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Confident in Him

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
 
“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.” Psalms‬ ‭31:24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
 
The Psalmist, David, penned these verses while on the run from the efforts of King Saul to kill him. David relied on the inherent belief underpinning his life that God was good and that there was a future hope in relationship with Him.
For those that live on the other side of the river (e.g., New Bremen, Beaver Falls, Croghan, Belfort) regions of Lewis County we have recently had a wrench tossed into our normal travel plans if we seek to go to Lowville or points further south in the county. The NYS Department of Transportation has recently closed State Route 812 near Dadville due a culvert that requires replacement. I believe this came as a surprise to many residents—at least to me it was—as it appeared to be a sudden announcement and corresponding road closure. However, we can have confidence in the engineers from the state that examined the culvert and made the assessment that it is no longer safe for vehicles to pass over that section of road. The state has lost confidence in the existing structure to keep the road safe for passing motorists and will replace the culvert and rebuild the road. In a few short months we will be able to travel with confidence over that portion of road once again.
Pastor Matt presented in a recent message on March 17th entitled, “Committed to Goodness, Part 2” the seven traits that define the goodness of God. These seven traits are listed below:
 
Mercy Gracious Long-suffering (Patient) Abounds in goodness & truth (Love) Faithful (keeps mercy for thousands) Forgiveness Justice (Holy)
These traits are referenced in Exodus 34:5-8.
 
David knew that he could rest assured and wait on the Lord because of His prior faithfulness to rescue Him in times of trouble. When David shepherded His families’ flock of sheep He was able to fend off lion and bear with the strength of the Lord on His side. The demonstrations of God’s past faithfulness provided David confidence to face his current situations and have courage for the present day and a hope for tomorrow.
 
So, it should be with us today we may be facing or have recently faced a trial or tribulation that has diminished our strength, confidence, and hope. May we be recharged in the promise that Christ reigned triumphant over death and reigns today. He has gone before us, but is also with us, by our side, in our present situation. We may struggle with the outcome of a particular life event, and the human emotions correlated; and in the midst of the struggle question how a good Father can allow a specific outcome. In spite of the struggle His goodness overpowers. We can remain confident that His ways and His plans are so much higher than we can fathom and trust in His perfect discretion.
 
In II Timothy 2:11-13 we have the following Scripture, “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
As we approach the Easter season this year we have the opportunity to reflect upon the ultimate example of courage and the long obedience in the same direction that the Son, Jesus Christ, exemplified. He was obedient to the plans of the Father, even unto death on a cross. This discipline of obedience and love for the sake of the world paved the only way to salvation and reconciliation with the Father. The Father glorified this obedience and raised His son from death to life so that He could overcome death and complete the circuit back to the Father where He now sits at the right hand of the Father.
 
My prayer as we celebrate and commemorate this Easter is that we, individually and corporately, experience renewed confidence through the salvation work of the Son and the overwhelming goodness of God to empower us with courage for today and hope for tomorrow. While we wait, the miracle is in motion.  In closing, please see below for the lyrics from the song ‘Confident’ by Stephanie Gretzinger
 
You’re always moving in the unseen
The breath You exhale sustaining me
Before I call, You know my need
You’re always going before me
I’m confident Your faithfulness will see me through
My soul can rest, my righteousness is found in You
With every moment left, in every borrowed breath, let this be true
That all my heart, for all my life, belongs to You
Your laughter scatters my enemies
You give me joy for my mourning
You lift my head so I can see
All of heaven surrounding me
I’m confident Your faithfulness will see me through
My soul can rest, my righteousness is found in You
With every moment left, in every borrowed breath, let this be true
That all my heart, for all my life, belongs to You
I won’t win this battle with the strength in my own hands
You’re the mountain-mover and only You can
I won’t build my life on sinking sand
You’re my hope forever, the rock where I stand
I won’t win this battle with the strength in my own hands
You’re the mountain-mover and only You can
I won’t build my life on sinking sand
You’re my hope forever, the rock where I stand!
The rock where I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
I’m confident Your faithfulness will see me through
My soul can rest, my righteousness is found in You
With every moment left, in every borrowed breath, let this be true
That all my heart, for all my life, belongs to You


Spirit and Life Series Recap

It has been fifty-six days, eight weeks, since we celebrated Easter. If we take a few minutes to stop and look around, we have seen a radical transformation in the world around us throughout this time. There has been tremendous growth in the length of sunshine and the warmth of days. These things combined with timely rainfall has produced foliage on the trees and flowers in our gardens and nearby fields. For many of us this outside growth of the flowers, shrubs, and tress may have increased the daily occurrence of sternutations we experience. For the non-medical reader, of which I am included, a sternutation is a medical term for a sneeze. From the online source of knowledge, Wikipedia, a sneeze is defined as a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa.

The past five weeks we have focused on a spring sermon series entitled, Spirit and Life. A quick listing of the titles of those sermons is noted below:

  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. The Communion of the Spirit
  3. The Preparation of the Spirit
  4. The Power of the Spirit
  5. The Witness of the Spirit

Throughout this series we have learned more about the Holy Spirit and its active role in our lives and world today. The Holy Spirit testifies of the Son, Jesus Christ, much in the way that Jesus always pointed the disciples, the religious leaders of the day, and anyone to whom He came in contact with to the Father. He was faithful in that calling—even to death on the cross. At any point during the turmoil of the crucifixion He could have summoned a legion of angels to rescue Him, out of His immense love for each one of us He chose sacrifice of His perfect blood to be our recompense.

Three days later, on that glorious resurrection morning, Peter & John came to the tomb to find the linen strips that had bound the Saviour’s body and the cloth that covered his eyes & head. In John 20 we read that this cloth was folded and placed aside, by itself. What does this folded face cloth tell us?

Have you ever made a meal perhaps utilizing a new recipe, that just didn’t turn out as expected? According to Jewish tradition if you were invited over for a meal and you disapproved of the food that you had eaten, instead of speaking verbally against the host & hostess you would fold your napkin in a certain manner as if to say, “I will never eat of this meal again.” In a similar way, Christ was declaring through this folded face cloth that He would never taste and see of death again. This promise holds true for all who believe in His name as the one way, the narrow road, to be reconciled with the Father to receive forgiveness of all sin. While we will all experience a physical death—the promise of eternal life in Heaven of our soul accompanied with a new body awaits those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

In reflecting upon this series and the joy of springtime growth & renewal I was challenged by the trees, shrubs & flowers. It is challenge to glorify God. The living limb on a tree brings forth leaves, fruit, solely through the process of abiding in the trunk of the tree that provides nutrients for growth. While not 100% certain, I expect that the tree or flower does not seek to reproduce the same fruit as last year. Rather they seek new growth to display honor and glory to God. In 2 Chronicles 20 we read a story about King Jehoshaphat that exemplifies this illustration. In this chapter you will read that a great multitude of people across different nations had rose up against Judah. In verse three from the ESV version it reads that King Jehosophat, “…was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord…”. He set his face toward the Father; this provided a new perspective and hope. He later commanded the nation to fast and led them in a prayer that reflected upon the promises of God in the past—His faithfulness for the people in the steps that they had already trod and for the steps they had to take. These steps of preparation, rooted in seeking out God, led to a new victory and testimony of God’s faithfulness in the tapestry of their lives.

As we reflect on the example of God’s glorious creation that may cause us to physically sneeze during this time of year, I pray that we also experience spiritual convulsions that mature and deepen our relationship with the Father so that we can be an effective witness to point others to the hope found in a relationship with Jesus.

In closing I leave you with the first verse, chorus, and bridge from a song by Josh Baldwin entitled, “Get Your Hopes Up”.

Verse 1

I see the sun waking up the morning, reviving dreams

I feel the wind on my back with promise, reminding me

There’s a garment of praise for heaviness

There’s a new song burning inside my chest

I’m living in the goodness that He brings

Chorus

Get your hopes up

Lift your head up

Let your faith arise

Get your hopes up

Our God is for us

He’s brought us back to life

Bridge

Christ before me

Christ behind me

I am firmly held

In His mercy never ending

I’ll remind myself

Christ before me

Christ behind me

I am firmly held

In His mercy never ending

I’ll remind myself
 
 
Shawn Moshier


Communion of the Holy Spirit – A Reflection

On Sunday, April 22nd Pastor Matt shared with us the second sermon in our themed spring series ‘Spirit and Life’. The sermon was entitled, Communion of the Holy Spirit.

Communion requires partnership. Effective earthly communion with someone requires a partnership of two or more parties; it cannot be one-sided. Perhaps one of the most amazing but often hard to grasp concept of the heavenly kingdom is that we cannot attain it on our own. We must accept the free gift of grace, by becoming undone within and of ourselves. We must submit our will and accept the gift of eternal life through the perfect sacrifice through Jesus; believing that He went to a place that we could not go ourselves. Jesus, out of his love for us, also carried a burden that we cannot and should not carry. Out of the realization of what Jesus did for each of us should create within us a submissive spirit. He only seeks a ‘Yes’ from us to unlock all of what He has in store for us. A submissive spirit creates opportunity for the Holy Spirit to abide with us.

The personality of the Holy Spirit. We often perceive the Holy Spirit as an abstract aspect of the Trinity. Jacob Sullivan shared with Pastor Matt that he had a great realization and personalization of the Holy Spirit as a friend. This is affirmed in John 15:13-16 where the Holy Spirit can be attributed to each of us as a friend through characteristics displayed by the life of Jesus. Our focus should be on the person of the Holy Spirit, not the effect of the Holy Spirit to cause certain actions. Let’s be sure to cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit with full assurance that the attributes of the Holy Spirit will be available to us. Take note of and review John 14-16 to become more familiar with the promises of the Holy Spirit.

The entanglement of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Matt provided an overview of a complex physical phenomenon, quantum entanglement, that describes a physics principle where a pair of particles that could be spread out across large distances simultaneously counter balance each other when one particle moves. This is a great parallel to a life in direct and constant communion of the Holy Spirit. It portrays a picture of complete harmony and balance. Let’s become animated to be in tune with the flow of the Spirit so that when we sense Him moving, we move in tandem in the shadow-step of the Father.

Lastly, we must become obedient to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seeks to reveal truth to us so that we can glorify Christ. It is imperative for us to be connected to the source of truth so that we can naturally bear fruit through a connection with the Spirit. We must become empty of ourselves to obey the leading and direction of the Spirit to reflect & display the glory of God. The Holy Spirit as a counsellor and guide sparks and sustains our lives. He seeks the best for us in our unique voice. We must find that unique voice, develop, and sustain it through a personal walk with the Holy Spirit. John 16:14 eludes to this promise when we submit to the Spirit to work in and through us. As we go forward this week let’s develop a heart to wait in preparation for a fresh download of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
 
Shawn Moshier


Spirit and Life

The first message that Pastor Matt felt led to share with us regarding the Holy Spirit began to lay the groundwork for the next five weeks.  Clearly, entire books, university courses, and innumerable sermons have sought to teach on the topic of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  Although the next 5 weeks will no doubt be informative, it is our prayer that your life will be radically transformed by, and infused with, the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is a God of order.  Just as the moment of creation took place exactly, and precisely under the complete control of an All-Powerful Creator (Hebrews 11:3), so too was the moment the Holy Spirit descended upon the 12 disciples.  This order of revelation begins with a period marked by the promise of the Holy Spirit.  From John the Baptist, to the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples were taught by Jesus (John 6: 63, 14: 15 – 26).  Next, the period of the preparation, a rather short time period, takes place from the resurrection of Jesus to His ascension.  It is a fairly short time period, one in which the disciple’s heads must have been reeling with a wide range of emotions.  The last phase of the order of revelation was the period of realization, Pentecost.  The first few verses of Acts 2 describe a scene that is nothing short of awesome!!  The arrival of the Holy Spirit prophesied in the Old Testament (Malachi 2:15 and Psalm 104:30) was at hand.

Life begins with a spark, literally.  The flash occurs when sperm enters an egg.  This interaction leads to a surge of calcium which triggers the release of zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a detectable fluorescent light.  Stunning, right?  If a spark takes place when our physical existence begins, how much more incredible and necessary is the initial spark to our spiritual existence brought about by the Holy Spirit?  This isn’t an emotional, self-generated enthusiasm.  This is God, as the Person of the Holy Spirit, beginning eternal life in us. 

Once life begins, both physically and spiritually, it must be sustained.  You can read these words by nothing less than the overwhelming grace of God.  Every heartbeat, blink of the eye, every time you inhale, every synapse that passes information throughout your body takes place because God allows it to happen.  He is in control.  Equally true, our spiritual life was ignited by and sustained solely within the boundaries of the Holy Spirit (John 6:63, Galatians 6:8).  If Jesus was led and sustained by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4: 1-2), how much more should we be earnestly seeking a complete filling of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual lives?

Look at the next 5 weeks as a unique period in your life.  Set apart any pre-conceived notions pertaining to the Holy Spirit and ask God to reveal Himself to you in a way that only He knows best.  God made you.  He loves you.  He sent the Holy Spirit so that we can know Him in ways too profound for words.
 
Curtis Kilburn