Faith Doesn’t Always Mean a Better Life (Now)

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them… (Hebrews 11:36-38)

Some say faith is the key to living your best life now. If you have enough faith, they say, you God will bless you with wealth or health or longevity or family or friends or… The promises are numerous.

And sometimes people with faith in Jesus do experience great things in their present life. Hebrews 11 reminds us of the old Bible stories of how people were saved from fire or lions and how the dead were raised and children were given to barren couples in old age.

These stories are miraculous. They present the power of God working against the normal course of nature. But Hebrews 11 also reminds us there are many people who loved Jesus and were spiritual giants who suffered greatly. Truth be told, for most of us, our lives will likely fall somewhere between those two extremes.

Faith in Jesus is not a guarantee of our best life now. But as some have said, faith in Jesus guarantees an eternity where the worst of this life is the closest to hell we will ever experience and the best of this life is a minor joy compared to the joys of forever.

This is why Paul could write, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed.” (Romans 8:18)

The Bible keeps our eyes always looking forward. The best will come but the best is still yet to come. So, if you find yourself in a moment of great happiness, remember that something infinitely better is on the horizon. And if you find yourself in a moment of great pain, remember that pleasures are come which will make the memory of that pain fade into the background.

Our best life is eternal.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Psalm 149:4

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Psalm 149:4
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. (Christian Standard Bible)

Father, you call us to delight in you, to find you as our greatest treasure. Another Psalm asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Yet, more than mindful, you delight in your people. Father, like precious sons and daughters, you love us, enjoy our presence, and long for us to be in yours. Thank you for the gift of salvation in Jesus that opens that door. May you keep my heart in both joy and awe. Joy because of your delight and awe because grace is a gift of love that I do not deserve. Amen.

Praying the Bible ~ Luke 12:31, 34

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Luke 12:31, 34
“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Christian Standard Bible)

Father, you are the Great Provider. Sometimes I don’t think so, because you say no to my wants though you care for my needs. Help me to remember true priority. The things that matter most are not the things of this world–the paychecks, retirement accounts, cars, and toys. While you might give such things at times to enjoy with wisdom, the things of your Kingdom are the treasures worth seeking. Help my heart grasp each day the greater worth of your goodness, let my heart be focused on the gifts above. Amen.

Praying the Bible ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: 1 Thessalonians 1:3
We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Christian Standard Bible)

Father, Paul wrote elsewhere that faith, hope, and love, these three remain. Faith in Jesus through the gospel, hope in Jesus for eternal life and joy, and love through Jesus for you and others–may these be the enduring marks of my life. Throughout the years, and when my life-story on this earth is done, may I be remembered (by those who remember) for faith, hope, and love above all else. May I act each day in faith. May I work to serve others in love. May hope drive me from opening my eyes in the morning to closing my eyes at night. May this life be all for you though the Lord Jesus. Amen.

From Bitterness to Hope

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

The Book of Ruth tells a story of hope during a dark period in Israel’s history. We know Ruth took place “during the time of the judges” (1:1), which in itself had plenty of ups and downs. Specifically, Ruth occurred when a famine struck Israel. A man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons sought refuge in Moab. They migrated for a season to a foreign land seeking to survive.

While there, the two sons found wives; but then tragedy struck. All three men died.

When the famine ended, Naomi planned to return to Israel, and attempted to convince her daughters-in-law to remain behind, thinking it would be better for their future. Orpah stayed but Ruth refused.

“Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth told Naomi.

So, the two ladies went to Israel. But when they arrived, Naomi made a request of those who knew her, “Don’t call me Naomi,” which means pleasant. “Call me Mara,” which means bitter. In the society of that day, land and resources passed from one generation to the next through father and son. With them dead, Naomi felt she had no hope. This hopelessness came across in her self-given nickname.

That was just the beginning of the story, however. Turns out there was a man named Boaz, a close relative who could marry Ruth and redeem the land that belonged to Elimelech. The women concocted a plan that was guided by God’s providence. Long story, short, Boaz and Ruth married, Boaz redeemed the land, and the two had a child.

Bitterness turned to joy and hope. Even more, this child, Obed, became the father of Jesse who was the father of David, the great king of Israel whom God chose and to whom God gave promises that led ultimately to Jesus being the great Son of David.

There is a line in the book The Return of the King that states, “Everything sad will come untrue.” In the book, it actually is in the form of a question–will this be? The answer for Naomi was Yes!

But the move from bitterness to joy and hope that Naomi felt was only a small taste of what we experience through Jesus. He is the greatest Redeemer. He does not simply ensure the future of our land and family but of our lives in eternity. He gives a joy that never ceases. And when he returns, all bitterness will be no more. King Jesus forever makes the sad untrue.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Sunday 10.07.18 (the greatest light)

This morning we start a new sermon series looking at the topic of finding hope in the midst of the darkness of depression and anxiety. We’ll take a look at Genesis 3 and John 1 and see how sin has broken the world but Jesus provides the solution as the Greatest Light. Then following morning worship, we’ll have our quarterly fellowship meal and business meeting. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@Noon Fellowship Meal followed by Business Meeting
@6pm Video study on the book of Judges

Sermon Notes
The Greatest Light ~ Genesis 3, John 1

The sermon in one sentence: The fall brought spiritual and mental darkness and despair into the world; Jesus is the greatest answer and our eternal hope.

  • žTwo realities about despair, hopelessness, and mental illness
    • Every instance of despair or mental illness is rooted in humanity’s fall into sin (Genesis 3)
    • Not every instance is tied to a specific sin (John 9)
  • žTwo pursuits in our quest for hope
    • Pursue Jesus as the greatest answer (John 1)
    • Pursue the help of other means you need in order to see Jesus clearly

finding light in the darkness (sermon series)

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Songs for Worship
I Am Resolved
Christ Receiveth Sinful Men
As the Deer
God Will Make a Way

Upcoming Sermon Series

In a recent church survey, we asked if there were any particular sermon topics people would be interested in hearing. We received back quite a few topics that Pastor Mike is planning to use to finish out 2018 once we wrap up our journey through Exodus at the end of this month.

Unfortunately, there’s not enough time for every idea (though they may be visited further in the future). Below are the series and sermons planned from August through December.

August: The Art of Prayer and Fasting
08.05 “Learning to Pray” (Luke 11:1-13)
08.12 “The Art of Praying Well” (Romans 8:26-30)
08.19 “Learning to Fast” (Isaiah 58)
08.26 “The Art of Fasting Well” (Matthew 6:1, 16-18)

the art of prayer and fasting (sermon series)

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September 2: TBD

September: God and Money (personal finance)
09.09 “Stay Focused” (1 Timothy 6:6-10, Matthew 6:24)
09.16 “Plan Well” (Proverbs 6:6-8, 13:6, 21:20)
09.23 “Live Within Your Means” (Romans 13:8, Proverbs 22:7, Psalm 37:21)
09.30 “Give Generously” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

God and Money (sermon series)

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October: Finding Light in the Darkness (hope in the face of despair)
10.07 “The Greatest Light” (Genesis 3, John 1)
10.14 “The Light of Hope: Battling Depression and Fatigue” (1 Kings 19)
10.21 “The Light of Peace: Battling Anxiety” (Matthew 6:25-34)
10.28 “Shining the Light: Supporting Others in Their Dark Times” (Romans 12:9-15)

finding light in the darkness (sermon series)

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November – December: The Life of… (biblical character studies)
11.04 “The Life of Mary”
11.11 “The Life of David”
11.18 “The Life of Hannah”
11.25 “The Life of Daniel”
12.02 “The Life of Tabitha”
12.09 “The Life of Barnabas”

the life of 00

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