2017 Summer Series
Our Summer Series will features speakers from our area throughout the summer. Click here to view the schedule.
2017 Bible Reading Plan
Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Jeremiah 8-14.
From the desk of Joshua Creel
When the gods do battle.
The book of Daniel opens on an ominous note. Babylon had gone to battle against the Jews and won. Jerusalem was besieged and the king of the Jews, Jehoiakim, was taken captive. But even worse from the perspective of the Jews, it would seem that their God had been defeated. That was how men viewed warfare in the ancient near east; it wasn't just the clash of nations, but the clash of gods! So, when we read in Daniel 1.2 that Nebuchadnezzar took "some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them... to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels in the treasury of his god," this was the Babylonian king's acknowledgement that his god, Marduk, had defeated and subjugated the God of Israel.
Only, he was wrong. The main thrust of Daniel's prophecy is the acknowledgment that Jehovah still reigns supreme. Jerusalem was besieged and the temple looted because the Lord gave them into Nebuchadnezzar's hand (1.1-2). The Babylonian king might boast of his own might, yet he would be forced to acknowledge that the Most High reigns over all (4.34-35). Babylon might be a dominant power, but there would be only one Kingdom that would both rule over all and endure forever (2.44-45).
Our VBS starts tomorrow and children of all ages will look at some of these stories from Daniel. But these aren't just stories for kids, they are truths which remind us that even though it may sometimes seem that God is losing to the dark forces of this world, He has always been and will always be victorious.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:4-7)
Jesus told this parable because He had been criticized for the type of people with whom he associated. His main point was that all people are important to God, and it's a joyful occasion when any lost person is found by God. When you consider this parable, which type of sheep are you? Most of us would probably consider ourselves to be one of the ninety-nine who are doing just fine. We aren’t lost, we are with the group, and we are with the Lord. But we mustn't forget that every one of us used to be that lost sheep. Each of us pursued a life of sin away from the Lord.
When a sheep is separated from the shepherd, the sheep is in mortal danger. It may not have food or water, it may fall into a ditch, or it may be at the mercy of vicious predators. Such was the state of all of us. But our Lord doesn’t abandon his sheep. God set out to find us and bring us back. But bringing us back involved the death of the Son of God Himself. This was something God was willing to do. And each one of us is so precious to God that we caused heaven to rejoice when we were found. Is there any doubt that God is a loving Shepherd who cares for every one of us?
Thinking Again About Rainbows by Joshua Creel
"Can you tell me what the rainbow means?" Most of us parents have asked this question, or one like it, to our children when a rainbow appears after a rainstorm. And we are always pleased when our children respond by describing the Lord's promise in Genesis 9.11-17, that He would never again destroy the earth by water. Every rainbow is a reminder of His faithfulness to this covenant. But that's not all it represents.
The Lord made reference to the rainbow covenant in Isaiah 54.9-10. Following the wondrous Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 52.13-53.12, we see what the Messiah's work means for the Lord's people. God's people had been distressed because of their sins, but when the Messiah's work was completed the Lord's new people would have reason to rejoice. One reason for their rejoicing was that the Lord who faithfully kept His promise to Noah had also made a promise to them: "I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you... My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken" (Isaiah 54.9-10).
So, what does the rainbow mean? It means that the Lord who was faithful to Noah will also be faithful to me! And it should prompt faithfulness in me so I can be counted as one of His people.