February is the month in the U.S. commonly referred to as the “Month of Love”. The word “Love” is so misused in our culture and the era we live in. In the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, it is described initially as;
“strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties”, romantic affection or feelings, the object of attachment, etc…
However, further down in the definition as I read on I found a more scripturally sound definition that we should adhere to as true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was almost surprised to have read what it said next because we just don’t hear love being defined in this manner often;
a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others
b : a person’s adoration of God
This almost sounds like Luke 10:27 and various other verses in the gospel accounts.
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[a] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’
Loving God and loving others is our mandate as Christians. Yes, we all have feelings of love but our response to those feelings doesn’t always show true love because those feeling are tied to things like selfishness, nd maybe even lust. Real love typically leads us to action, not just an emotional stirring. We can often say “we love chocolate” in the same way we say “we love God and our brother.” This month…and in the months to come, let’s be the authentic people of God and focus our energy on biblical love in our lives. My wife, Leanne, a Kindergarten teacher, uses this simple acronym to paint the picture of love which leads to JOY for her young students….
J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – Yourself
Keeping our focus on loving Jesus first and foremost will cause the proper alignment for love in our lives. If your love for Him is first, then a natural outpouring of love for others is prominent in your life. It is the fruit of love. It multiplies. It is the fruit that everyone sees; your neighbors, family, and all with whom you come in contact with.
Pastor Bill Kluender
Happy New Year Grace and Peace!
It is always an exciting time when we begin a new year. I think it is the potential of what could be that creates excitement, inspiration, and motivation within us. There is just something thrilling when something is new. For example, we can all appreciate being in a new car – there is literally a “new car” smell when you sit inside! It is interesting that we can now buy car air fresheners that have a “new car” scent. Isn’t that so funny! The automobile industry understands the effect that is created when we receive or experience something new!
God has something to say about new things…“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV) What a joy to know that we serve a God who makes all things new! He made us new. 1 Peter 1:3 encourages us: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” There is a wonderful ongoing adventure to experience in Him. He doesn’t want us to stay the same; He wants to keep doing new things in us! “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV) How awesome to know that God doesn’t leave us the same, but He is constantly desiring to bring us from faith to faith and from glory to glory. It is God’s desire to keep things new and fresh in our lives as we walk with Him each day.
We Still Give Thanks!
This month, I would like to remind you of the simple but important act of being thankful to God for all that we have.
In an age where our most basic needs like food, clothing and shelter are, by and large met for most Americans, we can often forget to be a thankful people. We live during such a time of unprecedented extravagance compared to any generation in history.
I remember something my father who went home to be with the Lord did some years ago. As I was writing this, it seemed a good example to use. He would go to the supermarket and bring home his “treasures.” He would lay them out on our dining room table for us to examine and marvel over. As a boy, I didn’t quite understand why he was making such a spectacle for a loaf of bread, some canned vegetables and maybe a box of Tastykakes. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that my dad had been raised during the great depression when such seemingly meager items were more of an extravagance. He was thankful!
Just imagine, if suddenly you couldn’t adjust the thermostat in your home to make it warmer or cooler or maybe you weren’t able to take a nice warm shower on a January morning without a great deal of work to do so. Well, believe it or not, most generations before us weren’t able to.
Most Americans just don’t have the perspective of former generations or less developed nations in the world have. I am not pointing the finger of judgement at anyone because three fingers would be pointing right back at me as I can easily go through my day perhaps without saying thank you to God for His provision. This is as much a reminder for me as it is for you.
There is so much to be thankful for and the “giver of all things,” the Lord Jesus Christ should be given thanks. Our hearts should be full of things to thank Him for.
Let this upcoming season be a reminder for us to be forever thankful to our Lord and Savior for it all…Our salvation, our relationship to Him and our loved ones and even our daily bread. It should be the earmark of all believers.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
Pastor Bill Kluender
Let the Light of Christ Shine!
Well folks, we are in the season where we must decide on a new president for better or worse, where all the experts are chiming in about what they think the best direction is. The Republicans bash the Democrats, the Democrats bash the Republicans and not to mention the Independents and Tea Party and the list goes on, everyone bashing everyone.
As an American I am embarrassed by the way this election season is going and will escalate in the mudslinging. As a pastor I am troubled by how the church is fractured over it! As a father I pray that things will change and as a grandfather I can only wonder what it will be like for my grandchildren as they grow.
As a follower of Christ I wonder if the church’s silence in the matter of Christian based values is a matter of political correctness, fear, weakness or all three. Is casual Christianity the new orthodoxy? Should we just sit by as observers? I say NOT!
Church! This is the time for us to rise and shine and bring the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to the masses, yes you know, to go into all the world! If you can’t get to all the world, then start with your neighbor. Be the change agent in your family and community.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23
“Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Luke 11:35
I can only say what does the Word say? What does the Word say? What does the Word say?
Let’s not sit by and be spectators. Let the Word of God be the compass and anchor for our lives. As we look at the world we live in, look at it with a worldview based on our Christian values. As we vote, vote with our Christian values. As we live, let the world see our Christian values!
Let the light of Christ in you shine through you!
Pastor Tom Kluender
The Good News is “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
It’s not up to us to determine whether or not seasons of life come or go but simply to hold on to the One who holds the seasons. God has not changed nor has His love for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God’s plans haven’t changed. He knows what the future holds all we need to do is trust Him and abide by His Word.He hasn’t forgotten about you, and he won’t let you go!
With the month of August comes another birthday celebration for our church family – Happy Birthday Grace and Peace! I have recently been reflecting on God’s character and goodness and I am in awe of how faithful and steadfast God is. My heart is so full of gratitude! Even when people, life, and circumstances are inconsistent and changing, God’s character and faithfulness is unfailing. We hear Him remind us in Malachi 3:6, “I the Lord do not change” and in the New Testament, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What a comfort this is, as perhaps more than ever before, we see such rapid change and shaking in the world around us. None of this takes him by surprise and if we let Him, He will be the stability of our times (Isaiah 33:6). What a firm foundation we have as we walk with Him every day.
So, Grace and Peace turns 31 this month and it is truly overwhelming to recount the faithfulness of God in the lives of people here in the region and those we touch through our faithful ministers, evangelists and missionaries around the world. Yet, as we rejoice in the past, we recognize God has a wonderful plan for us here and now. We are here for such a time as this and God is going to do wonderful things in the days ahead! Know that our mission remains unchanged. We will continue to be a Spirit-filled people, a loving community, and an outreach focused church. We are as committed as ever to present Christ in a creative, credible and contemporary way to the lost and broken generation around us.
Freedom’s Grand Display
1“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.” Galatians 5:1 NIV
One of my favorite things about celebrating Independence Day has to be fireworks. As a child I was afraid of the noise, but as I grew older that fear gave way to the sight and spectacle of a grand fireworks display. Observing the glow of explosive color reflected in smiling jaw-dropped faces I have often sensed the unmistakable power of a shared experience.
Sadly, the beauty of such explosive power on display rarely takes us beyond the moment enough to ponder the meaning of those bombs bursting in air. At the heart of this cataclysmic collision of gunpowder and flash, radiant color and lingering smoke beats the sound and smell of great sacrifice.
Consider the generations who came before us who drew an un-crossable line in freedom’s soil. They endured great loss in defense of our God birthed inalienable rights. Yet if freedom’s fight stands apart from salvation in Christ Jesus, it falls short of the liberating truth it represents.
From the moment sin entered the heart of man a beautiful explosive display of God’s redeeming power drenched in the blood of sacrifice began to unfold. Every time the forces of darkness try to strengthen the grip of sin’s enslavement, God’s plan of redemption in Christ Jesus explodes on the scene in a glorious display of grace accessed by faith, in the sinless Son given for all. Yet our call as redeemed isn’t merely to watch in wonder and appreciation.
We embody that display as our daily life explodes with amazing power and awesome brightness. We live our lives in such a way that people would see and be drawn to a celebration of our own death, burial and resurrection in Christ. Might our prayer and greatest hope be that those still bound by the chains of captivity would join our shared experience in knowing and following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
Through the grace of God, we have received a legacy from those who have gone before us, from our spiritual brothers and sisters. The Bible calls it an inheritance. We have received blessing after blessing from saints who have poured out their lives to extend the Kingdom of God. The impartation of wisdom and experience from these saints providing us with a firm foundation is incalculable.
Not only are we heirs of all that has gone before us, but Jesus looks at us as being His glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.
An inheritance is often thought of as something of material value left behind after a person has passed. What is inherited is something for which one worked but was passed on to another who hasn’t personally earned it. However, a legacy, though similar to an inheritance, is something anyone can benefit from at any time, not just a designated heir after someone has died.
Legacy, for the believer, is more about bequeathing values, learned experiences, and a history of relationships and overcoming obstacles. It is advancing the Kingdom of God rather than amassing valuables. You leave a good legacy to future generations when you are genuinely grounded in offering yourself to God and His purposes. By this you make a meaningful and lasting contribution to advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. It is serving a greater cause than your own.
The requirement of such a legacy is that you embrace your uniqueness as a child of God. There is only one you. Passionately immersing your whole self into the life God has given you makes the gift of “you” available to all. Only you can take on the responsibility to ensure that your life will make an impact on others that will outlast your time on earth and have significance for eternity.
Let us all pray that we will leave a legacy of finishing well, of living a life of ministering to the Lord and others motivated by love. Let us endeavor to bring Him a glorious inheritance through our lives linked with the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us (Hebrews 12:1). The legacy God releases through us will last well beyond this life into eternity. Thank you for being used of God to help build this legacy together. We will share the eternal reward.
When we think of mothers in the Bible, Hannah may be the first to come to mind. She wanted so badly to have a child. After beseeching the Lord numerous times over many years, God granted her the desire of her heart and she gave birth to Samuel, her son. After he was weaned, she gave her son back to God according to the vow she made. Hannah trusted God to give her a son, and Hannah trusted God to raise her son. Samuel was probably about three or four years old.
Prayer brings results!
faith, giving her Samuel, and afterwards five other children.
Faith brings results!