Movie Credits – BORING!

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Who sits through the movie credits at the end of the movie?  I mean, when it says, “The End,” isn’t it THE END! Who cares to watch a bunch of names scrolling down the screen, or up, that you don’t know.  The only motivation to watch is if you happen to know someone whose name will appear.  But, otherwise we switch off the movie when the names appear.

It’s kinda like that with Paul’s Epistles.  At the end of most of his letters he begins either a short or long list of people he wants to mention.  Because these names are, 1) hard to pronounce, 2) unknown to us, and 3) after the end, we have a tendency to just skip over these names.  Why?  Because they’re like movie credits just rolling on the screen.

As we conclude our study of Ephesians we will be ending with the final four verses of the letter.  Paul takes it easy on us in Ephesians and names only one person, his secretary.  Tychicus is the one who wrote what Paul had dictated to him.  But, we will actually take some time to look at some of Paul’s other lists that are much longer.  Just as with movie credits naming the people who were NEEDED to complete the movie we watched, so also are the names at the end of his letters. Without these people the church could not have progressed and grown.

You know, maybe we are a bit like the people in these lists, over-looked, under appreciated and forgotten.  But, without YOU the work of God can’t grow and progress.  Each person in the body of Christ is necessary for the function of the body.  Sunday we will look at some of these people to see how important each on of us are.

The next time you watch a movie, stop to look at some of the names scrolling in front of you and silently thank them for a job well done!  And, the next time you’re in church, look around at the “forgotten” people and verbally thank them.

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Ebenezer – WHAT?

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In approximately 1758 a young 23 year old pastor penned the words to a hymn that is a favorite of many.  He grew up from age eight without a dad because he passed away.  His mother couldn’t control his rebellion and so sent him off to live in England.  During this time he came to attend an evangelistic meeting being led by the famous evangelist George Whitfield.  He went, by his own testimony, to disrupt the service and mock the preacher.  But, the Lord had other plans.  It would be another two yeas later, but he came to trust Christ as his Saviour and was called into the ministry.

As he prepared for his weekly message he composed the lyrics to the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  One word in that hymn always perplexed me.  We would all sing, “Here I raise mine ebenezer…”  Each time I sang it I wondered, “What am I raising?”  So, I looked it up and found it is a word that means a “sign of victory.”  And, as I studied I found that it comes directly from 1 Samuel 7:12.  After a great victory over their arch rivals, the Philistines, Samuel led the people in a celebration.  During this celebration Samuel set up a stone as that sign of victory and called it Ebenezer.

Now, for generations to come, each and every time someone passed that stone it was to be a mute reminder of the victory God had given.  It was to be a place parents and grandparents could repeat a wonderful account of God’s protection.  This stone was one of many “piles of rocks” scattered throughout the land of Israel for the same purpose.  If used properly no generation could live that wouldn’t be reminded of the the Lord’s great power.

But, like so many of us, not 20 years later, the people had apparently forgotten that it was God who granted victories.  They had failed to remember that it was their confidence in El Shaddai that brought defeat to their enemies.  For, in due time, the people rejected Samuel’s leadership, and God’s kingship, by asking for a human king.  In their words, they just wanted to be like everyone else.  Though they likely passed by this pile of rocks often, the significance had faded away.

What about you?  What about me?  What about us?  Where are our ebenezers?  Are they forgotten?  Have they been relegated to a back seat, never to be remembered?  Or, do we look upon them as we should, as a reminder to us of God’s great power and our dependence upon him.

The next time you sing, “Here I raise my ebenezer,” remember what it means.  And, look to your own signs of victories and rejoice in what God has done.

 

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It’s Friday!

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I think I know a group of over 40 workers who are probably saying, “TGIF!” It is a group of people who were up early each day and worked hard each day.  It was a HOT week, and all of the classes didn’t have air conditioning.  The craft people only had some fans blowing.  But, they came each day to have a ministry to all those who came.  Of course, the workers I’m referring to are our VBS workers.  YEAH!

Now that the work is over, Friday has come, I’m sure each one will get a good night of rest.  They can reflect on the week and see how much the Lord blessed their efforts.  Without them we could have never had such a great week.

Our totals are amazing; high of 122 students on Monday, low of 118 on Tuesday.  We had students who prayed to trust the Lord as their Saviour.  We averaged 11 adults in a class designed for them.  Our music was great and the drama was tremendous.  And, we were raising funds for believers to receive their first Bible and we exceeded our goal.  

Yet, even though Friday is here, as the popular statement goes, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” My question to you is, are you getting ready for Sunday?  Since it is the first Sunday of the month we will have our communion service.  Be preparing your heart for this special time of directed worship.

Remember, Friday is NOT the most important day on the week, rather, it’s Sunday.

Counterfeit or Real?

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If you received a counterfeit $100 bill could you tell the difference?  Are your eyes trained well enough to see the errors?  Most of us would be deceived.  We would not see the problems with he bill and then we would simply spend it like all other moneys we have.  But, if someone trained to spot counterfeit caught us they would call the police.  Then, we would have a lot of explaining to do!

But, even though counterfeit money isn’t a good thing, many other types of fake items are sold everyday.  I’ve walked the streets of Thailand and have seen seen “real” Rolex watches and Gucci purses.  The cost is pennies on the dollar to the proper price.  The reason for this is obvious, they are FAKE!  Now, I know that and I’ve had fun bargaining for these trinkets.  But, since I know they are fake, I am not losing anything.  Yet, some unsuspecting customers might actually believe they are real and be quite disappointed when they find out the truth.

This coming week in our Vacation Bible School we will be examining such topics.  We will  learn many ways to discern truth from error.  We will learn how to look at evidences and tell wether they point to something fictitious or faithful.  We will investigate what clues to look for and what conclusions we should come to.

Let me ask you a question, what would you do is you realized you had a counterfeit $100 bill?  Would you take it to the bank, knowing you would be thanked for turning it in, but given nothing in return?  Or, would you spend it, hoping you didn’t get caught?  More importantly, what would you do if you find out you are following the wrong God? What if you learn your God is fake?  Would you turn that god in, knowing you would be given the true God in return?  Our prayer is that each one will find the true and living God this week in DVBS.

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Throwback Thursday

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Throwback Thursday, a new cultural phenomenon that has gone viral!  Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets are filled with old pictures that some people would have rather been kept in the dark.  Wow, seeing the old hairstyles, old fads, and just plain old pictures sure causes one to reminisce.  How many times is this phrase used on Throwback Thursday, “Time sure flies.” 

I want to challenge you to have a “Throwback Thursday” any day of the week.  That is, I want you to reflect on the blessings the Lord has given you over these years.  Psalm 103:2 says, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and do not forget His benefits.”  I wonder, if you were to post a picture of your past blessings, which ones would you choose?

One problem with all of this is that for many of us our memories are too short for what should be remembered and too long for what shouldn’t!  Oh, it’s easy to remember the hurtful word and painful jab, but it’s seems hard to remember that word of encouragement or pat on the back.  It’s easy to remember the time you felt the Lord had left you alone, and it seems hard to remember the time He carried you through the difficult times.  We need a spiritual time for a throwback memory session.

Where are the places, who are the people, and what the events  could you post as to the memories which come to your mind?  As your heart aches over problems of life, you need to remember God’s blessings and promises.  The newer song, “10,000 Reasons” calls us to this time of reflection and remembering.

Before you forget, do it NOW.  Don’t actually wait until Thursday.

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Are You in the battle?

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Is this a battle field or game field?  Are these men playing games or fighting for their lives.  Anyone can se that this is not just a game being played.  These men are in a battle to the death for their lives and the lives of their fellow soldiers.  Battlefields are places where life and death is seen.  Real weapons and real death are all around.  If you want to be uninvolved, you best not join the military.  But, in some battles, we have no choice but to be involved.  When the battle comes to your front door, you can only refuse to fight to your own peril.

In Ephesians 6:10-20 the Apostle Paul will remind us that we are in a battle.  We live on a battlefield.  The Christian life is not a play ground where we just sit around and are happy all day.  We are constantly surrounded by an enemy that wants our demise.  He, and his hosts, want our spiritual ruin.  We have no choice of being in the battle.  Our choices are wether we will fight with God’s strength and God’s armor.

No good soldier would enter a battle without a knowledge of their enemy.  They will be briefed on the strategy and fire power of the opponent. The leaders of the soldiers will do their best to give them the best armament possible.  Helmets, bullet proof vests,  and good weapons are part of a soldiers preparation.  Once trained and outfitted, the soldiers are sent into battle.

How prepared are you?  How vigilant are you each day to be sure the enemy doesn’t defeat you?  Sunday we will begin a look at the battle, our enemy, his tactics, and our defense against him.  If you are unsure of what you need to be doing, come to hear God’s Word and its instruction for this fierce battle.

This week the USA celebrated the 238th anniversary of our independence from Great Britain.  We know the long battle and many deaths it took to gain our freedom.  Over these years many others have fought and some have died to keep us free.  What an appropriate weekend to begin this study.  The Bible gives us wisdom to fight.

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Have you heard any good news?

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Have you heard any good news lately?  Today the USA moved on in the World Cup championship games!  That’s god news.  Tim Lincecum threw a second no-hitter in two years.  That’s good news.  Most of us are probably glad for these results.  But, in a few years no one will care much about this good news.

A better good news can be thought about.  This good news is good news in any generation.  To share this good news should be a joy in our lives.  To tell people that “there is a Saviour” will bring joy to some hearts. This week Josh and I have been attending the annual GARBC conference which has the Gospel as the center of preaching.  We’ve heard many good messages that have pointed us back to this essential truth.

If you have heard and responded to this good news you should give thanks to the messenger that brought it to you.  In fact, each of us should be so thankful that we will pass on this good news.  We have been reminded that the bad news is that we are lost and dead in our sins.  But, even though we are dead in sin, God comes to shine the light of the Gospel into our heart to bring it to life.  We can turn to Him to receive forgiveness and a new life.

So many today are changing the message.  These false preachers have changed the message to a point that it will bring salvation to know one!  Good news isn’t good news if it isn’t true.  We must be vigilant to keep the truth THE TRUTH.

Today, be thankful someone shared it with you and then let’s go tell someone else.

 

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What’s in your safe?

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What’s in your safe?  Some people keep their valuables in a safe.   Some people keep their guns in a safe.  I know people who have money stashed in safes all around town.  In one home we lived in we had a floor safe!  It was inside our walk-in closet and was covered by carpet.  It was just full of valuables! 🙂  Ok, it kept our important papers but no money.  But, just in case we needed it it is was there.

I suppose we all know what Fort Knox is?  Fort Knox is the depository of the gold reserves for the United States.  Is all the gold controlled by America actually in Fort Knox?  Is there really ANY gold in Fort Knox?  Well, since 1937 gold has been on deposit in its vaults.  The main vault lies below ground lined with granite.  The door “is protected with a blast-proof door weighing 22 tons.”  And, it is said that not any one person can open the vault.  Outside the main building the grounds are surrounded by a maze of fencing and military personnel for protection.  Sounds pretty safe to me!  And, it is accessible if need be.

Do you know that each one of us has a safe?  It may not be in your floor, in the wall, or at your bank.  But, we have a safe.  It is to hold the most valuable possessions we have.  It should be consistently guarded and added to.  Our safe is called our heart.  The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:11, “Your Word I have treasured in my heart.”  Our heart is to be the depository of God’s Word.  Each day we should be making deposits.  And, regularly we should be making withdrawals.  But, unlike any other type of valuables we own, this possession, once used, can simply be put back into our safe.  

In some safes are yellowed papers from many years ago.  These papers must be handled with care so as to be preserved.  For some of us, we placed a valuable verse or biblical principle into our safe long ago.  And, that verse or principle has just sat in the safe and is yellowed from non-use.  For some people, their safe is pretty empty due to a lack of deposits.  For others, the safe is quite full, but it is never accessed for a withdrawal.

Today, think about your safe.  What’s in it?  What have you taken out recently?  In your safe you have different “safe deposit boxes” where you can place verses.  Today, go to your safe and use its contents.  

 

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What’s YOUR Next Appointment?

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What’s next in your appointment book?  Is it another meeting?  Is it a phone call you need to make?  Is it an event you will be attending? Is it a journey you will go on?  If you were to keep your plans for the next day, what would that look like?  I’m sure we all have either very specific plans or maybe just a general idea of what we will be doing tomorrow.

I want you to think about an appointment not many of us like to consider.  It is an appointment that won’t be delayed or canceled.  It is an appointment that is on every person’s appointment calendar wether they know it or not.  It is the appointment mentioned  in Hebrews 9:27, “And insomuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment.”  We are talking about our appointment with death.

No appointment is more certain than our appointment with death.  No matter how many vitamins you take, no matter how much you exercise, and no matter how well you eat, ALL of us will eventually die.  We might be able to postpone it a few years by a good diet and exercise program, but not always.  I can recall a number of people who were quite physically fit, athletes who train every day, who suddenly died.  Our appointment with death will come in its time frame, not ours.

Recently we have seen three sudden and unexpected deaths rock our dear folks.  I’ve often heard, “They always die in threes.”  But, I cannot remember a time when this was true of people in our church.  In each case the person who passed into eternity had plans for the next day.  Each one who died had family members who were not prepared for their loved one to die.  Conversations were cut short by their sudden death.  No time was given for that final good-bye.  No opportunity was afforded these dear family members to say, “I love you.”  Death’s appointment came and snatched three loved ones away.

Each one of us who read this are also on a path to meet our appointment with death.  No one reading this can ignore the fact that the one profession which will always have business is the undertaker!  Someday it will be our turn to die and to have our loved ones grieve our passing away and for them to deal with our death.

The Apostle Paul speaks much to the subject of death, dying and eternity.  In fact, he dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of resurrection; 1 Corinthians 15.  He speaks about the hope and joy waiting for the believer who dies.  His words in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “absent from the body, present with the Lord” have comforted many believers in times of great grief.

Today, look at your appointment calendar.  Today, consider what is next on your appointment schedule.  Then ask yourself if you are ready for this appointment.  If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are ready.  If you’ve never asked the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, that is the first step to being ready for your appointment.

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A Theology of WORK

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Does this caption describe you?  I hope not!  What a terrible situation it would be if this was the motivation for working.  On Sunday we looked at six words that should describe our working attitude.  Let me list them and then you can ask yourself how you are doing:

     1.  Humanly – we have a human boss we obey.  How is that going?

     2.  Respectfully – we should have a considerate attitude.  How’s that going?

     3.  Sincerely – we are to have single focus, not duplicitous.  How’s that going?

     4.  Conscientiously – we are to not just be obedient when someone is looking.  How’s that going?

     5.  Pleasantly – we are to have an enthusiasm at work.  How’s that going?

     6.  Futuristically – we are to look to heaven at our “real” Master.  How’s that going?

As we go to work each day we are to sure that we serve our “masters” in the same way we would serve the Master of our souls.  He is the One we are truly seeking to please.  How we work and what we accomplish should bring Him glory.

We will continue this study as we follow up on Eph. 6:5-9.  If you can’t be here you can find the recordings on our website fblosgatos.org.

The story is told that as a family drove past a group of men working on the road they spotted a sign that said “men working.”  As they passed the sign the husband said to his wife, “I hope they are!” 🙂

 

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