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 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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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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Capture Every Thought

Can you imagine if every one of our thoughts was on display for everyone around us to view as we were thinking it real time?
That’s a pretty scary thought.
 
Over the past year I have learned a lot about anxiety and fear.
It never occurred to me until a wise, Christ-following friend pointed out
that it all starts with a thought.
 
My response to that revelation was,
“But the thoughts just keep coming and the first place my mind goes is to the worst case scenario or most severe outcome.”
 
 
I thank God for using this friend to speak His wisdom to me… because their next response was Spirit-led and inspired.
They brought me to the scripture in 2 Corinthians 10:5:
 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 
Then they shared something I could really relate to about capturing the thoughts that cause anxiety or fear. Here was the advice:
 

Take the thought that comes into your head, think of taking a lasso and capture the thought – then throw it out of your head.

Then, think of Jesus.

 

This concept hit home with me and has really helped me get control of thoughts that can lead to stress, anxiety and fear.

 

You may not struggle with thoughts that cause anxiety, stress, or fear. Maybe you struggle with thoughts leading to depression, lust, pride or a variety of other battles. No matter what the thoughts are that come into our head, we can remain victorious if we make an effort to take the thought captive and focus (fix our eyes) on Jesus.

 
This is the key my friends – keeping Jesus at the center of every thought we have and asking him to help us take it captive.
He will help us overcome!
 
With every breath, with every thought, we need Jesus to meet us.
 Be encouraged by “Here Again”
 

Author:

 


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A Simple Powerful Truth

I have known the first stanza and refrain for the song “Jesus Loves Me” for many years even before becoming a Christian, but I never knew until recently that it had six stanzas. Before I share these powerful lyrics, I’ll share with you how I discovered this fact.

While participating in a Bible Exploration Group study – including people from different faiths and no faith – it became apparent the discussion was way too focused on divisive topics (some that have notoriously divided churches). Some of these topics certainly didn’t help people from other faiths (or no faith) to understand the purpose of the Bible – that God loves people! So, I sometimes made it a point to help end the meetings with the simple statement and gentle rebuke: Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
 

Anticipating questions from this, I reviewed scripture that validates this truth and did a little research. Here is one of the things I discovered…

 

The song “Jesus Loves Me” was written in 1860 by Anna B. Warner and in 1862, William B. Bradbury composed the music and added the refrain. The following are the rich lyrics and refrain to the song:

Jesus loves me! This I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong

Jesus loves me! This I know
As He loved so long ago
Taking children on His knee
Saying, ‘Let them come to Me”

Jesus loves me still today
Walking with me on my way
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide
He will wash away my sin
Let His little child come in

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way
Thou hast bled and died for me
I will henceforth live for Thee

Jesus loves me! Loves me still
Though I’m very weak and ill
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree

Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

The lyrics represent the simple and powerful message of God’s word

and purpose of the Bible.

 
Do you ever think you may not be prepared?
Do you sometimes feel like you’re just not capable to share your faith or explain it?
 
Keep it simple with this message: Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
 
Author:
Elder at Faith Assembly

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Defensiveness and Denial – The Two Issues of Cain – Part 2

The last time we visited the story of Cain, we looked at his issues with denial – and his refusal to acknowledge responsibility in his relationship with his brother. Today, let’s examine how denial played an even larger role in his relationship with God in Genesis 4:1 – 24.

The story opens with a brief introduction of the main characters – Cain and Abel – the two sons of Adam and Eve. When the boys become men, it’s time for them to take responsibility for their own relationships with God.

In time, they both offer sacrifices to God in worship from the fruit of their own labors. The next thing we know, God has accepted Abel’s offering of animal sacrifice but rejected Cain’s offering of grain. Cain responds to the rejection with anger and despondency. Later, he lures his brother out into a field to talk about it. In a moment of rage he strikes him, killing him.

I used to struggle just a bit with a small sense of injustice for Cain’s sake. How was he supposed to know God didn’t want an offering of vegetables? After all, God instituted a grain offering years later through Moses (Leviticus 2:1 – 15). Besides, this came from him and what he was good at doing. It kind of feels like the parent who doesn’t accept a small child’s art project because it wasn’t good enough.

Thing is, Cain knew exactly what he was doing. He was worshiping God on his own terms without care or concern for how God would feel about it. That’s not a healthy relationship. Let me explain…

 

The expulsion from Eden would have been far more devastating for his parents than we might think. The exclamation point of watching two animals get slaughtered to cover the nakedness of their lives after sin might have been far more personal than we realize… they weren’t likely just farm animals.

God’s covenantal relationship with them was established and sealed with blood, and Cain would have known the story all too well. For Cain, worshiping God on his own terms carries at least some similar characteristics to his parent’s sin. Cain wanted to be in control of the terms of the relationship rather than submitted to the expectations of someone else (God) like his brother, Abel.

Taking control places him beside God, which is similar to the enemy’s sin as well.

Even then, in a moment of mercy, God beckons Cain to see where he is, and to reach out in trust to Him when He says, “7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 NIV)

Denial keeps us from recognizing where we truly are by keeping us focused on only ourselves… our rights… our own version of justice or fairness. It keeps us from hearing the heart of someone else and finding the path to wholeness. Whenever that happens, both people are robbed of life. Often times, those effects play out in the lives of others in the vicinity.

 

Take a moment and ask yourself if you’re trying to be in control.

It may help you realize whether you’re in denial in your relationship with God and/or someone else in your life.

God was indeed reaching back to Cain. If only he had noticed God’s compassion before he crossed a line that stole Abel’s life… a theft that affected his parents, himself and all the members of the family he was about to have.

God is indeed reaching to you. Reach back to Him and let Him walk with you to restoration.
 
Author:
Faith Assembly

 


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