The Leading Causes of Life: Connection It is only in the connections, in the support, and in the coming together that our faith is really shaped to be all that it can be and that it gives the kind of life that Christ intended for it to give. It is a cause of life. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Service It is one of the great themes and it is one of the great life-giving themes of scripture. This is life: to worship Christ—to worship, to give ourselves in these moments as much as we can offer ourselves up, and then to receive the confirmation of the spirit and to be a part of God’s work in this world. It is the key and the path to abundant life that Jesus has promised. We have worshipped, now let us serve. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Grace It is all about grace. God loves us because he chooses to. God extends his mercy and forgiveness to us, not because we deserve it, but because that is the way his heart is. God loves us still because of his grace. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Worship Let us each give to God that sacred time and that sacred space so that our lives can be directed at him, and that every day, every place and in every way, our hearts would be giving worship and praise to the God who made us. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Forgiveness Forgiveness is about healing. It is a gift of God for his children, and for all who will practice it, it is an opportunity to be able to be free of all those hindrances based on bad relationships once and for all. Read More ... Joel Snider
After Christmas If we think about what happens after Christmas, what happens after Christmas should be what happens before Christmas. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Abundance Each of us can probably give testimony to some moment in life when it looked like there just wasn’t going to be enough and here we are fed, clothed, sheltered, and ready to trust God one more time. We serve a loving, good, and abundant God. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Faith If we want to have more faith, it is more than just believing impossible things. It is not believing harder. It is taking the things that I already know God is speaking to me about and becoming obedient in scorn of consequences. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Salvation The great themes of the Bible speak of the vocabulary of our faith and those foundational convictions that are the reason why we are Christians. They are the things we have heard all of our lives because they are the central message to scripture. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Sin We know the reality of sin. We know the reality of guilt. O that we would all know the only answer, the answer offered by God for us through Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of our sins by his death on the cross. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Humanity Whenever we say, “I am just human,” and use it as an excuse to do something that is less than human, maybe we should just be honest with ourselves and say, “Well, I was broken and less than human. I did not live up to Christ.” Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: Covenant We are called to reflect the same kind of love towards others in the world, love that may be supercharged with emotion but love that is beyond that which is commitment in choice and will. Read More ... Joel Snider
Great Themes of the Bible: God No one has seen God, but the Son has made him known to us. One of the great convictions about being a Christian is that Jesus Christ shows us what God is like in his life, actions, and teachings. Read More ... Joel Snider
I Was Not Disobedient Our families are great. We have good jobs and lots of other good things in our lives, but what do we work toward? What is it that we are really trying to accomplish for God in this world? Read More ... Joel Snider
Peter’s Second Conversion We think about Paul so much in his Damascus Road experience, but maybe for many of us, Peter is a more instructive example because his life is continually going through these changes to become more like Jesus Christ. Read More ... Joel Snider
Think Win-Win If we want to say Christ is the head of our home, then we need to understand that the way this is lived out, day in and day out, is by taking any relationship that might look like this relationship to start with (over-under, win-lose) and under Christ, they become mutual. Read More ... Joel Snider
Basically Honest If we were to give an honesty test, how high would a person have to score to be considered honest? If you made 51 out of 100, would that make you an honest person? Read More ... Joel Snider
Loaning Faith How would any of us have made it this far in life if somebody had not loaned us some faith at some point? Be intentional. Give to someone who needs. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Six-Second Christian If we are not our own but live for Christ, then would we not want to live in a way that makes the world a better place and would we not want to live in a way that makes the witness for Christ more consistent with what we say? Read More ... Joel Snider
The Gospel Feast We are each sinners, saved by grace, and the only reason we have a place at the table is because the righteousness of Christ makes it available to us and his righteousness covers our sins. Read More ... Joel Snider
Poor and Didn’t Know It Our Lord tells us that the poor in spirit are the lucky ones. To be so, we have to stop thinking simply in terms of money and begin to look at the world through the eyes of the poor, and to feel as they feel. Read More ... Joel Snider
Aftershock By faith we do believe that the resurrection is true, but if we are honest, at first among the people who were closest to Jesus, it was only marginally disruptive. But then the aftershocks start to come. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Lord’s Prayer: Deliverance God is the deliverer. It is not that we need to worry about what God might do and say, “God, don’t do that to me,” but that indeed God would put us on a path where we could avoid the deeper test, the great temptations, and be delivered from the evil. Read More ... Joel Snider
No Ordinary Relationships: It’s Who We Are In everyone’s life, there are memories of arguments and things that are said to us that are too painful to take back, things that were done to us that we are not sure we will ever get over. There are also things that we have said that we would give anything to have not said. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Journey to Bethlehem: Better Roads How on earth do we ever expect to get to that place where we really wanted to be if we are on the wrong road? A better road is available, and it is the road to Jesus Christ that leads us to peace, to Bethlehem, and to God. Read More ... Joel Snider
Giving for Our Sake Every year, studies show that people who are generous are happier, feel more connected to people around them, and have greater life satisfaction. All of these things is a work of the spirit that produces those things that we always wanted, but we think it is a bunch of hokum. But it is true. Read More ... Joel Snider
Giving for God’s Sake God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us, and I want to express my love back. What would be a fitting gift for a God like that? Read More ... Joel Snider
Giving for the World’s Sake Are you a person with high standards? In what, you might ask. In anything. In your job, in the people you associate with in business, in your profession, in your school, what you expect from your children, the food that you eat, or the car that you drive. Do you have high standards or will you accept less than quality and excellence? Read More ... Joel Snider
Getting Serious About Loving Missions:One Clear Call When Jesus encounters people in the Gospels, there are two things that never happen. (1) People are never encountered and given a vision of God simply for their personal ecstasy. It always results in following and service. (2) No one that Jesus encounters is ever called to serve themselves. Read More ... Joel Snider
Getting Serious: Loving Goodness, Shocking News of Sin I can’t do anything about terrorists, but what I can do is something about my own sin. If I turn and repent from my sin, and each of us turns and repents from the sins that are ours that we know would shock everybody around us if they only knew, then maybe we are moving the world toward what God wants and what God is able to use to do away with things like terrorism and the death of destruction of incidents like 9-11. Read More ... Joel Snider
Fate of Goodness Why is there something about evil that looks good to us? Why is there something about being bad, edgy, looking a little tough or doing the things that are unacceptable that appeal to us? Read More ... Joel Snider
Getting Serious: Loving Goodness, Fate of Emptiness The fate of emptiness is simply to have to come back in and fight that battle with evil over and over and over again. But the fate of fullness—fullness of the spirit, fullness of Christ, Christ dwelling in us and working through us—fills us with life that is much more at peace, much more at rest in the goodness of God, a life that satisfies. Read More ... Joel Snider
Getting Serious: Loving God Relationally Challenged There are several things that could be said about the age in which we live, but what I would offer today is that we live in a relationally challenged day. Somehow, we have lost the knowledge, have forgotten the memory, or failed to practice the things that make good and lasting relationships. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Root and the Fruit of Sin I believe that the spirit of entitlement is one way to understand what we would classify as the fall or original sin. Original here does not necessarily mean the first, but it is the root of everything. It is the root of all sin. It is the origination. Read More ... Joel Snider
Honk If You Love Jesus Can we covenant together that if we love Christ we will encourage one another? Can we say that we will push back the darkness of the un-blessing, that we will hold back the tide of cynicism and sarcasm, and speak the words that lift one another in faith? The world needs this. We need it, and it can be a witness to the saving love of God through Jesus Christ. Read More ... Joel Snider
Superficial Faith Let us commit ourselves today to the deep faith that doesn’t wash away when the storms come, the deep faith that is a foundation under all of our lives that sustains us for this day and even in the days to come that are filled with trials, difficulties, and challenges that seem beyond us. A faith that stands. Isn’t that what we want? Read More ... Joel Snider
It Takes A Church to Raise A Christian The truth is it takes a church to raise a Christian. It takes this safe place, it takes this broader place than just the home, and it takes a combined effort to be able to teach faith to our children. Read More ... Joel Snider
Unfinished We are not complete. We simply trust and walk with Jesus every step of the way. Read More ... Joel Snider
What I Learned From Cancer God can take the worst and, in some way, shape it and mold it for our good. If God can do that with the cross of Jesus Christ, then I know God can, and God has done that with my cancer. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Power of God’s Weak Love What is it that God says to the prophet? My ways are not your ways. God’s power is best demonstrated in his love. God’s love is always cloaked in weakness. Read More ... Joel Snider
Resurrection Changes Everything Think about all of the places in the resurrection stories in the Gospels. The angel says, “Be not afraid.” Resurrection changes everything. If Christ has really conquered death, then what is there to be afraid of, except those things that would, in some way, diminish our relationship with Christ and diminish our faith so that we don’t live as closely to Christ as we would like to live. Read More ... Joel Snider
Judgment Pending Today is not a day to condemn our neighbor, criticize our brother-in-law, or look down our noses at somebody we don’t think comes to church enough. It is not a day to consider someone else in our family that we think does not measure up enough. It is a day to recognize that we, too, fall under judgment. Like anybody else we might think about, we fall under judgment. Read More ... Joel Snider
Blessed, Rather . . . Whether it be parents, children, siblings in another state, or food for ourselves, we are looking for a blessing, particularly I think sometimes for ourselves. This would be our heart’s desire to have the sense that God’s richness, goodness, closeness, and approval would somehow fall on us, as if we could feel its touch in our lives to know that God’s hand had blessed us. Read More ... Joel Snider
What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life? What must I do to inherit eternal life? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself and don’t go around trying to define who your neighbor is. Read More ... Joel Snider
Come and Follow Me Do you know what Jesus taught about most? The answer is money. More than heaven and hell combined, more than prayer, Jesus talked about money, particularly our relationship to our money. Read More ... Joel Snider
All Those that Follow Me If you want to know what the payoff is for following Jesus Christ, it is the opportunity every day to be obedient to God and to know that being obedient, and that alone, is life. Read More ... Joel Snider
Repent! The Kingdom of God is at Hand Take off all the dirty, remove all the muddy, cast off everything that is worn, yellowed, and frayed. We have new things—a new heart, a new soul, a new spirit. Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand. Read More ... Joel Snider
Away From Me, Satan Western culture is filled with stories of individuals who decide to take on the devil. Sometimes it is a pact where someone agrees to sell their soul to get something in return, such as the German legend of Faust, the great scholar, who sold his soul to the devil in order to receive unlimited knowledge. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Scriptures Also Say . . . There was a time when right was right and wrong was wrong. To choose the right helped us feel closer to God, and to choose the wrong, left us knowing that we had been a part of creating that gap between us and heaven. Read More ... Joel Snider
My Father’s House In this new year, for the sake of the ministry of the kingdom, for the sake of children whom we want to grow up and have an influence on the world for Christ, let us all covenant together that however it might be, if there is only one thing that we might do to grow closer to Christ, to increase the heart of Christ within us, then let us do it. Read More ... Joel Snider
Pondering Christmas The message of Christmas is really too wonderful to be reserved simply for a season, a week, a weekend, or a day. The message of Christmas is that Christ has come to the world and Christ would come to each one of us. Do we ever genuinely ponder what that means? Read More ... Pondering Christmas
Now That I Believe: I Practice the Love of Christ Now that I believe, Christ has come in the name of God. Christ has come embodying love in this world. Now that I believe that I have received this gift, I will practice the love of Christ, and not just in the week before Christmas, but always. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Spread Joy Have you ever heard anyone say, “I deserve joy.” No. have you ever heard someone say, “I am going out and I am going to get some joy today. I am going to do the things that make me joyous.” No. Joy is usually a by-product of something worthy. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Wage Peace The next time you see somebody at an intersection with a sign that says, Will work for food, or the next time you see a parody of the sign, think of this instead: Will work for peace. Let us commit ourselves to being a part of the will of God that wants peace upon the earth. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Have Hope Advent is a way of preparing spiritually for the Christmas holiday. It is a way of preparing for the birth of Christ, to once again try to experience that birth in its newness and freshness in our own hearts. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Give Joyfully God wants us to give generously. If you read 1 Corinthians 9 and the surrounding passages that go with it, words like enlarge, surpassing, generous, and abounding, remind us of increasing giving and goodness. The model is God in Jesus Christ. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Give, Trusting God’s Abundance Is the glass half empty or is it half full? Do we look at life as life being depleted and there is no more or do we remember all that God has done? All that God has and we even remember the words from the hymn, All that I have needed, thy hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Give As I Am Blessed In the wisdom of God, he has given us the principle of tithing and proportional giving so that we might all participate as we have been blessed in the work of the kingdom. The one who had much still had, the one who had little still had, and all who gave were blessed equally. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: I Listen to God Paul said when a person comes to Christ they are a new creation. The old has passed away; the new has come. Wherever we turn in scripture, we are reminded that an encounter with God or accepting Christ results in some kind of change. Read More ... Joel Snider
Now That I Believe: The Spirit Is Upon Me To… We live in a world of experts. We seek out advice from people we think have the most knowledge and who have proven to be effective in their field. We want to know what they have to say about the issues or concerns that affect us most. Read More ... Joel Snider
What I Believe: Help My Unbelief “I believe. Help my unbelief.” In the New International Version, it says, “I believe. Help me overcome my belief. I believe a little. Help me believe more. I believe some. Help me believe all the way. Help me finish this faith. Jesus, I have good faith days and bad faith days, and right now I’m struggling. I want to believe more. I want to believe completely”. Read More ... Joel Snider
What I Believe: The Present Christ If God is real as we understand through scripture, and if we follow him according to the ways we are taught by Jesus Christ, then how on earth could there not be something different about people who follow God through Christ and people who don’t? Read More ... Joel Snider
What I Believe: Confident in Salvation If God is real, which we do believe, then what would the lives of the people of God look like? If God is real and above all and in all, sustains us, and loves us and if I have given my life to God, then what would the life of the people of God look like? Read More ... Joel Snider
What I Believe: God Is If we really believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross and that God raised him from the dead, does it make a difference in our lives?
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Loving Beyond Our Theology As Christians, God calls us to be people of conviction. God calls us to be discerning people. God calls us to know right and wrong and to persevere in our faith. We are supposed to know where the line is drawn, but there is a tension here. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Lesson of Manna The lesson of manna is not only that God provides, and not only that God provides in the moment of need, but that God provides every day, and that every day I must go and I must seek it again. There is not enough today for tomorrow—just enough for today. Read More ... Joel Snider
True Wisdom Instead of trying to argue about whether or not what God teaches us is relevant to our lives, we actually need to make our lives relevant to what God teaches us. We need to recognize that God’s ways are the ways that lead to blessedness. Read More ... Joel Snider
God’s Way and Ours We think about Jesus saying that the person who has two coats should give one to someone else. I daresay there are very few among us who only have two coats. Read More ... Joel Snider
Spiritual Gifts What you can do, and how you are blessed in the way that God has put you together, is God’s gift to you. How you use it, and whether or not you use it for the kingdom, is your gift to God. Read More ... Joel Snider
A Sinner’s Gift A sure fact about Jesus is that he made people mad. That is not the first thing we think of when we think about Jesus. We think about Jesus as being nice and kind, but the truth is that Jesus made a lot of people really, really angry. Read More ... Joel Snider
He Goes Before You What have been the best days in your life? As you look back over your life and try to summarize the different chapters of your life, what would you describe as your best days? Read More ... Joel Snider
Spiritual Child Neglect When we neglect our own faith, when we neglect the consistency of our own lives and the implied message that goes along with what we tell our children, we neglect the spiritual development of our own hearts and the spiritual development of our children. Read More ... Joel Snider
Covenant Redux In contemporary American Christianity, faith in Christ has become much like a clothing accessory—those things like shoes, sunglasses, belts, or ties—the optional parts of what you wear that you can put together to get the perfect look. You can wear the same clothes but just change the accessories. Read More ... Joel Snider
Celebrating Grace Hymnal Dedication Singing has a way of re-enforcing, expressing, and turning up the volume. On all of those experiences in life that are most important, music and song seem to engrain them in us in a way that merely speaking does not do.
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The Easter Rush Are we running towards life or are we running towards death. Are we running towards pleasing God or trying to satisfy our hearts that are so very, very fickle? Have you ever satisfied your heart only to have it want something else the next day?
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The Language of Stones I don’t know if you have ever tried to speak to someone who does not speak the language you speak, but we do all manner of things. If we are trying to communicate something, we will often use our hands. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Lord’s Prayer If we are going to pray, then how will we do it? It always seems to me that when a crisis comes or when someone knows that a friend is laboring under something that would require prayer, there is never a shortage of advice about how to pray, is there? Read More ... Joel Snider
Gifts in the Body God has so arranged the body of Christ to give honor to the inferior members that there may be no dissention within the body and that the members may have care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer with it. If one is honored, all are honored together. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Hand on the Plow One of the great things about Jesus is there is no fine print. You don’t need a Ph.D. in Bible to find out what the demands of discipleship are. There is not an obscure passage in a book that no one has told you about. It is all laid out there for us. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Law Limits This is the season in which we think about Christ’s sacrifice as we move towards, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and eventually towards Easter. It is the time when, traditionally, Christians have thought about discipleship, the sacrifice of Christ and, therefore, what it might mean in our own lives. Read More ... Joel Snider
Isaac On the Altar A commitment is really nothing more than a choice with lasting ties. Commitments are a choice when we choose to tie ourselves to something, and when we choose to tie ourselves to it, it lasts—sometimes for a long time. Read More ... Joel Snider
Dedicated to God What do children and youth really need to survive, to be healthy, to be productive, and to have a good life? Clearly, I think, they need safety. If you kept a child in perfect safety, that still would not be enough. If you could protect a child and make sure they were never injured, never fell, never scraped their knees, and were never in danger from someone outside hurting them, that still would not be enough. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Potter and the Clay If we would but allow God, God can put us on that wheel and God can spin us, shape us, and make things new. If we don’t believe that, then why on earth do we believe in Christ? Christ went to the cross, was dead, and buried. If we believe that God can transform Christ into a new resurrected life so that all who are in Christ might live with Christ always, then do we not believe that God can be stronger than our fear, stronger than our pride, and make us new. Read More ... Joel Snider
The Calling of the Prophet If you are in an honorable profession, I would like you to have words to put on it to understand that the compulsion you feel by God is your calling.It is what God has asked you to do--to try to go forward from this, to branch out so that it is not just accidental but intentional.The way that you live your life, conduct your business, and work in your profession is a part of who you are as a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ.Read More ... Joel Snider
What the Lord Requires In our relationship with God, what does God want?It is not a mystery.It is not a dysfunctional relationship where you cannot figure it out.God wants us to do the best things we can do for ourselves in our relationship with him—to love mercy, to be the kind of people who incorporate it in our lives every day, all the time; to live out kindness and compassion, to do justice, to be concerned about what is true, fair, right, and good in the world for all people, and not just what benefits ourselves.Read More ... Joel Snider
Some Times Call for...Love All times call for love.This year calls for love, and whatever happens in the next year will call for love.Whatever these children who will grow up to take our places face, those times will call for love, too.May we always, always, be faithful to the God who loved us enough to send his son in the form of that Babe of Bethlehem, not to love as long as it feels good, but to love until Christ comes again because that’s what God’s people do. Read More ... Joel Snider
Some Times Call for...Joy The title of the sermon today is Sometimes Call for . . . Joy.The truth is that every time calls for joy.Doesn’t this time in our lives, in the lives of our nation and community, call for joy?If we think that joy is only going to come if the economy rebounds, and if we think joy is only going to come if we engage in repetitive acts that give us pleasure for a moment, we are just kidding ourselves.Read More ... Joel Snider
Some Times Call for...Peace We can’t do much about alliances and peace treaties.But all of us face sisters who fight over mama’s money, brothers who haven’t spoken for so many years that they can’t even remember why, children who won’t come home and parents who don’t want them at home.In each of these situations there is something we can do.The peace of Christmas can break out in my relationships if I would but learn these things.Read More ... Joel Snider
Some Times Call for...Hope The Christian hope is not some positive thinking that if I just believe it, it will be so.The Christian hope is that God is real, God is in control, and God does not forget us.In our trials in this life and in our journey to the next, God does not let us go.Read More ... Joel Snider
Thanksgiving: The Feast of Enough Here this lesson again. It may be a new normal. I don’t know, but what I do know is this: The God who provided manna, the God who provided water from the rock and quail in the wilderness, his son Jesus Christ who fed one group and then another so much that there was enough left over, that God has more abundance to share with us, and it is enough. For that, let us give thanks with glad hearts this Thursday.Read More ... Joel Snider
Life Among the Macedonians Today, in Lima, Peru, one of the poorest sections of Peru, six people are there. They were the ones who could go, but all of us together provide the means so that they can be there to tell people about Christ. They can inoculate children. I wish you could see the video of the place. It is so tragic, but in the name of Christ, on your behalf and because of your generosity, they are there. Read More ... Joel Snider
Together What a great church!How great each and every person is!We are woven together and used together by the spirit of Christ that makes us one.Together, we are the church.Together, what in God’s name can we not do?Read More ... Joel Snider
The Promises God Keeps Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord for what God has done. Will we be so narrowly focused that we only think of that in terms of what God has done in my life or for my family or will we think about how in the grand sweep of all time and eternity God’s hand is moving on. Would we united ourselves with the purposes of God so that we might have the opportunity to see the miracles of God, to know what God is doing, to have that intersect our lives and to believe that these promises are true and really above all other promises. If we do and if we will do these things, then we might be tempted to say, Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord for all the mighty things that God has done. Praise the Lord for all the great things God has yet to do, and may God wake me up and let me see what his hand is doing.Read More ... Joel Snider
In Praise of Habits Think about the power of a bad habit and think about the power of a good habit.Cultivate it out of a commitment to Christ and out of a response to what Christ has done for us, making a decision once and for all that decides the way I will be in certain areas for the rest of my life.Could that make my life stronger?I believe that would be a tool that in the hands of God would draw me closer to him.Read More ... Joel Snider
Known In All the World When you read about conflict in the Mid-East, if the Prince of Peace could somehow be present in the hearts of more people, could that be a positive thing?When these are places where people are starving and places where refugees are displaced, could any of these things be helped if there were more people in those places who knew about Christ?If the answer to that is no, then why do we even bother being here? If the answer is yes, then let us just continue with the faith that is recognized by others, the faith that is not done working yet.Read More ... Joel Snider
You can hear a lot of things that are described as threats to the family today—different rights, divorce, etc. Nobody wants to say that these things are helpful but do you want to know what really affects a higher percentage of families than any of the things that are often portrayed as the great enemies to the family? It is a mistaken trust that somehow money will save us, that somehow money and materialism will make us happy. Only the fullness of Christ can satisfy the emptiness of a person like Solomon who came to the end and said, “I look at all this stuff I have and it is just like chasing after the wind.” Only the fullness of Christ will satisfy Solomon, will satisfy me, will satisfy you, and our children, if we will tell them.
Sing for Joy We think about all these things that we have loved and believed. We think about music that expresses an age in which we were young and we believed all things passionately. We hear music, and it expresses how we feel about somebody in particular and how much we love them. We hear music and it reminds us that there is a savior who died for us. There is a God who loved us enough to send his own son to Calvary for our redemption and for the forgiveness of our sins. Our lives need music to say it all.Read More ... Joel Snider
Which one among us always feels fully rested? I would like to meet you and find out your secret. Which one of us always feels fully connected to God? When a couple is having problems, one of the things that a counselor will often do is say, “You need to have a date night,” or “You need to find a way to have some time together.” That is what the Sabbath is. It is a date day with God, to quit focusing on everything else and focus on what God wants for us, what God wants to say to us.
I once was blind but now I see. I am sure I don’t see perfectly, but I do know that what God reveals to me in Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. May we pray for the sight to always see as God sees.
I like the meditation text today from Peter Gomes who talks about the Bible being a book of the future. It contains stories about the past but it really is about the future. Some of you have many collective years as Bible teachers in this congregation and we owe you a great debt of gratitude for keeping the Bible alive, fresh, real, and inspiring in front of us. But today, as we celebrate 175 years, we need to remember that it is not just about the heritage, it is about what comes next. It is about keeping this book, and all that it can be, in front of us, to shape our lives so that we can be what God has called us to be.
The message today is not to learn more of Christ, although I wish everyone would. The message today is to trust in God and to surrender and seek God so that God’s power can invade our lives. I wish I could somehow can the power of God and distribute it to people when they need it. Some pastors make it sound so easy. They say, “Just do this and it will automatically come to you.” But I do know that those who seek him and surrender to him find it, and the power is real.
Doers of the Word All Christians are called to this obedience. All Christians are called to be doers of the Word. If it only stays inside of us and never gets out into our lives and in our actions, we really have to wonder what we have heard. When it becomes the blessing—a part of what our hands do, what our mouths say, where our lives go, where the energies that God has given us are invested—then we realize that we only thought we knew what it was to be blessed by God. Read More ... Joel Snider
Maybe today, maybe this afternoon, maybe tomorrow, at an hour we do not know, in a way that we cannot predict, God is going to say something to me, to you, or somebody in our family. God might call us to a task that would change our lives. God might teach us something that becomes the greatest blessing we have ever known.
If you wake up one day and hear trumpets, and the birds are all around your window and you think, This is really going to be a special day, would you please call me? I would like to know about that. But my guess is that it will just be some ordinary day when Jesus will be at work in you, and it will be a day that will change you.
Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you build, whatever it is that you make, whether it is in your job or in a workshop in your basement, whether it is something you crochet or knit on your lap while you are watching TV, whether it is something you write or whatever it may be, do it out of a sense of giftedness from God. And may God bless it and may you find joy in it and know that it is an expression of God’s image in you.
Let us today, as children of God, have an understanding of justice. There are two different means, the justice in the world and the criminal justice system, that is one. But let us also understand what God wants for justice. As much as we would ever commit ourselves to personal morality and trying to live the right way, let us commit ourselves to justice for all people, that the people of God in this world would be known for treating all people, through all systems, the way the children of God are supposed to treat people. “Let justice roll down like the river and righteousness like a never-failing stream.”
It is because we are never more Christlike, we are never more like the one who made us, than when our hearts truly and genuinely give out of love. May God grant us generous hearts so that in the world there might be a people that others could look at and say, I see God in them.
If we truly believe in Christ, it has to include prayer because we want to talk to Christ. We want to know how Christ would lead us. If you are including on your short list the things that are absolutely essential for church, be sure to include relationships because there is no church without the relationships of common believers and believers who share together, people who lift each other up, people who pray for one another and encourage each other. Not one single person among us has everything that we need to be the Christian that God has called us to be. But when you start putting us together, I find that what I lack is made up by somebody else. What you lack is made up by someone else. We all come together and find that God gives us the resources to be who he has called us to be.
The Fate of Emptiness What is it that God really wants to do for you? God wants to take out of our lives the things that simply do us no good and replace them with the spirit of Jesus Christ, a spirit that leads to all the good things we have heard about in church all of our lives—faith, hope, peace, joy, kindness, all the fruits of the spirit.Read More ... Joel Snider
Tempted Like Us Understand this. The pathway to peace with God, which I think in our better moments we all know we want, is denying ourselves the things that would kill our spirits that includes temptation. We are not alone. Jesus himself understands every temptation. Do you think Jesus himself did not understand the temptation to choose himself in the Garden? He sure did. Jesus himself is our helper. Jesus himself is our aide that we might overcome, that our hearts might grow strong, and that our spirits will grow to be more like him. Read More ... Joel Snider
As we begin this 175th year, we dedicate ourselves to the cause of holding Christ up knowing that if we will just do that, Christ will do his own work. We might be amazed who might be drawn to him—someone, some people, some group we might never have imagined—but who can resist Christ when he is seen in his fullness?
Seek God first. God has extended to you the offer to a feast, to a table, to enjoy the presence of God in fullness and forever. Don’t go off on other things and make that last. Don’t do that. God’s great gift of his presence above all other things is the best. No matter how good anything else may seem, it is a trivial pursuit in comparison.
I Did; Therefore, I am We talk a lot about how God can make your life new and how God can make everything new. I think a lot of times people think that is just pretty talk, just church talk, maybe just a metaphor of some kind. It is absolutely real. God can change the identity of a person who describes themselves in terms that if I were to say them, we would all think, “I wish you had not said that in church.” We all know the derogatory names for different behaviors that people do or the things we may have done that we are tired of hearing. Our families and friends have told us. We have heard them whispered. Do we only think of that or do we understand ourselves to be a child of God, saved by Jesus Christ, and worth something?Read More ... Joel Snider
Jesus Christ is alive and present in this world today. If the story of the empty tomb doesn’t really do it for you, what if you simply prayed, “Christ, be real to me today.” Would you take that challenge to say, “Jesus, be real to me today. Lift my heart. Bless my spirit. Give me the peace that I need. Give me the joy that I have never had.” That is a very dangerous prayer to pray because Christ is real, and when you least expect it, Christ may answer that prayer.
Images of Atonement: Sacrifice Our faith is the cross of Jesus Christ and all the ways we have come to understand it, all the ways that scripture describes it. It is what makes us whole with God, what gives us our peace and where our forgiveness is found. That is what makes us Christians. Read More ... Joel Snider
As we consider our sin and the great act of Christ’s death for us on the cross during these Sundays of Lent, we have been thinking about the different images that the Bible uses to try to get across to us exactly what Christ has done on the cross. There are so many different ways that the New Testament describes it because the experience is such that, quite honestly, it is beyond words. Could you say in just 30 words or less what it means for Jesus to die for us on the cross? We could all probably make a good stab at it, and as soon as we would write our 30 words, we would realize there was so much more that we intended to say.
That is really what Jesus is for us. Jesus is the picture of what God is like. John says this in his Gospel. Nobody has seen God except for the one who has come down out of heaven, and he has made him known to us. One thing that we say about Jesus is that Jesus gives us the clearest, most complete, picture of God that we can have. That is why we are Christians because we believe that Jesus does this.
Know Jesus: I am the True Vine What kind of life would it be if, because of you, people really did come to love God
more? What could that mean for their lives and what could that mean for the world? We need to
bear fruit. We need to get reconnected. Read More ... Joel Snider
Know Jesus: I am the Truth The really good news of the Gospel is that it does not depend on what you understand and it doesn’t depend on how smart you are or what your IQ is. The way we can have the truth is by loving Jesus. Isn’t that what he says that he came for? The No. 1 thing is to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls, and with all our strength. Read More ... Joel Snider
Know Jesus: I am the Way It is much easier to want Jesus to do it all and just simply check it off on a box somewhere and let that be enough for us. When we do that, we shortchange ourselves to what Jesus would give us. It is in the walking of the way of Christ that we discover that this is true. It is in the walking of the way of Christ that we find out that we are truly closer to God. Read More ... Joel Snider