Pages

Sunday, May 30, 2021

We Remember

 "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:19-20 NIV)

The scene is a familiar one. A family is gathered around the table sharing a meal. However, this gathering feels different. There is a sense of heaviness in the hearts of those at the table. Nonetheless, there is some discussion, a little bit of laughter, and a few tears. The family recognizes the next day their lives will change forever. They had hoped and even prayed that the circumstances could be different. However, the family has to acknowledge that someone they love has made a choice which may not be popular or ideal but necessary. This scene has been repeated over time across this nation as families released their loved ones to go and serve their country overseas. Every year we set aside the last Monday in May to give thanks and remember the sacrifice made by men and women to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this country. The shed blood of these soldiers reminds us of the high price of freedom. Sadly, those lost in conflict will never sit around that family table again. Their loved ones will have to live the rest of their lives, clinging to their shared memories. How will they carry on without that person? 

A New Family Gathering


Over two thousand years ago there was another family gathering. This meal also felt different. There was a sense of heaviness as the Leader of the family told them He was going away to die for a higher purpose. He tried to help them understand that His death would set them free in a way they could never imagine. They would experience a freedom that reached beyond their present circumstances into the realm of eternity. The family recognizes their lives were going to change forever. What would they do without Him? How would they carry on? The good news is they would be with their Leader again, not on this earth but in the new world He promised to create in which all of His family would dwell. He would rise from the dead so they would not solely be left with memories but with His Presence. Furthermore, they would be able to carry on in His absence by the power of the Holy Spirit which He would send to them.
 

Eternal Victory

Unlike human conflicts and battles, Jesus fought a battle on another level. It was a spiritual battle for the soul of humanity. Additionally, unlike human conflicts where the battle is not always victorious, Jesus won the victory for all time and eternity! When we remember that last meal Jesus had with His disciples and His subsequent crucifixion, we recognize the high price He paid for our salvation. Each Memorial Day we remember with sadness the lives lost, but in Jesus Christ we remember with gladness the lives won by His resurrection. On Memorial Day we give thanks for the sacrifice of others and everyday we give thanks to God for freedom and eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Thanks be to God!

Pastor Sheree




Saturday, April 24, 2021

God So Loved The World

On April 20, 2021 former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts against him for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. For weeks tensions, especially within the black community, ran high as Chauvin went on trial and the subsequent guilty verdict was returned by the jury. Following Chauvin's conviction, there was a collective sigh of relief and the feeling that justice had finally been served related to the mistreatment of people of color by primarily white police officers. The reactions within the black community varied from shouts of joy and praises to God to others breaking down in tears. Many felt that true justice was a long time coming for people of color and there was some uncertainty as to whether there would actually be any type of conviction. For many there was a sense that justice has been lacking regarding any police officer ever being convicted of unnecessary brutality towards people of color. There were references to the "blue wall" wherein fellow police officers typically did not testify against their own brothers or sisters in blue. However, Derek Chauvin's case was very atypical as fellow police officers could not in good conscience condone the excessive use of force which led to George Floyd's death. 

The God Of Justice

The Bible tells us that God is a God of justice, "For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face." (Psalm 11:7 NIV) "For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing." (Isaiah 61:8a NIV) Furthermore, the Bible tells us that we will experience the consequences of our choices, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV) We have all seen or heard about instances where it appears a person gets away with some terrible crime or injustice and appears to escape the consequences. However, while that criminal may not experience punishment this side of heaven, nothing escapes the sight of our omniscient God. Paul states in Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord." (NIV) 

The God Of Love

On the other hand, God is also a God of mercy, grace, and love. We read in the Gospel of John the familiar words, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV) While much of the focus has been and continues to be on George Floyd and his family, is there any thought about Derek Chauvin? One commentator on a popular daytime talk show expressed her desire to see Derek Chauvin "burn in hell." Is that God's desire? John 3:16 doesn't appear to support such a desire. I am in no way excusing what Derek Chauvin has done. Indeed his actions were cruel, malicious, heinous, and disgusting. I am not biologically related to George Floyd so I cannot begin to imagine the family's overwhelming pain and grief as well as satisfaction with Chauvin's conviction. However, Jesus tells us we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:43-48) How many believers who are praying for the Floyd family and their healing can honestly say they are praying for Derek Chauvin? 

The God Of Eternal Life

Although Mr. Chauvin will serve time in prison that is not the worst of his punishment. He will one day stand before a Holy and Righteous God who will determine Chauvin's eternal fate. My prayer is that behind those prison walls, a faithful believer will share the gospel with Derek Chauvin and give him the opportunity to repent of his sin and seek the forgiveness found in Jesus. Mr. Chauvin's failure to do so will result in a consequence that is far more "deadly" than murdering another human being, and that is separation from God forever. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells His followers, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (NIV) As unpleasant and counterintuitive as it may seem, we need to pray for those towards whom we feel hate, do not like, or with whom we may disagree because Jesus died for them as well as for us. The Bible tells us no one is righteous (Romans 3:9-20) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23 NIV) However, there is hope, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NIV) Yes, God so loved even Derek Chauvin that He gave up His only Son. We as Christ's followers are not called to excuse, forget, or feel warm fuzzies towards Mr. Chauvin or his behavior but we are called to pray for his salvation and proclaim the gospel to all people so that they may recognize and experience how much God so loved the world.

To God be the glory!

Pastor Sheree




Monday, March 29, 2021

Victory!

When we hear the word "victory" what thoughts come to mind? We may think about a military conflict where the goal is to totally defeat the identified "enemy." We may think of a sporting event, for example the Boston Marathon or some team competition wherein those participating seek to cross the finish line or win the coveted trophy/award. Victory may also be demonstrated in battling back from a devastating disease or disability and going on to pursue life's goals. A victory in mental health can be experienced in overcoming a fear that has kept a person from feeling emotionally healthy. There are many ways to define a victory and each definition is unique to the individual in their particular situation or circumstance. However, what does true victory look like from a spiritual perspective?

Spiritual Victory

 The people of Israel celebrated a spiritual victory in Exodus chapter 12 where they were delivered from the bondage of slavery to Egypt after the last plague. Thus was established the recognition and remembrance of the Passover seder which the Jewish people celebrate every year. Joshua and the Israelites saw the walls of Jericho collapse in the book of Joshua chapter 6 as he encouraged the people to complete the work that Moses had begun in leading them to the Promised Land. As of this writing, we are entering Holy Week. It is the time when Christians celebrate the most foundational spiritual victory of their faith--the resurrection of Jesus. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) present the events that led up to the crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent resurrection. The victory of Jesus is monumental in conquering sin and death so that our relationship with God could be restored and His followers could receive eternal life. 

Resurrection Hope

We will experience many victories in our lifetime and yes, even some defeats but the resurrection of Jesus will never be undone by anyone or anything. "The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God." (Romans 6:10 NIV) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4a NIV) Christian artists Elevation Worship have a popular song entitled "See a Victory." The refrain goes, "I'm gonna see a victory, I'm gonna see a victory, For the battle belongs to You, Lord." The Israelites were released from the bondage of slavery, the walls of Jericho fell, and Jesus Christ lives! When God is involved, the victory is assured. May you experience afresh this Easter the hope believers have in the greatest victory ever!

Have a blessed Resurrection Day! 

Pastor Sheree


Easter, Resurrection, Empty, Tomb, Christian, Faith

Easter Resurrection Empty Tomb Christian Faith