Wow, it is so great to be back! Special thank you Chris and the whole team for filling in while I was on vacation with my family! There is nothing better than to know that while you are away that we don’t miss a beat! THANK YOU!
Victory is our theme today, we have victory in Jesus! He has overcome the world! But does that mean we won’t face struggles or go through trials? I don’t know about you, but I have days where I feel like I’m all alone on this journey in life! Alone, abandoned…but are we? Absolutely not! Whatever we may be going through God is there, He is there all along. And it is in those times that we are to lean on Jesus even more! Amy Grant wrote a song early in her career that said this “I love a lonely day, It makes me think of You”, is that what you think of on a lonely day? I am always challenged by those words when I feel alone. It is in these times that we should trust God…these times when the wheels fall off in life, when we are betrayed, forgotten, abused, God is there! We are the ones that lose sight, we lose focus on God! We get caught up on ourselves, selfishly we look only at our situation and soon it becomes poor me! We need to wake up, I know often I need a wakeup call, and stop being so self-centered! We need to challenge one another to see the bigger picture, to help each other see that God is in control!
Everything belongs to God…He is in control…He is right there through your life! Each step that we take, He is there! Not only is He there, but He also wears the Victor’s crown! It is our prayer that through the journey we have been on in the life of Joseph that you can take hope in the fact that Jesus wears the Victor’s crown!
After experiencing this morning’s service I can’t help but be moved! We were challenged by our own people to be second! The ultimate story, the one that was played out by Jesus Christ has inspired so many other stories! God is so good! What is your story? What is God doing in your life? This morning we spent some time being challenged through worship that “God is Able”: “God is with us He will go before He will never leave us, He will never leave us” Our God can get you through your story, He can be actively involved in our story if you allow him to. Are you allowing Him control from the inside out? If you are, then you have a story! If you are not, then why not consider giving Him control today? Your story can start today…the world needs to hear it!
Wow what a morning!!! As we sang about patience, during rehearsal, our projection screen was not cooperating. As a worship leader it’s not only my job to lead worship, but to also lead my team and remain calm and patient. BUT MY HEART IS WANTING TO SUCCED, TO MAKE SURE THAT EACH PIECE OF THE MORNING WAS JUST RIGHT!!!
BUT I HAVE TO SAY THAT GOD IS SO GOOD, BY THE TIME THE SERVICE STARTED ALL WAS GOOD.
You know when we strive to take control it never works out right…we never succeed do we? I tried to put together a set of music that would help us to see the importance of reminding ourselves that we are SECOND. Life is the way God intended it to be when we put Him FIRST!! In “Better Than Life” we are challenged why wouldn’t you put the Creator of the universe first! We are “safe and secure” when leaning on God. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t come our way. The Christian walk is not easy, it comes with struggles of all kinds, but what makes it different is that we have Jesus to trust, that He is there and we can find peace in him! He is “holy and righteous faithful to the end!” He is our “Saviour healer Redeemer and friend”. The promises He makes to us He keeps them each and every one! This morning as we were singing such truths, the impact was amazing…especially after seeing how God worked out all the technical details!
I love the phrases in verse 2 of “The Same Love”: “You take the faithless one aside, And speak the words you are Mine, You call the cynic and the proud, come to me know.”
God first! I am second!
“Lift up you heads, Open the doors, Let the King of glory come in, And forever be our God!”
P.S. Thank you to a great tech team (near and far) who remained calm this morning and with God’s strength was able to get everything up and running! Praise God!
“Hallelujah You have overcome!” PRAISE GOD! As we focus on struggle this week I put the set together with victory in mind! Everyone struggles—big and small we all struggle. We see it throughout the Scriptures and we see where God healed the struggling, not only heal them but encouraged them to tell their story to impact the world for Him.
Starting off the morning I wanted us to focus on the season that is approaching. “Chris is Risen” reminds us of His victory! “O death where is your sting, O hell where is your victory, O church come and stand in the light, The glory of God has defeated the night”…AMEN! You’re going to see a lot of exclamation points in this blog because it is so amazing what God has done for us. We need to be reminded, we need to constantly be looking around us and even in our own life…God is at work!
“Awake My Soul” we are challenged to wake up, God has given us the resources to have a growing and thriving relationship with Him! The ability to have a personal relationship with Him, to have the Scriptures to dive into any time we can, not to mention His Holy Spirit! In the midst of struggle we can often move ourselves first, when we need to be reminded that we are second! God’s “Amazing Grace” reminds us that He is to be first! “The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures, He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.” Draw upon the Lord, in the midst of your struggle right now, draw upon the Lord. He is your foundation, solid foundation…with Him first in your life “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace, In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil”. Over this past week I wanted clarity to this phrase so I did a little research and found this insight via the internet mixed with my thoughts as well: What it means to say “My anchor holds within the veil”. Who or what is my anchor? ……. The Lord is our anchor! Then I thought… really is He, or do I just really, really hope He is. After so much “life” has happened I can say HE IS. Yes there are moments that I have to say “remember who your anchor is”. So I know who my anchor is, but what is my anchor. What is my description of “anchor”? Well the definition is: something to hold another thing securely. Synonyms are: comfort, defense, fastener, foothold, grip, hold, hook, mainstay, pillar, protection, safeguard, security, stay, support. Not only does this sound true, it feels true. The veil is the place of the holy of holies. Guess what, I get to enter into it! I did something that gave me that privilege. I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, my whole life. I put Him first in my life and He took my life and gave me his eternal life and by grace, His grace, I am held in the holy of holies. I’m not holding my anchor, my anchor is holding me. He is not holding me over a cliff either. He is holding me in the most sacred place where his glory shines all around me. He is holding me in a place where the impossible is possible. He holds me in a place that the world only dreams exist. Hebrews 6:19 says “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”
VICTORY! In the midst of your struggle there is victory! Jesus wears the Victor’s Crown! He if fighting for you, He is your help and defender, in His presence fear is silenced! “Hallelujah You have overcome, You have overcome, Hallelujah Jesus You have overcome the world!”
Isn’t it so easy to give up sometimes? Like this morning, before I even got out of bed I was looking forward to crawling back in bed! And if we are all honest we have all had days like that! Courage, we need it each and every day!
The choir started us off this morning with “Wonderful Merciful Savior” …a great song that encourages us in verse 2 “Counselor Comforter Keeper, Spirit we long to embrace, You offer hope when our hearts, Have hopelessly lost the way”. We often lack courage, because we often lose focus. Our focus should be on Christ, He gives us courage and hope each and every day!
The video “Contend” challenges us from the Scripture to be strong: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/22534/Contend God is so faithful, He is our provider! We do not have to do life alone, but yet we often do! I love verse 3 of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” where it says “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”! Take courage!
This week we started working on a new song “Awake My Soul” that challenges us to depend on God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALW1AwdKEnM Depending on God and His Word gives us courage to face each and every day with purpose and meaning. Are you open to that? Do you depend on Him? Do you realize that He is our Cornerstone. The cornerstone is the stone in that give a building stability, is He your cornerstone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWHgvkEPJiQ
We finished the service with “Our God”. During staff meeting this week, pastor Mike was sharing with us and Romans 8 came to mind and the lyrics of “Our God” at the bridge where it says “And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us, And if our God is with us then what could stand against us, And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us, And if our God is with us then what could stand against!”
WHAT A DAY! It is a very personal day for me as I had the opportunity and privilege to baptize my son Maxwell today! I can remember the day, actually the week that Maxwell asked Christ into his life. We were doing our morning devotions as a family and the subject matter was Christ’s sacrifice so that we can have everlasting life with Him. The terminology that was used was “asking Jesus into your heart”…well for an 8 year old that is scary. Max asked about it, he was very curious and understood what Jesus did, but he was a frightened with the thought of having Jesus in his heart. His response was that it would hurt. Becky and I both wanted him to pray so badly that morning, but we knew he wasn’t ready. We then spent the rest of the week explaining to him further that it wouldn’t hurt to invite Jesus in your life! One week later Max was ready and in our kitchen standing in a circle holding hands as a family we had the opportunity to lead Maxwell to Christ together! Now Becky and I could have stopped there and thought “awesome, both our children are believers in Christ, we can check that off our list!” But that is not the case as parents, yes Lauren and Maxwell are believers in Christ…NOW starts the journey of becoming developing followers of Christ. You see we as parents have a responsibility to help that journey along, especially in its beginning! And so another journey begins for my son today, and that includes the body of Christ as they too take part in this journey with Max!
I guess what I want to remind you of today as a parent, but not just to parents, but to grandparents, friends, church members we all have a part in the spiritual journey of one another! We all need to encourage, help, and walk along side each other as we strive as developing followers of Christ!
WHAT A DAY! To spend time focusing the worship on the challenge as we sing “this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, All the day long!” God is our hope, He deserves our worship all day long, every day! “Sing like never before, Oh my soul!” “And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come, still my soul will sing your praise unending! Ten thousand years and then forever more!”
WHAT A DAY! What a day that will be when we find ourselves before the Savior! Before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! We ended the morning of worship focusing on the return of Christ, but also being challenged that our worship must happen ALL THE TIME, in everything that we do and say! I have included the story behind the song “Days of Elijah” because it helps you understand more clearly that as followers of Christ, when we make that decision, we have decided to live a life of worship, worshipping God each and every moment!
Robin Mark, the author and composer of “Days of Elijah” explains this incredible song as “generally and principally a song of ‘hope.’” At a young age Robin Mark was very influence by the Old Testament people and their stories…how these stories can be used to teach and represent the character of God.
I quote: “So, in essence, it was not written as a prophetic song, or to reflect Biblical prophecy as such—it was written using the ‘foreshadowing’ (to be a sign of something to come) events and peoples of the Scriptures as representatives of the days we now live in”.
While watching current events on television Robin was moved by the truth that God “was very much in control and that the days we are living in are special times when He requires Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal.
‘These are Elijah’ days!’” Elijah felt alone and isolated in his culture, but God told him to stand up and speak for Him! We also need to be a holy and just people, thus the reference to the “days of your servant Moses”, meaning that righteousness and right living is important in all our attitudes and works. Remember we live under grace and not law, but the righteousness that comes by faith can be no less than the moral law that Moses brought direct from God. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.
“Days of great trial, of famine, darkness and sword” is a reflection of the apparent times in which we live when still thousands of people die every day from starvation, malnutrition, war, and disease!
The second verse refers to the restoration of unity. Unity of the body of believers, this is what Jesus prayed for—“that they may be one even as I and the Father are one…” by the reference to Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the valley of the dry bones becoming flesh and being knit together.
Robin says “There are lots of interpretations of this picture, but one of a united church rising up in unity and purpose, is a powerful call on us in these day.”
Think about that for us here! Especially for us here at First B…a UNITED CHURCH…IMAGINE THE IMPACT WE CAN HAVE UNITED IN THIS COMMUNITY!!!! AND WORLD!!!!!
When the song refers to David “rebuilding the temple of praise” he is referring to the fact that David was used by God to introduce a revised form of worship, praise, and thanksgiving. First, David’s little tent which he pitched around the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God, and then the temple that Solomon built. This worship, unlike the Mosaic Tabernacle, involved many people being able to come into God’s presence and worship Him openly. Praise and worship before the presence of God just like David enjoyed!
Finally the “days of the harvest” points towards what the purpose of the Christian is to do, to go into ALL the world and make disciples of all nations!
The song culminates with the words “There’s no god like Jehovah” which Robin did not explain, but I think you can look at the body of the song and take what he said earlier in his explanation: “God is still in control today as He was then…I look at it as a point in the song where proclamation is merited and there is no god like the God of the Old Testament, New Testament, the same God as today!
SO HERE ARE THE THEMES OF THE VERSES:
DECLARATION…RIGHTEOUSNESS…UNITY… AND WORSHIP!
The chorus is the ultimate declaration of hope…Christ’s return!
Theologians and Bible commentators believe that Israel never properly celebrated this particular 50th year jubilee, and that it will only be properly celebrated when Christ returns. Robin says “The might be true, but I reckon that a Jubilee is an apt description of what happens when Christ comes into anyone’s life at any time; debts are cancelled and a captive is set free!
Now, if that doesn’t convince you that God used Robin Mark to write this incredible song…consider the fact that he wrote it in 30 minutes between the two services, in the kitchen of his church, and the congregation sang it during the second service.
Robin concluded his remarks on the song with this: “I believe I wrote what God was telling me to write and He seems to have used the song in many ways for many people.”
A SONG OF HOPE…
FOR OUR TIME, FOR US HERE…
A HOPE THAT WE CAN DECLARE…
A HOPE THAT WE LIVE RIGHTEOUS LIVES…
A HOPE THAT WE COMMIT TO UNITY BOTH HERE AS A FAMILY AND WITH FELLOW FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST…
A HOPE THAT WE WORSHIP GOD…NO MATTER WHAT THE STYLE OR PREFERENCE…
WE MOVE BEYOND THAT AND REALIZE THAT ALL THAT WE DO IS DONE AS WORSHIP!
Last week I blogged about Jesus Christ being the center, one of the Worship Team leaders forwarded me a song to check out by Israel Houghton that has that incredible message and I wanted to pass it along to you as well. Let it remind you of the importance to keep Him in the center! “Jesus at the Center” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87N0Lk0qeNs
Forgiveness was today’s topic, and again I go back to the importance of striving to keep Jesus at the center of all that you do! Forgiveness, the ability to forgive becomes easier when you realize how much Jesus forgave you!
So we start off with “Everyday”…the challenge to “stand upon Your Word” the foundation, the map for our life. “Every single step” that we take determines if we will be a light or not!
The choir shared with us “In Christ Alone” again affirming the importance and power of putting Christ central. Thank you so much choir for sharing this challenge and reminder to us, it’s our prayer that this will be one of those tunes that sticks in your head this week!
“It All Belongs to You” is a song with simple words, attributes of the Lord, that we praise Him for! This song brings us into worship and praise, giving God the glory that He deserves! When we sing this together, it gives me a glimpse of what heaven will be like as the nation’s praise God!
“Our God”, what a powerful song! Again I share the Scripture I read this morning from Romans 8:31-39 (The Message)
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the words by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would even dare to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Amen! What better way to end our worship time together than with “For Who You Are.” I thought it would be awesome to attach the Hillsong Kid’s version of this song since there was an emphasis on children’s ministry in our services today. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvNKuE2B0vM
If you haven’t “liked” our Facebook page (First Baptist Church of New Castle, PA) or follow us on Twitter (@FBCNC), why not today, we work hard to use those social tools to follow up and prepare you for worship as well as give you up to date announcements!
What a great morning of worship yesterday! As I am sitting here writing, reflecting on the time of worship we had together yesterday and the topic that Pastor Mike spoke on I am truly amazed at how God orchestrates a Sunday to meet His purposes! Starting off the service with Communion speaks volumes to us as followers of Christ…life and relationship do not center around me! God should be the CENTER of all that we do! Taking time to realize that through the Lord’s Table is a great reminder to us all!
I want to post the video from yesterday, because I believe it is great to take a look at it throughout your week this week. It will keep fresh all the God has done for us! http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/32855/Do-This-In-Remembrance-Of-Me
“All for Love” is a great showcase worship song that reminds us that out of ultimate love God sacrificed his Son for us, so that we could have salvation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1r9SZ0jJxE We constantly make mistakes, and our loving, grace giving Father provides forgiveness when we ask! “Let the cross draw man to You!” There is great truth in this song, everything we need is in the Lord, for every moment of every day. Humanly we will come up short every time!
“Cornerstone” is a great arrangement of the great hymn “The Solid Rock.” Again, we are reminded that our “hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood an righteousness”; the song goes on with this next phrase: “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.” Just what exactly does that mean? “The sweetest frame” means whatever false way our thought that may tempt you. We cannot truth out own “frame” of mind, our own emotional state…that can be shaking ground! But we can trust God, the cornerstone which brings strength to us! If you grew up in Sunday School you may remember the Bible story found in Matthew 7:24-27, you may have even sang the song in children’s church many years ago! “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” “Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong in the Saviors love! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWHgvkEPJiQ
“Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)” ended our set appropriately! It speaks for itself! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqrqPGt11bA
One last thought, as Pastor Mike was preaching, one of his points was what’s mine is mine. The way my brain works I thought of this little video clip…enjoy!
Well the first week of the curtain being up during worship raised awareness for myself. My thought was that the curtain would take away the distraction of the platform, it’s people, etc. What I quickly learned was that when one distraction is taken away, another “rears its ugly head!” We experienced technical difficulties, transitions were a bit rough and I am sure for all who walked in the unexpected curtain was a distraction. As I spent the week processing what the past Sunday was like as well as asking God to show me what this all means I was struck with this reality in it’s simple form: there will always be a distraction when it comes to worshipping God!
Over the past several months I have found all the construction on the 376 (formerly 60) exit by Wal-Mart to be extremely frustrating! I have realized that I depend on that exit for many things these days: McDonalds, since the McDonalds on 18 is being rebuilt; getting to Lowes real quick as something has broken at my house; going to Wal-Mart, even though I try my best to avoid that one!!!!; grabbing something from Staples or every Thursday morning around 5:30 heading to C’s Waffle House to meet with my accountability group. The goal is to get from point A to point B…well with all the construction going on I have found it to be a huge distraction in my life of trying to get from point A to point B! Sometimes the exit is open, sometimes it’s closed…I have had to take a lot of detours to get to point B and even to get back to point A! I have to admit that that has not been pleasant on many occasions, the distraction it has created on those occasions have been hard to overcome!
Okay, Pastor Scott, put it all together, where are you going with this? Well, here it is: How do you handle it? When something unexpected happens how do you handle it? When you are trying to get from point A to point B and something gets in the way…what do you do? When you are trying to worship God and something gets in the way…do you allow that distraction to take over? Do you allow that distraction to keep you from worshipping God? When I discovered the exit to Wal-Mart was closed did I stop at that exit and go no further? No, sure I found myself very frustrated, even angry at times, but it wasn’t going to stop me from getting to Lowes!
When you find that you are distracted during worship, which will always be the case…does it stop you from worshipping? Or do you find yourself determined to worship no matter what! You see, worship is so much more than singing together on Sunday morning…it is EVERYTHING you do, EVERYTHING you face, EVERY moment of EVERY day! Worship is a decision! It is deciding to get past the distractions!
Knowing that, think about your past week, and think about all the distraction that kept you from worshipping God! Last week, pastor Mike challenged us from Isaiah 1 that worship is a heart issue! We see in verse 10-14 of that chapter that God was unhappy with their worship, not the avenue of worship. God wants sincere faith and devotion…I am going to worship Him no matter what distraction there is. That is a heart issue, we can go through the motions, in fact many of us do…but what is on the inside? I ask myself the same question do I have a heart that is fully devoted to God? Will I do what it takes to worship despite the distractions? Will the outward signs of my life throughout the day indicate a heart of complete devotion to God…that is worship…that is what matters to God!
We see in Isaiah 6:1-8 a very precious interaction, a very transparent moment for Isaiah! Seeing the Lord and listening to all the praises going on around him Isaiah quickly realized that he was not worthy of approaching God, he was not worthy of worshipping Him! His lips were touched with a burning coal…it wasn’t the burning coal that made him worthy of worshipping God; it was God who made him righteous! Jesus’ sacrifice makes us righteous. Isaiah could have stopped there, he could have given up and frankly, he did…BUT GOD made a way. God made the way; we cannot lose sight of that! Each and every day God has made a way! What was Isaiah’s response? He submitted himself entirely to God and His service. Each and every day God has made a way…what is our response…what is your response…what is my response? When the distractions hit, what will we do? Will we allow it to distract us from the truth that God has made a way?
There will always be distractions when it comes to worshipping God…no matter how difficult won’t you say to Him “Here am I, Send Me!”
You know if we stop and take a look at the attributes of God: Holy, Righteous, Faithful, Saviour, Healer, Redeemer, Friend and many more, it doesn’t take long to realize how much He impacts you on a daily basis. Do you look at it that way? Do you stop to realize that each and every moment of your life you are impacted by one or more of the many attributes of God. If you are a follower of Christ, just knowing that your “soul is secure” the fact that you have been saved by grace should impact each second of your life. As we embark on the a study in the book of Isaiah , “Wired for Worship”, you cannot help but answer the question: “What do you worship?” We all worship something, whether a follower of Christ or not. In Louie Giglio’s book Wired: For a Life of Worship he says: “Should you for some reason choose not to give God what He desires [worship], you’ll still worship something—exchanging the Creator for something He has created.” We were created to worship, all mankind was created to worship…and our worship wasn’t only to happen on a Sunday.
So you came in this morning and you saw a curtain hiding the platform…the screens were very plain, WHY? It’s a great question. In an effort to help us better understand worship we need to strip some of the distraction away, and approach it differently than what we are accustomed to. We see in Isaiah 1:10-14 that God was unhappy with the people’s sacrifices (worship), not the system of sacrifices he had initiated with Moses. God was calls for sincere faith and devotion. The leaders were carefully making the traditional sacrifices and offerings at holy celebrations, but they were still unfaithful to God in their hearts. Sacrifices were to be and outward sign of their inward faith in God, but the outward signs became empty because no inward faith existed. We often place more faith in the act, the process, what it takes to “get us to worship” than putting faith in the God we worship. When we get too caught up in the “how” of worship, our hearts lose focus of the “Who” (God) of worship.
And so we get stuck in a box, we get stuck thinking worship should happen this way, our way. Worship is only on Sunday. Worship is so much more. This morning we are being challenged to look at worship differently, starting from the heart…a heart that is faithful to God. When your heart is faithful to God, then the process of worship, the time, the place, the means, the practices fall to the wayside because of the “Who”, because of God. When our heart takes in all that God has done for us we do what we are created to do worship Him! As we sing today, it has been my prayer that any distraction that the worship team may cause would not be there. As we sing today, it has been my prayer that your worship is genuine from the heart as a result of all that God has done for you! As the words come from your lips, you realize all that He has done for you and your heart overflows with praise to our Savior.
“Speak, O Lord” is a prayer that our hearts would be open to what God’s word says to us today. Change us God