Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 10/11/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Forgiveness of Sins   By Pastor Dave  

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11

Dear Faithful and Forgiven Friends:

Grace and mercy to you from Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Today marks the 9th anniversary of the church where I pastor, The Seed Christian Fellowship. It’s always an easy date to remember: 10-10-10! I pray that you have a home church that you love and support. The church is the BODY of CHRIST; when you serve a church, you are serving Christ. Happy ninth Birthday, SEED!

Today’s topic is deep and long.  I know we can never plumb the depths of God’s grace and forgiveness, so I am preparing you now — this will be a long devotional thought.  Please stay with it.  There are some nuggets of God’s gold found in the Scriptures here. I encourage you to grab your Bible now, and read Mark 2:1-12 and John 8:1-11.  Take your journal and/or your ipad/notepad and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Let’s go back 1,800 years and let’s imagine the saints from ages past throughout those 18 centuries, and let’s imagine them all gathered together. We’d have to imagine them in homes, prisons, beaches, mountain hideouts, caves, along riverbanks and in churches both large and small. Let’s imagine all of the saint declaring the APOSTLES’ CREED. Can we imagine their faith?  Can we imagine their courage?  Just imagine the hearts and homes and cities and towns that were changed by this proclamation of faith. Since 140 A.D. saints and sinners alike have gathered together to declare exactly what it is that they believe. What a great cloud of witnesses cries out through the centuries.

As we recite The Apostles’ Creed below, imagine those who have gone before us:

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;

5. the 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,

11.  and the life everlasting. Amen

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
So what?  What does it mean to you when you say that? What does it mean when you say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”?  What does the forgiveness of sins look like?  What does the forgiveness of sins feel like?  Who forgives the sins of sinners? Can WE forgive the sins of sinners? What are we to do with the forgiveness of sins?  So many questions come to my mind.  I wish we had more time to plumb the depths of this deep, theological statement.

Let me set the stage. The line that we are talking about wasn’t in the original Creed. It was added later. Why?  In 303 A.D. the Emperor of Rome was a man named Diocletian. Diocletian was a cruel and wicked Emperor. Diocletian ordered that the property of the Christians in Rome was to be seized.  He ordered that all books were to be burned, and that all of the places of worship were to be destroyed. All of the Christian leaders/pastors/teachers were imprisoned. (Did you read that? Think of all of the pastors you know, put into prison.)  Many of them were martyred for their faith. Here’s how Diocletian operated: The Christians were ordered to sacrifice to the Roman gods and if they did not, they were imprisoned or martyred. Diocletian was cruel—he impaled people on poles, he burned people at the stake. I think we can understand why so many frightened Christians of this era came out en mass to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. They renounced their faith. By offering public sacrifices to the Romans gods, these Christians had renounced their baptism, and their faith.

After a while, life returned to normal and Christianity was again tolerated as a part of the Roman pluralistic empire. When this happened, a crisis happened in the church. What was the church to do with the Christian believers who had renounced their faith in order to save their lives from the wicked Diocletian and his army? The early church wrestled with questions like: Can these sinners be accepted back into the faith? Should they be baptized again? Should they be permanently be excluded from participating in the Christian community? In all honesty, these were tremendously difficult questions.  This was a time of deep soul -searching for believers. Throughout this struggle, the deepest questions of Christian identity came into focus.

So what?  What is it that makes you a follower of Christ? What can you do if you have strayed away from the faith?  What can you do if you have sinned? Is church just for the pure and holy, or is the church for those who are weak, struggling, and uncertain? This 4th century church crisis led to many discussions regarding clear answers to these questions. It was finally agreed upon: Failures in following Christ or discipleship — even dramatic failures — do not exclude a person from the grace of God.  The early church then added the 10th line into the Apostles’ Creed:  “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Can you imagine being so afraid of being impaled that you renounced your faith and sacrificed to Roman gods? This line about forgiveness was added to the Apostles’ Creed so that those who had done the renouncing could be included back into the Church. The church went back and forth on this issue. Do we make them be re-baptized? Isn’t baptism a once and forever kind of thing? Now you understand the turmoil involved in just this one line.

In 381 the Nicene Creed was written as a follow-up creed to the Apostles’ Creed and it included the statement, “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” One God, one Lord, one baptism.

This series on the Apostle’s Creed was our SUMMER SERIES. I thought it was going to be dry and boring. It was anything but. Week by week we covered each line. And week by week, the people we excited to learn more about what we believe and how we came to include the Apostles’ Creed in church. During the summer, a young woman came home from Tennessee to visit her parents and grand parents. She came to church with her family and heard the message that you’re reading about. After church, she said, “I want to be baptized.” WOW!  We met and talked about baptism and what it means and then we met in her grandparents’ pool and she was baptized in front of her family. She read the Apostles’ Creed and then asked to be dunked in the pool three times. One for the Father, one for the Son and one for the holy spirit! What a blessing! And then I received a call from a person I had no connection to but you need to hear her story. Wherever this woman works, a young man named Steven serviced the air conditioners. Over the years, they became friends. (Always be your AC service tech’s friend!) Steven was a friend of Don and Don invited Steven to our Wednesday night bible study. Steven did not attend our church but he did attend our bible study. The grandma had shared with Steven that she didn’t have a home church but she wanted to be baptized. Steven asked me for a business card and the next time he serviced the air conditioning at grandma’s work, he gave her the card and said, “You need to call Pastor Dave.” She did.  She called me in July. I met with her in August and her little granddaughter, all of 8 years old, also wanted to be baptized. Guess what? We baptized both of them in Mom and Dad’s pool! The entire family wanted to read the Apostles’ Creed together, and then each of the girls went under three times: one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was the baptismal confession of the early church? Oh, how have we lost this amazing tradition? I think it’s time to bring it back, don’t you?

As you read Mark 2:12, take a moment and put yourself into the story.  In the Mark passage who would you be? Would you be one of the friends who carried their friend to Jesus?  Would you be the paralyzed man? Would you be a part of the crowd, just watching in disbelief?  Would you be one of the religious leaders who questioned Jesus? Sometimes it’s a good idea to pretend to be all of the characters involved; you gain different perspectives that way.

In the John passage we have a second, powerful story of forgiveness and grace.  Where are you in this story?  Are you looking in someone’s window to find sin?  Are you dragging the sinner out to be accused by Jesus and the crowd?  Are you a part of the crowd? Are you already holding a stone, ready to throw it?  What if you are the person who was caught in sin? Wow. Try being each character in this story.

I love stories of forgiveness.  As I prayed about teaching on the forgiveness of sins, I prayed about what to teach.  I could teach some of the Old Testament words for forgiveness … “nasa” which means to send away, “kapar” which means to cover up. From this we get Yum Kippor — the day of atonement for the covering of sins (which, by the way, was this past Tuesday, October 8th.) The dynamic of forgiveness in the Old Testament is the releasing of the person from their past. The person’s past acts and deeds of sin are not denied, but there is no longer any bondage attached to the sin.  The chains are broken.  The Old Testament teaches that forgiveness brings freedom.

We could spend a little time looking at the New Testament words for forgiveness. No one really knows what Jesus was writing in the sand that day when they brought the woman to him to be stoned.  What do you think He was scribbling in the sand? I think he was writing a Greek word used 76 times in the New Testament:  “aphiemi.” “Aphiemi” means “to leave behind, to send away, to forgive.”  Jesus taught forgiveness!  Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s prayer — “forgive us of our sins, debts, trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.” When Jesus was about to be betrayed, Jesus told them that the cup they shared at the Lord’s Supper was the cup of forgiveness poured out in His blood.  When He hung on the cross, Jesus said — “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I am going to do something a little different today..  Instead of giving you several illustrations of forgiveness that bring the point home, I am giving you 14 Bible passages on forgiveness. I would like for you to spend some time during the next week looking up these passages and reflecting on the stories and the passages.  Write some notes, thoughts and prayers.  I always ask myself — “What is it that you Lord want to teach me in this passage?”  What is that God wants to say to you about forgiveness?

Exodus 34:1-10 … “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

2 Chronicles 7:11-22 … “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Psalm 103:1-12 … “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion …” (Psalm 103:1-4)

Jeremiah 31 … “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Micah 7 … “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 7:19)

Matthew 6:5-15 … “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)

Mark 2:1-12 … “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Matthew 18:21-35 — “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33)

Matthew 26:17-30 .. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

Luke 23:26-43 … “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34)

Colossians 3 … “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:13-14)

Ephesians 1:3-14 … “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Acts 13 … “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:38)

I John 1:1-10 … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

THE FINAL “SO WHAT?”
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  When you confess your sin, you are set free.  When you forgive yourself, you set yourself free! When you forgive those who have hurt you, abandoned you, offended you, insulted you, upset you, slighted you, cheated you, lied to you or sinned against you … when you forgive them — you set yourself free. Life is too short to go through it living in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the only meal that eats you from the inside out. Unforgiveness eats your breakfast, lunch and supper. I get it. People are mean.  People are cruel. People do and say horrible things. When Jesus went to the cross, he died for all sin. He died for YOUR sin and for all the sins committed against you. Put yourself in the story of Luke 23:26-43. Hear the words Jesus spoke from the cross as though they were for you alone. “Father, forgive (put that name in here right now) for they know not what they do.”

Forgiving costs us nothing because forgiving cost Jesus everything. 

AMEN.

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 9/27/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Holy Spirit   By Pastor Dave  

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” John 14:16-18

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Grace and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful person of the Holy Spirit.  I have to tell you that one of my favorite persons of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to me, guides me, instructs me, teaches me and even corrects me.  A simple prayer every morning when you get up. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart and home, teach me, guide me, heal me and fill me. Amen”

In last week’s devotional we looked at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  “This business is under new management.” Today I would like for us to reflect on the power and person of the Holy Spirit.  Join me as we journey deeper into Jesus as we think about the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When Jesus says that He “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…” what does He mean?  First, let’s look at a few of the Greek words that are used in this sentence.  The first word is the word “another” and in the Greek, the word is “allos.”  “Allos” means “another one just like the first one.”  Who is the first Advocate?  It is obviously Jesus himself.  Therefore, the second Advocate is just like the first one. The Holy Spirit is a divine being living within all disciples who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  The Trinity is truly a mystery.  When we speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we speak of them as persons.   When John Calvin wrote of the persons of the Trinity, he said, “In the Trinity we have one essence (being) and three subsistence’s.  The three persons of the Godhead subsist in the divine essence (being).”  Now that is a lot of deep, theological language.  The EZ PZ translation: When we recognize God alone as our sovereign creator and we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts to live, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to set up residence in our hearts, our homes and lives.  We are sealed with the third person. In essence, we are allowing God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the Trinity–to rule and reign in our lives.  One of the things I witness as a pastor is that we may  have the main question about the Holy Spirit a bit backwards.  Often we ask, “How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?” I wonder if we should be asking, “How can the Holy Spirit get more of me?”

THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Do you know that the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ? The Holy Spirit acts as a mirror and reflects Christ to us.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who reflects God, teaches us and leads us into all truth.  The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by reproducing more of Jesus in all  believers. “Christian” means “little Christ” and the Holy Spirit does this work in a Christian’s life by reproducing little Christs IN us.  Next in the Greek is the meaning of the word “Advocate,” “Comforter”, or “Counselor”. It is of great importance.  The Greek word for “Advocate” comes from “parakletos” which is a compound of two Greek words: “para” meaning “alongside of” and “kletos” which means “called.”  “Parakletos” therefore means “one who is called alongside of”, another person called alongside you or me as our helper.  The Latin Bible translates “parakletos” as “Advocate,” however, this word can also be translated as “comforter” and “counselor.”  The word “comforter” comes from two words: “cum” which means “with” and “fortis” which means “strength.”  In other words a comforter is a person who comes alongside you or me with strength.  The Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” is the one who will bring us the strength we need in order to live as little Christs.  The Holy Spirit as “Comforter” will bring us strength to withstand the blows and the wounds that we incur in the world.  The “Comforter” gives us the strength and power to stand up and face whatever comes against us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who comes with strength — who is called alongside to guide us, to comfort us, to convict us and challenge us to grow and trust more and more in God (the TRINITY) alone.  The Holy Spirit reflects Jesus Christ so that you and I can reflect Christ to others.

SO WHAT?
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.  When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, “Thank you.”  But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, “If I may ask, what was in that package?”  She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, “Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds.”

Like the contents of the package, the power for growth and strength are available for every Christian who will take advantage of them.  The power for growth comes from using our spiritual gifts and allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow and blossom in our lives.  Scripture says that we shall be known by our fruit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is defined in Galatians chapter five: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit and this is the precious fruit that the HOLY SPIRIT will PRODUCE in you and in me.

When I think of a GPS (Global Positioning System), I realize that not many people can afford a car or system that gives you a GPS.  But, in reality, we all have our own inner GPS — GOD’S PROMISED SPIRIT, GOD’S PERSONAL SPIRIT AND GOD’S POWERFUL SPIRIT — to guide us, to fill us, to strengthen us, to counsel us, to convict us and comfort us….if we let Him in and listen.

Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth.”

To know about God, the Father, alone is good, to believe in Jesus, as Lord, is great and to be filled with the Holy Spirit is wonderful. Don’t be afraid to open the box — the gift that Christ has given you — the Promise, the Person, and the Power of the Holy Spirit. I love to say that the Holy Spirit is the identical twin of Jesus–except in Spirit.

Today I encourage you to pray, “Holy Spirit, I want you to get more and more and more of me. Consume the parts and pieces of me that don’t serve YOU. Teach me.  Correct me. Produce YOUR fruit in me. Be my counselor, my comforter, and my advocate forever. Amen.”

Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me — melt me — mold me — fill me — use me!

Here is a YouTube song about the Holy Spirit. — https://youtu.be/BagH-zTfnsQ

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 9/22/19

Seed of Faith – Under New Management   By Pastor Dave  
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord! Fall is just around the corner. Time for football and pumpkin spice!
We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  Line 8 of the Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”  Over the next few weeks, we will look at the promise, the person and power of the Holy Spirit. This week, let’s look at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to read John 14:15-27.

Let me tell you a story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army. He went regularly to the Salvation Army church. One day he came home rather sad. His wife said, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I’ve just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don’t have a red sweater.” She said, “I’ll knit one.” So she knitted him a red sweater. The next Sunday after he went to church, he still wasn’t happy. His wife said, “What’s wrong this time?” He said, “I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing.”  They were both illiterate, but she said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll embroider some writing on for you.”  She had no idea what the yellow writing on the red sweater said. The Salvation Army has a yellow circle, and inside the circle it reads, “BLOOD AND FIRE.” That’s their motto.  The man’s wife had no idea what the letters said, plus, she couldn’t read. She copied a sign from a store window opposite their home. True, she embroidered the words of the store sign onto his red sweater.  When he came back the next Sunday, she said, “Did they like your sweater?”  “They loved my sweater. Some of them said they liked my sweater better than their sweater.” The sign on the store window she had copied read, THIS BUSINESS IS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.

That’s what it means to trust in God alone. That’s what it means to know Jesus as Lord. That’s what it means for the Holy Spirit to fill you: this business (meaning YOU) is under new management.

The Word of God promises us the Holy Spirit. The words “Holy Spirit”, or “Spirit of God”, or “the Spirit of the Lord” are used 131 times in the Bible.  In our Old Testament reading from the prophet Joel, God promises the Holy Spirit, “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)  What a wonderful promise — God will pour out His Spirit upon all people!  On the night before He was to die for our sins, Jesus offered to us the promise of the Holy Spirit. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:16-18) Jesus promises to give us another advocate — the Holy Spirit who will be with us forever.  What a powerful and comforting promise.  We will not be orphaned — we will never be alone! We always have the promise of the Holy Spirit.

When I think of the promise of the Holy Spirit, I think of Alka-Seltzer. Alka-Seltzer promises fast relief for fever, body aches, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, and coughing.  Alka-Seltzer promises healing, wholeness and comfort.  So often we have the medicine for healing, but we do not open the package. What would happen if you dropped an unopened package of Alka-Seltzer into a glass of water?  Of course, nothing would happen. There would be no power, no healing, and no comfort if the package was never opened.  Yet there is a promise for comfort if we open the package and watch it fizz away!

So What?
The promise of the Holy Spirit is given to us when Jesus tells us that he will ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to come and be with us forever. This past weekend in church, a little girl spilled her cup of gold fish crackers on the floor. I told her father that we could get a broom.  Then I realized that the closet was locked and there was no broom.  Someone came up and started talking to me and I got distracted. I turned around and watched the young dad get down on the floor and pick up all the little gold fish that had been scattered over the floor.  Some of the gold fish had been stepped on and were smashed.  The father picked them all up and put them back in the cup.

Later this week, I thought about that encounter on Sunday morning with spilled and smashed gold fish. I thought about our Father sending His Son to promise us that the Holy Spirit would come and fill our hearts.  I believe that one of the truths of the Holy Spirit is that He wants to come into our hearts and fill us so that our lives are under new management.  I saw God sending His Son to bend down and pick up all the spilled and smashed pieces of our lives and offer to put us back together.

The week — take some time and reflect on the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to open the package and be filled with the Holy Spirit … plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a re-builder He is.  The Holy Spirit will come in and pick up the spilled and smashed pieces of your life! It’s fall and I’m thinking I need a new red sweater with yellow writing that says: Under New Management!

There’s so much more to say about this third person of the Trinity. In closing, I want you to know I’ve found the Holy Spirit to be a gentle friend, not a pushy one. My fear was that once I accepted Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit would plow in and take over.  Soon I’d be on the street corners with a megaphone shouting about heaven and hell.  Nope. Never happened. Once I accepted Christ, I had this warm sense that I had a friend who wanted to make me the best me I could be. I started feeling good when I read the Bible and when I did kind things for my wife and children. I started feeling happy when I listened to praise music. Little by little, I was inspired to be a better person. So far, I haven’t ever stood on a street corner–but you never know, it could happen!  The Holy Spirit is a great respecter of who you are and of what gifts and talents you have. I love to study. I love to read. I love to learn. Made perfect sense to go to seminary. I love to watch as God transforms people. Made sense to become a pastor. I’ve been on this Holy Spirit journey since 1981. It’s more of an inside-out change than it is outside-in. I couldn’t do life without the Holy Spirit.

Before I close, Jac and I had our appointments with our doctor. Three years ago, Jac was a 12 on the scale and now she is a 6. She’s rid her body of half of the lead she contained! I started at 10 and am now at 4! I have one chelation left and will do that in January of 2020.  I should read NORMAL next summer.  Jac has a little longer road to travel but she’s happy she’s halfway through. Keep the prayers coming!
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 9/12/19

Seed of Faith –  I Believe – First Importance By Pastor Dave  

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (I Corinthians 15:3-8)

Dear Friends:

It’s been hot! Only a few weeks until September 23 and we officially begin FALL! I love the heat and I love the summer–it’s my favorite time of the year! I hope and pray that you are growing in Christ’s grace as we meet each week. On a health note, my wife and I go to the doctor this coming Tuesday to get our lead level test results. Pray we have lowered our numbers; while you’re praying–let’s pray for under 2! That would be a miracle!

Last week … we ended with a so what?  Here it is if you missed it.
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others in your life even know that you believe in Jesus and desire to follow Him?

I will tell you that this is one reasons that I wear my cross on the outside of my shirts. I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS as I love myself. The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell the others that they had lived with Jesus. They heard His teaching, His preaching. They saw the miracles! They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching which He condensed to two commandments: love God, love others.

When we read the above passage in I Corinthians, it sounds a little like the Apostles’ Creed, doesn’t it? The Apostle Paul followed Jesus because he had seen  risen Jesus and encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He was on a “Christian Killing” Crusade but God turned it into something so much more. Paul became one of those Christians he was so used to murdering. It’s quite a phenomenal story.

Today we come to the line in The Apostles’ Creed that says, “HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN…and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City and a professor at Harvard Divinity School, told a story in one of his lectures. He was preaching in Louisiana during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country, and Taylor was out in a rural church that had one, little light bulb hanging down from the ceiling to light up the entire sanctuary. He was preaching away, and in the middle of his sermon, the electricity went out. The building went pitch black.  Dr. Taylor didn’t know what to say or do. He stumbled around until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the church cried out, “Preach on, preacher! We can still see Jesus in the dark!”[i]

There’s a thought. Can you still see Jesus in the dark? Sometimes that’s the only time we can see Jesus —in the dark. In the dark night of our soul with nowhere to go–we are forced to look around our darkness. The good news of the Gospel is that whether we can see Jesus in the dark or not, Jesus can see us in the dark! He has ascended (Jesus has risen up) from the grave. He has risen up into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. What does Jesus do there? HE PRAYS FOR YOU and ME! “Intercedes” is the word. Do you know what that word means? Get ready, it’s powerful: INTERVENE ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER. Keep with me. What does “intervene” mean? It means “to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.” Are you still with me? When Jesus says He has gone to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand to intercede for you, He is coming between you and your situation in order to prevent or alter a result or a course of events–JUST FOR YOU…on your behalf. I  don’t know about you but I needed to hear this today!

When we were in Zambia in 2015, we went to worship at the Jesus Army Church on a Sunday morning.  The electricity went on and go off all during the worship.  That never stopped the worship team from singing and playing and worshiping.  If the electricity went off, they just kept on singing.  I’ve thought a lot about that.  THIS is exactly what we are called to do.  No matter what, we are called to keep witnessing and sharing the hope and power of the resurrection with everyone we meet. Whether it’s smooth sailing or rough waters!

So What?
Speaking of smooth sailing or rough waters, our son had a football coach who was often heard telling his team, “Don’t tell me how rough the waters are just bring the ship home!”  There’s quite a bit of truth here. We’ve been given a big job, a huge task: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS. It isn’t as easy as it looks. We all love it when life is sailing along and the sea is like glass. Those are the fun times; not a care in the world. But then the darkness creeps in, doesn’t it? And you’re up at night with a sinking feeling in your heart and gut. And it stays for way too long. I think this line in the creed is there for us to remember: no matter how dark it gets…Jesus is interceding on your behalf. Jesus is intervening on your behalf. He sits between YOU and GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY…trying to calm the rough waters, or trying to calm YOU in the rough seas.

Recently I took my family to see TOY STORY 4. I loved it. I’ve talked about it for weeks. “Who are you like in the movie?” I’m Woody. I feel a huge responsibility to make sure everyone gets to heaven. I deal with a lot of FORKY types–people who think they are trash and not one of God’s personal favorites! Listen, you are not trash. You never were. God thought you up. Created you. Made you uniquely special. And you have a job as a Christian: love God, love others as you love yourself.

Friends, each one of us are in a TOY STORY of our own making. We are an action figure for Jesus Christ and for His ministry on earth. It’s a big job we’ve been given. I will tell you to bring your ship home–but I will also tell you that when you are out there in the roughest of seas–Jesus is with you. When you are in the darkest night of your soul, Jesus is with you. Whether you can see Him or not, He’s there. And He is there interceding for you…on your behalf…to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. The end result is that our life on earth is used to display our LOVE FOR GOD and our LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Can you do that? Can you trust Jesus to intercede for you?

No matter what. Can you trust Jesus to pray for you? When you’re up at 2 a.m.–can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When the test results are what you hoped for, can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When Plan Z seems so far away and Plan A has blown up in your face, can you pray, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” That’s your homework for the week. TRUST JESUS…in all things…in all hours of the day and night…and go out there in faith knowing that Jesus is interceding for you, on your behalf–to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY.

King of cool that we serve a KING who rose from the dead.

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 9/5/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE — JESUS HIGHLY EXALTED   By Pastor Dave  

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:8-11

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord.  It is my prayer that you are walking with Jesus and that His grace and love surround you today and everyday. Throughout the summer, we have been working our way through a series on the Apostles’ Creed.  If you have not had a chance to read the other Seeds of Faith on this series, you can go to our website — www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

The question that I would like for us to reflect on today is “Why is the ascension important?”

First, the ascension is important because it tells us that Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed and that Jesus has gone to be with God the Father to begin His heavenly ministry of interceding for us, (that’s a powerful thought. Jesus ascended into heaven and prays for us.) Second, the ascension is important because Jesus’ earthly ministry has been delegated–to us! (Read that again!)

Today we will look at the first point.  I encourage you to pick up your Bible. Read Acts 1:1-11 and Philippians 2:5-11.

So What? does it mean that Jesus is Highly Exalted?

Luke wrote both of his books (the book of Luke and the book of Acts) to a person named “Theophilus,” a name translated “friend of God.” Whether Theophilus is a real individual or whether Theophilus is any “friend of God” is open to debate, but clearly Luke is writing to a community eager for more detailed and accurate information concerning the origin, history and meaning of the Christian faith. At the beginning of his gospel, Luke tells us he intends “to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”  In Acts, Luke jumps right into the action and says, “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (1:1-2).

In his gospel, Luke wants Theophilus (friend of God) to “know the truth,” and in Acts he begins by making a strong connection between the life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts begins, an important transition takes place. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, all of the work of preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God was done by Christ alone.  Jesus spent three years training, preparing, instructing and teaching the disciples for their future calling to be “martures”– the Greek word for “witnesses.”  Jesus’ great work of providing redemption for us through His life, death and resurrection is now finished and Luke is determined to encourage those of us left behind.

So What?
Here’s what I want you to think about: Is Christ’s work of ministry and proclamation finished? Or is Luke writing to tell us that this is now our job–to finish Christ’s work!? That’s a profound idea. Here’s another question:  Are we? Are we finishing the work Jesus started? Are we loving God and loving others as we love ourselves? Am I ? Are you? Pastor Dave, now you are meddling.

George Whitefield, a famous English pastor, was getting the people of Edinburgh out of their beds at 5 o’clock in the morning in order to hear his preaching. One morning a man who was on his way to the church met David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic. Surprised at seeing him on his way to hear Whitefield, the man said, “I thought you did not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I do not, but he does.”[i] Ah. Perhaps we are here to be a witness to the skeptics? Love God.  Love others. I don’t know but maybe God wants to use you among your circle of influence?

Here’s another meddling question:
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others even know that you believe in Jesus and follow Him? I think this is a question we all must finally come to. This is one reason that I purposefully wear my cross on the outside of my shirt, I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS. I cannot tell you how often people will make a comment to me about my cross. It’s been a great conversation starter.

The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell others that they had seen Him, been taught by Him and lived with Him. They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching: love God, love others.

The challenge today is what are we doing with the witness of the resurrection and the ascension in our lives, our homes, our families, our friends, our workplaces, and neighborhoods?  Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus?

If I started preaching at 5 a.m. in Central Park in Cucamonga, would you come listen? (Relax, not happening.)

I’m praying for you. Pray for me.

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 8/25/19

Seed of Faith – FAITH IN THE MIDST OF STORMS   By Pastor Dave  

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40

Dear Fellow Seed-Sowers!

Here are some thoughts that I have been reflecting on lately.

No matter where you are the storms of life can come crashing in.  I encourage you take a few moments this week, read through the Gospel accounts of the storms that came upon the disciples while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.  ( A little side note, the “sea” in the Hebrew culture was always considered to be “chaos, confusion, evil and of the enemy.”)  I do not know where you are right now. Maybe your sea is calm and you have smooth sailing.  Praise the Lord.  Maybe your sea is a little bit choppy but all is stable.  Maybe your sea is crashing on all sides all around you.

The Scriptures I am enjoying are: Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25 and John 6:16-21. I am really enjoying the Mark passage.

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 NRSV)

Here are some of the basic principles that I have gleaned in my life from reading these passages:

1. No matter where you are — Storms will come into your life.

2. No matter how hard you try — the terrifying winds will blow!

3. No matter when you think you are on safe ground—the waves will crash and flood your life!

4. No matter how hard the wind blows — Jesus is in your boat!

5. No matter how hard the waves crash and swamp your boat — Jesus is in your boat!

6. No matter if you feel alone — Jesus is in your boat!

7. No matter is you feel like you are going to perish — Jesus is in your boat!

8. No matter what — Jesus is in your boat!

When the storms of life come crashing in and you think you are going to sink, keep you focus on Jesus and let your faith in Him be the anchor you CLING to.

A few more thoughts when the storms of life come crashing in on you:

1. Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of life.

2. Focus on your Savior and not the storms.

3. Focus on the Cross and not the crime or the criminal.

4. Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.

5. Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situation you face.

6. Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.

7. Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.

8. Focus on God’s love and share God’s love with the lost.

9. 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.

So What?  Why are you so afraid?

Jesus is in your boat.  Peace, be still!

God loves you with a storm-stopping love and His love will never let you go!

In Christ’s love
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 8/23/19

Seed of Faith – GOD THE SON — FREEDOM   By Pastor Dave  

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8

Dear SEED OF FAITH-ERS:
Greetings in the outrageous grace and unforgettable love of God.  This week I encourage you to take few minutes to pick up your Bible and read Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:1-3.  Read these passages and reflect on what Christ has done to set you free.  SO WHAT? are you doing with your freedom?

If you have been reading this series on the Apostles’ Creed with me, you will remember that the Apostles’ Creed was called the “rule of faith” or the “rule of truth.” This creed was written for the early followers of Jesus Christ to proclaim their faith and to proclaim the truth of what God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit did for them in order to give them life and life abundantly.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders who were following him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8:31-32; 36) The Apostle Paul later wrote to the early church. Listen to his powerful words about freedom in Galatians 5 … “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

When Jay Leno was the host of the Tonight Show. Leno did his famous “man-on-the street” interviews. One night he collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible. “Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?” he asked two college-age women. One replied, “Freedom of speech?” Mr. Leno said to the other, “Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin…” Her response was, “have a good time?” Mr. Leno then turned to a young man and asked, “Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?” The confident answer was, “Pinocchio.”[i]

Are we this confused about what we believe?  I think many people are confused about what they believe and this is why we’re looking at the Creed this summer. I want us to study and to know what we believe.

Today we are going to look at these lines: “…suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…”

When the authors of the Creed added these lines, they were declaring the fact that Jesus was a real man who suffered under a real Pontius Pilate.  Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection are firmly anchored in history. It is a fact and it is history that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. Think about that. Somewhere between 26 – 36 AD Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I hope we can remember that each time we say these words of the creed, we have a real and factual history on our side.

This past week, I met with a very good friend who was told that he has inoperable pancreatic cancer. We met and prayed together. We laughed and cried together.  We read Scripture and prayed together. One of the passages we read was 2 Corinthians 5 … “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)

I do not know what you are facing.  I do not know what you are going through.But, I do know the one who has swallowed death and given us life.  I know the one who will walk with you through your trials, tribulations, fears, anxiety and doubts: His name is Jesus!  He suffered and died and rose from the dead in order to swallow up, conquer and overcome all of the mortal things you or I ever face.

I love what C.S. Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Graves about the divinity and resurrection of Jesus. “The doctrine of Christ’s divinity seems to me something stuck on which you cannot unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you would have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it.[ii]

C.S Lewis’ quote reminds me of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. During the Continental Congress of 1776, the committee selected a tall, rangy, auburn-haired Virginian named Thomas Jefferson to draft the proposition paper. He secluded himself and, with minimum help, within about seventeen days, produced one of the most profound, and beautifully written, political documents ever penned. Congress debated the document, made a few changes, and then signed it with great fanfare, the ringing of the Liberty Bell, and the making of clever speeches, and costly commitments.  Caesar Rodney, ill with a malignant disease that covered part of his face, rode all day and all night from Dover, Delaware, in time to stride, booted and spurred, into the Assembly Hall in Philadelphia to bark: “I vote for independence.”  John Hancock led off the formal signing with a large, bold signature, saying he wanted King George III to be able to read his signature without his specs. Signer Benjamin Franklin quipped: “We shall have to hang together, or we shall all hang separately.”  Among many magnificent statements in this eloquent and comprehensive document, that which most succinctly characterizes the American stance and spirit is this impeccable sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence, we find a summary sentence which places everything in perspective: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This is a unique creed. The signers believed something very special was happening and that God would see them through. It was a new and courageous covenant, men mutually pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor all for the sake of freedom! This is breathtaking and inconceivable in the fermentation of today’s world.

Have we forgotten the high price our founding Fathers paid for our freedom? Have we forgotten that nine signers of the Declaration of Independence did not survive the war? Have we forgotten that many of the signers lost their homes and fortunes? One signer, Thomas Nelson of Virginia, directed the bombardment of his own mansion at Yorktown. Another signer, Francis Lewis, a wealthy New York trader, lost everything he had. His wife was thrown into prison and died shortly after her release. Signer Richard Stockton of New Jersey, a Princeton graduate, lost his wealth, property, and magnificent library. He was imprisoned and died following the war. These illustrations of sacred honor should remind us that the Fourth of July commemorates a costly freedom.[iii]

Let’s slow down long enough to really think about our freedom, both the freedom we enjoy in America and the freedom we enjoy from God’s only Son. Let’s remember the dedication, devotion, and determination of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who gave their lives, their fame, their fortunes and their families in order to fight for the freedom of this nation. And let us also remember those “signers” who put together the Apostles’ Creed who, like our forefathers, gathered together and put into words THE APOSTLES’ CREED so that we can all proclaim  “THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT GOD.”   

So What?
So what are you doing with your freedom? Are these ancient words of the Apostles’ Creed just ancient words that have grown old and lost their value?  Or are these words of the creed something that we, too, would willingly give our fame, fortune, faith, and our very lives to defend? Stop right here.  Think about these two questions. It’s your homework for the week.

We live in dangerous times. Do you know what you believe? I’m praying for you.

See you Sunday!

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

[i] Preachingtoday.com

[ii] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996

[iii] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 36–37). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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 8-8-19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”  Hebrews 11:1-3

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

Summer is just about half over yet many are already back to school! As everyone gets ready for the new school year, I want to take a quick moment to thank each and every one of you for your faithful support and love throughout all the years.  Your faith has given my wife and I the courage to keep looking to Jesus, the author of our faith.

We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  The questions that the Holy Spirit put on my heart this year is, “What do you believe?  Who do you believe? Why do you believe? How do you believe? How do you live what you believe?”

Read the Apostles’ Creed with me:

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

What does it mean when we say we “believe in God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?

It was a cold night in January of 1981 in Rochelle, Illinois, when I got down on my knees in my bedroom.  I was 27 years old, the father of three young children. I had been invited to a couple’s Bible Study by my wife on the book of Romans; we came to chapter 8, verse 15. My life was forever changed that cold, wintry night. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’”  I read and reread that verse that night and started to cry. I went home and knelt down in my bedroom.  I asked God if He really wanted to be my father. I looked up to the heavens and said, “God you really want to be my Father, I will give you a chance.”  I look back and have to laugh. I was going to give God, the creator of everything, a chance. Mighty wide of me, don’t you think? That cold January night forever changed my life.  I came to learn that I really did have a Father in heaven who was Almighty, who created all things and sustains all things–including me, the guy who decided to give God a trial run.

I love Hebrews 11:1-3.  Faith means a lot of things but this verse spells it out.  Faith means being sure of you hope for. Faith means being certain of what you do not see.  Faith means we can understand that God created the universe. Faith means trust.
In the Apostles’ Creed we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again. We are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone–a million times better than having faith in something.

When I turned 40, I left a 20-year career with a nice-paying job.  I had two company cars, free insurance, and a fair salary.  We owned a house and our three children didn’t seem to lack much.  Did I mention that I was a self-made man? For many years, I got by not trusting in anyone or anything but myself.  And then God called me into seminary. Those three years in seminary, I learned my Greek, my Hebrew, church history, ethics, church polity and pastoral care but the main lesson that God taught me was not to be found in any textbook.  Those three, long years I often refer to as “THE CEMETERY” God taught me one simple word — trust.

To
Rest
Under
Salvation’s
Tree

While in seminary, I had to learn to trust God for my daily bread.  I had to learn to trust God for my finances.  I had to learn to trust God with my family. I had to learn to trust God with everything that I had held so tightly to.  I had to let go and let God fill my hands. When I left my job in August of 1994, I no longer had two, free, no maintenance vehicles. I no longer had free insurance. I no longer had much of a salary. I was a full-time seminary student, and I had to learn to trust God—for everything. We had one child in college and two in high school. “TRUST ME, DAVE,” was my mantra for those three, long years.

So What?
So how do you trust?  How do you believe?  What do you believe? Why do you believe?  It is my prayer that as we walk with me through the Apostles’ Creed you  will come to know that you, too, have a Father in Heaven who loves you with an unfailing love and with an outrageous grace. It is my prayer that you will come to understand that His love will never leave you nor forsake you.  His love will create and continue to recreate in you a new heart.

I happen to be married to a woman whose father is her hero. I’ve known Andy for 47 years. I’ve never seen him lose his temper—although he gets worked up over politics! I’ve never seen him throw anything or hit anything. For 47 years, I’ve listened to my wife call her father, “Daddy oh!” “Hi, Daddy oh!” or just “Daddy.” And, for 47 years, I’ve listened to Andy call my almost 65 year-old wife, “Baby doll” or “Baby” or “Sweetheart.”  Just the other day, I was talking to my wife about this series. I shared with her how lucky and blessed she is to have father like she does. Matter of fact, I was driving in the car coming home from a church meeting. I had two other men in the car with me. We had just come from “CHRIST, COFFEE & CARS.” (Meets monthly on a Saturday morning, let me know if you are interested.) Jac didn’t know she was on speaker phone. She had called me to tell me some news about her “Daddy oh!” One of the men asked her why she called her dad that. Jac replied, “Oh my gosh. My dad is my hero. He’s always been my hero. He’s never given me a reason not to be my hero.” After a brief pause, she said, “I wish everyone could have a father like mine.” Both of the men in the car replied, “Me, too.” That interaction got me thinking. You know what? WE DO. We do have a heavenly Father who absolutely loves us. We have a heavenly Father who even lets us “give Him a chance.” We have a heavenly Father who wants to be our hero.
As I close out this week’s SEED OF FAITH, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that if you are going through a hard season that you will learn TO TRUST. I am praying that if you need a heavenly Father, that you will give GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, a chance. I have watched my wife of 45 years make the easy transfer from an earthly father whom she loves and adores to a heavenly father she loves and adores. That’s my prayer for each one of us: that we know we are loved and adored by our heavenly father.
I think I have it. I think I’ve found a pretty good way to start your very own Apostles’ Creed: Kneel down in your bedroom and simply say, “DADDY-OH! I’m thinking tonight’s the night I give you a chance…”
God loves you.  God, our Father, honestly LOVES YOU. That’s my prayer, that you come to understand and grow in the Father’s love for you.

SEED 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 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

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

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED 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 10/11/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Forgiveness of Sins   By Pastor Dave  

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11

Dear Faithful and Forgiven Friends:

Grace and mercy to you from Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Today marks the 9th anniversary of the church where I pastor, The Seed Christian Fellowship. It’s always an easy date to remember: 10-10-10! I pray that you have a home church that you love and support. The church is the BODY of CHRIST; when you serve a church, you are serving Christ. Happy ninth Birthday, SEED!

Today’s topic is deep and long.  I know we can never plumb the depths of God’s grace and forgiveness, so I am preparing you now — this will be a long devotional thought.  Please stay with it.  There are some nuggets of God’s gold found in the Scriptures here. I encourage you to grab your Bible now, and read Mark 2:1-12 and John 8:1-11.  Take your journal and/or your ipad/notepad and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Let’s go back 1,800 years and let’s imagine the saints from ages past throughout those 18 centuries, and let’s imagine them all gathered together. We’d have to imagine them in homes, prisons, beaches, mountain hideouts, caves, along riverbanks and in churches both large and small. Let’s imagine all of the saint declaring the APOSTLES’ CREED. Can we imagine their faith?  Can we imagine their courage?  Just imagine the hearts and homes and cities and towns that were changed by this proclamation of faith. Since 140 A.D. saints and sinners alike have gathered together to declare exactly what it is that they believe. What a great cloud of witnesses cries out through the centuries.

As we recite The Apostles’ Creed below, imagine those who have gone before us:

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;

5. the 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,

11.  and the life everlasting. Amen

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
So what?  What does it mean to you when you say that? What does it mean when you say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”?  What does the forgiveness of sins look like?  What does the forgiveness of sins feel like?  Who forgives the sins of sinners? Can WE forgive the sins of sinners? What are we to do with the forgiveness of sins?  So many questions come to my mind.  I wish we had more time to plumb the depths of this deep, theological statement.

Let me set the stage. The line that we are talking about wasn’t in the original Creed. It was added later. Why?  In 303 A.D. the Emperor of Rome was a man named Diocletian. Diocletian was a cruel and wicked Emperor. Diocletian ordered that the property of the Christians in Rome was to be seized.  He ordered that all books were to be burned, and that all of the places of worship were to be destroyed. All of the Christian leaders/pastors/teachers were imprisoned. (Did you read that? Think of all of the pastors you know, put into prison.)  Many of them were martyred for their faith. Here’s how Diocletian operated: The Christians were ordered to sacrifice to the Roman gods and if they did not, they were imprisoned or martyred. Diocletian was cruel—he impaled people on poles, he burned people at the stake. I think we can understand why so many frightened Christians of this era came out en mass to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. They renounced their faith. By offering public sacrifices to the Romans gods, these Christians had renounced their baptism, and their faith.

After a while, life returned to normal and Christianity was again tolerated as a part of the Roman pluralistic empire. When this happened, a crisis happened in the church. What was the church to do with the Christian believers who had renounced their faith in order to save their lives from the wicked Diocletian and his army? The early church wrestled with questions like: Can these sinners be accepted back into the faith? Should they be baptized again? Should they be permanently be excluded from participating in the Christian community? In all honesty, these were tremendously difficult questions.  This was a time of deep soul -searching for believers. Throughout this struggle, the deepest questions of Christian identity came into focus.

So what?  What is it that makes you a follower of Christ? What can you do if you have strayed away from the faith?  What can you do if you have sinned? Is church just for the pure and holy, or is the church for those who are weak, struggling, and uncertain? This 4th century church crisis led to many discussions regarding clear answers to these questions. It was finally agreed upon: Failures in following Christ or discipleship — even dramatic failures — do not exclude a person from the grace of God.  The early church then added the 10th line into the Apostles’ Creed:  “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Can you imagine being so afraid of being impaled that you renounced your faith and sacrificed to Roman gods? This line about forgiveness was added to the Apostles’ Creed so that those who had done the renouncing could be included back into the Church. The church went back and forth on this issue. Do we make them be re-baptized? Isn’t baptism a once and forever kind of thing? Now you understand the turmoil involved in just this one line.

In 381 the Nicene Creed was written as a follow-up creed to the Apostles’ Creed and it included the statement, “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” One God, one Lord, one baptism.

This series on the Apostle’s Creed was our SUMMER SERIES. I thought it was going to be dry and boring. It was anything but. Week by week we covered each line. And week by week, the people we excited to learn more about what we believe and how we came to include the Apostles’ Creed in church. During the summer, a young woman came home from Tennessee to visit her parents and grand parents. She came to church with her family and heard the message that you’re reading about. After church, she said, “I want to be baptized.” WOW!  We met and talked about baptism and what it means and then we met in her grandparents’ pool and she was baptized in front of her family. She read the Apostles’ Creed and then asked to be dunked in the pool three times. One for the Father, one for the Son and one for the holy spirit! What a blessing! And then I received a call from a person I had no connection to but you need to hear her story. Wherever this woman works, a young man named Steven serviced the air conditioners. Over the years, they became friends. (Always be your AC service tech’s friend!) Steven was a friend of Don and Don invited Steven to our Wednesday night bible study. Steven did not attend our church but he did attend our bible study. The grandma had shared with Steven that she didn’t have a home church but she wanted to be baptized. Steven asked me for a business card and the next time he serviced the air conditioning at grandma’s work, he gave her the card and said, “You need to call Pastor Dave.” She did.  She called me in July. I met with her in August and her little granddaughter, all of 8 years old, also wanted to be baptized. Guess what? We baptized both of them in Mom and Dad’s pool! The entire family wanted to read the Apostles’ Creed together, and then each of the girls went under three times: one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was the baptismal confession of the early church? Oh, how have we lost this amazing tradition? I think it’s time to bring it back, don’t you?

As you read Mark 2:12, take a moment and put yourself into the story.  In the Mark passage who would you be? Would you be one of the friends who carried their friend to Jesus?  Would you be the paralyzed man? Would you be a part of the crowd, just watching in disbelief?  Would you be one of the religious leaders who questioned Jesus? Sometimes it’s a good idea to pretend to be all of the characters involved; you gain different perspectives that way.

In the John passage we have a second, powerful story of forgiveness and grace.  Where are you in this story?  Are you looking in someone’s window to find sin?  Are you dragging the sinner out to be accused by Jesus and the crowd?  Are you a part of the crowd? Are you already holding a stone, ready to throw it?  What if you are the person who was caught in sin? Wow. Try being each character in this story.

I love stories of forgiveness.  As I prayed about teaching on the forgiveness of sins, I prayed about what to teach.  I could teach some of the Old Testament words for forgiveness … “nasa” which means to send away, “kapar” which means to cover up. From this we get Yum Kippor — the day of atonement for the covering of sins (which, by the way, was this past Tuesday, October 8th.) The dynamic of forgiveness in the Old Testament is the releasing of the person from their past. The person’s past acts and deeds of sin are not denied, but there is no longer any bondage attached to the sin.  The chains are broken.  The Old Testament teaches that forgiveness brings freedom.

We could spend a little time looking at the New Testament words for forgiveness. No one really knows what Jesus was writing in the sand that day when they brought the woman to him to be stoned.  What do you think He was scribbling in the sand? I think he was writing a Greek word used 76 times in the New Testament:  “aphiemi.” “Aphiemi” means “to leave behind, to send away, to forgive.”  Jesus taught forgiveness!  Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s prayer — “forgive us of our sins, debts, trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.” When Jesus was about to be betrayed, Jesus told them that the cup they shared at the Lord’s Supper was the cup of forgiveness poured out in His blood.  When He hung on the cross, Jesus said — “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I am going to do something a little different today..  Instead of giving you several illustrations of forgiveness that bring the point home, I am giving you 14 Bible passages on forgiveness. I would like for you to spend some time during the next week looking up these passages and reflecting on the stories and the passages.  Write some notes, thoughts and prayers.  I always ask myself — “What is it that you Lord want to teach me in this passage?”  What is that God wants to say to you about forgiveness?

Exodus 34:1-10 … “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

2 Chronicles 7:11-22 … “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Psalm 103:1-12 … “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion …” (Psalm 103:1-4)

Jeremiah 31 … “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Micah 7 … “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 7:19)

Matthew 6:5-15 … “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)

Mark 2:1-12 … “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Matthew 18:21-35 — “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33)

Matthew 26:17-30 .. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

Luke 23:26-43 … “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34)

Colossians 3 … “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:13-14)

Ephesians 1:3-14 … “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Acts 13 … “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:38)

I John 1:1-10 … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

THE FINAL “SO WHAT?”
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  When you confess your sin, you are set free.  When you forgive yourself, you set yourself free! When you forgive those who have hurt you, abandoned you, offended you, insulted you, upset you, slighted you, cheated you, lied to you or sinned against you … when you forgive them — you set yourself free. Life is too short to go through it living in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the only meal that eats you from the inside out. Unforgiveness eats your breakfast, lunch and supper. I get it. People are mean.  People are cruel. People do and say horrible things. When Jesus went to the cross, he died for all sin. He died for YOUR sin and for all the sins committed against you. Put yourself in the story of Luke 23:26-43. Hear the words Jesus spoke from the cross as though they were for you alone. “Father, forgive (put that name in here right now) for they know not what they do.”

Forgiving costs us nothing because forgiving cost Jesus everything. 

AMEN.

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 9/27/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Holy Spirit   By Pastor Dave  

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” John 14:16-18

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Grace and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful person of the Holy Spirit.  I have to tell you that one of my favorite persons of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to me, guides me, instructs me, teaches me and even corrects me.  A simple prayer every morning when you get up. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart and home, teach me, guide me, heal me and fill me. Amen”

In last week’s devotional we looked at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  “This business is under new management.” Today I would like for us to reflect on the power and person of the Holy Spirit.  Join me as we journey deeper into Jesus as we think about the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When Jesus says that He “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…” what does He mean?  First, let’s look at a few of the Greek words that are used in this sentence.  The first word is the word “another” and in the Greek, the word is “allos.”  “Allos” means “another one just like the first one.”  Who is the first Advocate?  It is obviously Jesus himself.  Therefore, the second Advocate is just like the first one. The Holy Spirit is a divine being living within all disciples who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  The Trinity is truly a mystery.  When we speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we speak of them as persons.   When John Calvin wrote of the persons of the Trinity, he said, “In the Trinity we have one essence (being) and three subsistence’s.  The three persons of the Godhead subsist in the divine essence (being).”  Now that is a lot of deep, theological language.  The EZ PZ translation: When we recognize God alone as our sovereign creator and we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts to live, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to set up residence in our hearts, our homes and lives.  We are sealed with the third person. In essence, we are allowing God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the Trinity–to rule and reign in our lives.  One of the things I witness as a pastor is that we may  have the main question about the Holy Spirit a bit backwards.  Often we ask, “How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?” I wonder if we should be asking, “How can the Holy Spirit get more of me?”

THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Do you know that the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ? The Holy Spirit acts as a mirror and reflects Christ to us.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who reflects God, teaches us and leads us into all truth.  The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by reproducing more of Jesus in all  believers. “Christian” means “little Christ” and the Holy Spirit does this work in a Christian’s life by reproducing little Christs IN us.  Next in the Greek is the meaning of the word “Advocate,” “Comforter”, or “Counselor”. It is of great importance.  The Greek word for “Advocate” comes from “parakletos” which is a compound of two Greek words: “para” meaning “alongside of” and “kletos” which means “called.”  “Parakletos” therefore means “one who is called alongside of”, another person called alongside you or me as our helper.  The Latin Bible translates “parakletos” as “Advocate,” however, this word can also be translated as “comforter” and “counselor.”  The word “comforter” comes from two words: “cum” which means “with” and “fortis” which means “strength.”  In other words a comforter is a person who comes alongside you or me with strength.  The Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” is the one who will bring us the strength we need in order to live as little Christs.  The Holy Spirit as “Comforter” will bring us strength to withstand the blows and the wounds that we incur in the world.  The “Comforter” gives us the strength and power to stand up and face whatever comes against us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who comes with strength — who is called alongside to guide us, to comfort us, to convict us and challenge us to grow and trust more and more in God (the TRINITY) alone.  The Holy Spirit reflects Jesus Christ so that you and I can reflect Christ to others.

SO WHAT?
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.  When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, “Thank you.”  But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, “If I may ask, what was in that package?”  She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, “Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds.”

Like the contents of the package, the power for growth and strength are available for every Christian who will take advantage of them.  The power for growth comes from using our spiritual gifts and allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow and blossom in our lives.  Scripture says that we shall be known by our fruit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is defined in Galatians chapter five: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit and this is the precious fruit that the HOLY SPIRIT will PRODUCE in you and in me.

When I think of a GPS (Global Positioning System), I realize that not many people can afford a car or system that gives you a GPS.  But, in reality, we all have our own inner GPS — GOD’S PROMISED SPIRIT, GOD’S PERSONAL SPIRIT AND GOD’S POWERFUL SPIRIT — to guide us, to fill us, to strengthen us, to counsel us, to convict us and comfort us….if we let Him in and listen.

Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth.”

To know about God, the Father, alone is good, to believe in Jesus, as Lord, is great and to be filled with the Holy Spirit is wonderful. Don’t be afraid to open the box — the gift that Christ has given you — the Promise, the Person, and the Power of the Holy Spirit. I love to say that the Holy Spirit is the identical twin of Jesus–except in Spirit.

Today I encourage you to pray, “Holy Spirit, I want you to get more and more and more of me. Consume the parts and pieces of me that don’t serve YOU. Teach me.  Correct me. Produce YOUR fruit in me. Be my counselor, my comforter, and my advocate forever. Amen.”

Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me — melt me — mold me — fill me — use me!

Here is a YouTube song about the Holy Spirit. — https://youtu.be/BagH-zTfnsQ

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 9/22/19

Seed of Faith – Under New Management   By Pastor Dave  
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord! Fall is just around the corner. Time for football and pumpkin spice!
We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  Line 8 of the Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”  Over the next few weeks, we will look at the promise, the person and power of the Holy Spirit. This week, let’s look at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to read John 14:15-27.

Let me tell you a story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army. He went regularly to the Salvation Army church. One day he came home rather sad. His wife said, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I’ve just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don’t have a red sweater.” She said, “I’ll knit one.” So she knitted him a red sweater. The next Sunday after he went to church, he still wasn’t happy. His wife said, “What’s wrong this time?” He said, “I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing.”  They were both illiterate, but she said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll embroider some writing on for you.”  She had no idea what the yellow writing on the red sweater said. The Salvation Army has a yellow circle, and inside the circle it reads, “BLOOD AND FIRE.” That’s their motto.  The man’s wife had no idea what the letters said, plus, she couldn’t read. She copied a sign from a store window opposite their home. True, she embroidered the words of the store sign onto his red sweater.  When he came back the next Sunday, she said, “Did they like your sweater?”  “They loved my sweater. Some of them said they liked my sweater better than their sweater.” The sign on the store window she had copied read, THIS BUSINESS IS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.

That’s what it means to trust in God alone. That’s what it means to know Jesus as Lord. That’s what it means for the Holy Spirit to fill you: this business (meaning YOU) is under new management.

The Word of God promises us the Holy Spirit. The words “Holy Spirit”, or “Spirit of God”, or “the Spirit of the Lord” are used 131 times in the Bible.  In our Old Testament reading from the prophet Joel, God promises the Holy Spirit, “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)  What a wonderful promise — God will pour out His Spirit upon all people!  On the night before He was to die for our sins, Jesus offered to us the promise of the Holy Spirit. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:16-18) Jesus promises to give us another advocate — the Holy Spirit who will be with us forever.  What a powerful and comforting promise.  We will not be orphaned — we will never be alone! We always have the promise of the Holy Spirit.

When I think of the promise of the Holy Spirit, I think of Alka-Seltzer. Alka-Seltzer promises fast relief for fever, body aches, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, and coughing.  Alka-Seltzer promises healing, wholeness and comfort.  So often we have the medicine for healing, but we do not open the package. What would happen if you dropped an unopened package of Alka-Seltzer into a glass of water?  Of course, nothing would happen. There would be no power, no healing, and no comfort if the package was never opened.  Yet there is a promise for comfort if we open the package and watch it fizz away!

So What?
The promise of the Holy Spirit is given to us when Jesus tells us that he will ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to come and be with us forever. This past weekend in church, a little girl spilled her cup of gold fish crackers on the floor. I told her father that we could get a broom.  Then I realized that the closet was locked and there was no broom.  Someone came up and started talking to me and I got distracted. I turned around and watched the young dad get down on the floor and pick up all the little gold fish that had been scattered over the floor.  Some of the gold fish had been stepped on and were smashed.  The father picked them all up and put them back in the cup.

Later this week, I thought about that encounter on Sunday morning with spilled and smashed gold fish. I thought about our Father sending His Son to promise us that the Holy Spirit would come and fill our hearts.  I believe that one of the truths of the Holy Spirit is that He wants to come into our hearts and fill us so that our lives are under new management.  I saw God sending His Son to bend down and pick up all the spilled and smashed pieces of our lives and offer to put us back together.

The week — take some time and reflect on the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to open the package and be filled with the Holy Spirit … plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a re-builder He is.  The Holy Spirit will come in and pick up the spilled and smashed pieces of your life! It’s fall and I’m thinking I need a new red sweater with yellow writing that says: Under New Management!

There’s so much more to say about this third person of the Trinity. In closing, I want you to know I’ve found the Holy Spirit to be a gentle friend, not a pushy one. My fear was that once I accepted Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit would plow in and take over.  Soon I’d be on the street corners with a megaphone shouting about heaven and hell.  Nope. Never happened. Once I accepted Christ, I had this warm sense that I had a friend who wanted to make me the best me I could be. I started feeling good when I read the Bible and when I did kind things for my wife and children. I started feeling happy when I listened to praise music. Little by little, I was inspired to be a better person. So far, I haven’t ever stood on a street corner–but you never know, it could happen!  The Holy Spirit is a great respecter of who you are and of what gifts and talents you have. I love to study. I love to read. I love to learn. Made perfect sense to go to seminary. I love to watch as God transforms people. Made sense to become a pastor. I’ve been on this Holy Spirit journey since 1981. It’s more of an inside-out change than it is outside-in. I couldn’t do life without the Holy Spirit.

Before I close, Jac and I had our appointments with our doctor. Three years ago, Jac was a 12 on the scale and now she is a 6. She’s rid her body of half of the lead she contained! I started at 10 and am now at 4! I have one chelation left and will do that in January of 2020.  I should read NORMAL next summer.  Jac has a little longer road to travel but she’s happy she’s halfway through. Keep the prayers coming!
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 9/12/19

Seed of Faith –  I Believe – First Importance By Pastor Dave  

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (I Corinthians 15:3-8)

Dear Friends:

It’s been hot! Only a few weeks until September 23 and we officially begin FALL! I love the heat and I love the summer–it’s my favorite time of the year! I hope and pray that you are growing in Christ’s grace as we meet each week. On a health note, my wife and I go to the doctor this coming Tuesday to get our lead level test results. Pray we have lowered our numbers; while you’re praying–let’s pray for under 2! That would be a miracle!

Last week … we ended with a so what?  Here it is if you missed it.
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others in your life even know that you believe in Jesus and desire to follow Him?

I will tell you that this is one reasons that I wear my cross on the outside of my shirts. I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS as I love myself. The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell the others that they had lived with Jesus. They heard His teaching, His preaching. They saw the miracles! They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching which He condensed to two commandments: love God, love others.

When we read the above passage in I Corinthians, it sounds a little like the Apostles’ Creed, doesn’t it? The Apostle Paul followed Jesus because he had seen  risen Jesus and encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He was on a “Christian Killing” Crusade but God turned it into something so much more. Paul became one of those Christians he was so used to murdering. It’s quite a phenomenal story.

Today we come to the line in The Apostles’ Creed that says, “HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN…and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City and a professor at Harvard Divinity School, told a story in one of his lectures. He was preaching in Louisiana during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country, and Taylor was out in a rural church that had one, little light bulb hanging down from the ceiling to light up the entire sanctuary. He was preaching away, and in the middle of his sermon, the electricity went out. The building went pitch black.  Dr. Taylor didn’t know what to say or do. He stumbled around until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the church cried out, “Preach on, preacher! We can still see Jesus in the dark!”[i]

There’s a thought. Can you still see Jesus in the dark? Sometimes that’s the only time we can see Jesus —in the dark. In the dark night of our soul with nowhere to go–we are forced to look around our darkness. The good news of the Gospel is that whether we can see Jesus in the dark or not, Jesus can see us in the dark! He has ascended (Jesus has risen up) from the grave. He has risen up into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. What does Jesus do there? HE PRAYS FOR YOU and ME! “Intercedes” is the word. Do you know what that word means? Get ready, it’s powerful: INTERVENE ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER. Keep with me. What does “intervene” mean? It means “to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.” Are you still with me? When Jesus says He has gone to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand to intercede for you, He is coming between you and your situation in order to prevent or alter a result or a course of events–JUST FOR YOU…on your behalf. I  don’t know about you but I needed to hear this today!

When we were in Zambia in 2015, we went to worship at the Jesus Army Church on a Sunday morning.  The electricity went on and go off all during the worship.  That never stopped the worship team from singing and playing and worshiping.  If the electricity went off, they just kept on singing.  I’ve thought a lot about that.  THIS is exactly what we are called to do.  No matter what, we are called to keep witnessing and sharing the hope and power of the resurrection with everyone we meet. Whether it’s smooth sailing or rough waters!

So What?
Speaking of smooth sailing or rough waters, our son had a football coach who was often heard telling his team, “Don’t tell me how rough the waters are just bring the ship home!”  There’s quite a bit of truth here. We’ve been given a big job, a huge task: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS. It isn’t as easy as it looks. We all love it when life is sailing along and the sea is like glass. Those are the fun times; not a care in the world. But then the darkness creeps in, doesn’t it? And you’re up at night with a sinking feeling in your heart and gut. And it stays for way too long. I think this line in the creed is there for us to remember: no matter how dark it gets…Jesus is interceding on your behalf. Jesus is intervening on your behalf. He sits between YOU and GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY…trying to calm the rough waters, or trying to calm YOU in the rough seas.

Recently I took my family to see TOY STORY 4. I loved it. I’ve talked about it for weeks. “Who are you like in the movie?” I’m Woody. I feel a huge responsibility to make sure everyone gets to heaven. I deal with a lot of FORKY types–people who think they are trash and not one of God’s personal favorites! Listen, you are not trash. You never were. God thought you up. Created you. Made you uniquely special. And you have a job as a Christian: love God, love others as you love yourself.

Friends, each one of us are in a TOY STORY of our own making. We are an action figure for Jesus Christ and for His ministry on earth. It’s a big job we’ve been given. I will tell you to bring your ship home–but I will also tell you that when you are out there in the roughest of seas–Jesus is with you. When you are in the darkest night of your soul, Jesus is with you. Whether you can see Him or not, He’s there. And He is there interceding for you…on your behalf…to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. The end result is that our life on earth is used to display our LOVE FOR GOD and our LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Can you do that? Can you trust Jesus to intercede for you?

No matter what. Can you trust Jesus to pray for you? When you’re up at 2 a.m.–can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When the test results are what you hoped for, can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When Plan Z seems so far away and Plan A has blown up in your face, can you pray, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” That’s your homework for the week. TRUST JESUS…in all things…in all hours of the day and night…and go out there in faith knowing that Jesus is interceding for you, on your behalf–to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY.

King of cool that we serve a KING who rose from the dead.

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 9/5/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE — JESUS HIGHLY EXALTED   By Pastor Dave  

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:8-11

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord.  It is my prayer that you are walking with Jesus and that His grace and love surround you today and everyday. Throughout the summer, we have been working our way through a series on the Apostles’ Creed.  If you have not had a chance to read the other Seeds of Faith on this series, you can go to our website — www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

The question that I would like for us to reflect on today is “Why is the ascension important?”

First, the ascension is important because it tells us that Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed and that Jesus has gone to be with God the Father to begin His heavenly ministry of interceding for us, (that’s a powerful thought. Jesus ascended into heaven and prays for us.) Second, the ascension is important because Jesus’ earthly ministry has been delegated–to us! (Read that again!)

Today we will look at the first point.  I encourage you to pick up your Bible. Read Acts 1:1-11 and Philippians 2:5-11.

So What? does it mean that Jesus is Highly Exalted?

Luke wrote both of his books (the book of Luke and the book of Acts) to a person named “Theophilus,” a name translated “friend of God.” Whether Theophilus is a real individual or whether Theophilus is any “friend of God” is open to debate, but clearly Luke is writing to a community eager for more detailed and accurate information concerning the origin, history and meaning of the Christian faith. At the beginning of his gospel, Luke tells us he intends “to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”  In Acts, Luke jumps right into the action and says, “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (1:1-2).

In his gospel, Luke wants Theophilus (friend of God) to “know the truth,” and in Acts he begins by making a strong connection between the life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts begins, an important transition takes place. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, all of the work of preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God was done by Christ alone.  Jesus spent three years training, preparing, instructing and teaching the disciples for their future calling to be “martures”– the Greek word for “witnesses.”  Jesus’ great work of providing redemption for us through His life, death and resurrection is now finished and Luke is determined to encourage those of us left behind.

So What?
Here’s what I want you to think about: Is Christ’s work of ministry and proclamation finished? Or is Luke writing to tell us that this is now our job–to finish Christ’s work!? That’s a profound idea. Here’s another question:  Are we? Are we finishing the work Jesus started? Are we loving God and loving others as we love ourselves? Am I ? Are you? Pastor Dave, now you are meddling.

George Whitefield, a famous English pastor, was getting the people of Edinburgh out of their beds at 5 o’clock in the morning in order to hear his preaching. One morning a man who was on his way to the church met David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic. Surprised at seeing him on his way to hear Whitefield, the man said, “I thought you did not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I do not, but he does.”[i] Ah. Perhaps we are here to be a witness to the skeptics? Love God.  Love others. I don’t know but maybe God wants to use you among your circle of influence?

Here’s another meddling question:
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others even know that you believe in Jesus and follow Him? I think this is a question we all must finally come to. This is one reason that I purposefully wear my cross on the outside of my shirt, I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS. I cannot tell you how often people will make a comment to me about my cross. It’s been a great conversation starter.

The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell others that they had seen Him, been taught by Him and lived with Him. They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching: love God, love others.

The challenge today is what are we doing with the witness of the resurrection and the ascension in our lives, our homes, our families, our friends, our workplaces, and neighborhoods?  Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus?

If I started preaching at 5 a.m. in Central Park in Cucamonga, would you come listen? (Relax, not happening.)

I’m praying for you. Pray for me.

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 8/25/19

Seed of Faith – FAITH IN THE MIDST OF STORMS   By Pastor Dave  

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40

Dear Fellow Seed-Sowers!

Here are some thoughts that I have been reflecting on lately.

No matter where you are the storms of life can come crashing in.  I encourage you take a few moments this week, read through the Gospel accounts of the storms that came upon the disciples while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.  ( A little side note, the “sea” in the Hebrew culture was always considered to be “chaos, confusion, evil and of the enemy.”)  I do not know where you are right now. Maybe your sea is calm and you have smooth sailing.  Praise the Lord.  Maybe your sea is a little bit choppy but all is stable.  Maybe your sea is crashing on all sides all around you.

The Scriptures I am enjoying are: Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25 and John 6:16-21. I am really enjoying the Mark passage.

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 NRSV)

Here are some of the basic principles that I have gleaned in my life from reading these passages:

1. No matter where you are — Storms will come into your life.

2. No matter how hard you try — the terrifying winds will blow!

3. No matter when you think you are on safe ground—the waves will crash and flood your life!

4. No matter how hard the wind blows — Jesus is in your boat!

5. No matter how hard the waves crash and swamp your boat — Jesus is in your boat!

6. No matter if you feel alone — Jesus is in your boat!

7. No matter is you feel like you are going to perish — Jesus is in your boat!

8. No matter what — Jesus is in your boat!

When the storms of life come crashing in and you think you are going to sink, keep you focus on Jesus and let your faith in Him be the anchor you CLING to.

A few more thoughts when the storms of life come crashing in on you:

1. Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of life.

2. Focus on your Savior and not the storms.

3. Focus on the Cross and not the crime or the criminal.

4. Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.

5. Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situation you face.

6. Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.

7. Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.

8. Focus on God’s love and share God’s love with the lost.

9. 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.

So What?  Why are you so afraid?

Jesus is in your boat.  Peace, be still!

God loves you with a storm-stopping love and His love will never let you go!

In Christ’s love
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 8/23/19

Seed of Faith – GOD THE SON — FREEDOM   By Pastor Dave  

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8

Dear SEED OF FAITH-ERS:
Greetings in the outrageous grace and unforgettable love of God.  This week I encourage you to take few minutes to pick up your Bible and read Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:1-3.  Read these passages and reflect on what Christ has done to set you free.  SO WHAT? are you doing with your freedom?

If you have been reading this series on the Apostles’ Creed with me, you will remember that the Apostles’ Creed was called the “rule of faith” or the “rule of truth.” This creed was written for the early followers of Jesus Christ to proclaim their faith and to proclaim the truth of what God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit did for them in order to give them life and life abundantly.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders who were following him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8:31-32; 36) The Apostle Paul later wrote to the early church. Listen to his powerful words about freedom in Galatians 5 … “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

When Jay Leno was the host of the Tonight Show. Leno did his famous “man-on-the street” interviews. One night he collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible. “Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?” he asked two college-age women. One replied, “Freedom of speech?” Mr. Leno said to the other, “Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin…” Her response was, “have a good time?” Mr. Leno then turned to a young man and asked, “Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?” The confident answer was, “Pinocchio.”[i]

Are we this confused about what we believe?  I think many people are confused about what they believe and this is why we’re looking at the Creed this summer. I want us to study and to know what we believe.

Today we are going to look at these lines: “…suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…”

When the authors of the Creed added these lines, they were declaring the fact that Jesus was a real man who suffered under a real Pontius Pilate.  Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection are firmly anchored in history. It is a fact and it is history that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. Think about that. Somewhere between 26 – 36 AD Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I hope we can remember that each time we say these words of the creed, we have a real and factual history on our side.

This past week, I met with a very good friend who was told that he has inoperable pancreatic cancer. We met and prayed together. We laughed and cried together.  We read Scripture and prayed together. One of the passages we read was 2 Corinthians 5 … “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)

I do not know what you are facing.  I do not know what you are going through.But, I do know the one who has swallowed death and given us life.  I know the one who will walk with you through your trials, tribulations, fears, anxiety and doubts: His name is Jesus!  He suffered and died and rose from the dead in order to swallow up, conquer and overcome all of the mortal things you or I ever face.

I love what C.S. Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Graves about the divinity and resurrection of Jesus. “The doctrine of Christ’s divinity seems to me something stuck on which you cannot unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you would have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it.[ii]

C.S Lewis’ quote reminds me of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. During the Continental Congress of 1776, the committee selected a tall, rangy, auburn-haired Virginian named Thomas Jefferson to draft the proposition paper. He secluded himself and, with minimum help, within about seventeen days, produced one of the most profound, and beautifully written, political documents ever penned. Congress debated the document, made a few changes, and then signed it with great fanfare, the ringing of the Liberty Bell, and the making of clever speeches, and costly commitments.  Caesar Rodney, ill with a malignant disease that covered part of his face, rode all day and all night from Dover, Delaware, in time to stride, booted and spurred, into the Assembly Hall in Philadelphia to bark: “I vote for independence.”  John Hancock led off the formal signing with a large, bold signature, saying he wanted King George III to be able to read his signature without his specs. Signer Benjamin Franklin quipped: “We shall have to hang together, or we shall all hang separately.”  Among many magnificent statements in this eloquent and comprehensive document, that which most succinctly characterizes the American stance and spirit is this impeccable sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence, we find a summary sentence which places everything in perspective: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This is a unique creed. The signers believed something very special was happening and that God would see them through. It was a new and courageous covenant, men mutually pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor all for the sake of freedom! This is breathtaking and inconceivable in the fermentation of today’s world.

Have we forgotten the high price our founding Fathers paid for our freedom? Have we forgotten that nine signers of the Declaration of Independence did not survive the war? Have we forgotten that many of the signers lost their homes and fortunes? One signer, Thomas Nelson of Virginia, directed the bombardment of his own mansion at Yorktown. Another signer, Francis Lewis, a wealthy New York trader, lost everything he had. His wife was thrown into prison and died shortly after her release. Signer Richard Stockton of New Jersey, a Princeton graduate, lost his wealth, property, and magnificent library. He was imprisoned and died following the war. These illustrations of sacred honor should remind us that the Fourth of July commemorates a costly freedom.[iii]

Let’s slow down long enough to really think about our freedom, both the freedom we enjoy in America and the freedom we enjoy from God’s only Son. Let’s remember the dedication, devotion, and determination of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who gave their lives, their fame, their fortunes and their families in order to fight for the freedom of this nation. And let us also remember those “signers” who put together the Apostles’ Creed who, like our forefathers, gathered together and put into words THE APOSTLES’ CREED so that we can all proclaim  “THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT GOD.”   

So What?
So what are you doing with your freedom? Are these ancient words of the Apostles’ Creed just ancient words that have grown old and lost their value?  Or are these words of the creed something that we, too, would willingly give our fame, fortune, faith, and our very lives to defend? Stop right here.  Think about these two questions. It’s your homework for the week.

We live in dangerous times. Do you know what you believe? I’m praying for you.

See you Sunday!

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

[i] Preachingtoday.com

[ii] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996

[iii] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 36–37). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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 8-8-19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”  Hebrews 11:1-3

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

Summer is just about half over yet many are already back to school! As everyone gets ready for the new school year, I want to take a quick moment to thank each and every one of you for your faithful support and love throughout all the years.  Your faith has given my wife and I the courage to keep looking to Jesus, the author of our faith.

We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  The questions that the Holy Spirit put on my heart this year is, “What do you believe?  Who do you believe? Why do you believe? How do you believe? How do you live what you believe?”

Read the Apostles’ Creed with me:

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

What does it mean when we say we “believe in God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?

It was a cold night in January of 1981 in Rochelle, Illinois, when I got down on my knees in my bedroom.  I was 27 years old, the father of three young children. I had been invited to a couple’s Bible Study by my wife on the book of Romans; we came to chapter 8, verse 15. My life was forever changed that cold, wintry night. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’”  I read and reread that verse that night and started to cry. I went home and knelt down in my bedroom.  I asked God if He really wanted to be my father. I looked up to the heavens and said, “God you really want to be my Father, I will give you a chance.”  I look back and have to laugh. I was going to give God, the creator of everything, a chance. Mighty wide of me, don’t you think? That cold January night forever changed my life.  I came to learn that I really did have a Father in heaven who was Almighty, who created all things and sustains all things–including me, the guy who decided to give God a trial run.

I love Hebrews 11:1-3.  Faith means a lot of things but this verse spells it out.  Faith means being sure of you hope for. Faith means being certain of what you do not see.  Faith means we can understand that God created the universe. Faith means trust.
In the Apostles’ Creed we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again. We are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone–a million times better than having faith in something.

When I turned 40, I left a 20-year career with a nice-paying job.  I had two company cars, free insurance, and a fair salary.  We owned a house and our three children didn’t seem to lack much.  Did I mention that I was a self-made man? For many years, I got by not trusting in anyone or anything but myself.  And then God called me into seminary. Those three years in seminary, I learned my Greek, my Hebrew, church history, ethics, church polity and pastoral care but the main lesson that God taught me was not to be found in any textbook.  Those three, long years I often refer to as “THE CEMETERY” God taught me one simple word — trust.

To
Rest
Under
Salvation’s
Tree

While in seminary, I had to learn to trust God for my daily bread.  I had to learn to trust God for my finances.  I had to learn to trust God with my family. I had to learn to trust God with everything that I had held so tightly to.  I had to let go and let God fill my hands. When I left my job in August of 1994, I no longer had two, free, no maintenance vehicles. I no longer had free insurance. I no longer had much of a salary. I was a full-time seminary student, and I had to learn to trust God—for everything. We had one child in college and two in high school. “TRUST ME, DAVE,” was my mantra for those three, long years.

So What?
So how do you trust?  How do you believe?  What do you believe? Why do you believe?  It is my prayer that as we walk with me through the Apostles’ Creed you  will come to know that you, too, have a Father in Heaven who loves you with an unfailing love and with an outrageous grace. It is my prayer that you will come to understand that His love will never leave you nor forsake you.  His love will create and continue to recreate in you a new heart.

I happen to be married to a woman whose father is her hero. I’ve known Andy for 47 years. I’ve never seen him lose his temper—although he gets worked up over politics! I’ve never seen him throw anything or hit anything. For 47 years, I’ve listened to my wife call her father, “Daddy oh!” “Hi, Daddy oh!” or just “Daddy.” And, for 47 years, I’ve listened to Andy call my almost 65 year-old wife, “Baby doll” or “Baby” or “Sweetheart.”  Just the other day, I was talking to my wife about this series. I shared with her how lucky and blessed she is to have father like she does. Matter of fact, I was driving in the car coming home from a church meeting. I had two other men in the car with me. We had just come from “CHRIST, COFFEE & CARS.” (Meets monthly on a Saturday morning, let me know if you are interested.) Jac didn’t know she was on speaker phone. She had called me to tell me some news about her “Daddy oh!” One of the men asked her why she called her dad that. Jac replied, “Oh my gosh. My dad is my hero. He’s always been my hero. He’s never given me a reason not to be my hero.” After a brief pause, she said, “I wish everyone could have a father like mine.” Both of the men in the car replied, “Me, too.” That interaction got me thinking. You know what? WE DO. We do have a heavenly Father who absolutely loves us. We have a heavenly Father who even lets us “give Him a chance.” We have a heavenly Father who wants to be our hero.
As I close out this week’s SEED OF FAITH, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that if you are going through a hard season that you will learn TO TRUST. I am praying that if you need a heavenly Father, that you will give GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, a chance. I have watched my wife of 45 years make the easy transfer from an earthly father whom she loves and adores to a heavenly father she loves and adores. That’s my prayer for each one of us: that we know we are loved and adored by our heavenly father.
I think I have it. I think I’ve found a pretty good way to start your very own Apostles’ Creed: Kneel down in your bedroom and simply say, “DADDY-OH! I’m thinking tonight’s the night I give you a chance…”
God loves you.  God, our Father, honestly LOVES YOU. That’s my prayer, that you come to understand and grow in the Father’s love for you.

SEED 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 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

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

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED 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 10/11/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Forgiveness of Sins   By Pastor Dave  

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11

Dear Faithful and Forgiven Friends:

Grace and mercy to you from Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Today marks the 9th anniversary of the church where I pastor, The Seed Christian Fellowship. It’s always an easy date to remember: 10-10-10! I pray that you have a home church that you love and support. The church is the BODY of CHRIST; when you serve a church, you are serving Christ. Happy ninth Birthday, SEED!

Today’s topic is deep and long.  I know we can never plumb the depths of God’s grace and forgiveness, so I am preparing you now — this will be a long devotional thought.  Please stay with it.  There are some nuggets of God’s gold found in the Scriptures here. I encourage you to grab your Bible now, and read Mark 2:1-12 and John 8:1-11.  Take your journal and/or your ipad/notepad and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Let’s go back 1,800 years and let’s imagine the saints from ages past throughout those 18 centuries, and let’s imagine them all gathered together. We’d have to imagine them in homes, prisons, beaches, mountain hideouts, caves, along riverbanks and in churches both large and small. Let’s imagine all of the saint declaring the APOSTLES’ CREED. Can we imagine their faith?  Can we imagine their courage?  Just imagine the hearts and homes and cities and towns that were changed by this proclamation of faith. Since 140 A.D. saints and sinners alike have gathered together to declare exactly what it is that they believe. What a great cloud of witnesses cries out through the centuries.

As we recite The Apostles’ Creed below, imagine those who have gone before us:

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;

5. the 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,

11.  and the life everlasting. Amen

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
So what?  What does it mean to you when you say that? What does it mean when you say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”?  What does the forgiveness of sins look like?  What does the forgiveness of sins feel like?  Who forgives the sins of sinners? Can WE forgive the sins of sinners? What are we to do with the forgiveness of sins?  So many questions come to my mind.  I wish we had more time to plumb the depths of this deep, theological statement.

Let me set the stage. The line that we are talking about wasn’t in the original Creed. It was added later. Why?  In 303 A.D. the Emperor of Rome was a man named Diocletian. Diocletian was a cruel and wicked Emperor. Diocletian ordered that the property of the Christians in Rome was to be seized.  He ordered that all books were to be burned, and that all of the places of worship were to be destroyed. All of the Christian leaders/pastors/teachers were imprisoned. (Did you read that? Think of all of the pastors you know, put into prison.)  Many of them were martyred for their faith. Here’s how Diocletian operated: The Christians were ordered to sacrifice to the Roman gods and if they did not, they were imprisoned or martyred. Diocletian was cruel—he impaled people on poles, he burned people at the stake. I think we can understand why so many frightened Christians of this era came out en mass to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. They renounced their faith. By offering public sacrifices to the Romans gods, these Christians had renounced their baptism, and their faith.

After a while, life returned to normal and Christianity was again tolerated as a part of the Roman pluralistic empire. When this happened, a crisis happened in the church. What was the church to do with the Christian believers who had renounced their faith in order to save their lives from the wicked Diocletian and his army? The early church wrestled with questions like: Can these sinners be accepted back into the faith? Should they be baptized again? Should they be permanently be excluded from participating in the Christian community? In all honesty, these were tremendously difficult questions.  This was a time of deep soul -searching for believers. Throughout this struggle, the deepest questions of Christian identity came into focus.

So what?  What is it that makes you a follower of Christ? What can you do if you have strayed away from the faith?  What can you do if you have sinned? Is church just for the pure and holy, or is the church for those who are weak, struggling, and uncertain? This 4th century church crisis led to many discussions regarding clear answers to these questions. It was finally agreed upon: Failures in following Christ or discipleship — even dramatic failures — do not exclude a person from the grace of God.  The early church then added the 10th line into the Apostles’ Creed:  “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Can you imagine being so afraid of being impaled that you renounced your faith and sacrificed to Roman gods? This line about forgiveness was added to the Apostles’ Creed so that those who had done the renouncing could be included back into the Church. The church went back and forth on this issue. Do we make them be re-baptized? Isn’t baptism a once and forever kind of thing? Now you understand the turmoil involved in just this one line.

In 381 the Nicene Creed was written as a follow-up creed to the Apostles’ Creed and it included the statement, “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” One God, one Lord, one baptism.

This series on the Apostle’s Creed was our SUMMER SERIES. I thought it was going to be dry and boring. It was anything but. Week by week we covered each line. And week by week, the people we excited to learn more about what we believe and how we came to include the Apostles’ Creed in church. During the summer, a young woman came home from Tennessee to visit her parents and grand parents. She came to church with her family and heard the message that you’re reading about. After church, she said, “I want to be baptized.” WOW!  We met and talked about baptism and what it means and then we met in her grandparents’ pool and she was baptized in front of her family. She read the Apostles’ Creed and then asked to be dunked in the pool three times. One for the Father, one for the Son and one for the holy spirit! What a blessing! And then I received a call from a person I had no connection to but you need to hear her story. Wherever this woman works, a young man named Steven serviced the air conditioners. Over the years, they became friends. (Always be your AC service tech’s friend!) Steven was a friend of Don and Don invited Steven to our Wednesday night bible study. Steven did not attend our church but he did attend our bible study. The grandma had shared with Steven that she didn’t have a home church but she wanted to be baptized. Steven asked me for a business card and the next time he serviced the air conditioning at grandma’s work, he gave her the card and said, “You need to call Pastor Dave.” She did.  She called me in July. I met with her in August and her little granddaughter, all of 8 years old, also wanted to be baptized. Guess what? We baptized both of them in Mom and Dad’s pool! The entire family wanted to read the Apostles’ Creed together, and then each of the girls went under three times: one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. Do you remember that the Apostles’ Creed was the baptismal confession of the early church? Oh, how have we lost this amazing tradition? I think it’s time to bring it back, don’t you?

As you read Mark 2:12, take a moment and put yourself into the story.  In the Mark passage who would you be? Would you be one of the friends who carried their friend to Jesus?  Would you be the paralyzed man? Would you be a part of the crowd, just watching in disbelief?  Would you be one of the religious leaders who questioned Jesus? Sometimes it’s a good idea to pretend to be all of the characters involved; you gain different perspectives that way.

In the John passage we have a second, powerful story of forgiveness and grace.  Where are you in this story?  Are you looking in someone’s window to find sin?  Are you dragging the sinner out to be accused by Jesus and the crowd?  Are you a part of the crowd? Are you already holding a stone, ready to throw it?  What if you are the person who was caught in sin? Wow. Try being each character in this story.

I love stories of forgiveness.  As I prayed about teaching on the forgiveness of sins, I prayed about what to teach.  I could teach some of the Old Testament words for forgiveness … “nasa” which means to send away, “kapar” which means to cover up. From this we get Yum Kippor — the day of atonement for the covering of sins (which, by the way, was this past Tuesday, October 8th.) The dynamic of forgiveness in the Old Testament is the releasing of the person from their past. The person’s past acts and deeds of sin are not denied, but there is no longer any bondage attached to the sin.  The chains are broken.  The Old Testament teaches that forgiveness brings freedom.

We could spend a little time looking at the New Testament words for forgiveness. No one really knows what Jesus was writing in the sand that day when they brought the woman to him to be stoned.  What do you think He was scribbling in the sand? I think he was writing a Greek word used 76 times in the New Testament:  “aphiemi.” “Aphiemi” means “to leave behind, to send away, to forgive.”  Jesus taught forgiveness!  Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s prayer — “forgive us of our sins, debts, trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses and sin against us.” When Jesus was about to be betrayed, Jesus told them that the cup they shared at the Lord’s Supper was the cup of forgiveness poured out in His blood.  When He hung on the cross, Jesus said — “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I am going to do something a little different today..  Instead of giving you several illustrations of forgiveness that bring the point home, I am giving you 14 Bible passages on forgiveness. I would like for you to spend some time during the next week looking up these passages and reflecting on the stories and the passages.  Write some notes, thoughts and prayers.  I always ask myself — “What is it that you Lord want to teach me in this passage?”  What is that God wants to say to you about forgiveness?

Exodus 34:1-10 … “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

2 Chronicles 7:11-22 … “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Psalm 103:1-12 … “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion …” (Psalm 103:1-4)

Jeremiah 31 … “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Micah 7 … “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 7:19)

Matthew 6:5-15 … “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)

Mark 2:1-12 … “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Matthew 18:21-35 — “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33)

Matthew 26:17-30 .. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

Luke 23:26-43 … “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34)

Colossians 3 … “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:13-14)

Ephesians 1:3-14 … “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Acts 13 … “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:38)

I John 1:1-10 … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

THE FINAL “SO WHAT?”
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  When you confess your sin, you are set free.  When you forgive yourself, you set yourself free! When you forgive those who have hurt you, abandoned you, offended you, insulted you, upset you, slighted you, cheated you, lied to you or sinned against you … when you forgive them — you set yourself free. Life is too short to go through it living in unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the only meal that eats you from the inside out. Unforgiveness eats your breakfast, lunch and supper. I get it. People are mean.  People are cruel. People do and say horrible things. When Jesus went to the cross, he died for all sin. He died for YOUR sin and for all the sins committed against you. Put yourself in the story of Luke 23:26-43. Hear the words Jesus spoke from the cross as though they were for you alone. “Father, forgive (put that name in here right now) for they know not what they do.”

Forgiving costs us nothing because forgiving cost Jesus everything. 

AMEN.

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 9/27/19

Seed of Faith – I Believe In The Holy Spirit   By Pastor Dave  

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” John 14:16-18

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers:

Grace and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the wonderful person of the Holy Spirit.  I have to tell you that one of my favorite persons of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to me, guides me, instructs me, teaches me and even corrects me.  A simple prayer every morning when you get up. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart and home, teach me, guide me, heal me and fill me. Amen”

In last week’s devotional we looked at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  “This business is under new management.” Today I would like for us to reflect on the power and person of the Holy Spirit.  Join me as we journey deeper into Jesus as we think about the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When Jesus says that He “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…” what does He mean?  First, let’s look at a few of the Greek words that are used in this sentence.  The first word is the word “another” and in the Greek, the word is “allos.”  “Allos” means “another one just like the first one.”  Who is the first Advocate?  It is obviously Jesus himself.  Therefore, the second Advocate is just like the first one. The Holy Spirit is a divine being living within all disciples who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.  The Trinity is truly a mystery.  When we speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we speak of them as persons.   When John Calvin wrote of the persons of the Trinity, he said, “In the Trinity we have one essence (being) and three subsistence’s.  The three persons of the Godhead subsist in the divine essence (being).”  Now that is a lot of deep, theological language.  The EZ PZ translation: When we recognize God alone as our sovereign creator and we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts to live, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to set up residence in our hearts, our homes and lives.  We are sealed with the third person. In essence, we are allowing God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the Trinity–to rule and reign in our lives.  One of the things I witness as a pastor is that we may  have the main question about the Holy Spirit a bit backwards.  Often we ask, “How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?” I wonder if we should be asking, “How can the Holy Spirit get more of me?”

THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Do you know that the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ? The Holy Spirit acts as a mirror and reflects Christ to us.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who reflects God, teaches us and leads us into all truth.  The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by reproducing more of Jesus in all  believers. “Christian” means “little Christ” and the Holy Spirit does this work in a Christian’s life by reproducing little Christs IN us.  Next in the Greek is the meaning of the word “Advocate,” “Comforter”, or “Counselor”. It is of great importance.  The Greek word for “Advocate” comes from “parakletos” which is a compound of two Greek words: “para” meaning “alongside of” and “kletos” which means “called.”  “Parakletos” therefore means “one who is called alongside of”, another person called alongside you or me as our helper.  The Latin Bible translates “parakletos” as “Advocate,” however, this word can also be translated as “comforter” and “counselor.”  The word “comforter” comes from two words: “cum” which means “with” and “fortis” which means “strength.”  In other words a comforter is a person who comes alongside you or me with strength.  The Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” is the one who will bring us the strength we need in order to live as little Christs.  The Holy Spirit as “Comforter” will bring us strength to withstand the blows and the wounds that we incur in the world.  The “Comforter” gives us the strength and power to stand up and face whatever comes against us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who comes with strength — who is called alongside to guide us, to comfort us, to convict us and challenge us to grow and trust more and more in God (the TRINITY) alone.  The Holy Spirit reflects Jesus Christ so that you and I can reflect Christ to others.

SO WHAT?
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.  When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, “Thank you.”  But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, “If I may ask, what was in that package?”  She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, “Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds.”

Like the contents of the package, the power for growth and strength are available for every Christian who will take advantage of them.  The power for growth comes from using our spiritual gifts and allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow and blossom in our lives.  Scripture says that we shall be known by our fruit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is defined in Galatians chapter five: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit and this is the precious fruit that the HOLY SPIRIT will PRODUCE in you and in me.

When I think of a GPS (Global Positioning System), I realize that not many people can afford a car or system that gives you a GPS.  But, in reality, we all have our own inner GPS — GOD’S PROMISED SPIRIT, GOD’S PERSONAL SPIRIT AND GOD’S POWERFUL SPIRIT — to guide us, to fill us, to strengthen us, to counsel us, to convict us and comfort us….if we let Him in and listen.

Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth.”

To know about God, the Father, alone is good, to believe in Jesus, as Lord, is great and to be filled with the Holy Spirit is wonderful. Don’t be afraid to open the box — the gift that Christ has given you — the Promise, the Person, and the Power of the Holy Spirit. I love to say that the Holy Spirit is the identical twin of Jesus–except in Spirit.

Today I encourage you to pray, “Holy Spirit, I want you to get more and more and more of me. Consume the parts and pieces of me that don’t serve YOU. Teach me.  Correct me. Produce YOUR fruit in me. Be my counselor, my comforter, and my advocate forever. Amen.”

Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me — melt me — mold me — fill me — use me!

Here is a YouTube song about the Holy Spirit. — https://youtu.be/BagH-zTfnsQ

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 9/22/19

Seed of Faith – Under New Management   By Pastor Dave  
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord! Fall is just around the corner. Time for football and pumpkin spice!
We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  Line 8 of the Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Ghost.”  Over the next few weeks, we will look at the promise, the person and power of the Holy Spirit. This week, let’s look at the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to read John 14:15-27.

Let me tell you a story of a simple, illiterate man who was converted through the work of the Salvation Army. He went regularly to the Salvation Army church. One day he came home rather sad. His wife said, “What’s the matter?” He said, “I’ve just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don’t have a red sweater.” She said, “I’ll knit one.” So she knitted him a red sweater. The next Sunday after he went to church, he still wasn’t happy. His wife said, “What’s wrong this time?” He said, “I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing.”  They were both illiterate, but she said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll embroider some writing on for you.”  She had no idea what the yellow writing on the red sweater said. The Salvation Army has a yellow circle, and inside the circle it reads, “BLOOD AND FIRE.” That’s their motto.  The man’s wife had no idea what the letters said, plus, she couldn’t read. She copied a sign from a store window opposite their home. True, she embroidered the words of the store sign onto his red sweater.  When he came back the next Sunday, she said, “Did they like your sweater?”  “They loved my sweater. Some of them said they liked my sweater better than their sweater.” The sign on the store window she had copied read, THIS BUSINESS IS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.

That’s what it means to trust in God alone. That’s what it means to know Jesus as Lord. That’s what it means for the Holy Spirit to fill you: this business (meaning YOU) is under new management.

The Word of God promises us the Holy Spirit. The words “Holy Spirit”, or “Spirit of God”, or “the Spirit of the Lord” are used 131 times in the Bible.  In our Old Testament reading from the prophet Joel, God promises the Holy Spirit, “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)  What a wonderful promise — God will pour out His Spirit upon all people!  On the night before He was to die for our sins, Jesus offered to us the promise of the Holy Spirit. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:16-18) Jesus promises to give us another advocate — the Holy Spirit who will be with us forever.  What a powerful and comforting promise.  We will not be orphaned — we will never be alone! We always have the promise of the Holy Spirit.

When I think of the promise of the Holy Spirit, I think of Alka-Seltzer. Alka-Seltzer promises fast relief for fever, body aches, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, and coughing.  Alka-Seltzer promises healing, wholeness and comfort.  So often we have the medicine for healing, but we do not open the package. What would happen if you dropped an unopened package of Alka-Seltzer into a glass of water?  Of course, nothing would happen. There would be no power, no healing, and no comfort if the package was never opened.  Yet there is a promise for comfort if we open the package and watch it fizz away!

So What?
The promise of the Holy Spirit is given to us when Jesus tells us that he will ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to come and be with us forever. This past weekend in church, a little girl spilled her cup of gold fish crackers on the floor. I told her father that we could get a broom.  Then I realized that the closet was locked and there was no broom.  Someone came up and started talking to me and I got distracted. I turned around and watched the young dad get down on the floor and pick up all the little gold fish that had been scattered over the floor.  Some of the gold fish had been stepped on and were smashed.  The father picked them all up and put them back in the cup.

Later this week, I thought about that encounter on Sunday morning with spilled and smashed gold fish. I thought about our Father sending His Son to promise us that the Holy Spirit would come and fill our hearts.  I believe that one of the truths of the Holy Spirit is that He wants to come into our hearts and fill us so that our lives are under new management.  I saw God sending His Son to bend down and pick up all the spilled and smashed pieces of our lives and offer to put us back together.

The week — take some time and reflect on the promise of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to open the package and be filled with the Holy Spirit … plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a re-builder He is.  The Holy Spirit will come in and pick up the spilled and smashed pieces of your life! It’s fall and I’m thinking I need a new red sweater with yellow writing that says: Under New Management!

There’s so much more to say about this third person of the Trinity. In closing, I want you to know I’ve found the Holy Spirit to be a gentle friend, not a pushy one. My fear was that once I accepted Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit would plow in and take over.  Soon I’d be on the street corners with a megaphone shouting about heaven and hell.  Nope. Never happened. Once I accepted Christ, I had this warm sense that I had a friend who wanted to make me the best me I could be. I started feeling good when I read the Bible and when I did kind things for my wife and children. I started feeling happy when I listened to praise music. Little by little, I was inspired to be a better person. So far, I haven’t ever stood on a street corner–but you never know, it could happen!  The Holy Spirit is a great respecter of who you are and of what gifts and talents you have. I love to study. I love to read. I love to learn. Made perfect sense to go to seminary. I love to watch as God transforms people. Made sense to become a pastor. I’ve been on this Holy Spirit journey since 1981. It’s more of an inside-out change than it is outside-in. I couldn’t do life without the Holy Spirit.

Before I close, Jac and I had our appointments with our doctor. Three years ago, Jac was a 12 on the scale and now she is a 6. She’s rid her body of half of the lead she contained! I started at 10 and am now at 4! I have one chelation left and will do that in January of 2020.  I should read NORMAL next summer.  Jac has a little longer road to travel but she’s happy she’s halfway through. Keep the prayers coming!
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 9/12/19

Seed of Faith –  I Believe – First Importance By Pastor Dave  

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (I Corinthians 15:3-8)

Dear Friends:

It’s been hot! Only a few weeks until September 23 and we officially begin FALL! I love the heat and I love the summer–it’s my favorite time of the year! I hope and pray that you are growing in Christ’s grace as we meet each week. On a health note, my wife and I go to the doctor this coming Tuesday to get our lead level test results. Pray we have lowered our numbers; while you’re praying–let’s pray for under 2! That would be a miracle!

Last week … we ended with a so what?  Here it is if you missed it.
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others in your life even know that you believe in Jesus and desire to follow Him?

I will tell you that this is one reasons that I wear my cross on the outside of my shirts. I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS as I love myself. The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell the others that they had lived with Jesus. They heard His teaching, His preaching. They saw the miracles! They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching which He condensed to two commandments: love God, love others.

When we read the above passage in I Corinthians, it sounds a little like the Apostles’ Creed, doesn’t it? The Apostle Paul followed Jesus because he had seen  risen Jesus and encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He was on a “Christian Killing” Crusade but God turned it into something so much more. Paul became one of those Christians he was so used to murdering. It’s quite a phenomenal story.

Today we come to the line in The Apostles’ Creed that says, “HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN…and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City and a professor at Harvard Divinity School, told a story in one of his lectures. He was preaching in Louisiana during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country, and Taylor was out in a rural church that had one, little light bulb hanging down from the ceiling to light up the entire sanctuary. He was preaching away, and in the middle of his sermon, the electricity went out. The building went pitch black.  Dr. Taylor didn’t know what to say or do. He stumbled around until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the church cried out, “Preach on, preacher! We can still see Jesus in the dark!”[i]

There’s a thought. Can you still see Jesus in the dark? Sometimes that’s the only time we can see Jesus —in the dark. In the dark night of our soul with nowhere to go–we are forced to look around our darkness. The good news of the Gospel is that whether we can see Jesus in the dark or not, Jesus can see us in the dark! He has ascended (Jesus has risen up) from the grave. He has risen up into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. What does Jesus do there? HE PRAYS FOR YOU and ME! “Intercedes” is the word. Do you know what that word means? Get ready, it’s powerful: INTERVENE ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER. Keep with me. What does “intervene” mean? It means “to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.” Are you still with me? When Jesus says He has gone to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand to intercede for you, He is coming between you and your situation in order to prevent or alter a result or a course of events–JUST FOR YOU…on your behalf. I  don’t know about you but I needed to hear this today!

When we were in Zambia in 2015, we went to worship at the Jesus Army Church on a Sunday morning.  The electricity went on and go off all during the worship.  That never stopped the worship team from singing and playing and worshiping.  If the electricity went off, they just kept on singing.  I’ve thought a lot about that.  THIS is exactly what we are called to do.  No matter what, we are called to keep witnessing and sharing the hope and power of the resurrection with everyone we meet. Whether it’s smooth sailing or rough waters!

So What?
Speaking of smooth sailing or rough waters, our son had a football coach who was often heard telling his team, “Don’t tell me how rough the waters are just bring the ship home!”  There’s quite a bit of truth here. We’ve been given a big job, a huge task: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS. It isn’t as easy as it looks. We all love it when life is sailing along and the sea is like glass. Those are the fun times; not a care in the world. But then the darkness creeps in, doesn’t it? And you’re up at night with a sinking feeling in your heart and gut. And it stays for way too long. I think this line in the creed is there for us to remember: no matter how dark it gets…Jesus is interceding on your behalf. Jesus is intervening on your behalf. He sits between YOU and GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY…trying to calm the rough waters, or trying to calm YOU in the rough seas.

Recently I took my family to see TOY STORY 4. I loved it. I’ve talked about it for weeks. “Who are you like in the movie?” I’m Woody. I feel a huge responsibility to make sure everyone gets to heaven. I deal with a lot of FORKY types–people who think they are trash and not one of God’s personal favorites! Listen, you are not trash. You never were. God thought you up. Created you. Made you uniquely special. And you have a job as a Christian: love God, love others as you love yourself.

Friends, each one of us are in a TOY STORY of our own making. We are an action figure for Jesus Christ and for His ministry on earth. It’s a big job we’ve been given. I will tell you to bring your ship home–but I will also tell you that when you are out there in the roughest of seas–Jesus is with you. When you are in the darkest night of your soul, Jesus is with you. Whether you can see Him or not, He’s there. And He is there interceding for you…on your behalf…to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY. The end result is that our life on earth is used to display our LOVE FOR GOD and our LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Can you do that? Can you trust Jesus to intercede for you?

No matter what. Can you trust Jesus to pray for you? When you’re up at 2 a.m.–can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When the test results are what you hoped for, can you say, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” When Plan Z seems so far away and Plan A has blown up in your face, can you pray, “I’m going to trust you, Jesus, pray for me.” That’s your homework for the week. TRUST JESUS…in all things…in all hours of the day and night…and go out there in faith knowing that Jesus is interceding for you, on your behalf–to GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY.

King of cool that we serve a KING who rose from the dead.

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 9/5/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE — JESUS HIGHLY EXALTED   By Pastor Dave  

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:8-11

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the name of the Lord.  It is my prayer that you are walking with Jesus and that His grace and love surround you today and everyday. Throughout the summer, we have been working our way through a series on the Apostles’ Creed.  If you have not had a chance to read the other Seeds of Faith on this series, you can go to our website — www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

The question that I would like for us to reflect on today is “Why is the ascension important?”

First, the ascension is important because it tells us that Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed and that Jesus has gone to be with God the Father to begin His heavenly ministry of interceding for us, (that’s a powerful thought. Jesus ascended into heaven and prays for us.) Second, the ascension is important because Jesus’ earthly ministry has been delegated–to us! (Read that again!)

Today we will look at the first point.  I encourage you to pick up your Bible. Read Acts 1:1-11 and Philippians 2:5-11.

So What? does it mean that Jesus is Highly Exalted?

Luke wrote both of his books (the book of Luke and the book of Acts) to a person named “Theophilus,” a name translated “friend of God.” Whether Theophilus is a real individual or whether Theophilus is any “friend of God” is open to debate, but clearly Luke is writing to a community eager for more detailed and accurate information concerning the origin, history and meaning of the Christian faith. At the beginning of his gospel, Luke tells us he intends “to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”  In Acts, Luke jumps right into the action and says, “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (1:1-2).

In his gospel, Luke wants Theophilus (friend of God) to “know the truth,” and in Acts he begins by making a strong connection between the life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts begins, an important transition takes place. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, all of the work of preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God was done by Christ alone.  Jesus spent three years training, preparing, instructing and teaching the disciples for their future calling to be “martures”– the Greek word for “witnesses.”  Jesus’ great work of providing redemption for us through His life, death and resurrection is now finished and Luke is determined to encourage those of us left behind.

So What?
Here’s what I want you to think about: Is Christ’s work of ministry and proclamation finished? Or is Luke writing to tell us that this is now our job–to finish Christ’s work!? That’s a profound idea. Here’s another question:  Are we? Are we finishing the work Jesus started? Are we loving God and loving others as we love ourselves? Am I ? Are you? Pastor Dave, now you are meddling.

George Whitefield, a famous English pastor, was getting the people of Edinburgh out of their beds at 5 o’clock in the morning in order to hear his preaching. One morning a man who was on his way to the church met David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic. Surprised at seeing him on his way to hear Whitefield, the man said, “I thought you did not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I do not, but he does.”[i] Ah. Perhaps we are here to be a witness to the skeptics? Love God.  Love others. I don’t know but maybe God wants to use you among your circle of influence?

Here’s another meddling question:
Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus? Do the others even know that you believe in Jesus and follow Him? I think this is a question we all must finally come to. This is one reason that I purposefully wear my cross on the outside of my shirt, I want people to know that I’m a Christian. Wearing my cross on the outside of my shirt also helps me to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OTHERS. I cannot tell you how often people will make a comment to me about my cross. It’s been a great conversation starter.

The early followers of Jesus knew Jesus and they wanted to tell others that they had seen Him, been taught by Him and lived with Him. They wanted others to follow Jesus’ teaching: love God, love others.

The challenge today is what are we doing with the witness of the resurrection and the ascension in our lives, our homes, our families, our friends, our workplaces, and neighborhoods?  Would others follow you because of your belief in Jesus?

If I started preaching at 5 a.m. in Central Park in Cucamonga, would you come listen? (Relax, not happening.)

I’m praying for you. Pray for me.

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 8/25/19

Seed of Faith – FAITH IN THE MIDST OF STORMS   By Pastor Dave  

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40

Dear Fellow Seed-Sowers!

Here are some thoughts that I have been reflecting on lately.

No matter where you are the storms of life can come crashing in.  I encourage you take a few moments this week, read through the Gospel accounts of the storms that came upon the disciples while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.  ( A little side note, the “sea” in the Hebrew culture was always considered to be “chaos, confusion, evil and of the enemy.”)  I do not know where you are right now. Maybe your sea is calm and you have smooth sailing.  Praise the Lord.  Maybe your sea is a little bit choppy but all is stable.  Maybe your sea is crashing on all sides all around you.

The Scriptures I am enjoying are: Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25 and John 6:16-21. I am really enjoying the Mark passage.

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 NRSV)

Here are some of the basic principles that I have gleaned in my life from reading these passages:

1. No matter where you are — Storms will come into your life.

2. No matter how hard you try — the terrifying winds will blow!

3. No matter when you think you are on safe ground—the waves will crash and flood your life!

4. No matter how hard the wind blows — Jesus is in your boat!

5. No matter how hard the waves crash and swamp your boat — Jesus is in your boat!

6. No matter if you feel alone — Jesus is in your boat!

7. No matter is you feel like you are going to perish — Jesus is in your boat!

8. No matter what — Jesus is in your boat!

When the storms of life come crashing in and you think you are going to sink, keep you focus on Jesus and let your faith in Him be the anchor you CLING to.

A few more thoughts when the storms of life come crashing in on you:

1. Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of life.

2. Focus on your Savior and not the storms.

3. Focus on the Cross and not the crime or the criminal.

4. Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.

5. Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situation you face.

6. Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.

7. Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.

8. Focus on God’s love and share God’s love with the lost.

9. 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.

So What?  Why are you so afraid?

Jesus is in your boat.  Peace, be still!

God loves you with a storm-stopping love and His love will never let you go!

In Christ’s love
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 8/23/19

Seed of Faith – GOD THE SON — FREEDOM   By Pastor Dave  

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8

Dear SEED OF FAITH-ERS:
Greetings in the outrageous grace and unforgettable love of God.  This week I encourage you to take few minutes to pick up your Bible and read Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:1-3.  Read these passages and reflect on what Christ has done to set you free.  SO WHAT? are you doing with your freedom?

If you have been reading this series on the Apostles’ Creed with me, you will remember that the Apostles’ Creed was called the “rule of faith” or the “rule of truth.” This creed was written for the early followers of Jesus Christ to proclaim their faith and to proclaim the truth of what God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit did for them in order to give them life and life abundantly.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders who were following him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8:31-32; 36) The Apostle Paul later wrote to the early church. Listen to his powerful words about freedom in Galatians 5 … “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

When Jay Leno was the host of the Tonight Show. Leno did his famous “man-on-the street” interviews. One night he collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible. “Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?” he asked two college-age women. One replied, “Freedom of speech?” Mr. Leno said to the other, “Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin…” Her response was, “have a good time?” Mr. Leno then turned to a young man and asked, “Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?” The confident answer was, “Pinocchio.”[i]

Are we this confused about what we believe?  I think many people are confused about what they believe and this is why we’re looking at the Creed this summer. I want us to study and to know what we believe.

Today we are going to look at these lines: “…suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…”

When the authors of the Creed added these lines, they were declaring the fact that Jesus was a real man who suffered under a real Pontius Pilate.  Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection are firmly anchored in history. It is a fact and it is history that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea from 26 A.D. to 36 A.D. Think about that. Somewhere between 26 – 36 AD Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I hope we can remember that each time we say these words of the creed, we have a real and factual history on our side.

This past week, I met with a very good friend who was told that he has inoperable pancreatic cancer. We met and prayed together. We laughed and cried together.  We read Scripture and prayed together. One of the passages we read was 2 Corinthians 5 … “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)

I do not know what you are facing.  I do not know what you are going through.But, I do know the one who has swallowed death and given us life.  I know the one who will walk with you through your trials, tribulations, fears, anxiety and doubts: His name is Jesus!  He suffered and died and rose from the dead in order to swallow up, conquer and overcome all of the mortal things you or I ever face.

I love what C.S. Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Graves about the divinity and resurrection of Jesus. “The doctrine of Christ’s divinity seems to me something stuck on which you cannot unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you would have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it.[ii]

C.S Lewis’ quote reminds me of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. During the Continental Congress of 1776, the committee selected a tall, rangy, auburn-haired Virginian named Thomas Jefferson to draft the proposition paper. He secluded himself and, with minimum help, within about seventeen days, produced one of the most profound, and beautifully written, political documents ever penned. Congress debated the document, made a few changes, and then signed it with great fanfare, the ringing of the Liberty Bell, and the making of clever speeches, and costly commitments.  Caesar Rodney, ill with a malignant disease that covered part of his face, rode all day and all night from Dover, Delaware, in time to stride, booted and spurred, into the Assembly Hall in Philadelphia to bark: “I vote for independence.”  John Hancock led off the formal signing with a large, bold signature, saying he wanted King George III to be able to read his signature without his specs. Signer Benjamin Franklin quipped: “We shall have to hang together, or we shall all hang separately.”  Among many magnificent statements in this eloquent and comprehensive document, that which most succinctly characterizes the American stance and spirit is this impeccable sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence, we find a summary sentence which places everything in perspective: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This is a unique creed. The signers believed something very special was happening and that God would see them through. It was a new and courageous covenant, men mutually pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor all for the sake of freedom! This is breathtaking and inconceivable in the fermentation of today’s world.

Have we forgotten the high price our founding Fathers paid for our freedom? Have we forgotten that nine signers of the Declaration of Independence did not survive the war? Have we forgotten that many of the signers lost their homes and fortunes? One signer, Thomas Nelson of Virginia, directed the bombardment of his own mansion at Yorktown. Another signer, Francis Lewis, a wealthy New York trader, lost everything he had. His wife was thrown into prison and died shortly after her release. Signer Richard Stockton of New Jersey, a Princeton graduate, lost his wealth, property, and magnificent library. He was imprisoned and died following the war. These illustrations of sacred honor should remind us that the Fourth of July commemorates a costly freedom.[iii]

Let’s slow down long enough to really think about our freedom, both the freedom we enjoy in America and the freedom we enjoy from God’s only Son. Let’s remember the dedication, devotion, and determination of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who gave their lives, their fame, their fortunes and their families in order to fight for the freedom of this nation. And let us also remember those “signers” who put together the Apostles’ Creed who, like our forefathers, gathered together and put into words THE APOSTLES’ CREED so that we can all proclaim  “THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT GOD.”   

So What?
So what are you doing with your freedom? Are these ancient words of the Apostles’ Creed just ancient words that have grown old and lost their value?  Or are these words of the creed something that we, too, would willingly give our fame, fortune, faith, and our very lives to defend? Stop right here.  Think about these two questions. It’s your homework for the week.

We live in dangerous times. Do you know what you believe? I’m praying for you.

See you Sunday!

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

[i] Preachingtoday.com

[ii] C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996

[iii] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 36–37). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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 8-8-19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”  Hebrews 11:1-3

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

Summer is just about half over yet many are already back to school! As everyone gets ready for the new school year, I want to take a quick moment to thank each and every one of you for your faithful support and love throughout all the years.  Your faith has given my wife and I the courage to keep looking to Jesus, the author of our faith.

We continue our series on the Apostles’ Creed.  The questions that the Holy Spirit put on my heart this year is, “What do you believe?  Who do you believe? Why do you believe? How do you believe? How do you live what you believe?”

Read the Apostles’ Creed with me:

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

What does it mean when we say we “believe in God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?

It was a cold night in January of 1981 in Rochelle, Illinois, when I got down on my knees in my bedroom.  I was 27 years old, the father of three young children. I had been invited to a couple’s Bible Study by my wife on the book of Romans; we came to chapter 8, verse 15. My life was forever changed that cold, wintry night. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’”  I read and reread that verse that night and started to cry. I went home and knelt down in my bedroom.  I asked God if He really wanted to be my father. I looked up to the heavens and said, “God you really want to be my Father, I will give you a chance.”  I look back and have to laugh. I was going to give God, the creator of everything, a chance. Mighty wide of me, don’t you think? That cold January night forever changed my life.  I came to learn that I really did have a Father in heaven who was Almighty, who created all things and sustains all things–including me, the guy who decided to give God a trial run.

I love Hebrews 11:1-3.  Faith means a lot of things but this verse spells it out.  Faith means being sure of you hope for. Faith means being certain of what you do not see.  Faith means we can understand that God created the universe. Faith means trust.
In the Apostles’ Creed we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again. We are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone–a million times better than having faith in something.

When I turned 40, I left a 20-year career with a nice-paying job.  I had two company cars, free insurance, and a fair salary.  We owned a house and our three children didn’t seem to lack much.  Did I mention that I was a self-made man? For many years, I got by not trusting in anyone or anything but myself.  And then God called me into seminary. Those three years in seminary, I learned my Greek, my Hebrew, church history, ethics, church polity and pastoral care but the main lesson that God taught me was not to be found in any textbook.  Those three, long years I often refer to as “THE CEMETERY” God taught me one simple word — trust.

To
Rest
Under
Salvation’s
Tree

While in seminary, I had to learn to trust God for my daily bread.  I had to learn to trust God for my finances.  I had to learn to trust God with my family. I had to learn to trust God with everything that I had held so tightly to.  I had to let go and let God fill my hands. When I left my job in August of 1994, I no longer had two, free, no maintenance vehicles. I no longer had free insurance. I no longer had much of a salary. I was a full-time seminary student, and I had to learn to trust God—for everything. We had one child in college and two in high school. “TRUST ME, DAVE,” was my mantra for those three, long years.

So What?
So how do you trust?  How do you believe?  What do you believe? Why do you believe?  It is my prayer that as we walk with me through the Apostles’ Creed you  will come to know that you, too, have a Father in Heaven who loves you with an unfailing love and with an outrageous grace. It is my prayer that you will come to understand that His love will never leave you nor forsake you.  His love will create and continue to recreate in you a new heart.

I happen to be married to a woman whose father is her hero. I’ve known Andy for 47 years. I’ve never seen him lose his temper—although he gets worked up over politics! I’ve never seen him throw anything or hit anything. For 47 years, I’ve listened to my wife call her father, “Daddy oh!” “Hi, Daddy oh!” or just “Daddy.” And, for 47 years, I’ve listened to Andy call my almost 65 year-old wife, “Baby doll” or “Baby” or “Sweetheart.”  Just the other day, I was talking to my wife about this series. I shared with her how lucky and blessed she is to have father like she does. Matter of fact, I was driving in the car coming home from a church meeting. I had two other men in the car with me. We had just come from “CHRIST, COFFEE & CARS.” (Meets monthly on a Saturday morning, let me know if you are interested.) Jac didn’t know she was on speaker phone. She had called me to tell me some news about her “Daddy oh!” One of the men asked her why she called her dad that. Jac replied, “Oh my gosh. My dad is my hero. He’s always been my hero. He’s never given me a reason not to be my hero.” After a brief pause, she said, “I wish everyone could have a father like mine.” Both of the men in the car replied, “Me, too.” That interaction got me thinking. You know what? WE DO. We do have a heavenly Father who absolutely loves us. We have a heavenly Father who even lets us “give Him a chance.” We have a heavenly Father who wants to be our hero.
As I close out this week’s SEED OF FAITH, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that if you are going through a hard season that you will learn TO TRUST. I am praying that if you need a heavenly Father, that you will give GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, a chance. I have watched my wife of 45 years make the easy transfer from an earthly father whom she loves and adores to a heavenly father she loves and adores. That’s my prayer for each one of us: that we know we are loved and adored by our heavenly father.
I think I have it. I think I’ve found a pretty good way to start your very own Apostles’ Creed: Kneel down in your bedroom and simply say, “DADDY-OH! I’m thinking tonight’s the night I give you a chance…”
God loves you.  God, our Father, honestly LOVES YOU. That’s my prayer, that you come to understand and grow in the Father’s love for you.

SEED 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 8/1/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE GOD THE FATHER   By Pastor Dave  

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Dear Faithful Friends and Fantastic Seed-Sowers:
Greetings in the grace and love of God! Our series on “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” has ended and we are now going into our “What We Believe” series. As I pray and seek the Lord for what to preach on, I’m often overwhelmed with thoughts like, “I’ve been preaching for 20 years. I’ve preached almost a thousand messages. What is left, Lord?” And just when I seriously cannot think of one more thing, a crevice to a sacred cave opens with, what I’m sure is Holy Spirit wisdom, and I start wondering again. “What is the Apostles’ Creed? When was it created? Who wrote it? Why did they write it?” And pretty soon a whole, new series opens up and I’m off down another series’ trail. Today we begin a series that I’ve called “I BELIEVE.” Our series is based upon the Apostles’ Creed.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And the life everlasting. Amen.[i]

The Apostles’ Creed gets its name from the Apostles who followed Jesus — Peter, Andrew, James & John, Matthew, Thomas and the rest.  One tradition believes each disciple was responsible for one line in the Creed, however, most scholars do not believe that.  The earliest reference of the Apostles’ Creed is found around the middle of the 2nd century — around 140 A.D. Roughly a little over 100 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.   The earliest written form of the creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about 341. Fifty years later, Tyrannius Rufinus wrote a commentary on this creed in Latin.[i]

We have in our possession the writings of a document that is at least 1,879 years old!  Stop and ponder the millions of people who have recited this creed throughout the years.  When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we are not just expressing our own faith or what we believe, we are joining our voices with the great cloud of witnesses from across the centuries—people from every tribe and nation, people who love Christ.

For the early church, the Apostles’ Creed was known as “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” “rugula fidei” in the Latin or Roman world at the time. This “Rule of Faith” was not to replace Scripture or supersede Scripture in any way but was used to corroborate, verify, validate and teach the Scriptures.

Honestly, what could happen in our world today if we all went back to teaching “The Rule of Truth” or “The Rule of Faith” –the Apostles’ Creed?  Like the guy in the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE says, “Inconceivable.”

The Latin word for “creed” is Credo and it literally means “I BELIEVE.” The Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles believed.

Our “SO WHAT?” questions comes early today:   What do you believe?  Who do you believe?  Why do you believe? How do you believe?

It is my prayer that, as we go through this series, we will come to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.

The truth is that we all believe in something. The Atheist who says there is no God is stating their belief–I believe there is no god.  The Buddhist believes in Budda, the Hindu believes in Carma, the Muslim believe in Allah. Every man-made religion has its own beliefs and practices.

Teaching time: The word “believe” is used 253 times in the New Testament and another 30 times in the Old Testament.  “Faith” is another word for “believe” and it is used over 420 times in the Bible. Just in the Hall of Faith, chapter 11 of Hebrews, the word “faith’ is used 23 times. Faith means assent; faith is believing that certain things are true.  Faith means trust.  When we say that there once was a man called Jesus who lived, died and rose again, we are affirming our belief and our trust in Jesus. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we don’t just believe in something.  We believe in someone! Faith is not about believing that God exists, it is anchoring ourselves, our lives, and all that we have, in God.

Here’s some history: The early creed was developed as a baptismal confession.  In the early church, we’re going back to 140 A.D., the disciples of Jesus were taught this creed over a period of time. They had to memorize each word and the meaning of this trinitarian statement about: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. On their baptismal day, the day they joined the church, every person had to say the Apostles’ Creed.

On the day of their baptism, each person waded out into the water. The pastor asked them if they believed and they were to respond — I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  The pastor would then immerse them under the water and they’d come back up.  The pastor would ask them a second time, “What do you believe?” and they would respond — And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell The third day he rose again from the dead He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Then they would be immersed back under the water for a second time.  The pastor would ask them a third time, “What do you believe?” They would respond — I believe in the Holy Ghost, I believe in a holy catholic church; the communion of saints The forgiveness of sins, The resurrection of the body And the life everlasting. Amen  They would then be immersed the third and final time…finally to come up again out of the depths of the waters into a new life of faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Kind of cool, isn’t it? (If you ever want to be baptized this way, I’m all for it!)
SO WHAT?
Back in 2005, I was with a mission team that went to Peru to build a church. We built a lovely church and the people were so very thankful. I even got to preach in that little church—four walls, no screens on the windows.  After the church was completed, our team went up to tour a town in the Andes Mountains called Canta.  That Sunday morning, we went out to the river on the edge of town.  We were at 10,000 feet above sea level. The river was running swiftly, and it was freezing cold.  Lo and behold, it was baptismal day! The Peruvians in Canta dress up in white robes, stand by the riverbank and walk out into the freezing water one by one.  Each of the pastors took turns doing the baptisms: First, we would ask them their name.  Then we would ask them why they wanted to be baptized.  One by one, the person would turn to the members of their families, and the church, and there they declared and recited why they believed. I will never forget that experience.  I will never forget the joy, excitement, and the new lives that were proclaimed by professing what they believed on their baptismal day.
Our trip was in 2005–and here I am, vividly recalling their faith from over 14 years ago. (Maybe it’s time for me to host a beach baptismal remembrance day?!)

YOUR “SO WHAT?” for the week:
Imagine…you are standing by your favorite river, lake, ocean spot, or waterfall. It’s time for you to be baptized. You are wearing a white robe. Your family and your church family are there with you. What do you say? What do you believe? Take a quiet time and think about this. The next few weeks we are going to go over the Apostles’ Creed. But what would you say today? What exactly do you believe? For me, I’d be at the Lake of the Ozarks. I’d be out in a quiet cove on a small boat. I know exactly what I’d say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
And down I go, for the first time!

SUMMER 2019: a really good time for us to know and proclaim what we believe.

You are in my prayers daily and I’m praying that our Heavenly Father proclaims love to you unconditionally!

SEED you Sunday!

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

[i] Ritzema, E., & Barry, J. D. (2016). Apostles’ Creed. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[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 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

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

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