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April 1, 2020 -Priorities

Read Philippians 3

But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound. (Acts 24:27) 

 

God is first, people are second, things are last. We know that. However, we don’t always live like we believe that. I have often said that there are only two eternal things in this world, the Word of God and people. It is our job to get those two things together. It would seem that the only reason that we are on this earth is to share the gospel with people. But that can’t always be true.

 

When Jesus was sent by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, it had little or nothing to do with people. It was forty days of testing that involved Jesus, Satan, and God the Father. The Lord knew that the forty days were required even in His Son’s life.  The eternal Son of God had to learn obedience in the things that He suffered  (Hebrews 5:8).

 

That almost sounds like blaspheme, and yet, our highest priority has to be God. The purpose of our relationship with God is a much greater purpose than that of leading people to salvation. Consider that the purpose of the gospel is a very short lived purpose. It will end when we die. But the purpose of fellowship with the Father in heaven is eternal. You can imagine that the main purpose of the temptation was not Satan’s purpose, but God’s purpose, and throughout the life of our Lord, He prayed. 

 

Consider how God put the great Apostle Paul on a shelf for two years. He was in isolation, and had very few opportunities in those days to share gospel that the world needed to hear. Paul had the message to share, but God still locked him in a cell for two years in Caesarea so Paul could understand the importance of Philippians 3:1-14.

 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10)  Paul’s purpose was God’s purpose in allowing Him to remain in prison – to know Him. Paul wrote, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)  For Paul, living was Christ. Consider some other examples:

  1. Noah in the ark for one year.
  2. Moses in the wilderness for forty years before he was brought before Pharaoh.
  3. The disciples in the upper room for fifty days.
  4. Daniel in exile in Babylon
  5. The Jewish people hidden in the wilderness in the tribulation

 

Each example involves a time period. Some of the times were short, but others were quite long. The ministry waited while these people were in forced seclusion. The reason – people matter to God, but not as much as revealing Himself and His strength to His servants. We can’t give out what we don’t possess, and we can’t possess the strength of God without spending time with Him. The ministry of being an ambassador ends with sharing the Kings instructions with those to whom the ambassador is sent. But the ministry begins with hearing the words of the King. We have to know what the King desires the people to hear before we can share with them. 

 

So it is with us. The purpose of isolation is a separation, but that separation from people also implies a direct relationship with God. 

 

An Exercise to increase our faith: Use this time to find the heart and mind of God. God has a work for you to do. It may have changed since the last time you spoke to Him. We need to know what ministry God wants us to pick up. Our number one priority needs to dwelling in the presence of the Most High.



March 31, 2020 – Margins

Read Mark 6

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”  (Mark 6:31) 

 

We learned in college that an assignment should be double spaced with a one inch border around the text. We call that the margin. You would assume that the margin would be a small amount of the paper, but in reality it is 37% of the total space on the page. With double spacing, there is actually more empty space on the page than space with letters. If we were to use every inch of the paper, the theme paper would be very hard to read. 

 

I am having to learn about margins in my life. Usually, I try to get as much out of a day as possible. I will have a meeting at 4:30, supper in town and then back to church for another meeting. 

 

The events of the last two weeks have forced us to reevaluate what is important, and it is reinforcing the importance of margins. Jesus knew that the disciples needed down time. When you consider the margins that the Lord placed into the Old Testament, we usually think of the Sabbath. It was a day when all of the Israelites were forced to rest. But God also gave feast days during the year that were forced times of rest. He gave them a Sabbatical year, that they failed to keep. He also gave them a once in a lifetime margin that was called the Year of Jubilee. 

 

You can imagine that the year of Jubilee required them to rely upon God for every need. They couldn’t plant seed for two years. The 49th year was a Sabbath and so was the fiftieth. What would they do for all of that time? 

 

If you are like me, I feel guilty for not getting more done. I feel like I am wasting a lot of time. But God designed us first and foremost to spend time with Him. Consider: The first thing that happened in Christ’s ministry was a forty day period of testing. He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. He had nothing to eat in those days. You would think that the needs of man would require Jesus to spend all of His time ministering to people, but the first need was reliance on the power of His Father in heaven. That is also our greatest need! 

 

An Exercise to increase our faith: Making use of margin may involve finding a book that you know you need to read. It might involve getting away for a period of time for solitary prayer. It may involve introspection to see what God is doing in your life and what you have missed in seeing an area that needs to be given over to the Lord. Think of what margin means to you today and how God wants you to use that time to evaluate His work in your life. 

 



March 30, 2020

Read Romans 12

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2) 

 

Becoming Christ-like means that instead of being conformed to this world, we are conformed to the person of God’s Son. The word “conform” carries a harsh reality as we really don’t like being conformed. It involves being placed into a mold that is different from what we are like. It involves pressure and involves some parts being squeezed that don’t fit into the mold. Conforming is restricting, It is a chisel that cuts away unnecessary parts. Conforming is about a conflict of wills. If we will, we will already be conformed. The idea of conformation is some outside pressure that is applied to us to reshape us. Sometimes it involves pain, but it always involves removal of parts that do not fit. 

 

The world wants to conform us into its image. There are many pressure points in society that force us to become like them. All of the media and advertising of this world point to our differences as being weird. They show us a direction of flow that is carrying “all normal people” in the way that they see as idealistic. It is easy to go in the direction of flow. 

 

We have an important assignment to help our children to swim against the current. We do not want them to grow up to love this world. But in the process,  we have to evaluate ourselves to see whether we love this world. Have we come into conformity to the direction of the world’s flow? 

 

The corona virus is a pressure point that God places upon us to help us to become conformed to His plan. It shows us what are our true priorities. It is difficult to have the world’s pressure conforming us, but it is even more difficult to go contrary to this world and have God’s pressure conforming us to his plan,  but His plan is good and perfect. 

 

This past week, Rich Thomas went to be with the Lord. Pray for Iris and her family. This is a difficult time for them,  but it is still good and perfect, and it is the greatest part of life. For a Christian, “to die is gain”

 

I want to encourage you to consider God’s perfect plan. His plan is not destruction. It is not disease and death. We read in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” God knows that his thoughts are not of evil. We need to know that His thoughts toward us involve peace and an expected end.

 

An exercise to increase our Faith: Spend some time this week talking to God about His purpose in your life. This is a heart to heart meeting where we pour out our hopes and dreams. Many are feeling anxious with the uncertainty of this “storm” of events. Pray that God would give you the strength and the peace in the midst of the chaos of this time.

 



March 28, 2020

Read Acts 23

“Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” Acts 23:5

 

Paul was in a very difficult situation. He had many enemies, some that wanted him dead. The ruler of his own people commanded him to be slapped across the face. Paul responds with a show of anger until he is informed that the man that he is angry with is the high priest. When Paul understood, he recalled a scripture from the Old Testament. The scripture instructed Paul “not to speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” The verse that Paul memorized came to him at that moment and allowed him to control his anger and his spirit. 
 
The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). We hide God’s word in our hearts that we wouldn’t sin against Him. We don’t always have God’s Word opened in front of us. The time that we need God’s instruction and the power of His Word is not when we are studying it in church. We need it when we are in the world, under the temptation and pressure of the world, when we are isolated and quarantined from God’s people. When we memorize His Word, we are able to take it with us and have it available in those moments of testing. 
 
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us what to believe and how to believe. It is easy to exercise faith in church when we have the Bible open and when we are around the family of God’s people. It is far more difficult to exercise faith in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We can’t always listen to it, but we can bring it to memory and rehearse His commands and His promises. 
 

This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)  You can’t have things brought to your remembrance if you have not learned them beforehand. When we learn them, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to bring them to our memory when we need them.

 

An exercise to increase our faith: Memorize a verse about faith. Place the verse on your desk or on your bathroom mirror. Every time you read it, work on committing it to your memory. If you memorize it, the Holy Spirit will bring it to your mind when you need it most. 

 



March 27, 2020

Fasting and Prayer

The pandemic is serious, but it can be used for God or for Satan. We can get out of the habit of prayer, out of the habit of reading our Bibles and because we have so little fellowship, we can get out of the habit of going to church. To win this battle, we need to pray and fast.

 

Fasting is a forgotten discipline. Many feel that it was an Old Testament ritual and not for the church today. But Jesus said, “But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”  (Luke 5:35)

 

Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast. All of the Pharisees and Sadducees fasted. The disciples of John fasted, but Jesus’ disciples did not fast. He gave an illustration of a wedding. While the groom is present, there is joy and rejoicing,  but when the groom is taken, then will be the time of fasting. What does that say? It says that now that Jesus has returned to heaven, this is the time to fast. In the near future, He will come again and set up a kingdom on earth. We will forever be with the Lord. Since fasting is about the time when the bridegroom is taken from them, we will have no other time to fast than the present time. Fasting is a form of self denial. It teaches us to go without necessary food so we will give ourselves completely to prayer. Fasting and prayer go together,

“Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21)

“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:5)

 

This is not just an old Testament principle. There is not a great emphasis on fasting in the New Testament, but it is taught.  We read, “give yourselves to fasting and prayer.”  This is in the context of husbands and wives giving to each other, but fasting was a part of the early church. When Paul ordained elders, he did so after fasting,  “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”  (Acts 14:23)
 

When the ship that Paul traveled on was in danger of sinking, the men on the ship prayed and fasted (Acts 27:33). Fasting is a discipline that helps the mind center on matters that are important. When Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days we read, “Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.”  (Luke 4:2) He knew that the devil would tempt Him. We believe that fasting is important in overcoming temptation. It teaches a discipline to go without for the sake of the Lord and His work on earth. That discipline also helps us to say no to sin that is tempting to us. This is found in the Bible, but not often practiced by the church.

 

An Exercise to increase our Faith: Spend this coming Lord’s day fasting until noon. To overcome this virus, we need to be strong, but strength does not come only by food (bread). It also comes by devoting ourselves to prayer and God’s Word.  If you haven’t had time to pray for an hour, this would be a good exercise to make the time of prayer more meaningful for you. Fasting is denying something needful for a short period of time. When you fast, drink plenty of liquid, and fast only for a short period of time and couple that time with prayer.

 



March 26, 2020

Read Acts 3

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” Acts 3:1

 

We sing about the “sweet hour of prayer that calls me from a world of care.”  The song concludes when we go to be with the Lord and bid farewell to that sweet hour of prayer. For most Christians in the twenty first century, it has been a long time since we spent an hour in prayer, in fact most have never have spent an hour in prayer. The only time that we have a desire to pray for a long period of time is when we are in the waiting room at the hospital with a loved one in the emergency room or in intensive care.

 

The culture in the middle east is much different. The ninth hour was the time of day when people would gather at the temple for an hour of prayer. This was a part of Peter and John’s life. Even after they were saved, they still longed to go to the temple to pray. Obviously there were many prayers in that time that were simply words. The ones praying did not know the Lord and were literally praying to a building or to a force. God would not hear those prayers. Peter and John were different, they not only prayed, but they heard God speak. He spoke in a way that caused them to know His will. 

 

One day as they walked they met a man who was crippled. He asked for alms, or money to live on, but Peter and John had no money to give him. They gave him what they had to offer, the healing power of Christ. The man not only stood but walked, leaped and praised God. The fact that they saw the man’s need and knew that God was willing to heal him showed the depth of their fellowship with God. Their prayer life is visible in the way that they heard and understood God’s will. 

 

We have something to offer, but “who?” and “what?” and “how much?” are questions that are only answered when we are in fellowship through prayer. As we seek Him, God reveals in a day by day, tangible way how He wants us to use our gifts to help people. We may not have anything substantial to give them that can pay their bills, but we have a treasure that they need more than money. God has asked us to give them His presence in their lives. That presence comes as they understand the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul says, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”  Philippians 3:10

 

An Exercise to increase our Faith: Spend an hour in prayer. Try to find a place where you won’t be distracted. You might want to set a clock so that you will know when the hour has expired. Write down people who need the Lord, and any other needs that you know about. Pray for them and pray that God would use you in a tangible way to help meet those needs. 

 



March 25, 2020

Read 1 John 5

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” (1 John 5:14 )Does prayer strengthen a person’s faith? Many of the prayers that we pray are no more than an outward action, a duty that is performed because we are taught to do so. Some of the earmarks of outward prayer include:

 

  1. No remembrance of what we prayed for after our prayers.
  2. No thought put into the needs that we have, that our family, our church, our country has.
  3. No follow up to see if any of our prayers are answered specifically.
  4. Day dreaming when we pray.
  5. A small amount of actual time is spent addressing God, most of the time is simply thinking in our minds.
  6. No thought of confession, of the need to approach a holy God.
  7. Little emphasis on praise, we simply are not thinking about who we are praying to.
  8. Little or no thought given to thanksgiving for past blessings.

 

How different our prayer would be in we simply began our prayers with three prerequisites:

  1. We must know who we are praying to. We must approach Him as God, deserving of our attention. As God, He is worthy of praise, and as a Holy God, He is worthy of respect for coming into His presence with clean hands and a pure heart.
  2. We must know what we want to say, what our petitions need to be.
  3. We must expect God to answer.

 

Can you imagine how this would strengthen our faith when we see specific answers to specific needs? We are assured that someone is listening, that someone cares enough to answer, and that He keeps His promises. It is easy to believe that God will take care of tomorrow when He has always taken care of the past and present. Unless we “notice” the answers that God has given, we will not as easily believe that He will do in the future as He has done in the past. 
 
(Note: The exercises are part of the plan to increase our faith in the next forty days.  Each exercise will stretch us in a ways that will cause us to ask for God’s strength.)
 

An Exercise to increase our faith: Make a prayer list and begin to write every prayer need in your life and of those in your church. Plan and commit to pray for each of those needs on your prayer list each day. Remember to pray for the one that you will invite to church online, or in person when we can meet again. If you would like, email the first name of the person to the church so that we can put each person on a prayer list that we will all pray for corporately.   

 



March 24, 2020

Read James 2

“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:16)

 

Suppose a man who lives downtown walks by your house and knocks on your door. He has obviously fallen on hard times. “Fred” has just lost his job. He worked at a restaurant that has been forced to shut down. The man has had a drink or two, you can smell alcohol on his breath. He doesn’t look clean and does not appear to have had a shower in some time. In view of the virus that has been in the news, you want to stay away from this man. Only the Lord knows where he has been and who he has come in contact with. It is just plain unsafe to talk to him. So we dismiss him with a prayer and tell him that we know that our God will provide his needs.

 

In our passage in the book of James, a man comes to a believer in Christ. The believer knows that Christ is able to provide for this one who has a need. They have great faith that God will take care of them, but they don’t give to him. They don’t see that as their responsibility. The faith is very important, as without faith we can’t please God. But that faith does not help the person or meet his need. God has asked us to demonstrate that love in deeds, not just in words.

 

We don’t see many needs around us, but that does not mean that they don’t exist. The problems of our day have affected many people. We need to see those people and see the opportunities that God has placed before us to minister to our community. Our prayer has to be, “Lord, show us who has a need and how we can be your hands to meet that need.”

 

We are here for you. We greatly desire to talk to you. If you are in need or would like to speak with Pastor LaPine, please let us know. You can contact the church by email at info@cbcroch.org, or call the office at 507-289-6750.

 

An Exercise to increase our faith: Isolation is important, especially if you are “at risk” with health concerns. Today, think of someone in our community that could use your encouragement. Bring a meal over to a neighbor or someone in the church who has had some recent health problems or setbacks due to the recent events of this pandemic. Think of the best way that you can show love to that person. It doesn’t have to be a full meal, it can be a desert or a snack tray. You don’t even have to go into their home. You can call and leave the meal or snack on their deck or porch. You don’t have to say that you love them, you can show it in your heart felt desire to give to them.



Love in Deed

March 23, 2020

Read 1 John 3

 

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Often in churches we love people easily with words, but we don’t show that love in actions. It is easy to say that we love someone, but the word “love” needs to be demonstrated. We know that “God so loved the world,” but God didn’t leave it as a doctrine in a textbook.

 

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ) The word commend means “to set with, to place with”. God is love and God loves this world, but that wasn’t enough. The world would go to hell for eternity even if God loved them. God’s love was demonstrated in an action. That action sent His only begotten Son to the cross to die for the ones He loved. He demonstrated how much He loved us.

 

Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) There is no greater love than this. There is no one on earth who loves you as much as God loves you. Perhaps you have lost a loved one, or you know the pain involved in seeing a loved one suffer. That loved one was loved by God more than He was loved by you. We read that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He does take great pleasure in the death of a saint. He writes, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15) Death is about separation for us, but it is about union with Christ. Death is about suffering for us, but for God it is about His ability to demonstrate His love to the one who comes to be with Him.

 

As a father, are you showing your family that you love them? There are many girls who are suffering on this earth with feelings that they are not loved by their father. As a father, are you showing love to your wife? It is one thing to say that you love her in a valentine’s card, but another to demonstrate the love to her so she knows that she is the most important person on this earth. Church people have love for one another, but it is very important to the church and to Christ that we show that love. We read, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

 

The world is not impressed with the words, “I love you.” They use those words all the time, but they are impressed with the deeds of love. When Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews saw something unique. They were crying and weeping, but when they witnessed the grief of Jesus, they said, “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:36)

 

An Exercise to increase our Faith: The Coronavirus has caused many to think of what is truly important to them. It has challenged some to think of the God in heaven who controls sickness, and health, living and dying. The first way to show love to a person is to introduce them to one who truly loves them. They may not know God or His love. Allowing them to go into hell for eternity is an act that is furthest from loving them. Even if they don’t see that love now, with prayer, they may understand it in the future.
 
 

At this time, we are planning to resume our worship service on Easter Sunday. I would like to encourage you to consider how you can “Reach Your One” and invite one person to church on Easter, or perhaps you can invite them to watch our Live Stream messages now. Let’s start today by praying and asking the Lord to give you contact with someone who needs to know Him personally. I encourage you to invite people to watch the service online now, and then to come to church with you when we are able to meet again so they can hear about the death and resurrection of His Son.

 



Adult Bible Fellowship- Attack Mode

Attack Mode DDL
ABF – October 2016
Introduction: We love to blame people for our problems! This has been a problem in our world since the beginning of time. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed Satan. If someone we love dies, someone has to be held accountable. If the police shoot someone and they die, the police are to blame. If a loved one dies prematurely, then there has to be someone at fault. The hospital should be sued, the other driver had to be drunk or careless, the product faulty. Lawyers make money chasing ambulances because they make money by finding some-one who is liable. “You may be entitled to compensation.” Recently my dad had a stroke. Ob-viously there are some who think that the nursing home was negligent. It is a way of life in America. It is normal until the cross hairs are pointed at us and we are seen as the guilty par-ty . At that point someone, a friend, a neighbor, a co worker, goes into attack mode and they accuse us. Accusations are a very common communication problem. It used to be hard to accuse someone to their face. It was easier to gossip about it behind their back. Now with Facebook, texting, and other forms of media, you can shoot to kill and let out the bad feelings and accuse people easily without having to face immediate retaliation.

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