Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/1/2021

Seed of Faith – WORDS TO THE SKEPTICAL & SCARED   By Pastor Dave  

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:36-39

Dear Faithful, Fearless, and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
May the God of all grace and mercy surround you with His grace, mercy and love.  May you know that God is with you and His promise is that He will never leave you or forsake you. COUNT ON THIS AS YOU FACE THE FUTURE.

Last week, we heard a word to the troubled in heart as Jesus walked down the Emmaus Road with His disciples.  Today we turn to Luke 24 where we will hear a word to the skeptical and scared.

With his news-assignment request approved, the CNN News cameraman quickly used his cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.  Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the cameraman instructed the pilot, “Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can get shots of the fires on the hillsides. “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m a cameraman for CNN,” he responded, “and I need to get some close-up shots. “The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally, he stammered, “So, what you are telling me, is…you’re not my flight instructor?[i]

What a case of mistaken identity!

Have you ever mistaken the identity of someone or something?

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead caused even His followers to mistake His identity.  At the tomb, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus thought Jesus was the only one in Jerusalem who did not know what terrible things had just happened in Jerusalem.

In the Gospel of Luke, we have three different records of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It would be just like our detailed, Dr.  Luke to paint a tapestry of three different panels. One panel is the story found in Luke 24:1-12 that we read on Easter Sunday.  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women go to tomb early in the morning and find that the stone is rolled away; they see two men glowing like lightening.  These two angels say to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.  The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:5-7) Dr. Luke tells us that the women ran back to tell the disciples the good news.  The disciples think the women are talking nonsense. However, we learn that Peter ran to the tomb–only to find it was empty.  Peter walked away wondering what in the world had happened.  This is the first panel Dr. Luke has painted for us.

The second panel is the story found in Luke 24:13-34. We studied this story last week.  This panel is painted with Cleopas and another (Mary his wife, Mary) walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Out of the blue, Jesus started walking alongside them.  As they walked and talked, Jesus opened all of the Scriptures to them–beginning with Moses and the prophets and explained to them all that must happen to the Messiah.  Even after all of this, they still had a case of mistaken identity of their mystery man who had joined them on their walk.  It was not until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened.  “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

What does it take for our hearts to burn within us?  What would it take for us to know the real Christ and not to have a case of mistaken identity regarding Him?  What would it take for us to pick up and run back the seven miles we just walked in order to tell others that we have seen the risen, living Christ?  Why is that we have such a hard time seeing Jesus come alongside us in our lives?   Why is that that we mistake His identity time and time again?

Today we turn to the third panel of Luke’s magnificent tapestry of the resurrection story.  Today, may our eyes be opened once again to see the risen Christ.  May our hearts be strangely warmed as we open up God’s Word and read Luke 24:36-53.

As always, place yourself into our story. Be a part of the living word of God. We are in the Upper Room, gathered together and huddled in fear. Now, let us introduce Dr. Luke’s three panels of resurrection stories and three cases of mistaken identity:  Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  Cleopas and his companion on the way to Emmaus had no clue who their traveling companion was. Was this mysterious traveler the only one who did not know the things that had happened in Jerusalem? They all had a case of mistaken identity.  After Jesus opened up the Scriptures to Cleopas and the other disciple, after Jesus broke bread with them–they immediately ran 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell all those gathered in the Upper Room that they had just been with the risen Christ.

Can you imagine?  It is still Resurrection Day.  Jesus’ disciples have run the gamut of emotions for one day!  Are you there with me? What a day! Do you think after Cleopas shares his news that they are all talking at the same time?  Imagine you are in the midst of a crowd. What is going on after all of these people tell us that Jesus is not dead—his tomb is empty and he is alive—and not just in Jerusalem, He is even alive in Emmaus.

I imagine the group is asking questions, making statements, wondering out loud.  Joy, excitement, bewilderment, confusion, fear and skepticism are running rampant in the room.  The doors are locked because of their fears and then…suddenly… Jesus walks into the room and says, “Peace be with you.”

Imagine the scene.  Huddle together.  The doors are locked!  We are all afraid and we are hiding. We are hearing the Good News of Jesus being raised from the dead!  Jesus is alive?  All of our hopes that were dashed are now being rekindled.  Dreams that were shattered are being restored! Now imgaine, Jesus walks into the room and says to us, “Peace be with you.”  “Eirene hymin” in Greek and “Shalom alakem,” are the common terms of greeting.   What a day this has been for anyone inside that Upper Room!

Here is a lesson we can glean from this third panel of the Resurrection Day Tapestry: Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our fear!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our bewilderment! Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our doubts!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our confusion! Jesus wants to bring His peace to all who are skeptical.  Jesus wants to bring peace.

Listen!  The Good News!

No matter what kind of day we are having, Jesus wants to bring peace into our lives!

What happens next is another profound example of mistaken identity.  The disciples are gathered together in the Upper Room.  They have heard from Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, and the other disciple that they have seen the risen Christ.  Mary thought He was the gardener at first.  Cleopas and his companion thought Jesus was this short of being an idiot.  They are all wondering what in the world is going on and now Jesus Himself is standing right in front of them.  What is their response?  They think they are seeing a ghost.

On January 28, 1945, as World War II was groaning to a close, 121 elite Army Rangers liberated over 500 POWs, mostly Americans, from a Japanese prisoner of war camp near Cabanatuan in the Philippines. The prisoners, many of whom were survivors of the infamous Bataan death march, were in awful condition, physically and emotionally. Before the Rangers arrived, the primary Japanese guard unit had left the camp because of Japan’s massive retreat from the Philippines. The new situation was precarious. Japanese troops were still around and, in the camp, but they kept their distance from the prisoners. The men of Cabanatuan did not quite know what to make of their new freedom—if freedom was in fact what it was. And then, without warning, the American Rangers swept upon the camp in furious force. But one of the most interesting facets of the story was the reaction of many of the prisoners. They were so defeated, diseased, and familiar with deceit that many needed to be convinced they were actually free.

They were skeptical and scared.

Was it a trick? A trap? Was this real? One prisoner, Captain Bert Bank, struggling with blindness caused by a vitamin deficiency, could not clearly make out his would-be rescuers. He refused to budge. Finally, a soldier walked up to him, tugged his arm, and said, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to be free?” Bank, from Alabama, recognized the familiar southern accent of his questioner. A smile formed on his lips, and he willingly and thankfully began his journey to freedom. Finally, far away from what had been, for years, the site of an ongoing, horrific assault on their humanity, the newly freed prisoners began their march home.

In the description of one prisoner, contrasting it with the Bataan nightmare years earlier, “It was a long, slow, steady march …but this was a life march, a march of freedom.”[i]

SO WHAT?
I believe that we are a lot like those prisoners.  We have been set free from our captivity and, yet, we stand frozen in our tracks.  We have heard of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, but do we really believe it? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?  Is Jesus really the promised Messiah?  Would Jesus walk into my confusion, bewilderment, doubts, fears, frustrations, hurts, addictions, pain, worries, skepticism, scared heart and messed-up life?

Timothy J. Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism said; “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”[ii]

So, what? What do you believe?  Are you a prisoner of skepticism?  Are you frozen in fear? Are you scared like the early disciples? Hear these words:
“Peace be with you.” May these words soak and saturate deeply into your heart.

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 5/22/21

Seed of Faith – A Word For The Confused  By Pastor Dave  

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Greetings Faithful Friends and Fearless Seed-Sowers,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to write a Seed of Faith.  I have been busy and maybe I have been confused and troubled.  I just returned home from Illinois after cleaning out some of my dad’s personal items from his home.  My step-mom is moving and I needed to go through some of my dad’s items that were in his home for the past fifty some years (photo albums mainly.)

Today we are going to take a walk with Jesus. We are on the road to Emmaus.  Emmaus is a town.  The Emmaus Road story is one of the most famous and familiar stories that Dr. Luke tells.  Today we meet two disciples who are also making their way home from the Passover festival.  This is the same day that Jesus rose from the tomb.  These two disciples happen to be followers of Jesus, just like us. They are heart-sick, heart-broken, depressed and confused about Jesus’ crucifixion and now they are walking home—7 miles back home. Think about where 7 miles from your home is–and imagine walking there right now. As you are walking, let me ask you a few questions.

Have you ever been heart-sick before?
Have you ever-been heart-broken before?
Have you ever been down or depressed before?
Have you ever been confused before?

Our good friend, Dr. Luke, now introduces us to two disciples, one named Cleopas and one that is not named.  Scholars have debated about who these two disciples are. Some scholars say that Cleopas is a follower of Jesus and the other, unnamed person is none other than Dr. Luke. Some have said that Cleopas is the Cleopas mentioned by the Gospel of John in John 19:25 when we are told that Mary’s sister was the wife of Cleopas and her name was Mary, also.  If this is the case, then these two disciples were Jesus’ aunt and uncle–headed home to Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.   Whoever they were, these two had been in Jerusalem for the Passover festival with a million other Jews.  They were followers of Jesus.  They were there when Jesus entered the town riding on a donkey.  They were there with all of the people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna — Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They heard the crowd shouting, Crucify him, crucify him!”  We are also told in the Scriptures that “Mary, the wife of Cleopas” was at the cross with Jesus’ mother.  Mary, the wife of Cleopas, was with her sister, Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Jesus’ crucifixion. Are you in this story yet?
These two disciples loved Jesus with all of their hearts.  They were in Jerusalem for a Passover festival, a celebration.  They were not expecting what happened.  The person they loved, Jesus, had been arrested, tried, and whipped. Jesus was crucified and these two are heart-sick!  They are heart-broken!  They are depressed! They are confused!  And they are beginning their long, 7-mile walk back home.
Can you identify with being heat-broken, depressed, confused, disappointed, and downcast?  Just say — Covid-19 or quarantine, lockdown, stay-at-home, no school, no sports, no going out, no family …. No, no, no, no! I think we can all identify with being heart-broken this past year.

Dr/ Luke tells us that as they were walking along, they were discussing the events of the past week.  The Greek word for “discussing” is “syzeteo” which is a present tense verb.  This means that they were discussing and discussing and discussing over and over again all of the things that had happened.  They were on a roller coaster of grief and confusion, going up and down and all around and around; discussing the life and death of Jesus.

As they were walking and talking, the RESURRECTED Jesus walked up behind them and asked them what they were talking about.  They did not recognize Jesus.  The original Greek tells us that “they were kept from recognizing Him.”  Why?  We really do not know.  Commentaries suggest it was because they were looking into the sun and the shadows prevented them from recognizing Jesus.   Perhaps they were so overcome with grief, their hearts so broken that in the midst of their grief and confusion they could not see who it was that was standing in front of them.  They simply did not recognize Jesus. If you are taking notes — write this one down.  It is really important!

Jesus finds us in our confusion!  Jesus finds us when our hearts are broken, and we are overwhelmed with grief.  Jesus wants to enter into our story—right where we are, no matter where we are.
I am praying that our eyes will be opened and that our hearts will be strangely warmed as we recognize Jesus whenever, wherever, He walks into our lives.

So What?
In 2015 an EF4 tornado with winds of 200 mph hit my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. I remember that night, I was heartsick, and heartbroken to hear of the devastation the tornado caused.  My heart was heavy and burdened with grief. The day after the tornado, our good friends called.  We had raised our children with them, went on vacation with them—their family was our family and vice versa.  We knew on the night of the tornado that their niece’s home had been destroyed by the tornado.  The next morning our friend called to tell us this story:

Her niece and her husband have three, small children—5,3, and 5 months.  When the sirens went off, they hurried down to the southwest corner of their basement.  Looking out the basement window, they saw their wooden swing set blow away like toothpicks and disappear.  Her niece held all three of the children while her husband formed a human shield of protection over them; spread eagle like a cross.  In less than a minute, their house and everything they owned was gone.  The first floor had collapsed into the basement, missing them by inches.  Her niece had cried out, “We’re going to die.”  Across the street, another young family had sought shelter from the tornado in their own basement. After the tornado had safely passed, the young father grabbed a flashlight and ran over to help the family across the street whose home had been blown away. In the darkness, he found the five of them in the southwest corner of the basement—the only corner that sustained no damage—and he helped pull them all to safety.  The next day, our friend, brought in heavy equipment that lifted the collapsed first floor from the basement so that our friends could sort through what was left of their home.  Here is all they found:  the five-year old’s Mickey Mouse that he sleeps with, the 3-year-old’s blankie that she sleeps with, a pillow that said HOME, a sign that said THANKFUL and her very beat up and, almost unrecognizable, laptop.  Someone took the laptop to a techy who carefully removed from it the stored photos and documents.  Everything else was gone.

Here is the “so what?” for this week that I want you to remember forever:

Jesus meets us in our confusion, in our heart-sickness, in our depression, in our fears and doubts.
Jesus WILL bring clarity into our lives.
Jesus WILL bring comfort into our lives…All through the living, abiding, Word of God.
YOUR HEART WILL BE STRANGELY WARMED–and that, my friends, is just God at work.

Just as the father I told you about covered his family in order to protect them, Jesus does the same for you and me.  In the midst of our confusion, our grief, our depression, our sorrow, our heartsickness, our heartbrokenness, our doubts, our fears, our shame, our guilt—Jesus covers us. Friends, this is the hope and the power of the RESURRECTION. Today as we travel along our own EMMAUS ROAD, may our eyes be opened,  may our hearts be strangely warmed as we break bread together.  May we recognize the crucified, risen Christ in our midst!

Back to being in Rochelle to go through some of my Dad’s personal things, I decided that since my wife would be with her father here in California that it might be nice to have my son or daughters fly with me to Rochelle. Our eldest has 7 children and couldn’t get away but she prayed for us. Our son drove his truck up from Waco, Texas; there were two toolboxes that he could have. Our youngest daughter brought her daughter and we flew together. Jesus was with us all the way. We had a ton of turbulence on the first flight then our plane was delayed due to weather in Dallas. We sat in the Dallas airport for six, long hours–wearing a mask. We were there all night. I know the man who designed the train system in Dallas and so I got the girls to ride the rails with me.  Strangely, we felt God was with us as we waited for our flight to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at 5 am–walked through the terminal and got a hotel room because we were exhausted. Later, we rented a Jeep and headed to Dad’s. Our eldest daughter was brought home to this house in 1974. Our son and daughter who were with me had experienced birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays in this home–like their entire lives have had memories there. As we sorted in the basement, I felt my heart strangely warmed. My brother, Joe, came over and helped. We were able to move Dad’s tools from a shed the next day. We loaded up Brian’s truck with two toolboxes. Through the week, I was able to see close friends and family. Heck, we even drove to Milwaukee to see the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers! Through it all, through all of the sorrow and sadness, the risen Christ was with us, warming our hearts with the love of family.

I’m praying for you. You are loved.

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 04/01/2021

Seed of Faith – Praising, Protesting, Passive   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:38-40

Dear Faithful – Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.  I encourage you take some time and read the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life. Read and compare the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) or pick one to read one this week.  Here are the Gospel accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, Holy Week  — Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19:28-24 and John 12-21.

Today we are going to look at Luke 19:28-44 and at the Old Testament prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9-12.

Think about this for a moment.  I mean, stop, and really think about where you are in this story of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem? Where are you in your faith walk with Jesus? There were crowds of people in this story.  Scholars believe that there were over 2 million people in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover.  They estimate the crowd at the “Palm Parade” was around 200,000 people.  Jesus was riding into town on a donkey and the crowds went wild. Yet, there are at least three types of people in this story. As you read, figure out where you are. Which of these three crowds do you belong in?

1. The people who knew their Scriptures and were waiting for God to send a KING to overthrow the Roman government—this crowd went wild with praise! PRAISERS.

2. The crowd of the Pharisees did not go wild with praise.  They went wild with protest. PROTESTORS. 

3. The third kind of crowd was absolutely passive—to them, this parade was no big deal either way. PASSERS.

Praising, protesting or passive! Faithful one or faithless one! What crowd will you find yourself in today?

Will we praise Jesus?
Will we protest Jesus?
Will we be passive about Jesus?

Imagine for a moment 100,000 to 200,000 people moving, waving palms, and shouting!  The Rose Bowl holds around 92,000 people, double that crowd, imagine the noise and hysteria of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday. Can you feel the energy?

Can you enter into the picture?  A few million people are milling around Jerusalem.  There are people everywhere! Today would be Sunday, the Sunday before they celebrated Passover, and this is the very reason why all of these people were there.  Today is known as “Lamb Selection Sunday” and thousands of lambs are being led into town for Thursday’s annual Passover sacrifice event. Everyone is selecting their family’s sacrificial lamb.  Think of the tension in the air as the Roman centurions walk around — angry that the crowd is so large.   Their swords and shields are ready at a moment’s notice to keep the peace.  Jesus makes his way through the nearby town of Bethany, down the Mount of Olives and enters the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus has been in ministry for three years.  The people have seen Him in action or they have heard about Him.  The crowd is energized, and the excitement keeps building and building!  Jesus is riding into town on a donkey and the crowd goes wild.  They have been waiting for this day! These people know their scriptures. They don’t have the new testament—only the old! They can easily equate Zechariah 9…with what they are seeing!  All of sudden, this is the biggest parade you have ever seen, everyone is breaking off palm branches from the palm trees and waving them. They are taking off their outer coats to throw them on the dirt road that Jesus is riding into town on!  Are you with me?  Can you hear the excitement as the crowd begins to shout, HOSANNA — HOSANNA — HOSANNA!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the king of Israel.”  (Makes me think of when we shout USA in the Olympic games.)

The Hebrew word “hosanna” literally means “save us, we pray, save us now, save us–we beseech you.”  The crowd is shouting at the top of their lungs, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!”

What about you?  Are you in this crowd? 

Do YOU PROTEST Jesus?
There is another crowd we need to pay attention to.  I love that Luke puts these two verses into his detailed storyline, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”  This is the last mention of the Pharisees in Luke’s account.  The Pharisees went out to meet Jesus because they understood why He was coming to town.  This Jesus was about to turn their entire lives completely upside down.  The Pharisees were comfortable and in control, or so they thought.  Luke records that some of the Pharisees were shouting out to Jesus.  Imagine how loud they must have been shouting to have their voices heard over the crowd.  This crowd of Pharisees wanted to silence the crowd and Jesus.  Imagine how they felt when Jesus responded that even if the crowd was silent, the very stones on the ground would cry out. (I’d like to be around for that!)

The voices of two contrasting crowds:  One crowd is wild with excitement, shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna” —“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The other crowd is shouting “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Two crowds: One crowd praises Jesus while the other crowd protests Him.

We come to the final group:  the crowd who simply pass.  They do not care enough one way or the other.  Jesus?  Who?  Did what?  Yeah, I am really busy doing my own thing.  I am going to pass on that.   I’m taking a pass today. Maybe next time.

This the “So what?” for YOU today:  what crowd are YOU in?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PRAISE-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PROTEST-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PASS-on-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

So What?

One day Mark Twain took his little daughter on his knee and told her all about the rulers and other prominent men whom he had met in his travels. She listened attentively. When he had finished, she said, “Daddy, you know everybody but God, don’t you?” Mark Twain was certainly an intelligent person. Yet he rejected God.1

Praise.  Protest.  Pass.  Our choice.  Today’s “So What?” comes down to a choice…made by me…made by you…to either PRAISE…PROTEST. …or PASS this JESUS OF NAZARETH.

PRAISE…PROTEST…or PASS.

When we were raising our kids, my wife and I lived on the parade route. If there was a parade, it was going to go right past our house! Anyone who knew us knew that they could find a spot on our lawn and sit and enjoy the parade.  They also knew they could use the restroom, and could count on brownies with powdered sugar on top and water or pop (yes, in Northern Illinois–soda is POP!) Guess what? Today I know of a house (point to your heart) that is on the PALM SUNDAY parade route! It’s your heart. It’s YOU! Jesus is riding down the road in front of YOUR heart today! ARE YOU PRAISING? I surely hope you are!

We ended our worship on Palm Sunday with Chris Tomlin’s “IS HE WORTHY?” I double dog dare you to listen to it and PRAISE JESUS.

Friday is here…but…SUNDAY’S COMING!

See you Easter Sunday — SPOILER ALERT:  the tomb is empty!!!

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

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

Seed of Faith 3/8/21

Seed of Faith – Faith To Face Your Lions   By Pastor Dave  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

Dear Faithful – Fearless & Fruitful Seed Sowers,
Last week we began a SEED OF FAITH on Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Daniel 6.  Daniel had faith to stand against those who accused him. Daniel had faith to transform his environment. Do you? Do I?

The GOD of the entire universe ….says to you and me,  “I will never leave you or forsake you. So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’”  This is the faith that Daniel had!

Do you have this kind of faith?
Do you believe that God is your helper?
Do you believe that no matter what comes your way, GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU or FORSAKE YOU?

In 1940 Vincent and Margaret Crossett were missionaries in Mainland China. They struggled against poverty and paganism in a remote village in order to tell others about Jesus. The work was very slow and difficult, but after much sacrifice a small church was established. The church was no larger than a small Bible study group. Right on the threshold of this small triumph for the kingdom of God, Satan began his work. The Communist takeover of China during the Cultural Revolution forced all missionaries to leave China. The Crossetts hated to leave. Their fledgling flock of believers hardly seemed ready to withstand the coming onslaught. An atheistic, dictatorial government dedicated to wiping out all Christian influence was beginning its rule with ruthless power. How could this little church survive? From the world’s perspective there was nothing anyone could do. The church seemed destined to die. But Vincent and Margaret did not see through the world’s eyes. They saw through the eyes of faith that their God was faithful to those who honor him. The Crossetts were like faithful family sedans. They continued to do their duty. Though the missionaries were chased out, their prayers were not. For nearly forty years the Crosetts daily kept their prayer window opened toward China. They dutifully prayed in faith that God would one day triumph over Communism. The Crosetts heard nothing of their Chinese friends for forty years, but still they faithfully prayed for God to be victorious in the church they left behind. Finally, the walls of China came down. As the political climate changed, the nation was opened to western visitors. The Crossetts returned to the village where they had left the tiny, struggling group of believers. There was no small church in the village anymore! Instead, from that Bible study had grown a church of four thousand people! This body of believers had planted dozens of other churches as well, each with a membership of at least a thousand. All the Crossetts did was pray with their prayer window open to the focus of their prayer—China. The God of Daniel is alive and well.[i]

Romans 8:28, do you know it? “AND WE KNOW THAT GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!”
The Crossetts knew their God and they prayed in faith for the little church they left behind in China.

SO WHAT?
When Daniel was threatened with his life to conform to the new edict, he got down on his knees and prayed.  He asked God to help him like God had helped him all his life. Daniel had faith that his God could do immeasurably more than he could ask or imagine. Daniel knew that God was with him. Immanuel: GOD With ME.

In 2013 I came down with an infection of some kind in my body. It started in my left leg and spread to my right leg.  This infection manifested itself in painful blisters and oozing sores. It wasn’t just one or two of these sores but patches of skin, 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. Pretty soon the infection spread to  my chest and back.  I was sent to 14 different doctors. This infection stayed with me for 4 years. It went to the inside of my body and the outside of my body. None of the doctors knew what was wrong with me. My wife had gone to see a doctor in 2001. She had dropped a heavy piece of furniture on her toe and Dr. Zimmerman had helped her. We were grasping at straws at this point, and I was in horrible pain, sleeping in the recliner.  Jac (my wife) kept asking me to go see Dr.  Zimmerman. Out of desperation, I agreed. Dr. Z started treating me.  His words, “This infection is trying to kill you.  I will not send you to the hospital because I fear you would die of MRSA or staph in there.” He was afraid with all of the open, oozing sores, I’d get something worse than what I already had. Dr. Z gave me topical relief but the rash continued to progress. My wife began to have involuntary muscle twitches. She had suffered from mercury poisoning in 2005 and when she went to her doctor, her doctor retested her heavy metals levels. The doctor thought her mercury levels were back up. The test revealed severe lead poisoning. We have a seriously smart doctor, and she called me in and tested me for my heavy metal levels. Both Jac and I were living in a home that was putting out 6 times the limit of lead particles. I had ten times the lethal limit of lead in my body, Jac had 12! No wonder we were so sick. During all of these years of battling the infection, I had learned to be a man of prayer.  Good thing, because chelation is hard on a body! From September of 2017 to the summer of 2019, I did 3 chelations.  I am down to two times the lethal limit. Chelation is no fun. The doctor says I have one chelation left before I read the lethal  limit.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story. Between the past 7 years of oozing sores and chelations, I have learned to become a man of constant prayer.  I have learned to pray, “GOD WITH ME.” My faith in God has grown stronger day by day. God has shut the mouths of the lions I’ve been facing. God will do the same for you.

Daniel did not conform to the pressures of his world. He did not conform to the pressures of the King or of his “friends” and co-workers. Instead of conforming, Daniel transformed. He transformed his corner of the world.  When Daniel came out of the lions’ den after spending a night with the lions. he was untouched.  The King was elated and passed an edit that all people should worship the God of Daniel.  I love the wording of King Darrius law … Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

If you are taking notes, here you go. Here are 5 points from King Darius worth remembering:

1.  THE LIVING GOD ENDURES FOREVER — GOD WITH US

2.  GOD’S KINGDOM WILL NOT BE DESTROYED — GOD WITH US

3.  GOD’S DOMINION WILL NEVER END — GOD WITH US

4.  GOD RESCUES AND SAVES —- GOD WITH US

5. GOD PERFORMS SIGNS AND WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS AND ON THE EARTH — GOD WITH US.

NO MATTER WHAT:
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s a fourth man in the fire with you.
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s an angel who will SHUT THE MOUTHS OF THE LIONS IN YOUR DEN.

In the face of this year long epidemic, keep your faith. Our God is with us. Your God is with you. Say it with me and make it personal: GOD WITH ME.

When times are hard this week, say it out loud, “GOD WITH ME.” Think about Daniel.  Think about being thrown into the lions’ den for no good reason at all—except that your coworkers are jealous and envious of you. I always tell you to put yourself into the story.  Well.  DO!

Here you are—they’ve thrown you into the pit. They’ve sealed the pit so you can’t escape.  YOU ARE THERE, IN THE PIT, ALONE.  I’m guessing it’s dark–because lions like to hunt at night! I’m also guessing Daniel prayed. An angel came and shut the lions’ mouths. And after that long, long night—Daniel was rescued by the KING…and, don’t miss this, the scripture says,  So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian..”

Did you hear that? So Daniel prospered.

Tell yourself this story this week…over and over again…until you believe it. And, by the way, you are NOT ALONE in that lions’ den…not at all. That fourth man in the fire? He’s WITH YOU.

GOD WITH US.  GOD WITH ME.  

There isn’t a dream team on earth who can team up against you to defy God’s will and plan for your life. DO YOU BELIEVE IT?

Despite this pandemic and whatever else you are facing, I want you to stand on this promise: So Daniel prospered. That’s my prayer for you! Jac’s “Daddy-oh” has been with us for 400 days now. He has Alzheimer’s and emphysema and a severe case of sundowners. Dad is up all night making many trips around the house and the bathroom. The doctors have said, “It is time. He needs 24/7 supervision.” Because of covid, we can’t hire night-time help. We will be placing Dad into a nearby memory care home this coming week. It is time for Jac and me to have a living faith for Dad; a faith that says, “God’s will for Dad is for him to prosper in this next move.” Immanuel. God with us. God with me. I’m praying for you.  Will you pray for us?

See You Sunday!

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

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

Seed of Faith 2/27/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Lions Den   By Pastor Dave  
 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27

Dear Faithful – Fearless – Fruitful Seed Sowers,

I pray that each and everyone of you are safe in the grace and love of Jesus! The days we are living through are difficult. I pray that you find comfort in these SEEDS OF FAITH and in the living, enduring WORD OF GOD. I pray that your faith will increase and your fear will decrease. God be with us as we face this pandemic. Amen.

Over the past few weeks, we have learned about Daniel.  Daniel and his three good friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive from Israel as teenagers and brought to Babylon. Daniel served under four different Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. By the time we reach this story in chapter 6, Daniel is in his eighties.  He has been serving the kings and interpreting dreams for sixty years.  One thing is noteworthy to me: during all of his time in captivity, Daniel remained faithful to his one, true God.

Back to our story, King Darius now appoints Daniel to be the one of three administrators over his kingdom. The king has plans to set old Daniel over his whole kingdom.

Have you ever thought about this? King Darius plans to set Daniel over his whole kingdom?

I have!  How does someone get to that place in life where the King wants to put you in charge of his kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I believe it was because of Daniel’s faith and faithful service. In our story, we learn that Daniel that is willing to remain true to his faith even when the new order is placed: “All people should not pray to any other god. All people are to only pray to the king, and if this edict is violated, you will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Put yourself into THIS story, friends.)

What I glean from this story is that Daniel’s coworkers were jealous and envious of Daniel. They know they will not find any corruption in Daniel so a plan is concocted in order for Daniel to fail. After the edict,  Daniel goes home, like he always does, opens his window like he always does, and begins to pray to the God of Jerusalem like he always did. We are told right here in Daniel 6 that three times each day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed to God. Daniel gave thanks to his God. As far as Daniel was concerned, there was no edict for Daniel that could stop him from praying to God.

Even when Daniel learned that the decree had been ordered and published and enacted, he went home to his upstairs room where his windows were opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

I like these words, “just as he had done before.”  If we were really in this story, we would know that we could count on one thing: Daniel would go home three times each day and pray. This wasn’t just a pattern with Daniel, this was a lifestyle.

The outside world may have been changing, but God had not changed, and Daniel was not going to allow his relationship to God to change regardless of the shifting circumstances.

What about you? Is your outside world changing? I think we can learn a lot from this story. Despite our changing outside world, we can not allow our relationship with God to be changed regardless of the circumstances. We can learn from Daniel how to be faithful and true.

Are there shifting circumstances in our world? You bet. It’s been a year since the pandemic started and our world has changed. Our circumstances have changed.  What about you? Has your God changed, too? Or have you remained faithful to God—no mater whether you go to church or worship from home? What would be your response if the government issued the same sort of decree today? “Everyone must bow down to the golden statue.” (We all have a golden statue. We do. We either resist the temptation to bow down and let it control our lives or we bow down. We have much to learn from Daniel today.)

Daniel knew that, no matter what, his God would be with him.  He had heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He knew the stories of deliverance of his people. He knew about their former slavery in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the cloud by day and fire at night to guide his ancestors. Daniel knew his history and Daniel knew the truth. His circumstances may have been changing but his God remained the same. “Daniel did what he had always done.” Daniel went home and bowed before the one, true King and, soon after, he was confronted by his enemies:  surrender, stop praying to your God and pray to King Darius alone or else.

So What?
I came across this illustration the other day and thought of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.

For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.

Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she had escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant — everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.

The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on that January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.

Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced more attacks except for the folly of one of the bullies. He had filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.

A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.

Unbeknownst to him the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.”

Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number. He told Khoury to call him if he needed him. From that day forward, Khoury has been a phone call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.

Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?  [i]

(Here is the link to a YouTube video of Nadin and the Philadelphia Eagles   https://youtu.be/_O4eipeoh78)

Do you know something? God gives us this very same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted them in his epistle:  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

In closing, I want to share a story. When my wife and I had just moved to California in 1999, we had to bring our van in for engine work. Being new in town, we asked around and found the shop. (Rochelle is a city of 10,000 people. When we left, there were two stop lights in town. Upland had 77,000 people and was surrounded by a sea of suburbs. Finding a new mechanic, new doctors, new friends–all intimidating tasks when you’re new in town.) Anyway, we dropped our van. As you may recall, we are that family that names their vehicles. This van was 7 years old, and had over 350,000 miles on it. We got her when the kids were still in school.  We named our van, FAITHFUL AND TRUE BLUE. She was the car we drove through my seminary years, and through our first two church calls. When we went to pick up our van, there was a homeless guy sitting on the curb by the van.  The new California plates read GKG with numbers. Jac, my wife, would always say as we climbed into “faithful and true”, “Let’s go serve the Great Kingdom of God, Dave!” We paid our bill and started to get into our car. Wait, the homeless guy. We talked for a bit.  I asked if he was hungry (he was) and walked to the local burger joint next door. Jac stayed with the van and the homeless guy started chatting with her. He told her, “You know, you guys serve the great kingdom of God? Your van is faithful and true–just like you.” I delivered the meal. We drove away. Jac told me what the guy had said and asked me to go back. We’d been gone 3 minutes and the guy was nowhere to be found. You see, we were missing home. We had been exiled to Southern California! Our nearest family was 2,000 away. Everything was so new in this land of Oz. As we drove away, I told Jac that God had reconfirmed a promise from the bible: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”

That’s my prayer for you today that somehow, someway you will know that you know that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU.

It’s the theme of our Lenten journey: GOD WITH US. GOD WITH ME.

By the way, God’s cell phone number is JEREMIAH 33:3–put it on speed dial in your heart:

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”

A hungry, homeless guy in the middle of our desert? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework.  It’s simple but not easy:

AM I FAITHFUL AND TRUE?

You see, Daniel was faithful and true. He never stopped praying to God no matter what the circumstances of his life entailed. We can learn a lot from Daniel today.

See you Sunday!

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 2/20/2021

Seed of Faith – Faithful In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

Dear Faithful, fearless & fruitful Seed sowers,

“God With Us” is the series that we are working through at The Seed Christian Fellowship of Rancho Cucamongam California! It is my prayer that as we look at the big stories of the Bible we see how God was with all the people and that God is with us, too.  In last week’s Seed of faith we laid a foundation of Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

In this story you can find at least three different groups of people. The conformer, those who bow down and worship the golden statue.  Then there are the informers, those who are jealous of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they will not bow down. This group goes and tells.  And you have the last group, the reformers. The reformers are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They did not bow down. This is how it is recorded in Daniel 3:12 — “But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The convictions, the beliefs and the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provided their enemy (and  coworkers) with an opportunity to accuse the four men of sedition, disloyalty, subversion and treason. The informers go to work doing what informers do:  they phrase their remarks in such a manner as to work King Nebuchadnezzar into the greatest possible rage and agitation. “Furious with rage” is what we are told.  Nebuchadnezzar brought the three young men before him and probed them for a confession. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Daniel 3:14

No reply is recorded, but there must have been one. They must have told the king that what he had been told about them was correct.

Nebuchadnezzar offered to give them another chance.

Here in this story lies a problem that confronts every follower of the One True God: when the requirements of serving God come into conflict with the demands of a secular world—to whom do you bow down to?

Are you in this story, yet? Put yourself in Babylon, standing in front of the King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not go to seek more time or to get a professional lawyer’s advice. These young men did not rationalize their options.  They did not try to justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. They simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

What is the king’s reply?  But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3:15

These words written in Daniel 3:16-18 are some of the most memorable verses in the Old Testament.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18

What in the world? Are you with me? Are you right here in this story? You are standing before the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar with your BFF’s. Here’s a great idea to ponder: What gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the conviction and the faith they needed to remain loyal to? Here’s my answer.  I believe that they knew that the God whom they worshiped and served was sovereign.  They knew their Scriptures and they were not going to worship any false idols.  They were willing to die for their faith.  These three were faithful!

When we read the rest of the story, Nebuchadnezzar is furious with rage; he has his soldiers light the fire in the furnace seven times hotter! Then orders the three men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  The furnace is so hot that the soldiers who bound the 3 men together and threw them into the furnace are killed by the intensity and searing heat of the fire. Are you in this story? This is one red, hot fire.

What happens next is miraculous! In the middle of the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar sees not three men, but four. He knows he threw three men into the furnace but now—he sees four in furnace.

Who is the fourth man?

Is this the pre-incarnate Christ?  Is this “GOD WITH US”?

Nebuchadnezzar is astonished and calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the fiery furnace.  They come out unharmed, no smell of smoke or fire and not a hair is singed.  ARE YOU STILL WITH ME IN THIS STORY ?

These three were fearless and faithful and because they were fearless and faithful, they were fruitful.

Nebuchadnezzar now expresses a profound truth by saying — “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28

This past week I celebrated my 23rd year of ordained ministry. I have served four churches during those 23 years. I have faced elder boards and church kings and queens who would have preferred I had a softer world view of loving Jesus. If only I’d bow just a little bit, I would fit in better with the people and my approval ratings could soar. There was only one problem here for me: I gave up everything in order to follow Jesus. Conform. Inform. Reform. Transform. What would I choose?

What will you choose? Who will you choose when it’s your turn in the fire?

I want to be able to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

That’s my prayer for each one of us. I want you to be faithful. I want you to know that no matter what fiery furnace you face being thrown into, there’s a fourth man in the fire! His name is Jesus Christ. He is KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. He’s beaten that fiery furnace. He has also defeated hell, death and the grave.  He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of GOD ALMIGHTY. And it is Jesus who will help you to become faithful, fearless, and fruitful.

A long time ago, and I mean a long time ago, it was so long ago that it was during the days I had turned my back on Jesus. I was rambunctious. And I became a part of plan to tell a small fib to the police.  Do you hear me? It was innocent enough. I was at home with my wife but my friend had outrun the police for speeding and somehow ended up at my house. If my friend confessed, he would lose his license. I did what any friend would do. I went to the police station and said it was me. I thought they’d give me the ticket and let me go. Nope. They threw the book at me: evading the police, disturbing the peace and finally lying to the police. Let me tell  you something, my wife was furious with me. She went down to bail me out, and the police interrogated her in a separate room and she sang like a bird! You see, Jac told the truth. She wasn’t going to lie for me. She told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fortunately for me, they let me go.  The next morning at 6 a.m. the phone rang. It was my Nana. Jac answered the phone and Nana said, “Put David on the phone.” Nana loved Jesus. Nana had raised me. I explained what had happened. (Nana had heard the morning police report!) I will never forget what she told me, “David, all you have is your name. Do not bow to this world. Under zero circumstances, do not bow to this world.” She hung up on me. Listen, I didn’t know it at the time but I know it now. Jesus was the fourth man in that fire. I began to live for Christ again and I’ve not ever bowed to any other God. There isn’t a church that can make me retract my love for God. There’s not an elder board that make me go backwards with fear instead of forward in faith. Like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me.”

Are you in the fire today? Look around. There’s a champion in there with you. The Lord Jesus Christ is a firefighter like no other. It may get hot but not a hair on you will be singed. Keep your eyes on the one, true God.

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faiht 2/12/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is my prayer for you as we travel through some of the big, bible stories together. I pray you remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit emboldens you to remain fearless and I pray that you plant all the seeds you can and that those seeds grow each season.

Do you believe these three words: GOD WITH US? or even GOD WITH ME?

How do these three words affect your life? How could these three words affect your life? 

Over the next few weeks, we will spend time together in the Old Testament book of Daniel.  Today we jump into the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and then we find our ourselves in the lion’s den with Daniel.
Get ready! This is going to be a great series to put yourself into the story! Maybe you already feel like you’re there, living the story! Maybe it feels like you have been in a fiery furnace this past year or maybe you’ve found yourself in the lion’s den with this worldwide pandemic.

The GOOD NEWS is found in these three, small, but mighty, words:

GOD WITH US.

GOD WITH ME.

Let’s set the stage for the next two weeks as we study Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel:

Babylon is the ruling power in the days of Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar is the King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar has already attacked the southern kingdom of Judah three times, beginning in 605 B.C. The second invasion occurred in 597 B.C. when Jehoiakim, son of the king of Judah mentioned in Daniel 1:1–2, was compelled to surrender Jerusalem and go into captivity with many of the Jewish leaders, including the royal family, the commanders of the army, craftsmen, and some of the priests like Ezekiel. The third invasion is the one I remember the most. It took place in 586B.C. when Jerusalem was completely destroyed, and the people of the land were deported to Babylon. A side note of interest is that the prophet Jeremiah was in Jerusalem at the time of this final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Daniel and his three friends were taken in the first deportation of the people of Judah under King Jehoiakim.  All four of these young men came from noble or royal descent and were teenagers when taken into captivity. All four had been given Jewish names that reflected their families’ faith and their God: Daniel and Mishael both end in “el’ which is the plural for “Elohim.” Daniel means — “God is my Judge,” Mishael means, “Who is like God?” The names of the other two, Hananiah and Azariah, both contain a shortened form of the name Jehovah. Hananiah means “Jehovah is Gracious” while Azariah means “Jehovah is my Helper”. The very names of these men were reminders of their heritage and a challenge for them to remain faithful to the Lord. But now, they were deported into a strange, pagan land, and their names were changed. Add insult to injury because their new names contain a reference to one of the false gods of the ancient Babylonians:  Marduk, Aku and Nego. Daniel wan renamed Belteshazzar, which means “Guard my life,”  it was a prayer to Marduk, one of the Babylonian pagan gods.  By changing their Jewish names to Babylonian names, this was a way of saying that these four, young men who had been servants of the Jewish God, were now servants and worshipers of the gods of the pagan pantheon. How would you like to be renamed by a pagan system, after a false god?

I want to emphasize something here, and it’s a good “SO WHAT?” for us. The change of their names accomplished nothing.
You see, King Nebuchadnezzar had changed the men’s names, but he could not change their hearts. What does this mean for you and me? No matter we are going through, no matter how tough life is–no one can change your heart without your permission. Remember this.

The four men remained faithful to the true God of Israel.

Will we be faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? When life gets burning hot, will I remain faithful? (Write that down.  Think about that!)

As we begin this story, I want you to place yourself into what’s going on. We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Babylon. Nothing is the same, nothing is familiar anymore; they have even changed our names to honor their gods. 

Can you relate? A year ago, things were pretty normal but not for long. Covid 19 hit us and so did masks, gloves and the rush on paper products! Life has not been normal. Life has been anything but normal this past year. And, yet, can we be more like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Can we remain faithful to God? 

GOD WITH US!

GOD WITH ME.

When Daniel and his three friends were taken captive to a foreign land and given different names did God make a mistake?  Did God forsake them?  As we are all faced with a world-wide pandemic, does God not know what is happening?  Has God forgotten us?

Has your faith begun to fail?  Go ahead and read this story. Put yourself right there into Babylon. And answer this question:

To whom or to what do I bow?

As you read, remember this:  These young men did not sit down and rationalize our their options.  They did not justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. These young men simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

So What?
I am reminded of the great theologian and church reformer, Martin Luther, when he was on trial at the Diet of Worms. Luther was told by his authorities to recant his convictions, and to recant the 95 questions on the door of the Wittenberg Castle. Listen to Luther’s reply as his very life was at stake: “Here I stand.  I can do no other. May God help me.”

I have a long homework project for you to do this week. Read the following question. Pray about it. Think about it. You can even discuss it with people you love. Here’s the question:

What are my convictions? (Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.)

And now a final “So What?” homework question: which of the above convictions are worth the fiery furnace to you?

“HERE I STAND. I CAN DO NO OTHER. May God be with me.” Isn’t it just another way of saying, “GOD WITH US” or “GOD WITH ME”? 

As I close, the past few weeks have been pretty intense for my wife and I. Caring for Dad in our home has many challenges. Remember the recent MOHS surgery I had on my nose and shoulder? I’m sensitive to the stitches, the gauze, the tape that were used. I have four, dissolvable stitches in my shoulder and it’s going to take 3-4 months for them to dissolve. My entire left side of my shoulder is aflame. I’ve not been taken into captivity by any means but let’s just say, “I get Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And, I’m not bowing down to anything or anyone except the one, true God.” 

Are you there? Are you with me? 

Next week we conclude the fiery furnace and move into the lions’ den. Oh, man! I can hardly wait!

Spoiler alert for next week: there’s a fourth man in the fire and there’s another in your fiery furnace, too.

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 

Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Join us for worship on Sunday at 10am Pacific.  The link for the live interactive worship is:

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

if you miss the 10am worship on Sunday you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the complete worship service or just the children’s message for your children or the weekly sermon.

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 2/5/21

Seed of Faith – Light In A Dark World   By Pastor Dave  

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that as each one of us walks through this world-wide pandemic that we will be the salt and the light of Christ to our dark world.  May we keep our eyes on Jesus and may His light shine through us.

Last week we looked at being the salt of the earth.  This week let’s take a few minutes and reflect on the call to be the light of the world.  We need to light our lamps of love, joy, faith, mercy, peace and grace into the world we live in.

Last week I challenged you to consider the kind of foundation you are building upon.  Are you a wise-builder or a foolish-builder?  Are you going to build on sinking sand or on the ROCK of Christ?  As I have been reading this week, I came across this great illustration about building on the ROCK and letting your light shine:

Eleven miles off the east coast of Scotland, in the North Sea, stands the Bell Rock Lighthouse. It has endured the ferocious onslaught of the North Sea’s violent storms since 1811. It rests upon less than one acre of solid rock. The small reef is covered by seawater 20 hours of every 24. The builder of the lighthouse, Robert Stevenson, and his band of 65 skilled artisans, had only four hours each day to chink away the stone and gouge a foundation in the rock. As a result of this painstakingly patient work, the 115-foot-tall lighthouse is still in use today–200 years later. There are usually great costs in digging a deep, Christ-like foundation.  Do it anyway. Your legacy will outlast you if you do!

In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.” Farahat later told a reporter: “I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told the garbage man that I saw Christ in him. I told him, ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.'”  Farahat studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Two years later he visited the garbage man’s village outside Cairo, where between 15,000 and 30,000 people were living in poverty and squalor. There was no electricity or running water. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling were pervasive. Men, women, and children sifted through huge mountains of garbage, looking for something of value that could be sold for cash or traded for food. Farahat found himself reflecting on the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also remembered the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:13, “We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things.” It was soon thereafter that Farahat and his wife began ministering to people’s spiritual and material needs. They preached the gospel throughout Egypt, and thousands of people turned to Christ.  In 1978, Farahat was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and became known as Father Sama’an. Now, about 10,000 believers meet in a large cave outside the garbage village. It is the largest church of believers in the Middle East. In May of 2005, a day of prayer was held for Muslims to turn to Christ. More than 20,000 Arab Christians gathered. The event was also broadcast on a Christian satellite TV network, where millions were watching. All this, because one garbage man chose to humbly return a watch that would have made him the richest man in town.[i]

Wherever you are, whoever you are–you can be the light of Christ. Build deeply into the foundation of Christ. Let Christ’s light shine in you. Go love others.

SO WHAT?
Jesus is on the mountaintop teaching us how to improve our lives.

·         You are the salt of the earth. 

·         You are the light of the world.

Do you come to church to worship the living God?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to RUB the love of God into your heart each Sunday?  Do we let our daily devotionals and weekly Bible Studies season our lives so that we are ready to flavor our part of the world—our home, work places, schools, neighborhoods and church?  If we had an ingredient list—how far down would the Jesus-factor be?

Jesus was onto something at the mountaintop.  From His viewpoint, he saw a decaying world.  What about you? Will you do whatever it takes to be the salt and light of your world? Remember Robert Stevenson only had four hours each day to gouge a foundation into solid rock but that lighthouse is still in use–200 years later.

The work you do in your lifetime has the opportunity to outlive you. 

When the waves of the world are crashing all around you, you can stand safely and securely in the midst of the storm.  Why? Because you have built your foundation upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 5: And the light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it. The BELL ROCK lighthouse has safely guided the seas for over 200 years. Why? Its foundation is embedded deeply into the rock it rests upon. May the same be said of you and 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 1/22/21

Seed of Faith – Salt Of The Earth   By Pastor Dave  
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

Dear Seed-Sowers,
I hope and pray that you are all well, safe, healthy and growing in grace. I have been rereading Matthew 5 this week and reflecting on Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” Wow!  There is so much meat in chapters 5-7 of Matthew. (Perhaps a challenge for you to read these chapters for a week?) In the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that we are to be poor in spirit, called to be merciful and meek, called to hunger and thirst for righteousness in order that we may be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  In essence, what Jesus is telling the people gathered on that mountainside is that they are to not to just sit around listening about HOW to be a Christian, they are to go out and BE a Christian.  Jesus clearly states the purpose of the Christian life — to be salt and light in our world!

SO WHAT? ABOUT “salt”?

SALT: PRESERVATIVE and FLAVOR
In the days of Jesus, and for many centuries thereafter, salt was the most common preservative used.  There were no refrigerators, no deep-freezers in ancient times. Salt was used to keep things from going bad and becoming rotten, particularly meat.  When Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot” Jesus was telling His disciples that they were called to be the preserving agents to a decaying world.

The simple principle is that you and I are called to be a preserving force in the world–wherever we are called to live, work, and play.

Think of it this way — salt that never leaves the shelf will do no good in preserving anything.  To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat.  Have you gone into the grocery store and looked at all of the “rubs” they have for seasoning these days?  In the same way, we  must allow God to use us as flavorful seasoning in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, families, and churches.  A small amount of love and kindness goes a long way in making our world a better place.

The other day I went to the grocery store to do some shopping. I went to buy juice, and I came across an insight on flavoring. I was holding a bottle of Blueberry Pomegranate Juice.  There was a picture of a ripe pomegranate spilling its exotic, glistening seeds onto mounds of fat, perfect blueberries.  I read the ingredient list: “Filtered water, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate.” Where was the blueberry? Where was the pomegranate? Finally I found them, fifth and seventh in a list of nine ingredients. By law, food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. Meaning a product contains the greatest proportion of the first ingredient on the list and successively less of those farther down the list. According to the jug in my hand, it contained mostly water—a few other juices, with just enough blueberry and pomegranate for flavor and color. In the bottom corner of the front label in small, easy-to-miss type, were the tell-tale words: “Flavored juice blend with other natural ingredients.” The enticing picture and clever labeling were decoys to sell a diluted, blueberry-pomegranate flavored product convincingly disguised to look like something it wasn’t. I put the juice back on the shelf.  I chose the juice that was more costly—because it had more of what I was looking for.

SO WHAT? THINK ABOUT THIS:  What if we had an ingredients list printed on us?

Would Jesus be the main ingredient? If not, how far down the list would He be? Would our “label” accurately represent our contents? Or would we falsely project a misleading outward-appearance that cleverly masked our diluted ingredients? This made me think, our outside packaging may look convincing. We may look and sound like the real thing but what if someone came looking specifically for Jesus and found something else?

More than a hundred years ago, the atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche reproached a group of Christians.  Nietzsche said: “Yuck, you make me sick!” When their spokesman asked why, he answered, “because you redeemed don’t look like you are redeemed.  You are as fearful, guilt-ridden, anxious confused, and adrift in an alien environment as I am.  I am allowed.  I don’t believe. I have nothing to hope for.  But you people claim you have a Savior.  Why don’t you look like you are saved?”[ii]

Friends, it is our calling as Christians to be the salt of the earth.  We are called to bring love, joy, peace, hope, mercy, kindness, and grace into our families, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches and wherever we go. I think about the people who are serving us in the drive up. I can’t tell you how many times I pull away without something I ordered and paid for. The other day my 89 year old father-in-law taught me a life lesson. The drive up forgot his honey mustard sauce for his chicken nuggets.  We were going to go park and take in the majestic beauty of the San Gabriel mountains while we ate our drive through. No honey mustard? Dad said to me, “It’s okay. The mountains are still beautiful.”

I’m trying to say, be the light and the salt of Christ in a world that’s missing the honey mustard sauce!

As you read the living word of God, I’m praying it becomes a great seasoning salt that’s rubbed deeply into your being.  I’m praying that you are conformed, and transformed by what you read in your Bible. It’s a new year–pick a book (there are 66 of them) and read a paragraph, or a chapter a day. This week: be the salt of the earth. Lord knows, the world needs us!

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

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/16/21

Seed of Faith – God With Us  By Pastor Dave  

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Dear Faithful and Fearless Seed Sowers,

At The Seed it is our hope and prayer that you come to know the love of God, grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and go into our world sowing seeds of faith. The SEED wants you to SOW SEEDS OF FAITH in your world.

Know God’s Love!
Grow in Christ’s Grace!
Go in Power of the Holy Spirit!

We sit at the brink of a New Year. The canvas of this year is mostly clean (except for a few weeks). Can we allow the Holy Spirit to help us go in His power to sow seeds of faith, hope, mercy, grace, and love? And, if so, what does that plan look like for each one of us?

January 17th marks the 23rd year of my ordination into full-time ministry. My goal from the very beginning was to serve our mighty God in full-time ministry for at least 25 years. I went into seminary at the ripe, old age of 40 (like Moses)! When people would ask me why I made that career change, I would answer that I had 25 good years left in me! You see, I was a Good Year tire dealer, and the choice was to dream God’s dream or play it safe and sell tires for the next 25 years. I’m so glad God placed that giant-sized burden of ministry onto my shoulders way back in 1994. My prayer as I begin my 24th year of ordained ministry serving in a church is that God will lead me all the way. I want to finish these 25 years of ministry STRONG! I want to press on and reach the goal. I don’t want to slow down and coast past the finish line. God gave me a plan and I’m in it to win it. How about you? Perhaps you are 40 years old and you are being called into a brand, new career, too? My only advice for you:  read your living WORD, pray and obey.

And so, for the 23rd year I have been doing just that. I’ve been opening my Living Word, praying and seeking God’s heart on what my 2021 preaching schedule could look like. I’m always open to the Holy Spirit changing my plan but, as of yet, God’s plans have worked! And so, at the end of December, I sat down and spent time seeking God’s voice for The Seed.  “What do you want me to preach on in 2021?” To be boldly honest with you, I am extremely excited to begin a New Year and a new sermon series: “God With Us.”

All during Advent, the Holy Spirit put it on my heart, “Dave, with all the world has been going through, stop and reflect on the three little words of Christmas:  “God With Us.”   Isaiah* 7:14 — “Therefore the Lord himself will give you (this pronoun is plural it include you and me) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God With Us.)  *Just a quick invitation — I am teaching the book of Isaiah on Wednesday nights in our Get-A-Life group.  We are doing this study by ZOOM at the present time.  If you would like to join our study, send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will send you a ZOOM invite. (We begin at 6:30 pm Pacific Time; believe it or not, we have people from the east coast who join us.)

This Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel showed up to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Listen to how Matthew records this in Matthew 1:20-23:

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:20-23

Did you hear those three, little words?  GOD WITH US!   Three little words with big meaning. All wrapped up in one little Hebrew name, “Immanuel.”

Maybe a good “so what?” question before we dig into our message for this week is:

Do you believe those three little words — GOD WITH US? How do these three, little words affect your life? Is God with you?

Like everyone else I have been waiting and watching all that has been happening in our world in this world-wide pandemic and again I am watching with all the political upheaval. These days are tumultuous, turbulent, trying and terribly frightening.  There seems to be confusion in the chaos. Friends and family members are getting sick and some are dying.  Businesses are closed, schools are shutdown and moved to online, Even our churches closed and moved online. Relationships have been limited and stretched to the limits. Families have been isolated and quarantined from one another.  Many people are struggling with depression, doubt and despair.  Some are asking — “How Long — Lord?”   Fear, frustration and anxiety and anger seem to be the emotions that are being expressed by so many.

Do you believe those three, little words — GOD WITH US?

How do these three, little words affect and impact your life?

There is a story told of two missionaries who were captured and imprisoned in the same cell but forbidden to speak to each other. Christmas came. One of the missionaries, shivering and silent, sat on the floor covered with hay. As he was playing with bits of hay around him, he thought that he discovered a silent way of communicating with his friend. He spelled out the word Immanuel. As soon as his friend saw the word, immediately he lit up with joy. They were captives, but they both believed that God was with them and that ultimate triumph would be theirs.[i]

Listen, if you are all alone: the SEED has spelled out for you in the straw of life: IMMANUEL! GOD IS WITH YOU!

So What?
Over the next few months as we make our way to Easter, I am going to share some of the famous stories in the Bible, stories where God showed up despite dark, dismal days.  God was with Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in a fiery furnace. God was with Daniel in a lion’s den.  God was with David when
he faced a giant named Goliath. God was with Elijah when he was confronted by hundreds of prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God was Elisha when he raised the dead son of the Shunamite and filled the widow’s olive oil jar to overflowing. God was with Jonah in the belly of the big fish. God was with Samson, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the prophets. The entire bible is filled with stories that beat the odds.  God has not left us! GOD IS WITH US!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

This is my prayer for us as we journey through 2021.  No matter what, I want you to know that GOD IS WITH YOU. He’s with you whether you have small children and are losing your mind being encapsulated! God is with you whether you are sick and need medical care. God is with you even if you are all alone and feel as though you are dying of loneliness.

GOD WITH US.  SAY IT OUT LOUD. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS HARD: GOD WITH ME. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS GOOD: GOD WITH ME. PRAY IT OVER YOUR FAMILY WHEN THEY ARE STRUGGLING:  GOD WITH US.

Every day my wife and I care for Dad in our home. Andy celebrates his 89th birthday on MLK Jr Day! He’s ordered a prime rib, corn and baked potato dinner cooked at home. Jac’s been busy getting cards from people who know Dad. We will hang up the HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign and put 89 on top of his chocolate cake. You see, Dad suffers from end stage Alzheimer’s and the past few months have take a toll on his mind and body but not his spirit. Every night as Dad and I head down the hallway to his bedroom, Dad tells me, “Talk about forgiveness, Dave. No baggage.” Dad is aware that I preach on Sundays and record messages for the radio and you tube. After 23 years of ordained ministry, I pray I never forget: GOD WITH US. I AM FORGIVEN. NO BAGGAGE. Amen.

It’s not about our power, it’s about GOD’S POWER at work IN us. There.  Do you see it?

GOD WITH US. 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 6/1/2021

Seed of Faith – WORDS TO THE SKEPTICAL & SCARED   By Pastor Dave  

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:36-39

Dear Faithful, Fearless, and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
May the God of all grace and mercy surround you with His grace, mercy and love.  May you know that God is with you and His promise is that He will never leave you or forsake you. COUNT ON THIS AS YOU FACE THE FUTURE.

Last week, we heard a word to the troubled in heart as Jesus walked down the Emmaus Road with His disciples.  Today we turn to Luke 24 where we will hear a word to the skeptical and scared.

With his news-assignment request approved, the CNN News cameraman quickly used his cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.  Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the cameraman instructed the pilot, “Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can get shots of the fires on the hillsides. “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m a cameraman for CNN,” he responded, “and I need to get some close-up shots. “The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally, he stammered, “So, what you are telling me, is…you’re not my flight instructor?[i]

What a case of mistaken identity!

Have you ever mistaken the identity of someone or something?

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead caused even His followers to mistake His identity.  At the tomb, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus thought Jesus was the only one in Jerusalem who did not know what terrible things had just happened in Jerusalem.

In the Gospel of Luke, we have three different records of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It would be just like our detailed, Dr.  Luke to paint a tapestry of three different panels. One panel is the story found in Luke 24:1-12 that we read on Easter Sunday.  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women go to tomb early in the morning and find that the stone is rolled away; they see two men glowing like lightening.  These two angels say to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.  The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:5-7) Dr. Luke tells us that the women ran back to tell the disciples the good news.  The disciples think the women are talking nonsense. However, we learn that Peter ran to the tomb–only to find it was empty.  Peter walked away wondering what in the world had happened.  This is the first panel Dr. Luke has painted for us.

The second panel is the story found in Luke 24:13-34. We studied this story last week.  This panel is painted with Cleopas and another (Mary his wife, Mary) walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Out of the blue, Jesus started walking alongside them.  As they walked and talked, Jesus opened all of the Scriptures to them–beginning with Moses and the prophets and explained to them all that must happen to the Messiah.  Even after all of this, they still had a case of mistaken identity of their mystery man who had joined them on their walk.  It was not until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened.  “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

What does it take for our hearts to burn within us?  What would it take for us to know the real Christ and not to have a case of mistaken identity regarding Him?  What would it take for us to pick up and run back the seven miles we just walked in order to tell others that we have seen the risen, living Christ?  Why is that we have such a hard time seeing Jesus come alongside us in our lives?   Why is that that we mistake His identity time and time again?

Today we turn to the third panel of Luke’s magnificent tapestry of the resurrection story.  Today, may our eyes be opened once again to see the risen Christ.  May our hearts be strangely warmed as we open up God’s Word and read Luke 24:36-53.

As always, place yourself into our story. Be a part of the living word of God. We are in the Upper Room, gathered together and huddled in fear. Now, let us introduce Dr. Luke’s three panels of resurrection stories and three cases of mistaken identity:  Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  Cleopas and his companion on the way to Emmaus had no clue who their traveling companion was. Was this mysterious traveler the only one who did not know the things that had happened in Jerusalem? They all had a case of mistaken identity.  After Jesus opened up the Scriptures to Cleopas and the other disciple, after Jesus broke bread with them–they immediately ran 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell all those gathered in the Upper Room that they had just been with the risen Christ.

Can you imagine?  It is still Resurrection Day.  Jesus’ disciples have run the gamut of emotions for one day!  Are you there with me? What a day! Do you think after Cleopas shares his news that they are all talking at the same time?  Imagine you are in the midst of a crowd. What is going on after all of these people tell us that Jesus is not dead—his tomb is empty and he is alive—and not just in Jerusalem, He is even alive in Emmaus.

I imagine the group is asking questions, making statements, wondering out loud.  Joy, excitement, bewilderment, confusion, fear and skepticism are running rampant in the room.  The doors are locked because of their fears and then…suddenly… Jesus walks into the room and says, “Peace be with you.”

Imagine the scene.  Huddle together.  The doors are locked!  We are all afraid and we are hiding. We are hearing the Good News of Jesus being raised from the dead!  Jesus is alive?  All of our hopes that were dashed are now being rekindled.  Dreams that were shattered are being restored! Now imgaine, Jesus walks into the room and says to us, “Peace be with you.”  “Eirene hymin” in Greek and “Shalom alakem,” are the common terms of greeting.   What a day this has been for anyone inside that Upper Room!

Here is a lesson we can glean from this third panel of the Resurrection Day Tapestry: Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our fear!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our bewilderment! Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our doubts!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our confusion! Jesus wants to bring His peace to all who are skeptical.  Jesus wants to bring peace.

Listen!  The Good News!

No matter what kind of day we are having, Jesus wants to bring peace into our lives!

What happens next is another profound example of mistaken identity.  The disciples are gathered together in the Upper Room.  They have heard from Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, and the other disciple that they have seen the risen Christ.  Mary thought He was the gardener at first.  Cleopas and his companion thought Jesus was this short of being an idiot.  They are all wondering what in the world is going on and now Jesus Himself is standing right in front of them.  What is their response?  They think they are seeing a ghost.

On January 28, 1945, as World War II was groaning to a close, 121 elite Army Rangers liberated over 500 POWs, mostly Americans, from a Japanese prisoner of war camp near Cabanatuan in the Philippines. The prisoners, many of whom were survivors of the infamous Bataan death march, were in awful condition, physically and emotionally. Before the Rangers arrived, the primary Japanese guard unit had left the camp because of Japan’s massive retreat from the Philippines. The new situation was precarious. Japanese troops were still around and, in the camp, but they kept their distance from the prisoners. The men of Cabanatuan did not quite know what to make of their new freedom—if freedom was in fact what it was. And then, without warning, the American Rangers swept upon the camp in furious force. But one of the most interesting facets of the story was the reaction of many of the prisoners. They were so defeated, diseased, and familiar with deceit that many needed to be convinced they were actually free.

They were skeptical and scared.

Was it a trick? A trap? Was this real? One prisoner, Captain Bert Bank, struggling with blindness caused by a vitamin deficiency, could not clearly make out his would-be rescuers. He refused to budge. Finally, a soldier walked up to him, tugged his arm, and said, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to be free?” Bank, from Alabama, recognized the familiar southern accent of his questioner. A smile formed on his lips, and he willingly and thankfully began his journey to freedom. Finally, far away from what had been, for years, the site of an ongoing, horrific assault on their humanity, the newly freed prisoners began their march home.

In the description of one prisoner, contrasting it with the Bataan nightmare years earlier, “It was a long, slow, steady march …but this was a life march, a march of freedom.”[i]

SO WHAT?
I believe that we are a lot like those prisoners.  We have been set free from our captivity and, yet, we stand frozen in our tracks.  We have heard of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, but do we really believe it? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?  Is Jesus really the promised Messiah?  Would Jesus walk into my confusion, bewilderment, doubts, fears, frustrations, hurts, addictions, pain, worries, skepticism, scared heart and messed-up life?

Timothy J. Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism said; “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”[ii]

So, what? What do you believe?  Are you a prisoner of skepticism?  Are you frozen in fear? Are you scared like the early disciples? Hear these words:
“Peace be with you.” May these words soak and saturate deeply into your heart.

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 5/22/21

Seed of Faith – A Word For The Confused  By Pastor Dave  

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Greetings Faithful Friends and Fearless Seed-Sowers,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to write a Seed of Faith.  I have been busy and maybe I have been confused and troubled.  I just returned home from Illinois after cleaning out some of my dad’s personal items from his home.  My step-mom is moving and I needed to go through some of my dad’s items that were in his home for the past fifty some years (photo albums mainly.)

Today we are going to take a walk with Jesus. We are on the road to Emmaus.  Emmaus is a town.  The Emmaus Road story is one of the most famous and familiar stories that Dr. Luke tells.  Today we meet two disciples who are also making their way home from the Passover festival.  This is the same day that Jesus rose from the tomb.  These two disciples happen to be followers of Jesus, just like us. They are heart-sick, heart-broken, depressed and confused about Jesus’ crucifixion and now they are walking home—7 miles back home. Think about where 7 miles from your home is–and imagine walking there right now. As you are walking, let me ask you a few questions.

Have you ever been heart-sick before?
Have you ever-been heart-broken before?
Have you ever been down or depressed before?
Have you ever been confused before?

Our good friend, Dr. Luke, now introduces us to two disciples, one named Cleopas and one that is not named.  Scholars have debated about who these two disciples are. Some scholars say that Cleopas is a follower of Jesus and the other, unnamed person is none other than Dr. Luke. Some have said that Cleopas is the Cleopas mentioned by the Gospel of John in John 19:25 when we are told that Mary’s sister was the wife of Cleopas and her name was Mary, also.  If this is the case, then these two disciples were Jesus’ aunt and uncle–headed home to Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.   Whoever they were, these two had been in Jerusalem for the Passover festival with a million other Jews.  They were followers of Jesus.  They were there when Jesus entered the town riding on a donkey.  They were there with all of the people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna — Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They heard the crowd shouting, Crucify him, crucify him!”  We are also told in the Scriptures that “Mary, the wife of Cleopas” was at the cross with Jesus’ mother.  Mary, the wife of Cleopas, was with her sister, Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Jesus’ crucifixion. Are you in this story yet?
These two disciples loved Jesus with all of their hearts.  They were in Jerusalem for a Passover festival, a celebration.  They were not expecting what happened.  The person they loved, Jesus, had been arrested, tried, and whipped. Jesus was crucified and these two are heart-sick!  They are heart-broken!  They are depressed! They are confused!  And they are beginning their long, 7-mile walk back home.
Can you identify with being heat-broken, depressed, confused, disappointed, and downcast?  Just say — Covid-19 or quarantine, lockdown, stay-at-home, no school, no sports, no going out, no family …. No, no, no, no! I think we can all identify with being heart-broken this past year.

Dr/ Luke tells us that as they were walking along, they were discussing the events of the past week.  The Greek word for “discussing” is “syzeteo” which is a present tense verb.  This means that they were discussing and discussing and discussing over and over again all of the things that had happened.  They were on a roller coaster of grief and confusion, going up and down and all around and around; discussing the life and death of Jesus.

As they were walking and talking, the RESURRECTED Jesus walked up behind them and asked them what they were talking about.  They did not recognize Jesus.  The original Greek tells us that “they were kept from recognizing Him.”  Why?  We really do not know.  Commentaries suggest it was because they were looking into the sun and the shadows prevented them from recognizing Jesus.   Perhaps they were so overcome with grief, their hearts so broken that in the midst of their grief and confusion they could not see who it was that was standing in front of them.  They simply did not recognize Jesus. If you are taking notes — write this one down.  It is really important!

Jesus finds us in our confusion!  Jesus finds us when our hearts are broken, and we are overwhelmed with grief.  Jesus wants to enter into our story—right where we are, no matter where we are.
I am praying that our eyes will be opened and that our hearts will be strangely warmed as we recognize Jesus whenever, wherever, He walks into our lives.

So What?
In 2015 an EF4 tornado with winds of 200 mph hit my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. I remember that night, I was heartsick, and heartbroken to hear of the devastation the tornado caused.  My heart was heavy and burdened with grief. The day after the tornado, our good friends called.  We had raised our children with them, went on vacation with them—their family was our family and vice versa.  We knew on the night of the tornado that their niece’s home had been destroyed by the tornado.  The next morning our friend called to tell us this story:

Her niece and her husband have three, small children—5,3, and 5 months.  When the sirens went off, they hurried down to the southwest corner of their basement.  Looking out the basement window, they saw their wooden swing set blow away like toothpicks and disappear.  Her niece held all three of the children while her husband formed a human shield of protection over them; spread eagle like a cross.  In less than a minute, their house and everything they owned was gone.  The first floor had collapsed into the basement, missing them by inches.  Her niece had cried out, “We’re going to die.”  Across the street, another young family had sought shelter from the tornado in their own basement. After the tornado had safely passed, the young father grabbed a flashlight and ran over to help the family across the street whose home had been blown away. In the darkness, he found the five of them in the southwest corner of the basement—the only corner that sustained no damage—and he helped pull them all to safety.  The next day, our friend, brought in heavy equipment that lifted the collapsed first floor from the basement so that our friends could sort through what was left of their home.  Here is all they found:  the five-year old’s Mickey Mouse that he sleeps with, the 3-year-old’s blankie that she sleeps with, a pillow that said HOME, a sign that said THANKFUL and her very beat up and, almost unrecognizable, laptop.  Someone took the laptop to a techy who carefully removed from it the stored photos and documents.  Everything else was gone.

Here is the “so what?” for this week that I want you to remember forever:

Jesus meets us in our confusion, in our heart-sickness, in our depression, in our fears and doubts.
Jesus WILL bring clarity into our lives.
Jesus WILL bring comfort into our lives…All through the living, abiding, Word of God.
YOUR HEART WILL BE STRANGELY WARMED–and that, my friends, is just God at work.

Just as the father I told you about covered his family in order to protect them, Jesus does the same for you and me.  In the midst of our confusion, our grief, our depression, our sorrow, our heartsickness, our heartbrokenness, our doubts, our fears, our shame, our guilt—Jesus covers us. Friends, this is the hope and the power of the RESURRECTION. Today as we travel along our own EMMAUS ROAD, may our eyes be opened,  may our hearts be strangely warmed as we break bread together.  May we recognize the crucified, risen Christ in our midst!

Back to being in Rochelle to go through some of my Dad’s personal things, I decided that since my wife would be with her father here in California that it might be nice to have my son or daughters fly with me to Rochelle. Our eldest has 7 children and couldn’t get away but she prayed for us. Our son drove his truck up from Waco, Texas; there were two toolboxes that he could have. Our youngest daughter brought her daughter and we flew together. Jesus was with us all the way. We had a ton of turbulence on the first flight then our plane was delayed due to weather in Dallas. We sat in the Dallas airport for six, long hours–wearing a mask. We were there all night. I know the man who designed the train system in Dallas and so I got the girls to ride the rails with me.  Strangely, we felt God was with us as we waited for our flight to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at 5 am–walked through the terminal and got a hotel room because we were exhausted. Later, we rented a Jeep and headed to Dad’s. Our eldest daughter was brought home to this house in 1974. Our son and daughter who were with me had experienced birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays in this home–like their entire lives have had memories there. As we sorted in the basement, I felt my heart strangely warmed. My brother, Joe, came over and helped. We were able to move Dad’s tools from a shed the next day. We loaded up Brian’s truck with two toolboxes. Through the week, I was able to see close friends and family. Heck, we even drove to Milwaukee to see the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers! Through it all, through all of the sorrow and sadness, the risen Christ was with us, warming our hearts with the love of family.

I’m praying for you. You are loved.

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 04/01/2021

Seed of Faith – Praising, Protesting, Passive   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:38-40

Dear Faithful – Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.  I encourage you take some time and read the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life. Read and compare the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) or pick one to read one this week.  Here are the Gospel accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, Holy Week  — Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19:28-24 and John 12-21.

Today we are going to look at Luke 19:28-44 and at the Old Testament prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9-12.

Think about this for a moment.  I mean, stop, and really think about where you are in this story of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem? Where are you in your faith walk with Jesus? There were crowds of people in this story.  Scholars believe that there were over 2 million people in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover.  They estimate the crowd at the “Palm Parade” was around 200,000 people.  Jesus was riding into town on a donkey and the crowds went wild. Yet, there are at least three types of people in this story. As you read, figure out where you are. Which of these three crowds do you belong in?

1. The people who knew their Scriptures and were waiting for God to send a KING to overthrow the Roman government—this crowd went wild with praise! PRAISERS.

2. The crowd of the Pharisees did not go wild with praise.  They went wild with protest. PROTESTORS. 

3. The third kind of crowd was absolutely passive—to them, this parade was no big deal either way. PASSERS.

Praising, protesting or passive! Faithful one or faithless one! What crowd will you find yourself in today?

Will we praise Jesus?
Will we protest Jesus?
Will we be passive about Jesus?

Imagine for a moment 100,000 to 200,000 people moving, waving palms, and shouting!  The Rose Bowl holds around 92,000 people, double that crowd, imagine the noise and hysteria of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday. Can you feel the energy?

Can you enter into the picture?  A few million people are milling around Jerusalem.  There are people everywhere! Today would be Sunday, the Sunday before they celebrated Passover, and this is the very reason why all of these people were there.  Today is known as “Lamb Selection Sunday” and thousands of lambs are being led into town for Thursday’s annual Passover sacrifice event. Everyone is selecting their family’s sacrificial lamb.  Think of the tension in the air as the Roman centurions walk around — angry that the crowd is so large.   Their swords and shields are ready at a moment’s notice to keep the peace.  Jesus makes his way through the nearby town of Bethany, down the Mount of Olives and enters the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus has been in ministry for three years.  The people have seen Him in action or they have heard about Him.  The crowd is energized, and the excitement keeps building and building!  Jesus is riding into town on a donkey and the crowd goes wild.  They have been waiting for this day! These people know their scriptures. They don’t have the new testament—only the old! They can easily equate Zechariah 9…with what they are seeing!  All of sudden, this is the biggest parade you have ever seen, everyone is breaking off palm branches from the palm trees and waving them. They are taking off their outer coats to throw them on the dirt road that Jesus is riding into town on!  Are you with me?  Can you hear the excitement as the crowd begins to shout, HOSANNA — HOSANNA — HOSANNA!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the king of Israel.”  (Makes me think of when we shout USA in the Olympic games.)

The Hebrew word “hosanna” literally means “save us, we pray, save us now, save us–we beseech you.”  The crowd is shouting at the top of their lungs, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!”

What about you?  Are you in this crowd? 

Do YOU PROTEST Jesus?
There is another crowd we need to pay attention to.  I love that Luke puts these two verses into his detailed storyline, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”  This is the last mention of the Pharisees in Luke’s account.  The Pharisees went out to meet Jesus because they understood why He was coming to town.  This Jesus was about to turn their entire lives completely upside down.  The Pharisees were comfortable and in control, or so they thought.  Luke records that some of the Pharisees were shouting out to Jesus.  Imagine how loud they must have been shouting to have their voices heard over the crowd.  This crowd of Pharisees wanted to silence the crowd and Jesus.  Imagine how they felt when Jesus responded that even if the crowd was silent, the very stones on the ground would cry out. (I’d like to be around for that!)

The voices of two contrasting crowds:  One crowd is wild with excitement, shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna” —“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The other crowd is shouting “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Two crowds: One crowd praises Jesus while the other crowd protests Him.

We come to the final group:  the crowd who simply pass.  They do not care enough one way or the other.  Jesus?  Who?  Did what?  Yeah, I am really busy doing my own thing.  I am going to pass on that.   I’m taking a pass today. Maybe next time.

This the “So what?” for YOU today:  what crowd are YOU in?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PRAISE-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PROTEST-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PASS-on-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

So What?

One day Mark Twain took his little daughter on his knee and told her all about the rulers and other prominent men whom he had met in his travels. She listened attentively. When he had finished, she said, “Daddy, you know everybody but God, don’t you?” Mark Twain was certainly an intelligent person. Yet he rejected God.1

Praise.  Protest.  Pass.  Our choice.  Today’s “So What?” comes down to a choice…made by me…made by you…to either PRAISE…PROTEST. …or PASS this JESUS OF NAZARETH.

PRAISE…PROTEST…or PASS.

When we were raising our kids, my wife and I lived on the parade route. If there was a parade, it was going to go right past our house! Anyone who knew us knew that they could find a spot on our lawn and sit and enjoy the parade.  They also knew they could use the restroom, and could count on brownies with powdered sugar on top and water or pop (yes, in Northern Illinois–soda is POP!) Guess what? Today I know of a house (point to your heart) that is on the PALM SUNDAY parade route! It’s your heart. It’s YOU! Jesus is riding down the road in front of YOUR heart today! ARE YOU PRAISING? I surely hope you are!

We ended our worship on Palm Sunday with Chris Tomlin’s “IS HE WORTHY?” I double dog dare you to listen to it and PRAISE JESUS.

Friday is here…but…SUNDAY’S COMING!

See you Easter Sunday — SPOILER ALERT:  the tomb is empty!!!

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

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

Seed of Faith 3/8/21

Seed of Faith – Faith To Face Your Lions   By Pastor Dave  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

Dear Faithful – Fearless & Fruitful Seed Sowers,
Last week we began a SEED OF FAITH on Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Daniel 6.  Daniel had faith to stand against those who accused him. Daniel had faith to transform his environment. Do you? Do I?

The GOD of the entire universe ….says to you and me,  “I will never leave you or forsake you. So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’”  This is the faith that Daniel had!

Do you have this kind of faith?
Do you believe that God is your helper?
Do you believe that no matter what comes your way, GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU or FORSAKE YOU?

In 1940 Vincent and Margaret Crossett were missionaries in Mainland China. They struggled against poverty and paganism in a remote village in order to tell others about Jesus. The work was very slow and difficult, but after much sacrifice a small church was established. The church was no larger than a small Bible study group. Right on the threshold of this small triumph for the kingdom of God, Satan began his work. The Communist takeover of China during the Cultural Revolution forced all missionaries to leave China. The Crossetts hated to leave. Their fledgling flock of believers hardly seemed ready to withstand the coming onslaught. An atheistic, dictatorial government dedicated to wiping out all Christian influence was beginning its rule with ruthless power. How could this little church survive? From the world’s perspective there was nothing anyone could do. The church seemed destined to die. But Vincent and Margaret did not see through the world’s eyes. They saw through the eyes of faith that their God was faithful to those who honor him. The Crossetts were like faithful family sedans. They continued to do their duty. Though the missionaries were chased out, their prayers were not. For nearly forty years the Crosetts daily kept their prayer window opened toward China. They dutifully prayed in faith that God would one day triumph over Communism. The Crosetts heard nothing of their Chinese friends for forty years, but still they faithfully prayed for God to be victorious in the church they left behind. Finally, the walls of China came down. As the political climate changed, the nation was opened to western visitors. The Crossetts returned to the village where they had left the tiny, struggling group of believers. There was no small church in the village anymore! Instead, from that Bible study had grown a church of four thousand people! This body of believers had planted dozens of other churches as well, each with a membership of at least a thousand. All the Crossetts did was pray with their prayer window open to the focus of their prayer—China. The God of Daniel is alive and well.[i]

Romans 8:28, do you know it? “AND WE KNOW THAT GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!”
The Crossetts knew their God and they prayed in faith for the little church they left behind in China.

SO WHAT?
When Daniel was threatened with his life to conform to the new edict, he got down on his knees and prayed.  He asked God to help him like God had helped him all his life. Daniel had faith that his God could do immeasurably more than he could ask or imagine. Daniel knew that God was with him. Immanuel: GOD With ME.

In 2013 I came down with an infection of some kind in my body. It started in my left leg and spread to my right leg.  This infection manifested itself in painful blisters and oozing sores. It wasn’t just one or two of these sores but patches of skin, 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. Pretty soon the infection spread to  my chest and back.  I was sent to 14 different doctors. This infection stayed with me for 4 years. It went to the inside of my body and the outside of my body. None of the doctors knew what was wrong with me. My wife had gone to see a doctor in 2001. She had dropped a heavy piece of furniture on her toe and Dr. Zimmerman had helped her. We were grasping at straws at this point, and I was in horrible pain, sleeping in the recliner.  Jac (my wife) kept asking me to go see Dr.  Zimmerman. Out of desperation, I agreed. Dr. Z started treating me.  His words, “This infection is trying to kill you.  I will not send you to the hospital because I fear you would die of MRSA or staph in there.” He was afraid with all of the open, oozing sores, I’d get something worse than what I already had. Dr. Z gave me topical relief but the rash continued to progress. My wife began to have involuntary muscle twitches. She had suffered from mercury poisoning in 2005 and when she went to her doctor, her doctor retested her heavy metals levels. The doctor thought her mercury levels were back up. The test revealed severe lead poisoning. We have a seriously smart doctor, and she called me in and tested me for my heavy metal levels. Both Jac and I were living in a home that was putting out 6 times the limit of lead particles. I had ten times the lethal limit of lead in my body, Jac had 12! No wonder we were so sick. During all of these years of battling the infection, I had learned to be a man of prayer.  Good thing, because chelation is hard on a body! From September of 2017 to the summer of 2019, I did 3 chelations.  I am down to two times the lethal limit. Chelation is no fun. The doctor says I have one chelation left before I read the lethal  limit.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story. Between the past 7 years of oozing sores and chelations, I have learned to become a man of constant prayer.  I have learned to pray, “GOD WITH ME.” My faith in God has grown stronger day by day. God has shut the mouths of the lions I’ve been facing. God will do the same for you.

Daniel did not conform to the pressures of his world. He did not conform to the pressures of the King or of his “friends” and co-workers. Instead of conforming, Daniel transformed. He transformed his corner of the world.  When Daniel came out of the lions’ den after spending a night with the lions. he was untouched.  The King was elated and passed an edit that all people should worship the God of Daniel.  I love the wording of King Darrius law … Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

If you are taking notes, here you go. Here are 5 points from King Darius worth remembering:

1.  THE LIVING GOD ENDURES FOREVER — GOD WITH US

2.  GOD’S KINGDOM WILL NOT BE DESTROYED — GOD WITH US

3.  GOD’S DOMINION WILL NEVER END — GOD WITH US

4.  GOD RESCUES AND SAVES —- GOD WITH US

5. GOD PERFORMS SIGNS AND WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS AND ON THE EARTH — GOD WITH US.

NO MATTER WHAT:
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s a fourth man in the fire with you.
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s an angel who will SHUT THE MOUTHS OF THE LIONS IN YOUR DEN.

In the face of this year long epidemic, keep your faith. Our God is with us. Your God is with you. Say it with me and make it personal: GOD WITH ME.

When times are hard this week, say it out loud, “GOD WITH ME.” Think about Daniel.  Think about being thrown into the lions’ den for no good reason at all—except that your coworkers are jealous and envious of you. I always tell you to put yourself into the story.  Well.  DO!

Here you are—they’ve thrown you into the pit. They’ve sealed the pit so you can’t escape.  YOU ARE THERE, IN THE PIT, ALONE.  I’m guessing it’s dark–because lions like to hunt at night! I’m also guessing Daniel prayed. An angel came and shut the lions’ mouths. And after that long, long night—Daniel was rescued by the KING…and, don’t miss this, the scripture says,  So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian..”

Did you hear that? So Daniel prospered.

Tell yourself this story this week…over and over again…until you believe it. And, by the way, you are NOT ALONE in that lions’ den…not at all. That fourth man in the fire? He’s WITH YOU.

GOD WITH US.  GOD WITH ME.  

There isn’t a dream team on earth who can team up against you to defy God’s will and plan for your life. DO YOU BELIEVE IT?

Despite this pandemic and whatever else you are facing, I want you to stand on this promise: So Daniel prospered. That’s my prayer for you! Jac’s “Daddy-oh” has been with us for 400 days now. He has Alzheimer’s and emphysema and a severe case of sundowners. Dad is up all night making many trips around the house and the bathroom. The doctors have said, “It is time. He needs 24/7 supervision.” Because of covid, we can’t hire night-time help. We will be placing Dad into a nearby memory care home this coming week. It is time for Jac and me to have a living faith for Dad; a faith that says, “God’s will for Dad is for him to prosper in this next move.” Immanuel. God with us. God with me. I’m praying for you.  Will you pray for us?

See You Sunday!

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

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

Seed of Faith 2/27/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Lions Den   By Pastor Dave  
 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27

Dear Faithful – Fearless – Fruitful Seed Sowers,

I pray that each and everyone of you are safe in the grace and love of Jesus! The days we are living through are difficult. I pray that you find comfort in these SEEDS OF FAITH and in the living, enduring WORD OF GOD. I pray that your faith will increase and your fear will decrease. God be with us as we face this pandemic. Amen.

Over the past few weeks, we have learned about Daniel.  Daniel and his three good friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive from Israel as teenagers and brought to Babylon. Daniel served under four different Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. By the time we reach this story in chapter 6, Daniel is in his eighties.  He has been serving the kings and interpreting dreams for sixty years.  One thing is noteworthy to me: during all of his time in captivity, Daniel remained faithful to his one, true God.

Back to our story, King Darius now appoints Daniel to be the one of three administrators over his kingdom. The king has plans to set old Daniel over his whole kingdom.

Have you ever thought about this? King Darius plans to set Daniel over his whole kingdom?

I have!  How does someone get to that place in life where the King wants to put you in charge of his kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I believe it was because of Daniel’s faith and faithful service. In our story, we learn that Daniel that is willing to remain true to his faith even when the new order is placed: “All people should not pray to any other god. All people are to only pray to the king, and if this edict is violated, you will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Put yourself into THIS story, friends.)

What I glean from this story is that Daniel’s coworkers were jealous and envious of Daniel. They know they will not find any corruption in Daniel so a plan is concocted in order for Daniel to fail. After the edict,  Daniel goes home, like he always does, opens his window like he always does, and begins to pray to the God of Jerusalem like he always did. We are told right here in Daniel 6 that three times each day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed to God. Daniel gave thanks to his God. As far as Daniel was concerned, there was no edict for Daniel that could stop him from praying to God.

Even when Daniel learned that the decree had been ordered and published and enacted, he went home to his upstairs room where his windows were opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

I like these words, “just as he had done before.”  If we were really in this story, we would know that we could count on one thing: Daniel would go home three times each day and pray. This wasn’t just a pattern with Daniel, this was a lifestyle.

The outside world may have been changing, but God had not changed, and Daniel was not going to allow his relationship to God to change regardless of the shifting circumstances.

What about you? Is your outside world changing? I think we can learn a lot from this story. Despite our changing outside world, we can not allow our relationship with God to be changed regardless of the circumstances. We can learn from Daniel how to be faithful and true.

Are there shifting circumstances in our world? You bet. It’s been a year since the pandemic started and our world has changed. Our circumstances have changed.  What about you? Has your God changed, too? Or have you remained faithful to God—no mater whether you go to church or worship from home? What would be your response if the government issued the same sort of decree today? “Everyone must bow down to the golden statue.” (We all have a golden statue. We do. We either resist the temptation to bow down and let it control our lives or we bow down. We have much to learn from Daniel today.)

Daniel knew that, no matter what, his God would be with him.  He had heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He knew the stories of deliverance of his people. He knew about their former slavery in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the cloud by day and fire at night to guide his ancestors. Daniel knew his history and Daniel knew the truth. His circumstances may have been changing but his God remained the same. “Daniel did what he had always done.” Daniel went home and bowed before the one, true King and, soon after, he was confronted by his enemies:  surrender, stop praying to your God and pray to King Darius alone or else.

So What?
I came across this illustration the other day and thought of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.

For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.

Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she had escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant — everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.

The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on that January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.

Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced more attacks except for the folly of one of the bullies. He had filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.

A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.

Unbeknownst to him the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.”

Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number. He told Khoury to call him if he needed him. From that day forward, Khoury has been a phone call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.

Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?  [i]

(Here is the link to a YouTube video of Nadin and the Philadelphia Eagles   https://youtu.be/_O4eipeoh78)

Do you know something? God gives us this very same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted them in his epistle:  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

In closing, I want to share a story. When my wife and I had just moved to California in 1999, we had to bring our van in for engine work. Being new in town, we asked around and found the shop. (Rochelle is a city of 10,000 people. When we left, there were two stop lights in town. Upland had 77,000 people and was surrounded by a sea of suburbs. Finding a new mechanic, new doctors, new friends–all intimidating tasks when you’re new in town.) Anyway, we dropped our van. As you may recall, we are that family that names their vehicles. This van was 7 years old, and had over 350,000 miles on it. We got her when the kids were still in school.  We named our van, FAITHFUL AND TRUE BLUE. She was the car we drove through my seminary years, and through our first two church calls. When we went to pick up our van, there was a homeless guy sitting on the curb by the van.  The new California plates read GKG with numbers. Jac, my wife, would always say as we climbed into “faithful and true”, “Let’s go serve the Great Kingdom of God, Dave!” We paid our bill and started to get into our car. Wait, the homeless guy. We talked for a bit.  I asked if he was hungry (he was) and walked to the local burger joint next door. Jac stayed with the van and the homeless guy started chatting with her. He told her, “You know, you guys serve the great kingdom of God? Your van is faithful and true–just like you.” I delivered the meal. We drove away. Jac told me what the guy had said and asked me to go back. We’d been gone 3 minutes and the guy was nowhere to be found. You see, we were missing home. We had been exiled to Southern California! Our nearest family was 2,000 away. Everything was so new in this land of Oz. As we drove away, I told Jac that God had reconfirmed a promise from the bible: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”

That’s my prayer for you today that somehow, someway you will know that you know that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU.

It’s the theme of our Lenten journey: GOD WITH US. GOD WITH ME.

By the way, God’s cell phone number is JEREMIAH 33:3–put it on speed dial in your heart:

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”

A hungry, homeless guy in the middle of our desert? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework.  It’s simple but not easy:

AM I FAITHFUL AND TRUE?

You see, Daniel was faithful and true. He never stopped praying to God no matter what the circumstances of his life entailed. We can learn a lot from Daniel today.

See you Sunday!

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 2/20/2021

Seed of Faith – Faithful In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

Dear Faithful, fearless & fruitful Seed sowers,

“God With Us” is the series that we are working through at The Seed Christian Fellowship of Rancho Cucamongam California! It is my prayer that as we look at the big stories of the Bible we see how God was with all the people and that God is with us, too.  In last week’s Seed of faith we laid a foundation of Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

In this story you can find at least three different groups of people. The conformer, those who bow down and worship the golden statue.  Then there are the informers, those who are jealous of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they will not bow down. This group goes and tells.  And you have the last group, the reformers. The reformers are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They did not bow down. This is how it is recorded in Daniel 3:12 — “But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The convictions, the beliefs and the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provided their enemy (and  coworkers) with an opportunity to accuse the four men of sedition, disloyalty, subversion and treason. The informers go to work doing what informers do:  they phrase their remarks in such a manner as to work King Nebuchadnezzar into the greatest possible rage and agitation. “Furious with rage” is what we are told.  Nebuchadnezzar brought the three young men before him and probed them for a confession. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Daniel 3:14

No reply is recorded, but there must have been one. They must have told the king that what he had been told about them was correct.

Nebuchadnezzar offered to give them another chance.

Here in this story lies a problem that confronts every follower of the One True God: when the requirements of serving God come into conflict with the demands of a secular world—to whom do you bow down to?

Are you in this story, yet? Put yourself in Babylon, standing in front of the King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not go to seek more time or to get a professional lawyer’s advice. These young men did not rationalize their options.  They did not try to justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. They simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

What is the king’s reply?  But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3:15

These words written in Daniel 3:16-18 are some of the most memorable verses in the Old Testament.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18

What in the world? Are you with me? Are you right here in this story? You are standing before the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar with your BFF’s. Here’s a great idea to ponder: What gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the conviction and the faith they needed to remain loyal to? Here’s my answer.  I believe that they knew that the God whom they worshiped and served was sovereign.  They knew their Scriptures and they were not going to worship any false idols.  They were willing to die for their faith.  These three were faithful!

When we read the rest of the story, Nebuchadnezzar is furious with rage; he has his soldiers light the fire in the furnace seven times hotter! Then orders the three men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  The furnace is so hot that the soldiers who bound the 3 men together and threw them into the furnace are killed by the intensity and searing heat of the fire. Are you in this story? This is one red, hot fire.

What happens next is miraculous! In the middle of the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar sees not three men, but four. He knows he threw three men into the furnace but now—he sees four in furnace.

Who is the fourth man?

Is this the pre-incarnate Christ?  Is this “GOD WITH US”?

Nebuchadnezzar is astonished and calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the fiery furnace.  They come out unharmed, no smell of smoke or fire and not a hair is singed.  ARE YOU STILL WITH ME IN THIS STORY ?

These three were fearless and faithful and because they were fearless and faithful, they were fruitful.

Nebuchadnezzar now expresses a profound truth by saying — “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28

This past week I celebrated my 23rd year of ordained ministry. I have served four churches during those 23 years. I have faced elder boards and church kings and queens who would have preferred I had a softer world view of loving Jesus. If only I’d bow just a little bit, I would fit in better with the people and my approval ratings could soar. There was only one problem here for me: I gave up everything in order to follow Jesus. Conform. Inform. Reform. Transform. What would I choose?

What will you choose? Who will you choose when it’s your turn in the fire?

I want to be able to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

That’s my prayer for each one of us. I want you to be faithful. I want you to know that no matter what fiery furnace you face being thrown into, there’s a fourth man in the fire! His name is Jesus Christ. He is KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. He’s beaten that fiery furnace. He has also defeated hell, death and the grave.  He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of GOD ALMIGHTY. And it is Jesus who will help you to become faithful, fearless, and fruitful.

A long time ago, and I mean a long time ago, it was so long ago that it was during the days I had turned my back on Jesus. I was rambunctious. And I became a part of plan to tell a small fib to the police.  Do you hear me? It was innocent enough. I was at home with my wife but my friend had outrun the police for speeding and somehow ended up at my house. If my friend confessed, he would lose his license. I did what any friend would do. I went to the police station and said it was me. I thought they’d give me the ticket and let me go. Nope. They threw the book at me: evading the police, disturbing the peace and finally lying to the police. Let me tell  you something, my wife was furious with me. She went down to bail me out, and the police interrogated her in a separate room and she sang like a bird! You see, Jac told the truth. She wasn’t going to lie for me. She told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fortunately for me, they let me go.  The next morning at 6 a.m. the phone rang. It was my Nana. Jac answered the phone and Nana said, “Put David on the phone.” Nana loved Jesus. Nana had raised me. I explained what had happened. (Nana had heard the morning police report!) I will never forget what she told me, “David, all you have is your name. Do not bow to this world. Under zero circumstances, do not bow to this world.” She hung up on me. Listen, I didn’t know it at the time but I know it now. Jesus was the fourth man in that fire. I began to live for Christ again and I’ve not ever bowed to any other God. There isn’t a church that can make me retract my love for God. There’s not an elder board that make me go backwards with fear instead of forward in faith. Like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me.”

Are you in the fire today? Look around. There’s a champion in there with you. The Lord Jesus Christ is a firefighter like no other. It may get hot but not a hair on you will be singed. Keep your eyes on the one, true God.

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faiht 2/12/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is my prayer for you as we travel through some of the big, bible stories together. I pray you remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit emboldens you to remain fearless and I pray that you plant all the seeds you can and that those seeds grow each season.

Do you believe these three words: GOD WITH US? or even GOD WITH ME?

How do these three words affect your life? How could these three words affect your life? 

Over the next few weeks, we will spend time together in the Old Testament book of Daniel.  Today we jump into the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and then we find our ourselves in the lion’s den with Daniel.
Get ready! This is going to be a great series to put yourself into the story! Maybe you already feel like you’re there, living the story! Maybe it feels like you have been in a fiery furnace this past year or maybe you’ve found yourself in the lion’s den with this worldwide pandemic.

The GOOD NEWS is found in these three, small, but mighty, words:

GOD WITH US.

GOD WITH ME.

Let’s set the stage for the next two weeks as we study Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel:

Babylon is the ruling power in the days of Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar is the King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar has already attacked the southern kingdom of Judah three times, beginning in 605 B.C. The second invasion occurred in 597 B.C. when Jehoiakim, son of the king of Judah mentioned in Daniel 1:1–2, was compelled to surrender Jerusalem and go into captivity with many of the Jewish leaders, including the royal family, the commanders of the army, craftsmen, and some of the priests like Ezekiel. The third invasion is the one I remember the most. It took place in 586B.C. when Jerusalem was completely destroyed, and the people of the land were deported to Babylon. A side note of interest is that the prophet Jeremiah was in Jerusalem at the time of this final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Daniel and his three friends were taken in the first deportation of the people of Judah under King Jehoiakim.  All four of these young men came from noble or royal descent and were teenagers when taken into captivity. All four had been given Jewish names that reflected their families’ faith and their God: Daniel and Mishael both end in “el’ which is the plural for “Elohim.” Daniel means — “God is my Judge,” Mishael means, “Who is like God?” The names of the other two, Hananiah and Azariah, both contain a shortened form of the name Jehovah. Hananiah means “Jehovah is Gracious” while Azariah means “Jehovah is my Helper”. The very names of these men were reminders of their heritage and a challenge for them to remain faithful to the Lord. But now, they were deported into a strange, pagan land, and their names were changed. Add insult to injury because their new names contain a reference to one of the false gods of the ancient Babylonians:  Marduk, Aku and Nego. Daniel wan renamed Belteshazzar, which means “Guard my life,”  it was a prayer to Marduk, one of the Babylonian pagan gods.  By changing their Jewish names to Babylonian names, this was a way of saying that these four, young men who had been servants of the Jewish God, were now servants and worshipers of the gods of the pagan pantheon. How would you like to be renamed by a pagan system, after a false god?

I want to emphasize something here, and it’s a good “SO WHAT?” for us. The change of their names accomplished nothing.
You see, King Nebuchadnezzar had changed the men’s names, but he could not change their hearts. What does this mean for you and me? No matter we are going through, no matter how tough life is–no one can change your heart without your permission. Remember this.

The four men remained faithful to the true God of Israel.

Will we be faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? When life gets burning hot, will I remain faithful? (Write that down.  Think about that!)

As we begin this story, I want you to place yourself into what’s going on. We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Babylon. Nothing is the same, nothing is familiar anymore; they have even changed our names to honor their gods. 

Can you relate? A year ago, things were pretty normal but not for long. Covid 19 hit us and so did masks, gloves and the rush on paper products! Life has not been normal. Life has been anything but normal this past year. And, yet, can we be more like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Can we remain faithful to God? 

GOD WITH US!

GOD WITH ME.

When Daniel and his three friends were taken captive to a foreign land and given different names did God make a mistake?  Did God forsake them?  As we are all faced with a world-wide pandemic, does God not know what is happening?  Has God forgotten us?

Has your faith begun to fail?  Go ahead and read this story. Put yourself right there into Babylon. And answer this question:

To whom or to what do I bow?

As you read, remember this:  These young men did not sit down and rationalize our their options.  They did not justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. These young men simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

So What?
I am reminded of the great theologian and church reformer, Martin Luther, when he was on trial at the Diet of Worms. Luther was told by his authorities to recant his convictions, and to recant the 95 questions on the door of the Wittenberg Castle. Listen to Luther’s reply as his very life was at stake: “Here I stand.  I can do no other. May God help me.”

I have a long homework project for you to do this week. Read the following question. Pray about it. Think about it. You can even discuss it with people you love. Here’s the question:

What are my convictions? (Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.)

And now a final “So What?” homework question: which of the above convictions are worth the fiery furnace to you?

“HERE I STAND. I CAN DO NO OTHER. May God be with me.” Isn’t it just another way of saying, “GOD WITH US” or “GOD WITH ME”? 

As I close, the past few weeks have been pretty intense for my wife and I. Caring for Dad in our home has many challenges. Remember the recent MOHS surgery I had on my nose and shoulder? I’m sensitive to the stitches, the gauze, the tape that were used. I have four, dissolvable stitches in my shoulder and it’s going to take 3-4 months for them to dissolve. My entire left side of my shoulder is aflame. I’ve not been taken into captivity by any means but let’s just say, “I get Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And, I’m not bowing down to anything or anyone except the one, true God.” 

Are you there? Are you with me? 

Next week we conclude the fiery furnace and move into the lions’ den. Oh, man! I can hardly wait!

Spoiler alert for next week: there’s a fourth man in the fire and there’s another in your fiery furnace, too.

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 

Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Join us for worship on Sunday at 10am Pacific.  The link for the live interactive worship is:

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

if you miss the 10am worship on Sunday you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the complete worship service or just the children’s message for your children or the weekly sermon.

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 2/5/21

Seed of Faith – Light In A Dark World   By Pastor Dave  

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that as each one of us walks through this world-wide pandemic that we will be the salt and the light of Christ to our dark world.  May we keep our eyes on Jesus and may His light shine through us.

Last week we looked at being the salt of the earth.  This week let’s take a few minutes and reflect on the call to be the light of the world.  We need to light our lamps of love, joy, faith, mercy, peace and grace into the world we live in.

Last week I challenged you to consider the kind of foundation you are building upon.  Are you a wise-builder or a foolish-builder?  Are you going to build on sinking sand or on the ROCK of Christ?  As I have been reading this week, I came across this great illustration about building on the ROCK and letting your light shine:

Eleven miles off the east coast of Scotland, in the North Sea, stands the Bell Rock Lighthouse. It has endured the ferocious onslaught of the North Sea’s violent storms since 1811. It rests upon less than one acre of solid rock. The small reef is covered by seawater 20 hours of every 24. The builder of the lighthouse, Robert Stevenson, and his band of 65 skilled artisans, had only four hours each day to chink away the stone and gouge a foundation in the rock. As a result of this painstakingly patient work, the 115-foot-tall lighthouse is still in use today–200 years later. There are usually great costs in digging a deep, Christ-like foundation.  Do it anyway. Your legacy will outlast you if you do!

In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.” Farahat later told a reporter: “I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told the garbage man that I saw Christ in him. I told him, ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.'”  Farahat studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Two years later he visited the garbage man’s village outside Cairo, where between 15,000 and 30,000 people were living in poverty and squalor. There was no electricity or running water. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling were pervasive. Men, women, and children sifted through huge mountains of garbage, looking for something of value that could be sold for cash or traded for food. Farahat found himself reflecting on the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also remembered the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:13, “We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things.” It was soon thereafter that Farahat and his wife began ministering to people’s spiritual and material needs. They preached the gospel throughout Egypt, and thousands of people turned to Christ.  In 1978, Farahat was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and became known as Father Sama’an. Now, about 10,000 believers meet in a large cave outside the garbage village. It is the largest church of believers in the Middle East. In May of 2005, a day of prayer was held for Muslims to turn to Christ. More than 20,000 Arab Christians gathered. The event was also broadcast on a Christian satellite TV network, where millions were watching. All this, because one garbage man chose to humbly return a watch that would have made him the richest man in town.[i]

Wherever you are, whoever you are–you can be the light of Christ. Build deeply into the foundation of Christ. Let Christ’s light shine in you. Go love others.

SO WHAT?
Jesus is on the mountaintop teaching us how to improve our lives.

·         You are the salt of the earth. 

·         You are the light of the world.

Do you come to church to worship the living God?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to RUB the love of God into your heart each Sunday?  Do we let our daily devotionals and weekly Bible Studies season our lives so that we are ready to flavor our part of the world—our home, work places, schools, neighborhoods and church?  If we had an ingredient list—how far down would the Jesus-factor be?

Jesus was onto something at the mountaintop.  From His viewpoint, he saw a decaying world.  What about you? Will you do whatever it takes to be the salt and light of your world? Remember Robert Stevenson only had four hours each day to gouge a foundation into solid rock but that lighthouse is still in use–200 years later.

The work you do in your lifetime has the opportunity to outlive you. 

When the waves of the world are crashing all around you, you can stand safely and securely in the midst of the storm.  Why? Because you have built your foundation upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 5: And the light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it. The BELL ROCK lighthouse has safely guided the seas for over 200 years. Why? Its foundation is embedded deeply into the rock it rests upon. May the same be said of you and 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 1/22/21

Seed of Faith – Salt Of The Earth   By Pastor Dave  
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

Dear Seed-Sowers,
I hope and pray that you are all well, safe, healthy and growing in grace. I have been rereading Matthew 5 this week and reflecting on Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” Wow!  There is so much meat in chapters 5-7 of Matthew. (Perhaps a challenge for you to read these chapters for a week?) In the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that we are to be poor in spirit, called to be merciful and meek, called to hunger and thirst for righteousness in order that we may be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  In essence, what Jesus is telling the people gathered on that mountainside is that they are to not to just sit around listening about HOW to be a Christian, they are to go out and BE a Christian.  Jesus clearly states the purpose of the Christian life — to be salt and light in our world!

SO WHAT? ABOUT “salt”?

SALT: PRESERVATIVE and FLAVOR
In the days of Jesus, and for many centuries thereafter, salt was the most common preservative used.  There were no refrigerators, no deep-freezers in ancient times. Salt was used to keep things from going bad and becoming rotten, particularly meat.  When Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot” Jesus was telling His disciples that they were called to be the preserving agents to a decaying world.

The simple principle is that you and I are called to be a preserving force in the world–wherever we are called to live, work, and play.

Think of it this way — salt that never leaves the shelf will do no good in preserving anything.  To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat.  Have you gone into the grocery store and looked at all of the “rubs” they have for seasoning these days?  In the same way, we  must allow God to use us as flavorful seasoning in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, families, and churches.  A small amount of love and kindness goes a long way in making our world a better place.

The other day I went to the grocery store to do some shopping. I went to buy juice, and I came across an insight on flavoring. I was holding a bottle of Blueberry Pomegranate Juice.  There was a picture of a ripe pomegranate spilling its exotic, glistening seeds onto mounds of fat, perfect blueberries.  I read the ingredient list: “Filtered water, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate.” Where was the blueberry? Where was the pomegranate? Finally I found them, fifth and seventh in a list of nine ingredients. By law, food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. Meaning a product contains the greatest proportion of the first ingredient on the list and successively less of those farther down the list. According to the jug in my hand, it contained mostly water—a few other juices, with just enough blueberry and pomegranate for flavor and color. In the bottom corner of the front label in small, easy-to-miss type, were the tell-tale words: “Flavored juice blend with other natural ingredients.” The enticing picture and clever labeling were decoys to sell a diluted, blueberry-pomegranate flavored product convincingly disguised to look like something it wasn’t. I put the juice back on the shelf.  I chose the juice that was more costly—because it had more of what I was looking for.

SO WHAT? THINK ABOUT THIS:  What if we had an ingredients list printed on us?

Would Jesus be the main ingredient? If not, how far down the list would He be? Would our “label” accurately represent our contents? Or would we falsely project a misleading outward-appearance that cleverly masked our diluted ingredients? This made me think, our outside packaging may look convincing. We may look and sound like the real thing but what if someone came looking specifically for Jesus and found something else?

More than a hundred years ago, the atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche reproached a group of Christians.  Nietzsche said: “Yuck, you make me sick!” When their spokesman asked why, he answered, “because you redeemed don’t look like you are redeemed.  You are as fearful, guilt-ridden, anxious confused, and adrift in an alien environment as I am.  I am allowed.  I don’t believe. I have nothing to hope for.  But you people claim you have a Savior.  Why don’t you look like you are saved?”[ii]

Friends, it is our calling as Christians to be the salt of the earth.  We are called to bring love, joy, peace, hope, mercy, kindness, and grace into our families, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches and wherever we go. I think about the people who are serving us in the drive up. I can’t tell you how many times I pull away without something I ordered and paid for. The other day my 89 year old father-in-law taught me a life lesson. The drive up forgot his honey mustard sauce for his chicken nuggets.  We were going to go park and take in the majestic beauty of the San Gabriel mountains while we ate our drive through. No honey mustard? Dad said to me, “It’s okay. The mountains are still beautiful.”

I’m trying to say, be the light and the salt of Christ in a world that’s missing the honey mustard sauce!

As you read the living word of God, I’m praying it becomes a great seasoning salt that’s rubbed deeply into your being.  I’m praying that you are conformed, and transformed by what you read in your Bible. It’s a new year–pick a book (there are 66 of them) and read a paragraph, or a chapter a day. This week: be the salt of the earth. Lord knows, the world needs us!

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

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/16/21

Seed of Faith – God With Us  By Pastor Dave  

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Dear Faithful and Fearless Seed Sowers,

At The Seed it is our hope and prayer that you come to know the love of God, grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and go into our world sowing seeds of faith. The SEED wants you to SOW SEEDS OF FAITH in your world.

Know God’s Love!
Grow in Christ’s Grace!
Go in Power of the Holy Spirit!

We sit at the brink of a New Year. The canvas of this year is mostly clean (except for a few weeks). Can we allow the Holy Spirit to help us go in His power to sow seeds of faith, hope, mercy, grace, and love? And, if so, what does that plan look like for each one of us?

January 17th marks the 23rd year of my ordination into full-time ministry. My goal from the very beginning was to serve our mighty God in full-time ministry for at least 25 years. I went into seminary at the ripe, old age of 40 (like Moses)! When people would ask me why I made that career change, I would answer that I had 25 good years left in me! You see, I was a Good Year tire dealer, and the choice was to dream God’s dream or play it safe and sell tires for the next 25 years. I’m so glad God placed that giant-sized burden of ministry onto my shoulders way back in 1994. My prayer as I begin my 24th year of ordained ministry serving in a church is that God will lead me all the way. I want to finish these 25 years of ministry STRONG! I want to press on and reach the goal. I don’t want to slow down and coast past the finish line. God gave me a plan and I’m in it to win it. How about you? Perhaps you are 40 years old and you are being called into a brand, new career, too? My only advice for you:  read your living WORD, pray and obey.

And so, for the 23rd year I have been doing just that. I’ve been opening my Living Word, praying and seeking God’s heart on what my 2021 preaching schedule could look like. I’m always open to the Holy Spirit changing my plan but, as of yet, God’s plans have worked! And so, at the end of December, I sat down and spent time seeking God’s voice for The Seed.  “What do you want me to preach on in 2021?” To be boldly honest with you, I am extremely excited to begin a New Year and a new sermon series: “God With Us.”

All during Advent, the Holy Spirit put it on my heart, “Dave, with all the world has been going through, stop and reflect on the three little words of Christmas:  “God With Us.”   Isaiah* 7:14 — “Therefore the Lord himself will give you (this pronoun is plural it include you and me) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God With Us.)  *Just a quick invitation — I am teaching the book of Isaiah on Wednesday nights in our Get-A-Life group.  We are doing this study by ZOOM at the present time.  If you would like to join our study, send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will send you a ZOOM invite. (We begin at 6:30 pm Pacific Time; believe it or not, we have people from the east coast who join us.)

This Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel showed up to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Listen to how Matthew records this in Matthew 1:20-23:

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:20-23

Did you hear those three, little words?  GOD WITH US!   Three little words with big meaning. All wrapped up in one little Hebrew name, “Immanuel.”

Maybe a good “so what?” question before we dig into our message for this week is:

Do you believe those three little words — GOD WITH US? How do these three, little words affect your life? Is God with you?

Like everyone else I have been waiting and watching all that has been happening in our world in this world-wide pandemic and again I am watching with all the political upheaval. These days are tumultuous, turbulent, trying and terribly frightening.  There seems to be confusion in the chaos. Friends and family members are getting sick and some are dying.  Businesses are closed, schools are shutdown and moved to online, Even our churches closed and moved online. Relationships have been limited and stretched to the limits. Families have been isolated and quarantined from one another.  Many people are struggling with depression, doubt and despair.  Some are asking — “How Long — Lord?”   Fear, frustration and anxiety and anger seem to be the emotions that are being expressed by so many.

Do you believe those three, little words — GOD WITH US?

How do these three, little words affect and impact your life?

There is a story told of two missionaries who were captured and imprisoned in the same cell but forbidden to speak to each other. Christmas came. One of the missionaries, shivering and silent, sat on the floor covered with hay. As he was playing with bits of hay around him, he thought that he discovered a silent way of communicating with his friend. He spelled out the word Immanuel. As soon as his friend saw the word, immediately he lit up with joy. They were captives, but they both believed that God was with them and that ultimate triumph would be theirs.[i]

Listen, if you are all alone: the SEED has spelled out for you in the straw of life: IMMANUEL! GOD IS WITH YOU!

So What?
Over the next few months as we make our way to Easter, I am going to share some of the famous stories in the Bible, stories where God showed up despite dark, dismal days.  God was with Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in a fiery furnace. God was with Daniel in a lion’s den.  God was with David when
he faced a giant named Goliath. God was with Elijah when he was confronted by hundreds of prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God was Elisha when he raised the dead son of the Shunamite and filled the widow’s olive oil jar to overflowing. God was with Jonah in the belly of the big fish. God was with Samson, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the prophets. The entire bible is filled with stories that beat the odds.  God has not left us! GOD IS WITH US!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

This is my prayer for us as we journey through 2021.  No matter what, I want you to know that GOD IS WITH YOU. He’s with you whether you have small children and are losing your mind being encapsulated! God is with you whether you are sick and need medical care. God is with you even if you are all alone and feel as though you are dying of loneliness.

GOD WITH US.  SAY IT OUT LOUD. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS HARD: GOD WITH ME. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS GOOD: GOD WITH ME. PRAY IT OVER YOUR FAMILY WHEN THEY ARE STRUGGLING:  GOD WITH US.

Every day my wife and I care for Dad in our home. Andy celebrates his 89th birthday on MLK Jr Day! He’s ordered a prime rib, corn and baked potato dinner cooked at home. Jac’s been busy getting cards from people who know Dad. We will hang up the HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign and put 89 on top of his chocolate cake. You see, Dad suffers from end stage Alzheimer’s and the past few months have take a toll on his mind and body but not his spirit. Every night as Dad and I head down the hallway to his bedroom, Dad tells me, “Talk about forgiveness, Dave. No baggage.” Dad is aware that I preach on Sundays and record messages for the radio and you tube. After 23 years of ordained ministry, I pray I never forget: GOD WITH US. I AM FORGIVEN. NO BAGGAGE. Amen.

It’s not about our power, it’s about GOD’S POWER at work IN us. There.  Do you see it?

GOD WITH US. 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 6/1/2021

Seed of Faith – WORDS TO THE SKEPTICAL & SCARED   By Pastor Dave  

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:36-39

Dear Faithful, Fearless, and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
May the God of all grace and mercy surround you with His grace, mercy and love.  May you know that God is with you and His promise is that He will never leave you or forsake you. COUNT ON THIS AS YOU FACE THE FUTURE.

Last week, we heard a word to the troubled in heart as Jesus walked down the Emmaus Road with His disciples.  Today we turn to Luke 24 where we will hear a word to the skeptical and scared.

With his news-assignment request approved, the CNN News cameraman quickly used his cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.  Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the cameraman instructed the pilot, “Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can get shots of the fires on the hillsides. “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m a cameraman for CNN,” he responded, “and I need to get some close-up shots. “The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally, he stammered, “So, what you are telling me, is…you’re not my flight instructor?[i]

What a case of mistaken identity!

Have you ever mistaken the identity of someone or something?

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead caused even His followers to mistake His identity.  At the tomb, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus thought Jesus was the only one in Jerusalem who did not know what terrible things had just happened in Jerusalem.

In the Gospel of Luke, we have three different records of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It would be just like our detailed, Dr.  Luke to paint a tapestry of three different panels. One panel is the story found in Luke 24:1-12 that we read on Easter Sunday.  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women go to tomb early in the morning and find that the stone is rolled away; they see two men glowing like lightening.  These two angels say to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.  The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:5-7) Dr. Luke tells us that the women ran back to tell the disciples the good news.  The disciples think the women are talking nonsense. However, we learn that Peter ran to the tomb–only to find it was empty.  Peter walked away wondering what in the world had happened.  This is the first panel Dr. Luke has painted for us.

The second panel is the story found in Luke 24:13-34. We studied this story last week.  This panel is painted with Cleopas and another (Mary his wife, Mary) walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Out of the blue, Jesus started walking alongside them.  As they walked and talked, Jesus opened all of the Scriptures to them–beginning with Moses and the prophets and explained to them all that must happen to the Messiah.  Even after all of this, they still had a case of mistaken identity of their mystery man who had joined them on their walk.  It was not until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened.  “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

What does it take for our hearts to burn within us?  What would it take for us to know the real Christ and not to have a case of mistaken identity regarding Him?  What would it take for us to pick up and run back the seven miles we just walked in order to tell others that we have seen the risen, living Christ?  Why is that we have such a hard time seeing Jesus come alongside us in our lives?   Why is that that we mistake His identity time and time again?

Today we turn to the third panel of Luke’s magnificent tapestry of the resurrection story.  Today, may our eyes be opened once again to see the risen Christ.  May our hearts be strangely warmed as we open up God’s Word and read Luke 24:36-53.

As always, place yourself into our story. Be a part of the living word of God. We are in the Upper Room, gathered together and huddled in fear. Now, let us introduce Dr. Luke’s three panels of resurrection stories and three cases of mistaken identity:  Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener.  Cleopas and his companion on the way to Emmaus had no clue who their traveling companion was. Was this mysterious traveler the only one who did not know the things that had happened in Jerusalem? They all had a case of mistaken identity.  After Jesus opened up the Scriptures to Cleopas and the other disciple, after Jesus broke bread with them–they immediately ran 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell all those gathered in the Upper Room that they had just been with the risen Christ.

Can you imagine?  It is still Resurrection Day.  Jesus’ disciples have run the gamut of emotions for one day!  Are you there with me? What a day! Do you think after Cleopas shares his news that they are all talking at the same time?  Imagine you are in the midst of a crowd. What is going on after all of these people tell us that Jesus is not dead—his tomb is empty and he is alive—and not just in Jerusalem, He is even alive in Emmaus.

I imagine the group is asking questions, making statements, wondering out loud.  Joy, excitement, bewilderment, confusion, fear and skepticism are running rampant in the room.  The doors are locked because of their fears and then…suddenly… Jesus walks into the room and says, “Peace be with you.”

Imagine the scene.  Huddle together.  The doors are locked!  We are all afraid and we are hiding. We are hearing the Good News of Jesus being raised from the dead!  Jesus is alive?  All of our hopes that were dashed are now being rekindled.  Dreams that were shattered are being restored! Now imgaine, Jesus walks into the room and says to us, “Peace be with you.”  “Eirene hymin” in Greek and “Shalom alakem,” are the common terms of greeting.   What a day this has been for anyone inside that Upper Room!

Here is a lesson we can glean from this third panel of the Resurrection Day Tapestry: Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our fear!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our bewilderment! Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our doubts!  Jesus wants to bring HIS peace into our confusion! Jesus wants to bring His peace to all who are skeptical.  Jesus wants to bring peace.

Listen!  The Good News!

No matter what kind of day we are having, Jesus wants to bring peace into our lives!

What happens next is another profound example of mistaken identity.  The disciples are gathered together in the Upper Room.  They have heard from Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, and the other disciple that they have seen the risen Christ.  Mary thought He was the gardener at first.  Cleopas and his companion thought Jesus was this short of being an idiot.  They are all wondering what in the world is going on and now Jesus Himself is standing right in front of them.  What is their response?  They think they are seeing a ghost.

On January 28, 1945, as World War II was groaning to a close, 121 elite Army Rangers liberated over 500 POWs, mostly Americans, from a Japanese prisoner of war camp near Cabanatuan in the Philippines. The prisoners, many of whom were survivors of the infamous Bataan death march, were in awful condition, physically and emotionally. Before the Rangers arrived, the primary Japanese guard unit had left the camp because of Japan’s massive retreat from the Philippines. The new situation was precarious. Japanese troops were still around and, in the camp, but they kept their distance from the prisoners. The men of Cabanatuan did not quite know what to make of their new freedom—if freedom was in fact what it was. And then, without warning, the American Rangers swept upon the camp in furious force. But one of the most interesting facets of the story was the reaction of many of the prisoners. They were so defeated, diseased, and familiar with deceit that many needed to be convinced they were actually free.

They were skeptical and scared.

Was it a trick? A trap? Was this real? One prisoner, Captain Bert Bank, struggling with blindness caused by a vitamin deficiency, could not clearly make out his would-be rescuers. He refused to budge. Finally, a soldier walked up to him, tugged his arm, and said, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to be free?” Bank, from Alabama, recognized the familiar southern accent of his questioner. A smile formed on his lips, and he willingly and thankfully began his journey to freedom. Finally, far away from what had been, for years, the site of an ongoing, horrific assault on their humanity, the newly freed prisoners began their march home.

In the description of one prisoner, contrasting it with the Bataan nightmare years earlier, “It was a long, slow, steady march …but this was a life march, a march of freedom.”[i]

SO WHAT?
I believe that we are a lot like those prisoners.  We have been set free from our captivity and, yet, we stand frozen in our tracks.  We have heard of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, but do we really believe it? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?  Is Jesus really the promised Messiah?  Would Jesus walk into my confusion, bewilderment, doubts, fears, frustrations, hurts, addictions, pain, worries, skepticism, scared heart and messed-up life?

Timothy J. Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism said; “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”[ii]

So, what? What do you believe?  Are you a prisoner of skepticism?  Are you frozen in fear? Are you scared like the early disciples? Hear these words:
“Peace be with you.” May these words soak and saturate deeply into your heart.

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 5/22/21

Seed of Faith – A Word For The Confused  By Pastor Dave  

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Greetings Faithful Friends and Fearless Seed-Sowers,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to write a Seed of Faith.  I have been busy and maybe I have been confused and troubled.  I just returned home from Illinois after cleaning out some of my dad’s personal items from his home.  My step-mom is moving and I needed to go through some of my dad’s items that were in his home for the past fifty some years (photo albums mainly.)

Today we are going to take a walk with Jesus. We are on the road to Emmaus.  Emmaus is a town.  The Emmaus Road story is one of the most famous and familiar stories that Dr. Luke tells.  Today we meet two disciples who are also making their way home from the Passover festival.  This is the same day that Jesus rose from the tomb.  These two disciples happen to be followers of Jesus, just like us. They are heart-sick, heart-broken, depressed and confused about Jesus’ crucifixion and now they are walking home—7 miles back home. Think about where 7 miles from your home is–and imagine walking there right now. As you are walking, let me ask you a few questions.

Have you ever been heart-sick before?
Have you ever-been heart-broken before?
Have you ever been down or depressed before?
Have you ever been confused before?

Our good friend, Dr. Luke, now introduces us to two disciples, one named Cleopas and one that is not named.  Scholars have debated about who these two disciples are. Some scholars say that Cleopas is a follower of Jesus and the other, unnamed person is none other than Dr. Luke. Some have said that Cleopas is the Cleopas mentioned by the Gospel of John in John 19:25 when we are told that Mary’s sister was the wife of Cleopas and her name was Mary, also.  If this is the case, then these two disciples were Jesus’ aunt and uncle–headed home to Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.   Whoever they were, these two had been in Jerusalem for the Passover festival with a million other Jews.  They were followers of Jesus.  They were there when Jesus entered the town riding on a donkey.  They were there with all of the people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna — Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They heard the crowd shouting, Crucify him, crucify him!”  We are also told in the Scriptures that “Mary, the wife of Cleopas” was at the cross with Jesus’ mother.  Mary, the wife of Cleopas, was with her sister, Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Jesus’ crucifixion. Are you in this story yet?
These two disciples loved Jesus with all of their hearts.  They were in Jerusalem for a Passover festival, a celebration.  They were not expecting what happened.  The person they loved, Jesus, had been arrested, tried, and whipped. Jesus was crucified and these two are heart-sick!  They are heart-broken!  They are depressed! They are confused!  And they are beginning their long, 7-mile walk back home.
Can you identify with being heat-broken, depressed, confused, disappointed, and downcast?  Just say — Covid-19 or quarantine, lockdown, stay-at-home, no school, no sports, no going out, no family …. No, no, no, no! I think we can all identify with being heart-broken this past year.

Dr/ Luke tells us that as they were walking along, they were discussing the events of the past week.  The Greek word for “discussing” is “syzeteo” which is a present tense verb.  This means that they were discussing and discussing and discussing over and over again all of the things that had happened.  They were on a roller coaster of grief and confusion, going up and down and all around and around; discussing the life and death of Jesus.

As they were walking and talking, the RESURRECTED Jesus walked up behind them and asked them what they were talking about.  They did not recognize Jesus.  The original Greek tells us that “they were kept from recognizing Him.”  Why?  We really do not know.  Commentaries suggest it was because they were looking into the sun and the shadows prevented them from recognizing Jesus.   Perhaps they were so overcome with grief, their hearts so broken that in the midst of their grief and confusion they could not see who it was that was standing in front of them.  They simply did not recognize Jesus. If you are taking notes — write this one down.  It is really important!

Jesus finds us in our confusion!  Jesus finds us when our hearts are broken, and we are overwhelmed with grief.  Jesus wants to enter into our story—right where we are, no matter where we are.
I am praying that our eyes will be opened and that our hearts will be strangely warmed as we recognize Jesus whenever, wherever, He walks into our lives.

So What?
In 2015 an EF4 tornado with winds of 200 mph hit my hometown of Rochelle, Illinois. I remember that night, I was heartsick, and heartbroken to hear of the devastation the tornado caused.  My heart was heavy and burdened with grief. The day after the tornado, our good friends called.  We had raised our children with them, went on vacation with them—their family was our family and vice versa.  We knew on the night of the tornado that their niece’s home had been destroyed by the tornado.  The next morning our friend called to tell us this story:

Her niece and her husband have three, small children—5,3, and 5 months.  When the sirens went off, they hurried down to the southwest corner of their basement.  Looking out the basement window, they saw their wooden swing set blow away like toothpicks and disappear.  Her niece held all three of the children while her husband formed a human shield of protection over them; spread eagle like a cross.  In less than a minute, their house and everything they owned was gone.  The first floor had collapsed into the basement, missing them by inches.  Her niece had cried out, “We’re going to die.”  Across the street, another young family had sought shelter from the tornado in their own basement. After the tornado had safely passed, the young father grabbed a flashlight and ran over to help the family across the street whose home had been blown away. In the darkness, he found the five of them in the southwest corner of the basement—the only corner that sustained no damage—and he helped pull them all to safety.  The next day, our friend, brought in heavy equipment that lifted the collapsed first floor from the basement so that our friends could sort through what was left of their home.  Here is all they found:  the five-year old’s Mickey Mouse that he sleeps with, the 3-year-old’s blankie that she sleeps with, a pillow that said HOME, a sign that said THANKFUL and her very beat up and, almost unrecognizable, laptop.  Someone took the laptop to a techy who carefully removed from it the stored photos and documents.  Everything else was gone.

Here is the “so what?” for this week that I want you to remember forever:

Jesus meets us in our confusion, in our heart-sickness, in our depression, in our fears and doubts.
Jesus WILL bring clarity into our lives.
Jesus WILL bring comfort into our lives…All through the living, abiding, Word of God.
YOUR HEART WILL BE STRANGELY WARMED–and that, my friends, is just God at work.

Just as the father I told you about covered his family in order to protect them, Jesus does the same for you and me.  In the midst of our confusion, our grief, our depression, our sorrow, our heartsickness, our heartbrokenness, our doubts, our fears, our shame, our guilt—Jesus covers us. Friends, this is the hope and the power of the RESURRECTION. Today as we travel along our own EMMAUS ROAD, may our eyes be opened,  may our hearts be strangely warmed as we break bread together.  May we recognize the crucified, risen Christ in our midst!

Back to being in Rochelle to go through some of my Dad’s personal things, I decided that since my wife would be with her father here in California that it might be nice to have my son or daughters fly with me to Rochelle. Our eldest has 7 children and couldn’t get away but she prayed for us. Our son drove his truck up from Waco, Texas; there were two toolboxes that he could have. Our youngest daughter brought her daughter and we flew together. Jesus was with us all the way. We had a ton of turbulence on the first flight then our plane was delayed due to weather in Dallas. We sat in the Dallas airport for six, long hours–wearing a mask. We were there all night. I know the man who designed the train system in Dallas and so I got the girls to ride the rails with me.  Strangely, we felt God was with us as we waited for our flight to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at 5 am–walked through the terminal and got a hotel room because we were exhausted. Later, we rented a Jeep and headed to Dad’s. Our eldest daughter was brought home to this house in 1974. Our son and daughter who were with me had experienced birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays in this home–like their entire lives have had memories there. As we sorted in the basement, I felt my heart strangely warmed. My brother, Joe, came over and helped. We were able to move Dad’s tools from a shed the next day. We loaded up Brian’s truck with two toolboxes. Through the week, I was able to see close friends and family. Heck, we even drove to Milwaukee to see the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers! Through it all, through all of the sorrow and sadness, the risen Christ was with us, warming our hearts with the love of family.

I’m praying for you. You are loved.

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 04/01/2021

Seed of Faith – Praising, Protesting, Passive   By Pastor Dave  

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:38-40

Dear Faithful – Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.  I encourage you take some time and read the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life. Read and compare the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) or pick one to read one this week.  Here are the Gospel accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, Holy Week  — Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19:28-24 and John 12-21.

Today we are going to look at Luke 19:28-44 and at the Old Testament prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9-12.

Think about this for a moment.  I mean, stop, and really think about where you are in this story of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem? Where are you in your faith walk with Jesus? There were crowds of people in this story.  Scholars believe that there were over 2 million people in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover.  They estimate the crowd at the “Palm Parade” was around 200,000 people.  Jesus was riding into town on a donkey and the crowds went wild. Yet, there are at least three types of people in this story. As you read, figure out where you are. Which of these three crowds do you belong in?

1. The people who knew their Scriptures and were waiting for God to send a KING to overthrow the Roman government—this crowd went wild with praise! PRAISERS.

2. The crowd of the Pharisees did not go wild with praise.  They went wild with protest. PROTESTORS. 

3. The third kind of crowd was absolutely passive—to them, this parade was no big deal either way. PASSERS.

Praising, protesting or passive! Faithful one or faithless one! What crowd will you find yourself in today?

Will we praise Jesus?
Will we protest Jesus?
Will we be passive about Jesus?

Imagine for a moment 100,000 to 200,000 people moving, waving palms, and shouting!  The Rose Bowl holds around 92,000 people, double that crowd, imagine the noise and hysteria of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday. Can you feel the energy?

Can you enter into the picture?  A few million people are milling around Jerusalem.  There are people everywhere! Today would be Sunday, the Sunday before they celebrated Passover, and this is the very reason why all of these people were there.  Today is known as “Lamb Selection Sunday” and thousands of lambs are being led into town for Thursday’s annual Passover sacrifice event. Everyone is selecting their family’s sacrificial lamb.  Think of the tension in the air as the Roman centurions walk around — angry that the crowd is so large.   Their swords and shields are ready at a moment’s notice to keep the peace.  Jesus makes his way through the nearby town of Bethany, down the Mount of Olives and enters the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus has been in ministry for three years.  The people have seen Him in action or they have heard about Him.  The crowd is energized, and the excitement keeps building and building!  Jesus is riding into town on a donkey and the crowd goes wild.  They have been waiting for this day! These people know their scriptures. They don’t have the new testament—only the old! They can easily equate Zechariah 9…with what they are seeing!  All of sudden, this is the biggest parade you have ever seen, everyone is breaking off palm branches from the palm trees and waving them. They are taking off their outer coats to throw them on the dirt road that Jesus is riding into town on!  Are you with me?  Can you hear the excitement as the crowd begins to shout, HOSANNA — HOSANNA — HOSANNA!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the king of Israel.”  (Makes me think of when we shout USA in the Olympic games.)

The Hebrew word “hosanna” literally means “save us, we pray, save us now, save us–we beseech you.”  The crowd is shouting at the top of their lungs, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!”

What about you?  Are you in this crowd? 

Do YOU PROTEST Jesus?
There is another crowd we need to pay attention to.  I love that Luke puts these two verses into his detailed storyline, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’”  This is the last mention of the Pharisees in Luke’s account.  The Pharisees went out to meet Jesus because they understood why He was coming to town.  This Jesus was about to turn their entire lives completely upside down.  The Pharisees were comfortable and in control, or so they thought.  Luke records that some of the Pharisees were shouting out to Jesus.  Imagine how loud they must have been shouting to have their voices heard over the crowd.  This crowd of Pharisees wanted to silence the crowd and Jesus.  Imagine how they felt when Jesus responded that even if the crowd was silent, the very stones on the ground would cry out. (I’d like to be around for that!)

The voices of two contrasting crowds:  One crowd is wild with excitement, shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna” —“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The other crowd is shouting “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Two crowds: One crowd praises Jesus while the other crowd protests Him.

We come to the final group:  the crowd who simply pass.  They do not care enough one way or the other.  Jesus?  Who?  Did what?  Yeah, I am really busy doing my own thing.  I am going to pass on that.   I’m taking a pass today. Maybe next time.

This the “So what?” for YOU today:  what crowd are YOU in?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PRAISE-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PROTEST-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

·         Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PASS-on-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?

So What?

One day Mark Twain took his little daughter on his knee and told her all about the rulers and other prominent men whom he had met in his travels. She listened attentively. When he had finished, she said, “Daddy, you know everybody but God, don’t you?” Mark Twain was certainly an intelligent person. Yet he rejected God.1

Praise.  Protest.  Pass.  Our choice.  Today’s “So What?” comes down to a choice…made by me…made by you…to either PRAISE…PROTEST. …or PASS this JESUS OF NAZARETH.

PRAISE…PROTEST…or PASS.

When we were raising our kids, my wife and I lived on the parade route. If there was a parade, it was going to go right past our house! Anyone who knew us knew that they could find a spot on our lawn and sit and enjoy the parade.  They also knew they could use the restroom, and could count on brownies with powdered sugar on top and water or pop (yes, in Northern Illinois–soda is POP!) Guess what? Today I know of a house (point to your heart) that is on the PALM SUNDAY parade route! It’s your heart. It’s YOU! Jesus is riding down the road in front of YOUR heart today! ARE YOU PRAISING? I surely hope you are!

We ended our worship on Palm Sunday with Chris Tomlin’s “IS HE WORTHY?” I double dog dare you to listen to it and PRAISE JESUS.

Friday is here…but…SUNDAY’S COMING!

See you Easter Sunday — SPOILER ALERT:  the tomb is empty!!!

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

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

Seed of Faith 3/8/21

Seed of Faith – Faith To Face Your Lions   By Pastor Dave  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

Dear Faithful – Fearless & Fruitful Seed Sowers,
Last week we began a SEED OF FAITH on Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Daniel 6.  Daniel had faith to stand against those who accused him. Daniel had faith to transform his environment. Do you? Do I?

The GOD of the entire universe ….says to you and me,  “I will never leave you or forsake you. So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’”  This is the faith that Daniel had!

Do you have this kind of faith?
Do you believe that God is your helper?
Do you believe that no matter what comes your way, GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU or FORSAKE YOU?

In 1940 Vincent and Margaret Crossett were missionaries in Mainland China. They struggled against poverty and paganism in a remote village in order to tell others about Jesus. The work was very slow and difficult, but after much sacrifice a small church was established. The church was no larger than a small Bible study group. Right on the threshold of this small triumph for the kingdom of God, Satan began his work. The Communist takeover of China during the Cultural Revolution forced all missionaries to leave China. The Crossetts hated to leave. Their fledgling flock of believers hardly seemed ready to withstand the coming onslaught. An atheistic, dictatorial government dedicated to wiping out all Christian influence was beginning its rule with ruthless power. How could this little church survive? From the world’s perspective there was nothing anyone could do. The church seemed destined to die. But Vincent and Margaret did not see through the world’s eyes. They saw through the eyes of faith that their God was faithful to those who honor him. The Crossetts were like faithful family sedans. They continued to do their duty. Though the missionaries were chased out, their prayers were not. For nearly forty years the Crosetts daily kept their prayer window opened toward China. They dutifully prayed in faith that God would one day triumph over Communism. The Crosetts heard nothing of their Chinese friends for forty years, but still they faithfully prayed for God to be victorious in the church they left behind. Finally, the walls of China came down. As the political climate changed, the nation was opened to western visitors. The Crossetts returned to the village where they had left the tiny, struggling group of believers. There was no small church in the village anymore! Instead, from that Bible study had grown a church of four thousand people! This body of believers had planted dozens of other churches as well, each with a membership of at least a thousand. All the Crossetts did was pray with their prayer window open to the focus of their prayer—China. The God of Daniel is alive and well.[i]

Romans 8:28, do you know it? “AND WE KNOW THAT GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!”
The Crossetts knew their God and they prayed in faith for the little church they left behind in China.

SO WHAT?
When Daniel was threatened with his life to conform to the new edict, he got down on his knees and prayed.  He asked God to help him like God had helped him all his life. Daniel had faith that his God could do immeasurably more than he could ask or imagine. Daniel knew that God was with him. Immanuel: GOD With ME.

In 2013 I came down with an infection of some kind in my body. It started in my left leg and spread to my right leg.  This infection manifested itself in painful blisters and oozing sores. It wasn’t just one or two of these sores but patches of skin, 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. Pretty soon the infection spread to  my chest and back.  I was sent to 14 different doctors. This infection stayed with me for 4 years. It went to the inside of my body and the outside of my body. None of the doctors knew what was wrong with me. My wife had gone to see a doctor in 2001. She had dropped a heavy piece of furniture on her toe and Dr. Zimmerman had helped her. We were grasping at straws at this point, and I was in horrible pain, sleeping in the recliner.  Jac (my wife) kept asking me to go see Dr.  Zimmerman. Out of desperation, I agreed. Dr. Z started treating me.  His words, “This infection is trying to kill you.  I will not send you to the hospital because I fear you would die of MRSA or staph in there.” He was afraid with all of the open, oozing sores, I’d get something worse than what I already had. Dr. Z gave me topical relief but the rash continued to progress. My wife began to have involuntary muscle twitches. She had suffered from mercury poisoning in 2005 and when she went to her doctor, her doctor retested her heavy metals levels. The doctor thought her mercury levels were back up. The test revealed severe lead poisoning. We have a seriously smart doctor, and she called me in and tested me for my heavy metal levels. Both Jac and I were living in a home that was putting out 6 times the limit of lead particles. I had ten times the lethal limit of lead in my body, Jac had 12! No wonder we were so sick. During all of these years of battling the infection, I had learned to be a man of prayer.  Good thing, because chelation is hard on a body! From September of 2017 to the summer of 2019, I did 3 chelations.  I am down to two times the lethal limit. Chelation is no fun. The doctor says I have one chelation left before I read the lethal  limit.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story. Between the past 7 years of oozing sores and chelations, I have learned to become a man of constant prayer.  I have learned to pray, “GOD WITH ME.” My faith in God has grown stronger day by day. God has shut the mouths of the lions I’ve been facing. God will do the same for you.

Daniel did not conform to the pressures of his world. He did not conform to the pressures of the King or of his “friends” and co-workers. Instead of conforming, Daniel transformed. He transformed his corner of the world.  When Daniel came out of the lions’ den after spending a night with the lions. he was untouched.  The King was elated and passed an edit that all people should worship the God of Daniel.  I love the wording of King Darrius law … Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

If you are taking notes, here you go. Here are 5 points from King Darius worth remembering:

1.  THE LIVING GOD ENDURES FOREVER — GOD WITH US

2.  GOD’S KINGDOM WILL NOT BE DESTROYED — GOD WITH US

3.  GOD’S DOMINION WILL NEVER END — GOD WITH US

4.  GOD RESCUES AND SAVES —- GOD WITH US

5. GOD PERFORMS SIGNS AND WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS AND ON THE EARTH — GOD WITH US.

NO MATTER WHAT:
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s a fourth man in the fire with you.
KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOD: There’s an angel who will SHUT THE MOUTHS OF THE LIONS IN YOUR DEN.

In the face of this year long epidemic, keep your faith. Our God is with us. Your God is with you. Say it with me and make it personal: GOD WITH ME.

When times are hard this week, say it out loud, “GOD WITH ME.” Think about Daniel.  Think about being thrown into the lions’ den for no good reason at all—except that your coworkers are jealous and envious of you. I always tell you to put yourself into the story.  Well.  DO!

Here you are—they’ve thrown you into the pit. They’ve sealed the pit so you can’t escape.  YOU ARE THERE, IN THE PIT, ALONE.  I’m guessing it’s dark–because lions like to hunt at night! I’m also guessing Daniel prayed. An angel came and shut the lions’ mouths. And after that long, long night—Daniel was rescued by the KING…and, don’t miss this, the scripture says,  So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian..”

Did you hear that? So Daniel prospered.

Tell yourself this story this week…over and over again…until you believe it. And, by the way, you are NOT ALONE in that lions’ den…not at all. That fourth man in the fire? He’s WITH YOU.

GOD WITH US.  GOD WITH ME.  

There isn’t a dream team on earth who can team up against you to defy God’s will and plan for your life. DO YOU BELIEVE IT?

Despite this pandemic and whatever else you are facing, I want you to stand on this promise: So Daniel prospered. That’s my prayer for you! Jac’s “Daddy-oh” has been with us for 400 days now. He has Alzheimer’s and emphysema and a severe case of sundowners. Dad is up all night making many trips around the house and the bathroom. The doctors have said, “It is time. He needs 24/7 supervision.” Because of covid, we can’t hire night-time help. We will be placing Dad into a nearby memory care home this coming week. It is time for Jac and me to have a living faith for Dad; a faith that says, “God’s will for Dad is for him to prosper in this next move.” Immanuel. God with us. God with me. I’m praying for you.  Will you pray for us?

See You Sunday!

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

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

Seed of Faith 2/27/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Lions Den   By Pastor Dave  
 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27

Dear Faithful – Fearless – Fruitful Seed Sowers,

I pray that each and everyone of you are safe in the grace and love of Jesus! The days we are living through are difficult. I pray that you find comfort in these SEEDS OF FAITH and in the living, enduring WORD OF GOD. I pray that your faith will increase and your fear will decrease. God be with us as we face this pandemic. Amen.

Over the past few weeks, we have learned about Daniel.  Daniel and his three good friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive from Israel as teenagers and brought to Babylon. Daniel served under four different Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. By the time we reach this story in chapter 6, Daniel is in his eighties.  He has been serving the kings and interpreting dreams for sixty years.  One thing is noteworthy to me: during all of his time in captivity, Daniel remained faithful to his one, true God.

Back to our story, King Darius now appoints Daniel to be the one of three administrators over his kingdom. The king has plans to set old Daniel over his whole kingdom.

Have you ever thought about this? King Darius plans to set Daniel over his whole kingdom?

I have!  How does someone get to that place in life where the King wants to put you in charge of his kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I believe it was because of Daniel’s faith and faithful service. In our story, we learn that Daniel that is willing to remain true to his faith even when the new order is placed: “All people should not pray to any other god. All people are to only pray to the king, and if this edict is violated, you will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Put yourself into THIS story, friends.)

What I glean from this story is that Daniel’s coworkers were jealous and envious of Daniel. They know they will not find any corruption in Daniel so a plan is concocted in order for Daniel to fail. After the edict,  Daniel goes home, like he always does, opens his window like he always does, and begins to pray to the God of Jerusalem like he always did. We are told right here in Daniel 6 that three times each day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed to God. Daniel gave thanks to his God. As far as Daniel was concerned, there was no edict for Daniel that could stop him from praying to God.

Even when Daniel learned that the decree had been ordered and published and enacted, he went home to his upstairs room where his windows were opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

I like these words, “just as he had done before.”  If we were really in this story, we would know that we could count on one thing: Daniel would go home three times each day and pray. This wasn’t just a pattern with Daniel, this was a lifestyle.

The outside world may have been changing, but God had not changed, and Daniel was not going to allow his relationship to God to change regardless of the shifting circumstances.

What about you? Is your outside world changing? I think we can learn a lot from this story. Despite our changing outside world, we can not allow our relationship with God to be changed regardless of the circumstances. We can learn from Daniel how to be faithful and true.

Are there shifting circumstances in our world? You bet. It’s been a year since the pandemic started and our world has changed. Our circumstances have changed.  What about you? Has your God changed, too? Or have you remained faithful to God—no mater whether you go to church or worship from home? What would be your response if the government issued the same sort of decree today? “Everyone must bow down to the golden statue.” (We all have a golden statue. We do. We either resist the temptation to bow down and let it control our lives or we bow down. We have much to learn from Daniel today.)

Daniel knew that, no matter what, his God would be with him.  He had heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He knew the stories of deliverance of his people. He knew about their former slavery in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the cloud by day and fire at night to guide his ancestors. Daniel knew his history and Daniel knew the truth. His circumstances may have been changing but his God remained the same. “Daniel did what he had always done.” Daniel went home and bowed before the one, true King and, soon after, he was confronted by his enemies:  surrender, stop praying to your God and pray to King Darius alone or else.

So What?
I came across this illustration the other day and thought of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.

For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.

Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she had escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant — everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.

The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on that January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.

Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced more attacks except for the folly of one of the bullies. He had filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.

A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.

Unbeknownst to him the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.”

Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number. He told Khoury to call him if he needed him. From that day forward, Khoury has been a phone call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.

Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?  [i]

(Here is the link to a YouTube video of Nadin and the Philadelphia Eagles   https://youtu.be/_O4eipeoh78)

Do you know something? God gives us this very same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted them in his epistle:  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

In closing, I want to share a story. When my wife and I had just moved to California in 1999, we had to bring our van in for engine work. Being new in town, we asked around and found the shop. (Rochelle is a city of 10,000 people. When we left, there were two stop lights in town. Upland had 77,000 people and was surrounded by a sea of suburbs. Finding a new mechanic, new doctors, new friends–all intimidating tasks when you’re new in town.) Anyway, we dropped our van. As you may recall, we are that family that names their vehicles. This van was 7 years old, and had over 350,000 miles on it. We got her when the kids were still in school.  We named our van, FAITHFUL AND TRUE BLUE. She was the car we drove through my seminary years, and through our first two church calls. When we went to pick up our van, there was a homeless guy sitting on the curb by the van.  The new California plates read GKG with numbers. Jac, my wife, would always say as we climbed into “faithful and true”, “Let’s go serve the Great Kingdom of God, Dave!” We paid our bill and started to get into our car. Wait, the homeless guy. We talked for a bit.  I asked if he was hungry (he was) and walked to the local burger joint next door. Jac stayed with the van and the homeless guy started chatting with her. He told her, “You know, you guys serve the great kingdom of God? Your van is faithful and true–just like you.” I delivered the meal. We drove away. Jac told me what the guy had said and asked me to go back. We’d been gone 3 minutes and the guy was nowhere to be found. You see, we were missing home. We had been exiled to Southern California! Our nearest family was 2,000 away. Everything was so new in this land of Oz. As we drove away, I told Jac that God had reconfirmed a promise from the bible: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”

That’s my prayer for you today that somehow, someway you will know that you know that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU.

It’s the theme of our Lenten journey: GOD WITH US. GOD WITH ME.

By the way, God’s cell phone number is JEREMIAH 33:3–put it on speed dial in your heart:

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”

A hungry, homeless guy in the middle of our desert? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework.  It’s simple but not easy:

AM I FAITHFUL AND TRUE?

You see, Daniel was faithful and true. He never stopped praying to God no matter what the circumstances of his life entailed. We can learn a lot from Daniel today.

See you Sunday!

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 2/20/2021

Seed of Faith – Faithful In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

Dear Faithful, fearless & fruitful Seed sowers,

“God With Us” is the series that we are working through at The Seed Christian Fellowship of Rancho Cucamongam California! It is my prayer that as we look at the big stories of the Bible we see how God was with all the people and that God is with us, too.  In last week’s Seed of faith we laid a foundation of Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

In this story you can find at least three different groups of people. The conformer, those who bow down and worship the golden statue.  Then there are the informers, those who are jealous of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they will not bow down. This group goes and tells.  And you have the last group, the reformers. The reformers are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They did not bow down. This is how it is recorded in Daniel 3:12 — “But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The convictions, the beliefs and the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provided their enemy (and  coworkers) with an opportunity to accuse the four men of sedition, disloyalty, subversion and treason. The informers go to work doing what informers do:  they phrase their remarks in such a manner as to work King Nebuchadnezzar into the greatest possible rage and agitation. “Furious with rage” is what we are told.  Nebuchadnezzar brought the three young men before him and probed them for a confession. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Daniel 3:14

No reply is recorded, but there must have been one. They must have told the king that what he had been told about them was correct.

Nebuchadnezzar offered to give them another chance.

Here in this story lies a problem that confronts every follower of the One True God: when the requirements of serving God come into conflict with the demands of a secular world—to whom do you bow down to?

Are you in this story, yet? Put yourself in Babylon, standing in front of the King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not go to seek more time or to get a professional lawyer’s advice. These young men did not rationalize their options.  They did not try to justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. They simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

What is the king’s reply?  But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Daniel 3:15

These words written in Daniel 3:16-18 are some of the most memorable verses in the Old Testament.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18

What in the world? Are you with me? Are you right here in this story? You are standing before the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar with your BFF’s. Here’s a great idea to ponder: What gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the conviction and the faith they needed to remain loyal to? Here’s my answer.  I believe that they knew that the God whom they worshiped and served was sovereign.  They knew their Scriptures and they were not going to worship any false idols.  They were willing to die for their faith.  These three were faithful!

When we read the rest of the story, Nebuchadnezzar is furious with rage; he has his soldiers light the fire in the furnace seven times hotter! Then orders the three men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  The furnace is so hot that the soldiers who bound the 3 men together and threw them into the furnace are killed by the intensity and searing heat of the fire. Are you in this story? This is one red, hot fire.

What happens next is miraculous! In the middle of the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar sees not three men, but four. He knows he threw three men into the furnace but now—he sees four in furnace.

Who is the fourth man?

Is this the pre-incarnate Christ?  Is this “GOD WITH US”?

Nebuchadnezzar is astonished and calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the fiery furnace.  They come out unharmed, no smell of smoke or fire and not a hair is singed.  ARE YOU STILL WITH ME IN THIS STORY ?

These three were fearless and faithful and because they were fearless and faithful, they were fruitful.

Nebuchadnezzar now expresses a profound truth by saying — “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28

This past week I celebrated my 23rd year of ordained ministry. I have served four churches during those 23 years. I have faced elder boards and church kings and queens who would have preferred I had a softer world view of loving Jesus. If only I’d bow just a little bit, I would fit in better with the people and my approval ratings could soar. There was only one problem here for me: I gave up everything in order to follow Jesus. Conform. Inform. Reform. Transform. What would I choose?

What will you choose? Who will you choose when it’s your turn in the fire?

I want to be able to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

That’s my prayer for each one of us. I want you to be faithful. I want you to know that no matter what fiery furnace you face being thrown into, there’s a fourth man in the fire! His name is Jesus Christ. He is KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. He’s beaten that fiery furnace. He has also defeated hell, death and the grave.  He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of GOD ALMIGHTY. And it is Jesus who will help you to become faithful, fearless, and fruitful.

A long time ago, and I mean a long time ago, it was so long ago that it was during the days I had turned my back on Jesus. I was rambunctious. And I became a part of plan to tell a small fib to the police.  Do you hear me? It was innocent enough. I was at home with my wife but my friend had outrun the police for speeding and somehow ended up at my house. If my friend confessed, he would lose his license. I did what any friend would do. I went to the police station and said it was me. I thought they’d give me the ticket and let me go. Nope. They threw the book at me: evading the police, disturbing the peace and finally lying to the police. Let me tell  you something, my wife was furious with me. She went down to bail me out, and the police interrogated her in a separate room and she sang like a bird! You see, Jac told the truth. She wasn’t going to lie for me. She told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fortunately for me, they let me go.  The next morning at 6 a.m. the phone rang. It was my Nana. Jac answered the phone and Nana said, “Put David on the phone.” Nana loved Jesus. Nana had raised me. I explained what had happened. (Nana had heard the morning police report!) I will never forget what she told me, “David, all you have is your name. Do not bow to this world. Under zero circumstances, do not bow to this world.” She hung up on me. Listen, I didn’t know it at the time but I know it now. Jesus was the fourth man in that fire. I began to live for Christ again and I’ve not ever bowed to any other God. There isn’t a church that can make me retract my love for God. There’s not an elder board that make me go backwards with fear instead of forward in faith. Like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me.”

Are you in the fire today? Look around. There’s a champion in there with you. The Lord Jesus Christ is a firefighter like no other. It may get hot but not a hair on you will be singed. Keep your eyes on the one, true God.

I’m praying for you!

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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

Weekly Seed of Faiht 2/12/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,

This is my prayer for you as we travel through some of the big, bible stories together. I pray you remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit emboldens you to remain fearless and I pray that you plant all the seeds you can and that those seeds grow each season.

Do you believe these three words: GOD WITH US? or even GOD WITH ME?

How do these three words affect your life? How could these three words affect your life? 

Over the next few weeks, we will spend time together in the Old Testament book of Daniel.  Today we jump into the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and then we find our ourselves in the lion’s den with Daniel.
Get ready! This is going to be a great series to put yourself into the story! Maybe you already feel like you’re there, living the story! Maybe it feels like you have been in a fiery furnace this past year or maybe you’ve found yourself in the lion’s den with this worldwide pandemic.

The GOOD NEWS is found in these three, small, but mighty, words:

GOD WITH US.

GOD WITH ME.

Let’s set the stage for the next two weeks as we study Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel:

Babylon is the ruling power in the days of Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar is the King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar has already attacked the southern kingdom of Judah three times, beginning in 605 B.C. The second invasion occurred in 597 B.C. when Jehoiakim, son of the king of Judah mentioned in Daniel 1:1–2, was compelled to surrender Jerusalem and go into captivity with many of the Jewish leaders, including the royal family, the commanders of the army, craftsmen, and some of the priests like Ezekiel. The third invasion is the one I remember the most. It took place in 586B.C. when Jerusalem was completely destroyed, and the people of the land were deported to Babylon. A side note of interest is that the prophet Jeremiah was in Jerusalem at the time of this final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Daniel and his three friends were taken in the first deportation of the people of Judah under King Jehoiakim.  All four of these young men came from noble or royal descent and were teenagers when taken into captivity. All four had been given Jewish names that reflected their families’ faith and their God: Daniel and Mishael both end in “el’ which is the plural for “Elohim.” Daniel means — “God is my Judge,” Mishael means, “Who is like God?” The names of the other two, Hananiah and Azariah, both contain a shortened form of the name Jehovah. Hananiah means “Jehovah is Gracious” while Azariah means “Jehovah is my Helper”. The very names of these men were reminders of their heritage and a challenge for them to remain faithful to the Lord. But now, they were deported into a strange, pagan land, and their names were changed. Add insult to injury because their new names contain a reference to one of the false gods of the ancient Babylonians:  Marduk, Aku and Nego. Daniel wan renamed Belteshazzar, which means “Guard my life,”  it was a prayer to Marduk, one of the Babylonian pagan gods.  By changing their Jewish names to Babylonian names, this was a way of saying that these four, young men who had been servants of the Jewish God, were now servants and worshipers of the gods of the pagan pantheon. How would you like to be renamed by a pagan system, after a false god?

I want to emphasize something here, and it’s a good “SO WHAT?” for us. The change of their names accomplished nothing.
You see, King Nebuchadnezzar had changed the men’s names, but he could not change their hearts. What does this mean for you and me? No matter we are going through, no matter how tough life is–no one can change your heart without your permission. Remember this.

The four men remained faithful to the true God of Israel.

Will we be faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? When life gets burning hot, will I remain faithful? (Write that down.  Think about that!)

As we begin this story, I want you to place yourself into what’s going on. We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Babylon. Nothing is the same, nothing is familiar anymore; they have even changed our names to honor their gods. 

Can you relate? A year ago, things were pretty normal but not for long. Covid 19 hit us and so did masks, gloves and the rush on paper products! Life has not been normal. Life has been anything but normal this past year. And, yet, can we be more like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Can we remain faithful to God? 

GOD WITH US!

GOD WITH ME.

When Daniel and his three friends were taken captive to a foreign land and given different names did God make a mistake?  Did God forsake them?  As we are all faced with a world-wide pandemic, does God not know what is happening?  Has God forgotten us?

Has your faith begun to fail?  Go ahead and read this story. Put yourself right there into Babylon. And answer this question:

To whom or to what do I bow?

As you read, remember this:  These young men did not sit down and rationalize our their options.  They did not justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. These young men simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

So What?
I am reminded of the great theologian and church reformer, Martin Luther, when he was on trial at the Diet of Worms. Luther was told by his authorities to recant his convictions, and to recant the 95 questions on the door of the Wittenberg Castle. Listen to Luther’s reply as his very life was at stake: “Here I stand.  I can do no other. May God help me.”

I have a long homework project for you to do this week. Read the following question. Pray about it. Think about it. You can even discuss it with people you love. Here’s the question:

What are my convictions? (Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.)

And now a final “So What?” homework question: which of the above convictions are worth the fiery furnace to you?

“HERE I STAND. I CAN DO NO OTHER. May God be with me.” Isn’t it just another way of saying, “GOD WITH US” or “GOD WITH ME”? 

As I close, the past few weeks have been pretty intense for my wife and I. Caring for Dad in our home has many challenges. Remember the recent MOHS surgery I had on my nose and shoulder? I’m sensitive to the stitches, the gauze, the tape that were used. I have four, dissolvable stitches in my shoulder and it’s going to take 3-4 months for them to dissolve. My entire left side of my shoulder is aflame. I’ve not been taken into captivity by any means but let’s just say, “I get Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And, I’m not bowing down to anything or anyone except the one, true God.” 

Are you there? Are you with me? 

Next week we conclude the fiery furnace and move into the lions’ den. Oh, man! I can hardly wait!

Spoiler alert for next week: there’s a fourth man in the fire and there’s another in your fiery furnace, too.

GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I! 

Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Join us for worship on Sunday at 10am Pacific.  The link for the live interactive worship is:

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

if you miss the 10am worship on Sunday you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the complete worship service or just the children’s message for your children or the weekly sermon.

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 2/5/21

Seed of Faith – Light In A Dark World   By Pastor Dave  

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Dear Faithful, Fearless and Fruitful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that as each one of us walks through this world-wide pandemic that we will be the salt and the light of Christ to our dark world.  May we keep our eyes on Jesus and may His light shine through us.

Last week we looked at being the salt of the earth.  This week let’s take a few minutes and reflect on the call to be the light of the world.  We need to light our lamps of love, joy, faith, mercy, peace and grace into the world we live in.

Last week I challenged you to consider the kind of foundation you are building upon.  Are you a wise-builder or a foolish-builder?  Are you going to build on sinking sand or on the ROCK of Christ?  As I have been reading this week, I came across this great illustration about building on the ROCK and letting your light shine:

Eleven miles off the east coast of Scotland, in the North Sea, stands the Bell Rock Lighthouse. It has endured the ferocious onslaught of the North Sea’s violent storms since 1811. It rests upon less than one acre of solid rock. The small reef is covered by seawater 20 hours of every 24. The builder of the lighthouse, Robert Stevenson, and his band of 65 skilled artisans, had only four hours each day to chink away the stone and gouge a foundation in the rock. As a result of this painstakingly patient work, the 115-foot-tall lighthouse is still in use today–200 years later. There are usually great costs in digging a deep, Christ-like foundation.  Do it anyway. Your legacy will outlast you if you do!

In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.” Farahat later told a reporter: “I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told the garbage man that I saw Christ in him. I told him, ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.'”  Farahat studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Two years later he visited the garbage man’s village outside Cairo, where between 15,000 and 30,000 people were living in poverty and squalor. There was no electricity or running water. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling were pervasive. Men, women, and children sifted through huge mountains of garbage, looking for something of value that could be sold for cash or traded for food. Farahat found himself reflecting on the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also remembered the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:13, “We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things.” It was soon thereafter that Farahat and his wife began ministering to people’s spiritual and material needs. They preached the gospel throughout Egypt, and thousands of people turned to Christ.  In 1978, Farahat was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and became known as Father Sama’an. Now, about 10,000 believers meet in a large cave outside the garbage village. It is the largest church of believers in the Middle East. In May of 2005, a day of prayer was held for Muslims to turn to Christ. More than 20,000 Arab Christians gathered. The event was also broadcast on a Christian satellite TV network, where millions were watching. All this, because one garbage man chose to humbly return a watch that would have made him the richest man in town.[i]

Wherever you are, whoever you are–you can be the light of Christ. Build deeply into the foundation of Christ. Let Christ’s light shine in you. Go love others.

SO WHAT?
Jesus is on the mountaintop teaching us how to improve our lives.

·         You are the salt of the earth. 

·         You are the light of the world.

Do you come to church to worship the living God?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to RUB the love of God into your heart each Sunday?  Do we let our daily devotionals and weekly Bible Studies season our lives so that we are ready to flavor our part of the world—our home, work places, schools, neighborhoods and church?  If we had an ingredient list—how far down would the Jesus-factor be?

Jesus was onto something at the mountaintop.  From His viewpoint, he saw a decaying world.  What about you? Will you do whatever it takes to be the salt and light of your world? Remember Robert Stevenson only had four hours each day to gouge a foundation into solid rock but that lighthouse is still in use–200 years later.

The work you do in your lifetime has the opportunity to outlive you. 

When the waves of the world are crashing all around you, you can stand safely and securely in the midst of the storm.  Why? Because you have built your foundation upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 5: And the light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it. The BELL ROCK lighthouse has safely guided the seas for over 200 years. Why? Its foundation is embedded deeply into the rock it rests upon. May the same be said of you and 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 1/22/21

Seed of Faith – Salt Of The Earth   By Pastor Dave  
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

Dear Seed-Sowers,
I hope and pray that you are all well, safe, healthy and growing in grace. I have been rereading Matthew 5 this week and reflecting on Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” Wow!  There is so much meat in chapters 5-7 of Matthew. (Perhaps a challenge for you to read these chapters for a week?) In the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that we are to be poor in spirit, called to be merciful and meek, called to hunger and thirst for righteousness in order that we may be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  In essence, what Jesus is telling the people gathered on that mountainside is that they are to not to just sit around listening about HOW to be a Christian, they are to go out and BE a Christian.  Jesus clearly states the purpose of the Christian life — to be salt and light in our world!

SO WHAT? ABOUT “salt”?

SALT: PRESERVATIVE and FLAVOR
In the days of Jesus, and for many centuries thereafter, salt was the most common preservative used.  There were no refrigerators, no deep-freezers in ancient times. Salt was used to keep things from going bad and becoming rotten, particularly meat.  When Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot” Jesus was telling His disciples that they were called to be the preserving agents to a decaying world.

The simple principle is that you and I are called to be a preserving force in the world–wherever we are called to live, work, and play.

Think of it this way — salt that never leaves the shelf will do no good in preserving anything.  To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat.  Have you gone into the grocery store and looked at all of the “rubs” they have for seasoning these days?  In the same way, we  must allow God to use us as flavorful seasoning in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, families, and churches.  A small amount of love and kindness goes a long way in making our world a better place.

The other day I went to the grocery store to do some shopping. I went to buy juice, and I came across an insight on flavoring. I was holding a bottle of Blueberry Pomegranate Juice.  There was a picture of a ripe pomegranate spilling its exotic, glistening seeds onto mounds of fat, perfect blueberries.  I read the ingredient list: “Filtered water, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate.” Where was the blueberry? Where was the pomegranate? Finally I found them, fifth and seventh in a list of nine ingredients. By law, food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. Meaning a product contains the greatest proportion of the first ingredient on the list and successively less of those farther down the list. According to the jug in my hand, it contained mostly water—a few other juices, with just enough blueberry and pomegranate for flavor and color. In the bottom corner of the front label in small, easy-to-miss type, were the tell-tale words: “Flavored juice blend with other natural ingredients.” The enticing picture and clever labeling were decoys to sell a diluted, blueberry-pomegranate flavored product convincingly disguised to look like something it wasn’t. I put the juice back on the shelf.  I chose the juice that was more costly—because it had more of what I was looking for.

SO WHAT? THINK ABOUT THIS:  What if we had an ingredients list printed on us?

Would Jesus be the main ingredient? If not, how far down the list would He be? Would our “label” accurately represent our contents? Or would we falsely project a misleading outward-appearance that cleverly masked our diluted ingredients? This made me think, our outside packaging may look convincing. We may look and sound like the real thing but what if someone came looking specifically for Jesus and found something else?

More than a hundred years ago, the atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche reproached a group of Christians.  Nietzsche said: “Yuck, you make me sick!” When their spokesman asked why, he answered, “because you redeemed don’t look like you are redeemed.  You are as fearful, guilt-ridden, anxious confused, and adrift in an alien environment as I am.  I am allowed.  I don’t believe. I have nothing to hope for.  But you people claim you have a Savior.  Why don’t you look like you are saved?”[ii]

Friends, it is our calling as Christians to be the salt of the earth.  We are called to bring love, joy, peace, hope, mercy, kindness, and grace into our families, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches and wherever we go. I think about the people who are serving us in the drive up. I can’t tell you how many times I pull away without something I ordered and paid for. The other day my 89 year old father-in-law taught me a life lesson. The drive up forgot his honey mustard sauce for his chicken nuggets.  We were going to go park and take in the majestic beauty of the San Gabriel mountains while we ate our drive through. No honey mustard? Dad said to me, “It’s okay. The mountains are still beautiful.”

I’m trying to say, be the light and the salt of Christ in a world that’s missing the honey mustard sauce!

As you read the living word of God, I’m praying it becomes a great seasoning salt that’s rubbed deeply into your being.  I’m praying that you are conformed, and transformed by what you read in your Bible. It’s a new year–pick a book (there are 66 of them) and read a paragraph, or a chapter a day. This week: be the salt of the earth. Lord knows, the world needs us!

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

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

Weekly Seed of Faith 1/16/21

Seed of Faith – God With Us  By Pastor Dave  

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Dear Faithful and Fearless Seed Sowers,

At The Seed it is our hope and prayer that you come to know the love of God, grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and go into our world sowing seeds of faith. The SEED wants you to SOW SEEDS OF FAITH in your world.

Know God’s Love!
Grow in Christ’s Grace!
Go in Power of the Holy Spirit!

We sit at the brink of a New Year. The canvas of this year is mostly clean (except for a few weeks). Can we allow the Holy Spirit to help us go in His power to sow seeds of faith, hope, mercy, grace, and love? And, if so, what does that plan look like for each one of us?

January 17th marks the 23rd year of my ordination into full-time ministry. My goal from the very beginning was to serve our mighty God in full-time ministry for at least 25 years. I went into seminary at the ripe, old age of 40 (like Moses)! When people would ask me why I made that career change, I would answer that I had 25 good years left in me! You see, I was a Good Year tire dealer, and the choice was to dream God’s dream or play it safe and sell tires for the next 25 years. I’m so glad God placed that giant-sized burden of ministry onto my shoulders way back in 1994. My prayer as I begin my 24th year of ordained ministry serving in a church is that God will lead me all the way. I want to finish these 25 years of ministry STRONG! I want to press on and reach the goal. I don’t want to slow down and coast past the finish line. God gave me a plan and I’m in it to win it. How about you? Perhaps you are 40 years old and you are being called into a brand, new career, too? My only advice for you:  read your living WORD, pray and obey.

And so, for the 23rd year I have been doing just that. I’ve been opening my Living Word, praying and seeking God’s heart on what my 2021 preaching schedule could look like. I’m always open to the Holy Spirit changing my plan but, as of yet, God’s plans have worked! And so, at the end of December, I sat down and spent time seeking God’s voice for The Seed.  “What do you want me to preach on in 2021?” To be boldly honest with you, I am extremely excited to begin a New Year and a new sermon series: “God With Us.”

All during Advent, the Holy Spirit put it on my heart, “Dave, with all the world has been going through, stop and reflect on the three little words of Christmas:  “God With Us.”   Isaiah* 7:14 — “Therefore the Lord himself will give you (this pronoun is plural it include you and me) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God With Us.)  *Just a quick invitation — I am teaching the book of Isaiah on Wednesday nights in our Get-A-Life group.  We are doing this study by ZOOM at the present time.  If you would like to join our study, send me an email at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will send you a ZOOM invite. (We begin at 6:30 pm Pacific Time; believe it or not, we have people from the east coast who join us.)

This Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel showed up to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Listen to how Matthew records this in Matthew 1:20-23:

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:20-23

Did you hear those three, little words?  GOD WITH US!   Three little words with big meaning. All wrapped up in one little Hebrew name, “Immanuel.”

Maybe a good “so what?” question before we dig into our message for this week is:

Do you believe those three little words — GOD WITH US? How do these three, little words affect your life? Is God with you?

Like everyone else I have been waiting and watching all that has been happening in our world in this world-wide pandemic and again I am watching with all the political upheaval. These days are tumultuous, turbulent, trying and terribly frightening.  There seems to be confusion in the chaos. Friends and family members are getting sick and some are dying.  Businesses are closed, schools are shutdown and moved to online, Even our churches closed and moved online. Relationships have been limited and stretched to the limits. Families have been isolated and quarantined from one another.  Many people are struggling with depression, doubt and despair.  Some are asking — “How Long — Lord?”   Fear, frustration and anxiety and anger seem to be the emotions that are being expressed by so many.

Do you believe those three, little words — GOD WITH US?

How do these three, little words affect and impact your life?

There is a story told of two missionaries who were captured and imprisoned in the same cell but forbidden to speak to each other. Christmas came. One of the missionaries, shivering and silent, sat on the floor covered with hay. As he was playing with bits of hay around him, he thought that he discovered a silent way of communicating with his friend. He spelled out the word Immanuel. As soon as his friend saw the word, immediately he lit up with joy. They were captives, but they both believed that God was with them and that ultimate triumph would be theirs.[i]

Listen, if you are all alone: the SEED has spelled out for you in the straw of life: IMMANUEL! GOD IS WITH YOU!

So What?
Over the next few months as we make our way to Easter, I am going to share some of the famous stories in the Bible, stories where God showed up despite dark, dismal days.  God was with Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in a fiery furnace. God was with Daniel in a lion’s den.  God was with David when
he faced a giant named Goliath. God was with Elijah when he was confronted by hundreds of prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. God was Elisha when he raised the dead son of the Shunamite and filled the widow’s olive oil jar to overflowing. God was with Jonah in the belly of the big fish. God was with Samson, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the prophets. The entire bible is filled with stories that beat the odds.  God has not left us! GOD IS WITH US!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

This is my prayer for us as we journey through 2021.  No matter what, I want you to know that GOD IS WITH YOU. He’s with you whether you have small children and are losing your mind being encapsulated! God is with you whether you are sick and need medical care. God is with you even if you are all alone and feel as though you are dying of loneliness.

GOD WITH US.  SAY IT OUT LOUD. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS HARD: GOD WITH ME. SAY IT WHEN LIFE IS GOOD: GOD WITH ME. PRAY IT OVER YOUR FAMILY WHEN THEY ARE STRUGGLING:  GOD WITH US.

Every day my wife and I care for Dad in our home. Andy celebrates his 89th birthday on MLK Jr Day! He’s ordered a prime rib, corn and baked potato dinner cooked at home. Jac’s been busy getting cards from people who know Dad. We will hang up the HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign and put 89 on top of his chocolate cake. You see, Dad suffers from end stage Alzheimer’s and the past few months have take a toll on his mind and body but not his spirit. Every night as Dad and I head down the hallway to his bedroom, Dad tells me, “Talk about forgiveness, Dave. No baggage.” Dad is aware that I preach on Sundays and record messages for the radio and you tube. After 23 years of ordained ministry, I pray I never forget: GOD WITH US. I AM FORGIVEN. NO BAGGAGE. Amen.

It’s not about our power, it’s about GOD’S POWER at work IN us. There.  Do you see it?

GOD WITH US. 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.