ has used to describe his followers. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We must be a presence that is carrying out God’s purpose. Much confusion seems to exist in this area. It shows up in discussions, deliberations, comments and behaviors. Though very well-intentioned, there are those whose mindset demonstrate utter ignorance as to the significance of the church’s presence. There are those who seek to become a part of it thinking that it is a social fraternity; others think it is a country club; still others think the church is a production house for the arts or the center for civic activity or an elitist privileged organization.

As a redemptive presence, we must proclaim the gospel of Christ. As a redemptive presence, we must adhere to the teachings of Christ; we must be a community that is being changed into his image and therefore be a reflection of who He is. These are not idealistic concepts. They are the very core of what it means to be Christian. Our presence must be the difference maker where there are injustices, abuses, poverty, and other social ills. Our presence must make the difference in bringing about healing in relationships at every level: between human and God and human and human. Our presence must serve as the demonstration of hope to the broken. It must be the signal to the lost that there is Someone who will not stop searching until He has found that which was lost. It is a sad commentary on the church if our presence is only for our own comfort and enjoyment. We must not be a catchment for persons who are searching for somewhere to go. We must be a rescue for sinners, pointing them to Christ.

Our presence must be the prophetic voice that confronts people of every stratum and rank; every color and creed, every language and tongue. The church today is not a new thing. If it is, it is not true. As has been said, if it is true it’s not new and if it is new it is not true. The church is the continuation of what began on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem about AD 33. What began there with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on some men and women who were waiting in obedience to the command of the Lord, a number of about 120 soon became 3000, then 5000 men then they eventually became to many to count. They were continuing in the apostles doctrine, prayer, breaking of bread and fellowship. A church informed, learning, leaning on the Lord, loving one another and caring for the newborn believers who were added to the church daily.

Today, I am humbled to be listed among the number of men and women who answered the call of Christ to shepherd His flock. I have vowed to be faithful. I have vowed to finish my course. I have vowed to feed his flock. Today, I offer you an opportunity to become a part of God’s flock. Come under His care and be a part of this indestructible force that is the anvil on which hammers are broken. Rise up young people, rise up children, rise up mothers and fathers and answer the call to salvation and service. The church of Jesus constantly remain.

 

Make The Spiritual Condition of Others Your Concern This Lenten Season

Make The Spiritual Condition of Others Your Concern This Lenten Season

Who Knows, God May Withdraw His Burning Anger So That We Will Not Perish, (Jonah 3:9)

2017 Lenten season begins Wednesday, March 1st. You may have already began to give thought to your Lenten journey. It may be some form of spiritual discipline intended to deepen your relationship with the Lord or a traditional practice. Whatever you will decide to do, may the result be spiritually and personally enriching. If I may, I would like to suggest that we take a different approach this year as we observe this Lenten period. Generally, the focus during the Lenten period has been on some personal goal. As you look back over those years of Lenten observation, what benefit can you recall? I am not suggesting that the observation was not beneficial. But it might not be easy to identify and quantify.

The approach I am suggesting is that we make the spiritual well being of someone else our focus and concern. This was what God asked Jonah to do when He sent him to go and warn Nineveh. We know from the account that Jonah choose to cater to his own needs and feelings instead of caring for the people of Nineveh. Jonah was not demonstrating the heart of God in his actions toward the people of Nineveh. Whatever were his reasons, he showed by his actions that he would rather the people in that great city of Nineveh to perish. Irrespective of Jonah’s personal feelings about Nineveh, he was to have laid those aside and follow God’s instructions. Jonah’s behavior is a perfect demonstration of the human will acting contrary to the divine purpose with full knowledge of what that purpose is.

Jonah knew that it was a possibility for the people of Nineveh to repent of their evil ways. He also knew that God was compassionate and merciful and that He would withdraw his anger towards the people of Nineveh. That was what he did not want to happen. He wanted them to be destroyed. If you knew that there is the possibility that someone could turn to Christ by your action, would you be willing to take that action? Or would you act in protest like Jonah?

Irrespective of how Jonah felt or what he did, it is obvious that his initial action displeased the Lord. God does not stop us from having our way. But He sure will show his displeasure. We must never presume that our displeasure is God’s also. Since we know that it is not the desire of God that anyone perishes, I am asking that for forty days in Lent that you to intercede with God for the salvation of someone. It could be your child, your spouse, your sibling, your neighbor, your co-worker, a public figure, a celebrity, a student, a teacher, a preacher, a church member, a pastor…

When Jonah eventually went to Nineveh, he announced “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown”, Jonah 3:4. He spoke without giving any suggestion as to how the people could avoid destruction. He just announced that they would be overthrown in forty days.

In response to Jonah’s announcement, the people of Nineveh believed in God and called a fast from the greatest to the least, the king included. The Scripture stated that “When God saw…that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which he had declared He would bring upon them…” Jonah 3:10. We do not know how many days the people of Nineveh fasted and prayed for. But their penitence got God’s attention. He spared the great city of Nineveh.

God heard the and saw the repentance of the city. Jonah did not intercede the way Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah; He did not intercede like Moses did for the people of Israel; He did not weep as Jesus did over Jerusalem; He did not cry as Jeremiah did for Judah; no, he did not pray as Samuel did for Israel.

What if it is your cry on behalf of those person that God is waiting to hear in order for Him to save that individual? Then let it not be said that it was because you did not pray. Your praying for forty days could result in that individual spending days without number in the presence of the Lord of glory. It sure would be marvelous to have a testimony like David: “I was crying to the LORD with my voice and He answered me…” Psalm 3:4. You would always remember the Lenten period of the year 2017.

Leaders of the International Church of the Nazarene echoes call for compassion after latest refugee rulings

In light of recent executive orders issued in the United States and decisions by other world governments regarding the status of refugees, the Board of General Superintendents for the Church of the Nazarene urges governments everywhere to quickly put into place systems whereby eligible and legitimate refugees can find refuge and safety in our countries. Further, we urge the President of the United States, Congress, and other state departments to make this temporary order a matter of urgency so that the United States may continue to be known as a nation of compassion and hospitality to those who are oppressed, vulnerable, and marginalized.

We echo our statement from November 2015, when significant global immigration in many nations compelled us to speak clearly and biblically to this challenging topic, inviting all Nazarenes to express Christian love to immigrants who live among us:

The Hebrew word, gēr, and the Greek word, xenos, can be defined as “immigrant.”

“If an immigrant dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The immigrant who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NKJV). Our Lord quoted, “Love him as yourself,” as part of the Greatest Commandment!

Jesus said: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was an immigrant and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35, NIV).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to immigrants, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels” (Hebrews 13:2, NIV).

While we recognize the complexity of immigration laws in various nations, the Board of General Superintendents calls on Nazarenes around the world:

  • To treat immigrants with love, respect, and mercy.
  • To participate sacrificially in local, national, and global compassionate ministry responses to assist refugees and immigrants.
  • To encourage their respective governments to approve equitable laws that will allow for family reunification, legal work permits for productive immigrants in the workforce, and pathways for undocumented immigrants to be able to obtain authorized immigrant status.
  • To follow the clear biblical mandate to love, welcome, assist, evangelize, and disciple the immigrants near us.

–Board of General Superintendents

The Advent Season Is Here: The Light Shines Into The Darkness

Candles

The Advent Season Is Here: The Light Shines Into The Darkness…

It is very easy for this period, November to January to go by without any real reflection of the purpose and promises of God. Our preparation and celebration of Thanksgiving; the availability of once in a lifetime bargains on Black Friday and cyber Monday; vacations and other travels, decorations and celebrations for the holidays and Christmas; New Year celebrations and the recovery needed from these, can eclipse all the focus that one might want to place on those elements related to the Christian Faith. Unfortunately, even the church that should be keeping the meaning and significance of Advent before us often gets caught up in the frenzy of programs and events which serve our interests and satisfy our own desires.

We see more secularism than sacredness during this season. There must be some deliberate effort on the part of the community of Christian believers to keep the sacredness of our faith as the central focus during our celebrations. This we seek to do by observing an old tradition of the Faith, the four Sundays of Advent. Let me be quick to say that there is no biblical record of this observation. But the history of the church reveals that at some time in the early years of the Church, persons who repented of their sins were taken through a period of preparation before they were officially received into the church. It was a period of prayer and fasting which culminated sometime in January. As we can see, the focus was an internal one, the preparation of the heart and spirit.

One of the men who is referred to in Scripture who was waiting for the coming of the Messiah was Simeon, (Luke 2:25-35). He was in the temple when Joseph and Mary brought the Baby Jesus for the rituals to be performed. In his praise to God Simeon stated that his eyes had seen the Lord’s salvation which was a Light of revelation for the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people, Israel. Will you see Jesus the way Simeon saw Him this Advent season? We are going to be seeing various arrays of lights this time of the year. But the only true Light is the One who takes us out of our own darkness and places us into His glorious Light.

The Light will never go dim. From His entrance into the world when the Word became flesh and lived among us until the day we see Him or return with Him in the clouds of heaven to restore all things according to His purpose, we are assured that anyone who follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of life. Jesus is the Light of the world.

 

 

 

 

Man-Up and Receive God’s Love

 

In keeping with our theme for the year, Working Out; Winning Others, we are focusing on winning men during the month of November. This is in no way even suggesting that men are superior to women. Actually, December of this year we will be focusing on winning women. January will be devoted to winning children and youth.

As we begin this special emphasis, it is my wish that every man will receive the love that God has for him. I know this might not even be an easy concept due to the fact that God is described as a male and many of us men are not comfortable with the idea of being loved by another male. But if you can forget the emotional element of love for a while and look at the caring aspect, it might make a difference. What I am trying to say to you my brother is that God cares for you. You matter to God. He desires the best for you, and has made provisions for you to actually have that quality of life that will bring you the greatest joy.

 

God has actually demonstrated His love for us by offering His Only Son, Christ Jesus to be the sacrifice who has made it possible for us to have peace with God and the peace of God. By receiving the gift of His Son, we also became the recipients of eternal life. No doubt you have been a hard worker and that is very commendable. Perhaps you have been looking at all the things you have acquired and you have a great sense of satisfaction because you have worked hard to obtain them. I applaud you for that. You have set a great example for others by being diligent and disciplined to provide for yourself and others. God is now calling you to rest for naturally, after all this hard work, He knows that you are tired. He invites you to come to Him and receive His rest. It is a rest that will restore every area of your life. You may not realize it, but just as constant use wears out machines, we humans, get worn out too. And we are not able to renew ourselves. God wants to renew you. Truth is, you are longing for this renewal with your entire being.

I have experienced His healing. He has mended my brokenness. He has been assuring me that despite my failures, He is always faithful. He loved me in my state of brokenness. He did not abandon me to the desires of those who wished and planned for my ruin. I am resting in His unconditional love. I invite you to trust Him to do the same for you. Whatever may have been the contributing factors to your hurts and pain, Jesus, your Savior is waiting to lavish his healing love on you. You will never be the same. I urge you to enter into a covenantal relationship with the real Lover of your soul. There is no greater love. Will you receive the Father’s love today?

 

I would like to hear of your decision. Please call me or email me. You are my brother; I want to journey with you. I want to share your joy. If I can be of any help to you as you commence this relationship with God, please let me know. God is love.

The Restoring God: He Restores My Soul

The Restoring God: He Restores My Soul

 

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most well-known Psalm in the Bible. It has been a source of comfort in times of grief and sorrow and a source of reassurance in the provisions of Jehovah for his children. In it the psalmist speaks of Jehovah and the special relationship that he shares with Him. The comprehensive care offered by Jehovah to His sheep is unmatched. Only He could care in this way. I’d like to ask you to think with me about the state of the individual that makes restoration of the soul necessary.

There are many craftswomen and craftsmen who are restoration specialists. They restore automobiles, furniture, houses, jewelry and a host of other things. I always like to see the before and after pictures of the restored objects. Many products are advertised as being excellent for restoring objects. Without being sure that the pictures we are shown as the before and after of the same objects, we purchase the product with confidence that we will get the result “as seen on TV”. Oh the surprises and disappointments many have had!

With the daily demands of life, we naturally experience “wear and tear” physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, psychologically…everywhere wear and tear. We make our regular visits to our physicians and specialists who keep us abreast of our physical conditions and administer the necessary therapy to keep us in top condition. We take vacations to rejuvenate us. There are products that are marketed as being able to rejuvenate us if we use them as part of our daily bath/shower routine. How ready are we to admit that there is the need for spiritual restoration and renewal? How honest are we regarding our own spiritual state? How can you tell that there is the need for spiritual restoration?

The need for spiritual restoration is as natural as the need for physical restoration. Our daily time of sleeping, eating, and exercising helps to restore our bodies. To deny ourselves of food, rest and exercise is to bring on sickness. The same is true regarding spiritual restoration. Denying ourselves of that which is essential to spiritual restoration will certainly lead to spiritual disease and spiritual death. A diseased soul lacks the strength and ability to defend itself against the contaminating elements that we encounter daily. I suggest that the Presence of Jehovah is our best option for restoration. David stated that Jehovah was with him and that the house of the Lord would be his permanent home. To dwell in the presence of Jehovah is our guarantee of the restoration of the soul. The overall care that is received, whether it is the food from the lush green pastures, the cool refreshing springs, the sumptuous table spread, or the anointing with the oil or the provision of righteousness, all contribute to the restoring of the soul.

A restored soul is a grateful one. A restored soul is a humble one. A restored soul is always mindful of the goodness and mercies of Jehovah. Those of us who have experienced the blessings of continuous restoration are patient with others as they go through their difficult times, which result in spiritual exhaustion and drained emotional tanks. We extend hope to them because we know what they are going through… because we just left there. The Shepherd has His keen attention on each sheep. Not one escapes His notice. The restoration of the soul entails the total person. Only the Good Shepherd is capable of doing this. The restoration of our souls is His delight. He waits for you to come to Him. You will not be disappointed.  He delivers on His promise: “I will give you rest…you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Behaviors Are Changed By Believing What is Taught

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The Whole Truth

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The Spirit of God was Moving

The Spirit of God was Moving…

 

Christmas has become a defining day for many. Much of the observances have no reference to the person and purpose of Christ. Easter, has some religious overtones. And there is an attempt to make sacred, some of the observations. Who remembers Pentecost? Who even celebrates it? And some would even ask, “Why celebrate it”? If there are reasons to celebrate Christmas and Easter, we have just as many and even more reasons to celebrate Pentecost.

Jesus stated the role of the Holy Spirit would be to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Where the Holy Spirit is present, there will be sensitivity to sin, righteousness and judgment both in our communities and in our individual lives. Just a note here: Justice is not a social issue it is a moral issue.

This Sunday, May 15 is Pentecost Sunday. We are celebrating healing and holiness in a special service at 6: p.m.  I am convinced that Jesus does not want His church to be without His Spirit. I have been thinking of the way the Lord describes the church that was in Laodicea, (Revelation 3:14-22). The church did not see any need of Jesus, because He was asking permission to come in to their church. They also were saying that they had need of nothing, (3:17). Can you imagine a church without Christ? Can you imagine a church without the Holy Spirit? Can you imagine a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

Jesus stated that apart from Him we can do nothing, John 15:5.  Paul states that if a person does not have the Spirit of God such a person does not belong to Christ, (Romans 8:9). The metaphors used to refer to the Holy Spirit makes us know that without Him there is no life: He is the Living Water; The Breath of God; He is Fire; He is the Spirit of life. I desire the Presence of the Spirit; I desire the power of the Spirit; I am determined to live in the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. I know it is possible to have manifestation without operation. Yes, it is possible, (1 Kings 19:9-12).

I extend an invitation to everyone who truly believes in the Person and work of the Holy Spirit to celebrate the historicity of the Spirit. But more than that, experience His purifying work in your heart and live under the influence… LUI, (Credit Dr. Sam Vassell).

 

A Faith To Be Understood

A Faith To Be Understood

I am not sure how many automobiles are in the world. But I would guess they are in the billions. Some persons own multiple vehicles. Most of us who own one look for reliability and comfort. The authorities have stipulated that before we operate a motor vehicle on public roads, we must take and pass some exams to show that we know how to use the roads safely. Despite such measures, thousands of lives are lost yearly as a result of traffic accidents…mostly due to driver’s errors and not mechanical failure. Of the many persons who own and operate a vehicle, only a small percentage actually understand how they work. Most operators only know enough to operate them, and we are happy with that. Actually, I believe some persons are happy just to own one.

It is a similar situation with our bodies. Most of us only know a few basic things about our bodies and how they work. How many of us know how to measure our blood pressure? How many of us know how to measure our glucose level? What about our cholesterol, our hemoglobin, our sodium and the other vital enzymes and chemicals in our bodies? For these we see the physicians. Sure we know how to feed ourselves, take a bath, get dressed, and some of us can fix our hair.  We are greatly dependent on others for many necessary things.

Let me mention one more area; money. We know how to work to earn a living. But we do not know how to let the money we earn work for us. So we have investors, stock brokers, bankers and a host of other financial experts that we depend on. We know of some of the thieves who have exploited our ignorance and have swindled the unsuspecting out of millions of dollars. Just about everyone who uses the services of a bank or any financial institutions is at risk to be defrauded, and the internet has made this a lot easier. Some of us have been notified of large purchases that were made from our bank accounts without our permission and knowledge.

So we don’t need to understand how an automobile works to operate or own one; we do not need to know how our bodies work to be happy with ourselves and we surely don’t need to know how to make our money work, we just need to know how to work for it. What about the Faith?  Do we need to understand our Faith? Or should we treat it as we do our automobile, our bodies and our money? An individual who does not understand the Faith is quite likely to fall prey to the many wiles of the devil. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus makes us know that it is the person who hears the Gospel and understands it who will be a reproducing believer, Mathew 13:23. Paul asks us to understand what is God’s will, Eph. 5:17. He instructs us to work out our salvation, Philippians 2:12. Jude asks us to earnestly contend for the Faith, Jude 3. Faith in these contexts is referring to the body of truths that we believe, not faith as trust in God. Understanding the Faith takes time and thinking. Yes, it will require that we ask questions, study God’s word; spend time in prayer and spiritual contemplation and be connected to a healthy local fellowship. God’s peace is what surpasses our understanding not the Faith.

One should not confuse a thrill with happiness. Performances can produce a thrill; productions and presentations can boost us and even motivate us. But these are not substitutes for understanding our Faith. Like the operator of an automobile who does not know what a steady red light on the dash means, or the person who does not know that face drooping could be the sign of a stroke, or the investor who has no clue as to how the stock market is influencing his investments, and like the pastor of the church in Laodicea who was wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked but he did not know. In the same way the person who does not understand the Faith will think it is peace and safety but then comes sudden destruction. The Faith is precious. Let us seek to understand it.