No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or where you are on your journey, you are welcome here.  Come join us as we get to know God better. 

by grace. Eph. 2:8


New Hope Christian Church, 3/24/24

Luke 19:29-40 relates one of the four Gospel accounts of Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, five days before His crucifixion. Three kinds of people were present: the crowds acclaiming Him as the Son of David, visitors to Jerusalem asking, “Who is this,” and the Pharisees and other religious leaders who were frightened by His popularity, frightened enough to plot His death.

We must be on the alert against finding ourselves among either the visitors or the Pharisees. One person present, not specifically mentioned in the text, presents us with a warning against developing a hard heart regarding the Person and work of Jesus. This person was the apostle Judas Iscariot (to distinguish him from the other Judas, also called Thaddaeus). Much about his motives is speculation, but we can see the results of Judas’s hardness of heart, first at a dinner in Jesus’ honor at the home of a man called Simon the Leper (no doubt having been previously healed by Jesus); then again at the Last Supper.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” (Matthew 26:20-25)

John’s account takes up where Matthew left off: "As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night" (John 13:27-30).

Why would Judas do such a thing? Regardless of his motive, it indicates a hard heart. Here are three such indicators of that hardness.

Hardened to the Teaching of Jesus

To begin with, Judas became hardened to the teaching of Jesus. Something must have led Judas to follow Jesus in the first place, some faith that Jesus was the Messiah, perhaps because of the preaching of John the Baptizer (John 1:26-36) followed by the statements of others who also would be called to be apostles (1:37-51). However, something led him to ignore what Jesus was saying about His kingdom, that it was a resistance against sin and the victory of faith rather than an overthrow of the Roman occupation. In other words, the kingdom of Heaven deals with developing personal character, not national revolution. (Of course, it would eventually overturn the Roman Empire—see Daniel 2:44; 7:17-27—as well as the current religious order of the Jews—see Hebrews 7:12.)

Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom centered in putting God first in all areas of life. It dealt with personal priorities, obedience to God and His Way over and above everything else in this life. Judas should have paid attention to and accepted what Jesus taught regarding money and God—no one can serve both. John tells us that Judas, unlike Jesus, did not care about the poor but rather that “he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (12:6). Jesus taught about money as much as or perhaps more than anything else. Only a hard heart would explain why this teaching did not reach Judas.

Hardened to the Purpose of Jesus

More specifically, Judas was hardened to the purpose of Jesus’ mission. Like most people of his day, Judas very likely expected the Messiah to overthrow the Roman occupation. (Even John the Baptizer’s father, Zechariah seems to have reflected this belief in his blessing of the new baby—“salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:71)—although the Spirit, speaking through him, meant something else.) If so, Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem must have made him (and many others) ecstatic: this is it! Such excitement must have been tempered the next day when, instead of confronting the Romans, Jesus cleansed the Temple!

Because of Judas’s failure to understand the true purpose of Jesus, he apparently didn’t get the point about the donkey. Quoting Zechariah 9:9, Matthew wrote, “‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”’” (21:5). Not just a donkey, but a colt, emphasizing a gentle King rather than a militant one.

Judas also failed to accept Jesus’ teaching about His mission, that “‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:28). For this reason he didn’t accept Jesus’ predictions (at least, ten) of His death. Just two nights prior to the Last Supper, they had been at the dinner given in honor of Jesus at the home of Simon. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume. Judas objected to the extravagance, but Jesus replied—did He stare into Judas’s eyes, with an acknowledgment that He knew what was in his heart?—“‘Leave her alone. . . . It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial’” (John 12:7). This response, indicating that Jesus was determined to die, may have pushed Judas to take matters into his own hands, intending to force Jesus to rise up against the Romans. (Just the money seems not to be enough motivation for such drastic measures; and the timing surely is significant.) Alternatively, he may have simply given up hope that Jesus would become the Messiah he expected, and his greed led him to make the most of it by making his “bargain with the devil.”

Hardened to the Mercy of Jesus

Judas, at the last, was hardened to Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness, which had constantly been displayed not only in speech (for example, when He had instructed them to forgive others up to seventy-seven times, Matthew 18:22) but also in His own actions: the paralytic—“‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven’” (Matthew 9:2)—the adulteress—“‘Then neither do I condemn you . . . . Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11)—and especially in Jesus’ sticking with His disciples in spite of their many failures of faith.

With Judas himself, Jesus demonstrated His mercy at the beginning by appointing him as one of the apostles, in spite of the fact that He knew his heart. After the feeding of the 5,000, many of Jesus’ followers turned their backs on Him because of His teaching about the Bread of Life. Peter assured Jesus that the Twelve would not desert Him: “‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)” (John 6:68-71). Does this mean that Judas did not have a choice? Not at all! Jesus showed him mercy by doing all that could be done to turn him from a way of life that would have resulted in his eventual doom.  Before he met Jesus he was already headed for Hell. By choosing him as an apostle, Jesus gave Judas the best possibility of turning around his life. However, if living with Jesus day in and day out for three years did not penetrate his heart, nothing could.

Could Judas, then, have been forgiven for his betrayal? Of course! But he could not accept it, having hardened his heart against the teaching, the purpose, and the mercy of the compassionate Savior. Instead, in a fit of regret, he hanged himself rather than turning to Jesus in forgiveness as Peter had done following his own version of betrayal.


In Judas we can see that a hard heart is more than mere stubbornness. Closed to the Way of God, a hard heart is open—to the influence of Satan. Have we closed ourselves off to the influence of the Gospel message, either by neglect or disbelief?

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:14-19)

Refusing to accept the word of God leads to disobeying the Gospel.


New Hope Christian Church, 3/31/24

What do we know about the experience of Jesus on the hill that we call the Mount of Transfiguration? That was a momentous occasion for the three apostles who accompanied Him, Peter, James, and John. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all refer to this event. Moses and Elijah, who had departed this earth centuries earlier, “appeared in glorious splendor,” talking with Jesus about His coming departure from earth back to Heaven. When Peter suggested that they should erect three tents for these heavenly VIPs, a cloud (probably the cloud of glory that we read about in the Old Testament) descended upon them all. Out of the cloud came the voice of God, exclaiming that Jesus was His Son, and that they should listen to Him. During this experience, the appearance of Jesus was changed (transfigured) from His usual human form in such a way that His clothes “became as bright as a flash of lightning” (Luke 9:29). Mark’s account says they were “dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (9:3). Matthew reported that His face “shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (17:2). If this event occurred during the night—Luke writes that they came down from the mountain the next day (9:37)—do you think that maybe the other apostles waiting below might have seen the light above and wondered what was happening?

My car has over 222,000 miles on it. Sooner or later, it’s going to wear out. The same can be said for my body, and yours, too! We will need a new body, one that will not wear out. The apostle Paul promised us that the Holy Spirit uses all that happens to us, good and bad, to transform us into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). Indeed, God has much more in mind for us than transformed minds. He has planned new bodies!

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

We don’t have these new bodies yet, but we will.

To understand the importance of these bodies that we will have in eternity, we have at least three affirmations (things to know) about the new body.

The new bodies will be different from the present ones.

Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). And the apostle John wrote (1 John 3:2), “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” From these two Scriptures we see that the new body will be different from the present one. In fact, your new body will be, in some respects, like Jesus’ body in Heaven, not like His body while here on earth.

Paul goes into much more detail in “the resurrection chapter,” 1 Corinthians 15. First, he writes that there are different kinds of bodies, each kind suited to its unique environment:

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. (15:35-41)

Since we are going to be living on the new earth (Revelation 21-22), we need bodies that will be suited to that environment—unfortunately we know very little about that environment.

Notice, however, that our new body will be a continuation of this one, but different; not a totally new body, but the present one totally renewed. Paul’s illustration of the seed planted helps us to understand this concept. The plant that comes out of the ground does not look like the seed planted, but it is nevertheless a continuation of that seed.

The new bodies will be supernatural.

We can also affirm that the new bodies will not be “physical” (in the biological sense):

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:42-49)

The new bodies will not have the decaying limits of the laws of physics (entropy—the law that everything is running down, decreasing in energy and form). Bananas rot, bodies decay, stars run out of energy, but not our new bodies. That is because they will be like Christ’s, not like Adam’s. Adam died, having been denied fruit from the Tree of Life. All his descendants also die, for we are mortal. Christ, however, is not. He died but His body did not decay, for He was raised from the dead, never to die again (unlike others in Bible times who were raised from the dead).

Paul describes these bodies as supernatural, listing several contrasts with the natural: (1) perishable / imperishable, (2) buried in dishonor / raised in glory, (3) buried in weakness / raised in power, (4) buried a natural body / raised a spiritual body.

Paul affirms that our new bodies will be spiritual. “Spiritual,” in the sense that Paul apparently means in this chapter, does not mean “out of the body” or “floating around like a ghost,” but  “in the power of the Spirit,” that is, adapted to the new environment by the power of Christ (Ephesians 1:19-20—“his incomparably great power for us who believe . . . like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead”) and His Spirit (Romans 8:11—“he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit”).

The new bodies will be changed.

Certainly, in order for the new bodies to be supernatural, they must be changed. "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). These bodies of flesh and blood degrade, and thus it is impossible for them to inherit an eternal kingdom. They are not suited to the new environment. (We can only speculate about this new environment. Will we walk around? Will there be gravity, or will we be able to move like the angels?)

Whether we are dead or alive when Jesus comes back, all will be changed. The living will be transformed on the spot; the dead will come out of the graves already changed. By this change, we will be granted immortality, for death will have been conquered. "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (15:54-57). What causes death? Sin. What gives sin the power to kill? The law of God: the soul that sins will  die (Ezekiel 18:4), for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). What is sin? “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . . Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2).


No matter what we do to delay the aging process, this body will eventually wear out. One more affirmation about the new body must be understood: We must be ready when that time comes, for the new body will be only for those who have received the Son. “Without holiness, no one will receive the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Are you ready? How much time do you think you have? Are you sure?

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:2-5). Therefore, everyone of us must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Only then will we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), eternal life with God.


New Hope Christian Church, 12/31/23

Someone has said that there are two kinds of friends: (1) A loyal friend who laughs at your jokes when they're not so good, and sympathizes with your problems when they're not so bad; and (2) the friends you can always depend on to be around only when they need you.

It is not only okay to have nonchristian friends; it is essential if we are to be salt and light in our world. Our nonchristian friends need to know the Lord, and the best chance they have to get to know Him is through us. Christmas is a time of gift-giving, and the best gift we can give our nonchristian friends is the one God gave at Christmas (or whenever Jesus was born). Of course, we cannot just give Him like we can give a sweater or a box of candy. Giving the gift of salvation in Christ requires three stages of effort on our part. Each stage precedes the following one like opening a nesting doll, then another and another.

Be a Friend

First, we must work on developing friendship, as real friends, not just acquaintances. There are many facets to genuine friendship, but here are a few essential ones. When you are around this friend, who does most of the talking? And when you disagree, how do you handle the disagreements? Listening is so important for developing real friendship. “Active listening” is a term used to help the listener really get to know and understand the talker. Do not assume that you know what they mean. Ask questions. Rephrase what you think you heard; and ask, is that what you mean?

Listening actively is one way of showing that we care. Caring, genuine caring about the other person, is essential for genuine friendship. “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” King David of ancient Israel had a very close friend, Jonathan, the son of King Saul. Jonathan swore allegiance to David even though that meant he himself would never secede to the throne. Saul was jealous of David and often sought to have him killed. One of those times, we read: “While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:15-16). He was truly a caring friend.

A true friend must also be faithful, although such a friend is rare indeed. “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). True friendship requires being true to your word but also sticking by your friends, even when they make mistakes.

Although our goal is to help our friends find salvation in Christ, our friendship must never be just a tool to win them. Our friendship must be genuine whether they share in our faith or not. Jesus called Judas “friend” even at the moment He was being betrayed.

Be a Christian Friend

Friendship alone is not enough, however, for our friends do need the Lord. It is extremely important that our friends know that we are Christians. Saying it is not enough—they need to see it in us. How do they see our Christian commitment? First, we must always be moral, both in language and actions. If we are not living by a higher moral standard than the people of the world, then our friends will see no need to make the kind of changes in their lives that come from being followers of Jesus. Repentance from sin is not just a preaching point but a necessity. The message of John the Baptizer emphasized the coming kingdom of God, but his first point was repentance. Jesus had the same message: “‘But unless you repent, you too will all perish’” (Luke 18:3). If we do not show our repentance in our lifestyle, both in our speech and our actions, our friends will not see their need to change.

Along with being moral, a Christian friend is principled. That is, we stand up for what is right and stand against what is wrong—not as the world sees it but as God’s word teaches. We must not make exceptions in order for others to think well of us. "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me" (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Sometimes Christians are charged with being judgmental or moralistic. That will always be the case, but we can soften the charge, especially with our friends as they get to know us, by acknowledging that we are not perfect, just forgiven—that we make mistakes but are trying our best to follow the teachings of Christ. That is the point of the gospel—it is good news that God will forgive us so long as we are in Christ, which means that we do not make excuses but repent of our own failures. In addition, we demonstrate that we believe in forgiveness by forgiving our friends when they fail us.

A Christian friend also must be grounded in the faith. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16). If you do not feel like you are very well-grounded in the faith, the solution to that is to read and study your Bible, especially the New Testament, regularly. A good short-cut to getting started in your understanding of the Scriptures can be found in the book, Christianity 101: An Introduction to New Testament Christianity as Taught in the Bible, by C. Ermal Allen.

Be a Church-oriented Friend

Once you have established (or continued) a friendship and have demonstrated to your friend what it means to be a Christian, the next stage is to be a church-oriented friend. Not many Christians feel really comfortable in trying to lead their friends to Christ. That’s where the church becomes a valuable resource. You are not on your own.

Church is not a club or just something to do on Sunday. The ministry of the church is the channel of God’s love. It is God’s agent to bring the saving message of Christ to a fallen and dysfunctional world. Church is not just a Sunday morning “service.” Consider the very first church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . . Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42,46-47). God loves everyone, but that does not mean that He approves of what they do or that He forgives everyone who expresses a belief in Him. God wants to endow all with the fullness of His love, but He does so only to those who have come into a personal relationship with Christ. And the church, when it is doing what it should, is the channel through which this relationship is realized.

So, how do you become “church-oriented”? First, get involved in the ministry of the church. Find a way that you can participate in the mission of the church. (The church leaders and teachers, as well as the New Testament, can help you with this.)

Secondly, make sure that you always have positive words about the church when talking with your friends. You can acknowledge that your church, including all leaders and members, is not perfect; but, again, we are forgiven and trying our best to follow Christ in everything.

Third, since none of us is all that a Christian should be, introduce your friends to other friends from church. This way, they will get a better, over-all, picture of church.

Finally, invite your friends to attend church or a Bible study with you. If they are hesitant about doing so, invite them to special events (picnics, concerts, special programs like our live nativity) as well as to regular services. Tell them what to expect when they attend. (Sometimes it is especially helpful to assure them that they won’t be preached at or pressured.)


Giving the gift of salvation requires prayer for our friends, but more than that, it requires planning and effort. Stop now for a moment to thank God for the one person or persons who were most influential in leading you to Christ; now determine to “pass it on.” After all, don’t you want your friends to go to Heaven with you?


New Hope Christian Church, 12/17/23

Christmas means that there is hope for the church! Many have had bad experiences with church, and worse, they often do not seem interested in being shown a different perspective. Have you heard about the two boys who received vastly different Christmas gifts? One received many toys but, upon opening each one, his thought was, “Is that all?” The other received a bucket of manure. His thought was, “Oh boy, there must be a pony somewhere!” It all depends on our perspective, doesn’t it?

Sometimes it seems that the small churches are never going to amount to much, and that the large churches are just seeking to entertain people in order to keep their numbers. Is there hope? The Christmas story reminds us that there is hope: hope for the world, hope for you, and also hope for the church. However, perspective is always the key. We must look for hope in the right place.

The Christmas Story Reminds Us That Our Message Is Good News

If the church is being true to its mission, then the message is good news, news that people need to hear. The angel said to the shepherds, “‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11). In other words, the hope of Israel for many centuries is now a present reality. The Messiah (Christ) is here! The Savior has come! Good news! Great joy! For all the people, yes, even for lowly shepherds!

When the Baby was about six weeks old, He was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord, as all first-born Jewish males had been since the Exodus some 1500 years before. There at the Temple, Mary and Joseph met an elderly woman, Anna, a prophetess who recognized this Child as the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel. She “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

At the same time (2:25-32), the Baby was noticed by a man named Simeon—the context implies that he had lived past the normal life span—who had remarkably received a revelation from God “that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (i.e., Messiah). He recognized this Baby as the fulfillment of that promise. Taking Him in his arms, he “praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’” Good news: this Child was God’s salvation for all people, the glory of the Jews and the light of revelation for the Gentiles.

The Gospel of John does not include a birth narrative, but it does begin with the purpose of the birth of Jesus. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known" (John 1:14,16-18). Just as Simeon spoke of light, so John uses the same symbol regarding Jesus: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (1:4-5). "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (1:9-13).

Good news: salvation does not come through the law, i.e., keeping the rules, but rather through a personal relationship with God through His Son. There is hope for the church because our message is good news.

The Christmas Story Reminds Us to Look for the Silver Lining

Not everything in our world reflects the good news of God. There is hope for the church when we remember to look for the silver lining in everything that happens to us. Herod could not see the silver lining in the message of the Magi that they were looking for the new-born king of the Jews. All Herod could see was a potential rival rather than a Savior.

Joseph, however, after contemplating the need to divorce his pregnant betrothed, was shown the silver lining by the angel Gabriel: she had been telling the truth when she insisted she was still a virgin and that she was carrying the child of God.

At least six weeks after the birth, Joseph was warned that Herod was out to kill the Baby. The flight into Egypt could be seen as one more trouble, but it gave God a chance to show His providence and control over the whole situation.  The silver lining could be seen in both the warning to Joseph and the provision of travel expenses, courtesy of the gifts from the Magi.

Shortly before the flight to Egypt, at the Temple Simeon had a dire prediction for Mary, which probably both confused and frightened her. “‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’” (Luke 2:34-35). No doubt the “sword” was a foreshadowing of the cross. The silver lining of course was that it reflected on a necessary part of our salvation.

When you’re going through trouble, it’s tough to see the silver lining, but we need to keep telling ourselves that God can use anything for good.

The Christmas Story Reminds Us That God Is with Us

The Christmas narratives also remind us that God is with us. The shepherds were told of peace on earth, good will toward men (KJV). The expression is translated differently in the various translations, for the literal translation is “on earth peace among men of good will.” The NIV, “on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests,” probably would express the true meaning if a comma were placed after “men,” rendering the meaning: God’s favor rests on mankind. This understanding would match John 3:16, “For God so loved the world . . . .”

Jesus’ “Christmas” name is Immanuel—God with us (see Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). God’s presence surrounds His people. King Hezekiah had assured his people, “‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles’” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8); and  when the prophet Elisha and his servant found themselves surrounded, Elisha assured, “‘Don’t be afraid . . . . Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16-17). The apostle encouraged his readers, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

When we find ourselves confused or discouraged regarding the church (either our own congregation or the church at large), we need to remind ourselves that God is with us and His power is available to become the kind of church Christ wants us to be and not the kind that we too often see. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).


So don’t get discouraged about the church (ours or the universal) just because of the past or present state of affairs. There is hope!


New Hope Christian Church, 12/10/23

Do you sometimes feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Is there some part of your life that makes you feel like giving up? We all encounter all sorts of troubles in this life, troubles that sometimes pile upon us or squeeze us to the point that we think we just cannot keep going. We need something to give us hope.

The story has been told of a young man who expected upon graduation a new car from his father. Instead, he received only a Bible. Disappointed, he threw it down and did not see it again until his father died. Going through his father’s effects, he found the Bible; leafing through its pages he found a check for the car! Sometimes we lose hope because we are not looking in the right place. Here are four Christmas presents from God, blessings which can renew your hope, if you’re willing to look in the right place.

A Clear Conscience

It seems that some people have no conscience, but most of us definitely do. Consider Paul’s self-evaluation in Romans 7:22-24. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Do you sometimes feel that way, that no matter how much you try, you just cannot seem to win over your sinful urges? Paul found that God had a solution for that: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25). Therefore he could say, “I thank God, whom I serve . . . with a clear conscience” (2 Timothy 1:3). What was the solution?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. . . . If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:8,10). We have all sinned, and all sin from time to time. However, here is the solution for those of us who have obeyed the gospel: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). God wants us to refrain from sinning, but He knows that we sometimes fail. And so, John continues: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

Hebrews 10:22 speaks of our sins being cleared from our account with God: “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Two actions (which occur simultaneously) are mentioned in relation to the cleansing of the conscience. The washing of the body with “pure water” refers, of course, to baptism, i.e., immersion in water, into Christ. Since there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), we must understand that this one baptism involves all that is said in the New Testament regarding Christian baptism. The water is said to be pure because in it our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), not because the water per se has that effect but rather that God removes (forgives) our sins in accordance with His promise (Acts 2:38). Peter describes it as an inner effect that occurs at the time of the outer action: It is “baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

The other simultaneous action involved in cleansing us from a guilty conscience is “having our hearts sprinkled.” That is a reference to the blood of Christ being applied to us as we are “baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3). The Mosaic Law foreshadowed this action by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices upon the Ark of the Covenant on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:14-15). 1 Peter 1:2 refers to our “obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.” When we obey the gospel, i.e., put our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, turn from our sins, and are baptized into Him, then God keeps His promise (pledge) to forgive us our sins and give us the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we do not need to feel guilty before God, for He has cleared our account with Him. Hebrews 9:14 contrasts our status before God with that of those who were under the Law of Moses, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” That leads us to another present from God that we receive through Christ, offering us hope.

Significance in Your Life

No one wants to be like the lady who was buried (really) with her epitaph reading only, “She Died” (no name, dates or other info about her). We want to know that our lives mean something, that we have a purpose, and thus there is significance in living. We want to leave our mark (large or small) on this world and, when we are gone, to know that we will be missed. A second Christmas present from God is just this: we do matter—there is a reason to live. This significance comes in two forms.

First, we know we are significant when someone cares about us. The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) tells the story of a young man who thought that significance comes from enjoying life, having a good time. When he ran out of money, however, he found that none of his new “friends” cared about him. The best job he could get was feeding pigs. “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (15:16-17). He decided to return home and beg to be hired as a servant. Instead, to his surprise, his father reinstated him into the family. This parable illustrates God’s care for all, even though they have wandered away from His righteousness.

You are significant, you are important, because someone cares for you! You are invited to humble yourself “under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). This care is especially demonstrated in His gift to the world: “‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’” (John 3:16). This care is extended through the mission of the church, which Christ set up to provide a family of individuals who care for one another. We have been charged to demonstrate our unity as we show “equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). This spiritually-based family is especially needed in this world of loneliness and selfishness.

God also gives us significance in providing a purpose for living. This purpose, as well as being cared for, is primarily exercised through Christ’s church. Everyone has talents they can use for all kinds of worthwhile occupations, but we have a greater purpose than just making a living; and that purpose is discovered in our membership in the body of Christ. As a general statement, encompassing all individual purposes, we can sum up our purpose as Paul did: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Our purpose in life is to live for Him. Peter wrote, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).

God did not put us on earth just to exist but rather to carry out His will, finding our place in the majestic work of saving people from their sins.

Guidance Through Life’s Troubles

The third present from God, in the gift of His Son, is guidance, instruction for living the kind of life we were meant to live. The troubles and trials of life keep interfering with our appreciation of life. Mankind has constantly struggled with “the problem of pain,” to the extent that people are constantly searching for help. Some just try to ignore the troubles through drugs, alcohol, constant adventures, and/or multiple sexual partners. Others seek help from man-made religion, astrology, or fortune-telling. Still others bury themselves in otherwise worthy activities such as work, recreation, or family.

God, however, grants us His wisdom. He began with individual instruction to the first generations (e.g., Adam, Noah, Abraham), then continued through the Scriptures. Psalm 19:7-11 portrays beautifully the blessings of the written word of God (often called “the Law”):

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

And so, Paul concludes, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans  15:4.

The teaching of Christ is the pinnacle of instruction regarding a life amid trouble. “‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock’” (Matthew 7:24-25). The difference between the wise man and the foolish man was not in knowing or in experiencing troubles but rather in putting Christ’s teaching into practice, thus overcoming trouble. (Of course, the teaching of Christ includes that of the apostles and therefore the entire New Testament—John 16:12-15.)

To Be Loved

Perhaps the number one ache of men and women is the need to be loved. God’s present to us all was love in the form of a Person, His Son. “For God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16). In fact, the apostle John, who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” defined what true love is: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16). To Paul this kind of love is what defined his life: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). You are loved, and you are especially loved as you live in obedience to Jesus, thus demonstrating your love for Him. “‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him’” (John 14:21).


Christmas offers us hope through God’s special gift, Jesus Christ, but that hope must be accepted. If you are a Christian (clothed with Christ through faith and baptism—Galatians 3:26-27), then you accept this gift of hope through faith, i.e., by trusting His word.

If you have not yet surrendered to Him, that hope is accepted only by doing so. Just a reminder: we become a Christian by believing in and trusting Jesus, followed up by turning from sin, and then entering into a saving union with Him by being baptized into Him. (If you need more instruction regarding this process of becoming a Christian, please ask.) Won’t you commit yourself to following Him so that this hope will be realized in your life?


(And How Shall We Pray Regarding the Current Warfare in Israel?)

New Hope Christian Church, 12/3/23

Have you read about the woman who was buried with a fork in her hand? At the visitation, the funeral director was asked, “Why does she have a fork in her hand?” He explained, “She knew she would soon die, so she came into my office to make the final arrangements. She requested the fork, with this explanation: ‘When I was a little girl, I was always glad when, at the end of the meal, someone would remove the dishes and say, “You may keep your fork.” I learned quickly that this instruction meant that there was something better coming. And so I want people at my funeral to know that my life has not ended; rather something better is coming!’”

Every Christmas season we hear many explanations of “the real meaning of Christmas.” Most of these relate to family, friends, giving, etc., but the best answer on television is given by Linus, friend of Charlie Brown. The real meaning of Christmas is the coming of Jesus.

Christmas is all about hope. Something better is coming, so you had better “keep your fork”! Please read on and explore one aspect of this hope: Christmas means hope for the world. Christmas is the message that God has intervened in this world in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us consider the following three ways in which the message of Christmas offers hope for the world.

Christmas is the message of salvation.

Salvation refers to being rescued from a dreadful condition. The condition in this case is the state in which we all find ourselves as a result of our sins against God. The word of God puts it this way: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air . . . . All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The consequences of sin are (1) guilt before God, (2) an addiction to sin, and (3) the penalty to be received on the Day of Judgment (sentenced to an eternity in Hell). A dreadful condition, indeed!

Christmas is the promise of a solution for this awful condition: Jesus Christ came into the world to give “himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age . . .” (Galatians 1:4). That is, through a personal relationship with Christ we are saved from the guilt of sin, the power of sin, and the penalty for sin.

Sin got you down? There is hope. Come to Jesus!

Christmas is the message of contentment.

Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah (around 600 BC), God described the condition of the people of Israel as follows: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13) They were searching for something that would satisfy them but were rejecting the very thing that would enable them to be content, i.e., a right relationship with God.

Our society as well keeps looking in the wrong places for real happiness and contentment. Alcohol, drugs, casual sex, gambling, serial marriages (one after another), sports, power, money, and various forms of entertainment are often tried; but in the end they all fail to provide true contentment.

Christmas is the message that true satisfaction and contentment in life come only through the spiritual and emotional healing that accompany a personal relationship with Christ. Jesus Himself described the solution this way: The money-motivated religious leader “‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’” (John 10:10). And again: ‘“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (John 7:37-39).

Christ’s gift to us of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) brings a greater contentment than anything else being tried, resulting in genuine satisfaction in one’s life.

Christmas is the message of peace.

The plight of the human condition is described in God’s word as follows: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). When we look around at our society, we notice many decent, hard-working, and generous people; but when we look at our world as a whole, we recognize that the Bible’s description is indeed true. In fact, at Christmas time, when the angels’ message is repeated, “Peace on earth,” many ask, “Where’s the peace?”

The solution to a dysfunctional world, a world not at peace with itself as well as God, really is the message of Christmas: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4-5). 

Those who truly become Christ-followers find peace with themselves and with God, and they work to bring that peace to their communities.

Addendum on Israel

Considering this message of hope for the world, how shall we pray regarding the current war in Israel? One thing we always need to keep in mind, when asking God to change any situation, is the freedom (free will) that God has given all to make their own choices. He is not going to violate the free will of anyone, although He will eventually (sooner or later) bring all to judgment for their choices. He has commanded “‘all people everywhere to repent [of their sins]. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead’” (Acts 17:30-31). He may change circumstances in their lives to stop them from their actions or send someone to warn them to stop, but He does not force them to change their minds.

With that reminder, let us consider how to pray regarding the present crisis. We can pray for a quick victory by Israel over Hamas. (The quicker the victory, the fewer civilian casualties.) The government of Israel, as any government, has the responsibility for maintaining justice and peace for its people. In Israel, that includes both Jews and Palestinians. “The authorities that exist have been established by God. . . . For [the authority] is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:1-4). Asking for God’s aid toward a quick victory over Hamas is the best outcome for both Jews and Palestinians, for both are suffering under the vicious rule of Hamas and their supporters.

Second, we need to pray for protection and endurance for the Christians in both areas (Jewish and Palestinian). We have an example of such prayers (although the text omits the specifics) when the apostle Peter, after the martyrdom of James, was arrested. “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). Were they praying for his release or just for his perseverance and faithfulness? Either way, they were surprised when, after being rescued by an angel, he showed up at their door (12:12)!

Finally, we also need to be praying for the salvation of all concerned, Jews and non-Jews. Paul told Timothy to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). Why? So that the gospel might be preached to all. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2:3-4). Where the gospel of Messiah’s grace is preached and heeded, peace reigns.


God does not force us into salvation, contentment, or peace. He lets us choose: our way or His way. Only His way brings what we really need and ultimately want. What about you?  Do you have the hope of Christmas? The message of Christmas is indeed a message of hope.


Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. ©1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.


New Hope Christian Church, 11/26/23

John 9 tells us of an incident in Jesus’ ministry in which He restored a blind man’s sight. In this narrative three kinds of blindness are demonstrated: (1) physical, the blind man himself; (2) spiritual, i.e., ignorance of the apostles and others regarding the cause of the man’s blindness; also, at first, the man’s ignorance (and probably also that of his parents) regarding the true identity of Jesus; and (3) the willful, stubborn blindness by the Pharisees in their refusal to examine or accept the evidence regarding the identity of Jesus.

Physical blindness is serious, but spiritual blindness, if not corrected, is eternal. That’s why God, in His love, has sent messengers to bring sight to the spiritually blind. In Paul’s commission to be an apostle, he was told, “‘I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’” (Acts 26:17-18). This was the same commission given to all the apostles, and through their teaching, to His church. We have been sent into the world to “open their eyes.” What will it take to open their eyes? Here are three indispensable requirements.

Laborers for the Harvest

Jesus used the figure of a harvest to describe the process of helping people to know the Lord and thus be saved. A harvest requires harvesters. Therefore, one of the few things that Jesus specifically asked his disciples (followers, Christians) to pray for was laborers for the harvest. “‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Luke 10:2). Harvesting first requires planting and cultivation. If you don’t sow, you can’t reap. In regard to evangelism, Paul describes these processes as planting and watering: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Then, after sufficient growth, comes the harvest: “‘Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor’” (John 4:35-38).

The apostles of Christ established the church and planted the first congregations. Evangelists continue this work of planting and watering by starting new churches and training churches, old and new, to be more evangelistic. Paul charged the evangelist, Timothy, with a multi-generational task, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Writing to another one of his protégés, stationed in Crete, he charged him to “straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5).

The task, however, requires more than professional evangelists. Every disciple (follower of Jesus) is expected to be a partner in God’s enterprise (bringing salvation to the world). We do not all play the same part in this partnership, but we do all have a part: "For by the grace [God-empowered ministry] given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us" (Romans 12:3-6).

We each have a role to play, a service to perform in the name of Christ. The role is to be determined by our abilities, our resources, our opportunities, and our vision of what needs to be done. Then the question becomes, how much faith will this require of you? Do you trust God to give you what you need?

In addition to our specific roles, as explained above, we all have a common task: to reach out to those people with whom we have regular contact. These include family, work associates, and social acquaintances. For most Christians, this seems like a difficult task. However, as with any new task, initiative, practice, and experience will help. These contacts—let’s call them our “neighbors”—are the people for whom we need to develop a concern for their eternal salvation. The Gospels provide us with a few examples of people reaching out to their neighbors.

* “When they had seen him [the newborn Savior], they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:17-18).

* “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (Mark 5:18-20).

* “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ)” (John 1:40-41).

* “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip” (John 1:45-46).

An exceptional example is “the woman at the well” (John 4:28-29,39-42):

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” . . . Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Christians inviting and teaching their neighbors are following her example.

What are you thinking? You can’t do it? Sure you can. Here are some suggestions for how you can non-intrusively reach out to your neighbors:

(1) Watch for openings (don’t force) to say something about Jesus or invite to church assemblies and activities. They may be more open to attend if you have something positive to say about the assembly or special programs or activities.

(2) Open your home to small-group Bible studies, maybe your neighbors or some of your friends.

(3) You can do it! If you’re afraid they might ask questions you cannot answer, get to know your Bible. Become well acquainted yourself with Christianity 101 (Ermal’s book) or even give a copy to them. (If you cannot afford to purchase from the publisher, see Ermal for a free copy.)

Pray for laborers for the harvest, and don’t be surprised if God’s response is, “You go” (Luke 10:2-3).

Broken Jars (aka Clay Pots)

It is true that we cannot be most effective in the harvest when trying to evangelize under our own power. Thus the second requirement for a harvest is that we become broken jars. Why must the jars be broken? To let the light out! We have a literal example of this in the book of Judges.

Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. . . . Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” (Judges 7:16,19-20).

And a great victory followed as the Midianites fought each other in the chaos. (The Gideons, a Bible-distribution ministry, use this story as the inspiration for their ministry.)

The apostle Paul wrote, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The “god of this age” is no doubt the devil, for he is a master of deception. However, Paul teaches us that the light of the gospel can still be effective: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (4:5-6). This light that has come into us can also penetrate hearts filled with sin and hopelessness. How? Only through broken “jars of clay,” i.e., Christians, who suffer the troubles that are common to human beings. He continues (4:7-11):

But we have this treasure [the light of the gospel] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

Through faith in Christ we rise above the ills of life. Our hardships and weaknesses become opportunities for Jesus’ grace (power) to shine into the hearts of the lost. Paul was not talking hypothetically. He was writing from his own experience (2 Corinthians 12:7-10):

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(See 11:23-28 for another list of his struggles.) How do you keep your faith when you suffer so much? By His power. If God is not removing your present difficulty—and it is okay to pray that He will—it may be because He wants you to experience the power of His grace, the power to persevere, to endure, to be patient, until He uses you to help others see your faith. When they do see your faith, the light of Jesus has the opportunity to pierce their hearts. His grace (overcoming power) is sufficient for you! In order for others to see the light in us, we must be broken.

We must not underestimate the need for faith, faith in His power. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

If your faith is weak, then you must go to the source of faith, the word of God: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

We can only be effective in showing others the way to salvation if we accept that our struggles with life are essential for the light of the gospel of Christ to shine through us.

Money — Let’s Get Real!

The third requirement for reaching people with the saving gospel of Christ—let’s face it—is money. God is not going to save people apart from the church’s obedience to the Great Commission. “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15). Indeed, how can they hear without someone going to them? We can all go to those near us, but how will those who are far away hear? We must send them—and that means money. Money is necessary for the local congregation we attend as well as for church planting in other parts of our country and around the world.

3 John 1:5-8 tells us about some traveling evangelists: “Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.” “Showing hospitality” is his way of saying we provide for their needs as they go forth to spread the gospel, planting new churches.

The church at Philippi often sent money to Paul so that he could preach unhindered without having to support himself. Sometimes he did not have such help and had to spend most of his time working for a living. See Acts 18:1-5 as an example. However, 18:5 refers to an offering from Macedonia (where Philippi was located) that enabled him to preach full-time in the city of Corinth. He later wrote (Philippians 4:15-18):

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

We all have financial needs (mortgage or rent, food, insurance, medical bills, cars, etc.), and those needs require our attention; but how do they rate in regard to the needs of spreading the gospel? Jesus urged His followers (Luke 16:9-12): “'I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?'”

Certainly we must use money to enable us to live here and now, but we must not forget that money spent in spreading the gospel here and around the world has eternal significance. Will there be friends in Heaven waiting for you, eager to thank you for making sacrifices and telling them the message of salvation?


“‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached’” (Luke 16:16). Have you accepted that good news? And, if you have, are your eyes open to the second most important job of a Christian? (The first is to make certain you are in the Kingdom.) Everything else is temporary!


New Hope Christian Church, 11/19/23

What is the one thing common to nearly every group in society, regardless of its purpose or membership? They all like to eat together! Is that all that church dinners mean to us? It should not be, for a proper appreciation of fellowship dinners requires an understanding of the reason we have them. That reason involves two words from the Greek text of the New Testament, koinonia and agape. Both are essential for an adequate discussion of Christian fellowship dinners. What is a fellowship dinner? Fellowship dinners are expressions of God’s love for us and our love for one another. Consider the following three reasons for Christians to eat together.

Old Covenant Background

The covenant that God made with Israel led to many occasions for eating together as the people of God. The Scriptures (which we call the Old Testament) refer to these occasions in connection with certain sacrifices and feasts. (The “feasts” are more correctly called festivals because they were festive breaks from the hard work in an agricultural society, including times of worship, surely, but also times of joy, eating, and reconnecting with family and friends.) For example, after King Manasseh (perhaps the most evil king of Judah) had been brought to repentance, he made an attempt to lead Israel out of their idolatry. The record states, “Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:16). This verse introduces us to two types of offerings: fellowship and thank offerings, although the fellowship offering could also be offered as a thank offering (Leviticus 7:11-13).

What the NIV calls a fellowship offering and the KJV a peace offering was in fact better rendered as a peace-offering. Peace-offerings were of two kinds. First, a peace-offering was a gift or sacrifice intended to establish a peaceful relationship with someone (such as God or an enemy). Husbands know this kind of peace-offering, perhaps flowers or candy! For a Biblical example, see 2 Samuel 24:10,15,18,25. On the other hand, a peace-offering, when also offered as a thank offering, could be a sacrifice acknowledging that peace with God had been established.

When establishing a peace pact, it was common in Old Testament days to include a covenant meal that functioned as a recognition of peace and fellowship with those who had been at odds with one another. One example can be found in 2 Samuel 3:19-21. “Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin wanted to do. When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a compact with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.” The negotiations toward peace included a feast.

An example of fellowship offerings (peace-offerings) in the context of peace already established with God is found in 2 Samuel 6:17-19, relating the occasion when King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem: “They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women.” Notice that this occasion called for worship, celebration (leaping and dancing before the Lord along with shouting and the sound of trumpets, 6:13-16), blessing the people, and food.

The thank offering (KJV, sacrifice of thanksgiving) was, of course a gift to express thanks for some blessing from God. These sacrifices could be individual, but they were commonly made by massive gatherings of individuals. For example, in 2 Chronicles 29:27-31,35-36,

Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the Lord began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed. When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped. King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed their heads and worshiped. Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the Lord.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings. . . . There were burnt offerings in abundance, together with the fat of the fellowship offerings and the drink offerings that accompanied the burnt offerings. So the service of the temple of the Lord was reestablished. Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.

Notice that this assembly included worship, burnt offerings, self-dedication, as well as fellowship offerings along with their thank offerings, all as they rejoiced in what God had done for them.

Expression of Our Fellowship with God

Now that we have looked at the Old Testament background for fellowship dinners, we can see that our church dinners should be an expression of our fellowship with God. In our case, it is not to have our sins forgiven in order to get right with God, but rather as a celebration of and thanksgiving for the act of Christ on the cross which has brought us salvation. Jesus of Nazareth became our peace-offering, resulting in a state of fellowship with God.

God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:19-21)

Thus we are saved, at peace with Him, as the apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. . . . While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-2,8-11)

We rejoice and celebrate together that we have found peace in Him.

Our fellowship with God is also expressed in the new status, as members of His family. We have been born again, born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3,5). Paul uses another expression for entrance into this family, adoption. We had been children of Adam but now we have been adopted as God’s sons “through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5) “that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:5). (“Sons” in these contexts does not refer only to males but rather to legal heirs, as was the case in ancient times.)

We have been called “into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). The entire first chapter of 1 John is about this fellowship, but we will quote only a few sections: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1:3-4). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1:7). Jesus is the light, and so long as we remain faithful to Him, we are in the fellowship; and He cleanses us from all sin (not just our past sins).

Coming together to eat with one another is an act in which we affirm that we have come into an eternal fellowship with God; and we are thankful for it!

Expression of Our Fellowship with One Another

Our fellowship is also expressed as we celebrate the life we have in common with one another.  The New Testament calls this koinonia. It is translated variously as fellowship, participation, partnership, communion, and contribution, In Acts 2:44-46, it is associated with eating together: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . .  All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

This koinonia is amplified in Acts 4:32,34-35. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. . . .  There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

Fellowship dinners were common in the early days of the church as an extension of the Lord’s Supper. Notice the use of similar language to refer to both the Lord’s Supper, “the breaking of bread,” in Acts 2:42, and their daily meals, “broke bread in their homes and ate together,” in 2:46. In these early joyful days, they may have even eaten the Lord’s Supper in their homes on a daily basis.

The practice of normally having a fellowship meal along with the Lord’s Supper on Sunday is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The Lord’s Supper itself is called koinonia in 10:16-17. “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” The NIV translates it as participation, which is very close to the concept. “Joint participation” would be even better. Other translations include “communion” (KJV) and “sharing” (New American Standard). Verse 17 implies that the sharing or communion is not just communion with Christ but rather that we are sharing together—in other words, even though we eat and drink individually, we are acknowledging that we are not doing it alone.

Jude 1:12 uses the word agape (in its plural form) to describe the meals that accompanied the Lord’s Supper. Referring to some godless people who had infiltrated the church with both false teaching and immoral behavior, he wrote, “These men are blemishes at your love feasts [agape], eating with you without the slightest qualm.” Agape is a common New Testament word for the love of God for us, our love for God, and Christians’ love for one another. Sometime late in the first century it took on the additional meaning of “love feast,” thus emphasizing the main point of these meals that accompanied the Lord’s Supper.

When we compare Jude 1:12 with 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, we can see the close connection between fellowship and love. Church dinners are (should be) expressions of both.

Fellowship dinners are also an invitation to those who have not obeyed the gospel to join us in full fellowship. The Lord’s Supper is just for His followers, but the fellowship dinner is for all who are seeking to know more about Him. Jesus illustrated this invitation in the parable in Matthew 22:2-4, “‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’”

“All things are ready, come to the feast.”


Fellowship dinners are not just excuses to eat together. They are a sign of sharing a common life with one another in Christ and a desire for others to join us in discipleship. Have you heard the invitation? Have you accepted it?

All things are ready,” come to the feast! / Come for the table now is spread;

Ye famishing, ye weary, come, / And thou shalt be richly fed.


“All things are ready,” come to the feast! / Come, for the door is open wide;

A place of honor is reserved / For you at the Master’s side.

“All things are ready,” come to the feast! / Come, while He waits to welcome thee;

Delay not while this day is thine, / Tomorrow may never be.

“All things are ready,” come to the feast! / Leave every care and worldly strife;

Come, feast upon the Christ of God / And drink everlasting life.

Hear the invitation, / Come, whosoever will;

Praise God for full salvation / For whosoever will.

(“All Things Are Ready,” Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, Public Domain)


New Hope Christian Church, 6/18/23

King David kept a company of thirty mighty men along with a special group known as The Three. 2 Sam 23:8-12 tells of some of the exploits of these Three, exploits that in real life rivaled some of the heroes in Greek mythology.

These are the names of David’s mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

(You can also read in the same chapter about a couple of heroic exploits by some of the others.)

These days call for mighty men for God, but not the same kind. We need to understand that fatherhood requires manhood—men who will take on the responsibilities that go with being a father. (Now in America the majority of babies are born to unwed mothers. Although we may be critical of the mothers, the fathers are more to blame.) In these times, however, more is needed than just responsible fathers. The times call for God’s men to step up to the plate. What does it take to be one of God’s Mighty Men? 

God’s Mighty Men Are Courageous.

One characteristic of God’s mighty men is that they understand the signs of the times. When David was putting his kingdom in order, one necessity was a standing army. Each of the twelve tribes sent officers and men to join up. Among them were the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). They recognized that a new regime would face immediate opposition from surrounding nations. God’s men of today need to be aware of what is going on around them locally and nationally. The political situation, of course, is serious, but government is often in league with philosophical, cultural, and educational forces that seek to overthrow God’s values of decency and morality. These forces not only affect the institutions of our society but also worm their way into our churches, our homes and even our minds. We need men to step up to the plate with an awareness of our times in one hand and the Bible in the other.

Such an effort requires that God’s men face the times with courage. Godly women are women of courage, but there is something about the way God made us that especially calls for men to face evil with courage. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Those encouragements imply an opposition. If evil is not confronted, it will prevail.

Where do we get such courage, especially when it appears that we are outnumbered? God’s mighty men go forth in the power of Christ. They take the young man David as their example. When faced with the challenge of Goliath, Saul’s Israelite army shrank from combat. David, however, armed only with a sling and five stones he had picked up on the way, answered:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

This was not bravado or machismo, but rather faith in an omnipotent God. “‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them’” (2 Kings 6:16). “‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles’” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). “‘“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”’ . . . ‘Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful’” (2 Chronicles 20:15,20). “‘Be strong and very courageous. . . . Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’” (Joshua 1:7-9). God’s people have a long history of depending on Him in the face of opposition.

God’s Mighty Men Are Committed.

Sometimes it seems that God’s men should be “committed,” but that’s not what this characteristic means. It means dedicated, devoted, given totally to. Notice how many of the above quotes on courage have to do with trusting the word of God. God’s mighty men are committed to God’s word because they trust it. It has been around thousands of years and is still trusted by millions of believers. God’s word is not just “believed,” for it can be trusted and therefore acted upon. As Paul told Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

God’s word was written by men of the church (Spirit-inspired apostles and prophets, not just common believers), but it was not produced by the church. It was God-breathed, that is, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). The result was the same as if God had literally breathed onto the pages. Therefore, it can be trusted.

God’s mighty men are also committed to the mission of Christ’s church. They are not satisfied with just going to church and trying to be good. They are not interested in power or getting their own way, for their priority as Christians is to find better ways to help others to know the Lord.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore . . . on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)

Therefore, they are committed to following Christ’s commission to the church: “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into [mg.] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Because it is necessary for orderly and efficient obedience to the Great Commission, God’s mighty men are committed to the leadership of Christ’s church. Of course, this commitment is foremost to the apostles of Christ (and thus the New Testament), but then to the elders of the church (even when they are among the eldership): “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

God’s Mighty Men Are Loving.

After telling the men in Corinth to be men of courage and to be strong, he next wrote, “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). Men, women, and children, of course, are all to love God above everything and everybody else. (We are way too slow to take this command seriously.) “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment’” (Matthew 22:36-38). He did not say that all commands are all equal. Therefore, His men are not to put anything or anyone (not self, not family, not work, not church) above their commitment to loving and obeying God. By the way, loving and obeying God are not two separate commands. “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:3).

Next, God’s men must love all people. That does not mean that they must have a warm feeling toward others, but it does mean that they are to care for the needs of others. Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:44-47).

God’s man must especially love his wife and children. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28). “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). It is extremely important that men understand that there is more to being God’s man in regard to loving the family than just providing for them materially.

Although this next point seems to be redundant, God’s men must also realize their responsibility toward loving fellow believers. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14). “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).


Men, have you been a mighty man of God? Are you ready to step up to the plate?

Moms, do you think maybe a copy of this sermon should be given to your sons?


New Hope Christian Church, 9/11/16

July 4, 1776 – Dec. 7, 1941 – June 6, 1943 – Nov. 22, 1963 – July 20, 1969 – Sept 11 (9/11), 2001. All are dates that the people of American living at the time could never forget. Few could ever forget where they were and what they were doing when they got the news of each of those eventful days. Remembering these days is not just a mental exercise––it helps us to understand the very fabric of our nation, why we are what we are. We should commemorate those days in history that affected not only their own generations but also generations to come. Accordingly, it is only proper that we, from time to time, give special consideration to 9/11.

Called to Remember

Remember the 3,000 plus Americans who were killed simply because of their location on that fateful morning. Remember the first responders who ran into rather than away from the unfolding disaster. Remember the passengers on United Flight 93 who chose to bring down their plane rather than let it be used as a missile against a target in Washington D.C.

Remember that the attacks by Islamic radicals were the result of hatred toward America. They hate the United States because we are the number one supporter of Israel, the number one enemy of the militant Islamists. More than that, they hate the U.S.A. because they see us as their number one impediment to Islam’s recovery as a world power on account of our military and financial strength, and most of all as the strongest center of Christianity.

Called to Repent

Contrary to many charges in 2001, America did not bring 9/11 upon ourselves. We have always been the strongest supporter of nations who seek to live in peace with others. As a nation and also as private entities, we have always been the first and the most generous when disaster strikes other nations, including nations who seek us harm. We have a long history of building back countries who have attacked us and our allies.

Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves why God did not help our authorities prevent the attacks. Do we have the right to ask God to continue to bless America when not only many of our citizens but increasingly our duly elected and appointed segments of government, our representatives, not only allow moral degradation toward depravity but actually promote it? We are not yet to the point of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29) or the Amorites of the 15th century BC (Deuteronomy 9:3-4), but we seem to be headed in that direction. Whether or not God’s punishment is soon to come upon us, we who claim to be His people must take the lead by setting proper examples of a moral people.

What does our morality have to do with 9/11? Consider a similar (though minor, compared to 9/11) set of circumstances mentioned by Jesus (Luke 13:1-5):

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Called to Act: “Let’s Roll”

When they received reports of the attacks in New York, the  passengers on United Flight 93 decided to prevent their hijackers from a similar attack on Washington D.C. It was reported that a Christian by the name of Todd Beamer was overheard by a 911 call screener as he called out to his fellow passengers, “Let’s Roll.” They then overpowered their hijackers enough that the plane was brought down in rural Pennsylvania, either by their efforts or by the hijackers themselves as they realized their plot had been foiled.

Enemies from without and enemies from within are constantly threatening our nation and our culture. It has been said that the Roman Empire did not fall because of the barbarians’ invasions but rather because of its moral corruption, especially on the part of the ruling classes. To save our country for future generations, we must take action. Individuals, families, and communities must turn to God and His word. Then, we must vote—and some Christians need to run for office—so that we can preserve our peace and stand up for morality.

(Scripture from NIV, 1984, used by permission.)

Sunday Services 

Directions                                                                                                      We are meeting at 105 N. Main St., Creston, OH 44217 


An Introduction to New Testament Christianity as Taught in the Bible

Christianity 101 provides a starting point to answering the question, “What is Christianity?” Written with a firm reliance on the Bible as the word of God, it presents answers for interested persons who may not yet have this same trust in the Bible. As the subtitle suggests, this work rests solely on the teachings in the Bible from a nondenominational perspective. This study would be useful for anyone wanting to understand original Christianity for the first time. It would also be useful for new Christians who want to know more about the basics of their faith. In addition, even for long-time Christians looking for a refresher course in understanding or rebuilding their faith, Christianity 101 provides lessons in several areas relating to that process. Needless to say, those who wish to help others learn about Christianity will find this book to be a valuable road map for constructing a course of study.