NOVEMBER 2016 FAMILY NEWS

 


         Where Is Our Hope?
                by Pastor Paul Brown

"For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
(1 Peter 3:12-16 - NASB95)
 
The Apostle Peter wrote to believers who were being severely persecuted. He encouraged them to trust in God's sovereignty as they lived holy, honorable lives in front of a watching world. Yes, life would be incredibly difficult, but their hope was to be in the kingdom yet to come, not this one. It is amazing to me how much peace I experience when I fix my eyes on things above where Jesus is! The more I meditate upon the return of Christ and His righteous kingdom the more joy I experience right now. Are you the same way?

P eter believed that when believers lived daily with the hope of the soon return of Christ they would be so different from the rest of the world that people would ask them about it. Everyone goes through trials and sufferings (even unbelievers), but not everyone goes through them the same way! Those of us who have the hope (absolute assurance) of eternal life go through trials with a different attitude and it shows.

Hey, when was the last time someone asked you why you were so positive even when life seemed to be coming unglued? Has anyone asked you how you can be so calm with the coming elections approaching on Nov. 8th and the "impending doom" if _______________ is elected? Are you demonstrating life changing faith in the absolute sovereignty of God and His control over every election (Rom. 13)?

Yes, it is a privilege to vote that not every country grants to its citizens, and yes there are a number of profoundly serious moral issues at stake in this election. We should all vote and we should pray for those who are elected. There are a number of reasons why we want a more godly government (see Prov. 29:2), but one of the reasons we pray for our government is so that we can have a favorable environment to proclaim the gospel (1 Tim. 2:1-4). I have a growing concern that American Christians are more focused on comfort than they are conformity to Christ; more focused on this present world than the world to come; more focused on their temporary financial future than their neighbor's eternal future.

Where is our hope? Is it obvious? Are we standing on Jesus Christ as our solid rock no matter how difficult life may be? So much so that people are asking about it? Below are the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns.
 
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.
 
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
 
His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
 
When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
 
It is my prayer that we will all consistently live out the truths of this song so much so that people will ask us what makes us so different. Then we will have the glorious privilege of pointing them to Jesus so He can become their Solid Rock as well. And if our "religious freedoms" are slowly taken away and persecution increases in our beloved country, I pray that we will sing and live out this song with greater gusto so the watching world can see the hope of the gospel on display.

I am praying for the elections and I am going to vote. No matter the outcome, I will continue to give my life to the primary reason I am still here... making disciples of all the nations. Will you join me!
The Worship Leader As A Shepherd
by Pastor Steve
"...and David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them." Psalm 78:72 
 
I was reminded of this passage as I was faced with two situations recently.  As I prayerfully plan our times of worship together, I often choose songs like "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Good, Good Father." Because I see my responsibility to you as one of being a shepherd, I want to make sure that I always plan for our corporate worship with two goals in mind: 
  1. To give us all a greater sense of Who our great God is and to make sure that we glorify Him, thank, and worship Him and 
  2. To make sure that we are singing about the truths of God
I believe God has given us music to reinforce the truths of Scripture. This way, when we are studying what the Bible says about an issue, let's say worrying, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7, then we will sing a song like "It Is Well With My Soul." I want so much for you to have heard the Word and sung the truth to yourself so often that when a trial is encountered, you have that peace that passes all understanding.
 
I have experienced this myself, as three months ago, when I was faced with the prospect of losing eyesight in one of my eyes, my instant response was to yield to God's will and to trust him. I DID have his peace! It WAS "well with my soul." Then, just recently, I experienced an i ssue with my car that was very inconvenient and costly. As I was waiting for the tow truck to arrive, the song "Good, Good Father" was playing through my mind. I was reminded that nothing happens to us that God, our Loving Heavenly Father, does not know about and all of His plans for us are good. This, too, gave me great calm, as I knew that I could trust him with this circumstance. 
 
As David, the original worship leader, led his flock with integrity of heart and a skillful hand, I pray that I might do the same with the wonderful flock that God has given me here at the Bridge. I love and appreciate you all. And I pray that you have a deeper understanding of the truths of God so that when trials come, and we know they will, you will have His peace and will have complete trust in Him.

"May The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope!" Romans 15:13
 
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