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Friday, April 18, 2014

EASTER: it's Friday


Easter is the best time for those who chose to follow Jesus.  That seems like somewhat of an ironic statement, but it is not.  Jesus’ life, death and finally His resurrection are what our salvation is completely hung upon.  Without the grace of God to take our sin and place it on Jesus, we could not and would not be offered salvation.

This week of history known as the last of Jesus’ life was wrapped in the celebration of the Passover.  This was the time to remember what happened when God’s people were in captivity, and it was the time when all first-born children were being killed.  Yet if a family followed the plan of God placing the blood of a lamb over the doorpost of their homes, the death angel would pass over their homes.

That is what Jesus became for us.  He shed His blood on the cross, and thus Jesus became our Passover Lamb.  Before His death we find ourselves on Friday.  It was the day that He died.  It was the day that we began to live.  It’s Friday.

29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. 32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.

The road was busy all the time that Jesus had to carry His cross down.  It had to be heavy.  It had to be very difficult.  That’s when an innocent bystander was asked to get involved.  Simon didn’t know that his faith would need to be seen that day.

It was hard to carry the cross because Jesus had been beaten within a few minutes of laying down His life already.  Everyone seems to have turned against the man who had for a couple years turned the kingdom upside down.  He healed the sick.  He raised the dead.  He made waves and lives were changed because Jesus didn’t live for Himself.  It’s Friday.

35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

Calvary or Golgotha was the end of their walking trip.  It was the place where executions took place.  Literally it was a hill outside of Jerusalem’s city walls where people could see what happened and tell their kids that this would happen to anyone that broke the law.  Yet our Jesus isn't and never was a lawbreaker.  In His own words He came to fulfill the entire law. 

By the nails in His feet and hands the sentence continued to be carried out.  His life meant much, but religious and government leaders wanted Jesus gone.  Many called this the battle between Jews and the government, but really this was the battle between Satan and God. 

Jesus took on darkness to bring us into the light.  Max Lucado wrote (and I loosely quote), “Jesus went to Hell for us so He wouldn’t have to go to Heaven without us.”  It was Friday.  Friday changed everything because of what Jesus did.

46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” … 50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, … 54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

God turned His back on his son on Friday because in the time between Jesus’ death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday our sins were paid for in full.  Friday was and always will be an important day.

It’s Friday, and we celebrate the life of our Savior.  Spend some time today following Jesus with all your heart.


(If you live near us, join us this Sunday for Easter Worship at The Community Fellowship at 10:10am)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

living proof


The greatest man to ever live was Jesus.  His plan given to Him by His father was to let the entire world know of His love.  God’s plan is clear and is for us.  What we understand this week, the week before Easter, is how important this story really is.  When a person gets it, the story gets them and radically changes us.

2 Peter 3:9  NASB
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

John 3:17  NASB
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

God chose Jesus to be the sacrifice for sin and the savior of the world, but God chose our sharing of His story to be the way that people come to know Him.  Those two things, Jesus’ sacrifice and our sharing, are eternally linked to the life change that continues to happen in this world.

Not everyone gets this story.  It really is useless or foolish if a person doesn’t see their need for Jesus.  That is why I pray God reveals Himself to the people we come in contact with.  Easter is a revealing time.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!  But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

It is the power of God, yet life isn’t easy.  We have found that to be true.  We read the stories of others throughout history who have found that knowing God and following Jesus is the most difficult thing in the world. 

Get some perspective.  Eternity is a really long time.  Our short life on earth and all the suffering cannot compare to the time we will spend in Heaven and with God.  Jesus lived that truth and was living proof for all to see.  He keeps on living that truth.

Romans 8:18  NASB
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

The enemy is real.  His way is to distract us and to shade the truth.  If Satan can get our mind off of God and change our direction from following Him, we will miss the purpose God has for us and the abundance He wants to bless us with.  Who are we allowing to fill our lives?

The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

I close today’s thoughts with a verse that continues to baffle me.  I shared it Sunday with our church.  It is strong.  Strong because the good news is that Jesus is our life.  It is strong.  Strong because Jesus and others have become living proof that Jesus is what life is all about.

For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.  And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter is Sunday. Who are you inviting?

Who are you inviting to come with you to church this Sunday?   It is Easter.   It is the time we celebrate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.   Worship is at 10:10am, and we will have a great time and a surprise as well.  Think about your family, your friends, neighbors, co-workers or others who might need some encouragement!  Invite each of them to come to church with you this Easter Sunday!!!!

*** to give online go to THIS LINK.  for more info about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email us at cmartin@thecommunityfellowhsip.org ***

Easter quotes




This is not just another holiday.  It is a holy day.  It is another day that culture has twisted, shaded and pointed in another direction.  It is the day or the weekend that we remember the death of the greatest leader of all time.  It is the time when we walk back in to the tomb and find once again, same as last time, it is empty because our Savior is alive and well.  It is a day that lifts and celebrates the radical change that Jesus Christ continues to bring to this world.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Think about this incredible point of history, this Spiritual mountain and this day of salvation …

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world.  It was a perfect act. --- Mahatma Gandhi

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. --- Pope John Paul II

The great gift of Easter is hope - Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake. --- Basil Hume

Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present. ---  N.T. Wright

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.  For He departed, and behold, He is here.  --- St Augustine

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. --- Timothy Keller

There you have a few quotes from respected Christian leaders.  Each quote or thought digs us in a little deeper to the truth behind our Easter celebration.  Jesus is God’s son.  Jesus is our Savior.  Jesus is hope and grace and life and so much more for those of us who chose to follow Him. 

May this week lead us to think about and worship Him even more.  Easter gives us a reason to let our faith soar for our Savior is alive and well helping others be the same.


Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

tax day & an important week


How blind!  For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

It is tax day, also better known as April 15th.  Many people loathe this day and are scared to give what is due to the government, yet being a citizen of the USA means we are to pay taxes.  Yet I also remind you of the importance of this week.  It is Easter week where we remember the altar of the cross our Savior, Jesus, was murdered on and where He allowed His blood to be spilled for our good and for our forgiveness.  That fact makes this an important week.

Mark 12:17  NLT
“Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”  His reply completely amazed them.

We really are blessed to live in America where we can worship as we please and pursue our dreams.  Having to pay taxes doesn’t make us weak or hold us back.  We may not agree with all that our government does, but we have a government that helps us in many ways.

For too long many of us have cried about the woes happening in Washington DC or in our state capital, yet we must remember and share how God has blessed us and blessed this country for a long time.  Furthermore, don’t allow what you are upset about or what you disagree with keep you from focusing on what really matter.

Jesus matters.  God is the one who placed us where we are and with the people we are with.  Family is a gift from God.  Our freedom is a gift from God.  I’ve noticed that there are many, many times when we allow what is inferior to block what is superior.

In other words, don’t allow the fact that it is tax day to dim the fact that Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death and Sunday is the day we celebrate His resurrection.  What an incredible time this is.  We have much to celebrate.  I am glad that we are about to see the church stand up once again to allow Jesus to be who Jesus is. 

Did you know that on Easter more people attend church than on any other day of the year?  Statistics tell us that 82% of the people asked to go to church with a friend or family member on Easter will go to church with them, but don’t forget another statistic… 100% of the people you don’t invite to church won’t go to church.  Answer this one: who will you ask to go to church with you?  That answer needs to include the fact that this person, or these people, need to see how good our God is.

Who are you going to invite to church?  Ok, after you go to the post office to mail your taxes or to the tax preparation place, who will you ask to go to church with you?  Don’t take this too lightly.

There are so many things that distract us and not just on the week of Easter.  The first verse above asks a question that we ought to take a few minutes or few hours to think through.  Why we do we allow what is least important to consume our lives?

A friend often reminds me of this truth with a statement his dad used to make often: eternity is at stake; lives are in the balance.  Thanks Seth and Gary for reminding us all of this truth.  Lives really are in the balance of heading to heaven or hell.  People are going to hell unless we help them see how good our God is.

May this week our lives and our words point people to what really matters, and may God bless our country.  God is good … all the time!

Psalm 33:12  NASB
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.



NOTE:
Our church wants to share food with local churches that has community meals.  If you church would use this food, please contact me at The Community (at 276-647-8231).  We are planning the construction of our new campus beginning with a huge mission team the end of May.  Please pray for wisdom, finances, and open doors as the process begins.

Monday, April 14, 2014

the best counselot


Isaiah 9:6  NLT
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Some of my favorite people in this world are counselors.  They are gifted, wise and insightful people who help families and individuals find the tools to live successful lives.  Most of these people are Christian counselors that tie what they share and people need to Biblical truth.  Others are secular counselors who teach helpful skills for life.

God’s desire for each of us is success, abundance, and large amounts of His grace, and what can and will begin us on a wonderful path is God’s word applied to our lives. 

Jesus is the word of God embodied.  See John 1 for this fact.  Our best counseling begins with the Word in us.  That is Jesus in us, and that is when we take the Bible and apply it to our lives.  The old cliché “garbage in and garbage out” is very true.  What we put in or allow in is what we will get out of our lives.

For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Allow Jesus to bring you peace, to be your father, and even to counsel you in the facts and facets of life.  Years ago I began reading through Proverbs on a daily basis.  What I have gained from that book has allowed me to learn how to deal with many different situations and how to lean on God through difficult times.

For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

The Bible contains truth and is truth.  When we apply the word of God, it becomes alive in us working to make us strong and wise.  It gives us the tools to handle what life brings our way.  Those are practical tools as well as spiritual ones. 

I had the privilege not long after getting out of high school to go to a conference where some of the most of my favorite preachers of that day were speaking.  One of them was John MacArthur. 

He shared a message from Psalm 19 that has struck in my mind for more than 23 years.  There were several things that MacArthur shared that have stuck in my mind and helped shape how I apply Scripture to my life. 

He said that (and I loosely quote these things), “the Bible is like a caged lion.  You don’t have to defend it.  Just open the cage and let it work as God prepared it to do.”  Going in several different directions he noted that when the Bible speaks in the area of science or math or relationships it speaks truth that transforms lives.

My point is that our best counselor may not be the person we make an appointment to see.  Our best counselor is Jesus Himself through the Word that He has given to us.  By taking in the truth of God’s word we find strength and success, wisdom and warning, answers and peace.  That is how God works.

I am not saying that we should not go see doctors and counselors.  Those people are very important, yet as Christians we need to allow our days to be filled with what God says and to apply what God says.  The Bible is what God uses to transform our lives as it speaks with clear authority from our gracious and loving God.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
 The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. 
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.  9 Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.
 The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
 They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.


NOTE:

We have important meetings today about our new campus.  Pray for wisdom, finances, and open doors as the process of building out begins.

Friday, April 11, 2014

helping people is one thing we do well

Hey Community family ---

Serving others is one of the things that we do best. Your help is needed as we serve those who need clothes and those who are hungry.

The FEEDING CENTRAL VIRGINIA event is tomorrow morning, Saturday, April 12th. We will meet at The Community at 7:20 so we can travel to Roanoke. We should be done and headed back to town shortly after noon. We will be bringing lots of food back to Martinsville and Henry County. If you have signed up to go or want to help, join us. If you have questions, see Steve or Tina Stone or myself.

Tomorrow, April 12th, is also our 2nd Saturday FREE Community Meal and Clothes Closet from 9am until noon. Volunteers need to arrive at 8:30am. There is need for extra volunteers because of the fact of two events happening at the same time. Pass the word. Come out and help!

It is time to gear up for back2school 2014 and your help is needed to make this stronger than ever. Again we will have 6 churches across our region serving thousands of kids. Our Nicaragua Mission Team is getting ready for our trip in September. Raffle Tickets, mission feet and tickets to our Applebee's breakfast will be on sale this coming Sunday after worship. You can also see any of our team members to help!

We are one month away from our Mother's Day Car Care Clinic which takes place the day before Mother's Day. We need workers, prizes, mechanics, massage therapists and more. Put it on your calendar and listen for more details.

This Sunday we finish our COME TOGETHER series during our Community Worship Service as 10:10am. It is our desire to have more of our church family involved in serving the people of our area. God has much in store for us plus there will be a great surprise.

Next Sunday is EASTER, and you don't want to miss this exciting day we celebrate Jesus' life. Invite people to come to church with you on Easter. This is the day that more people will say yes to your invitation. We will begin a new series called BROKEN.

This Sunday we will have a special time of prayer for our new campus as well as some information that will help us as a church family prepare for the future and to be stronger. We look forward to seeing you this Saturday and Sunday as we demonstrate the love of God to our community and beyond.


*** for more information about The Community Fellowship, Dream Center or back2school call 276-647-8231 or email cmartin@thecommunityfellowship.org ***

something good from bad


Within the history of the early church in the book of Acts there was a shift in culture and in spread of the Gospel.  Acts 11 is actually the spot where Saul or Paul begins to be used by God in big ways.  The power of God is evident when His story is shared.

Romans 1:16  NASB
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Power and the Gospel are linked.  They cannot be unlocked from each other.  There are all kinds of power on earth from dynamite to fusion or science to political power and beyond, yet the power of what God does is much stronger and longer lasting.

Acts 1:8  NASB
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

God provides power through the transfer and the transformation of His word.  Further, remember that the Word is actually Jesus who consumes the word of God.  God takes bad situations and turns them in to good ones.  In the first part of Acts 11 we learn about the stoning of Stephen, and Stephen’s death sent people running in all directions.

Their move to points north and west meant that the Gospel was going to go to people who had yet to meet Jesus.  Yet the followers of Jesus didn’t realize that there was about to be a change.  It was the time when the Gentiles, not just Jews, were given the opportunity to follow Jesus.  Things would never be the same for the new group of people now being called Christians.

I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your statutes.

We can trust that God to help us and others get to know His way.  By sending Barnabas and eventually Paul to teach the people of Antioch there was support from older believers to new ones.  Again it was in difficult situations that change was brought by people who began to follow God with confidence.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

May God use us and His church to help many people and even communities come to know and trust God.  We can take God at His word.  God will turn your life and all situations around if we let Him.

I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.