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Contemplating Temptation

Have you ever been tempted? This is where everyone says “of course”! You are breathing, right? There is no one who has ever lived that hasn’t been tempted to do or say something they know is wrong.

 

Recently I was reading the account of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4. I believe there were several things that the Lord wanted me to see. I wanted to share them with you.

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and led into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. The devil tempted Him the whole time and I am sure in every way possible. I know we only look at the ones mentioned in the scripture. But, what else did the devil do to try and get Jesus to deny his Father? I am sure we all know how creative the devil, our enemy, can be. He is manipulative, finds our weak points, and is a liar.

When the days came to an end, the scripture says Jesus was hungry. Even for Him, it was exhausting.

Luke 4:3-4

If you are the Son of God command this stone to become bread. Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God.

Luke 4: 5-8

The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (the devil could offer this because it was his domain) and says he can have charge over all if Jesus would worship him. Christ says to the devil “get behind me for it is written that you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.”

Luke 4:9-12

The devil takes him up to a pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He tells him to throw himself down from there because it is written that He will give His angles charge over you to keep you safe. Jesus response is “It has been said, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Luke 4:13

When the devil had tried every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

Hebrews 4:15

We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Christ is our example. After the forty days ended, the devil was still trying to think of ways to tempt Jesus. The enemy of our soul is relentless. Know that the devil is going to try his absolute best to get you to fall into sin.

Be confident, courageous, and bold in the Lord when confronting the enemy. Use the scripture, contact a brother or sister in Christ for spiritual support, and most of all, know that the Lord is with you! He has not abandoned you in your time of despair.

Psalms 52:22

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus is our example – we are charged to follow in His footsteps. He countered every temptation with the Truth of the Word of God.

Run from sin and lean into the power of God within us through the Holy Spirit. With every temptation, our Father provides a way of escape. Be encouraged today! If you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord of your life, He is with you!
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly

 

 


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Jesus as Savior and Lord

As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, this annual celebration is always a reminder to celebrate the beginning of my new life that started in January 1996, 25 years ago, that still feels just like yesterday. In 1996, God finished what he had started many years before, and I was born again.
John 3:5-6 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is the spirit.”
 
At this time, Jesus became my Savior giving me the gift of eternal life, and I received a supernatural fresh start with new desires and a new purpose for life (my testimony for another time). To be completely truthful, it took me a little longer for Jesus to become not just my Savior, but also my Lord. Without Jesus being my Lord, I am quite sure I would have a much more difficult time celebrating the 2021 New Year. I’ll try to explain what I mean by this.
 

As my Savior, Jesus gave me eternal life. As my Lord, I gave Jesus my life! It’s really that’s simple. We don’t have to make it theologically difficult – which it certainly can be – but that’s not God’s intent.

 
So when I say 2021 would be more challenging were it not for trusting in the Truth of God’s Word, I am saying all of the challenges below could very quickly consume me with fear and unanswerable questions if I chose to let it. Things like…
 

The consequences of the coronavirus
Separation and loss of liberty (absolutely we have to protect the most vulnerable)
The uncertainty of the fairness of the 2020 election
Evil that seems to have permeated government at all levels
Medical challenges with family and friends

 

The Truth of God’s Word wins and helps me stay grounded, which is where God wants all of us to be of use to Him as He continues to implement His perfect plan.

When Jesus is Lord of our life, and our life is His, it provides an entirely new and proper focus. Here are a few of my go-to scripture verses that help me stay grounded:
John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
 
I encourage you to make Jesus Lord of your life, trusting Him with your life. He has given His life to become your Savior, offer you eternal life, and transform your heart. It’s never too late to receive this gift and submit your life to Him. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out to us.
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly

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The Cost of Christmas

What do you think about when someone says Merry Christmas? Does it take your mind to warm and fuzzy places? Does it make you anxious? Fill you with joy? Make you sad? Excited? The Christmas season seems like a time that is highly influenced by our history, our gains and losses, and our present circumstances. 

Christmas brings us back to the power of the gospel

The season gives us a chance to enjoy traditions, gift-giving, and precious time with family. We might even take in a special Christmas service to remember the story. But it’s about more than that – so much more.
 
For believers, Christmas brings us back to the power of the gospel. It encourages us to look at the Christ child in light of the cross. It wasn’t glittery, it was less than ideal. Full of wonder, but unexpected. Beautiful, but messy. 
 

Christmas reminds us that sin has a cost.

Without this miracle – the Word becoming flesh – we would be utterly lost, without a way to be reconciled with God. We had dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t climb out of. The cost was too high. But God made a way – He sent a Redeemer.
 
Because of God’s great love for us, He gave his only son to pay the steep price of sin once and for all. Jesus, who laid aside His glory for the glory of the Father, became our Emmanuel. God with us – now and forever! Check out how this translation reads:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17 (The Message)
 
This is the good news the angels were talking about when they appeared to the scared-out-of-their-mind shepherds in the field. 
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2: 10-12 (NIV)

 

Christmas led to sacrifice

The kingdom of God came in the form of a baby. God became man. The Word became flesh. I don’t think the disciples saw it coming that the Messiah – the one they’d been praying for – did not come to build the Kingdom on earth by revolution. Rather, the real revolution was one of the soul – our sin covered by Jesus blood once and for all. Only the Lamb of God could take away the sin of the world. We now have the opportunity to be clean and free from our past, reconciled to God, and alive in Him forever.
 
Does it mean life is perfect now? Nope. But because of the babe who became a man – this Jesus – we can now live a transformed life in and through His grace alone. We don’t have to earn it. But we can be transformed by it if we choose.
 

So when we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember this gift. The gift that brought healing of the soul. The gift that came at such a high price. Like his coming, our lives may be messy, but because of Jesus, they are beautiful.

 
There’s only one God that stepped down from His throne out of love, to save a world torn apart by sin. There’s only one King that did that for me – His name is Jesus. Do you know him? Check out this song by Marc Martel called How Many Kings below. It talks about just that.
 
If you don’t know Jesus and would like to know more. Please contact us. We’ve love to share more about how He has transformed our lives with you.
 
Author:

Michelle Marx

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Power of Serving with Your Children

As parents we are always looking for ways to “teach our children” a lesson. Whether it be why we pick up our room, why we don’t eat candy before dinner, or why being thankful for what we have is so important.
 
We as humans can get so stuck in our own selfish ways. If it doesn’t please us or help us in that moment we aren’t satisfied or happy. In a world that bombards us with self-gratification everywhere we turn, it is so hard not to follow in those ways and get stuck in a pity party rut.
 

The hard truth: life is not about us.

God calls us to be servants.

 
If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. Mark 9:35

 

Wow, what a challenge for us as humans and parents as we teach and guide our children to live a Godly life while serving those around us. We can all be challenged to serve more, give more, and have less. It is a life lesson… so don’t be discouraged!

Use those “teaching moments” to steer your children to the word of God and what it says about serving others.
 

Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

 

This season I encourage you to help your child serve or bless someone else.

It may be something simple like writing a note to a neighbor or an elderly person, baking a sweet treat for a friend, packing a shoe box with goodies to send to a child in need, or buying presents for a family who can’t afford them. Use this season of Christ’s birth to teach and share the love of Christ by serving those around us. Your children are watching you. Practice giving together and the message is even more powerful.
 
Blessings on you and your families this Christmas season!
 
Author:
Faith Kids ministry lead

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For His Name’s Sake

Lately I’ve been reading the Psalms for my devotions. One of the scriptures I recently read was Psalm 25:11: For Your Name’s Sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. The phrase For Your Name’s Sake caught my attention for a moment. but I was so intent on finding food for my current need, I moved right past it not realizing I passed up a meal.
 
A few nights later I landed on Psalm 23. Although it’s a familiar Psalm, the only one I’ve memorized, reading it again was comforting. To my surprise at the end of verse 3, there was that phrase again in Psalm 23:3b … He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s Sake. I’m embarrassed to say after all the times I’ve read this Psalm and memorizing it, I never bothered to dig into what it actually meant.
 
Let’s discover the importance of it together. First, let’s start with a few other scriptures with the same or similar wording:
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for Your Name’s Sake you lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3
Thus says the Lord God; It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the Sake of My Holy Name … Ezekiel 36:22a
And you will be hated by all for My Name’s Sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22
Nevertheless He saved them for His Name’s Sake, that He might make His mighty power known. l John 2:12
 
I soon realized these words meant for the sake of revealing God’s character and His glory.
 

The Bible is not about me – it’s for me.

In the verses above, we see God addressing a situation or action that occurs for us and for the sake of exhibiting His character and His glory. The Bible is about our Father, His love for humanity, and His desire for a personal relationship with each of us. God is significant to everything, the foundation of our existence, and is our Beginning and our End.
Questions began to pop into my mind. Am I living out God’s character in my life? Do I leave question marks in people’s minds when I interact with them? Do they wonder what kind of God I serve when I act in a way that doesn’t look like the God I say I serve?
 

Our God is righteous.

Psalm 23:3 says He leads us in paths of righteousness (uprightness) so we are upright like Him. God offers us free grace, freedom from sin, a new character (His), and all of the guidance we need to be like Him. As we walk with Him, He calls us to display a character so like His that when others interact with us they can look through us and see Him.
 

What if my lifestyle isn’t upright?

Then who God is won’t be revealed through me. The world will see a distorted view of God and what He’s like. God is trusting us to realize the importance of His name. How we do life reflects on His name and character, and the witness we’re called to be is often tarnished by how we live our lives. Knowing we have the responsibility to live our lives for His names sake is quite a challenge – it calls us to live upright lives.

We can show a frightened and stressed world there is a God who offers them peace and comfort.

 
We have a Father who offers freedom from sin, longs to teach His ways, desires a personal relationship with us, and brings the peace we all long for. Let us embrace His character as a part of ourselves so the world sees Him through us. When we realize the Bible is for us and given to us for His sake, we can be sure He will not allow us to fail in serving Him if we live lives that reflect His character.
 
Author:
Church development at Faith Assembly

 

 

 

 


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Jesus, the Bread of Life

My wife (Cindy) and I will sometimes go to a bread store about an hour from where we live. There is just something wonderful about going into this store and smelling the fresh breads that are being baked. They also give free samples of the breads so you can see if there is any particular kind of bread you may or may not like. We love the Swiss/Dill, Cheddar/Garlic, Cinnamon, and Dakota breads. The other day I was having a piece of the Dakota bread toasted with some peanut butter on it and it was delicious!
 

While I was enjoying the bread, the Lord laid upon my heart thoughts about the Bread of Life.

 
There are many verses in the Bible about this, and here just a few:

Matthew 4

Satan tempted Jesus by telling him to change the stones into bread to nourish his body. His response was that Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 26:26

Jesus took bread, blessed it, gave it to the disciples and said “take, eat, this is my body.

John 6:33

Jesus says, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” In verse 35 Jesus says , “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.” Jesus is talking about our spiritual lives here.

John 6:51

Jesus talks about being the bread that was sent down from heaven “that whosoever eats of this bread will live forever.” Salvation!

I Corinthians 10:17

“For we being many are one bread, and one body : for we partakers of that one bread” – speaking of Jesus.
 
Here’s the bottom line. Yes, we all need nourishment for these temples God has entrusted to us to use while we walk this earth. The most important part however, is our spiritual health – partaking of the Bread of Life everyday so we can walk the earth spiritually equipped to do His will in our lives.
 
So the next time you look at any kind of bread, take time to think about the Bread of Life – Jesus – and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the things God is wanting you to hear from Him. He alone is our sustainer, our salvation, and our hope!
 
If you need to talk to someone during these trying times, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to speak with you.
 
Author:
Ken Drew, Elder at Faith Assembly

 

 


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The Servant Leadership Example of Jesus

For each Faith Elder meeting over the last several months we have devoted time for teaching from a book on “servant leadership”.  A book that features Jesus himself modeling various aspects of leadership while he walked on this earth. The deacon board and church staff are also doing the same and as with the elders, each deacon and staff member take their “teaching turn” on different weeks.
 
It has been a super good lesson and reminded me of two important truths. The first is that study has to be intentional by spending time in God’s word to really know him, and the second is the importance of prayer and discussion with like minded brothers and sisters in the Lord. Both are required for growth in relationship with the Lord and with each other – especially in times of turmoil and distraction.    

The “servant leadership” teaching focused on one’s heart, head, hands and behaviors. It was helpful to see how Jesus focused on these areas of teaching and application with His disciples in the gospels. The focus scriptures in each meeting were those with which we were all familiar, but this teaching helped to draw out the deeper purpose of what Jesus was doing. These were applications not just for servant leadership in and around the church (body of believers) but in all areas including jobs, neighborhoods and families. Jesus is our perfect example!

The Heart

The heart was the first topic of teaching since it is the center of one’s being as is stated many times in scripture. Heart change is what moves a person from what is inherently a self-serving lifestyle to a serving lifestyle out of thankfulness for what Jesus has done for us.  It is what drives one’s motivation and intent to lead by serving. It very simply is giving instead of getting.
   

The Head

After the critically important element of the heart, the head comes into play to shape our belief system and perspectives. It is the renewing of our minds by being transformed from the inside out and no longer conforming (or desiring to conform) to the things of this world (Romans 12:2).
 

The Hands

Once the heart and head are engaged correctly, the work of the hands follow since the actions are now aligned with and becomes one’s behaviors.  With the heart, head, and hands working together, it can now be about the “being” of relationship and serving out of thankfulness and not just about the “doing” of the work. 
 

The Habits

The habits in which one seeks to engage was the last area of servant leadership development that is super important to ensure positive and helpful disciplines are maintained. The battle of getting and doing for self (the wrong reason) instead of giving for the Lord can often lead us the wrong direction.  Godly habits that involve solitude, prayer, and scripture meditation – all of which Jesus practiced often throughout his life on this earth – are the example He left us to follow to keep us moving in the right direction.
 
Reading this material may make servant leadership seem fairly simple, but as with many things the application can be challenging. Remember, it took a while for the disciples to get it even though Jesus was the best teacher ever and modeled it perfectly. That said, we can be sure Jesus will be patient with us too as we seek to live the greatest commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” as we seek to become all God created us to be. 
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly 

 

 

 

 

 


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When life gets tense, remember these 3 things

When Life Gets Tense Remember These 3 Things

When life gets tense, remember these 3 things

It is really hard not to let circumstances around us in life make us upset.

We feel we aren’t treated fairly or get upset with someone when they make a comment on social media. We see presidential debates, we have disagreements, we have differing views and it can become wearing. We often look at others actions or words and become upset because it’s not what we think or believe. Maybe this is you or maybe not, but I know at times I have struggled with not letting the outside influence my heart and my relationship with God.

Whether it’s something that comes up at work or within family, we are sure to come across unpleasant situations.

It can be in the form of personal attacks or verbal arguments, disagreements with co-workers or friends on social media… you name it. We can easily let these situations start to influence our heart, our relationship with God and those around us.
 

The Lord has continued to bring three very important reminders to me when I am struggling with these things.

ONE:  God calls me to a pure heart

The Lord continues to remind me to keep my heart pure when it comes to matters that tend to make me upset or feel wronged. It doesn’t do any good to focus on someone else’s views or comments when I have no control over it. When we have a pure heart, we draw closer to God. The Bible says in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for that shall see God.”

TWO:  God calls me to prayer

Instead of feeling angry towards another person or situation, I am called to pray for those things. If someone has wronged me, pray. If people don’t see the political world how I see it, pray. Don’t pray for the things I want, but the things God wants to come out of situations or how he wants to work in someone’s life. Matthew 5:44 tells us to Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
 
THREE: God calls me to love
 
The last reminder is to love. Luke 6:27 says “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.” First, we have to hear, second is to love and third is do good. Let us come together before God and ask him to help us love those around us. Not the easy to love, but those that need to see the true love of God.
 
Resist allowing the world’s opinions and pressures influence your heart and relationship with God. Let’s put our trust in God alone – our firm foundation that cannot be shaken. Be encouraged through this song and make it your prayer today.
 

 
Author:
Ryan Bivins, Worship Leader
 
 

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Entering God’s Rest – Our First Work

With the times we live in, it seems like everyone is on edge. I’m fairly certain you feel it. Life is fragile and uncertain, but God invites us on different path – to enter His rest.

Jesus knew His limits and adjusted His daily rhythms on a regular basis – and He was God! He lived by the Father’s guidance and found rest – even when (to the disciples anyway) it seemed as if everything was falling apart. If even Jesus was mindful of limits, why do we feel like we can keep relentlessly pushing without slowing down to tend to our souls?
 
We need God to bring us back to His still waters and restore our souls on a regular basis. This needs to be our first work before our earthly work begins. Check out these 5 practices to help you enter His rest.
 

Give yourself space to be quiet.

Most of us are not good at sitting in the quiet, allowing our soul to be vulnerable before ourselves and God. It can be a raw and frankly, uncomfortable place to be. Because we are so wired to solve problems and fix things, we often avoid what’s really going on inside us rather than quieting and allowing ourselves to hear.

In her article Solitude: A Place for Your Soul to Come Out, Ruth Haley Barton points out the importance of creating time and space for being with what’s real… “to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed my tears, sit with the questions, feel my anger, attend to my loneliness. This kind of ‘being with what is’ is not the same thing as problem-solving or fixing because not everything can be fixed or solved. Rather, it is to allow God to be with me in the midst of what’s real and to wait for Him to do what is needed.”
 

Enjoy resting in the abiding – rather than the doing.

You can relax in God’s presence. Allow yourself to soak in the security and calm assurance you have in Jesus. He says He loves you, He will never leave you, and says not to be afraid. When the Israelite people were faced with the Red Sea in front of them and no way out, Moses said to them, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13, 14) We can relax in the presence of Abba Father, knowing He in control of all things.

Notice the beauty around you – even in the smallest of things.

God speaks to us on a daily basis. Do we hear Him, see Him? All of creation shouts to the glory and beauty of God. Even the smallest of things can point us to His goodness. God is the Author of everything beautiful in the world – from tender affection to the wonder of delicate spring flowers on a mighty mountain. The cool thing about slowing down to notice is it cultivates gratefulness and wonder in our hearts, drawing us back to Him.

Embrace your limits.

Are you stressed and anxious? Tense and triggered? Our body often signals us in ways we often ignore. Lay these before the Lord and mentally/emotionally detach from the stress. Philippians 4: 6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Perhaps instead of stretching our limits in every way, we need to embrace them as God-given. Limits keep us grounded, keep us humble, and grows us in wisdom.

Drink in the scriptures.

In Psalm 23, David mentions God’s “rod and staff” and how he finds comfort in them. The good Shepherd guides and directs us through His Word. Find assurance, life-changing truth, and peace through taking in and meditating on His words. We often think in terms of “doing ministry” for Him, but He desires to work in you first. Be still before Him so he can meet you in the stillness – He has ministry to do in your spirit. The Lord is our shepherd – we have all we need in Him (Psalm 23).

Cling to Jesus friends. By entering into His rest first, a solid foundation is built. With His guidance, we find health, wisdom and maturity for all earthly work to follow.
 
Author:
Michelle Marx
Read more from this author on the Michelle Renee Speaks Blog.

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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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Parenting in Difficult Times

What kind of legacy are we leaving our children… especially in our nation’s current situation? What we are facing seems to be a difficult, challenging, and very interesting time in our lives right now. How are we reacting, what are we saying, how are we loving, steering, and guiding our children through this time?

At first things seemed to be going okay. Staying home, watching movies and schooling at home seemed to be “fun” at the moment – until it continued week after week. Those routines seemed to exit the mind as quickly as they came. Schoolwork became a fight, meal times sporadic, screen time continued to increase and attitudes became more evident.
 
Being socially distant is not a normal thing for adults – let alone children – so when it continued week after week it started to affect everyone.
  
Our children are watching our words and actions each hour of the day. How have I handled this? Well, not always with love and patience, but with God’s help and guidance He picks me back up each time I fail and fall. It is so important to remember that God is in control and He is our help!
 

God is our refuge and STRENGTH, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1 

 

We are not alone in this, and we need His help and guidance each day. There is so much information out there telling us what we should be doing and not doing that it can be hard to keep them straight.

The most important thing to remember? Stay focused on the information that is TRUE – that being God’s Word. There are so many truths and lessons we can learn from these experiences we are going through… don’t miss them!

 

In Proverbs 22:6 it says to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” 

 

We have a wonderful opportunity as parents to instill some very good life lessons into our children. When we are pushed into things we are not use to, how do we react and guide our children?

Do we speak truth?

Do we show love no matter what?

Do I point them to Christ?  

 
Personally, this is a challenge for me every single day, but I pray each morning for God to help me choose Godly responses. I know I can’t raise these children on my own so I need to keep seeking out truth to teach them and pray that they choose for themselves to follow him. 
 

When my kids look back at this experience, I pray they will remember how we as a family stayed united and sought after God’s truth through it all.

 

I’m sure they are going to remember the screaming and impatience I had during school work (Lord, help me!) but I sure hope they will remember the strength and comfort we took in God’s word to protect and guide us. He alone is our constant helper and an ever present help in time of need.
 

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:2

 
How has your parenting been going during this crisis? Whether rocky or smooth sailing, remember His mercies are new every morning. Our Savior loves your children even more than you do! Entrust your heart to Him and allow Him to work in and through you to be the best parent you can be. Parents, you’ve got this!
 
Author: 
Faith Kids lead

 


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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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We Have a Choice

We have all been hit in some way, shape or form from fallout of COVID-19. Whether it be financially, socially, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; we can all relate to those areas being affected in our lives. Just like anything else in life though, we have a choice on how we handle those areas affected.
 

Many things are out of our control, but how we choose to respond is within our control.

 
I’ve found the easiest way to justify or make excuses (at least at the time in my head) is to blame someone or something else for my problems. Or if something doesn’t go the way we like at work, home, or whatever area you want to apply it to, it’s easy to point the finger and think in our head, “If I was in charge this wouldn’t have happened”, or “I could do a better job than that person”.
 
While sometimes these statements may be true, we still have a choice on how we respond. It is no different to apply when it comes to the current situation in our world and more specifically our country. I continue to hear the blame game from everyone and everything I read. Sure, things could always be done better.
 

We as citizens of this country – and more importantly as Christians – have an obligation to be in prayer for the situation and for our all of our leaders. We also are called to be thankful in all situations.

 
So instead of complaining about our current situation, let’s all try to focus on being thankful. Thankful that no matter what, no one can ever take my relationship with Jesus from me. I am thankful that he is always in control because Heaven and earth are filled with his glorious presence.
 
Isaiah 6:3 “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
 

We can’t run the world better than God. Even if we think he is mismanaging things, we can’t know what He knows or see what He sees. He calls us to live by faith and not by sight.

 
2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
 
This is a call to acknowledge His sovereignty by being thankful in all situations. With everything going on in the world, it’s not easy. But we can choose hope, choose gratefulness, choose to fix our eyes on Jesus.
 
Through all the seasons – through it all – He is faithful and if we are Christ-followers, we are secure in His everlasting arms. Let this song minister to your heart today.
 

 
Author: 
Worship Leader, Faith Assembly

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Our Safety and Hope

During this point in time, our days seem to be filled with uncertainty and fear. We all wait for the most recent Covid-19 updates. Most of us are being prudent in following the advice given to us by our government leaders. They tell us to wash our hands frequently, wear masks, keep our social distance, not to gather, and many other suggestions.

I know God wants me to be prudent in how I react out in public to keep myself safe, but I have to remember that it is God who ultimately keeps me safe. I can trust His sovereignty.
 
I was reading Psalms 4 the other day, entitled “The safety of the Faithful”. I’d like to zero in on verse 8.
It reads “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; For you alone O Lord make me dwell in safety.”
 
First of all, David had an awesome relationship with the Lord. The first part of this verse is our responsibility; I will both lie down in peace and will sleep. David was saying that when he would lie down, he would have peace and he would sleep.
 
Why could he say that? Well, let’s look at the rest of the verse.  “For you alone, O Lord make me dwell safety.”
 
David is saying that because his safety comes from God and God alone he can lie down in peace and sleep.
 

Proverbs 18:10 it says “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Psalm 91:1-2 says “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.

So, here’s bottom line: we rest and are safe in the arms of Jesus. By knowing this you can have peace and sleep well! Even though we live in a fallen world where we are not immune to the challenges of this life, we can rest in the assurance that God is in control and our souls are safe in His care.

 
Let’s continue to lift each other up in prayer every day and  encourage one another as we walk through this pandemic. We don’t have to be afraid. We have a God that is bigger than all of this. God bless you and keep you safe!
 
Author: 
Elder, Faith Assembly

 

 

 

               

               


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We Know How the Story Ends

As I listen to the news and the increase in Coronavirus cases, a fast declining stock market, and additional layoffs, I also watch the birds in my backyard. I am struck again that they don’t seem to worry about what they will eat or what they will do next- they just do it. The birds simply follow the instincts God designed into them and they get fed (Matthew 6:26). 
 

Our human instinct

God also designed humanity with certain instincts including to run, hide, and fight during certain crisis situations and I know I have done this well, and sorry to say even against God. Until we get our new bodies as promised in the Bible, our instincts are corrupted by sin. As a consequence of our fallen human state (even though saved perhaps) during this time of great uncertainty, we worry because there is trouble! We worry about how to avoid illness, being able to provide for our families, and yes – even if we will have enough toilet paper to ride out this craziness. 

Are we surprised by this current round of trouble? It certainly could perhaps become the worst many of us have seen in our lifetime, but should we be surprised?

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

 

Do we believe what Jesus is telling us?

One of the two criminals crucified next to Jesus discussed in Luke 23 asked that Jesus “remember him when He comes into His kingdom” and since that criminal placed his faith in Jesus and believed him, Jesus response was, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”.  

Revelation 21:4 tells us how the story ends and the ultimate paradise where, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 

Jesus knew we would face troubling times

Jesus knew we’d have trouble – that’s why he warned us about this and reminds us that He has overcome! The Apostle Paul further reminded us in his letter to the Philippians that “our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (3:20)

Back to Matthew 6:26, Jesus tells us to “look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

 

We know how the story ends

Do you believe Jesus?   Give Him a chance and you will find Him faithful in times of crisis. It is His nature! He stands ready to draw you unto Himself and transform your heart and mind – even in the midst of troubling times.
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly

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The Bread of Jealousy – You Have a Purpose

 

Barley vs. wheat

While the Jews of Jesus time were capable of making breads of various grains, the two most common grains used were barley and wheat. Barley had a grainier texture and tasted a little bland while the wheat bread was softer and sweeter to the taste. In most cases, people preferred the flavor of the wheat, and would naturally gravitate to its choice over any of the other types, including and especially barley. So, when preparing the grocery list for the family, one might notice the wheat stores were highest in demand all year, so much so that it tended to run out before the next harvest.
 
Here’s where barley comes in to save the day. The barley harvest was generally three weeks earlier than the wheat harvest, and that caused folks to flock the markets looking for the less desirable barley loaves to “make due” until the wheat harvest came in. The barley loaves were meant to keep the belly full, more than pleasing the pallet. The rest of the year, folks would resort to the barley loaves when they were pinching pennies or feeding larger families with children. So, the barley got the nickname “Bread of Jealousy”, always wishing to be loved as much as the wheat.
 

The miracle from His hand

In John 6: 1 – 15 we find the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand. Did you ever notice that when He borrowed the little boy’s lunch it was consisting of 5 small barley loaves? Like I said earlier, sometimes parents would buy the barley to save money and fill the hollow legs of children, while probably – secretly – keeping a stash of wheat for themselves (kind of like your secret supply of chocolate).
In this case there is an entire crowd of Jesus’ children gathering, and remembering the Passover is quickly approaching, He feels the need to feed them. I find it interesting that in all the times Israel complained about God’s provisions for them in the desert, there is no complaint the bread they’re getting is plain barley and not the sweet wheat.
You know the story. He blesses the meal of barley bread and fish and then feeds the entire crowd… to the point the disciples gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers from the barley loaves. And, before you think the leftovers were from finicky eaters who turned their noses up, the Apostle John notes (John 6:12) the crowd was “filled” full… they all ate to being full.

Here’s one thing I find fascinating from this story. God is a master at using, what we would call, the lesser product for His amazing purposes through His wisdom and power.

 
Perhaps you feel like the lesser product, and you can relate to the “Bread of Jealousy” wishing to be loved as much as what you perceive to be the “preferred bread”. Usually, that’s because we simply can’t grasp the beauty of our own unique purpose. If there was no Barley Bread getting families through until the wheat harvest came in, then they would go hungry and Jesus would have had to find another food to make His miracle.
 
Remember, it wasn’t the wheat that received the miracle from His hand…it was the barley. So a note to all of us barley people… let’s let our Father in Heaven remind us that He has real and important purposes for us in mind.
 
Author:

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Be the Hope – Our Response in Troubling Times

When troubling times arrive at our doorstep, what is our response? Do we fix our eyes on the hope we have in Christ or do we focus on the circumstances around us and wring our hands in worry? As Christ-followers our perspective can – and should – be different than that of the world. We do not have to be slaves to fear. This world is not our home!
 
So can we decide to look at troubling times as an opportunity rather than a obstacle?
 

 

We have a hope that endures

I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand and pretend the hard stuff isn’t happening – that would be denial. We need to be discerning, wise and responsible in light of the challenges presented to us. What I am suggesting is a faith-filled response to the tough stuff life will most certainly throw our way.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
 
As Christ-followers, we have a hope – an anchor for our soul – that the world doesn’t have and cannot give. This hope and peace we have through trusting in Jesus gives us confidence and endurance through trial, not of our own doing, but through the power of the Spirit that resides within us. This confidence comes from the reality that God is still on the throne, still maintains authority, and has eternity in His hands. Big or small, the challenges in our lives are no match for the incredible love and security we have in Christ.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
 

An invitation for growth and maturity

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5: 3-5
 
Make no mistake, the hard stuff will come. Sometimes we see it coming, while other times it feels like a major gut punch out of nowhere. There are seasons when we may wonder if the punches would ever stop! The scripture reminds us to not be surprised when the hard things come, but rather to take heart because He has overcome the world.
 
Regardless of how trial rears its ugly head, we are instructed to rejoice – not in the pain itself – but in the fact that we are given an opportunity to grow, to develop perseverance, and build true character. If we are to continue to dive deeper into spiritual maturity, which is God’s will for all believers, nothing grows us faster than hard times if we choose to grow through them rather than duck around them. We have the opportunity to guard our hearts and minds with the truth of the unchanging Word of God, daily let go of our anxiety in exchange for His peace, and stare trial straight in the face knowing who holds the future.
 

A faith-filled response

So how are we to respond in times like these? When the world itself seems to have gone off the deep end, as Christ-followers we can react differently. We can choose to act on faith, not fear. We can choose to be informed and use wisdom. 
 
We can…
  • Dive deep into scripture, cultivate our relationship with Jesus, practicing His presence 24/7
  • Be motivated by love, kindness and gentleness
  • Cling to the Word of God and the truth that will never change
  • Spread hope in whatever ways we can
  • Find ways to encourage and support one another – practically and emotionally
  • Meet needs as the Lord bring them across your path
  • Stay connected in creative ways
 
Remember 2 Corinthians 1:4. The Lord brings our our troubles full circle and redeems our pain.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
 
God bless you and your families as you face these uncertain days ahead, and find ways to bring comfort and hope to others in your sphere of influence. Hang on to Jesus… and be the hope.
 
Author: 
Michelle Marx
Writer/Editor
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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