Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Plodding Through His Word

If there is one thing as a church that I would encourage you to consider doing this next year it would be to invest time into reading God’s Word each day.  Some of you may have never read the Word of God from cover to cover.  I believe you would find it to be one of life’s rewarding achievements!  He longs to speak to us and challenge us through His Word and yet many of us never hear from Him personally. 
David says in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your
truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”  This is one of my favorite verses in the book of Psalms that convicts me of the need to be in the Word of God.  I walk best and understand His truth when I am spending time in His Word.  I am so much more resolved to stay focused on what really matters when I am consulting Him each day.  God’s principles serve to keep my heart from entertaining ungodly thoughts and actions.  I want the undivided heart for God alone that David speaks about!  This happens when we are strengthened by God; there is no supplement that can replace what He gives us to function each day.
We have posted five different reading plans on our web site in order to help you spend time in God’s Word.  Perhaps reading through the New Testament alone would be a great accomplishment for you.  Ask a friend to walk this journey with you and ask them to help keep you accountable.  If you forget a day then just pick up the next day. 
Imagine what Maywood could look like if the entire membership was spending time reading God’s Word and praying to Him each day.  Satan would be defeated in so many areas of our life.  Many of us would not look the same at the end of the year and some folks may never recognize us.  Let’s give God the liberty to chisel away at us this next year in order that we could begin to look more like Jesus Christ.
Word of God Speak to us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's In a Name

A name says a great deal about a product, a place, and even a person.  Names are typically chosen carefully to reflect the character and quality of things and individuals.  This was especially true in the days gone by, and significant names were given to the Christ Child to demonstrate His character.

In my reading today one name that stands out is found Luke 1:32.  The angel continues his summary of the person and work of Christ: he says, “He will be called the Son of the Highest.” “Highest” was simply a title for God, clearly indicating that no one is higher than He is.  Mary and other righteous Jews were familiar with that title because it is used throughout the Old Testament.  In fact, the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek term used by Luke is one many of us know: El Elyon, which means “God Most High.”  That title refers to God’s sovereignty and the fact that no one is higher, more exalted, or more powerful than He is.

To identify Jesus as the Son of the Highest is to declare that He has the same essence as the Most High God. Hebrews 1:3-4 says this about Jesus:  "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs."  Jesus told His disciples, “‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). And He boldly asserted to His Jewish opponents, “‘I and My Father are one’” (John 10:30).  Gabriel announced, and the New Testament confirms, that Jesus unquestionably was and is worthy of His divine title, because He truly is the Son of God.   

Take time to study the various names of Christ and God in Scripture to learn more about their character and attributes.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Mystery of Immanuel

I appreciate reading David Jeremiah in how he reflected on the beauty of the name Immanuel.  He says, “of all the names of the Lord Jesus that were given to Him for His time on this earth, this one is my favorite.” The name Immanuel, which being translated, is “God with us.”

As Christians, we sometimes feel that in order to really appreciate our faith, we need to understand everything about it. But the more I study the Gospel, the more I become aware of the vastness of truth that I do not comprehend. The one thing I will never comprehend is God becoming a man. But I must not put myself in a corner and say that in order for me to appreciate and believe it, I must completely comprehend it. Paul seemed almost overcome by the thought of it when writing to his young friend Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3:16 he wrote, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh.” Paul was saying to young Timothy, “I can’t explain this. But let me just tell you this. There is no controversy at all about it. Without controversy, great is the mystery.”  How do we explain godliness?

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to pause for a moment and reflect on the mystery and the wonder of our God? Wondering at the Christ Child. Wondering at Immanuel. Wondering at God manifested in the flesh. God became a man—like our own children, you, and I.

Writer after writer has tried to help us understand the majestic mystery of God manifested in the flesh. For instance, C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, wrote these words: “The second person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many pounds. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s body.”

I’m not so sure anybody would have ever crafted such an amazing plan for the incarnation of Christ? Would we have made that plan to rescue lost mankind? Would we have sent the Redeemer in a manger, wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth? Would we have had Him born in a stable built for animals? Would we have had His first visitors be the despised shepherds of the hillside? It is a mystery beyond mysteries, a story written by the finger of God, and one that we will never comprehend. But it is also one that we should always appreciate.  

Have a Christ-Filled Christmas with Immanuel! ~~Pastor Gary

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gospel Centered Life

I’m not sure about you, but each day when I wake up my feet hit the floor running with so many things that I need to accomplish.  Of course, the most important things that I should do are a challenge to complete due to unexpected phone calls, emails, or incidents throughout the day.  Life never seems to unfold the way that I anticipate.  I’m sure that if we sat down together we would all identify only a handful of things that really matter each day to truly accomplish.  All of the other things could probably be tossed out and deemed insignificant.
Let’s name those things that are TOP priority together.  Time with God in His Word just seems like the right and best thing to do each day.  The question is “how do I plan on it happening each day”.  Perhaps we could catch a verse on the Christian radio station as we travel to work or we could wake up fifteen minutes earlier to spend time alone with Him because we can’t make it without Him.
We would probably agree that praying is the lifeline that keeps us going all day long.  However, our praying may seem like tiny little fragments of time that we talk to God behind the steering wheel, in the rest room, or when a tense moment arises throughout the day.  I believe we would agree that God desires and deserves meditative prayer in order to seek His heart and praise His name.  If the quality of our relationship with Him is revealed by the time we spent with Him it could be embarrassing to us all.
I believe that it goes without saying that God has placed us all on a mission, which is to share the Gospel message (Acts 2:32-37).  Each day is a new opportunity to carry the Gospel a little further than we did yesterday.  Each day has new faces and ways to share the Gospel.  The question is, “is it a priority for me to share”?  If so, who and when was the last time we shared it with another person?  When our feet hit the floor in the mornings, might we ask, “who can I share the Gospel with today”?
These three spiritual disciplines:  time in the Word, time in prayer, and sharing the Gospel should be on the to do list each day.  In fact, they should occupy the top three lines of that list.  In essence, since we have been touched by the grace of God in our own lives, some other things just really don’t seem as significant.  When we focus on these top priorities it is amazing how God manages the other things for us.