Prayer is important! Over the past weeks and maybe even months, the Lord has been prompting me to a deeper and a more clearly defined prayer life. I know this sounds like a confession and it is! I know I need to be more committed to prayer. This desire in my life has produced conflict and warfare like I have never experienced before. My flesh, the devil and even my church work have stood in opposition to my sincere desire to seek the Lord more in prayer! Yet the truth remains, my Christian life is measured by my prayer life! I am what I am on my knees and nothing more! That being the case, I have a long ways to go! I covet your prayers and encourage you to deepen your prayer life as well! Let me also encourage you to pray more with your brothers and sisters at Grace Church! Praying with other believers has helped me in my desire to grow in the area of prayer!
This Sunday and throughout February I will be sharing a new sermon series entitled, “intouch.” This Sunday I will begin in Matthew 6 with the background of the Lord’s Prayer. Needless to say, my heart has been stirred. Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is breaking me and remaking me. I am praying that this will happen throughout our church and our homes. More prayer can’t hurt us… I am sure you will agree with me there! Matthew 6 will be our starting point. Within a week or so we will be digging deep into the Lord’s Prayer. This “intouch” Prayer series will carry us into EASTER SUNDAY! I am excited about what the Lord is going to do among us regarding PRAYER!
One last thing. If you have been saved in recent days and you need to be baptized, please let us know. After receiving Christ into your life, your next step is to publicly profess Christ as your Lord and Savior and to identify with His church. We can answer any questions you might have. Again, if you are a believer and you have not been baptized please let us know and we will make it happen!
God bless you… enjoy your weekend and we will see you Sunday morning for Bible study at 9:45 am and worship at 11 am and 6 pm. Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy!
Encouraging you in Christ!
Pastor Mike and Cheryl <><
“What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?” ― J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World
“Faith is indeed intellectual; it involves an apprehension of certain things as facts; and vain is the modern effort to divorce faith from knowledge. But although faith is intellectual, it is not only intellectual. You cannot have faith without having knowledge; but you will not have faith if you have only knowledge.” ~ J. Gresham Machen
FACES, PLACES AND DISGRACES scare me just thinking about them! Why? Well, FACES, PLACES AND DISGRACES tend to keep us from moving forward as disciples of Christ! Yes, FACES, PLACES AND DISGRACES paralyze us and keep us from doing God’s will as His servants!
Let me explain it this way. It is my privilege to walk daily with followers of Jesus. FACES, PLACES AND DISGRACES invariably come up! Sometimes my brothers and sisters are not even aware that they are looking back and living with a bent to their deeply flawed former lives. In many cases, they even seek out the faces and the places and go back to the disgraces that marked them before they met Jesus! RESCUE from our past is a built in feature of being a child of God! When you were born again, God forgave you for ALL of your past sins and gave you a future as clean and white as a wind driven snow. The problem is that as followers of Jesus we tend to forget the powerful deliverance we experience through God’s forgiveness. God has forgotten what we remember! We strive, to our detriment, in our new lives to live down our old lives! In a perverted way, we make salvation all about us!!! Why is this necessary, if we have been forgiven for ALL of our transgressions? FACES, PLACES AND DISGRACES are all in the past. They went to the cross with Jesus! The Psalmist said, they are buried in the deepest sea and you are free to live out your new life with the Spirit’s enablement! Seek out new faces, new places and new GRACE for today and leave the old faces, places and disgraces on the cross where they belong! Jesus paid it ALL… ALL to HIM I owe! Make your new life ALL about JESUS, your Risen Lord and Coming KING!
The Apostle Paul lived approximately half of his life looking out for himself and his religion. He describes in drastic terms how all of this changed when he met Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road and became a believer. In Philippians 3:12 Paul defines the radical nature of his Earthly Pursuit of Jesus Christ. Paul concludes Philippians 3:17-21 with his Heavenly Perspective as he looked forward to the second coming of Jesus. The story of William Borden helps us to see what all of this looks like in real life! “William Borden, the heir to the Borden milk fortune. William became a Christian early in life. After graduating from Yale University in 1909, he went on and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1912. Even though he could have enjoyed a life of comfort and luxury, never having to work for a living, he chose to pour out his life as a missionary to the Egyptians. He laid down his life a year later, in 1913, in Cairo, the victim of cerebral meningitis, at the age of 25. His life, like our Lord’s was short, but it is a classic example of someone who adopted the mind of Christ, and gave up all that he had so that others could have life.” Mrs. Howard Taylor, Borden of Yale.
What a beautiful day and what a Great God we serve… He is great and glorious!!! Psalm 103:1 “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Think with me for a moment about what it means to “follow after” our Lord Jesus! Jesus made it clear that His desire was “to do the will of Him that sent Me.” I have been asking myself these questions for days now. Am I “following after” Christ as Paul said in Philippians 3:12… am I “following after” Christ as Jesus did His Father’s will? No doubt these are challenging questions! Laying down anything and everything that would keep us from Christ is essential to our daily walk as Christians. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3 that we are to actively and aggressively pursue Christ. Paul defines this pursuit in Philippians 2:12 with this phrase, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” You might remember this statement from last Sunday’s message, “You don’t get 17 inch biceps by drinking coffee and eating donuts at Dunkin Donuts!!! Working out and following after produces blood, sweat and tears! Brothers and sisters, “Follow after” Christ… “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling/upward call of God in Christ Jesus!”
This Sunday will be “Sanctity of Life” Sunday at Grace Church. Pastor Michael’s message will be taken from Psalm 139. Read his text and pray for him as he prepares his own heart to preach God’s unsearchable riches! The Word is powerful… it is the Gospel! It is the “Good News” for us all in days often filled with “bad news.” I am looking forward to being with you Sunday! It is a joy serving Jesus with you! God bless you!
Also, pray for Pastor Jason and Martha as they lead our college age retreat “SHINE.” They have worked hard to get ready for this weekend. This retreat is just one part of our ongoing effort as a church family to reach the thousands of students at ECU and PITT. Pray for them as they leave this afternoon. The Lord is good! We are trusting Him to do a good work through Pastor Jason Martha and their team of helpers!
I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
(Rhea F. Miller, 1922)
John Piper, “Getting away, quiet and alone, is no special grace on its own. But the goal is to create a context for enhancing our hearing from God in his word and responding back to him in prayer. Silence and solitude, then, are not direct means of grace in themselves, but they can grease the skids — like caffeine, sleep, exercise, and singing — for more direct encounters with God in his word and prayer.”
Jesus said, “Have you not read?” This may appear to be a strange question, but I don’t think so! Years ago I read a statement that went something like this, “He who does not read, has no advantage over he who cannot read!” The bottom line is this! As Christians we should be reading. I can’t imagine trying to live for JESUS without reading. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to speak truth to our inward parts. It stands to reason then, that if we do not read, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is limited. Reading the Word allows the Spirit to teach you the truth about God and what He wants you to do with your life. No reading… No leading! The reason we are not reading is simple. We just simply don’t do it! We take time to do lesser things, such as watch television or tinker on the web! Let me also add this thought. No reading, no pleading! What does this mean? I’m glad you asked! Reading Scripture and prayer go together. When I’m not reading my Bible I’m not praying! Just the facts… What about you? Reading… Leading… And pleading go together! Read, my brothers and sisters read!
2015 is here with a blast… a cold blast! Stay warm!!! For just over three weeks I have been thinking about what motivates people to do what they do? I believe the answer is found at least, in part, in Philippians 3. In his chapter, Paul shares with us his salvation experience and what was going through his heart and mind. For many years he thought he was living right and doing the right things. Then he met JESUS and everything changed. Oh no, not change!!! Yes, you can believe it. For Paul everything changed. What he considered valuable and worthy of his life became worthless to him. Paul took off his coat of self-righteousness and the Lord put on him the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus did not die so we could be called “good people.” Jesus died so we could be called “godly people.” Only by the righteousness of Jesus Christ can we do anything good in the eyes of God! “Good” people want to go to heaven, but only “godly” people do. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!” Thank the Lord today for your salvation. If you have questions about your relationship with the Lord, please call me (252-341-4017), I would love to talk to you about it!
Sunday morning I will continue our first sermon series of 2015 “REAL PASSION.” Our Scripture is taken from Philippians 3:1-21. This week I will focus on 3:12-21. Read ahead and get a feel for the message. As I was praying a few weeks ago about what to share as we entered 2015, this passage came to mind. The Lord began to work Paul’s words into my heart and soul. Sunday I will share the message. I appreciate your prayers as we look forward to Sunday worship together!
Earlier today I spoke to Tim Chilton. He and his wife, Holly are going to Taiwan as missionaries. They will be with us Sunday morning (1/11/2015). I am looking forward to meeting them. Hopefully, you can meet them as well. As for missions, I hope you are giving to support missions at Grace Church. As I have stated before, I believe every Christian should support missions. “Making disciples” is what we do as followers of Christ! Please do your part by going, giving and praying!
Keep your eyes on Jesus and your knees down. May the Lord watch between us until we meet again this Sunday!