Home

Listening to the Shepherd’s Voice

Leave a comment

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

God is in Control!

Leave a comment

“‘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!

Leave a comment

“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

Leave a comment

“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

Giving a Reason for Our Hope

Leave a comment

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”  – 1 Peter 3:15

In church, we talked about sharing our faith in winsome and effective ways.  A quick review:

When witnessing, we should always keep in mind …

  1. Our Attitude – we should be reaching out to them in love, as the father does in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  We also need to realize that sometimes people are antagonistic to Christians because they have some underlying pain. We need compassion.
  2. Share the Truth, not clever arguments – it’s the Word of God that convicts and converts souls, not our legalism, philosophy, or debate skills.  We are in a spiritual battle, not a battle of wits.
  3. Be Humble – Not only does God oppose the proud (1 Peter 5:5), but puffed up arrogance gets us nowhere.  If we can remember that we are just as in need of God’s grace and mercy as they are, that will help
  4. Be Winsome – there is a spiritual “harvest” that is ready (Matthew 9:37), but every soul is not ready for the harvest.  Some need more time.  We must recognize different stages of spiritual growth, and guide people along to take the next step.
  5. Intercede for Them – if you don’t pray for them, who will?  And remember … before you talk to that person about God, talk to God about that person.

These are great things to keep in mind as we prepare to give a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ!

I am praying for you as you share your faith!  May God make you bold, and open the hearts and minds of the people you are praying for, and reaching out to.  May it be for HIS Glory!

– Pastor Augie.

Q&A: Why Do We Pray “If It Be Your Will?”

Leave a comment

Q: I have a relative who would like to know where in the Bible it says, “God Willing.”  Why do we say that when we pray?

A: There are others, but here are two significant places in the Bible where we are encouraged to pray according to God’s Will:

  • “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
  • “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)

When we pray, we pray for God’s Will.  Jesus both instructed us to do that in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6), but He also modeled it when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:42).  Sometimes people will say that we weaken the prayer by adding the word “if” … but Jesus, himself did it.  Furthermore, we are not praying “if you can do it, God” … because we know He can do all things.  What we are praying is “if it be your will” … meaning that we do not see all things like God does, and we do not presuppose to have all knowledge.  It is entirely possible that God’s will is different than what we desire – we are sinful, weak and selfish.  Wouldn’t it be better to receive what is God’s will, rather than the desire of our sinful heart?

Blessings,

Pastor Augie

P.S.  Praying “if it be your will, Lord” is actually similar to praying “in Jesus’ Name” … since God can’t do anything in the name of Jesus, that is contrary to His will.

Acting in Fear …

Leave a comment

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

Older Entries