Freedom by PASTOR MICHAEL CISLER North Kent Bible Church As we approach our nation’s Independence Day, it causes me to pause and give thanks for the freedom that is available to us. I am thankful for the many who have served and sacrificed in the past to allow that freedom. I am thankful for those who serve and sacrifice today to continue that freedom and to attempt to provide it for others. I am thankful to those who have led within our governmental offices in all levels to first lay the groundwork of this freedom and then to uphold it. I am thankful that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. I am thankful also for the freedom available to us in Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Creator. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” In Jesus we have freedom from the result of sin, which is death, through the promise of the resurrection. We also have freedom from the bondage of sin, the yoke of slavery mentioned in Galatians 5:1. Sin in our lives can become a bondage that we feel we can’t get away from. We can struggle and struggle against it, but feel like we are not breaking free from it. The reason for this is that by ourselves we can’t save ourselves from sin; we need to turn to Jesus to break free from that which holds us. In Hebrews 12:1-2, we find these words, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” We see here the truth that sin easily entangles us and the importance of turning our focus to Jesus. As we celebrate our nation’s independence this week, I hope for you both the thankfulness for the freedom we have in this country and joy and freedom that is available in Jesus.
A weekly inspirational message
Jesus the Know-It-All by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Church You ever meet someone who just seems to know far too much about, well, everything? You have a problem with your car and based on your amateur diagnosis, the person knows exactly how to fix it, the tools required, part number, and where it was on sale last week. And whether it’s cars, home repair, investment tips or career advice, they seem to always have the answer. I have lots of “know it alls” in my life, because I attract them, and when it comes to projects around the house, my wife reminds me how much I need them. Jesus meets his first followers by chartering the boat of an unsuspecting fisherman struggling in his career. He orders Peter to “put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch,” (Luke 5:4). This is where Jesus goes from great teacher and extraordinary healer, to “know it all.” Think of it, Peter is an experienced fisherman; what does Jesus know about fishing? He was a carpenter, a carpenter’s son in fact, venturing into his new career as a public speaker, but thinks he knows how to fish better than Peter. Jesus the Know-It-All thinks he knows how to do Peter’s job better than Peter. In fact, he thinks he knows how to do your job better than you do, too. The only thing worse than a know-it-all is the know-it-all who’s always right. The story concludes with such an amazing catch of fish that the net almost breaks, the boat begins to sink, and it takes a team of men to haul the catch back to shore. You see, Jesus is the know-it-all because he has something to say about everything you question and need help with: your marriage, career, finances, addictions and fears. From the big questions to the small, Jesus is a know-it-all because Jesus has something of value to say about every arena of your life. Are you listening and trusting him to take you out into the deep waters of faith? Journey with him, and let him show you what he knows best.
A constant among the change by PASTOR DICK RILEY Rockford United Methodist Church Well-known preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once told of a time when he was riding in the country and came upon a farm. As he looked at the barn, he noticed that it had a weather vane on which the arrow had these words inscribed: “God is love.” Spurgeon approached the farmer and asked, “What do you mean by that? Do you think that God’s love is changeable-that it turns and changes about just as that arrow turns in the winds?” “Oh, no,” said the farmer. “What I mean by that weather vane is that whichever way the wind blows, God is still love.” Like it or not, we all live in a world of change. Every day, something new is being invented, discovered or tried. Every day, life comes at us with some new opportunities, some new challenges or some new problems. As the old Indian proverb states, “No one can stick their foot in the same river twice.” Why? Because the river is always moving-always changing. So is life. Sometimes the changes are good, and other times they bring trouble and worry. But can you imagine how dull life would be if there were never any changes? But with all the changes that are going on around us, as well as within us, how good it is to know that there is something-Someone-who is constant, upon whom we can always depend, and who will never change. That Someone is Jesus Christ, of whom the author of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!” Do you need an unchanging constant in your life? Worship this week at the church of your choice, and begin to develop that deep, personal relationship with Him who will never change-Jesus Christ, the author and giver of Life Everlasting!
The Kingdom of God is within you by MARCIA HUFSTADER member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist Asked when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus stunned the listener by declaring it had arrived and was within him (Luke 17). I can imagine their surprise: “Within me! How could that be?” From materialist thinking, this concept is hard to grasp, but Jesus was referring to the man created in God’s image and likeness. So what is it that is “within us”? Each of God’s ideas-man-has within them the reign and rule of harmony governing all. Having the Kingdom of God within is the conscious awareness of God’s goodness. An example would be the sense of peace and joy we feel. Expecting to be aware of God’s goodness, we actually see things differently-we notice the good in others, we experience a calm and sense of purpose. The Kingdom within is the way that Father, Mother, God maintains, sustains and protects His/Her creation on a moment-to-moment basis. Recently, a friend remarked that we need to have confidence in the Kingdom. I’ve been considering that statement ever since. Do I have confidence that the reign of Truth and Life (two of the synonyms Mary Baker Eddy uses to refer to God) is all-powerful, the only source of all good, health, supply and happiness? Do I understand that is the power that governs me from within, given to me from God? We can learn to yield to that power by letting go of preconceived ideas that usually come from matter-based thinking, from which there is concern, limitation and fear. It’s time to rejoice and yield to the fact that the Kingdom of God is within each of us, liberating, directing and supporting our every step. It’s a present possibility!
Learn to be content by LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church of Rockford Recently, I was shocked and a bit gleeful to see that the warning “Service Engine Soon” was no longer shining out at me from the control panel of my car. Nearly two years ago, this message lit up in red and I panicked at what ill had befallen my car. It was simply my car’s way of telling me it was tired, no longer up to the manufacturers’ par and would begin to experience more difficulties as time progressed. As long as there is no presenting problem, I have learned to relax and drive with that message shining out at me. But this past week I looked down and there was no message of warning! How could this be? Had something fallen into the right place? Or was it just a good day for my 10-year-old vehicle? This year, I will hit the half-century mark. No big parties; just a pensive approach to this significant reminder that I’m no spring chick. Certainly I have noticed over the decades that I can expect less out of my body than I once did. Not enough sleep on Saturday night leads to difficulties in leading worship on Sunday morning. Sledding can be perilous to my skeletal system, which has become less forgiving over time. Clearly I have physically peaked, and from now on my “Service Engine Soon” light will be on. Even as some of our physical capacities recede in strength, God grants us heightened senses for appreciating life in new ways. Our engine may not rev as steadily, but we sure know what a blessing our family is. We may not have a mountaintop view, but the regular pace to our daily lives is certainly a gift. I may not be able to do an “all-nighter” anymore, but I love my work and it doesn’t require term papers! The “Service Engine Soon” light was off only briefly that day. But driving the car with the light off wasn’t any different than driving it with the warning flashing. It’s all in the attitude. When you feel like you’ve “peaked,” invite God to highlight the simple blessings in your life that you missed when you were […]