Friday, March 17, 2017

When I Am Afraid

Fear is common to man. Each of us can identify situations in life that cause us to be fearful, and certainly there are situations where fear is an appropriate response. For example, there is a certain fear that washes over a parent when she reaches for the hand of her toddler in a busy shopping mall only to discover that the little one’s hand is not there. Fear for the safety of her child compels the mother to act, quickly. Sadly, however, the fear that grips us often is the result of our failure to trust in our gracious and sovereign God (Ps 34:19-20; Luke 12:22-31; John 10:28).

King David was accustomed to fear. Recorded for us in the book of the Psalms are several accounts of David’s battle against fear. God has graciously given us instruction for how to combat our fear and an example of this instruction is found in Psalm 56. In this psalm, David has fled for his life from the deranged King Saul. David is in the presence of the Philistines of Gath and learns that they are no friends of his either! He begins the psalm by asking God to be gracious to him because of the peril he is in with men seeking his life. David then says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid, What can flesh do to me?” (Ps 56:3-4) A few verses later David reminds himself of the truth that “God is for me” before repeating the phrase, “I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
(Ps 56:9, 11)  

We have an example to follow in David. When he was faced with fear he first cried out to God for help. This too should be our response: “Father, be gracious to me!” Next, David instructed his heart to trust in God (Ps 56:3). Third, he considered the limited power of his enemies in comparison to almighty God (Ps 56:4, 11). Finally, David comforted himself by recalling truths about God (Ps 56:8, 9). Fear is debilitating for the believer because it shifts our focus from the Savior to our circumstances. Like David, when faced with fear we must:
(1) Cry out to our heavenly Father
(2) Instruct our heart in truth
(3) Consider the limited power of the enemy
(4) Remind ourselves of the character of God
May God give us grace to fear Him alone.

See also Psalm 3, Psalm 27, Psalm 34

Blake Gerber
Discipleship Minister

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Hope of All Made New

This week in our Wednesday night IMAGE meeting we wrapped up our series on the End Times focusing especially on the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22. In this section God shows a return to the Garden of Eden... but better, which gives us great hope for our eternal future. Here I just wanted to highlight a few things that stood out to me from our time.

1) In 21:3 we see that God will dwell with man. His presence will be manifested with us for all time. Even in the perfect garden, Gen 3:8-9 seems to indicate that God's manifest presence came and went from Adam and Eve, not that He was ever not present, but in some way less noticeably so. Our hope in the eternal home we will one day posses is that God's presence will always dwell there never to leave in any way.

2) 21:4 & 22:3 show that not only will the curse due to sin and its painful results be removed forever, but, unlike the Garden of Eden where sin happened, there will never be any chance for sin and its painful consequences to happen again since all sin will be cast out (21:8, 27).

3) In the garden, God and man's relationship was solely that of authoritative Creator and subservient creation. While this relationship does not stop we do see it joyously expanded when all is made new. In 21:9-11 we see the whole people of God who make up the New Jerusalem called, "the bride, the wife of the Lamb." What joy this gives that God will forever be, not only our Creator, but our Lover tenderly looking out for us in every way and pursuing our highest joy for all time.

4) While in some way the hurts of the past will be lessened, removed, or forgotten in light of Christ's overwhelming presence and glory (21:4), God certainly does not intend for the history of His work and plan of redemption to be forgotten. The New Jerusalem has features such as the "tree of life" (22:2) to remind us of the Garden where the whole story began for us. The 12 gates of the city have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel written on them (21:12) reminding us of God's drawing Abraham to Himself and making from him a great nation just as He promised and suffering with them and their rebellious hearts over 100's of years. The 12 foundation stones of the city have the names of the 12 apostles on them (21:14) reminding us of the Savior's coming and calling of 12 men and then empowering them with the Holy Spirit to go into all the world preaching His good news that lead to even us alive today eventually standing their looking on those stones saved and forgiven. Along with all this, throughout much of the book of Revelation, Christ is refereed to as the "Lamb" building upon His introduction in 5:6 as the "Lamb standing, as if slain," which points us back to John the Baptist's proclamation, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) & even further back to the sacrifices of the Old Testament that were pictures of Him and His saving work (Heb 9:11-14, 10:10-12). God intentionally plans and intends that for all eternity we will be made keenly aware of His redemptive work on our behalf and the story throughout history and how He accomplished it. Eden was the start of the story. The New Jerusalem is its very satisfying ending.

5) We will get to experience the fully glory of God standing in His presence in a way never experienced before. In 21:3 we see God will dwell among us. Building on this, 21:22-23 & 22:3-5 further show that we will dwell in the full and complete presence of the Shekinah glory of God (2 Chron 7:1-3) forever able to see His face in a way that not even Moses or the High Priests got to experience. This makes 21:16 very interesting as it describes the city as a cube of equal dimensions for length, width, and height. The other place we see a cube structure prescribed by God in Scripture is 1 Kings 6:20 defining the perfect shape for the Holy of Hollies where God's presence would dwell. We will get to experience a whole new and fuller extent of life in Christ. It is the full completion of Hebrews 10:19-22, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." The New Jerusalem far exceeds Eden in every way.

What great hope and excitement we have for the future! This is not just some story. So much of the Bible is written about things behind us that have already happened and past, but this!... this is our future history still to come! We WILL get to experience this and it WILL be amazing!

Understanding all this calls us to stand in awe of our awesome God! We should be amazed and worship as we see His sovereign plan from before time began (13:8) unfold. We should be in wonder at Him saving us, who are such small parts of the great tapestry of history that He is weaving. We should seek to walk with Him and know Him more and more. This is the purpose we were made for, this is why we are currently here, and this is what we will get to do joyously forever in His presence for all eternity!

Phil Smith 
Youth Minister at BCC

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Prayer for the Broken-hearted Child of God

I pray for your heart to be filled with the confidence that…

…God loves you with His everlasting love (Jer.31:3)

… Jesus loves you just as the Father loves Him (Jn.15:1-11)

…God’s mercy towards you is new again today (Lam. 3:22)

…God’s compassion towards you will never fail (Lam. 3:22)

…God has given you His righteousness freely as a gift (Rom. 3:21-28)

…God promises never to leave you or forsake you (Heb.13:5; Ps.94:14)

…God has given you all of his promises in Christ Jesus (2Cor.1:20)

…God promises to protect you with His peace (Phil.4:7)

…God promises that He, [the God of peace] will be with you (Phil.4:9)

…God has promises that He will supply all your needs (Phil.4:19)

…God will be your room-mate (Is. 57:15)

…You will mostly be unaware of the ways that your fruit is manifested (Mt. 25:34-40)

…God sovereignly placed you in the Body of Christ (Eph.1:3-6)

…God has uniquely equipped you to serve the Body (Eph.4:12-16

…to the extent that you abide in Jesus, you will produce fruit (Jn.15:1-9)

I pray that today you will choose to allow
your heart to truly rest in all these truths
Pastor Kent Kloter

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sunday is Coming!

Occasionally after a morning service, I will hear someone say, “Hey Mike, great worship this morning!” After thanking them and walking on it hits me: What did they mean? Did they like the music? Did the band sound good today? Were they impressed by the new Christmas clothes? All I know is something affected them. They had a good experience in the service. What is a good experience? Was it God-focused?
One of the statements in our church’s worship philosophy says this: "Our worship will be God-centered; a high priority of the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service; the ultimate aim is to so experience God that He is glorified in our affections.” Some time ago I read through a Christian bookstore flier, I noticed an ad for a new worship album that mentioned the term “experience” six times. We all love “worship experiences” with God. Experiences aren’t evil. But the concept of worship as an “experience” is fairly foreign to Scripture. I say “fairly” because there are times when worshipping God was definitely an experience! (2 Chronicles 5:11-14; Acts 4:31; 1 Corinthians 14:23-25) The goal of gathering as God’s people is not to feel something but to acknowledge and remember something. That “something” is the Word, works, and worthiness of God, especially as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) If I pursue goose bumps or heightened emotion during a meeting, God becomes simply one of numerous options I can choose to seek them from. This doesn’t minimize the importance of pursuing encounters with the living God characterized by profound emotion and awareness of the Holy Spirit’s active presence. Scripture is filled with examples of longing for, pursuing, and delighting in God’s presence. (Psalm 84:1-2; 1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 16:11) I become aware of God’s nearness by dwelling on His nature, promises, and acts, not by pursuing an emotional fix. This week may our hearts fight for God’s glory, may our minds focus on God’s truth, and may our lives exemplify God’s joy and faithfulness. I am already looking forward with excitement to Sunday as we will focus our worship on God. My prayer is that as we come together to worship on Sunday, you will be able to “magnify the Lord with me and . . . [we will] exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3)

Pastor Mike