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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

So What Will Draw Them to You? 10/2/13

I love October!  There is an incredible smell in the air; there is a crisp, fresh feeling each morning.  I love walking outside and feeling the cool, almost cold air in the mornings.  I LOVE the smell of burning leaves in October – we don’t get that much anymore . . . too bad.  It smells like Fall.  I love it when you have to turn on your heater in the morning and roll the windows down in the afternoon.  I love the full moon in October on a cool night.  I love to watch it rise in the east, especially when you can catch it just as it is appearing over the horizon.  Welcome to October!

I also love reading different versions of the Bible.  My favorite is probably the NIV because I am so familiar with it, but I love reading other versions, getting a little different spin on scripture.  I really love the Message, but it has been awhile since I’ve opened it and read it.  Well this morning Sue was doing her reading and she is reading in Isaiah.  She uses the Message for her reading and she came in and asked me if I had ever read Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant chapter, a chapter about Messiah, from the Message.  I don’t think I had, but I did and WOW, it is amazing!  I would encourage you to get a copy of the Message if you can and read that chapter today.  I’m not going to spoil it for you so I hope you can do it.  I am though going to elaborate just a little.

Remember that Isaiah told us, in writing about Messiah, that He wouldn’t be this incredibly handsome, “anyone-would-be-drawn-to-him” guy.  In fact, Isaiah told us that not only wouldn’t we be drawn to Him, but we would probably overlook Him or worse yet, turn away from Him. 

Have you ever noticed that most of the pictures of Jesus picture him as this handsome, great looking “white man” whose smile would light up a room?  Please remember, Jesus was a Jew.  He wasn’t a Caucasian American, He probably didn’t have perfect teeth and body-builder muscles.  We don’t know what He looked like, but we get an idea from Isaiah.  I’m going to use the NIV so as not to spoil your reading from the Message.  Go ahead, go and read it from the Message – I think you’ll get a completely NEW idea of it.  By the way, when something is italicized  it is my emphasis.

Isaiah wrote, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”  Remember, he is describing the physical looks of Messiah.  He goes on, “He was despised and rejected by mankind . . . Like one from whom people hide their faces . . .

Now here is where I’m going to this morning.  We have made Jesus out to be this handsome guy that everyone is drawn to.  We fanaticize that He is someone that people would want to be with, be drawn to, like to be around, but if we’re honest we mostly do it because of His looks.  Hold on with me here; I know some of you aren’t with me, that you’ve jumped ahead, but just hold on.

Have you ever read the story of “Beauty and the Beast”?  What about the “Hunchback of Notre Dame”?  I’m not talking about the Disney version, where Beast is this handsome wolf-like creature, or the Hunchback is this likeable little fella that you just want to hug; I’m talking about the original stories.  Beast was this hideous creature that no one wanted to even look at and the genius of the story is that Beauty saw what was inside of him.  The Hunchback was deformed physically, someone who was hidden away because no one wanted to look at him.  Who wants to run up and sit in Beast’s lap?  No one!  Who wants the Hunchback to wrap his arms around them and hold them close?  No one!

Look at those words about Messiah again . . . “ . . . nothing in his appearance that we should desire him . . . like one from whom people hide their faces . . .”  That is the Bible’s description of Jesus!  YET, in reality we know that little children were drawn to Him . . . women of ill repute forgot everything and everyone around them when He was near them . . . people wanted to be around Him.  HOW?  WHY?  That is the beauty, that is the secret, that is the miracle of this story.  We are NOT drawn to Him because He is Hollywood handsome or MMA ripped, it is love, God’s agape love that draws us to Him.  When that kind of love is displayed, appearance doesn’t matter.  When we see that kind of love in action, we can’t help ourselves.  When love like that is what consumes Him, nothing else matters!

I have a friend who commented on a video this past week that we both saw.  The video is about a couple that is celebrating their 50th Anniversary.  The thing is, the wife is dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s.  In the video the husband describes the fact that he has to do everything for his wife; he does all the cooking and cleaning, he has to bathe her, do her hair, dress her, everything.  As we watch the video you can see the joy that he expresses and the love that he feels for his wife.  He says that it is a privilege to be able to do this for her because he loves her.  It is obvious that she can’t return that love anymore, but that doesn’t stop him.

My friend commented on the video, “It’s hard to believe that there’s any love still like this out there.”  My friend has been alone now for over 3 years, having experienced their second divorce.  I don’t know much about the second marriage but the first ended horribly, very messy.  My friend is a Christian and I know that they know that God’s love is like this; they’ve just given up on mankind.  It saddens me; it hurts me; I wanted to cry when I read my friends comment.  Really.

This is the kind of love that God has given to us, but here is the kicker . . . He has given it to us SO THAT WE CAN GIVE IT TO OTHERS.  You see, to that man in the video, love isn’t about what his wife can do for him, it is about love.  She can’t respond to him anymore.  She can’t tell him that she loves him anymore.  They can’t take trips to see their grandchildren and share the wonder and amazement of playing with, holding, being with their family because she doesn’t remember.  He won’t ever have his wife back again, but he loves her nonetheless and nothing is going to change that or stop him from doing what love compels him to do.

God loves us like that, but He does it SO THAT WE CAN LOVE OTHERS LIKE THAT.  And when we do, it doesn’t matter what we look like; it doesn’t matter what kind of money we make; it doesn’t matter what political persuasion we have; it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter . . . people are drawn to that just like they were drawn to the One “. . . from whom people hide their faces.” 

I dare you to love like that.  I dare you to forget that people have different political leanings than you do and love them like that.  I dare you to forget that people are sinners and love them like that.  I dare you to forget that people will hurt you, despise you, spit in your face, take your money, your house, you job, your retirement, you LIFE, and love them like that.  I DARE YOU!

Go on, read Isaiah 53 in the Message – I’ll bet it’ll make your day!  By the way, if you just can’t get a copy of Isaiah 53 in the Message, let me know and I’ll copy it for you and email it to you.  It’s wonderful!

I love you! 

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday October 2 – We will have our regular Wednesday evening activities tonight, beginning with dinner about 5.  Come and join us.  Teens and children will have their regular activities plus we have our Hispanic Bible Study at 6 and our Prayer Group meets in the Sanctuary at 6.  We’d love to have you come and pray with us – I might even show that video I just described to you.

Sunday October 6 – We will come together as the Body of Christ and Worship Him!  We invite you to join with us at the 8:45 service in the gym or at 10:30 in the Sanctuary, or at 4:00 in the Sanctuary for the Hispanic Service.  We’re going to have a GREAT time and we’re going to Worship the One whose love draws people to Him.

Sunday October 13 – Our Hispanic congregation will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on Sunday October 13 at 4:00 p.m.  Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend and join with us as we celebrate this milestone.  There will be a lot of special activities with a Piñata for the children, great food and refreshments, fellowship and fun as we celebrate what God is doing!

Wednesday October 23 – We will be having our special Family Night for the families of our Wednesday night teens and children.  Please note the date change.

Sunday October 27 – Rudy Cervantes, Heavenly Trumpet Ministries, will be with us on this special day.  We will have one combined service on that day at 9:30 a.m. in the gym.  Rudy will be playing and sharing his ministry that day and you won’t want to miss it.  Rudy is an incredible musician and his testimony is amazing..  This will be a very special day.

Following the ministry of Rudy Cervantes and Heavenly Trumpet Ministries, the teens will be serving their legendary Brisket Dinner.  This is the teens Fall fundraiser and the dinner is on a donation basis.  There will also be a silent auction of many items that have been donated to help fund the teen ministry for the year.  There will be some incredible items that you won’t want to miss out on besides the wonderful dinner and Shelly’s INCREDIBLE dinner rolls! 

Obedience and Trusting God – 9/25/18

I shared with you last week that I have been reading in Genesis in my devotion time and this morning I read the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  There are some amazing things in this story that challenge me and I pray will challenge you as well.

First, Abraham’s obedience.  Remember that Abraham is 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old, when Isaac, the son who was promised by God to Abraham and Sarah, was born.  Both of them were well pass the age of childbearing and yet God’s miraculous intervention is obvious.  God had promised them that He would deliver on His promise and He did.  There is no other heir, God had already told him in no uncertain terms, that Ishmael was not going to be the son through whom the promise of God would be fulfilled; his nephew would not be the one through whom the promise was fulfilled; Isaac was God’s promised heir, there was no “Plan B.”  So, in Genesis 22:1 it simply says, “Some time later God tested Abraham.”  (There is a lot there for us as well, but we’ll save that for another day, another email, perhaps another sermon.)  Anyway God told Abraham to “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”  There is no explanation; there is nothing there that suggests that God gives a reason or tells Abraham that this is a test, He simply says to do it.  And the very next verse says, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey.”  He didn’t argue with God; he didn’t ask anyone else’s opinion; he didn’t hesitate; he didn’t ask for God to confirm or deny what he had heard; he simply got up the next morning to go and do what God had asked him to do.

Obedience – it is a non-negotiable quality when we follow God.  We don’t like it.  Come on, be honest, we think we deserve an answer; we believe we deserve an explanation from God when we don’t understand.  If we’ll really be honest, we think we have the right to demand that God tell us why!  I don’t think I’m being too harsh; I don’t think I’m assuming too much with that statement.  You know what, when God says do something, I think we should just do it.  I think that is what this story says to us.  Abraham simply obeyed.  (A little more on this in a moment)

Here is another thing that amazes me.  I’ve seen pictures, illustrations of this story in Bibles, in Sunday school lessons, in Bible studies that show Abraham and a young boy, Isaac, climbing a mountain, or standing in front of a stone altar, or carrying a bundle of wood for the sacrifice, or even of Abraham standing over a young Isaac, the boy bound on the stone and Abraham with the knife poised to take the boy’s life.  The problem with all of those pictures, illustrations, is that Isaac is always pictured as a young boy.  I don’t ever remember seeing one that isn’t that way and I don’t believe it is factual.  I don’t believe that Isaac was a young boy, I believe, at best, he was a young man either in his late teens or even older than that.  The reason I believe that is so important is that Abraham would have been 115-118 years of age or older and Isaac a young man with much, much more strength than his father.  Talk about OBEDIENCE – Isaac could have simply physically overcome his father and not allowed him to put him on the altar.  But Genesis tells us that when they got to the place for the sacrifice that “Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” (22:9).

Another amazing thing – When Abraham is stopped from sacrificing his son, the angel says to him, “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (22:12).  This flows out of Abraham’s obedience, but the fact is, he didn’t withhold anything from God.  Now in theory that is what we say; that we aren’t going to withhold anything from God.  That is all well and good, but most of us haven’t been asked anything near the magnitude of what Abraham was asked.  What if God asked for your child?  What if God asked for your spouse?  What if God asked for your health?  What if God asked for your time?  What if God asked for your tithe?  What if God asked for your . . . well, you fill in the blank.  Isaac was the pinnacle of everything that Abraham was living for because Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.  He didn’t hesitate, he physically, figuratively, literally gave God everything

In 22:14 the writer tells us that Abraham named the place “The LORD will Provide.”  Remember, when the angel stopped Abraham, (and I believe the “angel” was the pre-incarnate Christ; He is called “the angel of the LORD”), that Abraham “looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns” (22:13).  Did God “zap” the ram there at that moment?  Did that ram get caught there 15 minutes before Abraham and Isaac got there and they just didn’t see it?  Did the ram walk up at that moment and get caught in the thicket?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that God provided the ram.  (That DIDN’T just happen.)  So, he took it and offered it instead of his son, as a sacrifice to God.  AND IN FACT, earlier when Isaac had asked him where the sacrifice was, Abraham had told him, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (22:8).  Never was there any question at all in Abraham’s mind that God would provide.

Now here is “more on this in a moment” that I mentioned earlier.  In Hebrews 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame” in the Bible, the writer in verse 19 writes concerning this event that, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”  I can’t prove this but I think that scripture at the very least points to this; I believe that Abraham fully intended to take Isaac’s life and that after he did that, that God would bring Isaac back to life.  To me, that makes this obedience all the more incredible.  Abraham had never seen God bring someone back to life; he had never seen someone “raised from the dead;” and yet He trusted God so completely that he knew that God had said that it was through Isaac the promise would be fulfilled and that since God had asked him to sacrifice his son that when he did that, God would bring him back to life.

The LORD will Provide!  Do you believe that?  I read an amazing commentary this morning from Breakpoint on Hope.  I would urge you to go online to www.breakpoint.org and click on the box in the upper right that says “Breakpoint Daily September 26” and read “Hope, Our Only Offer.”  It is wonderful.

The LORD will Provide – I hope you will meditate on that and come to your own conclusion that He will IN YOUR LIFE.  I don’t know what you’re going through but I believe the LORD will Provide for you today.  Will you be obedient? 

I love you,


Upcoming Activities


Today, Wednesday September 25 – We have dinner tonight here at the church, FREE OF CHARGE, at 5:00.  Come out and join us.  Our children and teens will have their regular activities and the Hispanic Bible study will meet at 6:00.  I have an amazing video that I’m going to show in the sanctuary at 6:00 during our regular prayer time.  I watched this video on Monday and it is truly amazing.  I want to urge you to come and join us.  The video is entitled “Syria in Bible Prophecy” and the speaker is Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish Bible Prophecy teacher.  The video is almost an hour long and we’ll start it promptly at 6:00.

Friday, Saturday, September 27-28 – Feed My Starving Children will be sponsoring the packaging of food for starving children at the Ruidoso Convention Center.  There are still time slots available on Saturday.  Please go to the website www.FMSC.org/mobilepack/events to sign up or to donate.  REMEMBER that through this organization you can provide a meal for a starving child for ONLY 22 CENTS!

Sunday September 29 – Pastor Marco will be preaching in both morning worship services as well as the Hispanic Service in the afternoon!  Come out and show your support for Pastors Marco and Betty Sanchez!

Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. we will join with other Christians around Lincoln County to share in the Lord’s Supper.  Gateway Church of Christ is hosting this service and we are invited to come together as the Body of Christ and share in the Lord’s Supper.

For those not going to the Communion Service, Sierra Blanca Christian Academy will be having the Annual Gospel Sing at the Flying J Ranch at 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday October 9 – We will be hosting the families of our Wednesday night children and teens for dinner and a time of loving them!  We will need volunteers to host tables, to serve, to cook and clean up.  PLEASE PLAN ON BEING A PART OF THIS WONDERFUL EVENING!

Sunday October 13 – Our Hispanic Congregation will be celebrating their 1st Anniversary.  We will have a great time of celebration for what God is doing and all are invited to attend!  More details will follow!

The Promises of God 9/18/13

This year of preaching has been the most rewarding year of preaching that I have ever done.  We have been looking at the words of Christ, but we have been looking at them in the context in which He spoke them; in the context of Jesus Jewish-ness.  Each Sunday we’ve looked at the background, specifically the Old Testament, to gain the context of the words Christ spoke; the reason that He used specific words and phrases; the Hebrew meaning.  And we have only just scratched the surface.  Over the last three weeks we have been studying the Feasts of the Lord, specifically the Fall Feasts.  The Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and finally last Sunday and this one as well, Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.  I have learned more in the last 9 months about God and His love for us, about what He did, what He does and what He is doing than I think I have learned in the previous 55 years.  God has opened His Word to me and it is more fresh and alive than it has ever been before.  Three men, Bob Appleby, Bob Livesay and Jerry Wright have given me pages and pages of material, helping me to understand the Hebrew meaning, the Jewish thinking and the scriptures in ways that I believe God has intended all along.

In light of all of this, and perhaps especially in light of the last 3 weeks and studying the Feasts of the Lord, (and by the way, they are the Feasts of the Lord and not the Feasts of the Jews; look in Leviticus 23) my devotional reading has been especially rich.  In my devotional reading lately I have been reading in Genesis and in the last few days specifically the call of Abram (Abraham) by God.  Listen to the promises of God to this man.

The LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”  Then, just a few verses later, after Abram had traveled to the place that God led him and he sees the land that would become The Promised Land, God again comes to Abram:  “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’  So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him”  (Genesis 12:1-3, 7).

Move forward in the New Testament to Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Fame!  Beginning in 11:8, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.”  Move on just a few verses and it says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”  Move on a few more verses:  By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. . . .  Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”  Now move to the end of the chapter:  “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect”  (Hebrews 11:8-11, 13, 17, 19, 39-40, emphasis mine).

Abram (Abraham) left everything that was familiar, by faith.  The promises that he received from God he received by faith because, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, he never did receive the things promised, he only received them by faith!  In fact, none of those mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame received the promises of God while they were living BECAUSE “. . . God had planned something better FOR US so that only together with US would they be made perfect.”

Some of us are struggling with life, with the situations that we find ourselves in.  Some of us are in circumstances that are not of our own making and we wonder from time to time if God has forgotten us or if we have somehow missed it.  Some of us have “made our own bed” so-to-speak, but we have asked for forgiveness and we have repented, sometimes more than once, and we are just waiting for God to step in and “make things right.”  What else do we have to do to find relief?

Abram DID NOT earn God’s grace.  Over and over the scriptures tell us that it was “by faith.”  You and I are not going to earn God’s grace, His favor or His promises; it will only come “by faith!”  And you may not see it here, while you are alive.  That’s hard for us, especially here.  We have grown up with the idea that if we work hard and do what is right we’ll be rewarded.  But when God doesn’t “reward” us the way that we think we ought to be rewarded, we grow weary, we start doubting and we wonder what’s wrong with us or what’s wrong with God.  I want to remind you this morning to remember Abram.

Can you “receive” the promises of God even if you don’t see them?  Can you see them and welcome them “from a distance” admitting that you are a foreigner, that you are a stranger on this earth?  This isn’t home folks.  For the Christian, THIS ISN’T HOME!  I am NOT saying that we just have to endure this place while we’re here; I believe that we are called to live here and make a difference.  But THIS ISN’T HOME!

I remember hearing a story about a couple who had served as missionaries most all of their adult life.  They had labored without fanfare, without much recognition, without most people knowing who they ever were.  Finally, as they neared the end of their missionary career, they made plans to return to the United States.  They booked passage on a ship and as this was many years ago it took several weeks for them to make the trip here.  After they had been on the ship for a couple of days they noticed that the President of the United States was also on board this ship; Teddy Roosevelt.  He had been on a safari and was returning home from that trip.

The day the came in to New York City arrived and they got their meager belongings together and went out on deck.  As the ship pulled into the harbor there were banners all around, a band and a parade and thousands and thousands of people there to welcome the President home.  This couple had to wait until the President and his party had disembarked before they could get off.  When they did finally make it off there was no one there to welcome them.  The Mission Board that had sent them wasn’t there; they didn’t have any family left alive so no one personally to greet them; there was no one.  As they made their way through the ticker tape that was now lying on the ground from the President’s parade, as they left the dock and made their way to a tiny, run-down apartment where they would spend the rest of their lives, the man began to weep uncontrollably.  His wife tried to console him but he couldn’t be consoled.  Finally, through the sobs, he looked up at her and bitterly began to ask if it had been worth it.  They had given their lives to take the message of God to people across the ocean, sacrificed their lives, their family and all material possessions and now here they had come home and no one was there to greet them but thousands of people were there to greet the President of the United States who was returning from a safari. 

He finally quit crying and with a look of resolve and anger said that he was going into his room to blast God and ask Him if anything they had done was worth it.  His wife was worried, concerned and almost afraid because she had never seen her husband this discouraged and down.  He was in the bedroom for hours and as she waited she worried and wondered what would happen. 

After several hours her husband came out of the bedroom with a look of peace and serenity she had never seen before.  She asked him what had happened and this is what he said. 

“I went into that bedroom and poured out my anger at God.  We had given our lives, sacrificed our family, left everything and everyone to go and work for Him and this was how He treated them?  They had no children, there was no family left and not even the Board that had sent them overseas was there to welcome them back home.  To top it off the President had been on that ship and when he had come home from a safari there had been thousands of people to welcome him home.  Where was the justice in this?  Where was God in this?  Why had no one been here, NO ONE, to welcome them home!”  And then he stopped and smiled at her and this is what he said. 

“After I had yelled all of that in anger to God I had nothing left to say.  I lay exhausted on the floor crying and feeling like I was all alone, and then I heard God say to me, ‘Oh, but you’re not home yet!’”

You aren’t home yet.  You haven’t yet seen the promises and you might not, here on this earth.  But, you’re not home yet, so could I encourage you to receive the promises nonetheless.  God IS as good as His word and He has “planned something better for us . . .”

I love Him and you!


Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday September 18 – Join us for dinner tonight here at the church at 5:00 o’clock.  Teen and children’s activities as normal and our Hispanic Bible study and our Prayer Group will both meet at 6 o’clock!

Sunday September 22 – We will finish our look at the Feasts of the Lord in both of our morning worship services.  We will have a potluck celebration following the second worship service so bring your dinner with you and let’s share a meal together.  Our Hispanic group meets at 4:00 each Sunday afternoon.

Sunday September 29 – Pastor Marco will be preaching in both morning worship services on the 29th – Come out and support and love them!

On Sunday evening the 29th we will join with Christians across Lincoln County to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  We will meet at Gateway Church of Christ to share with other believers in this incredible celebration!