Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/18/20

Seed of Faith – BURIED WITH CHRIST — RAISED TO A NEW LIFE   By Pastor Dave  

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Faithful Friends and Spirit-Filled Seed Sowers:

I hope and pray that your week is going well and that this New Year is unfolding with God’s grace upon grace as you walk in Christ.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Colossians 2:6-15.  Have you ever thought what it means to walk with Christ? Have you ever thought that you have been buried with Christ in His baptism and then raised into a new life with Him?

When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  Paul wants the Colossians to remember that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that we can have union with Jesus Christ by walking with Christ and remembering His and our own baptism.

I love the opening verses — “Just as you have received Christ as Lord.”  When you were baptized, you received Christ as your Lord and Savior.  To “receive” means “to take your inheritance, to bring alongside, to hold, to draw oneself to and learn from someone.”  Do you notice what Paul says?  He writes us to say, “Receive, take your inheritance, take a hold of, learn from and bring alongside Jesus Christ as your LORD!  Lord means master, ruler, one who has power and authority over you.  This was a radical teaching then and is still a radical teaching today. Receive the LORD JESUS as the one who has power and authority over you. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1981. I’ve never once regretted Christ being the master and ruler of my life.

If you have never been baptized, I encourage you to go and talk with your pastor or come and talk with me. Let me know and we can baptize you when you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even if you want to rededicate yourself to Christ, I’d be happy to remember your baptism–in your pool, hot tub, river or ocean! I remember in the summer of 2010, Jac asked me to dunk her in the ocean at Carona Del Mar. She wanted to rededicate her life once again to Christ. She had been through some hard seasons with the church and she wanted to profess: “My life isn’t about a religion, Jesus, my life is about a relationship with you. You are my Lord and my Savior. Period. Nothing less. Nothing more.” Big Ed and Dave dunked her as she intentionally washed away religion and rededicated her life to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She came up out of the ocean laughing and praising God. Yes.  If you ever want to rededicate your life, or DEDICATE your life to Christ, I am a text, an email, a phone call away.

Look at verse six again … “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Since you have received Christ, Paul then tells us to continue … “peripateo”—continue to live in Christ.  I love the verb “peripateo” It means to “walk with, walk along, walk up and down, traverse, behave and conduct oneself and live with.”  Wow!  That is a mouthful!

Paul is laying down a hard teaching: Take and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, ruler and authority of your life, and continue to live in Christ day in and day out, hour after hour.  Walk up the hill and down the hill, walk alongside of Christ. Conduct yourself with Christ. This verb is a command, not a suggestion, and we are called to continually follow and walk along with Jesus Christ as Lord.

When I read verse twelve, I am reminded of our baptism.  We were buried in the waters of baptism with Christ and then immediately we were raised into new life through the power of God.  This power of God is the awesome Holy Spirit, who washes away our sins and sets us free to walk alongside Jesus. This is what Paul means when he writes that we were dead in our sins and, through the power of God, we are forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we, too, were dead in our sin but as we go under the waters of baptism–our sins are washed away. How can that be? By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All sin–PAID. Our debt–PAID IN FULL.  How can we not accept and follow this Savior?

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You have been buried with Christ and raised into a new life.

Who wouldn’t want to be set free from the sin that clings so closely to us?  Who wouldn’t like to be set free from their past failures and faults?  Imagine picking up a black stone or two and casting it into the depths of the sea.  I love how the Old Testament prophet, Micah, states this idea of a God who forgives: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

Or think of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

At the SEED, we do a “REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM SUNDAY” after Epiphany Sunday. We set up a table with a tall, clear vase filled with water and we set a ton of black stones around the vase. As you come forward to remember your baptism, you are given the chance to bury into the sea your sins. Casting a black stone or two or three into the waters represents your past sins, failures, disappointments, defeats, setbacks, sadness, shame, disgrace, guilt, doubt, fears–anything negative that holds you back from walking into this New Year baptized in Christ, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great experience. For those of you who live near water, take a hike! Take a hike and pick up some stones and toss them into the water. “Here, Jesus, here’s my ___________. I have been buried with you in my baptism. I have been cleansed. Help me to walk in the freedom you died for.”

At church last Sunday, we had the first vase filled with water and the stones to toss and then we had a table with a vases filled with water and white stones. In order to get a white stone, you had to dip your hand into the waters. As you we dipped your hand into the water,  you remembered your baptism: I have been buried with Christ and I am raised into a new life with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven and I am free! I will walk continually rooted and built up in my faith with overflowing with thankfulness.”

Revelation 2:17 says — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

After you picked up your white stone, we had another opportunity to pick up a paper with a new name written on it for this year. If you would like a new name for the year, email me or text me and I will light a candle and pray for you and draw a new name for you for the year. 

As your pastor, I want you to know that God loves you.  God loves you just as you are.  We are bought back…redeemed.  We are forgiven.  Our slate is clean.  God promises to be with us as we grow and change this year…through the hard times, through the blessed times, through the easy times, through the difficult times…yes…God wants to bless the land we dwell in…both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Alone, we are not enough, but Christ is.  Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed…and that is enough.  With Christ in our hearts, we are enough.  We are forgiven.  We are cleansed.  We are free. Vision 2020–this is the perfect start to a new year and a new decade. This is the year when we decide that we will walk up the hills and down the hills with Christ in our heart.

My new name is Confident One. Jac’s is Full of Happiness. What’s yours? Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Have a great week.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/11/2020

Seed of Faith – From The Beginning Of The Year To The End  By Pastor Dave  

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Deuteronomy 11:11-12

Dear Faithful Friends:

We sit on the brink of a New Year.  I hope and pray that you are all well and healthy!
Last Sunday, the church worldwide celebrated Epiphany! I pray you have had some time to answer the questions in the SEED OF FAITH and that you’ve had some revelation from God’s word, too.

This week we are on to: The Baptism of the Lord! This is the week at our church when we draw new names for the coming year. Both Jac and I are ready to trade in our names from last year. She drew GENTLE FRIEND, I drew FEARLESS WARRIOR. We both had a hard year of chelation fall out. I think we are hoping to draw a new name like: EZPZ street, LOVE, JOY UNENDING. Something soft and fuzzy would be nice. Wait you say! What’s wrong with our old names? Well, Jac is not all that gentle (her words) and I’m not into being a warrior!We thought about trading names last year! But I must say, we both grew into our names–along with a lot of practice and opportunities from God!  If you want to join us in this spiritual exercise. reply to this email and let me know.  We will draw you a new name for 2020 and email it to you. We will also be putting our “WORD OF INTENTION” that the Holy Spirit is giving you this year onto our 2020 clean canvas. An intention is a goal, an aim, or a plan.  Jac has heard the word WAIT and has translated that into “Why Am I Talking?” She’s been journaling on her word already. I’m still WAITING for my word! Just today I had a friend tell me that the Holy Spirit gave him his word for the year.  His word is “obey.”  What a powerful word to walk with and work with this year. So What?  What is the word that God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit the comforter giving to you?

This week, I encourage you to read chapter 11 of Deuteronomy.  Ask and allow the Holy Spirit speak to you about a 2020 goal, aim or plan. When we come to Deuteronomy 11, you need to know that the Israelite people have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe you have been wandering in the wilderness for the past year or so?

The Israelite people are finally sitting on the edge of the Promised Land; they’ve been waiting and wandering for 40 years for this very season.  They are given their last words of instruction from their faithful leader, Moses.

Earlier this week, I was reading Deuteronomy during my devotional time. The Holy Spirit had me stop and journal on the verses above.  I stopped on the words — “The Lord your God cares for you. The eyes of the Lord your God are upon you. The Lord your God is with you from the beginning of the year to the end.”   CARES — SEES — WITH– ME!  I wrote in my journal.    I was impressed with the thought that God wants to be with me! That God wants to be with His people. That God wants to be with you!

God tells the people that that the land they are about to cross over and take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys.

I recently flew to Pittsburgh to be at the retirement service for one of my spiritual mentors and longtime friend. As I was sitting on a plane flying over some of the largest mountains and valleys in the USA, I thought about the land and mountains and valleys that we all face. It was as though these words were sinking deep into my heart.

The land that God wants to give us is a land full of mountains and valleys. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “This next year will be filled with mountaintop experiences that will bring you great joy and happiness.  Also, this next year will be filled with some valleys.  Some of these valleys will be dark, yet God has promised you that he will be in those valleys as well as in the mountaintops. Dave, hear the promise of Psalm 23, “Yay, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not fear for the Lord your God, the Good and Great Shepherd of the sheep will be with you to comfort you.”

Each one of us is facing a new year. No one knows what it holds for us.

Do you find it comforting to hear Moses’ words? As we wait on God, we will face a year filled with mountains and valleys? Verse twelve is a wonderful promise — “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” 

That is really, really, really, really good news.  From January first through December 31, God’s eyes are continually on us.

God wants you to hear this!  This New Year will be filled with mountains and valleys.  But God wants you to know that no matter what — He is with you!  God cares about the New Year and the land that you have just crossed over into. God’s eyes are on your land continually! Stop and think about this for a minute!  The eyes of the Lord are on you!  The eyes of the Lord are on your mountains and valleys.  The eyes of the Lord are continually on you from the beginning of this year all the way to the end!  Wow!  What a powerful promise.

Lord, God of creation.  You created us in Your image and Your promise is that you will sustain us with the promise of Your presence.  We ask that Your eyes would be upon us; and that You will continually watch over us as we face our mountains and our valleys. We stand in the promise that You will be with us from the beginning of this year to the end of this year. Help us, Oh Lord, to be sensitive to Your Words of life.  Amen

This past Wednesday our GALG (Get A Life Group) reunited for bible study after the holidays. We studied Mark 9. Jesus asks a great question, “How long has he been this way?” Jesus was asking this question of the father of the demon-possessed boy. Someone in the group said, “You know, I think that’s what happens with each one of us. Jesus walks alongside of us and asks, ‘Dave, how long have you been like this?'” The father says, “If you can help us, help us.” Jesus asks the father, “IF? IF? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” The father says, “I believe….but…help my unbelief.” You know what? I love the stories of the Bible.  Isn’t that just like us? Don’t we tell Jesus, “I think you can help me.” Jesus replies, “You THINK I can help you? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” Hmm.  Do I really believe that Jesus can help me climb the mountain of 2020 that lies before me? Do I really believe that I will survive the valleys? “Yes, Jesus, I believe you—but it’s not 100%. Could you help my unbelieving parts?”

And Jesus laughs, pats me on the back, thanks me for my honesty and says, “Let’s go! I will never you nor forsake you. Keep on believing!”  Jesus died on the cross for me, and for you. All of our unbelieving parts are covered in His blood. Go on. Ask the hard questions of Jesus and believe. He’s got your unbelief already covered.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfeloowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/2/20

Seed of Faith – Many in 20 Come To The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:9

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Above are a few passages of Scriptures that I turn to during each New Year.  I think of all the wonderful blessings that God has done for me and my family and for so many of you! I rejoice for the daily miracles I am invited to witness each day. During the NEW YEAR,  I also love to reflect on the “new things” that God will be doing in my life, in your life and the lives of so many in 2020!

I am struck by the “new things” that God promises us in Scripture. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are promised that God’s business is making things new. I don’t know about you, but I can use a NEW year!

“Write them down for these words are trustworthy and true.”  What powerful words to reflect upon! Long ago, I had a GMC two-toned blue van. It was beautiful. We name our vehicles.  Don’t ask my why. We always have: Betty Ford, El Tanko, Woody, and the 1990 blue van–faithful and true, Trupi 5! (Yes, that was her name; that van took us from 3 kids in high school, to 3 kids in college, to my seminary years, and to our first two churches! As I sat down to write about how the Scriptures are trustworthy and true, I thought about how trustworthy and true Trupi 5 was. When we sold Trupi 5, she had over 350,000 miles on her! Faithful and true–the scriptures are just that!

I have been listening to King and Country’s latest album,  “Burn the Ship.”  Here’s the YouTube link … https://youtu.be/pOVrOuKVBuY Listen to the chorus: “Burn the ships, cut the ties, send a flare into the night, say a prayer, turn the tide, dry your tears and wave goodbye.” (I’ll get back to this.)

Today I sit at my computer and look through my sermon files. I am overwhelmed and humbled.  I keep all of my sermons in folders labeled for the year they are preached. I have folders dating back to 2001 when I first started keeping an electronic file.  My manuscripts from 1998 to 2001 are in a box somewhere in my shed. Listen to C. H. Spurgeon, “All pastors should keep their sermons so that they can go back over them, read them and weep.”  Today I have been weeping over some of the messages I have written! It’s been a quiet week of holiday. Jac has been sick, and then I caught the flu from her. We’ve been laying low. At this time of the year, I like plan out my preaching calendar, to pick my brain of ideas of what the Holy Spirit wants me to talk about during 2020. I always sit down and write a review of the messages of the previous year and I look over some of the messages. Some messages have brought back fond memories of people and places that are dear to my heart, some have brought laughter at the silliness of my writing, and some have brought tears of sadness for friends lost and ministry moments gone by. It’s a great way to pray myself into 2020 and what’s ahead in the preaching arena for us all.

As we turn the page on 2019, we open a new chapter for 2020. The honest reality is that we aren’t just closing out a year–we are closing out a DECADE! A decade of ministry, memories, moments of joy and sadness, only to open a blank page for a new year and a whole new decade.

This got me to thinking: what is God calling you to do and become in the next year and in the next ten years? Last month, I had a very good friend pass away. Herman, Doc, always encouraged me to have a one-year plan, a five-year plan and ten-year plan.  As I get ready to ask, seek and knock on the Lord’s door for what to preach on, I couldn’t help but miss my friend. What is my one year plan? What is my five year plan? What is my 10 year plan? I’m 65. Seriously, in 10 years I will be 75! WHAT IS MY TEN YEAR PLAN?!!! In a way, I’m kidding. But I do want to encourage you to think about your life and to pray and plan for what you want to accomplish this year, and in the future. We have a whole new decade upon us!

Have you noticed that the year we enter is 2020?  Makes me think of having 20/20 vision; 20/20 vision is normal vision and the vision that a fighter pilot needs to fly his or her plane; 20/20 vision is needed to read a phone book, but who reads a phone book these days.  20/40 vision is required by most states to get a driver’s license. With 20/80 vision you can read an alarm clock from 10 feet away.  Do you know that 20/200 is considered legally blind?

The “so what?” comes early: What is your vision for 2020?

As you may recall, each year I try to come up with a “little ditty” to rhyme the year with.  My good friend, Will, texted me the other day and said that his little ditty was “plenty in twenty.” I like it. I didn’t have much to go on, not much rhymes with twenty–so my little ditty for this year is “MAY MANY in 2020 COME TO THE LORD.” I suppose that’s my one-year plan! I suppose if I plan the right preaching schedule, many will come to the lord!

It is my prayer that you will take this new, clean slate and make the LORD a passion and priority.  The Scriptures teach us that if we seek the Lord, He promises to be found. May the Lord be your vision in 2020.  May the Lord be your passion for this coming year.

I end with the lyrics to the song, “Burn the Ships”:
Step into a new day,
We can rise up from the dust and walk away,
We can dance upon our heartache,
so light a match, leave the past, burn the ships,
and don’t you look back.
So long to shame, walk through the sorrow, out of the
fire into tomorrow.
So flush the pills, face the fear,
feel the wave disappear!
We’re coming clear, we’re born again,
Oh, we can breathe again.

Whatever you faced in the past decade–it’s officially over. There is a brand, new year with a brand, new decade ahead. The Scriptures are faithful and true; they have way over 350,000 miles on them. God is doing a new thing! The former things have taken place but don’t miss the announcement: I (God) am making everything NEW!

Tonight I want to ask you to do something for me. I want to ask you to sit and pray and to answer a few questions for me:
1.  Am I faithful and true? Why or why not?
2.  What am I hoping for in 2020?
3.  Is my vision 20/20? Why or why not?
4. Do I really believe that God can take my heart ache and work with me?
5. How old will I be in ten years when the roaring 20’s are ended?
6. What is my ten year plan?
7. Where do I need God’s vision in my life? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Sexually? Spiritually?
8. Where do I need God to make things new for me?
9. Do I need to burn the ships? Do I need to walk away from something, someone?
10. Am I willing to light the match that will burn the ship? Am I willing to walk away? Am I willing to follow God with 2020 vision?

In closing, I have a great story to share with you next week but, for now, I want you to plan and forecast. Do you need God to make a way for you through the desert? Do you need a stream in your wasteland? God’s word is faithful and true and an honest prescription for 2020 vision. In Psalm 65 God promises to crown your year with HIS GOODNESS, for my paths to drip with HIS ABUNDANCE.  I’m all in. Are you? It’s not just a year. It’s a decade. Burn the ships.

I’m praying for you.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/20/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Joy  By Pastor Dave  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39

 

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:44-45

Dear Faithful and Fruitful Seed Sowers!

Merry Christmas! We are days away from celebrating the hope, love, joy and peace of the Advent Season in its fullest. I pray that your heart and home are prepared as we have journeyed.  May the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, be with you as you celebrate the Christ-Child’s humble birth.  May Christ be born in us anew and may we never be the same again. Jesus Christ is born!

I know you are busy. We all are. But this is a great week to MAKE time to read the Christmas stories found in Matthew 1 and Luke 1 & 2.  In this message I have been reflecting on Luke 1:39-45–a short seven verse narrative of the joy of Christmas,

Listen to verse 39, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, …” Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would become pregnant and that her very old cousin, Elizabeth, was already pregnant.  Both young and old…pregnant–full of expectation, full of anticipation, full of life.

 I wonder what it would be like for us to be pregnant with the hope, love, joy, and peace of the Advent Season.  I wonder what it would be like for us to live each and every day having Christ born anew in our hearts. 

Back to the story. Would we respond like Mary did?  Would we take our own three-day journey, traveling 90-100 miles on foot, to go visit our cousin? The angel had, indeed, just delivered the most shocking news.

My job as a pastor is to care for the sheep. Much of my job is spent traveling to visit people where they are: homes, hospitals, recovery centers, and even jail. Sometimes I travel a great distance to care for the sheep. In our hurry, hurrry, do-more-now lifestyles, don’t we have a hard time going out of our way to visit someone nearby let alone 100 miles away?  Think about this, Mary got ready and “hurried” (the Greek word means that she went with eagerness, excitement, with haste and quickly.) She didn’t stop at a store to shop on the way or dally around to see other friends who lived on the way. Mary walked as rapidly and quickly as she could and with great haste to see her cousin—who was pregnant at 80?!  This made me think of our last trip to Texas to visit our son and his family. We usually drive and we usually plan to stop and visit those we love on our way to and from. This trip was different. We traveled with eagerness and excitement to see our grandson play football in Kerrville. We had a date that we had to be there and we drove straight there. Can you relate? Mary had Elizabeth on her mind and away she went (on foot) to visit her cousin.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39
I have read and reread this verse. She got ready and then hurried to walk 100 miles to visit her cousin. I don’t know about you but sometimes I have the tendency to dally and linger and complain about going out of the house. Sometimes I just want to stay home, sit by the fire and read a good book.  Do you have the same problem? Especially at this time of year. I don’t want to get out there in all of that hub-bub.  I think we are all far too busy. Some of you are even are even too busy to sit down and read this SEED OF FAITH and the ten minutes it takes.

But the Spirit presses in on us and impresses us to follow. How many of us are like Mary? Running out of the house with eagerness to follow the Holy Spirit. I have to admit that sometimes I hear the Holy Spirit say, “Dave, call this person.  Go visit that person” and in all honesty, there are day when I hesitate. “God, why me — why don’t you ask so and so to  go do that? I’m busy. I’m tired. They aren’t doing anything. Ask them.”  Do you have my problem? I call it wrestling with God. As a former wrestler, this is not a very good idea. Ask Jacob.

This past week, I talked with a man who is struggling with God.  His exact words to me were “Why me, God?”

I think we all get stuck with the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve situations in our lives. We allow speculation to cause us to stop and stagnate. We allow fear to freeze us frozen in our tracks.  We allow doubt to drive us down depression avenue.

What amazes me about Mary is that she didn’t stop on depression avenue, she wasn’t frozen about the news the angel brought to her, she didn’t stop and speculate. Mary taught us a great life lesson; she got up and hurried with haste to see if what God had said was true.  She did not let the 90 to 100 miles stop her, she went with eagerness.

As I studied for this message, I learned something from Mary. I have learned how to say, “Here I am Lord, I am your servant, do with me according to your Word. And, God, help me to do it with eagerness. Help me to follow you with JOY.”

It’s definition time. JOY.  What exactly does it mean? Joy is a feeling of great happiness. Listen to Rick Warren’s definition, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the JOY is the determined choice I make to praise God in every situation.”  Did you read that correctly? Joy is the determined choice that you and I make to praise God in every situation.

The second lesson I learned this week pertains to the word, “joy.”  Joy to the World!  I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Joy!  What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Joy?’  Only three little letters … but oh so powerful to transform and change our lives. Just this week, my wife and I went to visit a member of our church who was in the hospital. Jac was wearing what she calls her “Christmas uniform”—a black sweater with the word JOY splashed acrossed it and a black skirt. I am not kidding you, as we walked to the parking garage to get our car, a lady passing by started singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.”  Jac stopped and they both started singing. Then another lady joined in and so did I. The four of us in a parking garage singing JOY about JESUS! And here’s the second lesson:

J — Jesus
O — Others
Y — You

I want you to know that Mary was joyful in her journey. Here’s a “so what?” for you: AM I JOYFUL IN MY JOURNEY? 

I now want you to know the second truth of this message:
when Jesus shows up, He brings with Him the joy of the heaven.

That is my prayer for you this busy week.  We have five short days until we reach the manger. We have five short days before we stand face to face with the giver of all JOY! Are you grumbling? Stop.  Are you anxious? Stop. Is your “to do” list longer than your sleepless nights? Stop. The God who created you also created Jesus. The God of all JOY doesn’t want you to miss the manger. Don’t wrestle with God today. Do as you are asked to do. Run everything by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. “I’m thinking I need to get out there in all of that hub-bub and fight for that last gift. Are you sure you want me to go?” Maybe, just maybe, this might be the one time when you hear, “Call your Mom.” “Call your sister.” “Call your friend in the hospital.” “Drop off flowers to your neighbor.” Maybe that’s the plan. And when you get the plan, go with excitement. Go with JOY!

I want you to awaken on Christmas day totally filled with the joy of Jesus!

Our story today ends with a powerful statement of faith. Enter into the story one more time. Hear Luke say, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)

So What? 
Do you believe?  Do you believe all that the Holy Spirit is saying to you is true? Do you believe that God will accomplish all those things that have been spoken to you in your heart?

I have some homework for you this week.  I know you’re busy but it’s pretty simple: practice JOY. Jesus. Others. You. Practice listening and obeying the Lord with great JOY, with great eagerness, with great haste, and with great excitement the JOY that only Jesus can bring.  Don’t you see it? THIS IS WHY WE TAKE FOUR WEEKS TO PREPARE OUR HEARTS AND HOMES FOR CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY!!!

I want us to be like Mary: Travel with joy, believe all that God has said to you to be true.

I end with a story about a friend of mine. He has Parkinsons. He’s quite young and has suffered a long time with his disease. The dystonia Parkinsons presents totally ruined his shoulder. He’s been in 10/10 pain (and he says, “That’s on a good day”) for over a year. His doctor had to check all of the boxes before he could order surgery. It took a year. On the day of the surgery, a UTI was discovered and my friend was sent home for another week. My friend never complained. He told me, “God’s time, Dave.” Well, the week went by and he’s home now! I can profess that my friend has traveled this painful road with the joy of Jesus in his heart. That’s my prayer for you. No matter what you are going through, my prayer is that you find JOY in knowing Christ.

My final prayer for you this week is that you will, once again, find the joy in believing that all of what God has spoken to you is believable.

And Mary said, “Angels? Gabriel? A baby? I’m not married. Elizabeth? She’s old.” And off Mary went with JOY! And when the two cousins met, their unborn babies leapt for JOY!

We can all learn something from this story because WE ARE IN IT. December 25 is almost here. Before you fly out of the house on swift feet eager to complete your list, bend your knees and pray. Bend your knees and read the story again. The Father of all time has all the time in the world…and so do you.

See You Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I … (Mulungu akudaliseni — for our Zambian Brothers and Sisters).
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/13/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Hope   By Pastor Dave  

“Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.” Luke 1:21

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,

Faithful.  I’ve been stuck on this word for a while now. Being faithful means you are loyal, constant and steadfast. The older I grow in my ministry, the more I’ve pondered this word. I’ve been ordained for 22 years now. I see evidence of people being faithful–in life and in death.
Death. Dying. A few years ago, I helped one of my best friends walk the long journey home to Christ.
The ministry is largely connected to death and dying. Yes, there are births, baptisms, confirmations, dedications and rededications. There are weddings and all kinds of celebrations but, there in the background, is a faithful constant friend called death and dying. You can’t be in the ministry without attending the school of grief and loss, the ministry of death and dying.

The month of November I went on vacation. Do you know that the ministry is 24/7/365? Ministry doesn’t have a start time or a stop time. It never has. It never will. When I go on “vacation,” my wife and I pray every day that there’s no crises. We pray that the church remains safe and in God’s watchful care and that our family does, too.

During the month of November, I went away for two weeks to visit our son in Waco. We had a blessed time. While driving, my wife and I listened to Alistair Begg’s teachings on flashdrive! We heard 56 hours of pastoral teaching while driving the highways and by-ways of our 3,000 mile trip. Upon returning, two people I know and love became terminally and imminently ill; days before Thanksgiving. Being there and sharing the “ministry of presence” is a top pastoral gift. It doesn’t really matter what one says, what matters is the presence of someone who cares.

All of this to say, please keep in prayer all those who have lost loved ones. The holidays hit the hearts and homes deeply of those who grieve. Let us commit to be faithful in prayer for them.

We turn to the Christmas story found in Luke 1:1-25.

I wonder how long the early believers gathered in their homes and synagogues in order to open the Law, Prophets and Psalms that prophesied and promised the coming of their Messiah?  Sabbath after Sabbath they gathered to hear the words read from the ancient scrolls. I wonder if they ever gave up hope. I wonder how long they had waited to hear from God. History shows that the last words from God were given to Malachi, the prophet, 400 years prior to Christ’s birth. Can you imagine waiting 400 years to hear from God?  We can hardly wait 400 seconds (6.6 minutes), let alone 400 years.   Many of us can hardly wait for the red light to change to green, or for the text on our smartphone to be completed before we start responding.  We who live in the 21st century have an extremely hard time waiting.

I love to read the Psalms. The Psalms speak the language of the heart.  Every emotion, every feeling, every situation we face are found in reading the Psalms.  In Psalm 46 we hear the opening lines speak to us when our life feels chaotic, out of control, troublesome and/or fearful. Psalm 46:1-3 — God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” These words speak of God’s comfort in our storm.  In Mark 4, the disciples are in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They are terrified and afraid that the boat will sink and they will drown.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the stern of the boat–the back of the boat. The disciples are afraid. They wake up Jesus. Jesus speaks to the storm. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”  Did you hear it?  “Quiet! Be Still!”  Let’s go back and look at Psalm 46 again. God is our refuge and strength, a help in times of trouble. At the end of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Jesus speaks, “Quiet! Be still!”
The Psalmist writes, “Be still…and know…that I am God.”

So What?  Why is it so hard for us to be still?  Why it is so hard for us to wait on the Lord?  Why is it so hard for us to hope for what we cannot see?

Hope! — Heaven’s One Promise Eternity

In our Advent story for today, Zechariah had prayed and prayed for years for his wife, Elizabeth, to have a child. He was an old man and his wife was beyond childbearing age. Scholars believe that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been married for 50 years. We don’t know how old Zechariah is but we do know that he has been waiting for a long time to hear from God. The Jewish people had been waiting 400 years to hear from God. Zechariah was going through the motions, putting in his time, punching his high priest’s “to do” time-card. “Fill the candles, clean the pulpit, mop the entry, dust the altar…” And then, Zechariah’s name was drawn from the hat! Zechariah was chosen to enter the holy of holies and offer the yearly sacrifice! Zechariah had been at this for a very long time.  Five times every year, he made the five-mile hike to Jerusalem to serve in the temple.  Now from the lot of the 18,000 priests, Zechariah’s name was chosen. Look at those odds … 1 in 18,0000. Would now be the time for God to speak?

Zechariah means — “The Lord Remembers.”

I wonder if there were times when Zechariah believed the Lord did not remember him. I wonder if there were times when Zechariah wanted to give up, give in and stop believing. “I’m too old. Elizabeth is too old. I’ve been praying that same prayer for way too long. Maybe God does not remember me.  Maybe God has forgotten me.”

What are the odds that some of us here today are ready to give up, give in and throw in the towel?

Elizabeth means “My God Is Absolutely Faithful.”

On the other hand, Elizabeth is almost certain that God will give her a child. “My God is absolutely faithful.”

I don’t know what each of you face.  I don’t know the struggles, the storms, or the sins that cling so closely to you. The truth of the matter is that when we think God is silent or asleep, we need to be still and know…that God remembers, and that God is faithful: loyal, constant, steadfast.

Here’s your “SO WHAT? HOMEWORK” for the week ahead: Find 400 seconds…6.6 minutes…set a timer on your phone…and practice Psalm 46:10.

BE—just BE…wherever you are…home, work…school…driving…BE…
STILL….Quiet your mind, quiet your body, take some deep breaths and …BE STILL…
AND KNOW…be determined to slow down and become aware of where & who you are…
BE STILL…AND KNOW
THAT I AM GOD…stop, look around, find IMMANUEL…GOD WITH US where you are right now. I can always find God in the beauty of nature.

I just buried another one of my best friends last week. Like my other dear brother and friend, he was FAITHFUL. He was loyal, constant, and steadfast. We met monthly for a zillion years (okay, 20 years). We shared this profoundly amazing thing together: LIFE.

Are you faithful? Are you loyal? Are you constant? Are you steadfast?

I see evidence of God being faithful to me. I pray I am faithful to God. I see evidence of my friends and family being faithful, too. I pray you do, too!

Whatever you are facing, I want you to know that our GOD is a GOD of HOPE. Have you been waiting and waiting? Have you been facing death and dying? Are you grieving? Our God is acquainted with grief.  Jesus was a man of sorrows. Our HOPE is found in Christ and through the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit. God, our Father, contains a love uncontainable for you. A love that only God knows and understands. Even when we are not faithful, GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Before I close, go look up youtube: GOD ONLY KNOWS by 4 King & Country and Dolly Parton. The love we need is a love that GOD ONLY KNOWS.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/23/19

Seed of Faith – WWJS -What Would Jesus Say — Follow Me By Pastor Dave  

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:16-17

Dear faithful and thankful Seed-Sowers:

It is almost Thanksgiving!  I would like to thank each and everyone of you.  You have touched my life and the life of my wife and family in so many gracious ways.  We are blessed and we are thankful.

This weekend I am in Pittsburgh to celebrate my mentor and my spiritual director’s retirement after 47 years in ministry.  What a wonderful and faithful servant the Rev. Dr. John Gray Hamilton is. “Hammy” or John followed Jesus and served in four different churches during his 47 years of ministry. Think of all of the lives he has touched and changed by sharing God’s grace and love. Think of giving over 2,000 sermons! By the way, our church heard that I wanted this Sunday off so that I could fly out to Pittsburgh and attend John’s last Sunday service. Someone purchased my airfare, another purchased my hotel, and other anonymous people donated the funds for a car rental, and meals. Imagine that: the church being the hands and feet and heart and soul of Jesus.

John Hamilton was my home-church pastor for 13 years. He was the pastor who helped me to decipher my call into ordained ministry. He followed Jesus and he taught me how to listen and follow Jesus for myself.  Today that my hope and prayer, that we all listen and follow Jesus.

Our reading comes from the Gospel of Mark. Let’s pray before we begin. “Lord, Jesus, You are our Lord and Savior, You call us to come and follow You.  Help us to have ears to hear, eyes to see, arms and feet ready to follow and serve wherever you call us.  May your Words become life to our weary souls.  Amen”

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men.18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.  Mark 1:14-17

Retired minister and author, Bob Russell, told the following account to illustrate how Christians often go along with the moral pace of those around us, and that, by comparison, we feel safe since “Everyone is doing it,” therefore, we’re okay. Russell writes:  Two months ago my wife and I were visiting our son Rusty and his family. One day Rusty was test-driving a foreign-made car and was frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to change the speedometer reading from kilometers to miles.  That evening he suggested we take the kids and all go out for ice cream. “We’ll need to take two cars,” he insisted, “so you and mom just follow me.” I followed him … and was surprised when a policeman whizzed up behind us with his lights flashing. I couldn’t imagine he was after me because it didn’t feel like I was speeding. And besides, I was going the exact same speed as the guy in front of me.  The officer came up to my window and said, “Sir, you were going 58 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. But wait right here, I’m going to deal with the car in front of you, and I’ll be right back.” When he went to my son’s car, Rusty quivered, “Officer, I know this is going to sound like a line, but this is the first day I’ve driven this car, and I can’t figure out how to change it from kilometers to miles, so I had no idea how fast I was going. The guy behind me is my dad, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing either!”[i]

Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t really buy you much of an excuse with God, does it?

John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, is put into prison.  John had been baptizing people in the Jordan and calling for them to repent. Jesus continues the story line by calling the people to repentance, Jesus also calls them to believe in the Good News!  This may be the only place in Scripture where we are told by Jesus to believe in the Good News. Imagine THE REAL, LIVE, GOOD NEWS is telling the people to believe in the good news! (Would have loved to be there.) Let’s go to the Greek word Jesus’ uses for “believe” is a present active imperative.  In the Greek it means that this a command and the action of believing is non-stop and ongoing.  To “believe” in the Greek culture was to place your trust, to rely on, to have confidence in and to put your faith in…the good news.  The good news of what Jesus was saying and  — not just once, but every day, every hour and every minute of every year.

Jesus is saying, “Hear the Good News!  The time has come! The Kingdom of God is near. The time that God will rule and reign is right here. The time for God to have supremacy is at hand.  The time has come for us to change our minds, to turn back, to turn around and to change direction is at hand.” You know how I always ask you to put yourself in the story?  This is no different. Put yourself on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This Jesus character is going from boat to boat; asking people to repent, be baptized, and follow Him. I propose a preposterous idea: maybe today you are hearing Jesus calling out to you:  turn around, come back, change your mind, repent, be baptized and follow. Is this the GOOD NEWS you are hoping for? Could it be that Jesus wants us to put our trust in Him? To have confidence and faith in Him? And not just today but for every single day of the rest of our lives?

RADICAL CALL — FOLLOW ME
In the days of Jesus, we need to understand how amazingly radical the call of Jesus really was.  During the days of Jesus, the Rabbis (the priests of the synagogue) would come to town and choose the best and brightest of the boys to become their disciples.They would take them and train and educate them. The boys who were not chosen would go into their father’s businesses. We can assume that Peter and Andrew, James and John and the rest of the disciples were not among the best and brightest because they were working in their father’s businesses. Imagine the scene: Jesus comes walking along the shore and calls out to them sitting in their boats, “FOLLOW ME.” The Greek word for “follow” is “opiso” — “come after or come behind.”  Put yourself here into this story.  You have grown up in a little fishing village called Bethsaida.  You’ve made a trip or two to Jerusalem, but most likely never traveled very far from home.  You have no hope of doing anything greater than working in your father’s fishing boat.

Listen again to Jesus words …  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

What a radical message! Let me tell you how I heard Jesus say, “Follow me.” “Hey, hey, you!  Dave Peters, I see you. Working in the family business selling tires!  You.  Yes, you! FOLLOW ME.” At first, all I thought Jesus wanted was for me to shape up a little.  And then a little more.  And then a whole lot more!  Here’s what I want to say to you today: Let Christ rule and reign in your life.  Repent. Turn around, change your mind, your heart and your direction. Believe and keep on believing.  Never stop having trust and faith in this Good News!  What a radical call!  “Come follow me, (insert your name)!  I will make you fishers of people!”

RADICAL OBEDIENCE!
What happens? These untrained, uneducated fishermen follow Jesus!  They had never traveled very far.  They had never talked about much other than what was happening in their fishing village. And along comes Jesus; their world is turned upside down.  History tells us that John became the Bishop of Ephesus, Peter went to Rome, and Andrew went as far as the borders of Russia! By following Jesus, their hearts were enlarged enough to take in the whole world— not just the four corners of Bethsaida.

Immediately the men left everything and followed Jesus. Take note: one of the radical demands of a radical call by Jesus is that you must respond with a radical obedience. (“Immediately” means at once, without delay, without hesitation.)

So What? What a year we’ve had so far.  I don’t know about you but 2019 has not been an easy year, it’s had some ups and downs. I’m ready to begin a new decade, are you? 2020–here we come!

As we begin to study this new series, I want us to hear the words of Jesus as if they were spoken to us. I want us to hear them with new ears fresh every morning. “(YOUR NAME,) follow me.”

Remember Bob and Rusty Russell? Rusty had no idea as to how fast he was driving…but Bob—Bob knew exactly how fast his car was going: 58 in a 45. Bob had decided to follow Rusty. That’s our choice each and every day, are we going to follow Rusty or are we going to follow Jesus? The world behind me, the cross before me…sounds like a catchy tuna–I mean, tune.

Maybe for this series, you can go and get a new journal.  Call it your “SEED OF FAITH GOOD BYE 2019” journal. Let’s study all the times Jesus (the good news) calls us to FOLLOW Him!  It’s going to be another great series. I’m praying for you. Kiss the wave.

Let me explain, this is a famous quote by Charles H. Spurgeon. “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the ROCK OF AGES!” I remember wrestling with my call to go into ordained ministry. I went to see Pastor John. We met over a series of time. We prayed. He checked in with me and listened to me. I remember one day, I knew God was calling me into full-time ministry. No doubt about it.  John looked at me and said, “Okay, I’ve been waiting for this day. Dave, if you can do anything else–then go do that but if you must answer this call–then know that it will break your heart.” I said, “I know. I must follow.” John has been there for me for the past 22 years of my ordained ministry, for my 3 years of seminary, and for my many other years when I served as youth director. He was wise and he was right. Following the call of Christ has broken my heart…but in a good way.

The world behind me, the cross before me. I have decided to follow Jesus. Go ahead, get that journal out.

See You Sunday …

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/16/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen and Amen   By Pastor Dave  

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

We come to end of our series on the Apostle’s Creed just as I come to the end of my 12-day vacation! Jac and I drove from SOCAL to WACO, TX! We enjoyed our two grandsons and our son and his lovely wife. Jac can’t fly yet due to her lead levels, so we drive: 3 days there and back. We have been so very blessed by our alone time in the car; God has been refreshing and renewing our souls. It’s good to get away and it’s going to be good to get back to ministry at the SEED.

I suggest you take a few moments to read Revelation 3:14-22 & Revelation 22:17-21.  In the opening of the letter we hear, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” Do you see what I see?  Jesus is the faithful and true AMEN!

Today let’s think about three images of Christ:  the patience of Christ, the plea of Christ and the place of Christ at our table. Each one worthy of a SEED OF FAITH!

In William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of The World,” Christ is holding a lantern and knocking at a door. (See bottom right, top photo.)  I had always heard that Christ was knocking at the door of the human heart asking for entrance.  This passage puts a whole new twist on that thought: Could Christ be also knocking on the door of the church?  I think it’s easy for us to envision Christ  knocking on the door of our heart, or knocking on the door of our home.  Have you ever thought about Christ knocking on the door of our churches? Profound thought here.

Let’s look at the painting and see if we can find some of the rich symbolism in it. First, there is no handle on the outside of the door. Why? Isn’t that odd? Could it be that even though Christ desires entry, He never forces his way in. Instead, He must be invited in, the door must be opened from the inside. The decision is ours as to whether Jesus Christ will be invited in–or not. Next, look at the hinges in the picture. They are rusted and the bolts are broken. The door is held in place by vines; showing that the door has never been used or the vines would be torn. Third, Jesus is holding a lantern. The symbolism is to show that Jesus is the light of the world. Outside, there is a neglected garden overgrown with weeds, there are fruit trees which have not been pruned, and a crop which has been lost because of the lack of tending. There is fruit that has fallen on the ground near the feet of Christ symbolizing Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, and that all of mankind has fallen away from God.  One more observation, there is a bat above the door, a nocturnal creature which loves the night. It is dark outside, pointing to the truth of the Scripture, “This is the verdict: ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’” (John 3:19).

There is so much more in this painting but as we see the painting and read the scripture, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,”  I think we need to ask some questions.

The first question is: To whom is Christ speaking? I had always thought that Christ was speaking to each individual, and that the door represented each individual’s human heart. Christ is knocking because He wants to come into our hearts and lives. I’m not saying that this is incorrect because I have a sneaky suspicion that Christ does want entry into each and every heart. I also want to consider the context. In this chapter, Jesus is speaking to the church.  Isn’t it wild that in this picture Jesus is asking for admission into his own church? Apparently, the church had closed the door on him and never answered his knock.

The three P’s of Christ:
1.  THE PATIENCE OF CHRIST — “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”

Do you see the great love that God has for us, and for His church, as Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks and keeps on knocking over and over, and is still, today, patiently knocking? Sometimes the knock comes through suffering or grief, hardships or difficulties, sickness or death, financial loss or family problems–whatever the case may be–Jesus stands patiently knocking at the door of your heart and the door of his church. It’s totally up to us to open the door and invite Christ inside.

2.  THE PLEA OF CHRIST — “If you hear my voice and open the door…”

The plea of Christ is that we hear His voice.  Each letter to the seven churches of Revelation ends with the words, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  In the Greek language the word “to hear” means to obey, to follow through or to act upon what you had just heard. The plea of Christ is for us to hear the sound of his voice as He stands knocking at the door, and for us to open the door wide so that He may come in.  Remember, we must open the door from the inside. Christ will not open the door.  He will not force Himself upon us.  Christ never forces anyone into salvation. It’s a choice of our free will.  Freely He offers salvation to you and me by grace. Everywhere in Scripture Jesus offers himself to men and women, and grieves over the fact that many do not receive Him. Remember the remarkable scene in the Gospels during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem as he comes over the top of the Mount of Olives and sees the city spread out beneath him? Jesus wept over the rebellious city saying, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You stone the prophets and kill everybody God sends to you. How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not…” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)  Christ wants us to act upon his knocking—he wants us to open the door, to invite him in, to say to him, “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter my life. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Deliver me from my sins — and from myself.” As Christ stands at the doors of our churches, shouldn’t we say,  “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter our church. Be our Lord.  Be our Savior. Deliver us from our sins and from ourselves”? Isn’t this the whole plea to the 7 churches in Revelation? This isn’t a knock-knock joke at all.  This is a call to HEAR and ANSWER and OPEN THE DOOR and INVITE CHRIST INTO OUR HEARTS, HOMES AND CHURCHES. If you hear His plea, open the door. Churches, don’t resist the Gospel; open the doors!

3.  THE PLACE OF CHRIST AT OUR TABLE — “I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me…”

The third plea is very clear. Jesus will enter in! He says so right here, “If you open the door, I will enter in and remain with you. We will eat together and be together.” What a beautiful picture of Christ: permanently dwelling within you. He will move in and live with you.  The actual word for “eat” here is the Greek word “deipneo” which refers to the evening meal or supper.  Supper was the main meal of the day.  Breakfast was a slice of dry bread dipped in wine.  Lunch was seldom eaten at home. But supper was the time to sit down and fellowship in the home after the work of the day was done. Have you ever traveled to Europe or Mexico? Dining together is an event. It isn’t like here in America:  hurry up and eat so we can do homework, go to a sport’s game, watch TV or go to bed! NO! It’s like sit down, take a load off your feet, sit back, breathe, enjoy this space to just BE–and share the great gift of TIME with your family. Tell stories, laugh and remember.  Build relationships. Back then in Jesus’ time, supper was a time of intimacy and relationship, sharing and fellowship–it was called “communion.” Wow. Let that sink in.

This is not a mere courtesy visit that Christ is promising.  He desires to come in, sit down and spend a long time with us in communion, in conversation, in relationship with us.  This is the place Christ desires: sitting with us at our table; a table filled with intimacy,relationship, sharing and communion.  Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks. Knock, Knock. No joke. Jesus’ plea is that we hear His voice and open the door. He longs to take his place at the table.

SO WHAT?
“So what?” is it that you believe about God the Father?  What is it that you believe about Jesus?  What is that you believe about the Holy Spirit?  What is that you believe about the church and the communion of the saints?  What is that you believe about forgiveness?  What is that you believe about the resurrection and life everlasting? It’s all right here in this APOSTLES’ CREED.

This past week has been a hard week in ministry. Actually, it’s been the most intense month of ministry I’ve ever had. I’ve sat at the bedside of a person who is preparing to go home to meet Jesus face to face. This person wanted to bless her four grandchildren. We’ve been meeting and planning and we were able to complete her plan this week by meeting with each grandchild and blessing them with the meaning of their name. A holy time for me to be able to share that with her. There’s another person who I’ve been visiting regularly who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This man is a longtime friend and coworker in the ministry.  He is a retired surgeon.  Every week, I go and sit with him.  Sometimes other doctors and  friends come by when I am there. We sit out in the hot sun and we laugh and remember the good times and the memories we’ve made together. I have been with him in the hospital when he has gone for treatment.  My friend asks everyone he meets this one, simple question since being diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Here’s his question. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?” Go ahead. Answer the question. Take all the time you need. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?”  My dear friend has been sharing the Good News of the resurrection with others as he walks with Jesus through this difficult diagnosis.

So What?  What is it that you believe?  The final thing I want to tell you is this: IF YOU BELIEVE LIKE I BELIEVE…when you die—you will be present with the Lord Jesus. The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I see this all the time. Over and over, the faith of the person dying impacts the way they die. I’ve truly been blessed to be at so many bedsides.

I know a person who had a near death experience.  This person is my wife. She saw heaven. She saw Jesus…on a white horse…riding her way. She saw the celestial city. Said it’s a million Disneylands and prettier and more majestic than you can imagine. The city was filled with people and the people were filled with JOY…the kind of contagious JOY that we cannot imagine. This person told me, “I used to be so afraid of dying. But ever since that experience in June of 2000—I’m not afraid. I’m anxiously waiting for that final call home.” Whenever we talk about death, she says the same thing…word for word. For 19 years now, she’s never changed a word of her story. Jesus, white horse, sword in hand, millions of miles of castles, a city filled with people and love and joy! This lady opened the door to her heart on a dark night in Rochelle, IL, on August 30, 1979. She’s never been the same since that day. She opens her Bible and devours the word each day. She listens to Christian music 24/7. She’s developing a relationship with Jesus. They sit and share communion. She writes, she reads, she sings, she thinks about her life with Christ. I’m here to tell you, I’ve witnessed it and I want to witness it in you, too.

Open the door. Invite Christ in. Here’s a scenario: Jesus is standing outside the door of your heart. Open the door and say, “I’m a sinner. I need a Savior. I know that you are Jesus and that you’ve already died for my sins. Come in. Sit. Read with me. Talk with me. Teach me. Amen.”

And that’s the Apostles’ Creed in a nutshell.

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10.  the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11.  the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12.  the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13.  and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

See you Sunday —God loves you. He sent His only Son to die for you. Open the door. Communion.

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/8/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen   By Pastor Dave  

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers:

Well, we’ve made it!  We have made to the end of The Apostles’ Creed. Congratulations on making it through this 12-week series. By now, you should know a little more of what you believe and why. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was written around 140 A.D. as a baptismal confession for people joining the church?

Join me as we read The Apostles’ Creed together. I would like to add the word “AMEN” at the end of each line. Here we go:

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11. the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12. the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13. and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

So What?  After a dozen weeks, what is it that you believe about God our Father in Heaven?  What is it that you believe about God the Son, our Savior who came from heaven and died for us?  What do you believe about the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What do you believe about the Holy universal, all-embracing catholic church? (That is what catholic means–universal.) What do you believe about the communion of the saints?  What do you believe about the forgiveness of sins?  Do you know that you know that you know that YOU are forgiven? Do you know that we are commanded to forgive as Christ has forgiven us? What do you believe about the resurrection of the body?  What do you believe about the life everlasting?

It is my hope that after spending 12 weeks studying the CREED that your faith has been strengthened and that you know more emphatically what you believe and why you believe it.  It is my prayer that, as we finish the series, you can and will, stand and say, “YES and AMEN” to the ancient, but relevant, Apostles’ Creed.

So What? What does the word “AMEN” mean? We say it all the time. “Amen.” What do you think it means?

Do you know that the word “AMEN” is used by the Jewish people, Christians, and Muslims?  The word “AMEN’ is used in many languages, and may be the most widely known word in the entire world. Our next-door neighbors are Korean. Each morning, when I go out to do my reading and prayer time, my neighbor does, too. We don’t speak the same language but I can understand my neighbor. As he prays, I hear him saying, “Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen and amen.” Every morning at about 6 am, he prays one word: AMEN for 15 -20 minutes. I often wonder if he’s reading the Scriptures and then just agreeing with the WORD.

Point 1 for today: “AMEN” is a word that is one of the most widely known words in all the world.  Point 2: What does AMEN mean? In the Hebrew language the word means “so it is” or “let it be,” derived from a verb meaning “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in, to trust.”  In the thirty times that “AMEN” appears in the Old Testament it precedes a statement and the people are agreeing that they believe and put their trust in the WORD of God.  The people are agreeing as one body that what will be said will be reliable, sure and firm. The significance of using “AMEN’ is that the people are agreeing that what they heard, they had just adopted as their very own.  In essence, they are saying, “We can take what was just said to the bank.  What was just said is as solid as a rock foundation. What was just said is reliable and we can trust it with our life.” AMEN? AMEN!

Our two Scripture readings for today come from the Gospel of Matthew and from the last book of the Bible, Revelation.

Before we go to the Words of life, let us come before the giver of life in prayer. “Lord, God of all creation, we come to say “AMEN’ to your Word of life found in our scriptures.  May Your Words of life be a solid foundation for us, a firm and reliable foundation that will withstand the storms of life.  Amen and Amen”

Matthew 7:24-29
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law..

In the Gospel words we just heard, Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount and had just given His new disciples a detailed “to do” list. Jesus laid down His vital principles for life (Matthew chapters 5-7) and is now applying the final word of truth: AMEN.  This section is the “So What” part of Jesus’ message.  Jesus is confronting His followers with the two possibilities they will face in life:  Will they be wise or will they be foolish? Will they build on the solid rock or will they build on sinking sand?

Warnings about being wise or foolish are found all over the Scriptures. The two men in Jesus’ house story have the same desire–they each long to build a house.  They each want the same thing. At the beginning of the story, there’s no difference between the two. But then it appears, the foolish man does not take the time to listen to others.  The foolish man does not investigate all of the possibilities of how the building should be built.  The foolish man does not look at the blueprints or ask for advice, he just throws up his building.

We are told a little more of the Sermon on the Mount story in Luke’s account in chapter six.  Luke tells us that the wise man dug down deep and laid his foundation on rock, not on the sinking sand. The difference between the two builders is that the wise man did listen, he investigated and desired to build on a solid foundation.

So What?
Will we be wise or will we be foolish? Will we build on the solid rock or will we build on sinking sand?

Remember the word “AMEN” means  “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in or to trust.” What is it that you are saying “AMEN” to you your life?  What is it that you are staking your life on?  What is it that you take to the bank as totally reliable and true? What are you building your life upon?

Jac and I are in Texas as I write this SEED OF FAITH. We drove here. We left earthquake country and entered tornado country.  As we stopped at one of the roadside rest stops in Texas, I noticed a door with a sign on it, “STORM SHELTER.” It made me think.  In California, you have 10-60 seconds to get ready for an earthquake. I remember this summer when we had two back-to-back earthquakes. We were out back cleaning up the pool. The cement block walls started waving back and forth.  Javon hollered, “Earthquake!” The next steps are: DROP, COVER, HOLD ON. Hopefully, you have an outside storage area with water and food supplies. This method is way different from preparing for midwest tornadoes. The sirens go off. You have a five-10 minute warning to seek shelter. You avoid rooms with windows. When we lived in Missouri and Illinois, we ran to the basement. In Texas, we ran to the closet under the stairs. We already had the important items stocked there: flashlights, batteries, storm radio, water and snacks.
Can you see what Jesus is trying to say? KNOW the layout of the land that you are building your house upon. In the case of Christ, build your heart upon Christ, the solid foundation. He is the ROCK OF AGES.

My guess is that you know your area and that you are somewhat prepared for a storm or earthquake but what I really want to know as your pastor, are you building your life on the solid foundation of God’s word? I pray so!
Can I get an AMEN?

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 10-25-19

Seed of Faith – I Believe — Everlasting Life   By Pastor Dave  

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Dear  Faith-Filled Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Are you being blessed by the Lord and walking in His grip of grace today? If not, why not? Grace is free! Costs you nothing because the cost has already been paid by Christ.

We are coming to end of our study of the Apostle’s Creed.  If you have not had a chance to get all the Seed’s of  Faith or would like the full manuscripts of the messages, please send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will get them to you.

“I Believe — Everlasting life!”

What is everlasting life? Who wants everlasting life?  Why was this line added to the end of the Apostles’ Creed?  These are a few of the questions that come to my mind as think about the closing lines of Apostles’ Creed. Last week we talked about our hope being anchored in the fact, the reality and the truth, of the resurrection. Have you ever thought about how different our lives would be if there had been no resurrection? Inconceivable really.

Today we turn our thoughts to the last line … “and the life everlasting.”

There is so much written on “everlasting life or eternal life.” Right now, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read John 3:1-22. What is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus visit in the middle of the night? Next, reflect on Jesus’ response to the woman at the well found in John 4:1-26  A few of the verses are recorded above. In John chapter 6 the words “eternal life- everlasting life” are recorded three times.

So what is eternal life?

Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Moody said to a friend, “Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all—out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”[i]

Nic at night (both a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin) figured this out: Rank doesn’t matter, hand-tailored clothes don’t matter, Gucci sandals don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that I eat at the five-star place in town or have the biggest house filled with the finest things. Why? BECAUSE OF THAT WILL PERISH. What Jesus is after here is my spirit. Jesus is after my heart, mind, body and soul. My flesh will die but my spirit will live forever!

After THE LAST SUPPER—which wasn’t really known by that, by the way—Jesus prayed. He prayed for the believers, He prayed for future believers, and He prayed for Himself. (Yes, it’s okay to pray for yourself!)  His prayer is found in John 17. The whole chapter is one long prayer.  This is how John (his bff) records the opening of Jesus’ prayer,  “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

Did you hear the powerful message of eternal life in verses 2 and 3? God has granted all authority to Jesus in order for Jesus to be the giver of eternal life.  What does Jesus say eternal life is? “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…”

I know this message has a lot of Scriptures, but the theme of “eternal life” is imprinted in all of them. God is eternal.  In Isaiah God is called the “The Lord is Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4) and in Jeremiah God is called the “King Eternal.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Since God is eternal so are all God’s attributes, blessings and love. The Psalms tells us repeatedly that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

The words “eternal life” are used 42 times in the New Testament. Eternal Life is the major theme of the Bible.  For the writers of the Bible, “eternal life” meant more than just life everlasting. Eternal Life was a quality of existence that held no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, and no more death.  Eternal life meant a life that continues forever in the presence of God whose love is unfailing and unending. Not just here.  Not just now. Not just tomorrow—but forever and ever and ever.

During World War II, a prisoner wrote: Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer held a little service which reached the hearts of all. He had hardly finished his prayer, when the door opened. Two evil-looking soldiers came in and barked: “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us!” The words meant only one thing, the scaffold. As he bid his fellow prisoners good-bye, he said, “For me this is the beginning of a new life, eternal life.”[i]

So What?
What is eternal Life? Why would the early disciples put this in the Apostles’ Creed?  Better yet, why would it be the closing line?

The late and marvelous preacher, Ralph W. Sockman, was writing an Easter sermon one year when he received word that a friend had died. His friend was a scholar, a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, a distinguished missionary to China for forty years. A daily prayer of this remarkable servant included, “Oh, God our Father, I accept Thy gift of love; help me to pass it on for Jesus’ sake.” On the morning of the missionary’s death, at age ninety-two, Lacey Sites said to those near his bedside: “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.”[ii]

What a profound statement…. “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.” Yes! Here it is! Here is why the apostles closed the entire creed with this line:
AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING. AMEN.

Can you hear your own version of this line? I can. “Dave, don’t just live for heaven…live for heaven on earth. Each and every person I put you in contact with needs a drink of this living water. Pour.  Pour out. Don’t count the cost.  The cost we are talking about are souls—and souls who need eternal life. People need living water.”

Friends, don’t wait to live eternally.  Let us start today and live every day in the presence of the living God. Friends, we have this living water to share, we have the bread of life to share. We need to share everlasting life with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers.

How do we live eternally now?

Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of live.
Focus on your Savior and not the storms.
Focus on the Cross and not the crime nor the criminal.
Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.
Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situations you face.
Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.
Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.
Focus on God’s love and share this love with the lost.
Focus on the power of the resurrection and let this power resurrect, revive, restore, renew, reconcile and redeem your life—today, every day and forever.

Both Nic at Night and WOMAN at the well figured out the secret to life: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today and begin living eternally every single day.  Live in God’s never-failing love, unending grace and ever-flowing mercy. Live in the forgiveness of your past, present and future!   Come to the water of life and drink from the springs of eternal life. If you meet a guy named Nic or a woman who’s had five husbands–you’ve come to the right spring of LIVING WATER. Jesus is no respecter of clout or sin. He died and rose for ALL…and that means YOU.

The Apostles’ Creed

  1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
  2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord;
  3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
  4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell;the
  5. third day he rose again from the dead;
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  7. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Ghost,
  9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

As I close, I was born on 6/18/54 and I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in January of 1981. If you ever hear that I’m dead–don’t you believe it because on that very day, I will be more alive than I’ve ever been!

See you Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith – I Believe, Resurrection Life  By Pastor Dave  

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:

It’s the HARVEST season! I pray that you are reaping 30, 60 or 100-fold of all the good that you have sown this year!  It is my hope and prayer that as you walk through each day, that you will know that Jesus walks with you.  It is my prayer for you to know the powerful presence and perfect peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ–both as Lord and Savior. Knowing Christ is everything.

Today we come to the second to last line in the Apostles’ Creed.  Line eleven: we “believe in the resurrection of the body.”  As always, I encourage you take a few moments and read chapter 15 of I Corinthians.this week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your mind and heart about the power, the hope, and life we can find in the resurrection.

We need to remember that during the time the Creed was written, it was written to defeat false teaching and to proclaim what a person or group believed about Jesus Christ. When the Apostles’ Creed was written, there were many false teachings that were circulated. There are many false teachings today. The world hasn’t changed all that much.  That is why it is important for us to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.  

There was a teaching in the early church called Gnosticism, and the teachings of the Gnostics are still with us today.  Gnosticism comes from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning “knowledge.” The Gnostics believed that people were saved through special knowledge.  They viewed the physical or material world as evil and corrupt. The Greeks believed that the body or flesh was a prison for the soul and that only the soul was immortal. The Early Church put line eleven in the Apostles’ Creed in order to proclaim that God is the creator and what God created was good and the body is part of God’s creation.  When God created Adam and Eve and breathed life into their lungs, God said that His creation was very good. What God creates is good — very good!

The resurrection of the body is a mystery.  After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him.  When Mary realized the man she thought was the gardener was Jesus, Mary was told not to hold on to Him.  The problem is that we were created very good, but something called sin separates us from God.  Because of this separation, God sent His one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to suffer under Pontius Pilate, to be crucified, dead and buried.  But the Good News, the greatest news of all, is that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death forever by rising from the dead.  Hell, death and the grave were defeated at that single moment of the resurrection.

There’s story after story about what happened after the resurrection! Jesus invited the disciples to eat breakfast on the beach. Jesus told Thomas to put his hands in his nail scars and to put his hand into the place where the speared pierced His side. I’ve always gained such hope from these resurrection stories because if Jesus had a resurrected body, be certain that you and I will have one, too.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery. As I studied this Scripture this week, I read how one early church father by the name of Orgien, thought that the resurrection of the body meant the body of Christ as in the church.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery and some of the most profound writings on the resurrection are found here in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  If you have your Bible, turn with me to Paul’s words on the resurrection.

Paul begins with the resurrection of Christ, then turns his attention to the resurrection of the dead and, finally, his longest teaching on the resurrection of the body.

Here is a radical fact! Death is a fundamental human problem.  The truth is that we will all die, but the Good News is that those in Christ will live with resurrected bodies. Christianity stands out alone among all of the world’s faiths and “isms.” Christianity views death as conquered. To be a Christian is to have a “HOPE” resting on the “FACT” that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, saw over 500 people (witnesses) and now lives eternally in heaven at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

We  can have hope in the power of the resurrection.  The writer of Hebrews say that this hope is an anchor to our soul.

The Apostle Paul tries to explain the mystery of the resurrection by not explaining it.  He points to the mystery of a seed and a tree and offers a word picture as an explanation. Of course, I like the idea of the seed …since that is the name of our Church.  We have been given resurrection life and hope through the seed of God’s word.

Tim Keller is a pastor, writer and teacher of a church in New York.  Keller tells the following story about the power of Christ’s resurrection: “A minister was in Italy, and there he saw the grave of a man who had died centuries before who was an unbeliever and completely against Christianity, but a little afraid of it too. So, the man had a huge stone slab put over his grave so he would not have to be raised from the dead in case there is a resurrection from the dead. He had insignias put all over the slab saying, “I do not want to be raised from the dead. I don’t believe in it.” Evidently, when he was buried, an acorn must have fallen into the grave. So, a hundred years later the acorn had grown up through the grave and split that slab wide open and that tiny seed was now a tall, towering, oak tree. The minister looked at it and asked, ‘If an acorn, which has power of biological life in it, can split a slab of that magnitude, what can the acorn of God’s resurrection power do in a person’s life?'”[i]

Friends, here is the Good News of the resurrection.  Here is the hope we have in the resurrection. The minute we decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life and you are sealed forever in Christ.   This power of the Holy Spirit that takes up residence in our hearts is just like the power of the resurrection—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  One scholar likes to say that we now have some of Jesus’ DNA in us and we are related.  We have this hope of the resurrection.

Stop for moment to think of the things you see as immovable slabs in your life—your bitterness, your insecurity, your fears, your self-doubts, your hurts, your regrets, your past, and even your future. Those things can all be split and rolled away by the mere power of the seed of faith. The more you know Jesus, the more you will grow into the power and the HOPE of the resurrection.

I know that we don’t have time today to plumb the depths of all these passage on the resurrection. I encourage you to read and reread chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  Get a journal or write in your Bible–allow the Holy Spirit,  your teacher, to teach you all things.

So What?
I like the words that Paul uses to contrast the physical life with the resurrected life.

Perishable vs Imperishable!
Dishonor vs Glory!
Weakness vs Power!
Natural vs Spiritual!

Perishable means that our mortal bodies are subject to corruption, decay, sickness, illness and even death.  But our resurrected bodies will not be subject to any of these maladies or conditions. Dishonor means a state of disgrace, shame and sin.  The resurrected body will be raised in “doxa” — glory!  No more sin and no more shame.  No more condemnation. No more disgrace. Weakness!  The Greek word means to be in want of strength, feebleness, illness, incapacity and timidity. When we come to our resurrection, we will have power instead of timidity —no  fear … we will have power!  Natural bodies!  Wow! This old body will be replaced with a body fully filled and fueled by the Holy Spirit.

The perishable will put on imperishability, this body that is swallowed up with shame and sin will be raised in glory, this body that is weak and broken will be given new power, this natural, decaying, dying body will be given life and life abundantly.

So what does the resurrection of Christ mean to YOU? What does your own future resurrection mean to you?  For the early disciples who stood up and proclaimed the Apostles’ Creed, many did so at the expense of life.  Stand this week in the power, hope and life of the resurrection, and recite the Apostles’ Creed as if your life depended on it…because it does.

My prayer is that the resurrected Jesus will meet you in a room where you are gathered, or on the road to Emmaus, or on the beach. I pray that Christ will ask you to put your hand into his resurrected wounds. I pray Christ will fill you PEACE and that you will be still and that you will soak up the life that only the resurrected Christ can give.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/18/20

Seed of Faith – BURIED WITH CHRIST — RAISED TO A NEW LIFE   By Pastor Dave  

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Faithful Friends and Spirit-Filled Seed Sowers:

I hope and pray that your week is going well and that this New Year is unfolding with God’s grace upon grace as you walk in Christ.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Colossians 2:6-15.  Have you ever thought what it means to walk with Christ? Have you ever thought that you have been buried with Christ in His baptism and then raised into a new life with Him?

When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  Paul wants the Colossians to remember that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that we can have union with Jesus Christ by walking with Christ and remembering His and our own baptism.

I love the opening verses — “Just as you have received Christ as Lord.”  When you were baptized, you received Christ as your Lord and Savior.  To “receive” means “to take your inheritance, to bring alongside, to hold, to draw oneself to and learn from someone.”  Do you notice what Paul says?  He writes us to say, “Receive, take your inheritance, take a hold of, learn from and bring alongside Jesus Christ as your LORD!  Lord means master, ruler, one who has power and authority over you.  This was a radical teaching then and is still a radical teaching today. Receive the LORD JESUS as the one who has power and authority over you. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1981. I’ve never once regretted Christ being the master and ruler of my life.

If you have never been baptized, I encourage you to go and talk with your pastor or come and talk with me. Let me know and we can baptize you when you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even if you want to rededicate yourself to Christ, I’d be happy to remember your baptism–in your pool, hot tub, river or ocean! I remember in the summer of 2010, Jac asked me to dunk her in the ocean at Carona Del Mar. She wanted to rededicate her life once again to Christ. She had been through some hard seasons with the church and she wanted to profess: “My life isn’t about a religion, Jesus, my life is about a relationship with you. You are my Lord and my Savior. Period. Nothing less. Nothing more.” Big Ed and Dave dunked her as she intentionally washed away religion and rededicated her life to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She came up out of the ocean laughing and praising God. Yes.  If you ever want to rededicate your life, or DEDICATE your life to Christ, I am a text, an email, a phone call away.

Look at verse six again … “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Since you have received Christ, Paul then tells us to continue … “peripateo”—continue to live in Christ.  I love the verb “peripateo” It means to “walk with, walk along, walk up and down, traverse, behave and conduct oneself and live with.”  Wow!  That is a mouthful!

Paul is laying down a hard teaching: Take and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, ruler and authority of your life, and continue to live in Christ day in and day out, hour after hour.  Walk up the hill and down the hill, walk alongside of Christ. Conduct yourself with Christ. This verb is a command, not a suggestion, and we are called to continually follow and walk along with Jesus Christ as Lord.

When I read verse twelve, I am reminded of our baptism.  We were buried in the waters of baptism with Christ and then immediately we were raised into new life through the power of God.  This power of God is the awesome Holy Spirit, who washes away our sins and sets us free to walk alongside Jesus. This is what Paul means when he writes that we were dead in our sins and, through the power of God, we are forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we, too, were dead in our sin but as we go under the waters of baptism–our sins are washed away. How can that be? By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All sin–PAID. Our debt–PAID IN FULL.  How can we not accept and follow this Savior?

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You have been buried with Christ and raised into a new life.

Who wouldn’t want to be set free from the sin that clings so closely to us?  Who wouldn’t like to be set free from their past failures and faults?  Imagine picking up a black stone or two and casting it into the depths of the sea.  I love how the Old Testament prophet, Micah, states this idea of a God who forgives: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

Or think of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

At the SEED, we do a “REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM SUNDAY” after Epiphany Sunday. We set up a table with a tall, clear vase filled with water and we set a ton of black stones around the vase. As you come forward to remember your baptism, you are given the chance to bury into the sea your sins. Casting a black stone or two or three into the waters represents your past sins, failures, disappointments, defeats, setbacks, sadness, shame, disgrace, guilt, doubt, fears–anything negative that holds you back from walking into this New Year baptized in Christ, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great experience. For those of you who live near water, take a hike! Take a hike and pick up some stones and toss them into the water. “Here, Jesus, here’s my ___________. I have been buried with you in my baptism. I have been cleansed. Help me to walk in the freedom you died for.”

At church last Sunday, we had the first vase filled with water and the stones to toss and then we had a table with a vases filled with water and white stones. In order to get a white stone, you had to dip your hand into the waters. As you we dipped your hand into the water,  you remembered your baptism: I have been buried with Christ and I am raised into a new life with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven and I am free! I will walk continually rooted and built up in my faith with overflowing with thankfulness.”

Revelation 2:17 says — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

After you picked up your white stone, we had another opportunity to pick up a paper with a new name written on it for this year. If you would like a new name for the year, email me or text me and I will light a candle and pray for you and draw a new name for you for the year. 

As your pastor, I want you to know that God loves you.  God loves you just as you are.  We are bought back…redeemed.  We are forgiven.  Our slate is clean.  God promises to be with us as we grow and change this year…through the hard times, through the blessed times, through the easy times, through the difficult times…yes…God wants to bless the land we dwell in…both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Alone, we are not enough, but Christ is.  Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed…and that is enough.  With Christ in our hearts, we are enough.  We are forgiven.  We are cleansed.  We are free. Vision 2020–this is the perfect start to a new year and a new decade. This is the year when we decide that we will walk up the hills and down the hills with Christ in our heart.

My new name is Confident One. Jac’s is Full of Happiness. What’s yours? Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Have a great week.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/11/2020

Seed of Faith – From The Beginning Of The Year To The End  By Pastor Dave  

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Deuteronomy 11:11-12

Dear Faithful Friends:

We sit on the brink of a New Year.  I hope and pray that you are all well and healthy!
Last Sunday, the church worldwide celebrated Epiphany! I pray you have had some time to answer the questions in the SEED OF FAITH and that you’ve had some revelation from God’s word, too.

This week we are on to: The Baptism of the Lord! This is the week at our church when we draw new names for the coming year. Both Jac and I are ready to trade in our names from last year. She drew GENTLE FRIEND, I drew FEARLESS WARRIOR. We both had a hard year of chelation fall out. I think we are hoping to draw a new name like: EZPZ street, LOVE, JOY UNENDING. Something soft and fuzzy would be nice. Wait you say! What’s wrong with our old names? Well, Jac is not all that gentle (her words) and I’m not into being a warrior!We thought about trading names last year! But I must say, we both grew into our names–along with a lot of practice and opportunities from God!  If you want to join us in this spiritual exercise. reply to this email and let me know.  We will draw you a new name for 2020 and email it to you. We will also be putting our “WORD OF INTENTION” that the Holy Spirit is giving you this year onto our 2020 clean canvas. An intention is a goal, an aim, or a plan.  Jac has heard the word WAIT and has translated that into “Why Am I Talking?” She’s been journaling on her word already. I’m still WAITING for my word! Just today I had a friend tell me that the Holy Spirit gave him his word for the year.  His word is “obey.”  What a powerful word to walk with and work with this year. So What?  What is the word that God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit the comforter giving to you?

This week, I encourage you to read chapter 11 of Deuteronomy.  Ask and allow the Holy Spirit speak to you about a 2020 goal, aim or plan. When we come to Deuteronomy 11, you need to know that the Israelite people have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe you have been wandering in the wilderness for the past year or so?

The Israelite people are finally sitting on the edge of the Promised Land; they’ve been waiting and wandering for 40 years for this very season.  They are given their last words of instruction from their faithful leader, Moses.

Earlier this week, I was reading Deuteronomy during my devotional time. The Holy Spirit had me stop and journal on the verses above.  I stopped on the words — “The Lord your God cares for you. The eyes of the Lord your God are upon you. The Lord your God is with you from the beginning of the year to the end.”   CARES — SEES — WITH– ME!  I wrote in my journal.    I was impressed with the thought that God wants to be with me! That God wants to be with His people. That God wants to be with you!

God tells the people that that the land they are about to cross over and take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys.

I recently flew to Pittsburgh to be at the retirement service for one of my spiritual mentors and longtime friend. As I was sitting on a plane flying over some of the largest mountains and valleys in the USA, I thought about the land and mountains and valleys that we all face. It was as though these words were sinking deep into my heart.

The land that God wants to give us is a land full of mountains and valleys. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “This next year will be filled with mountaintop experiences that will bring you great joy and happiness.  Also, this next year will be filled with some valleys.  Some of these valleys will be dark, yet God has promised you that he will be in those valleys as well as in the mountaintops. Dave, hear the promise of Psalm 23, “Yay, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not fear for the Lord your God, the Good and Great Shepherd of the sheep will be with you to comfort you.”

Each one of us is facing a new year. No one knows what it holds for us.

Do you find it comforting to hear Moses’ words? As we wait on God, we will face a year filled with mountains and valleys? Verse twelve is a wonderful promise — “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” 

That is really, really, really, really good news.  From January first through December 31, God’s eyes are continually on us.

God wants you to hear this!  This New Year will be filled with mountains and valleys.  But God wants you to know that no matter what — He is with you!  God cares about the New Year and the land that you have just crossed over into. God’s eyes are on your land continually! Stop and think about this for a minute!  The eyes of the Lord are on you!  The eyes of the Lord are on your mountains and valleys.  The eyes of the Lord are continually on you from the beginning of this year all the way to the end!  Wow!  What a powerful promise.

Lord, God of creation.  You created us in Your image and Your promise is that you will sustain us with the promise of Your presence.  We ask that Your eyes would be upon us; and that You will continually watch over us as we face our mountains and our valleys. We stand in the promise that You will be with us from the beginning of this year to the end of this year. Help us, Oh Lord, to be sensitive to Your Words of life.  Amen

This past Wednesday our GALG (Get A Life Group) reunited for bible study after the holidays. We studied Mark 9. Jesus asks a great question, “How long has he been this way?” Jesus was asking this question of the father of the demon-possessed boy. Someone in the group said, “You know, I think that’s what happens with each one of us. Jesus walks alongside of us and asks, ‘Dave, how long have you been like this?'” The father says, “If you can help us, help us.” Jesus asks the father, “IF? IF? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” The father says, “I believe….but…help my unbelief.” You know what? I love the stories of the Bible.  Isn’t that just like us? Don’t we tell Jesus, “I think you can help me.” Jesus replies, “You THINK I can help you? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” Hmm.  Do I really believe that Jesus can help me climb the mountain of 2020 that lies before me? Do I really believe that I will survive the valleys? “Yes, Jesus, I believe you—but it’s not 100%. Could you help my unbelieving parts?”

And Jesus laughs, pats me on the back, thanks me for my honesty and says, “Let’s go! I will never you nor forsake you. Keep on believing!”  Jesus died on the cross for me, and for you. All of our unbelieving parts are covered in His blood. Go on. Ask the hard questions of Jesus and believe. He’s got your unbelief already covered.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfeloowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/2/20

Seed of Faith – Many in 20 Come To The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:9

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Above are a few passages of Scriptures that I turn to during each New Year.  I think of all the wonderful blessings that God has done for me and my family and for so many of you! I rejoice for the daily miracles I am invited to witness each day. During the NEW YEAR,  I also love to reflect on the “new things” that God will be doing in my life, in your life and the lives of so many in 2020!

I am struck by the “new things” that God promises us in Scripture. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are promised that God’s business is making things new. I don’t know about you, but I can use a NEW year!

“Write them down for these words are trustworthy and true.”  What powerful words to reflect upon! Long ago, I had a GMC two-toned blue van. It was beautiful. We name our vehicles.  Don’t ask my why. We always have: Betty Ford, El Tanko, Woody, and the 1990 blue van–faithful and true, Trupi 5! (Yes, that was her name; that van took us from 3 kids in high school, to 3 kids in college, to my seminary years, and to our first two churches! As I sat down to write about how the Scriptures are trustworthy and true, I thought about how trustworthy and true Trupi 5 was. When we sold Trupi 5, she had over 350,000 miles on her! Faithful and true–the scriptures are just that!

I have been listening to King and Country’s latest album,  “Burn the Ship.”  Here’s the YouTube link … https://youtu.be/pOVrOuKVBuY Listen to the chorus: “Burn the ships, cut the ties, send a flare into the night, say a prayer, turn the tide, dry your tears and wave goodbye.” (I’ll get back to this.)

Today I sit at my computer and look through my sermon files. I am overwhelmed and humbled.  I keep all of my sermons in folders labeled for the year they are preached. I have folders dating back to 2001 when I first started keeping an electronic file.  My manuscripts from 1998 to 2001 are in a box somewhere in my shed. Listen to C. H. Spurgeon, “All pastors should keep their sermons so that they can go back over them, read them and weep.”  Today I have been weeping over some of the messages I have written! It’s been a quiet week of holiday. Jac has been sick, and then I caught the flu from her. We’ve been laying low. At this time of the year, I like plan out my preaching calendar, to pick my brain of ideas of what the Holy Spirit wants me to talk about during 2020. I always sit down and write a review of the messages of the previous year and I look over some of the messages. Some messages have brought back fond memories of people and places that are dear to my heart, some have brought laughter at the silliness of my writing, and some have brought tears of sadness for friends lost and ministry moments gone by. It’s a great way to pray myself into 2020 and what’s ahead in the preaching arena for us all.

As we turn the page on 2019, we open a new chapter for 2020. The honest reality is that we aren’t just closing out a year–we are closing out a DECADE! A decade of ministry, memories, moments of joy and sadness, only to open a blank page for a new year and a whole new decade.

This got me to thinking: what is God calling you to do and become in the next year and in the next ten years? Last month, I had a very good friend pass away. Herman, Doc, always encouraged me to have a one-year plan, a five-year plan and ten-year plan.  As I get ready to ask, seek and knock on the Lord’s door for what to preach on, I couldn’t help but miss my friend. What is my one year plan? What is my five year plan? What is my 10 year plan? I’m 65. Seriously, in 10 years I will be 75! WHAT IS MY TEN YEAR PLAN?!!! In a way, I’m kidding. But I do want to encourage you to think about your life and to pray and plan for what you want to accomplish this year, and in the future. We have a whole new decade upon us!

Have you noticed that the year we enter is 2020?  Makes me think of having 20/20 vision; 20/20 vision is normal vision and the vision that a fighter pilot needs to fly his or her plane; 20/20 vision is needed to read a phone book, but who reads a phone book these days.  20/40 vision is required by most states to get a driver’s license. With 20/80 vision you can read an alarm clock from 10 feet away.  Do you know that 20/200 is considered legally blind?

The “so what?” comes early: What is your vision for 2020?

As you may recall, each year I try to come up with a “little ditty” to rhyme the year with.  My good friend, Will, texted me the other day and said that his little ditty was “plenty in twenty.” I like it. I didn’t have much to go on, not much rhymes with twenty–so my little ditty for this year is “MAY MANY in 2020 COME TO THE LORD.” I suppose that’s my one-year plan! I suppose if I plan the right preaching schedule, many will come to the lord!

It is my prayer that you will take this new, clean slate and make the LORD a passion and priority.  The Scriptures teach us that if we seek the Lord, He promises to be found. May the Lord be your vision in 2020.  May the Lord be your passion for this coming year.

I end with the lyrics to the song, “Burn the Ships”:
Step into a new day,
We can rise up from the dust and walk away,
We can dance upon our heartache,
so light a match, leave the past, burn the ships,
and don’t you look back.
So long to shame, walk through the sorrow, out of the
fire into tomorrow.
So flush the pills, face the fear,
feel the wave disappear!
We’re coming clear, we’re born again,
Oh, we can breathe again.

Whatever you faced in the past decade–it’s officially over. There is a brand, new year with a brand, new decade ahead. The Scriptures are faithful and true; they have way over 350,000 miles on them. God is doing a new thing! The former things have taken place but don’t miss the announcement: I (God) am making everything NEW!

Tonight I want to ask you to do something for me. I want to ask you to sit and pray and to answer a few questions for me:
1.  Am I faithful and true? Why or why not?
2.  What am I hoping for in 2020?
3.  Is my vision 20/20? Why or why not?
4. Do I really believe that God can take my heart ache and work with me?
5. How old will I be in ten years when the roaring 20’s are ended?
6. What is my ten year plan?
7. Where do I need God’s vision in my life? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Sexually? Spiritually?
8. Where do I need God to make things new for me?
9. Do I need to burn the ships? Do I need to walk away from something, someone?
10. Am I willing to light the match that will burn the ship? Am I willing to walk away? Am I willing to follow God with 2020 vision?

In closing, I have a great story to share with you next week but, for now, I want you to plan and forecast. Do you need God to make a way for you through the desert? Do you need a stream in your wasteland? God’s word is faithful and true and an honest prescription for 2020 vision. In Psalm 65 God promises to crown your year with HIS GOODNESS, for my paths to drip with HIS ABUNDANCE.  I’m all in. Are you? It’s not just a year. It’s a decade. Burn the ships.

I’m praying for you.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/20/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Joy  By Pastor Dave  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39

 

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:44-45

Dear Faithful and Fruitful Seed Sowers!

Merry Christmas! We are days away from celebrating the hope, love, joy and peace of the Advent Season in its fullest. I pray that your heart and home are prepared as we have journeyed.  May the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, be with you as you celebrate the Christ-Child’s humble birth.  May Christ be born in us anew and may we never be the same again. Jesus Christ is born!

I know you are busy. We all are. But this is a great week to MAKE time to read the Christmas stories found in Matthew 1 and Luke 1 & 2.  In this message I have been reflecting on Luke 1:39-45–a short seven verse narrative of the joy of Christmas,

Listen to verse 39, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, …” Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would become pregnant and that her very old cousin, Elizabeth, was already pregnant.  Both young and old…pregnant–full of expectation, full of anticipation, full of life.

 I wonder what it would be like for us to be pregnant with the hope, love, joy, and peace of the Advent Season.  I wonder what it would be like for us to live each and every day having Christ born anew in our hearts. 

Back to the story. Would we respond like Mary did?  Would we take our own three-day journey, traveling 90-100 miles on foot, to go visit our cousin? The angel had, indeed, just delivered the most shocking news.

My job as a pastor is to care for the sheep. Much of my job is spent traveling to visit people where they are: homes, hospitals, recovery centers, and even jail. Sometimes I travel a great distance to care for the sheep. In our hurry, hurrry, do-more-now lifestyles, don’t we have a hard time going out of our way to visit someone nearby let alone 100 miles away?  Think about this, Mary got ready and “hurried” (the Greek word means that she went with eagerness, excitement, with haste and quickly.) She didn’t stop at a store to shop on the way or dally around to see other friends who lived on the way. Mary walked as rapidly and quickly as she could and with great haste to see her cousin—who was pregnant at 80?!  This made me think of our last trip to Texas to visit our son and his family. We usually drive and we usually plan to stop and visit those we love on our way to and from. This trip was different. We traveled with eagerness and excitement to see our grandson play football in Kerrville. We had a date that we had to be there and we drove straight there. Can you relate? Mary had Elizabeth on her mind and away she went (on foot) to visit her cousin.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39
I have read and reread this verse. She got ready and then hurried to walk 100 miles to visit her cousin. I don’t know about you but sometimes I have the tendency to dally and linger and complain about going out of the house. Sometimes I just want to stay home, sit by the fire and read a good book.  Do you have the same problem? Especially at this time of year. I don’t want to get out there in all of that hub-bub.  I think we are all far too busy. Some of you are even are even too busy to sit down and read this SEED OF FAITH and the ten minutes it takes.

But the Spirit presses in on us and impresses us to follow. How many of us are like Mary? Running out of the house with eagerness to follow the Holy Spirit. I have to admit that sometimes I hear the Holy Spirit say, “Dave, call this person.  Go visit that person” and in all honesty, there are day when I hesitate. “God, why me — why don’t you ask so and so to  go do that? I’m busy. I’m tired. They aren’t doing anything. Ask them.”  Do you have my problem? I call it wrestling with God. As a former wrestler, this is not a very good idea. Ask Jacob.

This past week, I talked with a man who is struggling with God.  His exact words to me were “Why me, God?”

I think we all get stuck with the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve situations in our lives. We allow speculation to cause us to stop and stagnate. We allow fear to freeze us frozen in our tracks.  We allow doubt to drive us down depression avenue.

What amazes me about Mary is that she didn’t stop on depression avenue, she wasn’t frozen about the news the angel brought to her, she didn’t stop and speculate. Mary taught us a great life lesson; she got up and hurried with haste to see if what God had said was true.  She did not let the 90 to 100 miles stop her, she went with eagerness.

As I studied for this message, I learned something from Mary. I have learned how to say, “Here I am Lord, I am your servant, do with me according to your Word. And, God, help me to do it with eagerness. Help me to follow you with JOY.”

It’s definition time. JOY.  What exactly does it mean? Joy is a feeling of great happiness. Listen to Rick Warren’s definition, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the JOY is the determined choice I make to praise God in every situation.”  Did you read that correctly? Joy is the determined choice that you and I make to praise God in every situation.

The second lesson I learned this week pertains to the word, “joy.”  Joy to the World!  I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Joy!  What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Joy?’  Only three little letters … but oh so powerful to transform and change our lives. Just this week, my wife and I went to visit a member of our church who was in the hospital. Jac was wearing what she calls her “Christmas uniform”—a black sweater with the word JOY splashed acrossed it and a black skirt. I am not kidding you, as we walked to the parking garage to get our car, a lady passing by started singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.”  Jac stopped and they both started singing. Then another lady joined in and so did I. The four of us in a parking garage singing JOY about JESUS! And here’s the second lesson:

J — Jesus
O — Others
Y — You

I want you to know that Mary was joyful in her journey. Here’s a “so what?” for you: AM I JOYFUL IN MY JOURNEY? 

I now want you to know the second truth of this message:
when Jesus shows up, He brings with Him the joy of the heaven.

That is my prayer for you this busy week.  We have five short days until we reach the manger. We have five short days before we stand face to face with the giver of all JOY! Are you grumbling? Stop.  Are you anxious? Stop. Is your “to do” list longer than your sleepless nights? Stop. The God who created you also created Jesus. The God of all JOY doesn’t want you to miss the manger. Don’t wrestle with God today. Do as you are asked to do. Run everything by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. “I’m thinking I need to get out there in all of that hub-bub and fight for that last gift. Are you sure you want me to go?” Maybe, just maybe, this might be the one time when you hear, “Call your Mom.” “Call your sister.” “Call your friend in the hospital.” “Drop off flowers to your neighbor.” Maybe that’s the plan. And when you get the plan, go with excitement. Go with JOY!

I want you to awaken on Christmas day totally filled with the joy of Jesus!

Our story today ends with a powerful statement of faith. Enter into the story one more time. Hear Luke say, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)

So What? 
Do you believe?  Do you believe all that the Holy Spirit is saying to you is true? Do you believe that God will accomplish all those things that have been spoken to you in your heart?

I have some homework for you this week.  I know you’re busy but it’s pretty simple: practice JOY. Jesus. Others. You. Practice listening and obeying the Lord with great JOY, with great eagerness, with great haste, and with great excitement the JOY that only Jesus can bring.  Don’t you see it? THIS IS WHY WE TAKE FOUR WEEKS TO PREPARE OUR HEARTS AND HOMES FOR CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY!!!

I want us to be like Mary: Travel with joy, believe all that God has said to you to be true.

I end with a story about a friend of mine. He has Parkinsons. He’s quite young and has suffered a long time with his disease. The dystonia Parkinsons presents totally ruined his shoulder. He’s been in 10/10 pain (and he says, “That’s on a good day”) for over a year. His doctor had to check all of the boxes before he could order surgery. It took a year. On the day of the surgery, a UTI was discovered and my friend was sent home for another week. My friend never complained. He told me, “God’s time, Dave.” Well, the week went by and he’s home now! I can profess that my friend has traveled this painful road with the joy of Jesus in his heart. That’s my prayer for you. No matter what you are going through, my prayer is that you find JOY in knowing Christ.

My final prayer for you this week is that you will, once again, find the joy in believing that all of what God has spoken to you is believable.

And Mary said, “Angels? Gabriel? A baby? I’m not married. Elizabeth? She’s old.” And off Mary went with JOY! And when the two cousins met, their unborn babies leapt for JOY!

We can all learn something from this story because WE ARE IN IT. December 25 is almost here. Before you fly out of the house on swift feet eager to complete your list, bend your knees and pray. Bend your knees and read the story again. The Father of all time has all the time in the world…and so do you.

See You Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I … (Mulungu akudaliseni — for our Zambian Brothers and Sisters).
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/13/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Hope   By Pastor Dave  

“Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.” Luke 1:21

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,

Faithful.  I’ve been stuck on this word for a while now. Being faithful means you are loyal, constant and steadfast. The older I grow in my ministry, the more I’ve pondered this word. I’ve been ordained for 22 years now. I see evidence of people being faithful–in life and in death.
Death. Dying. A few years ago, I helped one of my best friends walk the long journey home to Christ.
The ministry is largely connected to death and dying. Yes, there are births, baptisms, confirmations, dedications and rededications. There are weddings and all kinds of celebrations but, there in the background, is a faithful constant friend called death and dying. You can’t be in the ministry without attending the school of grief and loss, the ministry of death and dying.

The month of November I went on vacation. Do you know that the ministry is 24/7/365? Ministry doesn’t have a start time or a stop time. It never has. It never will. When I go on “vacation,” my wife and I pray every day that there’s no crises. We pray that the church remains safe and in God’s watchful care and that our family does, too.

During the month of November, I went away for two weeks to visit our son in Waco. We had a blessed time. While driving, my wife and I listened to Alistair Begg’s teachings on flashdrive! We heard 56 hours of pastoral teaching while driving the highways and by-ways of our 3,000 mile trip. Upon returning, two people I know and love became terminally and imminently ill; days before Thanksgiving. Being there and sharing the “ministry of presence” is a top pastoral gift. It doesn’t really matter what one says, what matters is the presence of someone who cares.

All of this to say, please keep in prayer all those who have lost loved ones. The holidays hit the hearts and homes deeply of those who grieve. Let us commit to be faithful in prayer for them.

We turn to the Christmas story found in Luke 1:1-25.

I wonder how long the early believers gathered in their homes and synagogues in order to open the Law, Prophets and Psalms that prophesied and promised the coming of their Messiah?  Sabbath after Sabbath they gathered to hear the words read from the ancient scrolls. I wonder if they ever gave up hope. I wonder how long they had waited to hear from God. History shows that the last words from God were given to Malachi, the prophet, 400 years prior to Christ’s birth. Can you imagine waiting 400 years to hear from God?  We can hardly wait 400 seconds (6.6 minutes), let alone 400 years.   Many of us can hardly wait for the red light to change to green, or for the text on our smartphone to be completed before we start responding.  We who live in the 21st century have an extremely hard time waiting.

I love to read the Psalms. The Psalms speak the language of the heart.  Every emotion, every feeling, every situation we face are found in reading the Psalms.  In Psalm 46 we hear the opening lines speak to us when our life feels chaotic, out of control, troublesome and/or fearful. Psalm 46:1-3 — God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” These words speak of God’s comfort in our storm.  In Mark 4, the disciples are in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They are terrified and afraid that the boat will sink and they will drown.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the stern of the boat–the back of the boat. The disciples are afraid. They wake up Jesus. Jesus speaks to the storm. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”  Did you hear it?  “Quiet! Be Still!”  Let’s go back and look at Psalm 46 again. God is our refuge and strength, a help in times of trouble. At the end of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Jesus speaks, “Quiet! Be still!”
The Psalmist writes, “Be still…and know…that I am God.”

So What?  Why is it so hard for us to be still?  Why it is so hard for us to wait on the Lord?  Why is it so hard for us to hope for what we cannot see?

Hope! — Heaven’s One Promise Eternity

In our Advent story for today, Zechariah had prayed and prayed for years for his wife, Elizabeth, to have a child. He was an old man and his wife was beyond childbearing age. Scholars believe that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been married for 50 years. We don’t know how old Zechariah is but we do know that he has been waiting for a long time to hear from God. The Jewish people had been waiting 400 years to hear from God. Zechariah was going through the motions, putting in his time, punching his high priest’s “to do” time-card. “Fill the candles, clean the pulpit, mop the entry, dust the altar…” And then, Zechariah’s name was drawn from the hat! Zechariah was chosen to enter the holy of holies and offer the yearly sacrifice! Zechariah had been at this for a very long time.  Five times every year, he made the five-mile hike to Jerusalem to serve in the temple.  Now from the lot of the 18,000 priests, Zechariah’s name was chosen. Look at those odds … 1 in 18,0000. Would now be the time for God to speak?

Zechariah means — “The Lord Remembers.”

I wonder if there were times when Zechariah believed the Lord did not remember him. I wonder if there were times when Zechariah wanted to give up, give in and stop believing. “I’m too old. Elizabeth is too old. I’ve been praying that same prayer for way too long. Maybe God does not remember me.  Maybe God has forgotten me.”

What are the odds that some of us here today are ready to give up, give in and throw in the towel?

Elizabeth means “My God Is Absolutely Faithful.”

On the other hand, Elizabeth is almost certain that God will give her a child. “My God is absolutely faithful.”

I don’t know what each of you face.  I don’t know the struggles, the storms, or the sins that cling so closely to you. The truth of the matter is that when we think God is silent or asleep, we need to be still and know…that God remembers, and that God is faithful: loyal, constant, steadfast.

Here’s your “SO WHAT? HOMEWORK” for the week ahead: Find 400 seconds…6.6 minutes…set a timer on your phone…and practice Psalm 46:10.

BE—just BE…wherever you are…home, work…school…driving…BE…
STILL….Quiet your mind, quiet your body, take some deep breaths and …BE STILL…
AND KNOW…be determined to slow down and become aware of where & who you are…
BE STILL…AND KNOW
THAT I AM GOD…stop, look around, find IMMANUEL…GOD WITH US where you are right now. I can always find God in the beauty of nature.

I just buried another one of my best friends last week. Like my other dear brother and friend, he was FAITHFUL. He was loyal, constant, and steadfast. We met monthly for a zillion years (okay, 20 years). We shared this profoundly amazing thing together: LIFE.

Are you faithful? Are you loyal? Are you constant? Are you steadfast?

I see evidence of God being faithful to me. I pray I am faithful to God. I see evidence of my friends and family being faithful, too. I pray you do, too!

Whatever you are facing, I want you to know that our GOD is a GOD of HOPE. Have you been waiting and waiting? Have you been facing death and dying? Are you grieving? Our God is acquainted with grief.  Jesus was a man of sorrows. Our HOPE is found in Christ and through the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit. God, our Father, contains a love uncontainable for you. A love that only God knows and understands. Even when we are not faithful, GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Before I close, go look up youtube: GOD ONLY KNOWS by 4 King & Country and Dolly Parton. The love we need is a love that GOD ONLY KNOWS.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/23/19

Seed of Faith – WWJS -What Would Jesus Say — Follow Me By Pastor Dave  

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:16-17

Dear faithful and thankful Seed-Sowers:

It is almost Thanksgiving!  I would like to thank each and everyone of you.  You have touched my life and the life of my wife and family in so many gracious ways.  We are blessed and we are thankful.

This weekend I am in Pittsburgh to celebrate my mentor and my spiritual director’s retirement after 47 years in ministry.  What a wonderful and faithful servant the Rev. Dr. John Gray Hamilton is. “Hammy” or John followed Jesus and served in four different churches during his 47 years of ministry. Think of all of the lives he has touched and changed by sharing God’s grace and love. Think of giving over 2,000 sermons! By the way, our church heard that I wanted this Sunday off so that I could fly out to Pittsburgh and attend John’s last Sunday service. Someone purchased my airfare, another purchased my hotel, and other anonymous people donated the funds for a car rental, and meals. Imagine that: the church being the hands and feet and heart and soul of Jesus.

John Hamilton was my home-church pastor for 13 years. He was the pastor who helped me to decipher my call into ordained ministry. He followed Jesus and he taught me how to listen and follow Jesus for myself.  Today that my hope and prayer, that we all listen and follow Jesus.

Our reading comes from the Gospel of Mark. Let’s pray before we begin. “Lord, Jesus, You are our Lord and Savior, You call us to come and follow You.  Help us to have ears to hear, eyes to see, arms and feet ready to follow and serve wherever you call us.  May your Words become life to our weary souls.  Amen”

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men.18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.  Mark 1:14-17

Retired minister and author, Bob Russell, told the following account to illustrate how Christians often go along with the moral pace of those around us, and that, by comparison, we feel safe since “Everyone is doing it,” therefore, we’re okay. Russell writes:  Two months ago my wife and I were visiting our son Rusty and his family. One day Rusty was test-driving a foreign-made car and was frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to change the speedometer reading from kilometers to miles.  That evening he suggested we take the kids and all go out for ice cream. “We’ll need to take two cars,” he insisted, “so you and mom just follow me.” I followed him … and was surprised when a policeman whizzed up behind us with his lights flashing. I couldn’t imagine he was after me because it didn’t feel like I was speeding. And besides, I was going the exact same speed as the guy in front of me.  The officer came up to my window and said, “Sir, you were going 58 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. But wait right here, I’m going to deal with the car in front of you, and I’ll be right back.” When he went to my son’s car, Rusty quivered, “Officer, I know this is going to sound like a line, but this is the first day I’ve driven this car, and I can’t figure out how to change it from kilometers to miles, so I had no idea how fast I was going. The guy behind me is my dad, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing either!”[i]

Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t really buy you much of an excuse with God, does it?

John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, is put into prison.  John had been baptizing people in the Jordan and calling for them to repent. Jesus continues the story line by calling the people to repentance, Jesus also calls them to believe in the Good News!  This may be the only place in Scripture where we are told by Jesus to believe in the Good News. Imagine THE REAL, LIVE, GOOD NEWS is telling the people to believe in the good news! (Would have loved to be there.) Let’s go to the Greek word Jesus’ uses for “believe” is a present active imperative.  In the Greek it means that this a command and the action of believing is non-stop and ongoing.  To “believe” in the Greek culture was to place your trust, to rely on, to have confidence in and to put your faith in…the good news.  The good news of what Jesus was saying and  — not just once, but every day, every hour and every minute of every year.

Jesus is saying, “Hear the Good News!  The time has come! The Kingdom of God is near. The time that God will rule and reign is right here. The time for God to have supremacy is at hand.  The time has come for us to change our minds, to turn back, to turn around and to change direction is at hand.” You know how I always ask you to put yourself in the story?  This is no different. Put yourself on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This Jesus character is going from boat to boat; asking people to repent, be baptized, and follow Him. I propose a preposterous idea: maybe today you are hearing Jesus calling out to you:  turn around, come back, change your mind, repent, be baptized and follow. Is this the GOOD NEWS you are hoping for? Could it be that Jesus wants us to put our trust in Him? To have confidence and faith in Him? And not just today but for every single day of the rest of our lives?

RADICAL CALL — FOLLOW ME
In the days of Jesus, we need to understand how amazingly radical the call of Jesus really was.  During the days of Jesus, the Rabbis (the priests of the synagogue) would come to town and choose the best and brightest of the boys to become their disciples.They would take them and train and educate them. The boys who were not chosen would go into their father’s businesses. We can assume that Peter and Andrew, James and John and the rest of the disciples were not among the best and brightest because they were working in their father’s businesses. Imagine the scene: Jesus comes walking along the shore and calls out to them sitting in their boats, “FOLLOW ME.” The Greek word for “follow” is “opiso” — “come after or come behind.”  Put yourself here into this story.  You have grown up in a little fishing village called Bethsaida.  You’ve made a trip or two to Jerusalem, but most likely never traveled very far from home.  You have no hope of doing anything greater than working in your father’s fishing boat.

Listen again to Jesus words …  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

What a radical message! Let me tell you how I heard Jesus say, “Follow me.” “Hey, hey, you!  Dave Peters, I see you. Working in the family business selling tires!  You.  Yes, you! FOLLOW ME.” At first, all I thought Jesus wanted was for me to shape up a little.  And then a little more.  And then a whole lot more!  Here’s what I want to say to you today: Let Christ rule and reign in your life.  Repent. Turn around, change your mind, your heart and your direction. Believe and keep on believing.  Never stop having trust and faith in this Good News!  What a radical call!  “Come follow me, (insert your name)!  I will make you fishers of people!”

RADICAL OBEDIENCE!
What happens? These untrained, uneducated fishermen follow Jesus!  They had never traveled very far.  They had never talked about much other than what was happening in their fishing village. And along comes Jesus; their world is turned upside down.  History tells us that John became the Bishop of Ephesus, Peter went to Rome, and Andrew went as far as the borders of Russia! By following Jesus, their hearts were enlarged enough to take in the whole world— not just the four corners of Bethsaida.

Immediately the men left everything and followed Jesus. Take note: one of the radical demands of a radical call by Jesus is that you must respond with a radical obedience. (“Immediately” means at once, without delay, without hesitation.)

So What? What a year we’ve had so far.  I don’t know about you but 2019 has not been an easy year, it’s had some ups and downs. I’m ready to begin a new decade, are you? 2020–here we come!

As we begin to study this new series, I want us to hear the words of Jesus as if they were spoken to us. I want us to hear them with new ears fresh every morning. “(YOUR NAME,) follow me.”

Remember Bob and Rusty Russell? Rusty had no idea as to how fast he was driving…but Bob—Bob knew exactly how fast his car was going: 58 in a 45. Bob had decided to follow Rusty. That’s our choice each and every day, are we going to follow Rusty or are we going to follow Jesus? The world behind me, the cross before me…sounds like a catchy tuna–I mean, tune.

Maybe for this series, you can go and get a new journal.  Call it your “SEED OF FAITH GOOD BYE 2019” journal. Let’s study all the times Jesus (the good news) calls us to FOLLOW Him!  It’s going to be another great series. I’m praying for you. Kiss the wave.

Let me explain, this is a famous quote by Charles H. Spurgeon. “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the ROCK OF AGES!” I remember wrestling with my call to go into ordained ministry. I went to see Pastor John. We met over a series of time. We prayed. He checked in with me and listened to me. I remember one day, I knew God was calling me into full-time ministry. No doubt about it.  John looked at me and said, “Okay, I’ve been waiting for this day. Dave, if you can do anything else–then go do that but if you must answer this call–then know that it will break your heart.” I said, “I know. I must follow.” John has been there for me for the past 22 years of my ordained ministry, for my 3 years of seminary, and for my many other years when I served as youth director. He was wise and he was right. Following the call of Christ has broken my heart…but in a good way.

The world behind me, the cross before me. I have decided to follow Jesus. Go ahead, get that journal out.

See You Sunday …

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/16/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen and Amen   By Pastor Dave  

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

We come to end of our series on the Apostle’s Creed just as I come to the end of my 12-day vacation! Jac and I drove from SOCAL to WACO, TX! We enjoyed our two grandsons and our son and his lovely wife. Jac can’t fly yet due to her lead levels, so we drive: 3 days there and back. We have been so very blessed by our alone time in the car; God has been refreshing and renewing our souls. It’s good to get away and it’s going to be good to get back to ministry at the SEED.

I suggest you take a few moments to read Revelation 3:14-22 & Revelation 22:17-21.  In the opening of the letter we hear, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” Do you see what I see?  Jesus is the faithful and true AMEN!

Today let’s think about three images of Christ:  the patience of Christ, the plea of Christ and the place of Christ at our table. Each one worthy of a SEED OF FAITH!

In William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of The World,” Christ is holding a lantern and knocking at a door. (See bottom right, top photo.)  I had always heard that Christ was knocking at the door of the human heart asking for entrance.  This passage puts a whole new twist on that thought: Could Christ be also knocking on the door of the church?  I think it’s easy for us to envision Christ  knocking on the door of our heart, or knocking on the door of our home.  Have you ever thought about Christ knocking on the door of our churches? Profound thought here.

Let’s look at the painting and see if we can find some of the rich symbolism in it. First, there is no handle on the outside of the door. Why? Isn’t that odd? Could it be that even though Christ desires entry, He never forces his way in. Instead, He must be invited in, the door must be opened from the inside. The decision is ours as to whether Jesus Christ will be invited in–or not. Next, look at the hinges in the picture. They are rusted and the bolts are broken. The door is held in place by vines; showing that the door has never been used or the vines would be torn. Third, Jesus is holding a lantern. The symbolism is to show that Jesus is the light of the world. Outside, there is a neglected garden overgrown with weeds, there are fruit trees which have not been pruned, and a crop which has been lost because of the lack of tending. There is fruit that has fallen on the ground near the feet of Christ symbolizing Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, and that all of mankind has fallen away from God.  One more observation, there is a bat above the door, a nocturnal creature which loves the night. It is dark outside, pointing to the truth of the Scripture, “This is the verdict: ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’” (John 3:19).

There is so much more in this painting but as we see the painting and read the scripture, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,”  I think we need to ask some questions.

The first question is: To whom is Christ speaking? I had always thought that Christ was speaking to each individual, and that the door represented each individual’s human heart. Christ is knocking because He wants to come into our hearts and lives. I’m not saying that this is incorrect because I have a sneaky suspicion that Christ does want entry into each and every heart. I also want to consider the context. In this chapter, Jesus is speaking to the church.  Isn’t it wild that in this picture Jesus is asking for admission into his own church? Apparently, the church had closed the door on him and never answered his knock.

The three P’s of Christ:
1.  THE PATIENCE OF CHRIST — “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”

Do you see the great love that God has for us, and for His church, as Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks and keeps on knocking over and over, and is still, today, patiently knocking? Sometimes the knock comes through suffering or grief, hardships or difficulties, sickness or death, financial loss or family problems–whatever the case may be–Jesus stands patiently knocking at the door of your heart and the door of his church. It’s totally up to us to open the door and invite Christ inside.

2.  THE PLEA OF CHRIST — “If you hear my voice and open the door…”

The plea of Christ is that we hear His voice.  Each letter to the seven churches of Revelation ends with the words, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  In the Greek language the word “to hear” means to obey, to follow through or to act upon what you had just heard. The plea of Christ is for us to hear the sound of his voice as He stands knocking at the door, and for us to open the door wide so that He may come in.  Remember, we must open the door from the inside. Christ will not open the door.  He will not force Himself upon us.  Christ never forces anyone into salvation. It’s a choice of our free will.  Freely He offers salvation to you and me by grace. Everywhere in Scripture Jesus offers himself to men and women, and grieves over the fact that many do not receive Him. Remember the remarkable scene in the Gospels during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem as he comes over the top of the Mount of Olives and sees the city spread out beneath him? Jesus wept over the rebellious city saying, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You stone the prophets and kill everybody God sends to you. How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not…” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)  Christ wants us to act upon his knocking—he wants us to open the door, to invite him in, to say to him, “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter my life. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Deliver me from my sins — and from myself.” As Christ stands at the doors of our churches, shouldn’t we say,  “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter our church. Be our Lord.  Be our Savior. Deliver us from our sins and from ourselves”? Isn’t this the whole plea to the 7 churches in Revelation? This isn’t a knock-knock joke at all.  This is a call to HEAR and ANSWER and OPEN THE DOOR and INVITE CHRIST INTO OUR HEARTS, HOMES AND CHURCHES. If you hear His plea, open the door. Churches, don’t resist the Gospel; open the doors!

3.  THE PLACE OF CHRIST AT OUR TABLE — “I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me…”

The third plea is very clear. Jesus will enter in! He says so right here, “If you open the door, I will enter in and remain with you. We will eat together and be together.” What a beautiful picture of Christ: permanently dwelling within you. He will move in and live with you.  The actual word for “eat” here is the Greek word “deipneo” which refers to the evening meal or supper.  Supper was the main meal of the day.  Breakfast was a slice of dry bread dipped in wine.  Lunch was seldom eaten at home. But supper was the time to sit down and fellowship in the home after the work of the day was done. Have you ever traveled to Europe or Mexico? Dining together is an event. It isn’t like here in America:  hurry up and eat so we can do homework, go to a sport’s game, watch TV or go to bed! NO! It’s like sit down, take a load off your feet, sit back, breathe, enjoy this space to just BE–and share the great gift of TIME with your family. Tell stories, laugh and remember.  Build relationships. Back then in Jesus’ time, supper was a time of intimacy and relationship, sharing and fellowship–it was called “communion.” Wow. Let that sink in.

This is not a mere courtesy visit that Christ is promising.  He desires to come in, sit down and spend a long time with us in communion, in conversation, in relationship with us.  This is the place Christ desires: sitting with us at our table; a table filled with intimacy,relationship, sharing and communion.  Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks. Knock, Knock. No joke. Jesus’ plea is that we hear His voice and open the door. He longs to take his place at the table.

SO WHAT?
“So what?” is it that you believe about God the Father?  What is it that you believe about Jesus?  What is that you believe about the Holy Spirit?  What is that you believe about the church and the communion of the saints?  What is that you believe about forgiveness?  What is that you believe about the resurrection and life everlasting? It’s all right here in this APOSTLES’ CREED.

This past week has been a hard week in ministry. Actually, it’s been the most intense month of ministry I’ve ever had. I’ve sat at the bedside of a person who is preparing to go home to meet Jesus face to face. This person wanted to bless her four grandchildren. We’ve been meeting and planning and we were able to complete her plan this week by meeting with each grandchild and blessing them with the meaning of their name. A holy time for me to be able to share that with her. There’s another person who I’ve been visiting regularly who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This man is a longtime friend and coworker in the ministry.  He is a retired surgeon.  Every week, I go and sit with him.  Sometimes other doctors and  friends come by when I am there. We sit out in the hot sun and we laugh and remember the good times and the memories we’ve made together. I have been with him in the hospital when he has gone for treatment.  My friend asks everyone he meets this one, simple question since being diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Here’s his question. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?” Go ahead. Answer the question. Take all the time you need. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?”  My dear friend has been sharing the Good News of the resurrection with others as he walks with Jesus through this difficult diagnosis.

So What?  What is it that you believe?  The final thing I want to tell you is this: IF YOU BELIEVE LIKE I BELIEVE…when you die—you will be present with the Lord Jesus. The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I see this all the time. Over and over, the faith of the person dying impacts the way they die. I’ve truly been blessed to be at so many bedsides.

I know a person who had a near death experience.  This person is my wife. She saw heaven. She saw Jesus…on a white horse…riding her way. She saw the celestial city. Said it’s a million Disneylands and prettier and more majestic than you can imagine. The city was filled with people and the people were filled with JOY…the kind of contagious JOY that we cannot imagine. This person told me, “I used to be so afraid of dying. But ever since that experience in June of 2000—I’m not afraid. I’m anxiously waiting for that final call home.” Whenever we talk about death, she says the same thing…word for word. For 19 years now, she’s never changed a word of her story. Jesus, white horse, sword in hand, millions of miles of castles, a city filled with people and love and joy! This lady opened the door to her heart on a dark night in Rochelle, IL, on August 30, 1979. She’s never been the same since that day. She opens her Bible and devours the word each day. She listens to Christian music 24/7. She’s developing a relationship with Jesus. They sit and share communion. She writes, she reads, she sings, she thinks about her life with Christ. I’m here to tell you, I’ve witnessed it and I want to witness it in you, too.

Open the door. Invite Christ in. Here’s a scenario: Jesus is standing outside the door of your heart. Open the door and say, “I’m a sinner. I need a Savior. I know that you are Jesus and that you’ve already died for my sins. Come in. Sit. Read with me. Talk with me. Teach me. Amen.”

And that’s the Apostles’ Creed in a nutshell.

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10.  the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11.  the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12.  the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13.  and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

See you Sunday —God loves you. He sent His only Son to die for you. Open the door. Communion.

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/8/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen   By Pastor Dave  

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers:

Well, we’ve made it!  We have made to the end of The Apostles’ Creed. Congratulations on making it through this 12-week series. By now, you should know a little more of what you believe and why. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was written around 140 A.D. as a baptismal confession for people joining the church?

Join me as we read The Apostles’ Creed together. I would like to add the word “AMEN” at the end of each line. Here we go:

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11. the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12. the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13. and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

So What?  After a dozen weeks, what is it that you believe about God our Father in Heaven?  What is it that you believe about God the Son, our Savior who came from heaven and died for us?  What do you believe about the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What do you believe about the Holy universal, all-embracing catholic church? (That is what catholic means–universal.) What do you believe about the communion of the saints?  What do you believe about the forgiveness of sins?  Do you know that you know that you know that YOU are forgiven? Do you know that we are commanded to forgive as Christ has forgiven us? What do you believe about the resurrection of the body?  What do you believe about the life everlasting?

It is my hope that after spending 12 weeks studying the CREED that your faith has been strengthened and that you know more emphatically what you believe and why you believe it.  It is my prayer that, as we finish the series, you can and will, stand and say, “YES and AMEN” to the ancient, but relevant, Apostles’ Creed.

So What? What does the word “AMEN” mean? We say it all the time. “Amen.” What do you think it means?

Do you know that the word “AMEN” is used by the Jewish people, Christians, and Muslims?  The word “AMEN’ is used in many languages, and may be the most widely known word in the entire world. Our next-door neighbors are Korean. Each morning, when I go out to do my reading and prayer time, my neighbor does, too. We don’t speak the same language but I can understand my neighbor. As he prays, I hear him saying, “Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen and amen.” Every morning at about 6 am, he prays one word: AMEN for 15 -20 minutes. I often wonder if he’s reading the Scriptures and then just agreeing with the WORD.

Point 1 for today: “AMEN” is a word that is one of the most widely known words in all the world.  Point 2: What does AMEN mean? In the Hebrew language the word means “so it is” or “let it be,” derived from a verb meaning “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in, to trust.”  In the thirty times that “AMEN” appears in the Old Testament it precedes a statement and the people are agreeing that they believe and put their trust in the WORD of God.  The people are agreeing as one body that what will be said will be reliable, sure and firm. The significance of using “AMEN’ is that the people are agreeing that what they heard, they had just adopted as their very own.  In essence, they are saying, “We can take what was just said to the bank.  What was just said is as solid as a rock foundation. What was just said is reliable and we can trust it with our life.” AMEN? AMEN!

Our two Scripture readings for today come from the Gospel of Matthew and from the last book of the Bible, Revelation.

Before we go to the Words of life, let us come before the giver of life in prayer. “Lord, God of all creation, we come to say “AMEN’ to your Word of life found in our scriptures.  May Your Words of life be a solid foundation for us, a firm and reliable foundation that will withstand the storms of life.  Amen and Amen”

Matthew 7:24-29
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law..

In the Gospel words we just heard, Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount and had just given His new disciples a detailed “to do” list. Jesus laid down His vital principles for life (Matthew chapters 5-7) and is now applying the final word of truth: AMEN.  This section is the “So What” part of Jesus’ message.  Jesus is confronting His followers with the two possibilities they will face in life:  Will they be wise or will they be foolish? Will they build on the solid rock or will they build on sinking sand?

Warnings about being wise or foolish are found all over the Scriptures. The two men in Jesus’ house story have the same desire–they each long to build a house.  They each want the same thing. At the beginning of the story, there’s no difference between the two. But then it appears, the foolish man does not take the time to listen to others.  The foolish man does not investigate all of the possibilities of how the building should be built.  The foolish man does not look at the blueprints or ask for advice, he just throws up his building.

We are told a little more of the Sermon on the Mount story in Luke’s account in chapter six.  Luke tells us that the wise man dug down deep and laid his foundation on rock, not on the sinking sand. The difference between the two builders is that the wise man did listen, he investigated and desired to build on a solid foundation.

So What?
Will we be wise or will we be foolish? Will we build on the solid rock or will we build on sinking sand?

Remember the word “AMEN” means  “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in or to trust.” What is it that you are saying “AMEN” to you your life?  What is it that you are staking your life on?  What is it that you take to the bank as totally reliable and true? What are you building your life upon?

Jac and I are in Texas as I write this SEED OF FAITH. We drove here. We left earthquake country and entered tornado country.  As we stopped at one of the roadside rest stops in Texas, I noticed a door with a sign on it, “STORM SHELTER.” It made me think.  In California, you have 10-60 seconds to get ready for an earthquake. I remember this summer when we had two back-to-back earthquakes. We were out back cleaning up the pool. The cement block walls started waving back and forth.  Javon hollered, “Earthquake!” The next steps are: DROP, COVER, HOLD ON. Hopefully, you have an outside storage area with water and food supplies. This method is way different from preparing for midwest tornadoes. The sirens go off. You have a five-10 minute warning to seek shelter. You avoid rooms with windows. When we lived in Missouri and Illinois, we ran to the basement. In Texas, we ran to the closet under the stairs. We already had the important items stocked there: flashlights, batteries, storm radio, water and snacks.
Can you see what Jesus is trying to say? KNOW the layout of the land that you are building your house upon. In the case of Christ, build your heart upon Christ, the solid foundation. He is the ROCK OF AGES.

My guess is that you know your area and that you are somewhat prepared for a storm or earthquake but what I really want to know as your pastor, are you building your life on the solid foundation of God’s word? I pray so!
Can I get an AMEN?

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 10-25-19

Seed of Faith – I Believe — Everlasting Life   By Pastor Dave  

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Dear  Faith-Filled Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Are you being blessed by the Lord and walking in His grip of grace today? If not, why not? Grace is free! Costs you nothing because the cost has already been paid by Christ.

We are coming to end of our study of the Apostle’s Creed.  If you have not had a chance to get all the Seed’s of  Faith or would like the full manuscripts of the messages, please send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will get them to you.

“I Believe — Everlasting life!”

What is everlasting life? Who wants everlasting life?  Why was this line added to the end of the Apostles’ Creed?  These are a few of the questions that come to my mind as think about the closing lines of Apostles’ Creed. Last week we talked about our hope being anchored in the fact, the reality and the truth, of the resurrection. Have you ever thought about how different our lives would be if there had been no resurrection? Inconceivable really.

Today we turn our thoughts to the last line … “and the life everlasting.”

There is so much written on “everlasting life or eternal life.” Right now, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read John 3:1-22. What is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus visit in the middle of the night? Next, reflect on Jesus’ response to the woman at the well found in John 4:1-26  A few of the verses are recorded above. In John chapter 6 the words “eternal life- everlasting life” are recorded three times.

So what is eternal life?

Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Moody said to a friend, “Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all—out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”[i]

Nic at night (both a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin) figured this out: Rank doesn’t matter, hand-tailored clothes don’t matter, Gucci sandals don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that I eat at the five-star place in town or have the biggest house filled with the finest things. Why? BECAUSE OF THAT WILL PERISH. What Jesus is after here is my spirit. Jesus is after my heart, mind, body and soul. My flesh will die but my spirit will live forever!

After THE LAST SUPPER—which wasn’t really known by that, by the way—Jesus prayed. He prayed for the believers, He prayed for future believers, and He prayed for Himself. (Yes, it’s okay to pray for yourself!)  His prayer is found in John 17. The whole chapter is one long prayer.  This is how John (his bff) records the opening of Jesus’ prayer,  “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

Did you hear the powerful message of eternal life in verses 2 and 3? God has granted all authority to Jesus in order for Jesus to be the giver of eternal life.  What does Jesus say eternal life is? “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…”

I know this message has a lot of Scriptures, but the theme of “eternal life” is imprinted in all of them. God is eternal.  In Isaiah God is called the “The Lord is Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4) and in Jeremiah God is called the “King Eternal.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Since God is eternal so are all God’s attributes, blessings and love. The Psalms tells us repeatedly that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

The words “eternal life” are used 42 times in the New Testament. Eternal Life is the major theme of the Bible.  For the writers of the Bible, “eternal life” meant more than just life everlasting. Eternal Life was a quality of existence that held no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, and no more death.  Eternal life meant a life that continues forever in the presence of God whose love is unfailing and unending. Not just here.  Not just now. Not just tomorrow—but forever and ever and ever.

During World War II, a prisoner wrote: Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer held a little service which reached the hearts of all. He had hardly finished his prayer, when the door opened. Two evil-looking soldiers came in and barked: “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us!” The words meant only one thing, the scaffold. As he bid his fellow prisoners good-bye, he said, “For me this is the beginning of a new life, eternal life.”[i]

So What?
What is eternal Life? Why would the early disciples put this in the Apostles’ Creed?  Better yet, why would it be the closing line?

The late and marvelous preacher, Ralph W. Sockman, was writing an Easter sermon one year when he received word that a friend had died. His friend was a scholar, a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, a distinguished missionary to China for forty years. A daily prayer of this remarkable servant included, “Oh, God our Father, I accept Thy gift of love; help me to pass it on for Jesus’ sake.” On the morning of the missionary’s death, at age ninety-two, Lacey Sites said to those near his bedside: “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.”[ii]

What a profound statement…. “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.” Yes! Here it is! Here is why the apostles closed the entire creed with this line:
AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING. AMEN.

Can you hear your own version of this line? I can. “Dave, don’t just live for heaven…live for heaven on earth. Each and every person I put you in contact with needs a drink of this living water. Pour.  Pour out. Don’t count the cost.  The cost we are talking about are souls—and souls who need eternal life. People need living water.”

Friends, don’t wait to live eternally.  Let us start today and live every day in the presence of the living God. Friends, we have this living water to share, we have the bread of life to share. We need to share everlasting life with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers.

How do we live eternally now?

Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of live.
Focus on your Savior and not the storms.
Focus on the Cross and not the crime nor the criminal.
Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.
Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situations you face.
Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.
Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.
Focus on God’s love and share this love with the lost.
Focus on the power of the resurrection and let this power resurrect, revive, restore, renew, reconcile and redeem your life—today, every day and forever.

Both Nic at Night and WOMAN at the well figured out the secret to life: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today and begin living eternally every single day.  Live in God’s never-failing love, unending grace and ever-flowing mercy. Live in the forgiveness of your past, present and future!   Come to the water of life and drink from the springs of eternal life. If you meet a guy named Nic or a woman who’s had five husbands–you’ve come to the right spring of LIVING WATER. Jesus is no respecter of clout or sin. He died and rose for ALL…and that means YOU.

The Apostles’ Creed

  1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
  2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord;
  3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
  4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell;the
  5. third day he rose again from the dead;
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  7. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Ghost,
  9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

As I close, I was born on 6/18/54 and I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in January of 1981. If you ever hear that I’m dead–don’t you believe it because on that very day, I will be more alive than I’ve ever been!

See you Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith – I Believe, Resurrection Life  By Pastor Dave  

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:

It’s the HARVEST season! I pray that you are reaping 30, 60 or 100-fold of all the good that you have sown this year!  It is my hope and prayer that as you walk through each day, that you will know that Jesus walks with you.  It is my prayer for you to know the powerful presence and perfect peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ–both as Lord and Savior. Knowing Christ is everything.

Today we come to the second to last line in the Apostles’ Creed.  Line eleven: we “believe in the resurrection of the body.”  As always, I encourage you take a few moments and read chapter 15 of I Corinthians.this week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your mind and heart about the power, the hope, and life we can find in the resurrection.

We need to remember that during the time the Creed was written, it was written to defeat false teaching and to proclaim what a person or group believed about Jesus Christ. When the Apostles’ Creed was written, there were many false teachings that were circulated. There are many false teachings today. The world hasn’t changed all that much.  That is why it is important for us to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.  

There was a teaching in the early church called Gnosticism, and the teachings of the Gnostics are still with us today.  Gnosticism comes from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning “knowledge.” The Gnostics believed that people were saved through special knowledge.  They viewed the physical or material world as evil and corrupt. The Greeks believed that the body or flesh was a prison for the soul and that only the soul was immortal. The Early Church put line eleven in the Apostles’ Creed in order to proclaim that God is the creator and what God created was good and the body is part of God’s creation.  When God created Adam and Eve and breathed life into their lungs, God said that His creation was very good. What God creates is good — very good!

The resurrection of the body is a mystery.  After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him.  When Mary realized the man she thought was the gardener was Jesus, Mary was told not to hold on to Him.  The problem is that we were created very good, but something called sin separates us from God.  Because of this separation, God sent His one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to suffer under Pontius Pilate, to be crucified, dead and buried.  But the Good News, the greatest news of all, is that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death forever by rising from the dead.  Hell, death and the grave were defeated at that single moment of the resurrection.

There’s story after story about what happened after the resurrection! Jesus invited the disciples to eat breakfast on the beach. Jesus told Thomas to put his hands in his nail scars and to put his hand into the place where the speared pierced His side. I’ve always gained such hope from these resurrection stories because if Jesus had a resurrected body, be certain that you and I will have one, too.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery. As I studied this Scripture this week, I read how one early church father by the name of Orgien, thought that the resurrection of the body meant the body of Christ as in the church.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery and some of the most profound writings on the resurrection are found here in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  If you have your Bible, turn with me to Paul’s words on the resurrection.

Paul begins with the resurrection of Christ, then turns his attention to the resurrection of the dead and, finally, his longest teaching on the resurrection of the body.

Here is a radical fact! Death is a fundamental human problem.  The truth is that we will all die, but the Good News is that those in Christ will live with resurrected bodies. Christianity stands out alone among all of the world’s faiths and “isms.” Christianity views death as conquered. To be a Christian is to have a “HOPE” resting on the “FACT” that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, saw over 500 people (witnesses) and now lives eternally in heaven at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

We  can have hope in the power of the resurrection.  The writer of Hebrews say that this hope is an anchor to our soul.

The Apostle Paul tries to explain the mystery of the resurrection by not explaining it.  He points to the mystery of a seed and a tree and offers a word picture as an explanation. Of course, I like the idea of the seed …since that is the name of our Church.  We have been given resurrection life and hope through the seed of God’s word.

Tim Keller is a pastor, writer and teacher of a church in New York.  Keller tells the following story about the power of Christ’s resurrection: “A minister was in Italy, and there he saw the grave of a man who had died centuries before who was an unbeliever and completely against Christianity, but a little afraid of it too. So, the man had a huge stone slab put over his grave so he would not have to be raised from the dead in case there is a resurrection from the dead. He had insignias put all over the slab saying, “I do not want to be raised from the dead. I don’t believe in it.” Evidently, when he was buried, an acorn must have fallen into the grave. So, a hundred years later the acorn had grown up through the grave and split that slab wide open and that tiny seed was now a tall, towering, oak tree. The minister looked at it and asked, ‘If an acorn, which has power of biological life in it, can split a slab of that magnitude, what can the acorn of God’s resurrection power do in a person’s life?'”[i]

Friends, here is the Good News of the resurrection.  Here is the hope we have in the resurrection. The minute we decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life and you are sealed forever in Christ.   This power of the Holy Spirit that takes up residence in our hearts is just like the power of the resurrection—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  One scholar likes to say that we now have some of Jesus’ DNA in us and we are related.  We have this hope of the resurrection.

Stop for moment to think of the things you see as immovable slabs in your life—your bitterness, your insecurity, your fears, your self-doubts, your hurts, your regrets, your past, and even your future. Those things can all be split and rolled away by the mere power of the seed of faith. The more you know Jesus, the more you will grow into the power and the HOPE of the resurrection.

I know that we don’t have time today to plumb the depths of all these passage on the resurrection. I encourage you to read and reread chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  Get a journal or write in your Bible–allow the Holy Spirit,  your teacher, to teach you all things.

So What?
I like the words that Paul uses to contrast the physical life with the resurrected life.

Perishable vs Imperishable!
Dishonor vs Glory!
Weakness vs Power!
Natural vs Spiritual!

Perishable means that our mortal bodies are subject to corruption, decay, sickness, illness and even death.  But our resurrected bodies will not be subject to any of these maladies or conditions. Dishonor means a state of disgrace, shame and sin.  The resurrected body will be raised in “doxa” — glory!  No more sin and no more shame.  No more condemnation. No more disgrace. Weakness!  The Greek word means to be in want of strength, feebleness, illness, incapacity and timidity. When we come to our resurrection, we will have power instead of timidity —no  fear … we will have power!  Natural bodies!  Wow! This old body will be replaced with a body fully filled and fueled by the Holy Spirit.

The perishable will put on imperishability, this body that is swallowed up with shame and sin will be raised in glory, this body that is weak and broken will be given new power, this natural, decaying, dying body will be given life and life abundantly.

So what does the resurrection of Christ mean to YOU? What does your own future resurrection mean to you?  For the early disciples who stood up and proclaimed the Apostles’ Creed, many did so at the expense of life.  Stand this week in the power, hope and life of the resurrection, and recite the Apostles’ Creed as if your life depended on it…because it does.

My prayer is that the resurrected Jesus will meet you in a room where you are gathered, or on the road to Emmaus, or on the beach. I pray that Christ will ask you to put your hand into his resurrected wounds. I pray Christ will fill you PEACE and that you will be still and that you will soak up the life that only the resurrected Christ can give.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/18/20

Seed of Faith – BURIED WITH CHRIST — RAISED TO A NEW LIFE   By Pastor Dave  

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Faithful Friends and Spirit-Filled Seed Sowers:

I hope and pray that your week is going well and that this New Year is unfolding with God’s grace upon grace as you walk in Christ.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Colossians 2:6-15.  Have you ever thought what it means to walk with Christ? Have you ever thought that you have been buried with Christ in His baptism and then raised into a new life with Him?

When Paul writes this letter to the Colossians, he is sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  Paul wants the Colossians to remember that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that we can have union with Jesus Christ by walking with Christ and remembering His and our own baptism.

I love the opening verses — “Just as you have received Christ as Lord.”  When you were baptized, you received Christ as your Lord and Savior.  To “receive” means “to take your inheritance, to bring alongside, to hold, to draw oneself to and learn from someone.”  Do you notice what Paul says?  He writes us to say, “Receive, take your inheritance, take a hold of, learn from and bring alongside Jesus Christ as your LORD!  Lord means master, ruler, one who has power and authority over you.  This was a radical teaching then and is still a radical teaching today. Receive the LORD JESUS as the one who has power and authority over you. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1981. I’ve never once regretted Christ being the master and ruler of my life.

If you have never been baptized, I encourage you to go and talk with your pastor or come and talk with me. Let me know and we can baptize you when you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Even if you want to rededicate yourself to Christ, I’d be happy to remember your baptism–in your pool, hot tub, river or ocean! I remember in the summer of 2010, Jac asked me to dunk her in the ocean at Carona Del Mar. She wanted to rededicate her life once again to Christ. She had been through some hard seasons with the church and she wanted to profess: “My life isn’t about a religion, Jesus, my life is about a relationship with you. You are my Lord and my Savior. Period. Nothing less. Nothing more.” Big Ed and Dave dunked her as she intentionally washed away religion and rededicated her life to a relationship with Jesus Christ. She came up out of the ocean laughing and praising God. Yes.  If you ever want to rededicate your life, or DEDICATE your life to Christ, I am a text, an email, a phone call away.

Look at verse six again … “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Since you have received Christ, Paul then tells us to continue … “peripateo”—continue to live in Christ.  I love the verb “peripateo” It means to “walk with, walk along, walk up and down, traverse, behave and conduct oneself and live with.”  Wow!  That is a mouthful!

Paul is laying down a hard teaching: Take and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, ruler and authority of your life, and continue to live in Christ day in and day out, hour after hour.  Walk up the hill and down the hill, walk alongside of Christ. Conduct yourself with Christ. This verb is a command, not a suggestion, and we are called to continually follow and walk along with Jesus Christ as Lord.

When I read verse twelve, I am reminded of our baptism.  We were buried in the waters of baptism with Christ and then immediately we were raised into new life through the power of God.  This power of God is the awesome Holy Spirit, who washes away our sins and sets us free to walk alongside Jesus. This is what Paul means when he writes that we were dead in our sins and, through the power of God, we are forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we, too, were dead in our sin but as we go under the waters of baptism–our sins are washed away. How can that be? By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All sin–PAID. Our debt–PAID IN FULL.  How can we not accept and follow this Savior?

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! You have been buried with Christ and raised into a new life.

Who wouldn’t want to be set free from the sin that clings so closely to us?  Who wouldn’t like to be set free from their past failures and faults?  Imagine picking up a black stone or two and casting it into the depths of the sea.  I love how the Old Testament prophet, Micah, states this idea of a God who forgives: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

Or think of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

At the SEED, we do a “REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM SUNDAY” after Epiphany Sunday. We set up a table with a tall, clear vase filled with water and we set a ton of black stones around the vase. As you come forward to remember your baptism, you are given the chance to bury into the sea your sins. Casting a black stone or two or three into the waters represents your past sins, failures, disappointments, defeats, setbacks, sadness, shame, disgrace, guilt, doubt, fears–anything negative that holds you back from walking into this New Year baptized in Christ, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great experience. For those of you who live near water, take a hike! Take a hike and pick up some stones and toss them into the water. “Here, Jesus, here’s my ___________. I have been buried with you in my baptism. I have been cleansed. Help me to walk in the freedom you died for.”

At church last Sunday, we had the first vase filled with water and the stones to toss and then we had a table with a vases filled with water and white stones. In order to get a white stone, you had to dip your hand into the waters. As you we dipped your hand into the water,  you remembered your baptism: I have been buried with Christ and I am raised into a new life with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven and I am free! I will walk continually rooted and built up in my faith with overflowing with thankfulness.”

Revelation 2:17 says — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

After you picked up your white stone, we had another opportunity to pick up a paper with a new name written on it for this year. If you would like a new name for the year, email me or text me and I will light a candle and pray for you and draw a new name for you for the year. 

As your pastor, I want you to know that God loves you.  God loves you just as you are.  We are bought back…redeemed.  We are forgiven.  Our slate is clean.  God promises to be with us as we grow and change this year…through the hard times, through the blessed times, through the easy times, through the difficult times…yes…God wants to bless the land we dwell in…both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Alone, we are not enough, but Christ is.  Christ’s body was broken, and his blood was shed…and that is enough.  With Christ in our hearts, we are enough.  We are forgiven.  We are cleansed.  We are free. Vision 2020–this is the perfect start to a new year and a new decade. This is the year when we decide that we will walk up the hills and down the hills with Christ in our heart.

My new name is Confident One. Jac’s is Full of Happiness. What’s yours? Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Have a great week.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/11/2020

Seed of Faith – From The Beginning Of The Year To The End  By Pastor Dave  

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Deuteronomy 11:11-12

Dear Faithful Friends:

We sit on the brink of a New Year.  I hope and pray that you are all well and healthy!
Last Sunday, the church worldwide celebrated Epiphany! I pray you have had some time to answer the questions in the SEED OF FAITH and that you’ve had some revelation from God’s word, too.

This week we are on to: The Baptism of the Lord! This is the week at our church when we draw new names for the coming year. Both Jac and I are ready to trade in our names from last year. She drew GENTLE FRIEND, I drew FEARLESS WARRIOR. We both had a hard year of chelation fall out. I think we are hoping to draw a new name like: EZPZ street, LOVE, JOY UNENDING. Something soft and fuzzy would be nice. Wait you say! What’s wrong with our old names? Well, Jac is not all that gentle (her words) and I’m not into being a warrior!We thought about trading names last year! But I must say, we both grew into our names–along with a lot of practice and opportunities from God!  If you want to join us in this spiritual exercise. reply to this email and let me know.  We will draw you a new name for 2020 and email it to you. We will also be putting our “WORD OF INTENTION” that the Holy Spirit is giving you this year onto our 2020 clean canvas. An intention is a goal, an aim, or a plan.  Jac has heard the word WAIT and has translated that into “Why Am I Talking?” She’s been journaling on her word already. I’m still WAITING for my word! Just today I had a friend tell me that the Holy Spirit gave him his word for the year.  His word is “obey.”  What a powerful word to walk with and work with this year. So What?  What is the word that God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit the comforter giving to you?

This week, I encourage you to read chapter 11 of Deuteronomy.  Ask and allow the Holy Spirit speak to you about a 2020 goal, aim or plan. When we come to Deuteronomy 11, you need to know that the Israelite people have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe you have been wandering in the wilderness for the past year or so?

The Israelite people are finally sitting on the edge of the Promised Land; they’ve been waiting and wandering for 40 years for this very season.  They are given their last words of instruction from their faithful leader, Moses.

Earlier this week, I was reading Deuteronomy during my devotional time. The Holy Spirit had me stop and journal on the verses above.  I stopped on the words — “The Lord your God cares for you. The eyes of the Lord your God are upon you. The Lord your God is with you from the beginning of the year to the end.”   CARES — SEES — WITH– ME!  I wrote in my journal.    I was impressed with the thought that God wants to be with me! That God wants to be with His people. That God wants to be with you!

God tells the people that that the land they are about to cross over and take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys.

I recently flew to Pittsburgh to be at the retirement service for one of my spiritual mentors and longtime friend. As I was sitting on a plane flying over some of the largest mountains and valleys in the USA, I thought about the land and mountains and valleys that we all face. It was as though these words were sinking deep into my heart.

The land that God wants to give us is a land full of mountains and valleys. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “This next year will be filled with mountaintop experiences that will bring you great joy and happiness.  Also, this next year will be filled with some valleys.  Some of these valleys will be dark, yet God has promised you that he will be in those valleys as well as in the mountaintops. Dave, hear the promise of Psalm 23, “Yay, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not fear for the Lord your God, the Good and Great Shepherd of the sheep will be with you to comfort you.”

Each one of us is facing a new year. No one knows what it holds for us.

Do you find it comforting to hear Moses’ words? As we wait on God, we will face a year filled with mountains and valleys? Verse twelve is a wonderful promise — “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” 

That is really, really, really, really good news.  From January first through December 31, God’s eyes are continually on us.

God wants you to hear this!  This New Year will be filled with mountains and valleys.  But God wants you to know that no matter what — He is with you!  God cares about the New Year and the land that you have just crossed over into. God’s eyes are on your land continually! Stop and think about this for a minute!  The eyes of the Lord are on you!  The eyes of the Lord are on your mountains and valleys.  The eyes of the Lord are continually on you from the beginning of this year all the way to the end!  Wow!  What a powerful promise.

Lord, God of creation.  You created us in Your image and Your promise is that you will sustain us with the promise of Your presence.  We ask that Your eyes would be upon us; and that You will continually watch over us as we face our mountains and our valleys. We stand in the promise that You will be with us from the beginning of this year to the end of this year. Help us, Oh Lord, to be sensitive to Your Words of life.  Amen

This past Wednesday our GALG (Get A Life Group) reunited for bible study after the holidays. We studied Mark 9. Jesus asks a great question, “How long has he been this way?” Jesus was asking this question of the father of the demon-possessed boy. Someone in the group said, “You know, I think that’s what happens with each one of us. Jesus walks alongside of us and asks, ‘Dave, how long have you been like this?'” The father says, “If you can help us, help us.” Jesus asks the father, “IF? IF? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” The father says, “I believe….but…help my unbelief.” You know what? I love the stories of the Bible.  Isn’t that just like us? Don’t we tell Jesus, “I think you can help me.” Jesus replies, “You THINK I can help you? Do you BELIEVE that I can help you?” Hmm.  Do I really believe that Jesus can help me climb the mountain of 2020 that lies before me? Do I really believe that I will survive the valleys? “Yes, Jesus, I believe you—but it’s not 100%. Could you help my unbelieving parts?”

And Jesus laughs, pats me on the back, thanks me for my honesty and says, “Let’s go! I will never you nor forsake you. Keep on believing!”  Jesus died on the cross for me, and for you. All of our unbelieving parts are covered in His blood. Go on. Ask the hard questions of Jesus and believe. He’s got your unbelief already covered.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfeloowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/2/20

Seed of Faith – Many in 20 Come To The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:9

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Above are a few passages of Scriptures that I turn to during each New Year.  I think of all the wonderful blessings that God has done for me and my family and for so many of you! I rejoice for the daily miracles I am invited to witness each day. During the NEW YEAR,  I also love to reflect on the “new things” that God will be doing in my life, in your life and the lives of so many in 2020!

I am struck by the “new things” that God promises us in Scripture. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are promised that God’s business is making things new. I don’t know about you, but I can use a NEW year!

“Write them down for these words are trustworthy and true.”  What powerful words to reflect upon! Long ago, I had a GMC two-toned blue van. It was beautiful. We name our vehicles.  Don’t ask my why. We always have: Betty Ford, El Tanko, Woody, and the 1990 blue van–faithful and true, Trupi 5! (Yes, that was her name; that van took us from 3 kids in high school, to 3 kids in college, to my seminary years, and to our first two churches! As I sat down to write about how the Scriptures are trustworthy and true, I thought about how trustworthy and true Trupi 5 was. When we sold Trupi 5, she had over 350,000 miles on her! Faithful and true–the scriptures are just that!

I have been listening to King and Country’s latest album,  “Burn the Ship.”  Here’s the YouTube link … https://youtu.be/pOVrOuKVBuY Listen to the chorus: “Burn the ships, cut the ties, send a flare into the night, say a prayer, turn the tide, dry your tears and wave goodbye.” (I’ll get back to this.)

Today I sit at my computer and look through my sermon files. I am overwhelmed and humbled.  I keep all of my sermons in folders labeled for the year they are preached. I have folders dating back to 2001 when I first started keeping an electronic file.  My manuscripts from 1998 to 2001 are in a box somewhere in my shed. Listen to C. H. Spurgeon, “All pastors should keep their sermons so that they can go back over them, read them and weep.”  Today I have been weeping over some of the messages I have written! It’s been a quiet week of holiday. Jac has been sick, and then I caught the flu from her. We’ve been laying low. At this time of the year, I like plan out my preaching calendar, to pick my brain of ideas of what the Holy Spirit wants me to talk about during 2020. I always sit down and write a review of the messages of the previous year and I look over some of the messages. Some messages have brought back fond memories of people and places that are dear to my heart, some have brought laughter at the silliness of my writing, and some have brought tears of sadness for friends lost and ministry moments gone by. It’s a great way to pray myself into 2020 and what’s ahead in the preaching arena for us all.

As we turn the page on 2019, we open a new chapter for 2020. The honest reality is that we aren’t just closing out a year–we are closing out a DECADE! A decade of ministry, memories, moments of joy and sadness, only to open a blank page for a new year and a whole new decade.

This got me to thinking: what is God calling you to do and become in the next year and in the next ten years? Last month, I had a very good friend pass away. Herman, Doc, always encouraged me to have a one-year plan, a five-year plan and ten-year plan.  As I get ready to ask, seek and knock on the Lord’s door for what to preach on, I couldn’t help but miss my friend. What is my one year plan? What is my five year plan? What is my 10 year plan? I’m 65. Seriously, in 10 years I will be 75! WHAT IS MY TEN YEAR PLAN?!!! In a way, I’m kidding. But I do want to encourage you to think about your life and to pray and plan for what you want to accomplish this year, and in the future. We have a whole new decade upon us!

Have you noticed that the year we enter is 2020?  Makes me think of having 20/20 vision; 20/20 vision is normal vision and the vision that a fighter pilot needs to fly his or her plane; 20/20 vision is needed to read a phone book, but who reads a phone book these days.  20/40 vision is required by most states to get a driver’s license. With 20/80 vision you can read an alarm clock from 10 feet away.  Do you know that 20/200 is considered legally blind?

The “so what?” comes early: What is your vision for 2020?

As you may recall, each year I try to come up with a “little ditty” to rhyme the year with.  My good friend, Will, texted me the other day and said that his little ditty was “plenty in twenty.” I like it. I didn’t have much to go on, not much rhymes with twenty–so my little ditty for this year is “MAY MANY in 2020 COME TO THE LORD.” I suppose that’s my one-year plan! I suppose if I plan the right preaching schedule, many will come to the lord!

It is my prayer that you will take this new, clean slate and make the LORD a passion and priority.  The Scriptures teach us that if we seek the Lord, He promises to be found. May the Lord be your vision in 2020.  May the Lord be your passion for this coming year.

I end with the lyrics to the song, “Burn the Ships”:
Step into a new day,
We can rise up from the dust and walk away,
We can dance upon our heartache,
so light a match, leave the past, burn the ships,
and don’t you look back.
So long to shame, walk through the sorrow, out of the
fire into tomorrow.
So flush the pills, face the fear,
feel the wave disappear!
We’re coming clear, we’re born again,
Oh, we can breathe again.

Whatever you faced in the past decade–it’s officially over. There is a brand, new year with a brand, new decade ahead. The Scriptures are faithful and true; they have way over 350,000 miles on them. God is doing a new thing! The former things have taken place but don’t miss the announcement: I (God) am making everything NEW!

Tonight I want to ask you to do something for me. I want to ask you to sit and pray and to answer a few questions for me:
1.  Am I faithful and true? Why or why not?
2.  What am I hoping for in 2020?
3.  Is my vision 20/20? Why or why not?
4. Do I really believe that God can take my heart ache and work with me?
5. How old will I be in ten years when the roaring 20’s are ended?
6. What is my ten year plan?
7. Where do I need God’s vision in my life? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Sexually? Spiritually?
8. Where do I need God to make things new for me?
9. Do I need to burn the ships? Do I need to walk away from something, someone?
10. Am I willing to light the match that will burn the ship? Am I willing to walk away? Am I willing to follow God with 2020 vision?

In closing, I have a great story to share with you next week but, for now, I want you to plan and forecast. Do you need God to make a way for you through the desert? Do you need a stream in your wasteland? God’s word is faithful and true and an honest prescription for 2020 vision. In Psalm 65 God promises to crown your year with HIS GOODNESS, for my paths to drip with HIS ABUNDANCE.  I’m all in. Are you? It’s not just a year. It’s a decade. Burn the ships.

I’m praying for you.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/20/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Joy  By Pastor Dave  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39

 

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:44-45

Dear Faithful and Fruitful Seed Sowers!

Merry Christmas! We are days away from celebrating the hope, love, joy and peace of the Advent Season in its fullest. I pray that your heart and home are prepared as we have journeyed.  May the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, be with you as you celebrate the Christ-Child’s humble birth.  May Christ be born in us anew and may we never be the same again. Jesus Christ is born!

I know you are busy. We all are. But this is a great week to MAKE time to read the Christmas stories found in Matthew 1 and Luke 1 & 2.  In this message I have been reflecting on Luke 1:39-45–a short seven verse narrative of the joy of Christmas,

Listen to verse 39, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, …” Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would become pregnant and that her very old cousin, Elizabeth, was already pregnant.  Both young and old…pregnant–full of expectation, full of anticipation, full of life.

 I wonder what it would be like for us to be pregnant with the hope, love, joy, and peace of the Advent Season.  I wonder what it would be like for us to live each and every day having Christ born anew in our hearts. 

Back to the story. Would we respond like Mary did?  Would we take our own three-day journey, traveling 90-100 miles on foot, to go visit our cousin? The angel had, indeed, just delivered the most shocking news.

My job as a pastor is to care for the sheep. Much of my job is spent traveling to visit people where they are: homes, hospitals, recovery centers, and even jail. Sometimes I travel a great distance to care for the sheep. In our hurry, hurrry, do-more-now lifestyles, don’t we have a hard time going out of our way to visit someone nearby let alone 100 miles away?  Think about this, Mary got ready and “hurried” (the Greek word means that she went with eagerness, excitement, with haste and quickly.) She didn’t stop at a store to shop on the way or dally around to see other friends who lived on the way. Mary walked as rapidly and quickly as she could and with great haste to see her cousin—who was pregnant at 80?!  This made me think of our last trip to Texas to visit our son and his family. We usually drive and we usually plan to stop and visit those we love on our way to and from. This trip was different. We traveled with eagerness and excitement to see our grandson play football in Kerrville. We had a date that we had to be there and we drove straight there. Can you relate? Mary had Elizabeth on her mind and away she went (on foot) to visit her cousin.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea.” Luke 1:39
I have read and reread this verse. She got ready and then hurried to walk 100 miles to visit her cousin. I don’t know about you but sometimes I have the tendency to dally and linger and complain about going out of the house. Sometimes I just want to stay home, sit by the fire and read a good book.  Do you have the same problem? Especially at this time of year. I don’t want to get out there in all of that hub-bub.  I think we are all far too busy. Some of you are even are even too busy to sit down and read this SEED OF FAITH and the ten minutes it takes.

But the Spirit presses in on us and impresses us to follow. How many of us are like Mary? Running out of the house with eagerness to follow the Holy Spirit. I have to admit that sometimes I hear the Holy Spirit say, “Dave, call this person.  Go visit that person” and in all honesty, there are day when I hesitate. “God, why me — why don’t you ask so and so to  go do that? I’m busy. I’m tired. They aren’t doing anything. Ask them.”  Do you have my problem? I call it wrestling with God. As a former wrestler, this is not a very good idea. Ask Jacob.

This past week, I talked with a man who is struggling with God.  His exact words to me were “Why me, God?”

I think we all get stuck with the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve situations in our lives. We allow speculation to cause us to stop and stagnate. We allow fear to freeze us frozen in our tracks.  We allow doubt to drive us down depression avenue.

What amazes me about Mary is that she didn’t stop on depression avenue, she wasn’t frozen about the news the angel brought to her, she didn’t stop and speculate. Mary taught us a great life lesson; she got up and hurried with haste to see if what God had said was true.  She did not let the 90 to 100 miles stop her, she went with eagerness.

As I studied for this message, I learned something from Mary. I have learned how to say, “Here I am Lord, I am your servant, do with me according to your Word. And, God, help me to do it with eagerness. Help me to follow you with JOY.”

It’s definition time. JOY.  What exactly does it mean? Joy is a feeling of great happiness. Listen to Rick Warren’s definition, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the JOY is the determined choice I make to praise God in every situation.”  Did you read that correctly? Joy is the determined choice that you and I make to praise God in every situation.

The second lesson I learned this week pertains to the word, “joy.”  Joy to the World!  I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Joy!  What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Joy?’  Only three little letters … but oh so powerful to transform and change our lives. Just this week, my wife and I went to visit a member of our church who was in the hospital. Jac was wearing what she calls her “Christmas uniform”—a black sweater with the word JOY splashed acrossed it and a black skirt. I am not kidding you, as we walked to the parking garage to get our car, a lady passing by started singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.”  Jac stopped and they both started singing. Then another lady joined in and so did I. The four of us in a parking garage singing JOY about JESUS! And here’s the second lesson:

J — Jesus
O — Others
Y — You

I want you to know that Mary was joyful in her journey. Here’s a “so what?” for you: AM I JOYFUL IN MY JOURNEY? 

I now want you to know the second truth of this message:
when Jesus shows up, He brings with Him the joy of the heaven.

That is my prayer for you this busy week.  We have five short days until we reach the manger. We have five short days before we stand face to face with the giver of all JOY! Are you grumbling? Stop.  Are you anxious? Stop. Is your “to do” list longer than your sleepless nights? Stop. The God who created you also created Jesus. The God of all JOY doesn’t want you to miss the manger. Don’t wrestle with God today. Do as you are asked to do. Run everything by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. “I’m thinking I need to get out there in all of that hub-bub and fight for that last gift. Are you sure you want me to go?” Maybe, just maybe, this might be the one time when you hear, “Call your Mom.” “Call your sister.” “Call your friend in the hospital.” “Drop off flowers to your neighbor.” Maybe that’s the plan. And when you get the plan, go with excitement. Go with JOY!

I want you to awaken on Christmas day totally filled with the joy of Jesus!

Our story today ends with a powerful statement of faith. Enter into the story one more time. Hear Luke say, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)

So What? 
Do you believe?  Do you believe all that the Holy Spirit is saying to you is true? Do you believe that God will accomplish all those things that have been spoken to you in your heart?

I have some homework for you this week.  I know you’re busy but it’s pretty simple: practice JOY. Jesus. Others. You. Practice listening and obeying the Lord with great JOY, with great eagerness, with great haste, and with great excitement the JOY that only Jesus can bring.  Don’t you see it? THIS IS WHY WE TAKE FOUR WEEKS TO PREPARE OUR HEARTS AND HOMES FOR CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY!!!

I want us to be like Mary: Travel with joy, believe all that God has said to you to be true.

I end with a story about a friend of mine. He has Parkinsons. He’s quite young and has suffered a long time with his disease. The dystonia Parkinsons presents totally ruined his shoulder. He’s been in 10/10 pain (and he says, “That’s on a good day”) for over a year. His doctor had to check all of the boxes before he could order surgery. It took a year. On the day of the surgery, a UTI was discovered and my friend was sent home for another week. My friend never complained. He told me, “God’s time, Dave.” Well, the week went by and he’s home now! I can profess that my friend has traveled this painful road with the joy of Jesus in his heart. That’s my prayer for you. No matter what you are going through, my prayer is that you find JOY in knowing Christ.

My final prayer for you this week is that you will, once again, find the joy in believing that all of what God has spoken to you is believable.

And Mary said, “Angels? Gabriel? A baby? I’m not married. Elizabeth? She’s old.” And off Mary went with JOY! And when the two cousins met, their unborn babies leapt for JOY!

We can all learn something from this story because WE ARE IN IT. December 25 is almost here. Before you fly out of the house on swift feet eager to complete your list, bend your knees and pray. Bend your knees and read the story again. The Father of all time has all the time in the world…and so do you.

See You Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I … (Mulungu akudaliseni — for our Zambian Brothers and Sisters).
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 12/13/19

Seed of Faith – Advent Hope   By Pastor Dave  

“Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.” Luke 1:21

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,

Faithful.  I’ve been stuck on this word for a while now. Being faithful means you are loyal, constant and steadfast. The older I grow in my ministry, the more I’ve pondered this word. I’ve been ordained for 22 years now. I see evidence of people being faithful–in life and in death.
Death. Dying. A few years ago, I helped one of my best friends walk the long journey home to Christ.
The ministry is largely connected to death and dying. Yes, there are births, baptisms, confirmations, dedications and rededications. There are weddings and all kinds of celebrations but, there in the background, is a faithful constant friend called death and dying. You can’t be in the ministry without attending the school of grief and loss, the ministry of death and dying.

The month of November I went on vacation. Do you know that the ministry is 24/7/365? Ministry doesn’t have a start time or a stop time. It never has. It never will. When I go on “vacation,” my wife and I pray every day that there’s no crises. We pray that the church remains safe and in God’s watchful care and that our family does, too.

During the month of November, I went away for two weeks to visit our son in Waco. We had a blessed time. While driving, my wife and I listened to Alistair Begg’s teachings on flashdrive! We heard 56 hours of pastoral teaching while driving the highways and by-ways of our 3,000 mile trip. Upon returning, two people I know and love became terminally and imminently ill; days before Thanksgiving. Being there and sharing the “ministry of presence” is a top pastoral gift. It doesn’t really matter what one says, what matters is the presence of someone who cares.

All of this to say, please keep in prayer all those who have lost loved ones. The holidays hit the hearts and homes deeply of those who grieve. Let us commit to be faithful in prayer for them.

We turn to the Christmas story found in Luke 1:1-25.

I wonder how long the early believers gathered in their homes and synagogues in order to open the Law, Prophets and Psalms that prophesied and promised the coming of their Messiah?  Sabbath after Sabbath they gathered to hear the words read from the ancient scrolls. I wonder if they ever gave up hope. I wonder how long they had waited to hear from God. History shows that the last words from God were given to Malachi, the prophet, 400 years prior to Christ’s birth. Can you imagine waiting 400 years to hear from God?  We can hardly wait 400 seconds (6.6 minutes), let alone 400 years.   Many of us can hardly wait for the red light to change to green, or for the text on our smartphone to be completed before we start responding.  We who live in the 21st century have an extremely hard time waiting.

I love to read the Psalms. The Psalms speak the language of the heart.  Every emotion, every feeling, every situation we face are found in reading the Psalms.  In Psalm 46 we hear the opening lines speak to us when our life feels chaotic, out of control, troublesome and/or fearful. Psalm 46:1-3 — God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” These words speak of God’s comfort in our storm.  In Mark 4, the disciples are in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They are terrified and afraid that the boat will sink and they will drown.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the stern of the boat–the back of the boat. The disciples are afraid. They wake up Jesus. Jesus speaks to the storm. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”  Did you hear it?  “Quiet! Be Still!”  Let’s go back and look at Psalm 46 again. God is our refuge and strength, a help in times of trouble. At the end of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Jesus speaks, “Quiet! Be still!”
The Psalmist writes, “Be still…and know…that I am God.”

So What?  Why is it so hard for us to be still?  Why it is so hard for us to wait on the Lord?  Why is it so hard for us to hope for what we cannot see?

Hope! — Heaven’s One Promise Eternity

In our Advent story for today, Zechariah had prayed and prayed for years for his wife, Elizabeth, to have a child. He was an old man and his wife was beyond childbearing age. Scholars believe that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been married for 50 years. We don’t know how old Zechariah is but we do know that he has been waiting for a long time to hear from God. The Jewish people had been waiting 400 years to hear from God. Zechariah was going through the motions, putting in his time, punching his high priest’s “to do” time-card. “Fill the candles, clean the pulpit, mop the entry, dust the altar…” And then, Zechariah’s name was drawn from the hat! Zechariah was chosen to enter the holy of holies and offer the yearly sacrifice! Zechariah had been at this for a very long time.  Five times every year, he made the five-mile hike to Jerusalem to serve in the temple.  Now from the lot of the 18,000 priests, Zechariah’s name was chosen. Look at those odds … 1 in 18,0000. Would now be the time for God to speak?

Zechariah means — “The Lord Remembers.”

I wonder if there were times when Zechariah believed the Lord did not remember him. I wonder if there were times when Zechariah wanted to give up, give in and stop believing. “I’m too old. Elizabeth is too old. I’ve been praying that same prayer for way too long. Maybe God does not remember me.  Maybe God has forgotten me.”

What are the odds that some of us here today are ready to give up, give in and throw in the towel?

Elizabeth means “My God Is Absolutely Faithful.”

On the other hand, Elizabeth is almost certain that God will give her a child. “My God is absolutely faithful.”

I don’t know what each of you face.  I don’t know the struggles, the storms, or the sins that cling so closely to you. The truth of the matter is that when we think God is silent or asleep, we need to be still and know…that God remembers, and that God is faithful: loyal, constant, steadfast.

Here’s your “SO WHAT? HOMEWORK” for the week ahead: Find 400 seconds…6.6 minutes…set a timer on your phone…and practice Psalm 46:10.

BE—just BE…wherever you are…home, work…school…driving…BE…
STILL….Quiet your mind, quiet your body, take some deep breaths and …BE STILL…
AND KNOW…be determined to slow down and become aware of where & who you are…
BE STILL…AND KNOW
THAT I AM GOD…stop, look around, find IMMANUEL…GOD WITH US where you are right now. I can always find God in the beauty of nature.

I just buried another one of my best friends last week. Like my other dear brother and friend, he was FAITHFUL. He was loyal, constant, and steadfast. We met monthly for a zillion years (okay, 20 years). We shared this profoundly amazing thing together: LIFE.

Are you faithful? Are you loyal? Are you constant? Are you steadfast?

I see evidence of God being faithful to me. I pray I am faithful to God. I see evidence of my friends and family being faithful, too. I pray you do, too!

Whatever you are facing, I want you to know that our GOD is a GOD of HOPE. Have you been waiting and waiting? Have you been facing death and dying? Are you grieving? Our God is acquainted with grief.  Jesus was a man of sorrows. Our HOPE is found in Christ and through the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit. God, our Father, contains a love uncontainable for you. A love that only God knows and understands. Even when we are not faithful, GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Before I close, go look up youtube: GOD ONLY KNOWS by 4 King & Country and Dolly Parton. The love we need is a love that GOD ONLY KNOWS.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/23/19

Seed of Faith – WWJS -What Would Jesus Say — Follow Me By Pastor Dave  

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:16-17

Dear faithful and thankful Seed-Sowers:

It is almost Thanksgiving!  I would like to thank each and everyone of you.  You have touched my life and the life of my wife and family in so many gracious ways.  We are blessed and we are thankful.

This weekend I am in Pittsburgh to celebrate my mentor and my spiritual director’s retirement after 47 years in ministry.  What a wonderful and faithful servant the Rev. Dr. John Gray Hamilton is. “Hammy” or John followed Jesus and served in four different churches during his 47 years of ministry. Think of all of the lives he has touched and changed by sharing God’s grace and love. Think of giving over 2,000 sermons! By the way, our church heard that I wanted this Sunday off so that I could fly out to Pittsburgh and attend John’s last Sunday service. Someone purchased my airfare, another purchased my hotel, and other anonymous people donated the funds for a car rental, and meals. Imagine that: the church being the hands and feet and heart and soul of Jesus.

John Hamilton was my home-church pastor for 13 years. He was the pastor who helped me to decipher my call into ordained ministry. He followed Jesus and he taught me how to listen and follow Jesus for myself.  Today that my hope and prayer, that we all listen and follow Jesus.

Our reading comes from the Gospel of Mark. Let’s pray before we begin. “Lord, Jesus, You are our Lord and Savior, You call us to come and follow You.  Help us to have ears to hear, eyes to see, arms and feet ready to follow and serve wherever you call us.  May your Words become life to our weary souls.  Amen”

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men.18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.  Mark 1:14-17

Retired minister and author, Bob Russell, told the following account to illustrate how Christians often go along with the moral pace of those around us, and that, by comparison, we feel safe since “Everyone is doing it,” therefore, we’re okay. Russell writes:  Two months ago my wife and I were visiting our son Rusty and his family. One day Rusty was test-driving a foreign-made car and was frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to change the speedometer reading from kilometers to miles.  That evening he suggested we take the kids and all go out for ice cream. “We’ll need to take two cars,” he insisted, “so you and mom just follow me.” I followed him … and was surprised when a policeman whizzed up behind us with his lights flashing. I couldn’t imagine he was after me because it didn’t feel like I was speeding. And besides, I was going the exact same speed as the guy in front of me.  The officer came up to my window and said, “Sir, you were going 58 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. But wait right here, I’m going to deal with the car in front of you, and I’ll be right back.” When he went to my son’s car, Rusty quivered, “Officer, I know this is going to sound like a line, but this is the first day I’ve driven this car, and I can’t figure out how to change it from kilometers to miles, so I had no idea how fast I was going. The guy behind me is my dad, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing either!”[i]

Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t really buy you much of an excuse with God, does it?

John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, is put into prison.  John had been baptizing people in the Jordan and calling for them to repent. Jesus continues the story line by calling the people to repentance, Jesus also calls them to believe in the Good News!  This may be the only place in Scripture where we are told by Jesus to believe in the Good News. Imagine THE REAL, LIVE, GOOD NEWS is telling the people to believe in the good news! (Would have loved to be there.) Let’s go to the Greek word Jesus’ uses for “believe” is a present active imperative.  In the Greek it means that this a command and the action of believing is non-stop and ongoing.  To “believe” in the Greek culture was to place your trust, to rely on, to have confidence in and to put your faith in…the good news.  The good news of what Jesus was saying and  — not just once, but every day, every hour and every minute of every year.

Jesus is saying, “Hear the Good News!  The time has come! The Kingdom of God is near. The time that God will rule and reign is right here. The time for God to have supremacy is at hand.  The time has come for us to change our minds, to turn back, to turn around and to change direction is at hand.” You know how I always ask you to put yourself in the story?  This is no different. Put yourself on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This Jesus character is going from boat to boat; asking people to repent, be baptized, and follow Him. I propose a preposterous idea: maybe today you are hearing Jesus calling out to you:  turn around, come back, change your mind, repent, be baptized and follow. Is this the GOOD NEWS you are hoping for? Could it be that Jesus wants us to put our trust in Him? To have confidence and faith in Him? And not just today but for every single day of the rest of our lives?

RADICAL CALL — FOLLOW ME
In the days of Jesus, we need to understand how amazingly radical the call of Jesus really was.  During the days of Jesus, the Rabbis (the priests of the synagogue) would come to town and choose the best and brightest of the boys to become their disciples.They would take them and train and educate them. The boys who were not chosen would go into their father’s businesses. We can assume that Peter and Andrew, James and John and the rest of the disciples were not among the best and brightest because they were working in their father’s businesses. Imagine the scene: Jesus comes walking along the shore and calls out to them sitting in their boats, “FOLLOW ME.” The Greek word for “follow” is “opiso” — “come after or come behind.”  Put yourself here into this story.  You have grown up in a little fishing village called Bethsaida.  You’ve made a trip or two to Jerusalem, but most likely never traveled very far from home.  You have no hope of doing anything greater than working in your father’s fishing boat.

Listen again to Jesus words …  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

What a radical message! Let me tell you how I heard Jesus say, “Follow me.” “Hey, hey, you!  Dave Peters, I see you. Working in the family business selling tires!  You.  Yes, you! FOLLOW ME.” At first, all I thought Jesus wanted was for me to shape up a little.  And then a little more.  And then a whole lot more!  Here’s what I want to say to you today: Let Christ rule and reign in your life.  Repent. Turn around, change your mind, your heart and your direction. Believe and keep on believing.  Never stop having trust and faith in this Good News!  What a radical call!  “Come follow me, (insert your name)!  I will make you fishers of people!”

RADICAL OBEDIENCE!
What happens? These untrained, uneducated fishermen follow Jesus!  They had never traveled very far.  They had never talked about much other than what was happening in their fishing village. And along comes Jesus; their world is turned upside down.  History tells us that John became the Bishop of Ephesus, Peter went to Rome, and Andrew went as far as the borders of Russia! By following Jesus, their hearts were enlarged enough to take in the whole world— not just the four corners of Bethsaida.

Immediately the men left everything and followed Jesus. Take note: one of the radical demands of a radical call by Jesus is that you must respond with a radical obedience. (“Immediately” means at once, without delay, without hesitation.)

So What? What a year we’ve had so far.  I don’t know about you but 2019 has not been an easy year, it’s had some ups and downs. I’m ready to begin a new decade, are you? 2020–here we come!

As we begin to study this new series, I want us to hear the words of Jesus as if they were spoken to us. I want us to hear them with new ears fresh every morning. “(YOUR NAME,) follow me.”

Remember Bob and Rusty Russell? Rusty had no idea as to how fast he was driving…but Bob—Bob knew exactly how fast his car was going: 58 in a 45. Bob had decided to follow Rusty. That’s our choice each and every day, are we going to follow Rusty or are we going to follow Jesus? The world behind me, the cross before me…sounds like a catchy tuna–I mean, tune.

Maybe for this series, you can go and get a new journal.  Call it your “SEED OF FAITH GOOD BYE 2019” journal. Let’s study all the times Jesus (the good news) calls us to FOLLOW Him!  It’s going to be another great series. I’m praying for you. Kiss the wave.

Let me explain, this is a famous quote by Charles H. Spurgeon. “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the ROCK OF AGES!” I remember wrestling with my call to go into ordained ministry. I went to see Pastor John. We met over a series of time. We prayed. He checked in with me and listened to me. I remember one day, I knew God was calling me into full-time ministry. No doubt about it.  John looked at me and said, “Okay, I’ve been waiting for this day. Dave, if you can do anything else–then go do that but if you must answer this call–then know that it will break your heart.” I said, “I know. I must follow.” John has been there for me for the past 22 years of my ordained ministry, for my 3 years of seminary, and for my many other years when I served as youth director. He was wise and he was right. Following the call of Christ has broken my heart…but in a good way.

The world behind me, the cross before me. I have decided to follow Jesus. Go ahead, get that journal out.

See You Sunday …

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/16/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen and Amen   By Pastor Dave  

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

We come to end of our series on the Apostle’s Creed just as I come to the end of my 12-day vacation! Jac and I drove from SOCAL to WACO, TX! We enjoyed our two grandsons and our son and his lovely wife. Jac can’t fly yet due to her lead levels, so we drive: 3 days there and back. We have been so very blessed by our alone time in the car; God has been refreshing and renewing our souls. It’s good to get away and it’s going to be good to get back to ministry at the SEED.

I suggest you take a few moments to read Revelation 3:14-22 & Revelation 22:17-21.  In the opening of the letter we hear, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” Do you see what I see?  Jesus is the faithful and true AMEN!

Today let’s think about three images of Christ:  the patience of Christ, the plea of Christ and the place of Christ at our table. Each one worthy of a SEED OF FAITH!

In William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of The World,” Christ is holding a lantern and knocking at a door. (See bottom right, top photo.)  I had always heard that Christ was knocking at the door of the human heart asking for entrance.  This passage puts a whole new twist on that thought: Could Christ be also knocking on the door of the church?  I think it’s easy for us to envision Christ  knocking on the door of our heart, or knocking on the door of our home.  Have you ever thought about Christ knocking on the door of our churches? Profound thought here.

Let’s look at the painting and see if we can find some of the rich symbolism in it. First, there is no handle on the outside of the door. Why? Isn’t that odd? Could it be that even though Christ desires entry, He never forces his way in. Instead, He must be invited in, the door must be opened from the inside. The decision is ours as to whether Jesus Christ will be invited in–or not. Next, look at the hinges in the picture. They are rusted and the bolts are broken. The door is held in place by vines; showing that the door has never been used or the vines would be torn. Third, Jesus is holding a lantern. The symbolism is to show that Jesus is the light of the world. Outside, there is a neglected garden overgrown with weeds, there are fruit trees which have not been pruned, and a crop which has been lost because of the lack of tending. There is fruit that has fallen on the ground near the feet of Christ symbolizing Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, and that all of mankind has fallen away from God.  One more observation, there is a bat above the door, a nocturnal creature which loves the night. It is dark outside, pointing to the truth of the Scripture, “This is the verdict: ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’” (John 3:19).

There is so much more in this painting but as we see the painting and read the scripture, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,”  I think we need to ask some questions.

The first question is: To whom is Christ speaking? I had always thought that Christ was speaking to each individual, and that the door represented each individual’s human heart. Christ is knocking because He wants to come into our hearts and lives. I’m not saying that this is incorrect because I have a sneaky suspicion that Christ does want entry into each and every heart. I also want to consider the context. In this chapter, Jesus is speaking to the church.  Isn’t it wild that in this picture Jesus is asking for admission into his own church? Apparently, the church had closed the door on him and never answered his knock.

The three P’s of Christ:
1.  THE PATIENCE OF CHRIST — “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”

Do you see the great love that God has for us, and for His church, as Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks and keeps on knocking over and over, and is still, today, patiently knocking? Sometimes the knock comes through suffering or grief, hardships or difficulties, sickness or death, financial loss or family problems–whatever the case may be–Jesus stands patiently knocking at the door of your heart and the door of his church. It’s totally up to us to open the door and invite Christ inside.

2.  THE PLEA OF CHRIST — “If you hear my voice and open the door…”

The plea of Christ is that we hear His voice.  Each letter to the seven churches of Revelation ends with the words, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  In the Greek language the word “to hear” means to obey, to follow through or to act upon what you had just heard. The plea of Christ is for us to hear the sound of his voice as He stands knocking at the door, and for us to open the door wide so that He may come in.  Remember, we must open the door from the inside. Christ will not open the door.  He will not force Himself upon us.  Christ never forces anyone into salvation. It’s a choice of our free will.  Freely He offers salvation to you and me by grace. Everywhere in Scripture Jesus offers himself to men and women, and grieves over the fact that many do not receive Him. Remember the remarkable scene in the Gospels during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem as he comes over the top of the Mount of Olives and sees the city spread out beneath him? Jesus wept over the rebellious city saying, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You stone the prophets and kill everybody God sends to you. How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not…” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)  Christ wants us to act upon his knocking—he wants us to open the door, to invite him in, to say to him, “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter my life. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Deliver me from my sins — and from myself.” As Christ stands at the doors of our churches, shouldn’t we say,  “Come in, Lord Jesus. Enter our church. Be our Lord.  Be our Savior. Deliver us from our sins and from ourselves”? Isn’t this the whole plea to the 7 churches in Revelation? This isn’t a knock-knock joke at all.  This is a call to HEAR and ANSWER and OPEN THE DOOR and INVITE CHRIST INTO OUR HEARTS, HOMES AND CHURCHES. If you hear His plea, open the door. Churches, don’t resist the Gospel; open the doors!

3.  THE PLACE OF CHRIST AT OUR TABLE — “I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me…”

The third plea is very clear. Jesus will enter in! He says so right here, “If you open the door, I will enter in and remain with you. We will eat together and be together.” What a beautiful picture of Christ: permanently dwelling within you. He will move in and live with you.  The actual word for “eat” here is the Greek word “deipneo” which refers to the evening meal or supper.  Supper was the main meal of the day.  Breakfast was a slice of dry bread dipped in wine.  Lunch was seldom eaten at home. But supper was the time to sit down and fellowship in the home after the work of the day was done. Have you ever traveled to Europe or Mexico? Dining together is an event. It isn’t like here in America:  hurry up and eat so we can do homework, go to a sport’s game, watch TV or go to bed! NO! It’s like sit down, take a load off your feet, sit back, breathe, enjoy this space to just BE–and share the great gift of TIME with your family. Tell stories, laugh and remember.  Build relationships. Back then in Jesus’ time, supper was a time of intimacy and relationship, sharing and fellowship–it was called “communion.” Wow. Let that sink in.

This is not a mere courtesy visit that Christ is promising.  He desires to come in, sit down and spend a long time with us in communion, in conversation, in relationship with us.  This is the place Christ desires: sitting with us at our table; a table filled with intimacy,relationship, sharing and communion.  Jesus patiently stands at the door and knocks. Knock, Knock. No joke. Jesus’ plea is that we hear His voice and open the door. He longs to take his place at the table.

SO WHAT?
“So what?” is it that you believe about God the Father?  What is it that you believe about Jesus?  What is that you believe about the Holy Spirit?  What is that you believe about the church and the communion of the saints?  What is that you believe about forgiveness?  What is that you believe about the resurrection and life everlasting? It’s all right here in this APOSTLES’ CREED.

This past week has been a hard week in ministry. Actually, it’s been the most intense month of ministry I’ve ever had. I’ve sat at the bedside of a person who is preparing to go home to meet Jesus face to face. This person wanted to bless her four grandchildren. We’ve been meeting and planning and we were able to complete her plan this week by meeting with each grandchild and blessing them with the meaning of their name. A holy time for me to be able to share that with her. There’s another person who I’ve been visiting regularly who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This man is a longtime friend and coworker in the ministry.  He is a retired surgeon.  Every week, I go and sit with him.  Sometimes other doctors and  friends come by when I am there. We sit out in the hot sun and we laugh and remember the good times and the memories we’ve made together. I have been with him in the hospital when he has gone for treatment.  My friend asks everyone he meets this one, simple question since being diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Here’s his question. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?” Go ahead. Answer the question. Take all the time you need. “If I believe the way you believe, what will happen to me when I die?”  My dear friend has been sharing the Good News of the resurrection with others as he walks with Jesus through this difficult diagnosis.

So What?  What is it that you believe?  The final thing I want to tell you is this: IF YOU BELIEVE LIKE I BELIEVE…when you die—you will be present with the Lord Jesus. The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I see this all the time. Over and over, the faith of the person dying impacts the way they die. I’ve truly been blessed to be at so many bedsides.

I know a person who had a near death experience.  This person is my wife. She saw heaven. She saw Jesus…on a white horse…riding her way. She saw the celestial city. Said it’s a million Disneylands and prettier and more majestic than you can imagine. The city was filled with people and the people were filled with JOY…the kind of contagious JOY that we cannot imagine. This person told me, “I used to be so afraid of dying. But ever since that experience in June of 2000—I’m not afraid. I’m anxiously waiting for that final call home.” Whenever we talk about death, she says the same thing…word for word. For 19 years now, she’s never changed a word of her story. Jesus, white horse, sword in hand, millions of miles of castles, a city filled with people and love and joy! This lady opened the door to her heart on a dark night in Rochelle, IL, on August 30, 1979. She’s never been the same since that day. She opens her Bible and devours the word each day. She listens to Christian music 24/7. She’s developing a relationship with Jesus. They sit and share communion. She writes, she reads, she sings, she thinks about her life with Christ. I’m here to tell you, I’ve witnessed it and I want to witness it in you, too.

Open the door. Invite Christ in. Here’s a scenario: Jesus is standing outside the door of your heart. Open the door and say, “I’m a sinner. I need a Savior. I know that you are Jesus and that you’ve already died for my sins. Come in. Sit. Read with me. Talk with me. Teach me. Amen.”

And that’s the Apostles’ Creed in a nutshell.

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10.  the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11.  the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12.  the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13.  and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

See you Sunday —God loves you. He sent His only Son to die for you. Open the door. Communion.

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/8/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe – Amen   By Pastor Dave  

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers:

Well, we’ve made it!  We have made to the end of The Apostles’ Creed. Congratulations on making it through this 12-week series. By now, you should know a little more of what you believe and why. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was written around 140 A.D. as a baptismal confession for people joining the church?

Join me as we read The Apostles’ Creed together. I would like to add the word “AMEN” at the end of each line. Here we go:

The Apostles’ Creed

1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; — AMEN!

2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord; — AMEN!

3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, — AMEN!

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; — AMEN!

5. He descended into hell; — AMEN!

6. the third day he rose again from the dead; — AMEN!

7. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; — AMEN!

8. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. — AMEN!

9. I believe in the Holy Ghost, — AMEN!

10. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, — AMEN!

11. the forgiveness of sins, — AMEN!

12. the resurrection of the body, — AMEN!

13. and the life everlasting. Amen — AMEN!.[i]

So What?  After a dozen weeks, what is it that you believe about God our Father in Heaven?  What is it that you believe about God the Son, our Savior who came from heaven and died for us?  What do you believe about the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What do you believe about the Holy universal, all-embracing catholic church? (That is what catholic means–universal.) What do you believe about the communion of the saints?  What do you believe about the forgiveness of sins?  Do you know that you know that you know that YOU are forgiven? Do you know that we are commanded to forgive as Christ has forgiven us? What do you believe about the resurrection of the body?  What do you believe about the life everlasting?

It is my hope that after spending 12 weeks studying the CREED that your faith has been strengthened and that you know more emphatically what you believe and why you believe it.  It is my prayer that, as we finish the series, you can and will, stand and say, “YES and AMEN” to the ancient, but relevant, Apostles’ Creed.

So What? What does the word “AMEN” mean? We say it all the time. “Amen.” What do you think it means?

Do you know that the word “AMEN” is used by the Jewish people, Christians, and Muslims?  The word “AMEN’ is used in many languages, and may be the most widely known word in the entire world. Our next-door neighbors are Korean. Each morning, when I go out to do my reading and prayer time, my neighbor does, too. We don’t speak the same language but I can understand my neighbor. As he prays, I hear him saying, “Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen and amen.” Every morning at about 6 am, he prays one word: AMEN for 15 -20 minutes. I often wonder if he’s reading the Scriptures and then just agreeing with the WORD.

Point 1 for today: “AMEN” is a word that is one of the most widely known words in all the world.  Point 2: What does AMEN mean? In the Hebrew language the word means “so it is” or “let it be,” derived from a verb meaning “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in, to trust.”  In the thirty times that “AMEN” appears in the Old Testament it precedes a statement and the people are agreeing that they believe and put their trust in the WORD of God.  The people are agreeing as one body that what will be said will be reliable, sure and firm. The significance of using “AMEN’ is that the people are agreeing that what they heard, they had just adopted as their very own.  In essence, they are saying, “We can take what was just said to the bank.  What was just said is as solid as a rock foundation. What was just said is reliable and we can trust it with our life.” AMEN? AMEN!

Our two Scripture readings for today come from the Gospel of Matthew and from the last book of the Bible, Revelation.

Before we go to the Words of life, let us come before the giver of life in prayer. “Lord, God of all creation, we come to say “AMEN’ to your Word of life found in our scriptures.  May Your Words of life be a solid foundation for us, a firm and reliable foundation that will withstand the storms of life.  Amen and Amen”

Matthew 7:24-29
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law..

In the Gospel words we just heard, Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount and had just given His new disciples a detailed “to do” list. Jesus laid down His vital principles for life (Matthew chapters 5-7) and is now applying the final word of truth: AMEN.  This section is the “So What” part of Jesus’ message.  Jesus is confronting His followers with the two possibilities they will face in life:  Will they be wise or will they be foolish? Will they build on the solid rock or will they build on sinking sand?

Warnings about being wise or foolish are found all over the Scriptures. The two men in Jesus’ house story have the same desire–they each long to build a house.  They each want the same thing. At the beginning of the story, there’s no difference between the two. But then it appears, the foolish man does not take the time to listen to others.  The foolish man does not investigate all of the possibilities of how the building should be built.  The foolish man does not look at the blueprints or ask for advice, he just throws up his building.

We are told a little more of the Sermon on the Mount story in Luke’s account in chapter six.  Luke tells us that the wise man dug down deep and laid his foundation on rock, not on the sinking sand. The difference between the two builders is that the wise man did listen, he investigated and desired to build on a solid foundation.

So What?
Will we be wise or will we be foolish? Will we build on the solid rock or will we build on sinking sand?

Remember the word “AMEN” means  “to be firm or sure, to be reliable, to believe in or to trust.” What is it that you are saying “AMEN” to you your life?  What is it that you are staking your life on?  What is it that you take to the bank as totally reliable and true? What are you building your life upon?

Jac and I are in Texas as I write this SEED OF FAITH. We drove here. We left earthquake country and entered tornado country.  As we stopped at one of the roadside rest stops in Texas, I noticed a door with a sign on it, “STORM SHELTER.” It made me think.  In California, you have 10-60 seconds to get ready for an earthquake. I remember this summer when we had two back-to-back earthquakes. We were out back cleaning up the pool. The cement block walls started waving back and forth.  Javon hollered, “Earthquake!” The next steps are: DROP, COVER, HOLD ON. Hopefully, you have an outside storage area with water and food supplies. This method is way different from preparing for midwest tornadoes. The sirens go off. You have a five-10 minute warning to seek shelter. You avoid rooms with windows. When we lived in Missouri and Illinois, we ran to the basement. In Texas, we ran to the closet under the stairs. We already had the important items stocked there: flashlights, batteries, storm radio, water and snacks.
Can you see what Jesus is trying to say? KNOW the layout of the land that you are building your house upon. In the case of Christ, build your heart upon Christ, the solid foundation. He is the ROCK OF AGES.

My guess is that you know your area and that you are somewhat prepared for a storm or earthquake but what I really want to know as your pastor, are you building your life on the solid foundation of God’s word? I pray so!
Can I get an AMEN?

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 10-25-19

Seed of Faith – I Believe — Everlasting Life   By Pastor Dave  

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Dear  Faith-Filled Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:
Are you being blessed by the Lord and walking in His grip of grace today? If not, why not? Grace is free! Costs you nothing because the cost has already been paid by Christ.

We are coming to end of our study of the Apostle’s Creed.  If you have not had a chance to get all the Seed’s of  Faith or would like the full manuscripts of the messages, please send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will get them to you.

“I Believe — Everlasting life!”

What is everlasting life? Who wants everlasting life?  Why was this line added to the end of the Apostles’ Creed?  These are a few of the questions that come to my mind as think about the closing lines of Apostles’ Creed. Last week we talked about our hope being anchored in the fact, the reality and the truth, of the resurrection. Have you ever thought about how different our lives would be if there had been no resurrection? Inconceivable really.

Today we turn our thoughts to the last line … “and the life everlasting.”

There is so much written on “everlasting life or eternal life.” Right now, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read John 3:1-22. What is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus visit in the middle of the night? Next, reflect on Jesus’ response to the woman at the well found in John 4:1-26  A few of the verses are recorded above. In John chapter 6 the words “eternal life- everlasting life” are recorded three times.

So what is eternal life?

Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Moody said to a friend, “Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all—out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”[i]

Nic at night (both a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin) figured this out: Rank doesn’t matter, hand-tailored clothes don’t matter, Gucci sandals don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that I eat at the five-star place in town or have the biggest house filled with the finest things. Why? BECAUSE OF THAT WILL PERISH. What Jesus is after here is my spirit. Jesus is after my heart, mind, body and soul. My flesh will die but my spirit will live forever!

After THE LAST SUPPER—which wasn’t really known by that, by the way—Jesus prayed. He prayed for the believers, He prayed for future believers, and He prayed for Himself. (Yes, it’s okay to pray for yourself!)  His prayer is found in John 17. The whole chapter is one long prayer.  This is how John (his bff) records the opening of Jesus’ prayer,  “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

Did you hear the powerful message of eternal life in verses 2 and 3? God has granted all authority to Jesus in order for Jesus to be the giver of eternal life.  What does Jesus say eternal life is? “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…”

I know this message has a lot of Scriptures, but the theme of “eternal life” is imprinted in all of them. God is eternal.  In Isaiah God is called the “The Lord is Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4) and in Jeremiah God is called the “King Eternal.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Since God is eternal so are all God’s attributes, blessings and love. The Psalms tells us repeatedly that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

The words “eternal life” are used 42 times in the New Testament. Eternal Life is the major theme of the Bible.  For the writers of the Bible, “eternal life” meant more than just life everlasting. Eternal Life was a quality of existence that held no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, and no more death.  Eternal life meant a life that continues forever in the presence of God whose love is unfailing and unending. Not just here.  Not just now. Not just tomorrow—but forever and ever and ever.

During World War II, a prisoner wrote: Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer held a little service which reached the hearts of all. He had hardly finished his prayer, when the door opened. Two evil-looking soldiers came in and barked: “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us!” The words meant only one thing, the scaffold. As he bid his fellow prisoners good-bye, he said, “For me this is the beginning of a new life, eternal life.”[i]

So What?
What is eternal Life? Why would the early disciples put this in the Apostles’ Creed?  Better yet, why would it be the closing line?

The late and marvelous preacher, Ralph W. Sockman, was writing an Easter sermon one year when he received word that a friend had died. His friend was a scholar, a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, a distinguished missionary to China for forty years. A daily prayer of this remarkable servant included, “Oh, God our Father, I accept Thy gift of love; help me to pass it on for Jesus’ sake.” On the morning of the missionary’s death, at age ninety-two, Lacey Sites said to those near his bedside: “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.”[ii]

What a profound statement…. “If we live the eternal life now, we will always.” Yes! Here it is! Here is why the apostles closed the entire creed with this line:
AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING. AMEN.

Can you hear your own version of this line? I can. “Dave, don’t just live for heaven…live for heaven on earth. Each and every person I put you in contact with needs a drink of this living water. Pour.  Pour out. Don’t count the cost.  The cost we are talking about are souls—and souls who need eternal life. People need living water.”

Friends, don’t wait to live eternally.  Let us start today and live every day in the presence of the living God. Friends, we have this living water to share, we have the bread of life to share. We need to share everlasting life with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers.

How do we live eternally now?

Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of live.
Focus on your Savior and not the storms.
Focus on the Cross and not the crime nor the criminal.
Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.
Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situations you face.
Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.
Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.
Focus on God’s love and share this love with the lost.
Focus on the power of the resurrection and let this power resurrect, revive, restore, renew, reconcile and redeem your life—today, every day and forever.

Both Nic at Night and WOMAN at the well figured out the secret to life: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today and begin living eternally every single day.  Live in God’s never-failing love, unending grace and ever-flowing mercy. Live in the forgiveness of your past, present and future!   Come to the water of life and drink from the springs of eternal life. If you meet a guy named Nic or a woman who’s had five husbands–you’ve come to the right spring of LIVING WATER. Jesus is no respecter of clout or sin. He died and rose for ALL…and that means YOU.

The Apostles’ Creed

  1.  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
  2.  and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord;
  3.  who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
  4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell;the
  5. third day he rose again from the dead;
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  7. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Ghost,
  9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. and the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

As I close, I was born on 6/18/54 and I received Christ as my Lord and Savior in January of 1981. If you ever hear that I’m dead–don’t you believe it because on that very day, I will be more alive than I’ve ever been!

See you Sunday!

God Loves You and So Do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Seed of Faith – I Believe, Resurrection Life  By Pastor Dave  

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers:

It’s the HARVEST season! I pray that you are reaping 30, 60 or 100-fold of all the good that you have sown this year!  It is my hope and prayer that as you walk through each day, that you will know that Jesus walks with you.  It is my prayer for you to know the powerful presence and perfect peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ–both as Lord and Savior. Knowing Christ is everything.

Today we come to the second to last line in the Apostles’ Creed.  Line eleven: we “believe in the resurrection of the body.”  As always, I encourage you take a few moments and read chapter 15 of I Corinthians.this week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your mind and heart about the power, the hope, and life we can find in the resurrection.

We need to remember that during the time the Creed was written, it was written to defeat false teaching and to proclaim what a person or group believed about Jesus Christ. When the Apostles’ Creed was written, there were many false teachings that were circulated. There are many false teachings today. The world hasn’t changed all that much.  That is why it is important for us to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.  

There was a teaching in the early church called Gnosticism, and the teachings of the Gnostics are still with us today.  Gnosticism comes from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning “knowledge.” The Gnostics believed that people were saved through special knowledge.  They viewed the physical or material world as evil and corrupt. The Greeks believed that the body or flesh was a prison for the soul and that only the soul was immortal. The Early Church put line eleven in the Apostles’ Creed in order to proclaim that God is the creator and what God created was good and the body is part of God’s creation.  When God created Adam and Eve and breathed life into their lungs, God said that His creation was very good. What God creates is good — very good!

The resurrection of the body is a mystery.  After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him.  When Mary realized the man she thought was the gardener was Jesus, Mary was told not to hold on to Him.  The problem is that we were created very good, but something called sin separates us from God.  Because of this separation, God sent His one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to suffer under Pontius Pilate, to be crucified, dead and buried.  But the Good News, the greatest news of all, is that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death forever by rising from the dead.  Hell, death and the grave were defeated at that single moment of the resurrection.

There’s story after story about what happened after the resurrection! Jesus invited the disciples to eat breakfast on the beach. Jesus told Thomas to put his hands in his nail scars and to put his hand into the place where the speared pierced His side. I’ve always gained such hope from these resurrection stories because if Jesus had a resurrected body, be certain that you and I will have one, too.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery. As I studied this Scripture this week, I read how one early church father by the name of Orgien, thought that the resurrection of the body meant the body of Christ as in the church.  The resurrection of the body is a mystery and some of the most profound writings on the resurrection are found here in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  If you have your Bible, turn with me to Paul’s words on the resurrection.

Paul begins with the resurrection of Christ, then turns his attention to the resurrection of the dead and, finally, his longest teaching on the resurrection of the body.

Here is a radical fact! Death is a fundamental human problem.  The truth is that we will all die, but the Good News is that those in Christ will live with resurrected bodies. Christianity stands out alone among all of the world’s faiths and “isms.” Christianity views death as conquered. To be a Christian is to have a “HOPE” resting on the “FACT” that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, saw over 500 people (witnesses) and now lives eternally in heaven at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

We  can have hope in the power of the resurrection.  The writer of Hebrews say that this hope is an anchor to our soul.

The Apostle Paul tries to explain the mystery of the resurrection by not explaining it.  He points to the mystery of a seed and a tree and offers a word picture as an explanation. Of course, I like the idea of the seed …since that is the name of our Church.  We have been given resurrection life and hope through the seed of God’s word.

Tim Keller is a pastor, writer and teacher of a church in New York.  Keller tells the following story about the power of Christ’s resurrection: “A minister was in Italy, and there he saw the grave of a man who had died centuries before who was an unbeliever and completely against Christianity, but a little afraid of it too. So, the man had a huge stone slab put over his grave so he would not have to be raised from the dead in case there is a resurrection from the dead. He had insignias put all over the slab saying, “I do not want to be raised from the dead. I don’t believe in it.” Evidently, when he was buried, an acorn must have fallen into the grave. So, a hundred years later the acorn had grown up through the grave and split that slab wide open and that tiny seed was now a tall, towering, oak tree. The minister looked at it and asked, ‘If an acorn, which has power of biological life in it, can split a slab of that magnitude, what can the acorn of God’s resurrection power do in a person’s life?'”[i]

Friends, here is the Good News of the resurrection.  Here is the hope we have in the resurrection. The minute we decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life and you are sealed forever in Christ.   This power of the Holy Spirit that takes up residence in our hearts is just like the power of the resurrection—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  One scholar likes to say that we now have some of Jesus’ DNA in us and we are related.  We have this hope of the resurrection.

Stop for moment to think of the things you see as immovable slabs in your life—your bitterness, your insecurity, your fears, your self-doubts, your hurts, your regrets, your past, and even your future. Those things can all be split and rolled away by the mere power of the seed of faith. The more you know Jesus, the more you will grow into the power and the HOPE of the resurrection.

I know that we don’t have time today to plumb the depths of all these passage on the resurrection. I encourage you to read and reread chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  Get a journal or write in your Bible–allow the Holy Spirit,  your teacher, to teach you all things.

So What?
I like the words that Paul uses to contrast the physical life with the resurrected life.

Perishable vs Imperishable!
Dishonor vs Glory!
Weakness vs Power!
Natural vs Spiritual!

Perishable means that our mortal bodies are subject to corruption, decay, sickness, illness and even death.  But our resurrected bodies will not be subject to any of these maladies or conditions. Dishonor means a state of disgrace, shame and sin.  The resurrected body will be raised in “doxa” — glory!  No more sin and no more shame.  No more condemnation. No more disgrace. Weakness!  The Greek word means to be in want of strength, feebleness, illness, incapacity and timidity. When we come to our resurrection, we will have power instead of timidity —no  fear … we will have power!  Natural bodies!  Wow! This old body will be replaced with a body fully filled and fueled by the Holy Spirit.

The perishable will put on imperishability, this body that is swallowed up with shame and sin will be raised in glory, this body that is weak and broken will be given new power, this natural, decaying, dying body will be given life and life abundantly.

So what does the resurrection of Christ mean to YOU? What does your own future resurrection mean to you?  For the early disciples who stood up and proclaimed the Apostles’ Creed, many did so at the expense of life.  Stand this week in the power, hope and life of the resurrection, and recite the Apostles’ Creed as if your life depended on it…because it does.

My prayer is that the resurrected Jesus will meet you in a room where you are gathered, or on the road to Emmaus, or on the beach. I pray that Christ will ask you to put your hand into his resurrected wounds. I pray Christ will fill you PEACE and that you will be still and that you will soak up the life that only the resurrected Christ can give.

See You Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.