HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Mark 9:20-23 - They brought the boy to Him. When the [demonic] spirit saw Him, immediately it threw the boy into a convulsion, and falling to the ground he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he answered, “Since childhood.  The demon has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”  Jesus said to him, “[You say to Me,] ‘If You can?’ All things are possible for the one who believes and trusts [in Me]!”

All things are possible to him who believes.”

That is faith.

~ Faith is not about how much you believe. Faith is about believing that the one you believe in is…believable.

1Thessalonians 5:24 - He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Every family, every home, every church has an atmosphere about it.

The Atmosphere is a culture of beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors, and principles. They can be spoken or unspoken but everyone can feel them and most people over time understand them.

An atmosphere of faith is something that you develop and live by intentionally.

Strategic faith is an atmosphere of trusting in God for everything.

It is a position of expectancy that the believes God will do awesome and mighty things. That He is a God who loves us and answers our prayers.

Strategic Faith expects God to do what He said He would do. It expects to see God move in power and to do supernatural things as the ordinary course of life.

Strategic faith is hope and confidence in God.

Strategic faith responds to life and approaches life with optimism because it believes that God is working all things out for our Good.

~ Helen Keller (A Christians who was both deaf and blind) – Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Someone said that faith is like electricity. You can’t see it but you can definitely feel it and you know the light and power that it is able to produce.

~ C.S. Lewis – Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.

Strategic faith is an atmosphere that desires to please God above all else to such an extent that it results is a lifestyle of radical obedience.

Strategic faith means that you have made trusting God an intentional, deliberate and necessary first part of your life.

Strategic is a choice and a plan.

Our faith is only as great as the God that we believe in.

This means that we intentionally live in such a way that we know God is great and we believe that God is Good.

How big is your God?

~ A little boy was asked, “How many gods are there in the world? “One God,” he replied. “How do you know that?” said the skeptic. “Because there is only room for One. Since heaven and earth can’t contain Him, how can anyone else fit?”

You can trust a big God!

Choosing the strategy of trusting a God who is over all and the creator of all and who is the most powerful of all creates an atmosphere of victorious living.

I love the saying that we are living From a position of victory, not for a victory!

God has already won! WE are already victorious! – Because of this fear doesn’t stand a chance!

Because of this we don’t view ourselves as underdogs or victims – We know that we are Overcomers and MORE than Conquers in Christ Jesus.

People and churches that knows this live a life that believes the Word of God.

They Know…

I can do all things through Christ!

If God is for us, who can be against us!

Nothing, Absolutely nothing – is impossible with God! – With God all things are Possible!

An atmosphere of faith has moved past questioning those things and intentionally moved into the realm of living those truths.

The early church had this type of atmosphere.

When they gathered to pray the Holy Spirit showed up in power. They expected and saw that people were saved. Miracles happened – they were not out of the ordinary occurrences they were everyday experiences.

Restoration happened in people’s lives. – Forgiveness abounded and God restored people’s health and peace. There were many that went jumping and leaping and praising God. Even enemies of the church had dramatic encounters with God that transformed them. – The Apostle Paul is just one story.

There was an abundant supply. – There was such unity among the people of God that when there were needs everyone contributed so that those needs were met. These things don’t just happen they are a strategic choice to let God be God!

We are in our year of Koinonia. When we have FELLOWSHSHIP with the Holy Spirit an atmosphere of faith is inevitable.

When we choose to trust God for everything, we know that anything and all things are possible. There will be times God says – “NO”. There will be times that He tells us to wait. There will be times that He changes our plans. While those things shake people. It will not rattle those who have strategically chosen faith as their default position in life. A life that desires to completely live a life that is pleasing to God and a life the radically trusts Him in everything.

This month we are looking at living life strategically. Intentionally. May the Lord bless you and your family.

Know that you are deeply loved. -
Pastor Marvin and Dawn

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HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

John 19:28-30 - After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.  So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

It is important that we remember that without the crucifixion there is no Resurrection.

Because He lives, we can now live in relationship to God and free from the curse of sin and death. – He is the resurrection and the life.

What took place on the cross was bloody, violent, and repulsive.

If we had been there to watch it, we would not have only been uncomfortable, it would have left us traumatized for life. It was something that most people couldn’t even watch let alone do to another human being.

The prophet Isaiah described what the crucifixion would look like.

Isaiah 53:3-5 - He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely, He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

(NLT) - He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.  He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsthat weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed.

You cannot read or hear these words as a child of God and not be moved.

While we know that the crucifixion had to happen, we love the Resurrection because the ordeal is over.

While we all love Christmas, we love the Resurrection even more. At Christmas the work still laid ahead. At the Resurrection we are reminded that the work had been done.

The truth is that resurrection helps us understand an important truth – that the end of something is better than the beginning.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 - The end of a thing is better than its beginning; (NLT) - Finishing is better than starting.

It is exciting to start a project, it is much better to know that it has been seen through to completion.  (A house, building it – remodeling)

The Resurrection reminds us that Jesus finished what He started.

When Jesus was hanging on the Cross Just before He died, He said three of the most important words ever declared in History – “It is finished”.

Those words “it is finished” is a translation of the Greek word tetelestai, a word that means to end, to bring to completion, to bring to a conclusion, to complete, to accomplish, to fulfill, or to finish.

When it comes to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross that word tetelestai holds a wealth of meaning. This word is a word full of nuance that actually speaks to many things that Jesus finished on the cross.

The word tetelestai for one of its meanings is a business term.

It is used to signify the full payment of a debt. – Nothing sounds as good as hearing the words – “Paid in Full”. It is good to purchase a car but there is nothing like knowing all the payments are finished.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When a debt had been fully paid off, the parchment on which the debt was recorded was stamped with tetelestai, which meant the debt had been paid in full.

This means that once a person calls Jesus the Lord of his or her life and personally accepts His sacrifice, no debt of sin exists for that person any longer.

The debt is wiped out because Jesus paid the price for sin that no sinner could ever pay.

Jesus took our place. He paid the debt we owed for our sin. And when we, by faith, repent and receive Him as Lord, we are set free!

Romans 6:10 (AMP) - For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) - For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

When Jesus uttered those words “It is finished!” it was His declaration that the debt was fully satisfied, fulfilled, and complete. His blood utterly and completely cleansed us forever.

Glory to God!

We used to sing a song. – He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand-new song amazing Grace. Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

The cry “it is finished” was also a military term. A battle cry of victory!

While Jesus was making a statement of obedience to the Father it was also a declaration of victory!

A true champion doesn’t shout in the face of their enemy. They lower their voice and they make a statement that makes their enemies blood run cold.

There is no greater champion than Jesus.

1 John 3:8 - He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

When Jesus said “It is Finished” He was saying that He had defeated death Hell and the grave.

Jesus hadn’t resurrected yet but He was declaring His intentions.

He was saying to the devil you didn’t win.

Someone needs to hear this, Jesus isn’t going to defeat the devil, the devil is already defeated.

We aren’t going TO a place of victory; We are already IN a place of victory.

In the name of Jesus, WE HAVE THE VICTORY. 

Lastly the word Tetelestai is used to depict a turning point.

It is finished means that one season is over and a new season is beginning.

It declares that we are now in a different time, a different epoch.

When Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished,” it was a turning point in the entire history of mankind, for at that moment, the Old Testament (Covenant) came to an end — it was finished and closed — and the New Testament (Covenant) began.

The Cross was “the Great Divide” in human history. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He was shouting that the Old Covenant had ended and the New Covenant had begun!

Remember HIS-Story is divided into BC and AD. Before Christ and After death.

Just like Jesus literal life, OUR lives are divided into two parts.

Before Christ and after we accept Christ and die to ourselves.

The Old has gone, the New has come. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus.  This is amazing!

We are in an entirely new season of life.

Three powerful and life transforming words… “It is Finished”.

May the Lord bless you and your family this Resurrection Season.

Remember that you are dearly Loved,
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Philippians 3:10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

(AMP) - And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did];

This year our focus is on Koinonia. The Fellowship that we have with each other and the Fellowship that we have with the Holy Spirit.

One of the ways that we grow in the Holy Spirit and in our relationship with God is to Fellowship with His Sufferings.

We don’t like to talk much about suffering in the church.

For many it is an uncomfortable thing although all of us experience.

Suffering for Christ and with Christ is talked about often in the Word of God.

~ Dallas Holm – One of today’s great worship leaders and song writers said –

Here in America (and elsewhere) we have so-called ministers and ministries that unashamedly proclaim that Christians should never suffer…anytime, anywhere! Their theology (or lack thereof) is illustrative of their complete ignorance of sound biblical teaching, and their insensitivity to suffering saints. I believe it also evidences a kind of elitist spiritual arrogance that is truly breathtaking! Scripture simply calls them “false teachers.”

 Fellowship and suffering? Sounds like oil and water…incompatible…opposites, unable to be together in any meaningful way.

Yet, Paul in a profound (Holy Spirit inspirited) way is able to wrap words around this sacred place of intimacy and aloneness, love and fear, peace and conflict, healing and pain…fellowship and suffering. When we walk with Jesus, We will suffer through life’s trials, but in the process of our pain we have the opportunity to fellowship with our friend, Jesus.

His sufferings become our sufferings and our sufferings become His.

- Fellowship is the union of friends sharing similar interests or problems. To suffer is to feel pain or distress.

Precious fellowship with our Savior is where we learn of Him, grow in Him and become like Him.

Webster’s definition of fellowship: companionship, a mutual association on friendly terms, a partnership or joint interest, as a fellowship of pain.

Someone said that - Our partnership of pain with Christ is an equally yoked venture with the owner of all you have—He is for you. In pain the Spirit takes you to intimate places you have never been, so you can take others to intimate places they have never been.

Suffering comes in all sizes and shapes, for many different reasons and in many different seasons.

~ Charles Spurgeon - God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity, and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it. – (Morning and Evening-March 8, Charles Spurgeon)

Soon after Paul's conversion, Ananias delivered a word from the Lord to him.

Acts 9:16 - For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

It was to be more than the personal distress of shame, rejection, persecution, and hardships. He would suffer through shipwreck, stonings, beatings, and afflictions of body and soul. He would joyfully suffer the loss of all things. In triumph over all these personal sufferings he would proclaim,

Romans 8:18 - For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There is a glory that God wants to reveal in all of us. There are some things that we only learn, gain, and grow in only through suffering.

It is through suffering that we really learn to know Christ.

God helps us prepare for suffering by teaching us and showing us that through suffering we are meant to go deeper in our relationship with Christ.

You get to know him better when you share his pain. The people who write most deeply and sweetly about the preciousness of Christ are people who have suffered with him deeply.

It is amazing how quickly our suffering draws us to a greater intimacy with Jesus.

Think about the times you have shared with your spouse through times of suffering. This is when you really got to know one another. To understand one another.

It is a time where you drew from each other more deeply than you thought possible.

It is when you learned to be tender to each other in ways that deeply affect you.

Suffering was part of the calling of Jesus. – He came to be a living sacrifice. The same is true of us.

Philippians 3:10a - that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,

Suffering is God’s way of drawing us close to Himself.

Our pain and our struggles help us to know Jesus in all His ways.

Isaiah 53:3 - He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

You really don’t know Jesus until you are familiar with the man that knew sorrow and was acquainted with grief.  – Jesus was familiar with pain. In all of its forms.

Job was a man of great faith who served God. God had a lot of very good things to say about Job. It was in all of the trials that Job faced that He really got to know God. It was through the painful times that job entered into a greater intimacy and understanding of God.

Job 42:5 - “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.

When you realize that God really sees you is the moment that you really begin to see God for who He is.

Stephen was faithful in His stand for the faith and it was in the middle of his suffering that all of heaven began to open.

Acts 7:55 - But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

1 Peter 4:14 - If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part, He is glorified.

God reserves a special coming and resting of His Spirit and His glory on His children who suffer for his name.

One of the purposes for suffering is that our relationship with God might become less formal and less artificial and less distant and become more personal and more real and more intimate and close and deep.

Suffering is personal, intimate, painful and powerful. The effect that it has on our lives for His glory and for our benefit is almost impossible to quantify.

In our year of Koinonia I am confident that we are going to grow deeper in our relationship and understanding of the Holy Spirit. Get ready…. It will be worth it all.

Remember that you are loved,
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Proverbs 9:1 - Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars.

Wisdom has built her house.

Everyone wants to know about the seven pillars. Everyone wants to know how the house is built and what it is built from.

No one asks about the Foundation.

It is the foundation of the house that determines how well everything else will be built and how well what is built will stand and last.

A poor foundation means that no matter how good the other materials that you use are, the rest of the home will be of poor construction.

Psalm 11:3 - If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?

For months now the Lord has been dealing with my heart about the Fear of the Lord and the foundations of our nation and the foundation in our churches.

If the House is wisdom – then the foundation is – The Fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 9:10-11 - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.

Before we can even talk about the building of the House we need to talk about the beginning of the House.

Holy Fear is the key to God’s sure foundation. It unlocks the treasures of Heaven. The treasures of Salvation, Wisdom, Knowledge, long life and Abundant life.

The Fear of the Lord is the begging of wisdom.  If you don’t have this poured into your heart correctly then you aren’t going to get everything else in your life straight.

Many of us want to see this world have a better foundation but I have news for you. We can’t expect unbelieves to get things right until we as the people of God get our house in order.

1 Peter 4:17 - For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

In his book the fear of Lord John Bevere tells the story of coming to speak at a big meeting for pastors in another nation. When he arrived, music was playing and it was good. What he noticed was the absence of the presence of the Lord. He looked around and for the forty minutes of music, people were talking while some entered in. As prayer was happening after the music people were still just standing watching and talking.

No presence of God. While the offering was being taken people were still not interested. When John got up to speak the Holy Spirit told him to address what people were doing. He said nothing until people became quiet because there was someone at the mic and no one was saying anything. He began to tell them how he sensed no presence of God.

He said - Do you think the King of kings and Lord of lords is going to come into a place where He is not given the Honor and reverence that is due Him. Do you think that the Master of all creation is going to speak when His Word is not respected enough to be listened to attentively?

By the end of the message John gave a simple call for repentance. People came to the altar weeping, repenting and calling on God. As they did the power of God began to move, the sound of a wind filled the place and God did a powerful work.

I believe with all of my heart that we need a fresh understanding of the Fear of the Lord.

We need to stop treating that which is Holy as if it is a common thing.

We need to stop treating our relationship with God as if our God is just another person among many others.

We need to not treat the presence of God in our church like it is just another ordinary meeting.

We need to the Fear of God to start in our lives individually so that we stop treating this life that He has given us and the Salvation that HE has provided for us as a common and unimpressive thing.

The Fear of the Lord is to understand that our God is Holy and not ordinary.

Leviticus 10:3 - And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’”

Those who come near to the Lord must regard Him as Holy.

The Bible reminds us that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and that knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The Fear of the Lord brings understanding of who HE IS.

Today there is No Fear of God. Of who He is and what He can do.

Do YOU Know who He is and Do you know Him? Do you fear Him and if not, why not?

He is the Great I Am, He is the Eternally Existent One, He is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the End, He is all knowing, He is the Almighty One, He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, He Has the Name that is above all Names, At the Name of Jesus every knee shall Bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.  Our God is the creator and maker of everything.

A Holy fear is more than a reverence and respect for God, it is absolute awe for who He is, it is giving Him the honor and the Glory that is due because of who He is. It is understanding that He is Holy – totally set apart and there is no one in all of everything that is like HIM. – He is entirely pure, clean and that He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. He is High and lifted up and He is glorious in every way. – No man can stand before a Holy God and no person can look on the face of God and live.

We do Him no favors by our worship – we worship Him simply because He is Worthy of our worship. When He speaks nations tremble and mountains are split in half.  He has the Power to lift up and the power to put down and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

How is it that we have lost the Fear of the Lord?

Those who Fear the Lord regard Him as Holy and they realize that because He is Holy, they must be Holy – Uncommon and set apart only for Him.

1 Peter 1:15-16 - But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Psalm 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

The Foundation of all that we are building is Built on Him.

Hebrews 12:25-27 - See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

There is a battle today for the heart and soul of the church. Understand God will allow whatever can be shaken to be shaken in order that whatever remains will stand firm and unmoved and unfazed.

I believe that there is a great churchquake that is happening right now.  You have heard of an earthquake get ready for the churchquake.

Whenever God revives the church, He shakes it first.

In the book of Acts chapter 5 we have the story of Annanias and Safira. We know the story of how they lied to the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:11 (AMP) - And hearing these words, Ananias fell down suddenly and died; and great fear and awe gripped those who heard of it.

I know that we all love miracles. I wonder if what we need are a few people to fall down suddenly and die.

I want to end with this thought.

Proverbs 33:18 - Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,

Throughout the Bible and throughout history the people who get the attention of God are those who walk humbly and stay in awe of Him and Honor Him with a life of obedience.

I want to read a few important promises found in God’s Word.

Proverbs 15:33 - The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

Proverbs 22:4 - By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life.

Proverbs 14:27 (AMP) - The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that leads to obedience and worship] is a fountain of life, So that one may avoid the snares of death.

Psalm 25:14 - The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.

Psalm 34:9 - Oh, fear the Lord, you, His saints! There is no want (No Lack) to those who fear Him.

If we want the blessings, favor, secrets and riches and honor and life of the Lord – then we need to walk in humility and the fear of God.

I am hopeful, expectant and looking forward to what God is going to do in us at HCC and in the world in 2024.

May all of us walk in the Fear of God as we watch what He is building be beautiful, solid and bring Him Glory!

You are dearly loved,
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

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HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Luke 2:8-14 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Merry Christmas to you and your family. During this festive and busy time of the year. I pray that you will know the goodness and the presence of God in your life in a very precious and unique way.  I am excited to share this message with you.

Dona Nobis Pacem – is Latin for – Give us peace or grant us peace.

This is part of the Latin mass from the text of Agnus Dei. Agnus Dei – means Lamb of God.

I was introduced to this beautiful short song when watching the show MASH. It is a favorite of our family to watch at Christmas time.  In the middle of a war, in the middle of the battles and trials of life is the reminder that God came to bring peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the Dona Nobis Pacem three years before the outbreak of World War Two. In that moment the world needed that prayer – “Give us peace.”

Our world and people individually need to know the hope of Peace that is offered to us by God. Peace is the opposite of fear, it is also the opposite of war.  The angel’s message to the shepherds was – “Do not be afraid”. Peace calms the soul and settles the chaos and confusion that rages within us.

Christmas time reminds us in a very special way that one of the most precious gifts that Jesus gives us is the gift of peace.

John 14:27 - Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

(NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

We live in a world that is troubled and afraid on many fronts.

God invites us into his peace. His peace is unlike the world’s way of peace. The world is temporary, situational, and dependent on many variables.  The gift that Jesus gives us is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He will never leave us or forsake us.

We need Christmas peace. When Jesus entered the world, it was a time of incredible turmoil; life was hard for most people alive at the time. The world was in desperate need of a Savior and at just the right time is history, (HIS-story), Christ was born.  WE NEEDED CHRISTMAS. On that first Christmas. HIS -Story was about to become OUR story.

In the Bible there is a word for peace that is used over four hundred times.   In the Hebrew it is the word Shalom, in English it is peace.  Shalom is a word that speaks of more than the absence of strife, it speaks of quiet and wholeness to every part of who we are, spirit, soul, and body.  Peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.

Biblical scholars tell us that shalom signifies a number of things, including salvation, wholeness, integrity, soundness, community, connectedness (to others and to God's creation), righteousness, justice, and well-being (physical, psychological, spiritual).

When prophesying about the coming Savior Isaiah puts peace at the core of His purpose.  Isaiah 9:6- For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

When I was preparing my heart for this message, I kept hearing the Lord speak to me the words – Prince of Peace. The Peace That Christ Brings is something far deeper and far different than what many experience.

Christmas peace is far deeper than one silent night bathed in the glow of a fire and Christmas lights. Moments of tranquility will never sustain us for a lifetime.

Someone said in a devotional- “IF our expectations for Christmas are gifts and time with family, we have set our expectations too low.”

No Christmas carol can fix a broken heart. No amount of decorations can beautify the results of an ugly relationship and no amount of presents can replace what has been lost.

All of those things are enjoyable and have their place.

We are thankful for them. Christmas is so much deeper. It is the celebration of the coming of Christ and His redemption of mankind.

Many people look at the world today and wonder where is this promised peace?   Jesus made it clear that He would bring peace on earth but before He ushers in worldwide global peace, He had a higher agenda.   The day is coming to this world when there will be no more wars and no more sin and death, when the lion will lay down with the lamb.

The peace of Jesus transcends our situations. It surpasses our bank accounts, our sickness or the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of our plans and dreams. 

He promises a peace that passes understanding. In the middle of circumstances that should unnerve us, our faith and trust in God releases a peace that our emotions and senses can’t understand.  We are not victims but victors. We are not helpless but have the help and hope of God Himself.

Our God is Jehovah Shalom – God our peace.

Philippians 4:6 -7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Anxiety and anxiousness are just other words for fear.

It is worry that has moved past concern and into the realm of believing that our problem or problems are bigger than God, or that God is not really interested in them.

Worry is not just us having a problem, it is us having a problem that is bigger than us and thinking that it is up to us to solve it.

Christmas is all about us having a problem that is bigger than we are and that we had no hope of fixing on our own.  We could not fix our sin problem or the results of our sin. Physical and spiritual death. God took care of all of that. The answer to our worries and fears is the same answer for our sins.  We need to take them to God.

Someone needs to hear this today – God is not worried about anything.

When we give our fears and anxieties to Him, He gives us His peace. His peace becomes our peace. We exchange our fear, for His calm, His hope and His answers. The Bible promises us a peace that passes understanding.

Many people have a temporary peace on Christmas day. They allow the holiday to allow them to forget for a day. Yet there is a lingering thought that everything will still be there tomorrow.

God’s peace surpasses understanding. It overrides our thinking and reasoning and gives us a sense that all is well even when the problems are still there.

God promises a peace that will guard our heart and mind. – It will protect our thinking and how we think about things. It will guard our inner man and all that matters to us. He is the God of our peace and our Prince of Peace. The peace of God doesn’t just sustain us it propels us forward in His plan for our lives.

Christmas is all about the gift of His son.  Jesus is the master gift giver. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

He is full of surprises.

Matthew 7:11- If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

This Christmas may you be blessed with the wonderful gift of God’s peace.  God is full of surprises. Don’t let them startle you.  May they thrill your heart and calm your spirit and inspire you with faith.

I would like to leave you with a Christmas blessing found in the book of Romans.

Romans 15:13- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dona Nobis Pacem – Give us Peace.

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Marvin and Dawn

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Psalm 118:28-29 (NLT) - You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

I love Thanksgiving time. I love the food but even more I love the time with family.

I love the fact that people stop and take inventory of the goodness of God in their lives.

At this time of the year when we are especially reminded to stop and think about what we are thankful, grateful, and appreciative for, it would be good for us to consider whether we have been thankful, grateful, and appreciative all year round!

Even if we’ve been through hard times, those times could have been even harder, and we can think of much to be thankful, grateful, and appreciative for right now, while we’re still going through our difficult time or struggle.

The Bible commands us be thankful” and “in everything, give thanks.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

(AMP) - In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

 Even if things seem to be going wrong all around us, we can still stop to count our blessings! We may be in need at the present moment, but the fact is, we each have many reasons to be thankful!

All three words — “thankfulness,” “gratitude,” and “appreciation” — are the expressions of a person who is thankful he has experienced some good event or blessing.

They depict someone who is grateful toward the person or people who treated him kindly and is appreciative of what has happened. These words also communicate the recognition of his thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation of his many blessings.

Thankfulness and Gratitude are not an attitude they are a condition of the heart.

The Bible tells us that Goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.

I love that song… I will Sing of the Goodness of God. If we are going to sing someone’s praises it should be God’s. He has been so good to us.

Goodness of God

I love you, Lord

For your mercy never fails me

All my days, I've been held in your hands

From the moment that I wake up

Until I lay my head

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

All my life you have been faithful

All my life you have been so, so good

With every breath that I am able

I will sing of the goodness of God

I love your voice

You have led me through the fire

In the darkest night

You are close like no other

I've known you 79 as a Father

I've known you as a Friend

I have lived in the goodness of God

Your goodness is running after

It's running after me

Your goodness is running after

It's running after me

With my life laid down

I'm surrendered now

I give you everything

'Cause our goodness is running after

It's running after me

I think there is a profound reason why this song has resonated within the body of Christ.  God has been faithful, kind and good to us. Truth be told- better than we deserve.

I love the line – All my life you have been faithful, All my life you have been so, so Good.  – David Said – “I was young and now I am old yet I have NEVER seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging for bread.” Now that I am in my 50’s I can say the same thing.

Psalm 34:3-9 - Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you, His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. (NLT) for those who fear him will have all they need.

Those who know the Lord have tasted and seen that He is good.

I love how David lists the ways that the goodness of God has impacted his life. He says this is how God will bless all of those who have trusted Him.

I was looking at these verses and I was struck with how intertwined thankfulness is with trust.

Have you ever noticed that the people you are thankful for the most are the people that you trust the most? – This goes deep to the heart and often results in us praising those we trust.

Your wife, husband, children a true friend and of course our God.

  1. You can’t have thanks without giving.

Every blessing that we have comes from God.

He gave them to us.

The only way people or God know that we are grateful is if we tell them.

It is one thing to be thankful internally, it is a completely better thing to give thanks and tell someone.

To give thanks means that you don’t keep that gratitude to yourself.

Thanksgiving involves expression and intention.

Grateful people linger over life’s blessings.

The English word thank shares the same root as think.

Thankfulness is intimately connected to thoughtfulness.

We can’t be grateful without being mindful of the many benefits we enjoy in life and conscious of the rich blessings we have been given. Grateful people take time to rejoice, which literally means to experience repeated joy through the remembrance of the grace and goodness one has received.

We are blessed. It is important to count our blessings. The truth is that we have so many blessings that the prophet Ezekiel called them Showers of Blessing.

Ezekiel 34:26 -I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.

(AMP) I will make them and the places around My hill (Jerusalem, Zion) a blessing. And I will make showers come down in their season; there will be [abundant] showers of blessing (divine favor).

When God blesses, it is not just a trickle. Not a light drizzle but showers. There are many types of blessings He gives us.

This list is not in order, but if it were this would be the top.  Salvation, deliverance, heaven forever, Jesus as our King, the abiding Holy Spirit, and the Father, the Source of all blessings. Every comfort, help and wisdom of the Spirit of God.  All we can call these are "spiritual riches” for which we should never stop giving God glory.

The ability to walk, breathe, talk, lift, and a thousand other normal motions and actions is fantastic. We could be impaired in hundreds of different ways but God has given us strength, life, and vitality.

Don’t lose sight of all that you have and are for what you want and are not.

God has given me my wife for 34 years. I have three amazing children. I have grandchildren. I come from a great family.

Cars, clothes, food, furniture, beds, and literally hundreds of labor-saving devices (like the computer I am typing this on). I marvel at times at how much “stuff” we have accumulated and we have so many material blessings sometimes we get annoyed at how much we have. Millions of people worldwide have not a drop of clean water or a comfortable piece of clothing.

God has blessed us with many church family and friends.

Philippians 1:3-5 - I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,

Think about the people that God has brought into your life to be a blessing. Stop thinking about the ones that get under your skin and thank God for the ones that are a blessing to your life.

We should take a moment to think through the blessings in our life.  Take inventory on what God has blessed you with and go into your life with a new perspective.  Let’s give thanks.

God is doing a work in His people.  It seems like the default setting in our culture is to find something to complain about. What sets the people of God apart from everyone else is that we are truly grateful for all that God has done and for the people that He has placed in our lives.

We find reasons to be grateful, thankful and appreciative.

I thank God for you. May you find yourself rejoicing in all that God has and all that He has done for you. May we all find ourselves living in contentment, peace and joy.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Harvest.

Remember that YOU are loved and appreciated.
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

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Daniel 2:20-22 - Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever. For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

In the English language all proper names and places are to be capitalized no matter where they are at in a sentence.

The English capitalization rules require that the first letter of certain words is capitalized. Specifically, the pronoun I, the first word of a sentence, and proper nouns like names are capitalized.

The only time that a pronoun like the word he or him is capitalized is when we are referring to God. It is when we are referring to Him that His pronoun is to be capitalized.  This is the only exception in the English language.

Whenever we call Him God, the G is always capitalized. Whenever an idol is referenced, they are called the gods, little g.

My wife and I were noticing something that is happening in the newer translations of the Bible. When referring to our God, the H in He and Him is being made in the lowercase h.

There are many people that think this is insignificant but it is not. As a matter of fact, it is having a profound effect on people.

First, our God is not receiving the honor and reverence that is reserved only for Him.

Secondly, It is having an effect in how people view God. For many He is becoming just a god among many other gods. Little g. To them He is just one way of many ways.

Jesus said in

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

For many people, including some Christinas, their god is not our God. To them He is just a god. Little g.

To them their god is not Almighty, All-powerful or All knowing. Their god is not greater and not Lord of All.

I am convinced that in many ways many of us have grown to be a people that tolerate a God of the lower case in our lives. He is not Lord, Capital L, He is simple someone we say is lord, lowercase. Not Him but him, not He but He, not Father God but simply, a father of the lowercase type.

Instead of us being His creation made in His image, we have an image of God in our mind that looks like us, acts like us and has the same frailties and limitations that we do.

That is not the God of the Bible.

Daniel knew His God. Many of us stand in awe of the type of man that Daniel was in his day. We look around and we want to know where the Daniels of our day are. They are here, but they know their God. They don’t know Him as the God of the little g.

Daniel 11:32b…but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.

The Christians that are making a difference in our world know their God and they know Who He is.

I want to say this – There is no one like our God.

This is something that we are reminded of throughout the Word of God.

Psalm 113:5-6 - Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?

(NLT) Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth.

Psalm 89:6 (NLT) - For who in all of heaven can compare with the Lord? What mightiest angel is anything like the Lord?

Psalm 71:19 (AMP) - Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the [height of the] heavens,
You who have done great things; O God, who is like You, [who is Your equal]?

The answer of course is simple – there is no one like our God!

We must understand that He is all powerful.

One of the names of God in Hebrew is El Shaddai - Literally, this name means “God Almighty,” and it is among the most frequently appearing names for God in the Bible.

A better foundational meaning of El Shaddai may be “the Overpowerer,” which emphasizes God’s power to achieve all His purposes.

He is not just Almighty God He is God Almighty. Might is not just what He has, it is who He is.

He is the Creator – the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Psalm 91:1-2 - Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

Revelation 1:8 - “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Psalm 145:3 - Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.

1 Chronicles 29:11-13 - Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 “Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.

Too often we don’t credit God with the strength that He has.

Our God is bigger, better, stronger, greater than anything or anyone. He is the God of the Big G.

He is not like us or the gods of this world. He will never disappoint us.

You have heard of the strong arm of the law. Let me tell you of the Strong Arm of our God.

As God Almighty He has both the power and Authority to do what needs done. He doesn’t need permission and He doesn’t need more strength – He has it all.

1 Timothy 1:17 - Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

He is the God of the Possible.

Too often we say that He is the God of the impossible. He is not - with Him all things are possible.

There are many things that are not possible for us. They are possible for God.

There are a few things that God cannot do. Those things are limited simply because of who God is.

God cannot lie. It is not possible for Him to be tempted; therefore, He will never tempt us with evil. Our God cannot be unfaithful because of who He is. Even when we are faithless, He is always faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

Too often we limit God to the scope of our abilities and our inabilities.

Luke 18:27 (AMP) - But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Jeremiah 32:17 - Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

He is the healer, the creator, and the God of the possible.

With God the only limitations He has concern who He is.

Why do we limit God? It is because of our unbelief and because of our fear.

Even then our unbelief and fear do not limit who God is. It only limits what He does.

He is a rewarder of those who believe that He is AND THAT – HE IS a Rewarded of those who seek Him.

There is nothing too hard for Him. He is not the God of the little g.

I love how Elijah taunts the 450 prophets of Baal. They dance and cut themselves but their god does nothing.

Elijah pours gallons of water on the sacrifice and simply prays and fire comes from heaven and consumes the sacrifice.

Elijah knew his God.

Do you? DO you serve the God of the Big G or the g?

There is so much more to this that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

I am excited by what God is doing through us as a church.

May the abundant blessing of God rest on you and your family. Remember that you are loved and appreciated.
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

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2 Timothy 3:13 - But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

The Bible tells us that Satan is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44–45 (AMP) - You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me [and continue in your unbelief].

Satan is the exact opposite of Jesus.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Right now, we all have a sense that we are being lied to about everything.

It is hard to trust almost anything that anyone says.

You and I are being lied to on a regular basis. In fact, our entire culture is riddled with deception.

We have governmental agencies like the (Food and Drug Administration) to oversee the ridiculous claims made by advertisers and retailers.

We have social media claiming to “monitor the truth” in our news so that we are not lied to as they manipulate what they want us to see and hear.

Our Government opened and closed what it called an office of truth that was so close to the Nazi’s ministry of truth that it could not hold up to the back lash it was so obviously wrong.

The Bible tells us that in the last days people lying and deceiving will grow worse and worse. That people will be deceiving others and being deceived themselves.

We are in those times.

The Bible tells us that in the last days even the very elect or God’s Chosen ones will be deceived if it is possible.

Matthew 24:24 - For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

That is a powerful statement. If possible. – The truth is that those who are walking in the Holy Spirit will have discernment. Most of God’s elect won’t be fooled. They will be lied to but will be able to see through the lies.

But some who are not paying attention and some who just don’t really want to know will be deceived.

Satan uses every sort of duplicity to lead people away from Truth and into the tangled and confusing realm of Deception. Truth has been outrageously violated in every area of society.

Deception is when you are lied to and you believe it.

Some other words that describe it – Misinformation, disinformation exaggeration, subterfuge, sleight of hand, fake news, distraction, counterfeit, camouflage.

2 Corinthians 11:14 - And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

The word deception could be defined as communication or behavior that is meant to leave others with a false impression. 

Here are some ways that deception is being sown in our culture today:

• Disinformation: deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda.”

• Doublespeak: evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse.

 • Duplicity: deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

• Fabrication: to make up a story or facts for the purpose of deception.

 • Falsehood: Contrary to fact or truth.

 • Fraud: deceit [or] trickery… perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

 • Half-truth: a statement that fails to divulge the whole truth… or using a portion of truthful information to make a lie seem more trustworthy.

• Hypocrisy: a concealment of one’s real character or motives… a deceitful show of a good character, in morals or religion; a counterfeiting of religion.” Actor – To pretend to be something or someone that you are not.

 • Lie: a falsehood uttered for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth.

 • Scam: a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

 • Subterfuge: a cleverly disguised way or strategy used to evade a rule, escape a consequence, hide something. Deceit used in order to achieve one's goal.

Deception has become a part of our culture.

2 Timothy 3:7 - always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Lying has become so common place that we almost expect it and are shocked when people are actually honest.

Lying has become ubiquitous in our culture. We expect that every time a politician opens their mouth that they are lying.

When news is dispensed, we are confident that it is no longer being reported accurately but with the slant and stats manipulated to make them say what they want us to hear so that we will believe what they think is best.

Law has become so nuanced that no one really understands what a lawyer is saying except other lawyers.
The disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the world and the first thing He told them was deception.

Matthew 24:3-5 - Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives youFor many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

Jesus gave many signs, but the first sign Jesus told them about contained a clear warning of a wide-scale deception that would emerge in the last part of the last days — and the need for people to prepare and guard against it. Jesus said, “…Take heed that no man deceives you.”

Take Heed – Pay attention, Live with your eyes wide open, have your Spirit in step with the Spirit of God. – Be decerning.

The word “deceive” is used to depict this period when it will look as if delusion is taking over the world.

It is the Greek word which means to lead astray or to wander off course. This word “deceive” could depict a single individual who has wandered far off course, or it could describe a whole nation or nations that have morally veered from the position once held to be true.

That describes today. – In many ways our world is delusional.

~ Someone said – “Human beings are willing to believe anything, as long as it caters to what they want.”

Satan understands this and has developed philosophies, religions and belief systems that sound so reasonable that they keep us from God because they tell us exactly what we want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3 (AMP) - For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold,

We often think this just means religious teachers and pastors. This goes far beyond that. This includes actual educators (Children and Collegiate), entertainers and so-called experts.

~ Rick Renner – People in the last days will become supernaturally hoodwinked — that is, they will be ensnared by an unparalleled period of deception on every front. This period of deceitfulness will be so intense that people will believe what is false over what is obviously true, even denying facts and truths that are common sense and that nature itself teaches. It will mark a time when wrong belief and delusion will pervade every realm of society. This is the clear teaching of prophetic Scripture about developments that will occur at the conclusion of this age.

I believe that Christians should be the most discerning, wise and aware people in the world.

Why? Because we are people of the Word and people of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Wisdom and discernment.

If anyone can spot and know the difference between the truth and a lie it will be a Christian who walks in the Spirit and who lives by Faith.

This month we are going to unpack this in a big way.

Continue to walk and live in the Truth. You will be of those who know the difference and do not walk in description, Spiritual or otherwise.

Remember you are dearly Loved,
Pastor Marvin and Dawn

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Proverbs 25:11 - A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

All of us like a pat on the back. An Atta – Boy

How many are thankful for those words that come at just the right time?

Encouragement is one of the gifts that God has given to believers to pass on to other people.

 How many have ever gotten an unexpected word of encouragement and been thoroughly blessed by it at just the right time?

 It’s wonderful.  You know what that feels like and understand the difference that it makes in your life and the difference that it can make in others’ lives. 

~ Mother Theresa said that - “being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”.

Everybody needs encouragement.  It doesn’t matter the level of success you’ve had or haven’t had; it doesn’t matter how well off you are or how well off you’re not. 

The truth is everybody needs encouragement no matter how old you are or what you’ve accomplished.  Everyone gets tired sometimes, feels lonely and has disappointments.  Everybody at some point has failed and everyone has had a really blue day.  Sometimes you just wake up and you’re not feeling good at all.

~ Ken Blanchard, one of the great ministers of our time, said, “Encouragement feeds people’s souls”. 

Anytime you speak into someone’s life, something that blesses them or builds them up, it’s like feeding a hungry soul.  Encouragement is a real gift to the one who has that gift of giving encouragement - and to the one who is receiving it. 

The Bible says that encouragement is actually a ministry gift.  It’s a gift that God has given to certain people and is also a tool that God has put into the life of every believer so that they can impact people at any time and at any moment. 

Romans 12:8 (NLT) - If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

At any moment you and I can talk to someone or do something for somebody that builds them up.  You may think you’re not the most talented person in the world but you have a mouth and all it takes is a kind word or a bit of inspiration that can change someone’s entire day.

Depending on your version of Romans 12:8, it’s called the gift of encouragement or the gift of exhortation.  Literally, it’s speaking into someone’s life.  Some people are better at this gift than others but the truth is all of us can work at being an encourager. 

Those who are encouragers will make a name for themselves.

Acts 4:36 (NLT) - For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.

 If you become an encourager, you will make a name for yourself that you won’t be able to shake.  You will be known as someone who pours into others’ lives. 

Barnabas was a priest; that’s what it means when it says he was a Levite.

 He came from the tribe of Levi and was a priest that ministered to the nation.  Mostly he did it with the sacraments and the sacrifices but there was something that stood out about this man. 

Not only did he serve God and do the priestly duties that he was assigned, but there was also something about the Spirit of God that was on his life when he came into contact with other people; they were better for having been around him. 

They called him the son of encouragement because whenever he was around people they were blessed.  I believe every Christian wants to be that way with others.

Those who encourage others have unleashed a power that can change someone’s life.

There’s a story of a teacher who was always speaking positively to this one boy who struggled tremendously in her class.

 He wasn’t the brightest in the class, didn’t have any learning disabilities but wasn’t one of those people who could make straight A’s and not study.  He was one of those people who had to work for even the ‘C’ that he got.  One day when he was handing in his work, the teacher said, “You know, you’re doing a great job.  What are you planning to do when you go to college?”  He looked at her and said, “I never really thought about going to college because I have to work so hard to do this, I’m just not smart enough and could never go to the next level”.  She looked at him and said, “Son, I want to tell you something, not only are you smart, but when you don’t understand things, you work hard to do it and I believe in you.  If you apply yourself, you’re going to go farther than you ever dreamed possible”.

 From that time on, that young man’s whole thought began to change.  His grades began to come up, he graduated and went on to college.  He wound up getting a good job and having a good family.  One day he said, “I credit that teacher for turning my life around because she encouraged me that I could and she challenged me to do my best.  Because she did, I believed I could and I did”. 

Every one of us need someone just like that teacher in our life.

There are people around you right now that no one will speak into their life; people who have been given up on, that no one wants to talk to.  But you and I can be life changers.

 Sometimes we think that being a Christian who makes the difference means that everywhere we go we have to see the miracles of God follow.

 Although his Word says that these signs will follow those who believe, sometimes the simplest thing we can do is just be an encouragement to those who are near us. 

That in itself can feel miraculous to the one being encouraged. Encouragement breaths life into a soul.

~ William Arthur Ward, one of the great poets said, - “Flatter me and I may not believe you; Criticize me and I may not like you; Ignore me and I may not forgive you; Encourage me and I will not forget you”.

As we come to the end of summer lets commit to being a “Barnabas” to others. Let’s all be encouragers.

Remember you are precious to God and to us.
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

Image by RachH from Pixabay

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Romans 1:22-25 - Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For some time now I have been hearing God call me to preach a strong prophetic message concerning our days.

The truth is it seems like the entire world has gone mad.  Today what was once evil is now good. What once was considered good is now considered evil, outdated, small minded and scoffed at.

People believe that male is female, and female is male and anything else that you want it to be.

Today it is clear that people have exchanged the truth of God’s Word for the lies offered by the devil.

Romans chapter one shows us what a society without God will look like.

Today we are watching the collapse of society all around us. While we stand here in awe and unbelief at what we see going on - it has all happened before. Once mighty empires that people thought would never collapse have. The Romans, the Incas, the Aztecs, the Persians, the Babylonians. All of these were once mighty places that believed the lies of the devil and they are no more. They are no longer with us.

America and many places in the world have allowed the lies of the devil to become their truth. It is causing confusion, crime, and the perversion of so many things that it is leaving the heads of even the unsaved spinning. It is obvious that the world is not in a good place.

There are some things that we need to understand about lies.

These lies are what the devil tells us about God – Like he did with Adam and Eve.

It could be lies that we believe about ourselves. Either how good we think we are, which is pride, or how bad that we think we are. We now live defeated, depressed, and dejected.

We must remember that Satan is the Father of lies and that lies are his native language.

John 8:43-45 (NLT) - Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!

Satan thrives on deception by presenting misinformation to promote a hidden agenda. His plan has been to control people through misdirection, deception, and intimidation.

The problem with deceiving is that it …. Does in fact deceive.

The Bible warns us that in the last days people will not put up with truth and sound doctrine but will gather teachers and preachers around them that will tell them lies and what they want to hear. They will scratch any itch that they want to believe.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.

Deception is a huge problem because people who are deceived are absolutely sure that they are correct, that they are accurate and on the side of truth.

In reality they are not correct. They are living and assuming a false reality. This is why deception is so scary and so effective.

It begins by not staying committed to truly Biblical teaching and believing.

The Bible says that people are drawn away by their own desires and they will turn from the truth and embrace fables. Another word for fable is myth… a widely held but false belief or idea. What gives power to the lie is that there are many people who believe it or…. want to believe it… so they do.

The Bible tells us that many in our day will gravitate toward doctrine that is “Culturally” Acceptable. Even if it does not align with God’s Word. This is called selective hearing.

People with selective hearing drift from the truth and gravitate towards those who tell them what they want to hear. This in turn reinforces what they want to believe which governs the way that they live.   This leads to a life of true confusion. They actually believe that good is evil and that evil is good. That light is darkness, and that darkness is light; and that male and female are interchangeable or redefinable.

It is important to understand that deception leads to confusion and confusion leads to delusion which is believing that the truth is a lie and that the lie is the truth. In these days, the Bible speaks about God allowing people to fall into a strong delusion.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-11- The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 

11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

I hear people ask today when they see the lies that people are believing – “Don’t these people know that they are delusional?”  No, they do not because they are deceived.

The Apostle Paul delt with that in his day.

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 - But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

This is something that concerns me as a pastor in our day. People are embracing and putting up with another gospel.

The same deception that deceived Eve is deceiving people today. It has crept into the church and has been cleverly packaged to appeal to the desires of the flesh.

If we leave this problem unaddressed it will continue to weaken the church and allow Satan unfettered control of the world.

We cannot remain silent and we need to grasp the severity of this issue.

We need the discernment of God that will keep us from becoming confused and deceived.

Silence is not an option. We must declare the truth and declare it often so that it counteracts the lies and propaganda that are being told.

Silence communicates agreement and agreement grants permission. We enable deception when we refuse to confront lies.

The Bible says that in the last days because people will not retain God in their knowledge that He will give them over to a debased mind. Different versions say God gave them over to a debased mind, a reprobate mind or foolish thinking. If you're not familiar with the term reprobate, the literal definition in the Greek is failing to pass the test, unapproved, counterfeit.

People today aren’t crazy they are debased. They do not think straight, correctly or in truth. This is rampant in our society at all levels of education and financial spectrums.

The Good news is that we are not crazy either. We are walking in the light of God’s truth.

So, in light of this what are we to do?

Understand the times we are living in. Refuse to compromise ourselves and stay IN the TRUTH. We must refuse to be silent – we must preach and Declare the truth. We must call people individually and our communities and nation – corporately to repentance. If we are in sin We must turn from our wicked ways.

 – We must pray and stand in the gap for our nation.

There will be a lot more to unpack when I preach this message. Listen, God is still on the throne. We are still saved and He is coming back soon. In all the turmoil of the World one thing has remained constant. God is still the same – Yesterday, Today and Forever! -  You are dearly Loved.

Pastor Marvin and Dawn

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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