Seeking His Face

Seeking His Face

"My heart has heard You say, ‘seek My face.’ Your face, oh God, will I seek." Psalm 27:8

The first Sunday I was in India I was asked to preach in a church that met in an orphanage. Kids of all ages joined us and sat up front.

The message I preached was called, "One Thing," and it was about seeking God for who He is (His face) instead of what He can do for us (His hand). I used Psalm 27 and the invitation God gives David quoted above.

At this time, Saul’s army was chasing David to kill him. The army was encamped against him (Psalm 27:3), so David’s promises from God about being the next king were all in jeopardy. If there was ever a time David needed God’s mighty hand to do something it was right then.

Yet God called him to go higher than his circumstances – "seek My face." David responded by reorganizing his life’s goal around this invitation: "One thing have I desired and that will I seek after that I might dwell in the house of the Lord…and behold the beauty of the Lord…and meditate in Your temple." (Psalm 27:4)

After I closed with a general prayer for those who wanted to say "yes" to God’s invitation, the pastor came up and encouraged people to be prayed for individually. No one came for their needs but only for their devotion to seek God’s face.

At some point while I was praying for people, I told the pastor to invite those who needed healing to come forward. The first lady explained through an interpreter that she had horrible pain throughout her body. I prayed a brief prayer and she turned around to leave. I called her back – "tell us how you’re feeling?" I asked. She said, "I’m healed, the pain is all gone." I said, "Do you mean you’re in less pain?" She insisted, "No, I am completely healed."

It was then I noticed something – my hands were burning. I told the pastor to tell the people my hands were burning and if they needed healing they should come right now.

I prayed for all ages for the next hour and everyone I prayed for felt the pain immediately leave their body. I prayed for the sick the rest of the time I was in India but never saw the power repeated that was present that Sunday morning.

I think God’s heart was touched by the devotion of these orphans. If we would seek His face in the midst of our great needs, He wanted us to know, we would also have His generous hand.

Have a great week!

A Hope – Steadfast and Secure

A Hope – Steadfast and Secure

Hebrews Chapter 6:18-20

“So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time-an unshakeable hope! 19 We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, 20 and where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone in before us.” TPT

The definition of Hope is: an expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired. For the believer, hope is a realistic expectation and longing for the future based upon the word of God. Many times we put our expectations or beliefs in things, in people or in our own strengths. We put hope in: Our jobs, finances, health, marriage, homes, family, kids, and when those things fail us we are disappointed and lose hope. But true Hope brings stability in the storm: ?We will all face storms in our life. There will be dark days, there will be things in life that blindside us and throw us off course. There will be things that we didn’t sign up for or are didn’t prepared for and there will be times when we drift away because of the busyness of life or the things we think are more important. In Isaiah we are reminded that when, not if, these things happen, the Lord will be with us. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT) We have an unshakeable hope!

As one puritan put it, “The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.” Hope motivates us to be the best version of us that we can be – and that happens by following the plans and fulfilling the purpose that God destined for us from the beginning. Hope also keeps our focus forwards: ? Our human nature is often too focused on our mistakes, our messes, our junk, our unworthiness, or the “WHAT IFS” and those things rob us of our hope and keeps us from moving on. Peter says to, “Celebrate with praises the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has shown us his extravagant mercy. For his fountain of mercy has given us a new life-we are reborn to experience a living, energetic hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3 TPT ) This is our future hope, Jesus rose from the dead and He is alive. And, because our hope is revealed, grounded, sustained, and directed by God, we can “know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

Our Hope is in what God will do tomorrow, next week, next year and in the future. Our Hope is in the promises of His Word and His Word says that Jesus is the anchor of our souls and He is steadfast (loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated dependable, reliable steady, true) and secure

Put your hope in Him.
Derrick Wright

Resting in God

Resting in God

"This is the message from the One who is holy and true…what He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open." Revelation 3:7

In the spring of 1987, I was excited about a potential transition. For six months I had the impression God was leading me out of the business world (I worked as an Investment Broker) into full time ministry.

You can imagine my excitement when a pastor from Illinois came to interview me. After our meeting, Pastor Braaten felt like this was God’s plan for their church but it wasn’t automatic. I needed to come down and "candidate" for the position, he explained.

So we loaded our young family up and went down to Grand de tour, Illinois to spend a weekend at the church, and I preached for them on Sunday. I thought it went well, but when Pastor Braaten called the next week he informed me that I was going to have to return and preach a second time.

I had no idea how churches worked so I didn’t take this as rejection, but just part of the process. Before I preached the second time, Pastor Braaten brought me into his office: "Some of the people didn’t like the way you walked back and forth last time. Could you stay behind the pulpit instead of wandering around?" he requested.

No problem. I thought it went well but once again he called and said I would have to come down a third time to "candidate." Right before I preached the third time, he again pulled me into his office: "Last time you stayed behind the pulpit but you played with the gooseneck microphone the whole time and it drove some people crazy. Why don’t you go ahead and walk around again."

After that message, the church officially asked me to be their youth pastor and that was my entrance into full time ministry. Why did it take so long? I think God (and Pastor Braaten) wanted me at that church and the church didn’t want me but they couldn’t close the door no matter how hard they tried.

When we are resting in God, He is able to open doors no man (or church) can shut. We don’t have to be impressive, we just need to trust God. And by the way, I’ve been "wandering around" while preaching ever since.

Have a great week,

Pastor Tom

EDEN RESTORED

EDEN RESTORED

"He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." Psalm 18:19

Eden means delight. We were created to be the delight of God and to find our delight in Him. Delight means "to be greatly pleased in."

Why did David believe that God delighted in him? I think it was because he refused to hide anything from God. We see his prayer life in Psalms and nothing’s hidden: his joys, his sins, his pains, his loneliness, his anger, and even his frustration with God. Whatever David was going through, he was going through with God.

Delight was lost in Eden when Adam and Eve hid from God because of shame. And then even the word delight is almost entirely lost in Scripture until David, who believed he was a delight to God and who invited all of us to "delight yourself in the Lord." (Psalm 37:4)

I saw a living picture of how God can delight in us when I observed my wife with our grandsons, Will and Jack. Our first grandchildren are only two months old and Alice has served as my daughter’s helper through many sleepless nights because these boys are trouble! They eat constantly and then have to burp which usually includes them spitting up some of which they just ate. Then they have to poop and pee regularly which means steady diaper changes and even when they’re fed and dry they’re intermittently fussy for no reason at all. They have worn my wife down physically.

How does she feel about them after they have treated her this way? Pure delight. There’s nothing these boys can do that’s not adorable to her. She can’t stop smiling when she holds them, changes them, feeds them, burps them, etc. Everything new they do requires a picture, so she now has a thousand pictures and videos on her smart phone. These boys don’t even crawl yet!

A few nights ago a room full of friends had to gather behind her to watch a video of one of the twins sneezing. (They’re back in Mexico now so my daughter sends her videos.) Pure delight.

This is how God feels about us when we don’t live hiding from Him. He can handle the mess we make and all the work required to take care of us. Our ways may please Him or displease Him from time to time, but make no mistake about this – we are His delight!

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him (you and me) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus died on the cross to restore a spiritual Eden where the people He created can walk with Him again without shame.

Have a great week,

Pastor Tom

HOLDING THE ROPE

HOLDING THE ROPE

"As a result of your giving, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the good news of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you." 2Corinthians 9:13-14

When William Carey left for the mission field he said something like this to his church: "I will go down the hole to rescue those who are perishing if you will hold the rope."

For our missionaries to do what God has called them to do someone has to hold the rope. One of the first strategies of war that our enemy seeks to employ is to cut the supply lines so that those on the front lines become vulnerable.

Our annual missions conference is like pulling on the rope until those who have been serving are back on firm land to be renewed and reinvisioned. I have heard testimony after testimony from our missionaries about how God has used this time to encourage them. Part of it is just knowing they’re not alone. When they rub shoulders with other missionaries they’re inspired by the sacrifice and suffering others have experienced as well as by the stories of God’s redemption through their ministries.

It’s made me even more committed to holding the rope well. As we remember them in prayer and in our financial gifts God does a wonderful thing in uniting our hearts together. Paul explains how this happens in the text above. Our offerings produce thanksgiving and affection in them which results in them remembering us in their prayers.

Not only are those who are perishing rescued in this process, but a deep relationship results between those holding the rope and those being lowered into the hole. Isn’t God amazing!

Have a great week,

Pastor Tom

P.S. This last Sunday we gave gifts and pledges for missions. If you would like to make a pledge for the coming year, the cards may be found on the tables below the giving boxes at City Church. In a few weeks, we will give the results of our giving and pledges on a Sunday morning.

THE LOST SHEEP

THE LOST SHEEP

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Luke 15:4

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and won’t take "no" for an answer. When He invites people to follow Him and they choose to go further into darkness instead, He just keeps looking for them like the shepherd looks for his lost sheep, "until he finds it."

If Jesus doesn’t give up on people than we can’t either. If people don’t want to be found right now, pray for them, knowing that the time is soon coming when they will need Him. Life is hard, but God is good. Eventually everyone comes to a crisis point and, when they do, Jesus wants us to be a bridge to Him. We are to give this world a taste of His goodness and unconditional love. God reveals Himself as "an ever present help in the time of trouble," (Psalm 46:1) so let’s join Him in being present to people when their life is hard.

If it’s hard for you to envision God saving someone you know, remember that He saved you. He kept looking, kept knocking, kept seeking until you finally gave your life to Him. Remember those who were used by God to help you come to Him. Let’s purpose to be that to someone else.

When I think back on how I came to the Lord, I am amazed. There was so much darkness around me, yet the Divine pull was stronger. He used so many different people and books to secure me. It’s funny because my gratefulness to God doesn’t reduce my gratefulness to those He used to help me. It really was God and it really was the people He worked and loved through.

Have a great week,

Tom

P.S. All our welcome to our Mission’s Conference this week. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, September 22 (Church grounds) 12:00 noon
All-church picnic (annual volleyball challenge, bounce houses and pony rides for children — bring a dish to pass) — If you hurry, you can still get in on all the fun and food!

Sunday, September 23 — All three services
Ruth Hubbard from InterVarsity and introduction of visiting missionaries

Monday, September 24 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Jim and Renee Larson/Lori and Sarah Ingles
8:00 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, September 25 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship and prayer, Gary and Darlene Sasinowski
8:00 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Wednesday, September 26 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Steve and Sandi Youngren/Wade and Sharon Cox
8:00 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Thursday, September 27 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Joshua and Anne Angel/Brian and Becky Keene
8:00 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Friday, September 28 (Fellowship Hall)
6:00 p.m. Prime Time Potlucki Dinner (sign up at Information Center)

Saturday, September 29 (Fellowship Hall)
8:00 a.m. Men’s Breakfast — Missonary men Q&A
11:00 a.m. Ladies’ Luncheon — Becky Keene and Renee Larson (sign up at WM’s table in hallway)

Sunday, September 30 — All lthree services
Missionary Rich Collingridge

OUR MUTUAL DEBT

OUR MUTUAL DEBT

"I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as I am able, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." Romans 1:14-15

How can Paul owe people he has never met? There a two ways to owe a debt: one is when someone lends you money and you owe them until it is repaid; the other is where someone gives you something to give to someone else. Until you have given them what was entrusted to you for them, you are in their debt. This is how Paul, and we, are in debt to all those who have not heard the gospel. Think of when UPS is given a package for someone else – they could be said to be in debt until that package is delivered and signed for.

To all those God has graciously saved, He has given a charge: "Go into all the world and make disciples of everyone." (See Matthew 28:19-20) "Go" is to be understood as plural because He is speaking to the redeemed community – go together, and take the gospel that has saved you and give it to everyone in the world for My sake.

I don’t like being in debt, but if I have a debt, I certainly want to know about it. In Dickens’ Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s dead business partner, Jacob Marley, appears to Scrooge as a ghost with a chain he must carry around as a punishment for how he lived on earth. Scrooge feels the chain is unfair:

"You were a good man, Jacob. A man of business."

At this Marley screams his response: "Business! Mankind was my business!"

Marley had a debt while on earth even if he didn’t own it. We don’t get to bury our heads in the sand and say to ourselves: "That’s not my problem." If you are a real Christian, it is your problem. We have a mutual debt to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s own it together and then pray to the Lord of the harvest, "Send me to fulfill whatever assignment you have for me to fulfill." (Matthew 9:38)

Have a great week,

Tom

P.S. Our missions week begins next Saturday, Sept. 22nd with the church picnic. Below is the schedule for the week – all are welcome!

Saturday, September 22 (Church grounds) 11:30 a.m.
All-church picnic (annual volleyball challenge, bounce houses and pony rides for children — bring a dish to pass)

Sunday, September 23 — All three services
Ruth Hubbard from InterVarsity and introduction of visiting missionaries

Monday, September 24 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Jim and Renee Larson/Lori and Sarah Ingles
8:30 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, September 25 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship and prayer, Gary and Darlene Sasinowski
8:30 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Wednesday, September 26 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Steve and Sandi Youngren/Wade and Sharon Cox
8:30 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Thursday, September 27 (Sanctuary)
6:30 p.m. Worship, Joshua and Anne Angel/Brian and Becky Keene
8:30 p.m. Food and Friendship in the Fellowship Hall

Friday, September 28 (Fellowship Hall)
6:00 p.m. Prime Time Potlucki Dinner (sign up at Information Center)

Saturday, September 29 (Fellowship Hall)
8:00 a.m. Men’s Breakfast — Missonary men Q&A
11:00 a.m. Ladies’ Luncheon — Becky Keene and Renee Larson (sign up at WM’s table in hallway)

Sunday, September 30 — All lthree services
Missionary Rich Collingridge