Friday, March 29, 2013

Rejoice and Be Glad

"The stone which the builder rejected has become the chief corner stone.
This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Psalm 118:22-24

We often use the second half of this passage to rejoice in the wonderful days the Lord has given us.  But today I want to use it in the context it was given - this is a good thing, friends.

The day the Lord has made is the day the stone was rejected.  

The day we are commanded to rejoice and be glad in is the day the stone was marred beyond recognition.

It is a difficult day because it forces us to examine our own lives against the stone.  It requires us to go beyond the what and reach into the why.  We have to take ownership in its rejection but don't miss out on the great truth that lies in between the rejection and the rejoicing - this is the Lord's doing - it is marvelous in our eyes.

God is not a reactionary God.  I used to believe that when Adam and Eve sinned, God had to come up with another plan but this is far from the truth.  It was His plan all along.  When  He chose us before the foundations of the world to be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4), the plan was already in place.  Just as the Lord urges us to count the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:27-29), He counted the cost before He ever said, "Let there be light."  

And this day, planned in eternity past, was a day of glory.  Jesus knew exactly what would be accomplished on this day and even the Father declared it out loud just days before His death:

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.  If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, Father, save Me from this hour?  But for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Your name.

Then a voice came out of heaven:
I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him."  Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.  Now judgment is upon this world and the ruler of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

John 12:23-32

This day glorifies Jesus. It sets Him apart.  It raises Him high.  It reveals the character and heart of God Himself:  
He is just 
He is righteous
He is committed
He is unstoppable
He is worthy  
He is compassionate  
He is sacrificial  
He is strong
He is able
He is holy  
He is love
He is in control
He is not like me at all
He is Lord 

Yes, dear friends, the day of the cross is the day that the Lord has made - we have no other response than rejoicing and gladness!  For on this day the Lord Himself bore the eternal punishment for our sin and tore the veil, restoring access to His Father and securing our future.  We no longer live in the darkness as an enemy of God, but rather, because of His sacrifice, we cry out, Abba, Father!  We have been reconciled, justified, redeemed, sanctified and glorified - all on one glorious, God-given day!

This truly is the Lord's doing and it is a marvelous thing.

Friday, March 15, 2013


This is my brilliant 9 month old granddaughter, Emma, reading to her father.  She started doing this recently and with the dramatic voices and inflections she uses, he is enraptured with her through a whole book!  Actually, this is a precious moment caught on camera, showing a father's devotion to his precious daughter...I love this pic!

Okay, back to work.  I have some business to discuss with you.  We have a big day coming over at Harvest Spring Lake and I'd love for all of you to be a part of it.  On Good Friday, starting at 10 a.m. we will be re-installing the cross at our new facility.  For those of you who don't know the story, you need to come over between 10 and 2 on Good Friday and see the video we've made, explaining our history with the cross and the actual building.  Don't worry, it's all about Jesus - but the story is too long to share on a blog!  Along with the video, tour the building and see what God has done in the center of Spring Lake!

Then on Good Friday evening, we are having 2 services - 6 and 8 p.m. to remember the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The services are entitled, They Didn't Know, and we'll be looking at some of the people who surrounded the crucifixion and their response to the death of Jesus.

Then on Easter Sunday, we will have two services to celebrate Jesus' resurrection, at 9 and 11 a.m.  I'd love to have all of you come and worship with us at our grand opening on a Grand Day!  Our services will focus on Day Three - praise the Lord that we know what happened on Day Three - for those of you who know Jesus, you understand how Day Three changed everything!

And for those of you who can't join us, no matter where you worship on that weekend, may your thoughts and praises be lifted high.  May your heart be stirred with joy at the wonder of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection.  It's a day I always look forward to each year and it's a truth that empowers my life every day of the year.  

Jesus in my place. 

The gospel changes lives.

Hope to see you all on Good Friday - look for me.  I'll be the one with the huge smile!

Monday, March 4, 2013

To Boast or Not To Boast?

Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, 
and let not the mighty man boast of his might, 
let not a rich an boast of his riches; 
but let him who boasts boast of this, 
that he understands and knows Me, 
that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, 
justice and righteousness on earth; 
for I delight in these things," 
declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23,24

We live in a very prideful nation.  In our short history we have had a lot to boast about - American accomplishment and pride flows through our veins.  We are given the opportunity to be all that we can be here in America.  Our military is the strongest and the best.  Our athletes are worshipped by the world.  We even tell our musicians that they can become American idols.  We lead the world in technology and medical advancements and the world teeters on the movement of our trade market.  We're natural born leaders and we've risen to the call.

But what does God have to say about all our accomplishments?

I used to be irritated when movie stars or athletes thanked God in their acceptance speeches.  I wondered why they would point to the air when they didn't even know the God they were thanking.  But even in their ignorance, they were at least alluding to some sort of divine intervention in their success.

Here's the deal, friends - as believers in Jesus Christ we have a lot to boast about - we know God.  We know Him intimately - we know His thoughts, His love and His wisdom.  We know His works and can give Him the glory when one of His image bearers breaks a record or sings like a star.  When buildings rise or markets double, we know Who is in control.  We also know who sits on the throne when those same markets fall and rain is no where in sight.  We know Him.

And here's why we boast - because He has made Himself known to us and He is wonderful. He has revealed Himself in His creation, in His Word and most importantly, in His Son.  The fact that He has done such great things makes all other works pale.

As we prepare to move into our new facility, Harvest family, we have nothing to boast about within ourselves - the beautiful colors, the new systems, the landscaping, the furniture - it's all His.  As visitors walk through the church, let us be sure to point them all to the One who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness.  Without Him, this would just be a pile of bricks destined for the furnace.  But filled with the children of God, it becomes a place for His glory to dwell, a place for His praises to be lifted and a place where His truth will be lifted high.  It becomes a place where Jesus Christ is worshipped and lives are forever impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit.  A place where the worship and boasting all belongs to Him.

So if we boast in the coming days, let us boast of the wonderful things our God is doing in our lives, in our church and in our community - in this God will delight.