“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:8-10). Today you don’t have to convince people of the importance of physical exercise. Gyms are everywhere. Sports of all kinds are wildly popular. The virtues of running and walking are well known. The Apostle Paul, in his travels through the Roman Empire, undoubtedly saw a lot of athletes and competitions. With his mind on the spiritual, he teaches us the importance of learning from exercise. Why is it that so many believers speak about faith while at the same time don’t “practice” their faith? As a young Christian I was surrounded at church by people who practiced a daily devotional time with God. They set aside time (usually in the morning) for reading and meditating on the Bible and for prayer. This practice became such a part of my “routine” that I feel weak and spiritually “run down” when I neglect this. Don’t misunderstand me…the routine isn’t what saves us or keeps us. Jesus is the Lord. He is the One we need. The reason I have devotions each day is to communicate with Him, and to listen to His voice through Scripture. The morning exercise of prayer and Scripture helps me stay strong through the day. I become sensitive to others and my environment. The Lord helps me keep my mind on Him as I say yes and no to the many thoughts that come my way. I also practice my faith by getting together regularly with other believers because I know I am stronger with them than without them. My encouragement to you is to practice your faith. Get yourself in the habit of presenting yourself before the Lord. Exercise yourself to quietly wait in His presence. Remember the words of Paul who taught us that godliness is of great value! Keep practicing your faith!
“Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites’” (Exodus 19:3-6). The Lord never meant for us to feel as if serving Him was a loathsome burden. Some see God as a taskmaster who takes away their fun and replaces it with rules. How far from the truth that is! God spoke to Moses to convey a special message to the Israelites shortly after they were set free from Egypt. Before God entered into the covenant with them, He reminded them of what He did for them. He said, “I carried you on eagles’ wings.” Imagine this…the Lord is carrying us! Those who study eagles tell us that the mother eagle carries her young on her back until they are ready to fly themselves. I try to imagine myself as a little child who is being carried by the Lord through life—especially in those anxious, stressful times when life seems so hard. Others may not read the Bible because they have preconceived ideas about God being harsh or unjust. But I read in the Word that God is the One who loves us me more than anyone else and who gives me power and strength for each day. And in my hardest moments, I am reminded that He holds me in His mighty hand! Let the Lord encourage you today.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). As a student for many years, I have taken plenty of exams! The most important test for any course is the final exam. This special test usually takes a longer time to complete and rehearses the entire semester, revealing the student’s proficiency of the subject. The Apostle Paul spoke of a “final exam” in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Of all the exams I have ever taken, I am concerned about this last one most of all! I desperately want to pass this test and hear the words “well done” by the Lord Jesus Christ. So, how can I be assured of passing this test? In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul challenged the people of Corinth to do a “self-examination.” Some vital questions of this exam are “Am I in the faith?” and “Is Christ in me?” Living the Christian life is not a matter of merely going to a church or believing some things other Christians believe. True believers are those who live in Christ…and Christ lives in them! How do you know if Christ is in you? Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, called those following Jesus “children of light.” He went on to explain, “For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). As “students” of the Lord Jesus, we are challenged to examine our lives before the great final exam. If Jesus is in us, we will bear the fruit of His life. We will trust in Him with our lives, and, from this faith, we will manifest a love for goodness, righteousness, and truth. Don’t be afraid to do a self-exam. By doing so, we will not have to worry or wonder if we will pass the final test!
In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet paints an amazing word-picture of God’s temple in Heaven. He describes God on His throne, high and exalted—but God is not at the highest point in the temple: “Above him were seraphim…and they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Isaiah 6:2-3). I’ve always thought of heaven as a place where God’s people declare their praises to Him for all eternity. However, notice that the angels Isaiah describes are not declaring their praises to God, but to each other. Think of it this way: Imagine that you bought a car, and you really appreciated the heated steering wheel. If you were really impressed by it, you might reach out to the car’s manufacturer to let them know how great it was, but you would certainly tell your friends, your family—even strangers on the street—how incredible the feeling was of getting into your car on a winter day and wrapping your fingers around the heated steering wheel. This is how we should be as Christians. Yes, it’s important and appropriate to send our praise and worship to God, but we must also praise Him to others—our brothers and sisters in Christ, our friends and family, and even people we don’t know. When Jesus tells us how to reach people for His Kingdom, He doesn’t tell us that we should show them the error of their ways or convince them of the horrors of hell. Rather, He says that we are to proclaim to them the good news about God (Mark 16:15). Be like the angels! This is our call, as followers of Christ. Wherever we go, with everyone we meet, let us, with our words and—just as important—by our lives, declare the greatness of our God!
“A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever’” (Isaiah 40:6-8). The longer I live, the greater the awareness grows within me of the brevity of life. I had a call from a friend yesterday about a man who recently started attending Bible study and services here at Highway. Ed developed a blood clot in his leg and had to go to the hospital. After receiving medication and rest for a couple of days, he was discharged on Thursday. On his way out of the hospital, he collapsed just inside the entrance doors. His heart stopped…he was gone! I am so grateful to have met Ed at the Love in Action ministry on Tuesday nights at City Hall. From our conversations and praying together, I was assured by Ed that he loved the Lord and had given his life to Christ. Our physical life on earth is compared to a breath in the Book of James. COVID-19 also reminds us that life is fragile. The best we can do in this brief speck of time is to love and follow Jesus! Make your plans in the light of seeking God’s will, remembering the words of James: “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (4:14). Also, may the Lord help us not to be intimidated by those who confidently ignore God. Many today mock the idea of serving God and look at Christians as hopelessly “outdated” and out of touch. Try to picture them as you would the grass in a vacant lot. It can be long and very visible one day…and mowed down the next. Don’t be intimidated by people who pass away, but love and fear the Lord who holds eternity in His hands!
Just when you think you have your day all planned…something happens, and you have to say good-bye to all your plans. This past Wednesday did not start well for me. As I got out of bed, I felt as if the room was spinning. My unfriendly intruder, vertigo, had come to see me again! On average it “visits” me once a year or so and does a number on me (I won’t go into the unpleasant details). However, I am so grateful vertigo doesn’t stay long with me…about a day. But it’s a very long day and the only thing I can do is lay around thinking about how lousy I feel and praying I recover quickly! For those of you who suffer with an ongoing issue, my vertigo challenge may seem quite miniscule. However, let me share with you some of my musings concerning sickness. First, I am so grateful for the cross of Jesus and the healing that flows from our Lord and His great sacrifice! No matter what you go through, what a great comfort to know that Jesus loves us, keeps us, and heals us. And yet, who hasn’t struggled with questions like, “Why am I not healed?” or “Why is this taking so long?” I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I do know the faithful ONE who sustains me through every health challenge. My imperfect faith in Jesus is seen through the clouded lens of living in a fallen world beset by sickness and death. As a believer, I don’t expect never to get sick. Nor do I look at other believers who suffer as somehow lacking faith. Only God knows certain things, and it’s best for us not to pretend to know it all (remember Job’s friends)! The best I can do is trust Him to bring me through and stand on what He speaks to me through His Word and the application of His Word through the Holy Spirit. On Wednesdays I usually attend the phone prayer group with Pastor Finney and Liza. I did not feel well enough to call in, but I did send a text asking the group to pray for me. Interestingly, I felt a great improvement in my condition right around 8 PM, the time when group prayer ended. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Even though I don’t expect a pain-free, perfect body this side of heaven, I do rejoice in the power and presence of Jesus who promised to never leave or forsake me! “Praise the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2).
Lately, I have been spending a lot of time in the Book of Isaiah. As you may know, Isaiah was a prophet called to warn Israel and Judah of coming disaster due to their abandonment of following the Lord and His Word. With a passionate heart, Isaiah continually reminded the people of God’s desire to forgive and restore them to favor and blessing. In the midst of Isaiah’s messages, we find one of my favorite promises in the whole Bible: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (26:3). God promises perfect peace! What does this look like in everyday life? I see this as describing what the New Testament calls “walking in the Spirit.” This means that I must give my life to the Lord and learn to handle life and the current events swirling around me through prayer and the Word of God. We all get tested in life, and peace only comes by lifting up our soul in prayer to the One who told us to “cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). There are also times when doubts and attacks come to our minds. During these times we must give ourselves to prayer, asking God to help us to trust what His Word says rather than our confused and jumbled thoughts. It’s a battle sometimes, but the outcome is worth it! What can compare to the blessing of God’s perfect peace? This amazing inward tranquility, so elusive to the world, is always available to us…in the presence of the Lord himself! He extends the invitation for us to enter and abide in this peace that passes the world’s understanding. Just as a bride has her mind set on her beloved and the upcoming wedding, may our minds be set on the Lord Jesus. And enjoy the fruit of His peace!
“But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Have you noticed, there’s no end to the confident voices of those who have “the answer” to the problems facing our country? “If we just vote the right people into office….” “If we just take the right steps in the economy….” “If we just spend money on these programs….” On and on it goes with the tsunami of words. Most of our leaders and officials still ignore God and adopt an attitude of We can fix things ourselves. The implied (although not spoken) attitude is: We are so wise that we can figure out how to transform this country with our brilliant ideas. Please don’t misunderstand me…. I am not against efforts to reform and improve our way of life. It’s just that my heart aches (and my mind is cynical) at how we continue to think we can just forget God, and everything will be just fine. As believers in Jesus, we know true change comes through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The “wise people” of the world look at Christians as simple-minded children who live in a fairy tale. To think that a man who was crucified 2,000 years ago could affect modern civilization right now is “Santa Claus” thinking to most. However, to those of us who have been changed by Jesus, we know and believe Christ to be the power and wisdom of God! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). At my age, I am weary of all the “words” about change devoid of the power to change. We believe true hope begins by humbling ourselves before our Creator and Savior and asking for His forgiveness. We seek the wisdom which comes from above…that which helps us to walk in the fear of God and to shun evil. Whether you realize it or not, fellow Christian, the good news of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is the hope for our nation! Don’t be ashamed of the truth or be intimidated by those who pretend to have all the answers. The first and best thing you can do is trust in the Lord and pray for our country!
We are quite complex—especially when it comes to our emotions. Our feelings can drive us all over the map, sometimes all in one day! Feelings can “feel like” our best friends, and, at other times, we wrestle with them as our greatest opponent. Having served the Lord for a while now, I understand that the enemy of our soul takes aim at our emotions and tries to get us to choose feelings over faith. We are tempted through our negative thoughts and emotions to make unwise decisions, which can alter the path of our life. How many people in the heat of the moment have decided “I quit this job!” or “I’m out of this marriage!” I find comfort in the fact that God understands emotions. After all, we are made in His image, and He has emotions as well. He is never confused or dominated by His emotions. The very existence of emotion in God reveals to us that emotions are not evil. He also reveals to us through His emotions that He is not some type of machine or merely a “cosmic intelligence.” He is a person, although much greater than we can ever understand the concept of “personhood.” Because God wants us to experience victory in our emotions (as well as the rest of life), He often speaks strength and comfort to our hearts. This week, I noticed a verse that seemed to leap off the page at me. This verse is good medicine for us as we battle the negative emotions of fear and discouragement which so often attack. In the Book of Isaiah, God is speaking to the nation of Israel through Isaiah the prophet and proclaims, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (41:10). Wow…talk about an emotional lift! This verse was just what I needed at just the right time. My prayer for you as I write this is that you will allow the Lord to help you to control your emotions by your faith. May you experience victory over the feelings of fear and discouragement, knowing that you are being held in His strong hand. Jesus, be the Lord of our feelings!
Since August 1999, we have fellowshipped with you. In 2012 my wonderful wife and I took on the role of pastoring Resurrection Life Church upon request of our great friend and spiritual encourager, Pastor Mark Boucher. For the past eight years we were blessed to lead services, work in partnership with our school, and see several people accept the Lord.
After much prayer, it became clear to us that our time at Resurrection Life Church had come to a close. Through the support and blessing of Highway Tabernacle, we were able to plant many seeds and see the Lord build families and grow children in Christ. Before pastoring at Res Life, I was with Highway for over 12 years serving in various capacities—including some of my favorite memories as a worship leader under Pastor Otto Wegner. Thank you all for the opportunity to bless God!
Our children were personally blessed by their involvement and growing up in this church. Highway and Resurrection are all they knew. Spring Garden Academy also was heavily involved in their early lives. We want to thank you all, family of God.
May the Lord continue to grow us and bless us as His Church in these trying times as may grow faint of heart. We believe the Lord has greater things in store for all of us. May His favor greatly rest upon His people.