“Children are the church of the future.” That’s something you might have heard a few time, maybe not, but it’s quite accurate. If you’ve hung out around Rockingham Christian Church long enough, you’ll know that’s a belief we try to debunk and encourage those in our children and student ministries to be active servants.
Tyler VanDeventer has grown up in ministry, a part of my brother’s team at a neighboring church. He decided from a young age that serving in ministry was going to be part of his life. He’s taken a more firm stance on that calling and has accepted the call to be the Worship Arts Resident Minister at RCC. He’s living with a church family, doing his own fundraising, and committing the next year to learn more about worship ministry.
You’ll see him up on stage and around the facility in various roles including leading our student band. Take a point to introduce yourself to him and take him out for a meal to let him know how much we appreciate him and want to share life with him.
We live at a time when truth is determined by our senses. Those thing which can be observed and studied are what most often gain attention in the public eye. But what about those everyday happenings that can’t be explained through our senses?
Paul, an early worker in the Church, referenced the fact that not all things can be explained. In Collosians 1: 24-27, he writes, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
He admitted that God was working something new by including people other than just Jews into his plan for saving the world. This was the complete opposite of everything he and all the Jewish people had understood, but God had helped protect his people so Jesus could save everyone.
Peter, a close friend of Jesus, wrote a letter to early Christian believers. 1 Peter 1:10-12 reads, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”
What’s so amazing in Peter’s mind is that the work of Jesus’s saving grace amazes even the angels in heaven. If anyone other than God had tried to come up with a plan for setting the world right it would have been unsatisfactory. Only God’s plan of sending his own son, Jesus, could create a way for all things to be made right again, and that’s the message of “Mystery”, “Christ has died and Christ is risen. Christ will come again!” Praise the Lord we have a way to be right with our Maker once again.
Here are RCC’s weekly announcements from March 27, 2016. Please plan to join us this Saturday, April 2 @ 5:00 PM for RCC’s Got Talent and participate in the Silent Auction. Also, download our app and be part of the $1/download donation to Stand Up Salem that ends midnight, Saturday, April 2.
Ask ministers the question they’re asked most often, and you most likely will get the same answer. “Pastor, what’s God’s will for my life? I’m so confused about what I’m supposed to be doing with myself!” It can elicit in the average person of several responses. We might wonder if anyone can actually figure out the will of God for an individual’s life. Is it crazy to think that some all-powerful being even cares about our lives?
Maybe on another level we think that God DOES care about our lives, because we see people who appear to be living in God’s will. They seem to be hitting spiritual home runs, sharing Jesus with people around them, living contently. But that’s just not us, we have too much junk for God to use us. Luckily, we have stories throughout the bible where God reaches out to ordinary people and leads them to do extraordinary things. One such story takes place in Acts 10, and it shocked more than a few God followers in first century Israel. The story gives us three keys to following God’s will for your life.
1. Be Prepared to Hear God Speak
There’s a man named Cornelius, a military man, the commander of some of Rome’s finest soldiers. We see in Acts 10:1-4, he is listed as a “a devout, God-fearing man as was everyone in his household.” It’s so very easy to read a passage like this through our own experience, but Rome was a wicked place, a place where many gods were worshiped but morality was pretty low. But here was a man who believed in God and “prayed regularly”. So when in verse 3 an angel came to him with a message, he was ready to receive it. He had pursued the things of God; charity and prayer.
About 30 miles away, Peter, a close friend of Jesus, was on the roof of a house praying. He hadn’t always been the most solid of followers, but now, after Jesus had died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50-53), he became one of the key leaders in the new Christian church. His understanding of how to follow Jesus relied on his Jew upbringing which wouldn’t allow him to eat certain types of food. However, God sent a vision to him while he prayed on the roof and told him that he could eat anything. This was really confusing, but as Cornelius’ men arrived downstairs it was all clear to him. Jews aren’t going to be the only ones who are part of the Church! Cornelius and Peter were both in prayer, both listening and ready to hear God Speak.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in every day life, the business of the now, the pursuit of the next, that we don’t give God room to hear him speaking in our lives. We see from this scripture that he is prepared to speak into our lives if we are in a posture to listen. I can definitely put my phone down more than I do and quit running around after things that are temporary. Often, just making room in our lives to hear God is all we need to begin living understanding his will.
2. Be Willing To Act When Prompted
Cornelius not only heard the message, but acted immediately upon the request. Acts 10:7 says, “As soon as the angel was gone…” he acted upon the message. He reacted in faith, and did it quickly. Likewise, Peter in verses 21-24 welcomed the messengers and went the very next day with them to visit Cornelius’.
Being in 21st century United States, we can miss some of the difficulties that had to be overcome for this meeting to occur. Romans worshiped many gods while Jews worshiped one God. Romans were a highly pagan society and Jews prided themselves on being right with God and totally different than the surrounding culture. We get a glimpse into this situation in verse 28 when Paul remarks, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you.” Add to this the fact that the Romans had to intervene for many Jewish uprisings in first century and had to maintain a heavy occupying force. Both sides had some serious reasons for apprehension.
No one needs to mention the tensions that exist in our country today. Liberal or conservative, religious or not, Pepsi or Coke, Pats fan or basically anyone else (I digress). We don’t have to look far into social issues, political views, or world tensions to see that there could be much between us and sharing the love of God with others, but as we see in Acts 10, the climate of 1st century Palestine and 21st century America aren’t all that different. People will always have issues keeping them from each other, but God is the one who draws all people to himself (John 12:32). We simply need to act when prompted.
3. Be Prepared to Be Amazed
Something amazing happens when you’ve heard and acted on God’s will for your life: God will blow your mind! Verses 44-46 show the shock that fell on the Jews when God decided to move a different direction than they expected. 44 “Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46 For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.”
Today we’ve often lost our sense of awe. The busyness of life and pervasive influence of technology can sometimes steal that sense of amazement. When was the last time you lingered at the sight of a sunrise? When have you gazed into a starry night and felt small in scope of the universe? For Peter and the other Jews, they had already seen some amazing things. Look back at Acts chapter 2! The Holy Spirit came in mighty fashion and the Church began growing like wildfire. Now, 8 chapters later, God was ready to exceed all of their expectations once again.
So much of Christian living is being ready for the Lord to move you. Spending time daily in the Bible and praying aligns us with God. As David says of followers in Psalm 1, “[they] delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” When we’re lined up with God, it will be easier to hear him when he speaks into our life. Then there will be no end to how God can amaze us.
How in the world is it 2016? I was just getting used to 2015 and it is gone! Maybe you’ve also noticed that life never seems to slow down. Seconds turn into minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, and before we realize it, weeks and months are flying by. Simply put, this world appears to be unstoppable, and sometimes, the problems of life seem to be insurmountable.
We can easily be swept up in the current of every day living and lose track of reality and of God. With all the strife we see today, it’s easy to think that the world is out of control and there is no way to make sense of it all, but there’s a character in the Bible who experienced an unstoppable God in the craziness of life. That man is Job, and in the book bearing his name, he is stricken with loss and illness, and in the midst of the hurt, his closest friends tried to get him to renounce his faith in God. But when he engages the Creator of the universe, the response is simply breathtaking.
Job 38: 1-11 reads: Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”
Simply put, when God is asked to account for Job’s situation, he had but one reply: “I’m an unstoppable God, and my wisdom cannot be grasped by man.” Now, don’t think that God was somehow rude to Job. He was simply setting the record straight that he is in control. Nothing is outside the notice of God, and nothing is beyond his understanding. As we jump into a brand new year, we’re introducing this song Sunday as a reminder that no matter how big our problems appear, we still serve an unstoppable God, one who has the power and wisdom to create all things and work in manner for our good. Take heart, a loving, unstoppable who cares for all of his children is in control.
Traditions abound at Christmas, and no two people share the same set of holiday activities. Maybe you go ice skating, cut your own tree, or make sure you put all twenty-eight inflatables in the front lawn. The wonderful thing about Christmas, is that all the traditions make us…us.
Churches have traditions as well, some going back 2000 years, but no matter how a church celebrates Christmas, it all focuses on a solitary baby. Jesus, the Son of God, come to earth as a gift to all mankind. And what a party was thrown on that night in Bethlehem! Angels were proclaiming and praise was being given that God had reached down to earth to redeem His people.
We would love for you to join us at one of our Christmas Gatherings. These will be opportunities to focus wholly on Jesus, singing songs about His arrival and hearing scripture that spoke of His coming to earth. There are four opportunities for you to join us; December 22 and 23 at 6:30 PM and December 24 at either 4:30 PM or 6:30 PM. We would love to give you a few quiet moments this hectic Christmas season to remember the reason we all can be joyful, and that is Jesus Christ, God among us.