Are you prepared for eternity?

I love God’s word!

I have a medley of scripture verses developed over the years that the Lord has given me that I recite nearly every day on my “drive to work”. Yup, haven’t been as faithful with this in my work from home status over the last few months, but I am still prompted often to recite it in order to keep it fresh in my mind. I have also recently been blessed with scripture that has encouraged me in this crazy part of world history over the last several months. God’s word helps me keep a right focus, control my fear, and maintain an attitude of worship.
 
My recent blessing comes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and in my Bible is titled “The Coming of the Lord”. I won’t list it here in its entirety but ask you to read it. I have excerpted verses 16 and 17.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first (those who have died having chosen Jesus). After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.

Can you get excited about this truth?

If we can’t get excited about this, we don’t understand the gospel or the second coming of Christ. If we don’t understand what God has prepared for us for all of eternity, we don’t understand the gospel or the second coming of Christ. If we think we would rather enjoy the things of this world and have bought into the worldly notion that heaven will be boring as we simply float around in the clouds singing worship songs, we don’t understand the gospel or the second coming of Christ.

“Therefore encourage each other with these words” – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

The Bible tells us Heaven and earth will be one and God is coming to live with us (Revelation 21) – how incredible is this? Those whose name is written in the book of life having chosen Jesus Christ will help God rule the universe. How crazy cool! Isaiah prophesied this 700 years before Christ, Jesus talked about it during his life on earth, and John saw this 100 years after Christ as he was given this vision in Revelation 21. I pray you have been encouraged as you think deeply about this truth.

I have learned over the years that God’s truth coming alive in our hearts and minds doesn’t just happen, it takes discipline to study, meditate, and marinate (as Pastor Jon reminds us) as God allows and desires us to grow in relationship with Himself.

 

Are you able to make time for getting to know God and ensure you are prepared to meet Jesus in the clouds? I pray everyone reading this will be prepared. If you’d like to talk more about this, please contact us – we’d be filled with joy to introduce you to Jesus and help you grow in Him!

 

Author:

Randy O. | Elder, Faith Assembly

 

 


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Called to be Servants

Have you noticed how affectionately the followers of Jesus were described in the Bible? Many warm names were used to describe God’s children, here are just a few: brothers and sisters, children, believers, disciples, the elect (I like that one), sons and daughters, and one of my favorites – SERVANT.
 
Sadly, many don’t appear to appreciate or have the desire to accept the role of someone who serves. I have to admit; how I act, what I think, what I talk about, and many times the content of my prayers center around my needs and wants – not someone else’s.

Jesus lived and taught something different to those around Him. He gave His life so we could experience freedom from sin and have eternal life with Him, quite the act of a servant. For us salvation not only includes forgiveness and eternal life, it also means taking on the character of Christ and becoming servants of the Father.

This, however, is not the way it shall be among you.  If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of the others – like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.  Matt 20:26-28 (GNT)

 

Even though Christ had a huge following, He didn’t look for power, status, or admiration. He came to serve, and He never lost sight of that during His time on earth. The Bible tells us Jesus is our example. It also tells us He was equal to God but humbled Himself to become a man. Just like Jesus, we are one with the Father. Add to that the truth of how we are made in God’s image. It seems reasonable then that serving is a part of our new nature and make-up.

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus He has created us for a life of good deeds, which He has already prepared for us to do. Eph 2:10 (GNT)

If we struggle with the idea of serving others and are honest with ourselves, it looks like the only thing that stands between us being who God designed us to be and who we are today is… ourselves.

 

Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:25 (MSG)
 
Without a doubt, the Father will honor our hearts and actions when we move from concentrating on ourselves to focusing on how each of us can help a hurting world. Jesus is our Savior AND the Lord of our life. We have one purpose and that is to be His servant to glorify Him.
 

What might be the result of giving ourselves to a life of service as our Savior did? I think it’s this: when we, the body of Christ, share His love and give of ourselves to others, we give God an open door, through us, to affect the world in an amazing way.

 

As for you, my friends, you were called to be free.  But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up on one commandment; ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’. Galatians 5: 13-14 (GNT)
 
This topic is near and dear to my heart so I could go on, but I’ll leave you with a few thoughts to ponder instead.
 
From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:

If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measure it, but only by what God pours through it — and we cannot measure that at all.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV)

 
Servanthood has an eternal impact on lives. It willingly involves itself in the needs of others as the Holy Spirit leads us, leaving God to work the results. God is asking us if we are willing to do a servant’s work for Him. What is He calling you to do today?
 
Author:
Church Development

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The Righteousness of God

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21 
 
Jess and I had communion this last Sunday. It’s a fascinating sacrament. We do it to remember this: the blood of Jesus washes our sin away, and at the same time, God places the righteousness of Christ on us. It becomes the lens God uses every time he sees us. Theologians call it, “Imputed Righteousness.” This righteousness was a concept that I did not understand until my sophomore year in Bible College. But I didn’t learn it in a classroom. 
 
A floor mate of mine loved Jesus. Let’s call him Gus. Gus loved Jesus so much that he became known for it in a dorm full of Bible majors. Like many colleges, I remember we’d have late-night heart-to-heart conversations. Everyone would listen as a guy shared his life story. Then there would be a respectful silence before we responded to build that person up, to encourage them.
 
When Gus was in the discussion, he’d start his response with a slightly longer version of the same thing he said every morning while greeting people. 
 

For example, let’s say I just finished sharing my life story. After the short silence, Gus would get up, put his hand on me, and look me in the eye, “First off, Phil, do you know that you are the righteousness of God? That when God looks at you, he does it with all the limitless love he has for his perfect son Jesus, and it brings him unimaginable joy to even look at you?”

 
When Gus first said something like that to me, I told him I understood. But I’ll be honest; I didn’t, not yet.

It would take a few more mornings of, “Good morning, Phil!”  

“Good morning Gu-”

“Did you know that today, God sees you as righteous?!”

At 26 minutes into the Sunday morning service on April 26, Pastor Jon articulated imputed righteousness. Every time we take communion, that beautiful doctrine is there. I honestly can’t tell you how I grew up all those years in the church and missed it. 
 
However, I can tell you this. Jesus shed his blood so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God. The more you remember that, the more it will change your life. 

And if you remind others, it could change their lives too.

If you’re reading this and desire to know more about Jesus, contact us. It will absolutely change your life. We are here to have that conversation when you’re ready.
 
Author:
Phil Arellano

 


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Raising Up the Next Generation for Ministry

For 20 years, I have had the privilege to work at one of the nation’s premier science laboratories owned by the Department of Energy.
 
This laboratory is now over 50 years old – and for those of you in the building and utility business – you know 50 years is about how long these systems last without major reinvestment. I am amazed every day with the physical actions that a very dedicated work force conducts to keep the old place up and running. Actions that not many people know about and most take for granted and so much so, we don’t plan as well as we should to prepare for replacing a seasoned workforce just a few years from retirement.

Again today, as I was hearing about two major waterline breaks and a site wide problem with our building security system, I thought about the parallels in the spiritual world and how critical even urgent it is to grow up the next generation here too.

 
Bringing this a little closer to home at our church – Faith Assembly – there are countless people I call spiritual giants, operating as prayer warriors and servant leaders in any number of our ministries and meeting needs (some of which not many people even know about). Several of these people are retirees, near retirees, and others in the midst busy lives. They serve with a happy heart for the Lord and for the local church body. Importantly, they are mentors and models seeking to raise up the next generation to serve after them and in their footsteps.
 

Without raising up the next generation at our places of employment and churches, how will these places be sustained to not just survive but to thrive?

2 Corinthians 9:12
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
Ephesians 4:12
…to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
 
If there is no next generation, who will be there to know how to repair the next waterline? In the local body, who will be there to pray and serve in the various ministries God has given us?
 
  • If you are one of our more seasoned spiritual giants, I thank God for you. Keep going.

 

  • If you are a more seasoned person without a specific ministry focus, I also thank God for you and submit it’s never too late to serve in whatever way God calls you. Get involved. There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God.

 

  • If you are one of the not-so-seasoned currently serving the body, I thank God for you and your willingness to be mentored as the next generation. Keep learning, serving and growing. God is using you for to reflect his glory.

 

  • If you are one of the not-so-seasoned not currently serving the body, I also thank God for you and submit that the body needs you. God knows whom He will call; so please be in prayer as to how He wants to use you and be open to His prompting. You will find community, growth, and God will use you for His glory.
Revelation 2:19
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
 
Over the past 23 years of my service for the Kingdom and my observation of others in service over this same period, I have found time and time again that God is faithful and His promises are true – He equips those He calls! God bless you as you serve.
 
Author:
Elder 

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Exercising Your Faith

What does it mean to exercise your faith? Personally, I think it’s putting your faith into action. Just like the muscles in your body will atrophy without use, so will your faith muscles.
 
Let’s look at 2 Kings 4: 1-7.
There was a widow whose husband was a servant to the prophet Elisha. She says to Elisha, “you know your servant, my husband, feared the Lord and since his passing the creditor is coming to take my sons to be his slaves for payment.” So, Elisha says to her, “what would you have me do? What do you have in your house?” She responds by saying she has nothing in her house but a jar of oil. So, Elisha tells her to go and borrow vessels from all her neighbors – empty ones – and do not gather just a few.
Once she has all she can borrow, she was instructed to shut the door behind her and her sons. Then, Elisha told her to take the jar of oil and fill all the empty vessels she borrowed. So, she did as the prophet had instructed her to do. She started to fill the first empty vessel. When that one was full, she went to the next and the next until she asked her son for another. Her son said there were no more to be filled. Suddenly the oil stopped flowing from her jar. She did as Elisha said and sold the oil. She had enough to pay off her debt and live on the rest.
How did the widow exercise her faith?
 
  1. She asked for help – She knew Elisha was a man of God and knew some kind of help might happen.
  2. She obeyed – had her sons go borrow all the empty vessels they could from their neighbors.
  3. She exercised her faith – she physically started to pour the oil out of her jar into the empty borrowed vessels.
 
Do you think her faith was stronger after she filled all the empty vessels with her little jar of oil? I think she took her faith to new heights.

In Ephesians it says to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. So, it’s not what we can do, but rather what God can do through us.

It says in Hebrews 12:2 “We should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
 

Bottom line is this, whenever your faith is tested; make sure you put your faith into action. You will build your faith in the Lord, but more importantly, the Lord is glorified through the action of exercising our faith.

 
How much exercise have your faith muscles gotten lately? When we take action build them, our faith will get stronger, we will feel more courage, and the Lord will be glorified through us.
 
Author: 
Elder at Faith

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Bread or a Stone – What Will You Offer the Lord?

There isn’t a person among you who would give his son a stone if he asked for bread,
is there?
Matthew 7:9 (ISV)
 
Many of us are familiar with Matthew 7:9. Although this scripture is rich with lesson as it was intended, for our purpose however, we’re going to focus on the topics of asking, giving, and the gift. You and I will remain the ‘giver’ as noted in the scripture, the ‘receiver’ will be God and the gift will remain bread or a stone.
  • The bread – giving of ourselves to serve others. Allowing God to use us to minster to others or share the material blessings He’s given us for the sake of the kingdom.
  • The stone – knowing God called us to move out of our comfort zone to meet the needs of someone else. We reason with ourselves, giving us the opportunity to ignore the need, ignore the call, and give God a stone.

Bread or a stone?

It’s here the bread and stone in Matthew 7 took on a different meaning for me. My husband and I were praying about how God might use us to minister to others. We couldn’t find peace or direction. Did we believed God wanted us to share? Were we allowing a situation to lead us to share? Were we really in a position to do this? These questions kept us in constant doubt. One day as I pondered the need to make a decision, this thought came to me, “if you have bread will you give God a stone?” I didn’t question it nor whom it came from; I knew it was from the Father. What relief that question brought to the decision making – easy peasy when you know what to ask, right?

I would have welcomed it if the thought could have been a ‘one and done’ but – not so. God intended to work more deeply in my heart than I counted on, making sure this question was solidified for me: “if you have bread will you give God a stone?”

I tried to ignore the question.

After trying to ignore answering it, I needed to come to terms with the question God asked me. Unfortunately I had to confess, all my life I decided whether I would serve others when God called me, or I would ignore His voice and serve myself. It grieves me to say, if I took the stones I’ve given God and built a wall with them, I’m confident it would dwarf the Great Wall of China.

The bread God offers us is not to satisfy the needs of our body, but to satisfy the needs of our soul. He gives bread that brings life instead of death. It’s the greatest sacrificial servant act that could ever be offered.
 
Do not work for food that perishes but for food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you because God the Father has set His seal on Him.
John 6:27 (ISV)
 
The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
John 6:33 (ISV)
 
Jesus told them, “I am the bead of life. Whoever comes to me will never become hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never become thirsty”.
John 6:35 (ISV)

 

He changed my heart.

That’s how Matthew 7:9 changed my heart. When I know the Lord is asking me to serve Him now, and I feel my flesh rise up offering reasons to doubt, I ask myself the question: “Cindy, if you have bread will you give God a stone?” I’ve committed myself to stop and answer the question. It helps me stay centered regarding what is right and who I am in God. Because of this, it has become a precious blessing to serve when He calls.
 
Reason being, I want the Father to have every crumb of bread He desires to do His work – no matter what. What I’ve called sacrifice is really not sacrifice at all! It is disciplining my flesh, allowing the call to serve become a blessing.
 
The next time you’re faced with making the choice to serve or not, take time to ask yourself the question: “if I have bread will I give God a stone?” My hope is you will choose to serve.
 
Author: 
Church Development
Faith Assembly

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New Wine – God Pouring New Life into Us

In our church, we sing a song called New Wine. It has a lot to do with the condition of our heart. Jesus said in Mark that new wine is never placed into old wine skins because as the aggressive fermentation process permeates the skin – a previously used skin that is already worn and saturated will burst with the pressure.
 
Mark 2:21 – 22 (NASB) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Mark’s implication is that our hearts are like wine skins, and God is always looking to pour new life from Himself into them. If our hearts are worn and saturated with an older fragrance, an older fermentation, we are not able to receive the new life He wants to pour into us.

Lamentations 3:22 – 23 reminds us, “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions (mercies) never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (NASB)
In Isaiah He says, Isaiah 43:19 (KJV) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
 
As creatures of habit, it’s easy to slip into even spiritual patterns that eventually become stale. While we may be content with the stale condition of our hearts, that sentiment may not be shared by the One who knows us and loves us most.

What God is looking for from us is a soft openness to His continual outpouring of His mercies (Lam. 3). That softness is actually what creates a new wine skin in us.

David said in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.
 
Paul put it this way, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold, old things have passed away all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

That softness before Him gives Him the perfect conditions for creating something new in you and me. He pours in His newness of life and we are able to grow in Him as His Spirit permeates through the walls of our heart permanently becoming part of us down to the smallest fiber.

 
He instills in us a flavor and an aroma of His personal presence in us, and His character begins to flow from us as it matures into the fine quality of His vintage or timeless Holiness.
 
But, if we are stubborn, selfish, arrogant, rebellious or sullied by addiction to what we personally want, then He is unable to pour in Himself since the skins – our hearts- are too weak to sustain or withstand Him.

Today is a good day to start over… fresh.

 
Ask Him to create in you a new heart… to do something new in you… and show you how His mercies are new every morning.
 
check out The song, make it your prayer, and surrender to the work He is doing in your life today..
 

 
Author:
Lead Pastor, Faith Assembly

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Trust in God’s Plan

How many times do we say something we believe in our heart, but turn around the next second and do the opposite? When things are going smoothly in life we praise His name with no problem, but what happens when we get a bump in the road? Do we continue to practice what we believe? Or do we question our beliefs, get angry, lose trust, or even turn away from Him? It is so easy to say we trust God, but when things do not go our way do our actions match our words?
 
Look at the life of Joseph. He was thrown into a well, sold by his brothers, thrown into jail for something he didn’t do, yet he continued to trust in God’s perfect plan knowing that God was with him through it all. Eventually Joseph would become a major leader in Egypt who would forgive his brothers and save his family from the famine. WOW! I’m not sure I could say that I would do that – but what an amazing example to hear and be encouraged by.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

God has a plan for our lives and much of the time we will not know exactly what it’s supposed to look like – that’s when trust comes into play.

 
Our faith and trust in the one true God needs to be all-consuming in our lives. That way, when we do encounter those bumps we can say with confidence, “God has my back…even when I question the path and things just don’t make sense”.
 
I am preaching to myself as much as I am encouraging you. Practice having trust and confidence that God has you in the palm of his hand and guiding you through life.
Take ahold of his hand and continue walking even when you cannot stand -He will carry you through.

So how can we raise our kids to have faith and trust in God’s plan like Joseph?

 
With God’s help.
Because we can’t raise our kiddos without his help.
 
Be an example.
Our kids are watching our every move. When things don’t go as planned, use those as teaching moments to encourage them to trust in God’s plan. It might be a failed test, a loss on the field, a sick relative, or a disappointment from a friend. It’s not fun to go through those hard times with our kids. But it’s how we will respond and move forward with them after that will be a witness to our unfailing faith in God’s plan.
 
When we fail.
….and we will….daily….just get back up and go at it again. That is what is so amazing about our Heavenly Father…he never leaves us.
 
Author: 
Jordan Bivins

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Steady Your Steps through a Connection with God

I have a dear friend who gifts me laminated scripture memory cards, and my recent birthday was no exception. In addition to the Bible verse, my birthday scripture card included a fall color and the shape of a maple leaf, both representing my favorite season.
 
In fact, I received two of these cards so now I have one at work and one on a mirror in my home. I have been blessed with reflection on this scripture verse now for a few weeks, and I pray this will bless you as well.
 
 
I know I have read this verse before, but I haven’t thought deeply about it until I received it and read it every day. Having been introduced to Jesus many years ago at age 34 and surrendering my life to Him at age 35; I had lots of time before age 35 where my steps were “not walking in His ways”. So when I read and pray this verse, I can’t help but remember the consequences of sin (iniquity) having control (dominion) over me. I only stay in my past long enough to remember, and to say Praise God – thank you Jesus for what you did in my life and loving me while I was still just a sinner.
 
 
I realize (thankfully) that I still have the tendency to sin – and maybe not all the same sins that I once did – but until I get my eternal body, this will be the case. I should point out that I no longer want to sin, which is the difference now. In God’s accounting, sin is sin and disconnects me from Him.
 
However, when in a relationship with God through Jesus and I do sin; reconnection is just a prayer away. Praise God…again!

 

We choose to stay connected

God knew for people to truly love him it had to be voluntary. To truly love Him, we must start with the question: who is Jesus and why did He come? Once this is answered, we realize the entire human race as sinners and it is sin that separates us from God, but Jesus came to reconnect people with God. Once reconnected, we have voluntarily entered in to the love relationship God intended and treasures.
When we truly love God, we never want to be disconnected again, and out of thankfulness for what He has done, cry out as the psalmist did “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
 

God is waiting to hear from you

Are you thankful? Have you entered in to this voluntary love relationship? Do you cry out for God’s help for Him to steady your steps to remain connected? He wants to answer! It blesses His heart when we cry out and express our thankfulness for what He has done. don’t wait friend, reach out today.

 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly

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Called to be Fishers of Men

A couple of weeks ago the sermon at our church referenced John 21: 1-14. It is amazing how you can read the Bible and see one thing, and later read it again for God to point out even more truth you had not seen before. That was the case with this passage for me.
 
So in the reference, Simon Peter tells his friends he’s going fishing. They say they’re going with him. Here’s the thing: I know fishing is their trade – and they must eat – but in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 – Jesus said he would make them “fishers of men” if they would follow him.
 
They go fish all night and catch nothing. Then as morning comes, they hear someone (they don’t know who at this point) say “Children have you any food?” The answer is no! So, Jesus tells them to cast their net out on the right side of the boat.
 
Now hold up. If I’m in the boat, I’m saying to myself “Are you kidding me, I have been out here all night and you don’t think I’ve tried both sides of this boat? Really?”
 
Back to the story. So they throw their net out on the right side. They end up catching so much they can’t even pull the net in. Simon Peter puts on his outer garment and jumps into the water because he now knows it’s Jesus speaking to them from shore. The rest of the disciples stay in the boat and bring the fish to them. When they get there, they see breakfast is already cooking. “Bring some of the fish you have just caught,” Jesus says.
 
Then I had questions.
 
Certainly there are the miracles that happened:
  • Catching 153 large fish on the right side of the boat – who does that?
  • The net doesn’t break – how?
  • Breakfast is all ready for them when they get to shore. Who made the breakfast and where did the food come from?
After the questions, I had a few thoughts.
  • In this story, Peter reminds me of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Peter had to get to shore to be with Jesus, while the rest of the disciples stayed with the task at hand – like Martha. I want to be like Peter.
  • We are all called to be fishers of men. We may share our testimony and not feel we get any responses, but God asks us to keep witnessing – keep fishing. You never know when your net will be so full you can’t bring it into the boat.
Bottom line?
Keep being a fisher of men – even when it feels like no one is listening.
Keep throwing your nets into the water.
Maybe try the right side next time.
 
Author:
Ken Drew, Elder at Faith Assembly

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