Heaven and the Kingdom of God

Is there a difference between heaven and the Kingdom of God? YES! Pastor Ann has been speaking to us about the Kingdom of God recently and will continue that exploration this week as she moves us into understanding this difference.

Jesus left the Kingdom of Heaven to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. In doing this, He provided a way for us, as sinners, a way to become Kingdom citizens. He sought out ordinary men and women, not religious leaders. He brought them into relationship with Himself to teach and model the Kingdom of God on earth. If we are willing to follow His teaching and example we too can become citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Ann will bring us details of this exciting news on Sunday morning at 10:55 am. Come grow with us!

Ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom

Ambassador is a word that we usually associate with politics and foreign countries. It isn’t a word we tend to apply to ourselves. But, ambassadors are exactly what we are. We represent our beliefs throughout everything we do. Think for a moment about how you’ve represented those beliefs this week. Are your actions saying something your mouth isn’t?

We, as Christ followers, are called to be His ambassadors on earth. That means His representatives all day, every day. We want everyone who comes in contact with us to see Him working through our lives.

Come Sunday morning at 10:55 a.m. and listen to Pastor Ann share this concept with us.

Alabama cowboy pastor turns hobby into ministry opportunity

By NCN News Staff | 14 June 2019

[-] Text [+]Alabama

David Farris, a church pastor in Alabama, was competing at a Cowboy Mounted Shooters Association event when he was asked to lead a church service. 

The CMSA brings together individuals and clubs in a competition of speed and accuracy as they navigate through a course of 10 balloon targets, firing at each target with a pair of handguns loaded with blanks. 

“These people are from all over the country,” Farris said. “Most of the competitors are gone almost every weekend to a different club or state, so they don’t have a home church but still want to be a part of God’s family.”

As time went on, Farris was invited to more competitions, and in turn, was asked to preach at more events.

“After a few years, we were being invited to more of these events, and it was taking us away from the church,” Farris said. “The congregation was very supportive, and they became a part of this ministry. We knew that God was placing us here for a reason, so we resigned from the church so they could have someone that was devoted to them totally.”

That is when Farris and his wife, Jill, transitioned from pastoring in a traditional setting to pastoring a mobile group of competing cowboys.

“From that point, the ministry began,” Farris said. “I compete on a regular basis and my wife is starting to again also. The people we get to meet and share time with are from all over the country. We don’t have a regular meeting time or building, and some people I see only a few times a year. Most of the time, our cowboy church service is in the arena — sometimes in the barn area or a side room. I have preached from the back of a truck, on a trailer, on the dirt, but mostly from the back of a horse.”

Traveling as frequently as CMSA competitors do can be lonely. Farris not only helps provide spiritual support for the competitors, but he aims to offer a church family for them too.

“Our ministry has been to make everyone feel welcome and share God’s grace and mercy with them,” Farris said. “To those that hunger for a church family while on the road, we have strived to make that happen. To those that don’t know the Lord, we have spent the past few years trying to just become friends with them and share the love and kindness of our Lord.”

Farris wants everyone to allow God to use their passions to reach the lost the way God used his. 

“I encourage those in the body of Christ to take their hobbies and interests and use them to share the wonderful grace of Our Lord,” Farris said. “God has taken what was a hobby and turned it into a ministry and has given us a unique church. We have been blessed with an amazing ministry that God has allowed us to be a part of.”

LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: Part one

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”—Matthew 7:24-27

As a pastor, I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I have an Over-the-Road (OTR) trucker who is new to our church family. I wanted to spend some time getting to know him better, so I decided to join him on the job one day. Seven hours in the cab of a truck allows for some good conversations!

One of the topics we discussed was the driving abilities of other truckers on the road with us that day. The trucker I was with had been driving for 34 years and had never had an accident that was his fault (though recently a lady had over-corrected next to him on the interstate and caused a non-injury collision).

Suddenly, we were overtaken by a huge black wall cloud storming across the corn fields. The trucker handled it smoothly and talked about other drivers who had never studied or learned how to handle 60,000 or 70,000 pounds in suddenly bad conditions.

He talked about how being prepared before disaster was the only solution to getting safely through unexpected conditions like high winds, a load shift, a tire blowout, or the not-as-prepared drivers on the road ahead of you. Knowing what to do and preparing ahead of time is what makes the difference between OTR drivers and really good OTR drivers.

Preparing beforehand is like building a strong foundation so that when disaster comes your way, you are ready. Matthew 7:24-27 talks about not just knowing the right thing to do, but doing it ahead of time.

What spiritual truths do you know about but are not practicing? Are you preparing a strong spiritual foundation? It can make all the difference.

Prayer for the week:

Lord, I may not like them, but the storms in life are going to come my way. Help me to be ready for these storms, even when I don’t understand what You are doing to prepare me at the time. Thank you for Your Salvation and for guiding me in all the times of life. Amen.

Mark Eigsti is senior pastor of Freedom Church of the Nazarene in Lebanon, Missouri, USA.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today

FATHER’S DAY

Fathers are extremely important to God.  The word father is used 145 times in the NASB version of the bible.  One hundred forty five times.  One of His first Commandments is to “honor your father…” (Deuteronomy 5:16).  In our culture, we have set aside a special day each year to do this. 

Again and again, our attention is directed toward fathers, their role in our lives, what is expected of them (read the story of Abraham and Isaac!) and how we are to treat them.  What may not be so obvious at first glance is that all these references point us to our Heavenly Father. 

In Deuteronomy 6:5, Moses tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  The only way to truly do this is to make every day of our lives Father’s Day.  We will reap the benefits of His love in amazing ways if we are willing to do this.  That’s His promise to us in the remainder of the verse I quoted above.  It says, “…that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you…” (Deuteronomy 5:16)  

This year, Father’s Day and Pentecost coincide.  We have a double celebration.  We celebrate our earthly fathers but we also celebrate the gift God sent us on that special day. 

Jesus told us that He would send us a helper after He ascended to the right hand of God.  The disciples waited 10 days.  On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent and poured into them. This single gift from the Father, added to the gift of salvation through Jesus, has changed everything for us. IF we follow His command through Moses.  Join us on Sunday morning at 10:55 to hear what Pastor Ann will share regarding these subjects.  We will be live-streaming on FB if you aren’t able to attend, but we would love to have you present as we honor our fathers and our Father.

Overcoming Temptations

If you feel overwhelmed by temptation, regardless of what it may be, there’s Good News!  All temptations can be overcome.  Jesus did it to teach us how, and then He sent the Holy Spirit to help us with our own struggles.

Temptations come from the devil.  He has three areas that he can attack: our flesh, our eyes and our pride of life.  He is diligent in his work.  Luke 4:6 tells us that he has control over all the earth.  For us, this means that temptations are everywhere, all the time.  In the same chapter of Luke, Jesus defeats him 3 times in all three areas. 

If you have the desire to overcome the temptations in your life, Pastor Ann will be offering a message of hope to all of us this Sunday, June 9th at 10:55 a.m.  We would love to have you with us for this important lesson or watch our livestream on facebook.

In case you haven’t been with us before………. Or have forgotten……..

Breakfast is available beginning at 9:00 a.m. for a $2.00 donation per plate. (This is real food, not donuts)  Come eat and learn with us!

Holy Confidence

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11

Nearly every morning, Annie (my Golden Retriever) and I go for a walk. I’m fairly certain that our walks are different than some: ours is an adventure in discovery. We stop at every telephone pole and every pillar. Every blowing leaf has to be examined and trash is a gold mine just waiting to be pounced upon (she is still a pup after all). While I walk in straight lines, she is a constant back and forth zig-zag. But, she is growing up.

The things along our walk that used to spook her no longer do. The smell that captivated us yesterday barely gets a sniff today. The dumpster that she would not walk by last week is not even a hesitation this week. The neighbors loud dog barking through the fence is still a concern but no longer stops us cold.

As the Scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

While the “prospering” part of this verse is comforting, we sometimes gloss over the “not to harm you” part. Just as Annie grows more comfortable with our neighborhood and approaches her trepidations with growing confidence, we may also have to directly face our fears in order to overcome them.

God will require us to face and conquer the small fears and unknowns in life so that we don’t cut-and-run at every little fear.

When we learn to trust God and get past our fears, we often realize there really was nothing to be afraid of after all.

When God asks us to face a fear, remember that He says he is not going to harm us and that He will walk with us. Additionally, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We can have confidence in His promises. “Holy confidence” is one of the things in life that makes all things better.

When we live with the confidence that God is going to take care of us, we face life’s tough issues differently!

While learning how to go from “fear” to “confidence” is rarely a straight or easy path, it is a very important one to walk. We have to let God teach us to face our fears in life. Together with Him, we can stand and overcome.

Prayer for the week:

Dear Father, thank you for helping me learn to stand and face my fears rather than run from them. Your learning process is rough at times, but thank you for teaching, guiding, and working with me at a deep and personal level. Please help me to remember Your promises and to move from fearful to fear-conquering. Amen.

Mark Eigsti is senior pastor at Freedom Church of the Nazarene in Lebanon, Missouri, USA.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

Overcoming Perceptions

Our perception of ourselves determines how we see everything in the world around us.  If we see ourselves as weak, frail, scatterbrained; we will see danger all around us.  If we perceive ourselves as bold, strong, intelligent; we will see the world as a place where we are dominant.  But neither of these views reflect reality.  Perceptions are flawed, even in the most honest of us.  None of us is able to see clearly on our own.

Reality is the Lord God Almighty.  He is.  We live in the world that He created for us.  Through His mercy, we have received the right to salvation and eternal life.  To get there, we have to be willing to change some things.

Like our perceptions.  To overcome our skewed views of the world, we need to learn to trust Him.  This isn’t an instant happening.  It takes time, it takes devotion, it takes determination and it takes love.  Without love for the Lord in our hearts, we won’t be able to overcome the perceptions that lifetime of learning from the world.  We take the negative things of this world and write them on our hearts.

Like our focus.  What we should be writing on our hearts are the Words of the Lord.  Only then will our vision clear.  When we focus on His Will and trust the Holy Spirit, we will overcome whatever temporary situation we are faced with. 

Pastor Ann has a unique message to share with us about our perceptions and overcoming.  If you’d like to learn more, join us Sunday morning at 10:55 in the sanctuary or on facebook live.

Hope Springs Eternal

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” —Romans 5:5, NKJV

Alexander Pope is credited with the proverb, “Hope springs eternal in the human heart.” Though this adage is often applied to earthly and statistically hopeless pursuits, like winning a sweepstakes or finding lost treasure, I believe the philosopher had a more heavenly and eternal view in mind when noting this God-given capacity of the human spirit. This principle seems to refer to the indomitable spirit of hope and intense purpose that is seen when people encounter dreadful life circumstances.

In my mind, the biblical record of Jeremiah purchasing land (Jeremiah 32) amidst the turmoil and terror of the Babylonian siege is closer to the intended spirit of Pope’s proverb. In that account, Jeremiah was locked up in the king’s prison for faithfully declaring the word from God that His judgment was preparing to fall on Judah. That judgment would take the form of the marauding Babylonian army.

In short order, that fearful army had laid siege to Jerusalem and the situation was deemed hopeless. The people were liquidating their property and possessions in desperation, accepting any price they could get. It was a national “fire sale.” However, when everyone else was selling property for any price, Jeremiah was a buyer, paying the standard peacetime price for land from his prison cell. Not only did he purchase property, he had the deed recorded by the elders.

This was a testament to his hopeful faith in God’s promise that the Children of Israel would return to the Promised Land. What a powerful message!

No doubt to the temporal-minded Jeremiah appeared to be gullible and shortsighted in the extreme. But in reality, he was the wisest and most farsighted of them all. His focus was not on earthly circumstances but on the heavenly promise. Jeremiah was able to stand above circumstance because of his faith in God.

Like Jeremiah, our wisest course of action is to believe God; and not just a mental-assent type of belief, but a hopeful, life-transforming faith. A belief that models the principle so beautifully expressed in the hymn “The Solid Rock”: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name! On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jer. 32:17, KJV).

Prayer for the week: Dear Father, pour out Your grace upon me today that I may stand in the hopeful promise of Your redemption. By Your grace, may I shine the hope of Christ to family and friends and all whom I meet. Be glorified in your church and in my life, particularly! In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Dan Gilmore is district superintendent of the Northern Michigan District.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.