In the Bulletin
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household,
— Hebrews 11.7
For just a moment, place yourself in Noah’s shoes. What an incredible challenge! Noah had no prior experience in ark building. It had never rained before. What would everyone else think while he labored to build an ark? Despite the challenges, Noah launched forth. Faith will find a way. God may be calling you to your own building project with which you have no prior experience. Or, He may be calling you to begin again something you’ve attempted many times before, but met with failure. Your failures and your past do not define you. Will you respond to God’s call? He is always working to teach you to depend on Him. And, as you learn to lean on Him, you will be amazed at His delivering and sustaining power, Ephesians 6.10. You can become more and more like Jesus. God will help you do what you once thought impossible.
What are some areas you need to stretch yourself? Is it:
- Overcoming a weakness of the flesh? Bringing your body under discipline? See 1 Corinthians 9.27.
- Finding victory in the battles with your tongue? See James 3.1-12.
- Seeing more of the good in those you love? Your spiritual family? See Ephesians 4.29-32.
- Freeing yourself from distractions - so you can know God more intimately? See Psalm 46.10a.
Faith will empower you to offer yourself as a complete sacrifice. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks, Hebrews 11.4. For Cain, life was all about Cain. For Abel, life was all about God. Selfishness and pride led Cain to destruction. Selfless devotion and trust in God led Abel to become a powerful example for us today, long after his death. When your faith is growing, you see the evidence of God’s work and constant companionship. His protection and promises will serve as motivation to follow Him wherever He leads.
Where is your heart? Have you sacrificed yourself so that you can know Him more? Embrace the power of faith and prepare to be amazed at what God can do with your life.
— Matthew Allen
If you are going through a trial and being continually pounded by doubt, always remember that God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5.9. It is by this knowledge that we can encourage one another. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing, 5.11.
I think Paul expounds on this in Romans 8. Shortly after the writing of this epistle, the Roman Christians would endure intense persecution. What is written in 8.31-39 would serve as a tremendous source of encouragement for Christians of all time. During trials of any sort, remember that:
- If God is for us, who can be against us?, 8.31.
- God has declared us righteous, 8.32-33.
- Jesus is interceding for us, 8.34-35. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
- We will be more than conquerors, 8.37.
Trials have a way of strengthening our hope. When we have the right attitude, they can make our hope brighter, because through them we can see the steady and secure hand of God.
While passing through the sea of life, our boat may be rocked by trial, temptation, and sin. But, no matter what happens, we know God loves us and will protect us. He never leaves our side! Even if we lose everything in this life, we still have our hope! No one in this life can take that away. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8.38-39. Even during the Old Testament time, those who had fully given themselves to God lived with a confident hope.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
— Psalm 27.1-6.
— Matthew Allen
Over the past seven weeks, the Kettering family has endured the loss of two beloved sisters, Vera Grushon and Barbara Kelso. Although both were aging fast, their deaths were sudden, leaving us with shock and sadness. Their vacant seats stand out to us today as we miss their warm and refreshing presence. So many of you have responded to their families with love, care, and kindness. Truly we have experienced what Paul wrote about in Romans 12.15 and 1 Corinthians 12.26: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. It is such a blessing to be part of this close-knit and loving spiritual family. We are truly doing life together as we anticipate the life to come.
As we move forward, there will be plenty of opportunities to serve Jim and Dick. In 1 Timothy 5.3 Paul speaks about the need of honoring those who have lost their spouse. This means the rest of us demonstrate respect, care, and grace in meeting their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. I know many of you are reaching out to them — as well as all of the rest of our widowers and widows. Thank you for the good work you are doing. Keep on remembering the admonition in Galatians 6.9-10: Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
On Friday as we reflected on Barbara’s life, there were so many sweet and touching stories of her dedication to her husband, children, and friends. We touched on her faithfulness — 65 years a Christian; 68 years of marriage. What a legacy! If she were with us, she would try to downplay her accomplishments, but it is important we remember and follow her example. Barbara, like those who have gone on before, has now joined the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on, rooting for our success as we run toward the completion of our race. She has now realized the promises that you and I presently take comfort in: The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels, Revelation 3.5. Praise God for His deliverance from death and gift of eternal life. May we do all we can to lay hold upon it … just as Barb did.
— Matthew Allen
Let love be genuine. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
— Romans 12.9a-10.
I think we’d all agree we need closer families, especially in this day and age. What are some things you can do to promote good feelings and more love in your home?
Honor them with your time. Everyone is busy. In some families, kids have just as demanding schedules as their parents. Each member of the family must prioritize and set aside time to be together with each other. If not, everyone can become disconnected and relationships will suffer. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by eating a meal together. Make it happen and ensure it is free of outside interference so you can focus on what matters most: your family.
Honor them by listening. Sometimes, we need to talk things out. You can build trust, love, and affection by simply listening to others. Multitasking during times of communication leads to a breakdown in listening. Give your family members your undivided attention. You’ll be amazed at how your relationships can improve.
Honor them through acts of service. Be attentive to the needs of others. Do your share of work around your home. Gladly and generously help with the chores of others who may be having a busy week. Do all of this, expecting nothing in return. Acts of service are never about keeping score.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends, 1 Corinthians 13.4-8a.
Don’t put these things off. Make them a priority. You’ll be thankful later for what you’re building today. — Matthew Allen
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- 1 Peter 2.9-10
Christians are a special people, set aside by God for special purposes. We have an amazing new identity in Christ. Because God wants us to spend eternity glorifying Him, we have been forgiven from sin and become sanctified. Now we live for God. It has been said that Christianity is the process of becoming what you are. God has made us new, 2 Corinthians 5.17. Because of this, we work each day toward living in the light. We recognize our holy identity and seek to live up to our position. This is why sin is such a disaster in our life. It defies everything about the new life which we have been given by God.
How can we make living in the light more practical?
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, James 4.8. In other words, we need to cultivate a relationship of intimacy with Christ. This will control our conduct.
Become more vulnerable. It does little good to hide our sin. God sees our life and our sin is obvious. So, we need to become more honest about our weaknesses and shortcomings. We need to seek help from spiritual mentors who will hold us accountable and encourage us to persevere. Learn to see and take advantage of the blessings your spiritual family and godly shepherds provide.
Totally surrender. We must get things in the open with God before any healing will take place. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it, Mark 8.34-35.
Day by day, we walk with God. We, who are in Jesus, should be filled with gratefulness and inspired to faithfulness. May we live out a life of gratitude filled with thanksgiving.
— Matthew Allen