We are excited to announce some new features to the blogsite. As more and more readers are viewing from foreign countries we have added the translate feature to the site. Our readers can also now choose to have the blog emailed to them, and they can search the blog by keywords on various topics. We hope that this makes the site more manageable for you. God Bless.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis' the Season of His Coming

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:6-7

It is no secret that my favorite time of year is Christmas. When I was a little kid my heart brimmed over with anticipation, eagerly awaiting the arrival of that glorious day. As a child, I was captivated by the various sights and sounds of the season: Christmas Muzak would fill the air outside the shops downtown, the giant snowflakes would light up the town square, mom would make a various assortment of cookies, Santa’s Shed would sit nestled on the Courthouse lawn, my dad and I would haul the Christmas tree from the attic and my sister and I would fight over who put the star on top. However, the true meaning of Christmas was lost on me, until I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. At that point the Christmas season took on a whole new wonder for me! It is the same “wonder” that captured the attention of the world 2000 years ago. The season that preceded Christ’s birth was marked by many wonderful attributes that characterized the times leading up to His coming. They are also reflective of the season that will precede the Lord’s return. So often when we think about the season of the Lord’s return, we choose to reference Matthew 24:6-8:

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Similarly, the days preceding Christ’s first coming were ones of severe oppression, heavy taxation, and intense moral failure. Nevertheless, the season was also marked by some other wonderful characteristics that are just as pertinent today as they were then.

It is a season marked by God’s favor towards His people:

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:26-28

It is a season of encouragement:

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”

Luke 1:29-30

The angel of the Lord encouraged Mary as he explained to her that the Messiah was going to come and God was going to use her in His divine plan.

It is a season of possibility:

“How will this be, “ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:34-37

It is a season of leaping and rejoicing:

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”
Luke 1:39-42

There was joy at the prospect of His coming!

It is a season of praise:

“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is His name.”

Luke 1:46-49

Finally, It is a season of expectation:

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Luke 2:4-5

The season was not lost on Mary and Joseph, because they were expecting Him to come! As we enjoy the signs of the season I wonder how many of you, as we see that day approaching, are expecting His coming. May your Christmas be filled with God’s favor, encouragement, possibility, leaping/rejoicing, praise and expectation!

Pastor Scott Burr

The Hard Truth

(Part 2)

“He said this while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

John 6:59-60

Jesus’ method of weeding out the “insincere” and the “religious” takes a new direction as He turns to the crowd and begins to teach. The crowd squirms in their seats as Jesus declares that those who do not eat His flesh and drink His blood have no life in them. He declares that He is the bread from Heaven, and whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. All of a sudden the celebratory atmosphere evaporated as the crowd became increasingly uncomfortable with Christ’s teaching. They began to grumble among themselves to which Jesus responded:

“Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

John 6:61-64

Following Jesus is easy when the truth is convenient for us. However, once it becomes hard to swallow, the depth of our commitment is revealed. The problem is that not all the truth that God desires for us to obtain is easy to accept:

“From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

John 6:66

This unwillingness to accept “hard truth” is why many “believers” walk away from their faith or at the least fail to embrace God’s fullness. It is ultimately why many refuse to embrace the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

John 16:13

The Holy Spirit’s job, like it or not, is to lead us into ALL truth. How we respond to that truth reveals and exposes the true motives of our heart. What “truth” are you unwilling to accept that is hindering your walk with God? Are you honestly willing to walk away from God because you don’t like what He has to say about forgiveness, bitterness, gossip, adultery, poor stewardship or marital issues? What truth will stop you from pursuing Him? Will you still stand firm, when everyone else walks away? As Jesus watched those who were unwilling to accept the “hard truth” walk away, He turned to the remaining disciples and said:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

John 6:67

It response Peter declared:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.”

John 6:68-69

True followers of Jesus Christ; do not abandon their faith when they don’t like what they hear! The truth may be hard to swallow sometimes, but they are the words of eternal life to all who will believe.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Hard Truth

Part 1

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the sea of Galilee (that is, the sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.”
John 6:1-2

The gathering of the multitudes on the far shore of the sea of Galilee set the stage for one of the greatest miracles found in scripture- the feeding of the five thousand. Because of it’s miraculous nature, it is remembered as a highlight of Jesus’ ministry. Thousands sat captivated by His teaching and were fed by His disciples after He had blessed the two fish and five loaves. However, as often as we have study this passage, we fail to remember the controversy that followed within hours of this amazing event:

“From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

John 6:66

Within 24 hours of the last morsels of food being collected, Jesus went from having a “crowd” of followers to a “handful” of disciples. After His encounter with the multitudes Jesus returned to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Realizing He was gone the people went in search for Him. Upon finding Him in Capernaum, Jesus told them:

“I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
John 6:26

It is here that Jesus begins to expose and weed out those people who are following Him from wrong motives. The first group that He identifies are those who followed Him simply to have their needs met. There were those who came looking for Him who were not as concerned about “seeing God” as they were about getting their next meal. The spiritual component of what took place the day before was lost on them. They only hungered after Him because they had a need. He told them:

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

John 6:27

After exposing the this crowd another group then emerges from among them. This group didn’t come seeking food, but rather they came in search of another miracle:

“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’ So they asked him, ‘What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

John 6:28-30

In other words, “If you don’t do anything ‘visible’ in my life, I won’t believe. I won’t follow you.” For these people, as long as God is answering their prayers, working supernaturally in their church services, and acknowledging their spiritual giftings…they are eager to follow. However, if that dries up, they are off to greener pastures. Jesus described them in John 4:48 this way:

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “ you will never believe.”

However, the most difficult group Jesus had yet to confront were those who appeared to be closest to Him. They were not there to be fed or to see another miracle, but would they still follow when the truth was no longer easy to swallow?

Pastor Scott Burr