Monday, March 24, 2014

New Sermon Series: Where He Leads I'll Follow - A Walk Through Psalm 23

We hope you can join us in person or via the audio sermons posted online for this new series beginning March 30, 2014.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Good Neighbor

Once, as I was rolling my dumpster to the curb in preparation for the next day’s trash pickup, I noticed my next-door neighbor’s dumpster still sitting beside the garage. I knew my neighbor was out of town, but would be back home before the next trash day. So, I wheeled the dumpster out to the curb for him. I remembered making a mad dash in my pajamas early on trash day several times when I had forgotten and I would have appreciated someone watching out for me that way. I felt that I was being a good neighbor.  

Jesus once told His disciples to love their neighbor as themselves. In response, someone asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). This parable shows that our neighbor is anyone in need whom we can help. Indeed, if we have the ability to help someone and the opportunity to do so, it creates an obligation on our part which we cannot neglect.

The real issue, however, is how we can love others as ourselves. First we must ask, “how do we love ourselves?” The answer is—quite naturally! Nowhere in the Bible does God command us to love ourselves. He doesn’t have to! It comes easily to our nature to be selfish. When we really examine how we love ourselves, some challenging things come to light. We make excuses for our bad behavior. “Well, I was just tired and under stress.” We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We are optimistic we will do better next time. We do not focus on the mistake, but rather on the good in us. We never think we are evil people or lost causes. We think we are basically good people who just slipped up. Here’s the rub. Should we not extend this same courtesy to everyone else for their mistakes? Let that sink in for a moment..

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a very appropriate answer to the question about who my neighbor is. Not only does it show us that everyone is our neighbor, but it also sets a gold standard for being that good neighbor. The Samaritan did not help the man because he knew him. They were not close friends. He did not hope to be rewarded or praised for it. He simply found a man in trouble, took care of him, made provisions for his care, and left quietly. Is that not exactly what Jesus did? He found us when we had been beaten by Satan, robbed of hope, and left for dead. Jesus healed us, tended our wounds, made provision for our care (the church), and left suddenly. But He also promised to return. Let us make sure we can say we were good neighbors to all people when He comes back. Let us follow Jesus’ example and treat people the way He treated us. Let us cut others the same slack we give ourselves so generously.

In His service,
Rob Lester <9)))><

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday Preview -- March 16, 2014

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," as the saying goes. It is times of need that "You find out who your friends are," according to another old saying. The Lord is the best friend we could ever have and He is always eager and willing to help. The first few verses of Psalm 46 describes what God provides in those troublesome times for us as His children. Join us Sunday morning as we are encouraged to learn how God is "A Very Present Help (Psalm 46:1-3)." Sunday evening we will be examining our giving to the Lord and...hey, where are you going? You get back here! What's important to remember is not how much we give but with what spirit and motivation that we give. We gain some insight into this matter by looking at how Israel prepared for the building of the tabernacle with the lesson "Give Till It Feels Good (Exodus 35-36)." Hope to see you there!

In His service,
Rob Lester <9)))><

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sunday Preview -- March 9, 2014

"Go big or go home" is what some say about making a daring attempt. God follows this thinking to some degree. He tends to "go big" with whatever activity He is engaged in. Many times something simpler would have sufficed but God chose to exercise His flair for the dramatic. The sun could have just popped over the horizon every morning like a light bulb coming on, but God made the sunrise gradual, majestic, and unnecessarily beautiful. That's His style. Sunday morning we will consider "The Abundance of God" and see how this affects His blessings, His judgment, and His grace. Come back Sunday evening as we dig in for a taste of "Sandwich Theology (3rd John 11)." It involves coaching, butter, and a woman named Jezebel. I won't reveal any more so you'll have to come by the building or listen online to find out what I'm talking about :)

In His service,
Rob Lester <9)))><

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spirit of a Champion

 The 2014 Winter Olympics wrapped up the other night. To be honest, my family only watched the events sporadically. It depended on what else was on or what we were doing. As it said in the old intro for “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” we witnessed American athletes experiencing both “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Honestly, I could really take it or leave it regarding most of the Olympics. I was very glad to see something remarkable on the evening of February 10th, though.

We were simply waiting for the news to come on. The last event of the night was men’s 500 meter speed skating. The Dutch team was absolutely dominating. On the next to last run, two skaters from the Netherlands (twin brothers Michel and Ronald Mulder) had secured both the silver and bronze medal. The announcers were talking about a sweep of the medal podium. Sure enough, another Dutch skater, Jan Smeekens, took the gold on the last race. The camera panned over to silver medalist Michel who simply lost his mind cheering for his teammate and his country. He was more overcome by emotion than the man who had just beaten him by a few thousandths of a second! The important part came as a look of confusion swept across Michel’s face. He was looking at the screen showing the final race times. The announcers indicated that the judges were making an adjustment for some reason and the crowd became hushed. After making the time correction, the ruling was that Smeekens had actually placed second and Michel was now in first place.

His reaction is what inspired me to write this article.

On his face, there was confusion, then disbelief, and finally a look of almost sheepish embarrassment. For a moment, Michel seemed somewhat disappointed that he had won. He covered his face with his hands and slid them down to his chin as realization washed over him. Then he ran over and hugged his training partner who leaned over the railing. In that momentary reaction, Michel Mulder showed the heart of a true champion. He cheered harder for his team and country when he had the silver than when he won the gold. Mulder felt a flash of sadness for his teammate’s failure before he allowed himself to rejoice at his own victory. In that brief glimpse, Mulder displayed humility, selflessness, and pure joy at another’s success.

This is a perfect example of the love represented in the Bible by the Greek word “agape.” It is a love which seeks the best interest of another despite the personal cost. It was the kind of love God had for mankind when He sent His Son Jesus to the earth to become a sacrifice for our sin. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV). Never forget how much you are loved.