Thoughts from the Pastor

The Word Gave Life to Everything

Scripture Reference – John 1:4  “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.”

During her first term in office, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher went to Brighton for Government meetings.  She checked into the hotel and was going about her business when a bomb exploded that was meant to end her life.  She lived, but four of her closest friends died in the explosion.  In true British fashion, the Prime Minister carried on and did what needed to be done.  Two days later was Sunday and the prime minister was in church.  That particular Sunday there seemed to be a special light shining in the candles, and when the sunlight came streaming through the stained-glass windows she began to weep.  At last, it hit her that this was a day that she was not meant to see.  There were those who wanted her dead, and they had very nearly succeeded.  But this day was a gift from God, a gift that some had not intended for her to receive.  With sadness for her friends, and gratitude that she was alive, the tears streamed down her cheeks.

Spiritually, we also find ourselves in similar circumstance.  Condemned to die; cheated out of life by the deceit of an enemy that wishes to destroy us.  But, by the miracle of God’s grace, we live.

When faced with defining the essence of grace, many things come to mind.  Some would say the essence of grace is mercy; some might say it is love; some may offer the idea of Godly power, forgiveness or other things.  While these are important elements of grace, they are not the essence of grace.  In order to identify the essence of grace we must call to mind the reason God made us.  God created us and gave us life.  God breathed life into man.  He created us to live in fellowship and friendship with him.  Each of these other elements of grace is important but they are the prelude to the essence or purpose of grace.  Without God’s grace there is no life.  Sin condemns us to death without hope of escape.  But the waiver of the deserved sentence comes from the “Judge of All Things” who, by an act of nothing less than grace, pronounces a penalty of atoning sacrifice then pays the cost himself by giving his own son in payment.  Yes, it was an act of loving mercy but an act that would not be had life not been the ultimate purpose.  The essence of grace is simple – it is God given life!                               

Prayer
Blessed Lord and Savior, today is a day of remembrance.  We gather to remember our lost condition and the Salvation that has made change possible.  We remember that only by the cleansing of the blood you shed for us, by your body broken, are we made whole.  We remember that all good things come from by your provision.  We remember that our ability to endure the trials of life comes from the strengthening of your Holy Spirit.  We are thankful for your example of love and life; for your suffering and the stripes you bore upon yourself on our behalf; for your death and resurrection that brings to us the promise of life eternal.  We acknowledge our blessings and thank you for them.  We bring before you those among us who are in greatest need of all that you bought for us on Calvary.  We ask your healing for those who are sick and suffering, your comfort for those who are hurting, your loving presence for those who are lonely and your forgiveness for us all.

Keep the Faith,
Bro. Tony

Posted by Dr. Tony Taylor

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”

Ephesians 1:11 (The Message) “It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”
A man visiting a strange city left his hotel room to go to dinner.  On the way he saw a sign in a window that said, “Laundry.”  He made a mental note of its location. The next morning, he stopped by the shop where he had seen the sign.  He laid his laundry on the counter and said, “I’m traveling and a visitor to your city.  Could you have my laundry done by 5:00 this afternoon?  Nothing special, just light starch in the shirts and package it.”  The man behind the counter look startled and replied, “What is it that you want?”  “I want you to do my laundry. I saw your sign last night and I need these clothes done by 5:00 today.  Can you do it?”  Then the clerk replied with a smile, “Sir, you don’t understand. We are not a laundry.  We are a sign shop.”  

Identity is important in life. There are people everywhere searching for identity. They have a need to establish some purpose for their life based on an understanding of who they are and where they should be headed. And, just like the man in our story, many make the mistakes associated with the misunderstanding of what true identity is. The consequence of poor choices is seen in ruined lives, ruined families, and ruined societies.

All the while, we are rebelliously denying the truth of our existence; disclaiming belief in God and searching ever more diligently for meaning in materialistic fulfillment. The most reliable answers to the questions of identity are found in Christ. That is the difference between mere religious beliefs and real Christianity.  Religion can be based on anything.  It need not be a right belief or even a sane belief. It only needs to be a belief. But Christianity – following Christ – is not a religion. Christ is life. It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. The answers found through him bear no resemblance to the answers the world offers, and the validity of Christ’s answers are proven in the results seen in those who truly follow him. We must have clarity, or we will continue in the futile exercise of taking our laundry to the sign shop.  Life through Christ offers clarity, identity, and purpose for living. 

Prayer
Heavenly Father, please protect our nation, our State, and our leaders. Turn our hearts towards you, that we may put You first and obey Your commandants. With all the things that are going on in our country today, it is easy to lose trust and hope, even doubt that things in our country will change. It is clear that the world is broken right now.

It can be tempting to believe that America has reached a point of no return. While these factors cause despair, we are reminded in Scripture that with God, nothing is impossible. No problem is too great for Him. Seasons of distress and uncertainty and hardship call for faithful, fervent prayer by God's people and remind us of our responsibility to humble ourselves before Almighty God. We may live in dark times, but we have hope, because light always wins. At our lowest points, You, O God, are our hope and at our weakest points, You are our strength and will heal us.  I pray that we may acknowledge You always in our daily lives and glorify You with all that we do. 
Amen

Keep the Faith,
Bro. Tony

Posted by Dr. Tony Taylor

What are you worth?

Scripture Reference1 Corinthians 6:20 “for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.”

What are you worth?  More exactly, what value do you add to the world; to your country; to your community; to your family; to your church?

For many people the answer is “nothing.”  We don’t see ourselves as being of “real” value in the overall order of life.  We don’t see ourselves as adding anything of significance to our world, our country, community, or family.  As individuals we try to avoid even thinking about our contribution to life because it makes us feel insignificant.  We pretend that we are important and in control of our lives, but down deep in the recesses of our soul, lies a feeling of helplessness and insignificance.  These feelings can become very prominent during circumstances such as we are experiencing right now.  We can feel very small.  Yet in our scripture today, you learn that you are of great value.  You have unlimited possibilities!  None less than our Creator God has paid a high price for you.  The value God has placed on your life was the life of His own Son.  Your potential is limited only by God’s will and your willingness!  God’s will has already been revealed to you.  All that is left is your willingness to accept His grace offered to you through Jesus. 

In the Broadway play, The Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote is near death.  He has been mocked and scorned because he is such a positive thinker.  Finally, in a splendid self-defense, he asks the ultimate question.  “Who is crazy?  Am I crazy because I see the world as it could become?  Or is the world crazy because it only sees itself as it is?”

If you are determined to be a significant contributor to life, you will be.  If you are determined to make a difference in your world, your community, family, or church, you will!  Every day is an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.  Especially now when community has become so important to us once again!  I am not talking about the unknown things.  I am talking about a tangible difference in the world around you.  You are a Temple of the Holy Spirit by God’s plan.  If you don’t take the time to follow God’s will every day then someone loses.  You deny yourself, your family, community, and the world access to Him.  But more importantly you will continue your life in fear, feeling insignificant, lost and alone.  Open your life today to God’s plan for you.  Be willing to give, to be significant … make a difference!

Prayer

God of infinite mercy, in this time of bewilderment and fear, we ask you to give us the courage to take care of one another as Jesus did. In the midst of our own anxiety we ask you to give us the courage to support one another as you would.

In the midst of our struggle to ensure a healthy future for all who live on this planet, we ask you to give us the hope that surpasses our current understanding.

In the midst of our growing awareness that all life on Earth is connected, we ask for the heart to respect and cherish all life. That all people recognize that we are all your children and give thanks to you for the great value you have given to our lives.  Free us from our fear and depression. 

In the midst of our sadness and grief, we ask you to give us words to comfort one another. For those who are sick or dying from this virus, for those who tend them and for those with no one to tend them, hear our prayer!

For those who are unexpectedly unemployed, for employers who share what they can, for our government and financial institutions and those who lead them, hear our prayer!

Open our hearts to the great possibilities that are available to us, even during these anxious times!  We trust in you and your power working in us. Please hear and answer our prayers.  Amen!

Keep the Faith,
Bro. Tony

Posted by Dr. Tony Taylor

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