Monthly Archives: March 2016

TESTIMONY OF A CHANGED LIFE

On Easter, Mike Frampus who grew up in Greentree and then drifted far from church and God, gave this testimony of God’s grace to save him. Mike has a history of significant problems with anxiety – so just standing before everyone to share his story was a wonderful work of God!

Good morning,

Dana called me a few weeks ago and asked me to come up here and give my testimony. She had prepared me beforehand and let me know that she would do that one day, so of course I said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I began to search online out-of-state job sites, because now that someone had asked me to get up and speak in front of the church, obviously it was time to pack up my family and move as far away as possible to begin anew somewhere else.

You see, I have something that I’m sure some of you know a little about….fear of man. Not only that, but Satan desires for me to be ineffective for God’s kingdom, and so I wanted to give 10,000 reasons why I could not do this.

But then I thought of Moses and Jonah and all the other sinful men that God used for his glory, and the only thing I could say in my heart was: “Here am I. Send me!” So I’m here this morning to give you a very brief glimpse into the power of God.

I grew up attending Greentree Church as a child and being in Sunday school. I was even baptized as a teenager right here behind me, which by the way was the last time that I ever fit into a tub. It wasn’t long, however, until I decided that I wanted to take control of my life and do things my way.

I began at an early age to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, and these things helped me to become more comfortable in a world where I felt as if I didn’t really belong anywhere. I began to believe whole-heartedly that every moment of every day was meant to be lived for my pleasure. So I ran hard after sin towards death until God was no longer even an afterthought.

Initially I was convicted in my heart as I did whatever I thought might bring me joy, but as I graduated to harder drugs I was able to quiet that voice inside a little more effectively. The more I tried to run the more broken I became.

My partying lifestyle began to affect every area of my life, as I began high school getting straight A’s only to struggle just to pass my senior year. I couldn’t wait to get out and really start living…or dying as it turns out.

I used heroin for the very first time when I was 17 years old. Although it was not necessarily love at first sight, in just a couple of short years I would be sticking a needle into my veins, and experienced a rapid downhill decline. I began committing crimes to support my heroin addiction, and I began to steal from the only ones in my life that cared about me.

I have experienced overdose, been through treatments, been to jail, I’ve been robbed and pistol-whipped, and I even sailed across an interstate highway and off the shoulder of the road at more than 75 mph. There have been literally thousands of times in my life where I could have easily died one way or another, and at times in my life I even wished for death.

But God, in His great love and mercy looked upon my helpless state…and led me to the cross. By His amazing grace I have not used drugs and alcohol for over ten years. I am now married to an awesome wife and have three wonderful children.

It is God who sustained me and continues to do so each day. He opened my blind eyes to see that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins and for any who would trust in Him. Through the blood of our precious Savior Jesus I have been brought from death to life and I have been made a new creation.

If, this morning you have a loved one that you’ve been praying for who you know is enslaved by this or any other sin, or perhaps it is you that are caught in this vicious cycle….cry out to the only one that saves. He is faithful.

JUST AS HE SAID

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said  Matthew 28:5-6

I think each of us needs this same reminder to take to heart what Jesus has “said”

Every word our Lord has spoke is precious and true. Yet how many words from his mouth have you forgotten?  What has Jesus already said, that would would minister to your heart today, but it has fallen from your attention?  And what has your Savior done that proves to you his goodness and faithful remembrance of you?

Give timto remember that Jesus always remembers you.

Reflect upon how he always fulfills what he has said. 

Thank him for the amazing display of what he has already manifested to you out of his love and mercy. 

Do you embrace the title of “believer”? Then live in expectation that Christ has spoken wonderful truths about his purposes for you today, and that he always does what he says!


EASTER LEFTOVERS 3.28.16

Is Jesus alive? It really does matter

 

I Corinthians 15:14-19

We all want to fill our life with what really matters. You may have nothing against Easter, but you wonder – does it really matter?

 

Many people think Jesus’ resurrection is an empty myth

The Bible itself describes the implications if that is true

If Easter is not true, Christianity calls itself empty and foolish

v14 our preaching would be empty: it is meaningless to be here talking about a myth

v14 our faith would be empty: it is foolish to trust in Jesus to give life if he is lifeless

v15 we would be misrepresenting God, by making up what he has done

The entire weight of Christianity rests on whether or not Easter is true

 

There is An Even Bigger Implication About Easter

v17 “If Christ has not been raised . . you are still in your sins”

We are all sinners! We know it’s true, but we cover it over

We tell ourselves, ‘I’m not as bad as other people’. But you are still a sinner

Or we think, ‘I have done more good stuff than bad’. But you are still a sinner

God is perfect and this has a couple unavoidable implications

(1) He will not allow sin to enter and ruin heaven

(2) He must judge all sin – and we are all sinners!

Human religions respond: “You must do certain things to get rid of guilt”

They place the weight of our eternity on our being faithful enough to earn forgiveness

This may appeal to our pride but it doesn’t change reality: no religious activity or good works can undo that “we are still in our sin”

Christianity is totally different, it declares God did it all

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)

We cannot undo our sin, so God came to us to remove the guilt of our sin

Jesus died and was raised for one purpose – to save sinners

If Easter is false, then no one has solved our sin problem

We cannot save ourselves, so if Jesus was not raised, we have no hope

 

The Importance of Easter Is In What It Proves

1. Jesus’ resurrection proves he was not just a man

The Bible says, Jesus was declared Son of God by the resurrection from dead (Romans 1:4)

Some have lived after people thought they had died, but no one has raised themselves out of the grave

2. Jesus’ resurrection proves the purpose of his death was accomplished

Death is God’s penalty for sin and Jesus died to pay for that penalty

Jesus’ resurrection shows us there is no penalty left on the sins he died for

 

How Can We Know If Jesus Really Is Alive?

Jesus’ death was very public so was his resurrection

Over centuries many who tried to disprove it, ended up believing

The great proof God gives is strong, because it comes from the inside

No matter how strongly verified, a proof can be ignored

But Christ proves himself by what he does in us

Let God prove himself to you by what he wants to do in you

How do we receive from Jesus the life he gives?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9)

“Confess” – that you are a sinner who needs Christ

“Believe” – in who Jesus is and what he has done

 

Is Jesus Dead or Alive?

It really does matter, for your eternity and in your life now

Your sin can be forgiven – totally and forever!

Your trust will be in Jesus who is alive and able to help!

Your life will have purpose, because Jesus controls our eternity

It really does matter how we respond to Jesus today

Is he at work in your heart right now? Don’t push him off

Do you want to believe? Ask him to give you faith

WHAT HAPPENED BEHIND THE STONE?

“Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking (Jesus) down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”  Mark 15:46

When that large stone sealed off Jesus tomb, it added a sense of finality to his death.  For those who loved Jesus, he was gone!  For those who followed him, it appeared that his ministry and their hope was now over.

What had Jesus’ disciples done while Jesus was taken from them?  Not much.  After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed “at a distance” and then denied knowing him.  The women who ministered to Jesus, watched the crucifixion “at a distance”.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who belonged to the council that condemned Jesus could not stop what took place.  Afterward Joseph gave Jesus a proper burial, as some might say, it was too little too late.

Jesus’ followers meant well, and a few tried to do something, but they could not stop those events.  I think we can relate to them.  It does not take much to reveal the true extent of our limitations.  Even our best efforts don’t look like much and at times we wonder if our lives actually make a difference.

It is true that God always expects us to respond to each situation in a way that honors him; but God never expects us to be the answer or the solution.  

What needed to take place behind the stone that closed Jesus’ tomb was all of God.  Mankind had absolutely nothing to do with these great events God was accomplishing. 

What a relief!  Jesus disciples did not have to come through in the end, and they did not have to figure out how to make it work.  That was God’s job.

Behind that stone where Jesus body lay in death, God was still being perfect, God was completely in charge. He was still glorious and almighty! 

For behind that stone, sin – Satan – and death would suffer an eternal defeat.  Behind that stone, the hope for humanity came to life.  What took place behind that stone was beyond human reason, beyond our experience and beyond any expectation.

Yet for all the wonder of that moment, God was not being more of what He had always been.  He is perfect, glorious and almighty at all times. 

If you are in Christ, He is always being glorious with you, for you are forever saved. He is always being perfect toward you, for he loves you in the same measure that he loves Christ.  And God’s plan is always prevailing for you, for the day keeps drawing nearer when you will be glorified.

Now that the stone has been rolled away giving us an open display of God’s glory, how does it affect the way we live?  Do we live wholly dependent upon Christ? 

We answer that question by looking to see if there are any areas in which we are still trying to be in charge. If there are, then we are not wholly dependent on Him.

Do we live trusting that Christ has accomplished everything we need?  He will not accomplish everything we want, because that would diminish his always being perfect toward us; since much of what we want is not best. 

How do we know if we are trusting that God has accomplished all we need?  The answer is in our contentment when God does not do what we want.  If we are not content with God’s way of responding, then we really don’t trust that He is accomplishing everything we need.

Let us be freshly committed to live as if God really did know what He was doing behind that stone – and everywhere else.

WHY IT’S NOT REALLY A BIG SACRIFICE

Jesus described the “Greatest Commandment” in these words:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

This idea of ‘Great Commandment living’ at first glance seems so sacrificial.

The thought of everything in life being about God seems overboard to some Christians (and all non-Christians).

 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”  Matthew 6:33

You may be fearful in ways you cannot even define when you are asked to submit to Christ in all things.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”  Matthew 11:29

The call to make everything about Christ seems to be hard, and demand so much. In our minds, we think how could we make such a sacrifice?

The answer is found in understanding the full truth of Great Commandment Living

How can we call our part – even when it is everything – a great sacrifice when we look at what eternity holds for us! We are made whole. All things will be at rest. Our experience will be glory beyond human contemplation. We will live in a perfect loving relationship with God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit

How can we begrudge God the temporary sacrifices we will make when we see the unimaginable sacrifice which Christ made just to join himself to humanity forever. Add to that the sacrifice on the cross to take our guilt and God’s wrath. It is true foolishness to carry on about sacrifice when we live in the shadow of the cross!

How can we complain or hesitate about giving God our all, when He has given grace beyond measure to us?

Why would we hold back from submitting completely to God when we see on full display around us, the pain, sorrow and brokenness of life that is not yielded to God? We have experienced that God is good! Why do we hesitate to have more of that goodness and less of our emptiness? 

All hesitance and resistance to Great Commandment Living is based upon lies from the Deceiver and from our own sinful nature.

Are you a Christ follower? Then embrace the glorious fulfillment of following him whole-heartedly. If you do not think that sounds appealing – it is because you remain in ignorance about what it is like.

Yes, Christ does call for everything from us. And he has every right since he has done everything necessary to save us fully and forever.

Pour your heart out to Christ and experience his promise of life that is good.

For Jesus who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”, added “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

When Jesus declared, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”, also said, “and all these things will be added to you”

Today we can truly desire to surrender all to God, because it is His heart for us to feel that way.

Today we can truly love God more deeply and live accordingly, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us working toward that purpose.

Don’t get distracted by the thought that it is impossible to exercise Great Commandment living for the rest of your life. Instead think about how good it is to exercise Great Commandment living right now.

Right now is the only time you can live wholly for God.

LIGHTS WORK BEST AT NIGHT

It is a plain and obvious fact, that lights have the greatest affect when it is dark.

This is a physical truth; that is echoed as a spiritual reality. Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, 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 who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

God’s Word refers to us as being light in a world that is dark with ignorance, evil and sorrow. We are not only meant to grow through hard times, we are meant to be lights for the gospel in them.

Some of the most powerful moments I have witnessed have been believers shining in the dark places of life. Anyone can be hopeful, joyous and content in smooth sailing; storms show if these qualities have depth.

It is easy for people to rationalize away our testimony when they see nothing but prosperity around us. But it is much harder for people to forget our testimony when our life is swirling with troubles.

People understand troubles; they understand fearful and hard circumstances. What they will not understand is how we can have peace, joy and hope in the midst of them

However, if all we do in our difficulties is complain with the same intensity as those who don’t know Christ, what reason do people have to pay attention to our testimony?

We don’t have to be on top of the world, to be a light on a hill. Darkness is when people want a flashlight; so let them see that you have one inside you.

THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT SEEN HIM, YOU LOVE HIM

I Peter 1 8-9

 

by Debbie Huber

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).

It is easy to tell my husband that I love him. My love for him is deepened when I think about how much he loves me. Our confidence in our love for each other is partly based on what we SEE each other demonstrate every day. It is a wonderful thing to be confident in someone’s love for you.

We do not see God but through faith we have great confidence in His love for us by what is revealed to us by our salvation and through His word.

Through our salvation, we are forgiven, set free from condemnation, a new creation, and partakers in His glorious nature! What love God has for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Reminding ourselves about the truths of our salvation and being thankful every day for our salvation only increases our love for Jesus.

The more we love and treasure Christ and His salvation, the more we desire to be with Him and cheerfully serve Him. This love should result in an “inexpressible joy, full of glory” that cannot be described in human terms and is not related to our circumstances.

Our lives can demonstrate this supernatural joy to those around us. May we know this joy in all its fullness and may it be a testimony to the work of Christ.

DON’T CONFUSE KNOWLEDGE and MATURITY

What defines spiritual maturity?

Whatever your answer, it should be connected to having an accurate understanding of God and his character. However, maturity is not measured by the amount of theology we know, it flows out of how closely our character mirrors that of Christ.

My favorite passage to define biblical maturity is Ephesians 4:13

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

Paul is talking about the equipping of God’s people and he says the culmination is the “fullness” of Christ’s character.

This should be more than a subtle hint that we still have a lot of maturing ahead of us.

There are other passages which confirm character as the measurement of maturity:

Galatians 5:22-23 which describes the fruit of having the Holy Spirit working in us.

1 Corinthians 13 which tells us that even with knowledge, gifts and faith, we are “nothing” without love.

Keeping the emphasis of maturity on character is important because we are easily deceived into thinking that our increasing knowledge of biblical truths is a proof of our maturity.

Yes, increased understanding is an irreplaceable tool for maturity, but of itself it does not produce maturity.

Paul Tripp addresses this topic in his article entitled “Don’t Confuse Knowledge and Success with Maturity”

We are constantly surrounded with opportunities to exercise biblical character. Some of these are how we act when no one can see us. Others come when we decide how we will respond to what others are doing around us or to us.

Let’s look at all of these moments as opportunities for maturity which are pleasing to God and important for being used by Him.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.14.16

“Nothing compares to Christ”

 

Philippians 3:1-11

Paul makes three comparisons between true religion and the world

 

#1  Human Religion vs. True Worshipers (vs 2-3)

Paul comes in swinging against human religion; he has the Judiazers in mind, who taught you had to keep the Law to be saved

Paul uses a series of rapid-fire accusations (v2)

(1) They are “dogs” – i.e. feral dogs, which were dangerous and unclean predators

(2) They are “evildoers” – in contrast to the godliness they claim

(3) They are ‘mutilators’ – they emphasized outward appearances that had no spiritual benefit

True religion is then described in 3 contrasting statements (v3)

(1) It is Spirit-led

(2) It is Christ-exalting

(3) It takes no confidence in ourselves

Why, does Paul warn believers to “look out” for false religion?

Even trace amounts of human religion distort our thinking

Legalism affects how we think God looks at us: since we regularly fail, it leads to regularly feeling God is angry at us 

Human religion promotes self-determination: God becomes someone we go to when we think we need him, rather than recognizing we need him in everything!

To guard against distortion, we need to actively pursue true worship

v3 implies that true worshipers are seeking the Holy Spirit, exalting Christ and exposing self-centeredness

 

#2  What We Accomplish vs. What Christ Has Done (vs 4-8)

Paul approaches this comparison from a personal perspective

Human accomplishment impresses us and Paul boldly places himself as a prime example of this fact (vs 4-5)

There is nothing wrong with human achievement or being inspired by it

The problem is when we fail to see our accomplishments from a God-centered perspective

Human accomplishment encourages and inspires, but it cannot save or sustain us

All Paul accomplished became empty before the “surpassing worth” of Christ

Jesus is not impressive, he is transcendent!

In the light of Jesus’ glory, Paul counted his accomplishments as “loss” – i.e. as a liabilities

They had distracted Paul from his spiritual poverty

They were pride-inducing

They were false comforts of righteousness

 

#3  Christ vs. Everything Else (vs 8-11)

Paul takes the comparisons already made even further

To “gain” Christ, he will gladly lose “all things” and view them as “rubbish”

These are not empty words – Paul endured loss, persecution and much suffering

His point is not that we have to do without to become or be a good Christian

It is a serious question about Christ’s place against everything else

Unless we believe Christ’s “worth” is more than everything, we will hesitate to leave everything in his hands

If you have Christ, Paul tells what comes with that relationship

(1) We are “found in” Christ

We have a union with Christ that connects us with all that is glorious about him

There is no pursuit in life that can match a single gleam of his glories

(2) We can “know” Christ

This is more than know about – it’s relational depth

We can be like giddy school girls to meet a celebrity; then yawn about the open door to spend time with Jesus

(3) We are “becoming like” Christ

We are being transformed completely into his character

Does this inspire your heart?

AN AMAZING TESTIMONY OF FAITHFULNESS

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My book suggestion this month is a change of pace. Usually I am suggesting a title on Christian living; this month’s recommendation is biographical.

Franz Hasel, was a 40-year-old deeply committed Christian. The odd twist was that he was also a German soldier during World War Two.

A Thousand Shall Fall by Susi Hasel Mundy (his daughter) shares his truly amazing story.

There are many stunning points in this fascinating and encouraging true story of standing for Christ when evil surrounds you.

Franz Hasel not only never killed anyone, his side arm was a fake carved out of wood (he was in an engineering company, so he was not involved in shooting at enemy soldiers).

He only missed celebrating one Sabbath Day (he was an Adventist) during the entire war.

Since his company move ahead of the rest to work on bridges, he was able to warn Jews to hide.

Franz was hated, mocked and persecuted by other German soldiers and officers, yet God protected him throughout the war.

Franz served on the Eastern Front is areas like Stalingrad, so he experienced horrifying amounts of bloodshed, brutality and deprivation. However, what stands out most is the warmth of his love for God.

“A Thousand Shall Fall” will appeal to those interested in biographies, history, WWII, Christian living or inspiration!