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Listening to the Shepherd’s Voice

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Jesus Good Shepherd

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27

In this well-loved chapter of Scripture, Jesus reminds us that He is the Good Shepherd.  What comfort!  What beautiful imagery that dovetails so nicely with the 23rd Psalm … “The Lord is my Shepherd…” How wonderful it is to consider this gentle aspect of our sovereign and almighty God. Not only is He the creator of the universe, but He is its loving caretaker!

Jesus also reminds us that there is an enemy (thief) that lurks around desiring to steal, kill and destroy the sheep.  Indeed the Good Shepherd protects His sheep from that enemy – even to the point of laying down His own life.  But He tells us something else – that the sheep do not “listen” to those strangers and thieves… Why? … Because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice! (John 10:5 & 10:8).

Oh, may you and I, and all people, desire to know only the Savior’s voice!  May we spend so much time listening to His voice in His Word, and speaking it to each other in the fellowship of His Body (the Church), that we easily can detect the voice of a stranger – deceiver – enemy and thief!

Green pastures and smooth waters to you …

with the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Augie

A Call for Integrity

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I was reading these verses from Deuteronomy chapter 25, and it occurred to me how this is a call for integrity.

Scripture: 13 Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. 14 Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. (Deuteronomy 25:13-14)

Observation: what this is related to is a practice in earlier days of making a little extra money by weighing out grains or goods using a lighter weight on the balance. This means that instead of selling a pound of cheese for a certain sum of sum of money, you would be selling them .9 pounds and thus making a little more profit.

Application: The life of the believer is to be one without duplicity. Notice that it doesn’t say simply not to cheat or defraud anyone, but not even keep the means of doing so in your possession.   It’s like the alcoholic, who must not just avoid drinking, but must move remove any trace of alcohol from their house – – remove even the temptation.

So for the believer, there must not even be the hint of deception, regardless of whether you conduct the act or not.  If someone were to open your bags and find differing weights, they would know that you would consider cheating them. The point here is that you and I should not even consider deceiving others.

Prayer: dear Lord, help me to operate today at the highest level of integrity.

May the Lord Bless & Keep you,

Pastor Augie

Abide in Me

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John15-5

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, ESV)

We love to “go it alone.” But, as Dr. Phil often has said, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” As I age, and discover that I can’t go as fast as I used to go, I can’t accomplish as much as I used to, my recall isn’t as sharp as it used to be, etc., it is reminding me that one day I may need more and more help, to even accomplish things in life that I now consider mundane.

But it is also a reminder to me of just how limited I am, and where my real sense of purpose and strength is found – in Christ. The things that I can accomplish purely out of the flesh, are really “nothing” at all. Rather, now, I am striving more and more each day to accomplish things that are works that the Lord desires – for His Kingdom and for His glory. But I am also striving to accomplish things that can only be done by His power at work in me – through that “connection.” So that it is evident to me that it is not I who accomplish it, but Christ working in me. Therefore, I am actually setting my sights higher – on bolder things – God sized dreams!

Finally, this verse reminds me of how important it is to remain connected to Christ through the Sacrament of Communion. Jesus also says, earlier in John’s Gospel, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). You wonder whether you need to go to church or not? This is one great reason to … to fulfill Christ’s call to ABIDE in Him. He tells us that this happens when we gather around the table to share the meal of Communion that Christ instituted for His Bride, the Church.

We are blessed to abide in Christ together,

Pastor Augie.

God is in Control!

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“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There are times when life just seems confusing, directionless, even pointless. It’s at these times that we need to know that God is in control and He’s constantly working all the pieces of our lives into a larger plan and tapestry that is ultimately good. This really goes against the sense of rugged individualism that pervades our culture: “if it’s up to be, it’s up to ME!” … and “look out for NUMBER ONE.” The problem with these views is that when you are what it’s all about, then ultimately, you are all you have – and that’s a lonely place to be. This verse reminds me that I’m a part of something larger. … and that I belong to someone stronger. Thanks be to God that He is in control and He is working out His plan in my life… and yours!

Perhaps My Favorite Bible Verse!

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“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  – 1 John 5:11-13

Here’s why …

Not only does this verse make clear that eternal life is a real thing … and that it comes only through Jesus, the Son of God … but it makes it abundantly clear that it is a gracious gift of God given to us freely through faith. The words “that you may KNOW that you have eternal life” remove all doubt that our salvation might be contingent on how well we did in life. “That you may KNOW” means that the person who believes in Jesus as Savior need not respond “I *hope* so” when asked, “will you be in heaven when you die?” … but must respond “I *KNOW* so” – since that is what Scripture clearly teaches – in this verse and many others! My prayer today is that anyone reading this post relinquishes any trust that they have misplaced in themselves or in false gods, and places that trust in the Name of the only One who saves – Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.

Amen!

The Return of Jesus Christ

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“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  –  Matthew 24:44

One of the highlights of this study on the book of Revelation for me will remain last Sunday’s Children’s Message at the 8:30 service, when I asked the children the question, “What can you do to get ready for Jesus to come back to earth?”  I expected the kids to say things like “pray.” “go to church.” “read the Bible.” “be good.” … or to just be confused and not know what to do to be ready.  That’s when little Maggie (who just turned 5!) raised her hand. After hemming and hawing a bit, she cautiously offered this response, “we could have a party?”

And I immediately thought, “what a great response!” So often we are encouraged to look for that day when Jesus returns with either fear or at least delay.  One time when I was a child, a preacher asked the congregation, “who wants Jesus to return?” And everybody’s hand went up! … Then he asked, “who wants Him to return tomorrow?” … and almost nobody raised their hand.  Why?  If we know that Jesus is going to come to bring us home with Him.  If we realize that once Jesus returns there will be no more sadness, evil, pain or brokenness.  If we realize that when Jesus returns we will spend forever content in the new heavens and new earth.  And if we realize that we are made ready for the coming judgment, not by how good we have been, but because God declares us righteous through our baptisms and our faith in Christ’s completed work on the cross … then why would we want to delay that reply?  Why wouldn’t we do just what Maggie suggested, and throw a party?

I hope and pray that in your heart, you are looking forward to Jesus return with the joy and anticipation you would look forward to a party.  And I hope and pray that when Jesus returns, He will feel received by us as the guest of honor at a party just for Him!  May it be so, for the sake of Christ!

Ready for Christ’s return with you,

Pastor Augie

Acting in Fear …

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”  – 1 John 4:18, ESV

The longer I live, and the more I mature in my faith, the more that I realize how many things people do (and *I* do) are motivated out of FEAR.  Take note some time… Not only are there the obvious things like not flying in airplanes, or not eating new foods, but there are even more subtle things that people do out of fear – even church people.  For example, when people argue about music styles, or building changes, or budget, or … etc … aren’t they really just voicing something that they are afraid of?  They are afraid of losing control.  They are afraid of losing significance.  Or they are afraid they will look bad.  Or …

I could go on, but I will just say that in all of this, I have learned that fear is a terrible thing on which to base our actions.  Fear might be a good indicator that you or I need to search our underlying assumptions and even our motives.  But when all is said and done, we should not be acting based on fear.  Rather, when we feel that fear is operating in us, we should expose our fears to the light of Scripture, and to the light of God’s Love.  It is only then that we can truly see our fears in perspective, and see them for what they really are – human based fears.  We are afraid of what others might do, and we are afraid of what we can and can’t protect.  But all of these are just that – fears.

Once we realize, however, what God has to say about the thing that is causing us fear, and about us when we are facing that fear, then we then gain power to act not out of our fear, but rather out of His Love!  Truly, His love has the power to cast out our fears.  For if we know who we are and whose we are in God’s Love through Christ, then we know that whatever it is that we fear has no power over us, since Christ has conquered it.  So instead we lean on God’s power, and He gives us the strength that we need to stand up in the face of our fears – and to act out of Love rather than in response to fear.  In truth, if we are in Christ, what then is there to fear?

May God give you strength and peace in the face of anything that is causing you fear.  May His Love overpower your fears and cause you to be filled with inexpressible hope.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Augie

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