HE LISTENS | 4 APRIL 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Presidents are supposed to smile at everyone.  Franklin Roosevelt knew that.  He was good at it until the day came when he got tired of smiling and making small talk.  On that day, he tried an experiment to find out if anybody was paying attention to him. 

Each person he met was greeted with a smile and the words, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”  Most people ignored what they had heard and gushed back what they thought was an appropriate response.  They said things like, “How lovely, Mr. President!” or “Continue your good work, Mr. President!”  No one listened, except for one diplomat.  When the president addressed him with the words, “I murdered my grandmother,” the diplomat responded, “Mr. President, if you did so, I’m sure she had it coming.”

There are times when you, like President Roosevelt, may be pretty sure that no one is listening to you.  Your words don’t seem to make an impact on anyone.  Would the world even miss you if you disappeared?  For those who wonder about things like that, the Lord gives the assurance that Someone is listening to our words and thoughts.  Psalm 66:19 encourages us, “God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” 

God promises He will, because of His Son’s sacrifice, be willing and eager to listen to believers who come to Him in prayer.  After centuries of listening, God has become very good at the skill.  Speak with Him today.  You are not alone and unimportant.  You are vitally important to Him.  Tell Him your fears and your joys.  Then relax.  Your words have gone through.  The Lord has heard you.

 

From one who knows I am listened to and loved,

Pastor Steve



A PAINFUL PEARL | 2018 APRIL 17

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

A beautiful pearl is the product of pain.  When a foreign substance, an irritant, usually a grain of sand, gets into an oyster’s shell, it causes pain.  That’s when the oyster coats that abrasive object with a substance called nacre.  Layer after layer of the stuff coats and covers the irritant.  The end result is the formation of a beautiful pearl.

The Lord has done much the same thing for you and for me.  An outside irritant entered into our lives.  That irritant may have been something small.  But most of the time it is large and troublesome.  We could have allowed the irritant to destroy us.  But instead of giving up, the Lord turned us to His love.  Romans 4:7 reminds us, “Blessed are those whose sins (our irritants) are covered.”  He helped us coat that trouble with His peace that passes human understanding.  The greater the irritant, the longer it was around, the more help He gave.  His love enabled us to carry the problem.

But there is a greater result than the disappearance of pain.  Through God’s grace, we have produced a pearl. Our lives took on value they did not have before.  Because of God’s help, our lives and our witness became a beautiful and precious thing.  When the irritants of life come your way, may you call on God and let Him coat the problem with layer after layer of His help and assistance.  

 

From one who sees God’s hand at work even in the painful times of life,

Pastor Steve



SERVING OTHERS | 2018 APRIL 10

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

A kindergarten teacher was sharing with one of the boys in her class that he was in this world to help others.  The student thought about the teacher’s statement for about ten minutes.  Then he slowly walked up to her desk.  With serious curiosity he asked, “If I’m here to help others, what are others here for?” 

That’s a great question.  I think I may have an answer for it.  The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12 tell us, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”  Those others are here so that I might have somebody to serve.  God has given me a family so I might have somebody to love.  He has given me your open ears so I might have somebody to share with.  He has given me co-workers so I might have somebody to encourage.

Why am I here?  It’s so you could help me out.  Wouldn’t our world change for the better if everyone knew the answer to the kindergartner’s question?  Jesus certainly knew that.  He came here to serve others.  Those others were put here so He could save them.  We have been given the opportunity to serve others as we share the Good News of Jesus’ love for us.

 

From one who looks for opportunities to serve others,

Pastor Steve



GOD HAS A LAP | 2018 APRIL 1

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

As much as we love them, children – or little brothers and sisters, can sometimes make demands that are hard to handle.  A fairly smart teenager was growing tired of reading bedtime stories to his little sister every night.  He was quite pleased when he came up with the idea of recording several of her favorite stories on mp3.  He told her, “Now you can hear your stories anytime you want.  Don’t you think that is a great idea?”  His bubble was deflated when his sister looked at the player for a moment and replied, “But I want my stories from somebody that has a lap.  That player doesn’t have a lap.”

When we talk about God, we often think of Him in terms of being all-powerful or all-knowing.  We sometimes forget that even though God is Spirit, He has a lap.  He is ready to personally listen to us anytime we wish.  1 John 5:14 reminds us, “This is the confidence that we have toward Him.  If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  God is far more ready to listen to us than we often are to talk with Him.

Unlike the brother in the story, God doesn’t get tired of listening to the prayers of His people or of talking to us in His Word.  Because of His Son who has saved us, He is always there to touch our lives and to assure us He cares.  He does have a lap that is open and waiting for us.

 

From one who takes what is on my mind to the Lord each day in prayer,

Pastor Steve



PASSION | 2018 MARCH 27

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Passion.  An extreme, compelling, intense emotional drive to achieve something of importance.  I have been blessed to be around people who have a great passion towards looking after me and towards things that are important in my life.  In addition to my family, I remember teachers and some other adults in my past whose passion was to see that I grew in a variety of ways and was able to use all the gifts the Lord in His love has given to me.  I may not remember their names, but I will always remember and be thankful for the time and love that they invested in me as I grew.  Perhaps you have seen the passion in someone who is working hard to fulfill a dream they have had, and needed to make some sacrifices along the way to make it happen.  To train for a marathon, you have to push yourself each day to get out and run, increasing the length you go each day.  On the days you are tired or sore and don’t want to do it, you remember that race day will soon be here.  The dream of finishing the race spurs you on, even on the toughest of days.

Raising children is challenging.  When they hurt or struggle, you feel the pain as well.  Parents want their children to be successful.  They will do whatever they can to help make this a reality.  To see a son or daughter achieve their dreams can be a parent’s greatest blessing and a passion fulfilled.

How deep and wide was the passion your Lord had and continues to have, for you?  During this Holy Week, we see the passion and compassion of God for you at its fullest.  As Jesus entered Jerusalem being hailed as King, tears filled His eyes. He knew what was coming.  But His love for you kept Him going.  As Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver, Jesus kept moving forward.  As He shared His Last Supper, His eyes and heart were focused on your needs for His presence and forgiveness.  As the soldiers came to arrest Him in the garden and his disciples ran in terror, He didn’t stop.  Through the rigged trial, the beating, dragging His cross up and down the cobblestone streets of the city, enduring the grating, mocking words of a bloodthirsty mob, and ultimately being nailed to a cross, Jesus had one thing in mind.  You.  It was your eternity that was on the line.  His passion for you, a child whom He created and loves regardless of the cost, was what kept Him on the cross, not the nails.

John 10:11 shows us the source of this passion.  “I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  Your Lord’s passion for you is so deep, so wide, and so unconditional that He would make the ultimate parent to child sacrifice, His life.  You are of such worth and value to your Savior that He would give His all so that you would be His forever.  That gift of love brings purpose, hope, and direction (as well as a passion that you can share with others) to your life.

During this Holy Week, my prayer is that we, as passionate followers of our Lord, would gather as an extended, supportive family, to be amazed and thankful for our Lord’s Passion for us.  As we retrace the steps Jesus walked on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and that glorious Easter Sunday, may the Lord’s passion for you give you the passion not only to celebrate, but to share that light and love in the lives of others.  What better time is there to reach out and connect people to Jesus during this time when the passion God has for you and this world is so evident and visible!  Praise God for the passion that He had for you and me, children whom He loves regardless of the cost.

 

From one who is passionate about the joy of being a child of God,

Pastor Steve