WORTH SAVING | 18 FEBRUARY 2019

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Figuring out the worth or value of something can be a difficult task.  At one of the museums dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, a visitor saw a few square inches of silk.  Silk can be an expensive cloth.  But this bit of material is not for sale.  Why?  Its value is not because it was once part of a dress owned and worn by a young lady named Clara Harris.  It has value because Clara Harris was sitting in Abraham Lincoln’s box with him the night he was assassinated.  After Lincoln had been shot, she caught him and cradled his head in her lap, like a mother might cradle her child.  Harris’ beautiful silk dress was stained by the blood of a great man.  It is Lincoln’s blood that caused the state of Illinois to buy that dress.  Lincoln’s blood gives those square inches of silk their immense value.

That takes me back to the original question.  What are you worth?  Some will say your body, broken down into its various base elements, is worth a few dollars.  Justice will say that, because of your sin, you are worth less than nothing.

But your Heavenly Father has put a different value on you.  Because of His Son’s blood poured out on Calvary’s cross, you have a different value.  Because of Jesus’s blood, you are forgiven.  With a faith given by the Holy Spirit, you are saved.  Revelation 7:13-14 reminds us, “Then one of the elders addressed me saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and where have they come from?’  I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’  And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  What are you worth?  You were worth the life of God’s Son.  You were worth saving.

 

From one who has great worth in the eyes of the Lord,

Pastor Steve



TRUE LOVE| 12 FEBRUARY 2019

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

When a small group of ladies were asked about the best Valentine’s Day gift they ever received, they thought a bit and smiled.  When they were asked about the worst gifts they had received, they laughed, and began shouting out bad presents like an overworked machine gun.  Some of the bad gifts they received included the following:

A five-pound box of candy: the kind he loves and she would not touch.

An ironing board (hmmmm, what might he be hinting at?)

Lingerie which was five sizes too big or four sizes too small.

Jumper cables (although, perhaps…., I could see this being OK, maybe, in northern Idaho…)

So what kind of gift can a person give to say, “I love you.”?  The answer to that question is provided by John in 1 John 4:10-11.  “This is love.  Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  Jesus Himself is real love.

How can anyone remain unmoved by the love the Savior showed in the Garden of Gethsemane?  There, He received the weight of every sin that has ever been committed.  Even though He was greatly burdened, Jesus still rose up to meet His betrayer.  Even though he knew what was ahead, Jesus stepped forward to be beaten, lied about, and spit upon.

What is the best gift of love we have ever been given?  Look at the cross.  See the Savior who was laughed at.  Watch as His clothes were shared among his executioners.  Listen as He forgave his murderers, took care of His mother, and promised salvation to a dying thief.  Watch as He died the death we deserved.  What is the best gift of love we have ever been given?  Stand at His empty tomb and know that because He lives, we shall live also.  We have been given a great gift of love in Jesus; a love that we can share with others; a love that changes lives for eternity. 

 

From one who gives thanks for the love Jesus has for me,

Pastor Steve



THE ONE | 5 FEBRUARY 2019

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

A sea captain told a story of an Atlantic crossing he had made.  On that trip, his ship had sunk in the middle of the night.  Only by acting quickly had the crew managed to escape into the lifeboat.  It seemed their victory would be short-lived as the roughness of the sea made it unlikely that their small, open boat could stay afloat for any length of time.  As that reality sank in, one of the crew saw another vessel on the horizon, a large steamer.

They quickly searched the chest with the emergency supplies.  There was a candle and a lantern.  But there was no match.  Each man rummaged through his pockets.  Again, no match.  In desperation, they checked a second time.  At last one match was found.  The man who discovered it cautiously handed it to the mate.  With the same respect, he gave it to an officer.  Finally, the officer handed the single match to the captain. 

The sailors clustered around, holding up their jackets to keep out the wind.  While the captain had often been entrusted with precious cargo, no box or package had ever been worth more than that one match.  He knew it had great value because it was their only hope.

With this story in mind, it occurs to me that there are two ways of looking at Jesus.  The first way considers Him to be almost worthless.  When Jesus was doing His earthly ministry, these folks called Him a liar, a sinner, the devil, or a Samaritan.  Today, those who wish to minimize His work and purpose call Him a storyteller, a crutch, or a figment of our imagination.

The second way to look at Jesus rightly sees Him as being our only hope.  Acts 4:12 clearly states, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  In every generation, the Holy Spirit works faith in the hearts of those who were once condemned.  Leading them to repentance and Jesus’ cross and His empty tomb, those who believe in Him rejoice that they have been given life, forgiveness, and freedom by the Son of God.  They give thanks because they have come to value Jesus as the One, the only Light who can truly conquer the darkness of a broken world.

 

From one who trusts in the One for my hope,

Pastor Steve



NEVER OUT OF GOD’S REACH | 29 JANUARY 2019

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Angeline O’Grady’s husband Brian died from cancer.  She then undertook a labor of love by traveling to England to scatter his ashes in Hull, the city where he grew up.  She was surprised when the federal security people at the airport told her she couldn’t take the boxed ashes on board with her.  Instead of carrying the ashes, she was told to put them in her checked luggage.  O’Grady did as she was told, adding a sticker to her case which read “Fragile.”

The flight went well, the luggage was recovered, and O’Grady went to her sister-in-law’s home.  It was there she found out her husband’s ashes had disappeared.  Everything was in her suitcase except for the ashes.  Someone, somewhere had gone into her suitcase and stolen a box filled with gray ashes.  O’Grady immediately called the airport and had them begin a search.  The remains are still missing.

This had to be frustrating for a wife attempting to fulfill a final request for her husband.  We can understand how she keeps wondering why a person would do such a thing.  We are saddened at the possibility of an individual who is looking for closure and may never find it.

If I were this lady’s pastor, how might I try to comfort her?  I might begin with Psalm 139:7-12.  “Where shall I go from Your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from Your presence?  If I make my bed in the depths, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.” 

She can be comforted by the same hope Jesus gives to all who mourn those who die with faith in Him.  There is comfort which says her husband was not in that stolen box.  When Brian breathed his last in this world, Jesus took him to the next.  There is comfort which says because of the Savior’s sacrifice it is not necessary to have final closure.  In Christ, there will be an unending reunion for all who believe.  There is comfort which says the Lord knows where her husband is.  There is no place any person can go which will enable him to escape the Creator’s caring eye.  Finally, there is comfort which says her husband is and always will be with his Savior.  To those who say, “That’s not enough,” I can only reply on the contrary.  When death comes, the comfort the crucified and risen Christ alone can give is everything.

 

From one who is never out of God’s reach,

Pastor Steve



PREACH THE WORD | 22 JANUARY 2019

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer, A pastor was trying to reach out to a dying man who had spent a lifetime laughing at the concept of a Savior and Jesus’ blood-bought salvation.  During the months before the man’s departure, the minister would occasionally stop by to see him.  If he couldn’t stop, he would send the fellow a short note of encouragement.  The minister was always careful not to let the door slam shut that the Holy Spirit had opened. Finally, the time of the man’s ending was near.  Aware his clock would soon stop ticking, the sick man sent for the minister.  He began the conversation saying, “I didn’t ask you here so you could amuse me with religion.  I did, however, want to thank you for your kindness.”  Understanding the rules of conversation, the minister inquired, “May I ask one question?”  The man responded, “Yes, one question, as long as it isn’t about religion.”  The minister spoke.  “I’m preaching tomorrow.  Quite a few people will be there to hear me.  Some, like you, may soon be facing death.  Here’s my question.  What shall I preach about?”  There was a long silence.  The reply finally came.  “Pastor, preach Christ to them.  Preach Christ.” That was, of course, the encouragement Paul gave to a young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2-4.  “Preach the Word.  Be ready in season and out of season.  Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth.”  Even though doing what Paul encouraged is not always popular, over the centuries, every true preacher has taken the apostle’s words seriously.  Why?  Because there is no other savior who can forgive sins and save souls.  In God’s Word, we find life and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.   From one who sticks to God’s Word as the source of life and truth, Pastor Steve