Peace on earth…?

This past week at the Board of Directors meeting, Bill Bostel brought an insightful devotion that took the listeners through the journey of discovering what is meant in Luke 2 when angels of the Lord visited shepherds and declared to them “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Yet in another place (Matthew 10:24), Jesus declares, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” So which is it? Did Jesus declare peace as stated in Luke 2 or did He come to bring a sword as read in Matthew 10? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Absolutely not!

When reading the Word of God, understanding comes as we examine the translation, context, purpose and audience of what is said. Jesus certainly came to bring peace to all men, however, not all men are willing to accept the peace wrought in Christ. If we look at the fuller, Amplified translation of Luke 2:14, we get a more exact understanding, “Glory to God in the highest (Heaven), and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].” Jesus absolutely came to bring peace to those who have recognized the sinful state they have been born in and through humility, accept the sacrifice and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (men of goodwill on whom God’s favor rests).

It is within this context that we are able to understand Matthew 10:34. Those who continue to reject the Lordship of Christ do not enter into God’s rest nor do they receive the peace He gives. People continue to wield a sword intended to fight against God’s truth, God’s people, and therefore God himself. Jesus indeed brought a sword that separates those bearing Spiritual fruit and seeking the Kingdom of God from those who conflict with Christ’s Lordship. In light of this, we are able to understand the events recently where radical Islamic terrorists murdered individuals in Sydney and Paris. People of all beliefs war because they cannot get what they want and never will due to their rejection of God’s will and His Word (James 4:1-3).

Nations war against nations, terrorists attack those of differing beliefs, political parties fight against each other, families, friends and neighbors continually experience unhealthy divisions and even Christians struggle to be loving. There seems to be no end to the hate we see in the news. The world in general has rejected God’s peace and God’s Savior and carries sword in hand. O’ wretched world we live in…who will deliver us from the sword and ongoing unrest our world marinates in? The Apostle enlightens us in Romans 7:24-25, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ…” When we see a world void of peace…we should be compelled even more to bring the message of peace through Christ to those in such desperate need of Him! When people come to Christ to experience peace with God, He takes away the sword wielded due to hate and sin.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


Read more...

You Can Lead A Horse To Water…

You have heard the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Often, that is so true. You can invite people to church.   They can even accept your invitation and come, but whether they receive the message and believe on the Name of the Lord is another matter. The first couple of Sundays in March we looked at the sin problem and how it applies to us in this world. We discussed how God despises sin and its roots, but also how God addressed the sin problem, by the shedding of Christ’s blood and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We want to close now with why He did it, because of His great love.

Romans 5:8 says this, “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And in Ephesians 2:5, God’s Word tells us, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” He loved us that much; so much that the opportunity for us to even be saved was an act of His abundant mercy. But it gets even better.

We did not even want or desire God at all. God had to draw us to Himself for us to even make a decision to accept His love. In John 6:44-45 (The Message) out of the mouth of Jesus Himself we read, “You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally…” If it were not for the Father God speaking to us, we would never come to Christ. We have to be drawn by the Father and the Holy Spirit, and truly listen, before we can ever make the decision to follow Christ.

Francis Chan, in his bestselling book, “Crazy Love”, said this, “The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” Most, if not all, come to Jesus only after we hear the Father express His love toward us, give us the truth and help us realize what it means, and we need something from Him. That is ok. The important thing is, that we do come because most never come.So come to the trough! Come on and drink up! The water is fine!

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


Read more...

Are We All God’s Children?

This question is an intriguing one, but the Bible gives a clear answer that many of us may not want to hear. We want to believe that all of the world’s residents are God’s children and all belong to Him. It makes us feel better because if this were true, there is no responsibility on our part (or anyone else’s) to make our own salvation sure or take the message of salvation through Christ to others.

Romans 9:8 states, “…they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” What this passage is describing is that being born an Israelite was not an automatic entrance as a child of God. This was a hard saying to the Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day. In our day, we might say that just because a person goes to Church is not an automatic golden Wonka ticket into heaven. In this scripture, the children of promise are those who have put their faith in (believe in, trust in, rely on) Jesus Christ and therefore “received the Spirit of Adoption” (Romans 8:14-16).

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe babies and little children are covered and remain covered under God’s grace until the time they can understand the sacrifice made for them at the cross. However, we are not simply a Christian by our physical birth nor do we have “an in with God” because grandma was a Christian. Scripture does tell us that we are all God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), but we are made sons and daughters of God as we personally put our trust in Christ, declaring Jesus as our Lord and at that time “being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

Jesus Christ went to the cross to die in our place. He did so for this purpose, so that “whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). During this time leading to the Passover and Easter season, let us remember what Christ did for us. Why is this lesson important? So that we are reminded that others need to hear the good news of Christ’s sacrifice so that they may believe and be adopted into God’s family as we have been.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


Read more...

God’s Great Investment

Just recently, Tina, our wonderful Church secretary received a fundraiser coupon book in the mail. You know the type. Church youth groups and school clubs purchase discount books that carry coupons for free stuff from businesses in their local community, then sell them for a bit more in order to raise the needed funds for their organization. Parents, other family and friends purchase these discount books and spend the next few months trying to figure out how they are going to utilize said coupons in order to get their monies worth out of them. A great American activity!

Most of these coupons say something like this: “Receive a free (whatever) with the purchase of one (whatever) of equal or greater value.” A good deal to be sure if you dare to use it. Buy one, get one free. It is good to get something free.   God’s Word describes a similar deal, only His discount goes so much further. In the book of Romans 8:29, we read, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (NAS). In other words, God purchased salvation by giving His one and only son, but got so much more than just one other person was saved in return. The blood of Christ was shed that there would be a mammoth return of men and women into the kingdom of God.

The wonderful thing about this deal is that Jesus paid the original price so that salvation would be a gift of God’s grace. We need not pay a thing, only take advantage of what God has already done; as the scripture states in 1 Corinthians 15:21, “For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (Jesus).” The act of the Savior of the world dying on the cross became the ultimate purchase that makes salvation a free gift for the rest of us; a very good deal if we would but utilize the coupon provided.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


Read more...