Living like a Chosen One

Living like a Chosen One

Thoughts on Colossians 3:12-17

We are chosen. No matter what your view of the theological arguments that this sentence brings up, the Bible clearly says we are chosen. The beauty of that truth is that understanding the biblical teaching on election removes any possibly sources of both fear and pride. We have no reason to fear because our salvation is based not on our choice, but on God’s. He chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). There is NOTHING we can do to ultimately lose what God has given us, because He determined to give it to us before He ever created us.

We also have no reason to be proud (especially those of us who think we have all the right theology). In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul shows us that the very reason God ordained the entire process of salvation to begin with His sovereign choice is so that we would have absolutely no occasion to boast (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).

Because God chose us before time began, He has loved us with an everlasting love and He has set us apart for Himself. We belong to Him, not merely as slaves or servants, but as children of a loving Heavenly Father who sacrificed His own Son to bring us to Himself.

Because of all this…and ONLY because of all this, we are called to live differently from those around us. As Paul described in the previous section, we have already put off the old clothes (our former sinful tendencies) and now we are to put on new clothes. If you look at the list of things here in Colossians 3:12-14, they sound suspiciously like the list in Galatians 5, described as the Fruit of the Spirit. This shows us that, even in putting on the new clothes, it is not all about us! It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we allow to work out in our lives.

Of course, this does not mean that we just “let go and let God”. That’s one of those mottos from the 80’s that is best left back in the 80’s! No, there is a lot of work involved. Paul described his own Christian walk as dying daily, fighting the good fight, and disciplining his body. That’s a far cry from just sitting back and waiting for God to do something. We need to read and obey our Bibles (see Colossians 3:16). We need to be thankful in everything we do (see vs. 17).

And, we desperately need each other. This is why, in verse 16, after talking about letting the word of Christ dwell in us, he tell us we are to then let that word go outward towards other believers (teaching and admonishing). The Christian life can NOT be done alone. We need the church. The Lone Ranger Christian is not a biblical concept. And we are to make the Word of God a focal-point of our Christian relationships. We don’t all need to preach from the pulpit (sometimes I think that applies to me!). But we do all need to speak the Word to others in order to help them grow in their faith. And they will be doing the same to us!

All-in-all, we need to do everything “in the name of the Lord”. In other words, everything we do is as a representative of Jesus Christ. Everything is for Him and on His behalf. Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord.

Putting on the New Man

Putting on the New Man

Thoughts on Colossians 3:9-11

Paul talks a lot about our position in Christ. He speaks a LOT about what Christ has made us and how we have been changed. He describes us in this passage as having put off the old man and having put on the new man. These things have happened to us. God has changed us. We are no longer sinners, but now are called saints.

There is a very important reason why Paul spends so much time on who we are. It is because who we are changes what we do. He is not the first to proclaim this. Jesus, Himself said that the things that come out of our mouths proceed from our hearts. We live a certain way because of who we really are deep down inside.

The difficulty comes when our practice doesn’t always match up to our position. We are Christians. But, sometimes, we don’t live like it. Paul’s point in this entire chapter, and specifically in this passage, is that since we have put on the new man, we ought to live like it. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that we are a new creation and that the old things have passed away and all things have become new. This is who we are.

The struggle of the Christian is to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”. It is not an easy journey, but it is worthwhile. We do it by purposely and continuously setting aside those things that pull us away from Christ and set Him before us, in all His beauty, as our greatest treasure. It’s not easy. But, it is definitely worth it.

Getting Back to Worship!

Getting Back to Worship!
It has now been 13 weeks since we have met together for worship.  I have truly missed seeing all of you and experiencing the joy of corporate worship. Hopefully, God has used this time apart to build a strong desire for gathering with His people and a deeper love for Him and His Word.
Update on our Meeting Times
Both Governor Hogan and County Executive Pittman have announced the beginning of Phase 2 of their reopening plans. As part of phase 2, religious organizations are once again allowed to gather together to meet either outside or in their facilities at a 50% capacity. At this stage, we had to make a decision between using our normal building or meeting at the picnic pavilion.  Due to the small size of our building, I am not sure we could adequately social distance even at 50% capacity.  Because of this, we are planning on starting back to our regular schedule of services this week in the following manner:

Midweek Bible Study
On Wednesday night, we will meet at the Farm in the picnic pavilion at 7:00. Every family will be at a separate picnic table and the study guide will be on our website for download by Tuesday evening if you wish to print it out for yourself or just follow along. We will also be recording this study and uploading it on our website in case you are unable to come.

Sunday School and Sunday Morning Worship
Sunday school will meet at 9:30 in the picnic pavilion and we will begin our worship service at 10:30 also in the picnic pavilion. Each family can either sit at their own picnic table or we encourage you to bring your own chair if you wish. Bulletins will be made available or can be downloaded from our website.  We will be live broadcasting on Facebook.

Sunday Evening Fellowship
We will meet on Sunday Evening at 6:00 at the picnic pavilion for a time of study and fellowship.

More information will be provided this week regarding the usage of bathrooms, handling of bulletins, provision for communion, and other practical safety concerns. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at [email protected].

I look forward to seeing you this week!

Trust in Him at all times

Trust in Him at all times

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)

These three phrases from the middle of Psalm 62 are extremely applicable to our lives at the end of March 2020. If ever we needed to hear these words, it is now. It’s easy to trust in Him when things are going well, but a very different story when things are going a little haywire. And, right now, things are going very haywire.

In my life, there is genuine concern that my company will survive 2-3 months of being closed. We’ve already had 2 weeks with almost no income and can expect at least 4 more, if not more than that. Some of you are concerned that, even if your company does survive, you will not have a job to go back to. Teresa and Didi are homeless, well sort-of, as, just as this whole Coronavirus situation was coming to our land, their oil tank exploded all over their basement, forcing them to move out until it is resolved. Jim’s entire livelihood is based on taking people into other’s homes, which is hard to do with a social distancing requirement in place. Half of our church is, by virtue of their age or medical condition, uniquely susceptible to this virus. And, we haven’t had church for 3 weeks already, with, most likely, at least 4 more weeks to go.

To quote the famous author Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls”. The Psalmist understood times such as these. And to people like us, going through these times, he would say, “Trust in the Lord”. At all times.

We can trust in the Lord because He is trustworthy. He has proven Himself over and over. He has shown that He is faithful and that He loves us. So, during this time of uncertainty, trust in the Lord.

We can also cry out to God. I love the way the Psalmist puts it – “Pour out your heart before Him.” This is the cry of someone who is in anguish because of the uncertainty of their situation. We have NO idea what is going to happen over the next few months. We can plan and strategize and make the best moves possible, but we have no clue what is going to happen next. Of course, we never have a clue, do we? But, God does. God knows it all because He planned it all. And he tells us to pour out our hearts to Him. As Peter put it – “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” We are called to pray because God cares for us. He loves us and is always for us, even when it seems everything else is against us. The is why the Psalmist is able to end with the phrase, “God is a refuge for us.”

I would encourage each of you to place your trust in Christ. No matter what happens, He will always be our refuge. And cry out to him in prayer, not just for yourself, but for others as well. Be in prayer for Teresa and Didi as they are separated not only from their families, but also from the comfort of their own home. Be in prayer for Joanna Reid, who is stuck in Africa for at least another 2 months. Be in prayer for Anna Queen, who already has a compromised immune system. Be in prayer for our church, that we would figure out a way to minister to each other and to our community even in the midst of a social distancing order. Be in prayer for other churches in the area who are also seeking to minister the gospel during this time. Most of all, be in prayer that God is glorified in how we respond to this situation.

I love you all and long to see you soon.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

GBC’s Response to COVID-19

GBC’s Response to COVID-19

Over the last few months, we have watched as the Coronavirus has spread from country to country and has finally made its way to the US. This has caused some fear and panic, but also some wise steps taken to slow the spread of the virus.

As Christians, we must first and foremost understand a few biblical, theological concepts as we consider our response to what is now being called a global pandemic. Firstly, we must always remember that God is sovereign. According to Isaiah 45:5-7, there is no god like the one true God. He forms light and darkness; He creates both peace AND CALAMITY. Nothing happens outside of His control and His will.

Secondly, we must always remember that God loves His children and everything we receive from Him comes from the hand of a loving Father. 1 John 4:8 tells us specifically that God is love. And James 1:17 tells us that everything we receive comes down from the Father of lights who never changes. Thus, we as God’s children can be assured that no matter what happens, God loves us.

Thirdly, we must always remember that those things that happen to us, both good and bad, are being used by God for our ultimate good – our becoming more like Christ. Romans 8:28-30 tells us that God is working all things out for our good and that the end result is that we would be conformed to the image of Christ.

With all of these things in mind, we as a leadership team have discussed the current situation and considered how we should respond. On Thursday afternoon, Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced some sweeping directives, one of which was requesting all religious groups to temporarily set aside their rights to assembly for the sake of slowing down the spread of this virus. After discussing this issue amongst the leadership, we have decided that the best way to show our love for our neighbor and our submission to our governing authorities, while also displaying our continuing trust in our sovereign, loving God, is to cancel all of our scheduled meetings through March 27 as requested. In this way, we hope to help all of our members remain healthy and return quickly.

While we do believe that the church must gather in order to truly be the church, we also want to consider the overall health and well-being of both our church community and the community at large. As such, we will be live broadcasting our weekly Sunday morning sermon on Facebook starting at 11:00am and will also record and broadcast our Wednesday evening Bible study at 7:30. For those of you who do not have Facebook, we will be posting the video recordings of these broadcasts on our website as well as on our Youtube channel.

Please continue to check our website and Facebook page for future updates as this situation continues to develop. We thank God that, though many feel uncertain about the future, we know we have a confidence in His sovereign love. We pray for each of you that you would stay healthy and rest in the grace and goodness of God.

Colossians 1:19-23 – Reconciled Through Death

Colossians 1:19-23 – Reconciled Through Death

GraceNotes – February 23, 2020

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled…”

What God has done for us is absolutely amazing! We were enemies. We were enemies because of what our great-great-great-(keep going) grandparents had done. But we were also enemies because of what we had done. And it’s not a good thing to be an enemy of the God of the universe. He doesn’t play games and He can’t be defeated.

But, the beauty of this passage is exactly how Paul begins this verse – we “once” were enemies, “yet now” He changed that! We didn’t deserve a change. We deserved judgment and eternal punishment. But, God is merciful and gracious. And God punished His Son in our place in order to reconcile us to Him.

Rather than being His enemies, we are now His friends. And even better than that, we are His children! But, that’s not all God does for us. It is not enough for God to call us something different (enemies vs children). God wants to MAKE us something different. God’s salvation is a complete salvation, a whole salvation. He not only changes our position (sinner to saint) but he also changes our disposition (sinful to holy). He changes how we live.

The end result for us is that we not only are called saints, but we more and more start to live like saints! We not only are called holy, but we daily become more holy. We, as God’s children, start to LIVE like children of the King. And, no matter how much we slip and fall, God always picks us back up and restores us as we repent. He always welcomes us back onto the path of holiness and keeps us going in the right direction. In the end, He will receive all the glory as we receive all the blessings of a relationship that once was broken by our sin but now has been restored by His grace.

Amos 1-9 – God’s Concern for His Creation

Amos 1-9 – God’s Concern for His Creation

GraceNotes – October 27, 2019

Injustice seems to be rampant in our world. We have a long history of those who have power oppressing those who don’t. Nations rise and fall, and all of them are full of not only idolatry, but also greed, abuse, oppression, and injustice. Israel was no different. And God sent Amos to confront them for their sin and their refusal to repent. In so doing, God showed two major aspects of His character as the Judge of His Creation – He is both a just judge and, thankfully for us, a merciful judge

As we think through the 9 chapters of Amos, there is a LOT to digest. God takes Israel to task for their abuse of others, for their idolatrous religion and for their rejection of His Word. AND THESE WERE GOD’S PEOPLE!!!

It’s easy for us some times to look at these things and think, “Those terrible Israelites. How could they be so stupid?” But, I want you to slow down and look at your own life, not just our society, but your life. Are you guilty of the same types of things? Have you ignored injustice when you had an opportunity to change things? Have you felt superior to the beggar on the street corner when you could have helped instead? Have you pretended to be religious when your heart was far from God? Have you failed to pay attention to what God has to say in His Word when it makes you uncomfortable?

All of these things are probably true of most church members today. And God is a just judge. But, thankfully, God is also a merciful judge. He has poured out His just wrath on His Son in the place of all those who have believed in Him. When we repent (turn) from our sins and come to Him in faith, we are forgiven and welcomed by Him! There is grace for those under the righteous judgment of God!

So, as you go through this week and possibly contemplate the message of Amos, think about two things: 1) Thank God for His grace in forgiving those of us who, though guilty, have been covered by the blood of His Son. 2) Consider how you, as a forgiven sinner, should be as concerned for the plight of others as your God is. And what can you do about it? Go do it.

Matthew 25:33-46 – Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:33-46 – Sheep and Goats

GraceNotes – June 2, 2019

In today’s sermon, Jesus focused on the immediate events surrounding His Second Coming. The primary event that He emphasized was the final judgment. Jesus is going to judge everyone who has ever lived that judgment will be ultimate.

At the judgment, you are in one of two groups. You are either called a sheep, and in that group because of the grace of God, or you are called a goat, and in that group because you are cursed for your rejection of God. The evidence that shows which group you are in is the way in which you treat others – your works.

It should be very obvious that we who claim the name of Christian should be marked by good works. We simply MUST have the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) as an active part of our lives. If we do not have these marks of the Christian, then we had better examine ourselves to see whether we really are Christian. In John, Jesus says, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples: by your love for one another.”

As you think through the sermon this week, look for evidence of the Spirit’s work in your life in how you serve others.

Matthew 25:14-30 – Good and Faithful Servant

Matthew 25:14-30 – Good and Faithful Servant

GraceNotes – May 26, 2019

In this week’s message, we looked at the parable from Matthew 25 about the master who went away and left some of his possessions with his servants to manage. The master represented Christ and the servants represented professed believers.

One of the lessons we drew from this parable was that we have each been given a variety of opportunities to serve God in His kingdom for the sake of His glory. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “what are we doing with what God has given us?” Are we investing in things that have eternal impact? Are we seeking to display our love for God by our sacrificial service of our fellow church members?

The challenge to us if we want to be “good and faithful servants” is to look outside of ourselves, consider others to be more important than us, and give of our time, abilities and possessions (all temporal things) in order to help others on their spiritual journey. What are you doing and how can we help?