Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"Broken Into One"

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity."

John 12:24-25 (NLT)




Don't you wish life was like the birth of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup? You might not remember the television commercial decades ago where two total strangers were walking down a busy sidewalk somewhere in America when suddenly they bumped into one another while they were enjoying their favorite snack. As they collided and their opened in hand snacks collided, each exclaimed, "You got your chocolate on my peanut butter" and the immediate response was, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate." The world has been left wondering all these years later who was ultimately responsible for the birth of this delicious candy that millions would say taste way better when broken (mixed) together than they ever could have if they remained apart.

What is true about a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is true about me and you too! We are way better together than we could ever be apart. At least that's the way God sees it and what His Word declares. In 1 Corinthians 12 we read, 1 Corinthians 12:12, "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." One of the great joys in this life is when we "seemingly" bump into others lives, and then together we each discover something delightful; we were meant for each other and as well we are better together than we ever were apart. The Bible beautifully illustrates this point of our need to be connected as it refers to those who belong to God as, "The body of Christ", "The family of God" and "Living stones".

Story after story our Bible's are filled with inspiring examples of God's plan for mankind being fulfilled as He brings people together for a purpose greater than anything we could ever know on our own. Take the gift of marriage for example. In the book of Genesis we read that when a man and woman are joined together in marriage something beautiful and mysterious happens, "And the two shall become one." The book of Ecclesiastes describes the benefits of friendship and how life is made more meaningful when it is shared with someone else, "Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

There is no greater example of how God goes about bringing us together than the Cross of Christ. The more we read our bible, the more we come to know that to truly become one we must first be broken in two as it were. Humility precedes honor and death comes before glorification. Philippians 2:5-8 gives us something to think about as the apostle Paul writes, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Our ability to experience oneness was made possible when Jesus gave Himself on Calvary's Cross where He was broken for us with the hope that we might become one in Him.

Ephesians 2:13-19 reveals for us the price Jesus paid to bring us together and the benefits we can enjoy as we too are broken into one, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God"

Do you want to get the most out of life? I believe you do. Let God lead you to others today and enjoy the fullness of life that comes through sharing life. Be willing as it were to get peanut butter on your chocolate, or was it, chocolate on your peanut butter? Either way, if you and I will allow God to lead us to these "Divine Appointments" and we are open to God knitting our lives together in His love, the end result will something far more sweeter than we could ever enjoy by our going it alone.

"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are."

John 17:9-11


I LOVE YOU!


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"How to make the most of a bad day"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens."

Ezra 9:6


Can you recall the last time you had a bad day? I hope not, but if you are anything like me at all you can remember it like it was yesterday, but hopefully its been longer than that. Can you remember what you did to get over it or through it? Sadly, some turn to drugs, the leading one being alcohol. Others turn to some other physical pleasure, while others inflict themselves with pain. Each of us has our way of dealing with life and most everyone finds themselves eventually looking for a positive solution of making the most of a bad day.

The prophet Ezra was no stranger to bad days and his life offers us a great model of what to do when we too are confronted with a day we would much rather forget. In Ezra chapter 9 we find the prophet of God not speaking for God but instead crying out to God. Lets just cut to the chase here. The key to making the most of a bad day is don't let your bad day cause you to turn away from God but rather let the hurts and the heartaches of this life bring you right to God.

Ezra does'nt just pray to God we read, he pours his heart out before God. And don't let anyone fool you into thinking God doesn't listen to long prayers or that in some way a long prayer looses it effectiveness because of its length.

Just read Ezra's prayer in chapter 9 and you will see it is rich with wisdom and insight as to how you and I should seek the Lord… especially in times of failure, which for sure makes for a bad day any way you slice it. When we are truly saddened by our sin we will do just like the worship song declares… "I pour out my heart" and that is exactly what Ezra does here.

Read what Ezra prays in verses 5 through 15 of chapter 9, "At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.' And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!"

Its very clear, Ezra is just pouring his heart out before the Lord. He's not asking God for anything, he is just letting all the stuff weighing him down out. Don't forget, prayer is talking with God, communing with your Heavenly Father. Don't buy into the lie that says God only wants you to come to Him asking for things, making requests of as if the Lord is some kind of cosmic genie, just waiting for us to rub the lamp of prayer as it were beckoning Him to come out and meet our demands.

On the contrary, what God created you and I for is intimacy with Him. More than anything else God wants us to know Him and the best way we can get to know anyone is to spend time… quality time with them. You have probably heard the old expression "how do children spell love… T…I…M…E." That's so true isn't it, time. Children want their parents time and God desires that we too would by an act of our own free will to want that time alone with Him and not just in those moments when we fail. Yes, loved one, the best way to spell love is, TIME.

If you are having a bad day today I wish I could sit with you and remind you that God loves you and that He is there for you. Don't just look for a quick fix for your bad day, look to Jesus as He has an eternal solution! God is there, so don't just spin your wheels settling for a temporal fix, let your bad day bring you to God so you can get a better perspective, a heavenly one. Remember, God is bigger than your problem, He's bigger than your bad day. With that in mind don't focus on the size of your problem today, focus on the size of your God. That's how you make the most of a bad day.

Do you have reason to pour out your heart today, loved one, is there something or someone that has grieved your heart. Don't carry the burden yourself, carry everything to God in prayer, and leave it there. Take it from someone who has had their fair share of bad days. The answer for me is the same answer for you! Spend some time pouring out your heart to the very one who poured out His heart for you on the Cross!


"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God"

Philippians 4:6


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"Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
But as it is written: " Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

One of the amazing benefits of faith in Jesus Christ is the ability it affords us to see the end from where we are at in the moment, even when we can't see the end. That might sound confusing but Hebrews 11:1 puts it into perspective, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It was John F. Kennedy who said, "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." His brother Robert said along those same lines, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not." Both of those quotes remind me of the prophet Joel and the importance in life to stay focused on the big picture, and that being God.

The devil works in the world to get our eyes off the Lord, off the main thing and begin to focus on the trite and the trivial, the temporal and not the eternal. How easy is to forget there are only three things in this world that are eternal, God, the Word of God and the souls of men. These three things are the main things God desires that we focus our lives on, and not for His benefit but for ours.

Going through the book of Joel we are reminded that the Lord allows adversity into our lives to cause us to look to him and not to ourselves or even other people for the solutions to life's problems. Just listen to the conversations people have with you today or better yet listen to yourself as you speak with others. The person of faith, saving faith that the bible speaks seek to look at life from an eternal perspective. That's what living in light of the resurrection of Jesus will cause us to do. To start with the end in mind you might say. By focusing on the things up above we are more apt to keep in mind that old saying, "don't sweat the small stuff and remember, its all small stuff."

Keeping the main thing the main thing is learning to not sweat the small stuff and instead, seeing a sovereign God working behind the scenes directing life to its ultimate end, capitalizing on every situation and circumstance. Seeing the big picture helps us to remember that God is in control of my life, not our fellow man nor the circumstances each us of must face and often times endure. Proverbs 21:1 reminds us, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." Knowing that is true we can rest in knowing, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The prophet Joel saw the temporal and Joel saw the eternal as well, and the heart of this amazing prophet was for the people and that they would know they could trust God no matter what. Even in the midst of a catastrophe God is working. The people could run, they could flee or they could turn to God and watch Him heal and watch Him restore, they could watch Him bless and watch Him redeem.

What a scene it must have been for the prophet of God as the locust devoured the crops and ravaged the land there in Israel, and yet without wavering Joel could stand there and still proclaim that God is faithful, and that He was working through, not apart from the situation to usher in a blessing like Israel had never witnessed before. Joel got to see the end, loved one, a glorious end where all things will be made new because he set his heart on God, on the eternal God and not the temporal conditions around him.

Don't lose sight of the eternal, the big picture in your own life. Keep Jesus as the main thing and don't let the devil distract you by attempting to take your focus off the end of the story, your story, which is ultimately, His story. Remember, Jesus is the main thing! Rest assured today, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Keep your life focused on the eternal, on the things up above and the temporal will take care of it self. Easier said then done I know, so pray for me, and know I am praying for you! Remember the words of the prophet spoken of in Joel 2:25-26 that no matter what...


"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you." You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame."

Joel 2:25-26

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"The Worship of Sex Verses Sex That Worships"

"So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son."

Ruth 4:13

Are you aware that the story of Boaz and Ruth in the book bearing her name is a story about the birth of worship? It's more just than a love story, more than just a book about redemption. The book of Ruth is about worship. I have always enjoyed learning how Boaz redeemed Ruth's life as her kinsmen redeemer and how he turned her weeping into rejoicing and her famine into a wedding feast, but what I had not noticed was the beauty of Ruth and Boaz purity and how even their sexual intimacy was an act of worship to God.

In a world that might know a lot about sex and lust it knows almost nothing about real intimacy and true love. The world you can say worships sex where God wants our sex to result in worship. The book of Ruth is refreshing to say the least on how a married couple can prefer one another and in the process give birth to worship. Let me explain.

In Ruth chapter 4 verse 13, it says, "So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son." In our culture we have a saying when someone likes or even loves another person and is interested in them personally. The phrase "I am into you" is a relational statement that conveys an interest in the person that does not necessarily have anything to do with sex. I realized in my gleaning of the book of Ruth that Boaz was "into Ruth" as a person. He loved her for who she was and his love was manifest in how he cared for her, in that he provided for and protected her. I think it is safe to say Boaz was "into" Ruth long before he married her and experienced the joy of sexual intimacy with her. Verse 13 is just the beautiful consummation of their wedding vows, God's blessing on their being patient and waiting until the moment was right. God took their "becoming one" and turned it into worship.

The best part of Ruth and Boaz story is what we find next. They bore a son and the name given him was the name "Obed" which means, "Worship". This is what made the whole relationship so extraordinary. The love Ruth shared with Boaz resulted in the worship of God. The end result of the intimacy between Boaz and Ruth was their son Obed, "worship". The world we live in has always confused sex for love but God has always intended that our sexuality be expressed as an act of worship to Him. It's the very opposite of idolatry where sex is place above and in place of God. Consider this if you will today. Fornication can never result in worship, as it is sin. Adultery can never be called love for it is sin. Homosexuality can never be love for God calls it sin. Our sexuality can only be expressed as worship when we follow God's leading and obey His command.

There is an order to how God works, from the Old to the New Testament, God has mapped out the way by which man can approach God, and how we can live lives pleasing to Him. There is a time and a place for everything under the sun, Solomon wrote in his wisdom. I remember something one of the pastors my wife and I met with in our premarital counseling said to us regarding the timing of God and our being patient and waiting for the right moment to enjoy sexual intimacy. He said, "dirt in your flowerbed is good, dirt on your kitchen floor is not good." He said that to mean there is a time and a place for everything and when we wait for the right time and place there is a blessing and when we choose to disobey God and take matters into our own hands we end up with a mess, like having dirt in your kitchen.

Romans 12 :1-2 might help shed some light on this when the apostle Paul penned these words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Boaz and Ruth were committed to God and were patient as they waited for all the requirements of the law to be fulfilled so that Boaz could become her kinsmen redeemer. God honored their faithfulness by blessing them with a son, a son named "worship". Not only were Boaz and Ruth blessed by a son but also the whole world has been blessed too as Obed had a son named Jesse and Jesse had a son named David who became King of Israel and we know that our Savior Jesus Christ came from the line of David. And it was all made possible because Boaz and Ruth loved the Lord and sought to honor Him in their sexuality and God most assuredly blessed them.

With all my heart I encourage you to live a life of sexual purity and to present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to Him. Not only will you be blessed, your family for generations to come will be blessed too. The world might be into sex but God is into worship and He wants the joy of our sexual intimacy to result in worship and not just self-gratification. Sexual intimacy is to be an expression of a deeper love that is shared between husband and wife that results in their oneness of body, soul and spirit. When two people are so "into" one another in this way they will never just be having sex again, they truly will be engaging in the act of love that results in the worship. Don't settle for less, look not only to please yourself, seek to please God and let Him turn you love into worship.


"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Philippians 1:6

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"You Don't Have To Advertise A Fire"


PastorMikeOsthimer1
"For our God is a consuming fire."

Hebrews 12:29


It was Leonard Ravenhill, a noted revivalist who once wrote, "You never have to advertise a fire" and it's true. You can often see the smoke for miles and you'd be amazed at how far people will travel out of their way to discover the source. Proof you really don't have to advertise a fire. That's the beauty of passion, as within it there is both intensity and desire. Let me ask you today, what are you passionate about in your life, beloved of God? What is it in your life that you feel intensity and desire when it comes to mind? For Jesus it was His desire to please His Father, and Jesus loved the Father so much that not even the pain, and suffering that He would suffer on Calvary's Cross could quench His passion. For the apostle's it was preaching Jesus and His Cross as each, one by one would sacrifice their very lives for the joy of knowing Him. Can you think of something you love so much that you would give your life for it? Is there something you love so much you would be willing to suffer and die for it?

Each time I think about loving someone or something so much that I would be willing to suffer or if need be die for it, immediately the Cross of Christ comes to mind. The power of the Cross changes everything it touches, loved one, and once we come in contact with it we will never be the same. John Wesley once remarked about his own life, "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn." He also would say, "I set myself on fire (through prayer) and people come to watch me burn (speaking of his burning with passion at the teaching and preaching of the Cross of Christ).

Did you know that our English word "enthusiasm" comes from two Greek words, "en", where we get our English word "in" and "theos" which is where we get our English word, "theology", the study of "God". The world can't righty claim to be enthusiastic as enthusiasm is a theological word to describe people who enjoy a relationship with God. That makes the most enthusiastic people walking the face of the earth are those who are living their lives, "in God"! Lets determine to live like it today! The Cross changes everything because the Cross is where Jesus died so that we could live! The Cross is powerful as on it when Jesus died, He took with Him the penalty for our sin, providing for us the power to live victoriously over it and leaving all who place their hope and trust in Him the peace of knowing that one day soon, even the very presence of sin will be vanquished as death is swallowed up in sweet victory!

Jesus said of you and I whose lives belong to Him, that we are like a city set on a hill that can't be hidden. Believe it or not God saved you to show you off, to stand out as a trophy of His grace. He didn't save us to be His slave and to spend the rest of our lives trying to earn His love and respect. God saved us because He loves us. He desires a relationship with us. God wants our lives to stand out for Him, to serve as a reminder to the world our God is the God of grace, who loves and cares and is willing to save any and all who come to Him by faith.

The word sanctified means, "set apart". God has set us apart for His own good pleasure, you are His prized possession, yes, a trophy of His amazing grace that He wants the world to see. There is an old saying, "Their walk was so loud I couldn't hear them speak". That old saying is a reminder to you and me to be passionate about our relationship with Jesus today, to let our shine. Lets be enthusiastic about our faith today so that the world might see the smoke rising and know what gets us fired up and burn with passion. May the world see our love for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in us.

Our passion, our love for our Savior is what ignites the fire deep within us and sets us ablaze and allows us to be a light set on a hill that can't be hidden. Yes, loved one, its true, you don't have to advertise a fire, all we need to do is just fan the flame and then let it burn, let it shine!


"And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"

Luke 24:32


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"No Regrests"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver."


Proverbs 25:11


In a television interview about a young girl who was abducted in 1991 walking home from school and then found some 18 years later when he abductors were arrested, television host Diane Sawyer asked Jaycee Dugard's Mom what her biggest regrets were during the 18 years she and her daughter were apart. What Jaycee's mom shared was surprising in that the biggest regret she lived with all those years had nothing to do with what had been done to her daughter by her captors, her biggest regret she dealt for almost 18 years is what she as a Mom had failed to do on the morning Jaycee was abducted.

The day Jaycee was abducted, her Mom, Terry Probyn was in a rush for work and said in the interview with Diane Sawyer, "I'd been late to work three Monday mornings in a row and I was focused completely on myself, trying to get myself out that door, so I wouldn't be late to work." Probyn said, my biggest regret that day was, "I chose not to go and kiss my girls goodbye that morning ... I wanted to be on time."

Most stories like Jaycee Dugard's don't end like this one where Mother and daughter are reunited and the regrets of 18 years are given a second chance. That was one of the obvious blessings you could see in the interview. This mother and daughter chose to make the most of the time they have together knowing there is no way to make up for lost time. James 4:13-14 says it best, "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Yes, loved one, life is short at best and today is the day to begin to do all the things you have waited and wanted to do as there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Its been well said, "tomorrow is the devils favorite word that he loves to hear God's children speak" because the devil knows we aren't God and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. The devil knows that in our delaying and procrastinating the things we need to say and do, more often than not we are left with a lifetime of regrets.

Yet, the good news of God's grace in the believers life is repentance. Repentace is a beautiful thing as what the word implies. Repentance is basically saying, "if I could go back and do it over again I would do it differently, I would do it God's way". Thank God He knows our heart, loved one, and if you have regrets over your past, repentance is God's second chance, even if we can't go back and redo those things we regret not doing.

Today is about deciding to not live with regret. Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done today! There is a famous quote that comes to mind today when I consider how to avoid living a life of regret. May it minister to you like it does to me. "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."


"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

James 4:13-15 


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"Friends Don't Let Friends Grieve Alone"

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."


John 15:15


One of the many lessons we can glean from studying the life of Job is how to grieve, as if there is a right or a wrong way. Job teaches us to not "stuff" our pain but to instead to be honest about it, allowing ourselves ample time to grieve properly, yes properly, when dealing with death and loss that not only touches us all, but if shared, actually binds us together, first, to God and then to others. When Job's world falls apart the first thing he does is turn to God. Job 1:20-22 tells us how Job responded to his loss. "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."

Loss is a part of life and though the nature of loss is sin, not all loss is due to our own sin as Job's life will attest. The origin of sin is due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who through their disobedience to God ushered into the world sin and death and with death, loss of every sort. All of our lives are touched by death and loss tracing all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Every single person who has ever walked the face of this earth has suffered the ultimate loss, the death of family and friends. What we don't have to do when suffering loss, is suffering alone. In Job chapter 2 we read how Job's friends responded to the news of their friends devastating losses, "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great." (Job 2:11-13).

I remember the first time I read the statement below as one friend recalled the emptiness he felt at the death of his best friend after his tragic backpacking accident and as I read his recollection of the event I was reminded of the love that existed between King David and Jonathan that we read of in 1 Samuel. David was to become king and Jonathan was the son and heir apparent to the throne of Israel, yet, each had a tender heart for the other and shared it openly. 1 Samuel 18:1 paints a picture in our minds thats easy to see, "Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." True friendships like these grow deep and the pain we feel when they end are almost beyond words. I have always been awed by the transparency of the love of David and Jonathan and I have felt that pain David speaks of upon hearing the news of the death of his dear friend. 2 Samuel 1:26 expresses David's raw emotion in poetic fashion, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women."

Those words of David reminded me of those shared in a book I read years ago where the author wrote about his writing partner and best friend who had been killed in a hiking accident. He chose to not grieve alone and through writing he found comfort for himself and by sharing his experience has brought that same comfort to countless others. Its so true, friends don't let friends grieve alone. The author wrote, "I lost the truest friend I have ever known. I lost more than a partner, I lost the rarest of gifts to me, my friend whose heart saw what mine saw and knew what mine knew. Our friendship was a shared journey, a mutual quest, for the secret of our souls. It took us into the mountains, to the beach, through the desert, into literature. Our friendship took us into the deepest battle raging all around for our hearts and the hearts of those we love. We laughed and cried, we grieved and scorned and yearned and rejoiced all along the way. There is a hole in my world now, a perspective so rare and so precious to me that is now gone. Nobody saw what my friend saw, knew what my friend knew, and remembers what my friend remembers or loved what my friend loved. Questions I have can never now get answers. My world is an emptier place."

That last sentence slaughters me every time I read it, "My world is an emptier place" I picture this man standing on the edge of a vast valley and yelling out his friends name, no, screaming at the top of his lungs that name and then standing there alone and hearing the echo of that lone voice travel out over the expanse for what seems like an eternity as it fades off into oblivion without any response. Do you know that kind of pain, loved one, do you know that sort of emptiness in the pit of your soul? If so, just know you are not alone. I imagine God the Father and God the Son both know the kind of pain and emptiness that the separation at death brings about as when Jesus Christ bore the sin and guilt of the world on Calvary's Cross when He died in our place He was cut off from the Father for the first and only time in all eternity.

Like in the story of Job, "Friends don't let friends grieve alone." Just as Job came to know, the true test of any friendship is discovered in the darkest moments of life when your own life is suddenly and completely shattered and seemingly, everyone walks away leaving you feeling lost and alone. And then, suddenly almost out of nowhere through the tears you see the shadow of one, maybe two, possibly three coming to you and without a word, they sit beside you, loving you with their presence without speaking a single word. Oh to know the comfort of friends. Don't worry about what to say when someone you care about suffers the loss of a loved one, just being there for them speaks volumes. Remember, friends don't let friends grieve alone.


"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

James 1:27


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"Trophies of Grace"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Ephesians 2:4-10


No one can say he or she deserves heaven, as each of us is a trophy of God's grace. Your life and mine are the trophies of God on display for all the world so that they can see the different victories that our lives represent. Not our performance mind you, but God's in Christ. Your life and mine are testimonies of the goodness of God in sending His Son to die upon the Cross because we all know (at least I do), if I got what I deserved from God it would be far from heaven, it would be pure hell. Each of our lives tell a unique story about the height and width and depth of God's love in Christ, and to what extreme He went too to rescue us. Best of all, our God story reveals that God's love is relentless in that He didn't quit pursuing us and that He never gives up on us even after He found us.

These last couple of weeks since starting a new series in the book of Galatians, I have had conversations with numerous people who expressed feeling inadequate to share Jesus with others because of our own sin and failure (since coming to Christ and not just before we met Christ). The devil is really good at making us feel we are disqualified from sharing our God story with others when our lives are anything less than perfect.

Our testifying of the Lord's goodness is not diminished in any way because we confess our sins and failure to the world. In all actuality it is only heightened because it clearly sends the message to those that would be critical of our lives or of God that we don't deserve heaven is that the only possible reason then for our salvation has to be the grace of God apart from anything we have ever done good or bad. Yes, loved one, salvation is and always has been by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!

Its what the apostle Paul was speaking about in the book of Romans when he wrote, "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Did you catch that, loved one, where sin abounded grace did all the more. There is only one sin you and I can commit that God's grace cannot forgive. The only way to be beyond the grace and forgiveness of God is to reject the only means of salvation God has offered the world, and that is to die without ever receiving God's grace in the first place, by refusing so great a salvation made possible by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. What I hope you understand today, friend, is that God is better at saving than we are at sinning, and that Jesus is a greater Savior than we are sinners!

Don't let your fickleness, nor your fears or even your failures prevent you from exalting the Lord. Remember, "where sin abounds grace does all the more." Proclaim His goodness every chance you get no matter what or how you feel about you in the moment, because in reality it's not about me or you, its about Jesus. We will never be worthy of heaven apart from Jesus, never. It really is Jesus + nothing = salvation.

"Trophies of Grace" is what we are but using athletics as an example, a trophy of God's grace is more than being "inspirational". Think of being a trophy of God's grace like being the "Comeback Player Of The Year" which is an award given out in sports usually to a player who was injured or suffered some terrible setback in their athletic career that lead pretty much everyone into thinking that they would never be able to play again, let alone at the level they once had enjoyed. Never underestimate the restoration power of God who has the ability to heal and make all things new, or as the word "restore" means in the Greek language, "to be better than new!" Talk about God's grace being amazing!

Experiencing Christ's mercy and grace, His resurrection power in our lives is not only what saved us to begin with, its what keeps us even now and is also what draws us back to Him when we fail miserably. God's amazing grace is what makes us trophies of God's grace and what makes it possible to receive as it were the "Comeback Player of The Year" honors. Never forget, loved one, Jesus is in the business of restoring broken lives, He came to set the captives free. God is good at rescuing, if you need to be saved just cry out to Him!

Remember this today, it's not how hard you fall in life that matters most but how high you bounce back that counts. Proverbs 24:16 says it best, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity." Keep getting up! It's not trying harder it's trusting more that matters! Don't quit, don't give in to the lies of the devil, there is victory ahead if you keep your eyes on Jesus and keep trusting in and relying upon Him.

You can win again, loved one, you can experience the fullness of life that is in Christ because it's not based upon what you do or don't do. Its based on what Christ has already accomplished for you! We receive our victory when we receive Christ because it was from Calvary's Cross Jesus cried out, "It is finished." No one can add too or take away from what Jesus did for us! The victory is ours in Jesus today! 

Let your life stand as a testimony of God's amazing grace, even when you fail and fall down. Get back up, and remember, you are a trophy of His grace! Share your God story and the depths to which Jesus went to find and to rescue you! You will be encouraged, others will find hope and be inspired and best of all, God gets all the glory!

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


1 Corinthians 15:57


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"What's Your Leitmotif"

"My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

Psalm 45:1


Have you considered lately what the leitmotif of your life is? In other words what is your life's theme? For some its drama, for others its action, some like to go fast while others like to take it slow? For some life seems to always be hard, yet for others it goes relatively smooth. I guess it all comes down to what you are planting day in and day out. 

In Psalm 45:1 the writer declares that his heart is overflowing with a good theme, a good leitmotif, but why? What causes the heart to overflow with a good theme one might ask? Have you ever heard the expression, "garbage in garbage out" to express what a person puts into their life is also what comes out of their life as well? If that is true and the Bible declares it is in that whatever a man sows that too he will reap, (Galatians 6:7). The only way then for our hearts to overflow with good things is for our hearts to first be filled with good things. Think of it this way, Jesus in, Jesus out! 

Where do we get good things to fill our hearts overflowing with a good theme so we can experience Jesus in and Jesus out? Jesus Himself answered that question when He said in John 7:38, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Just like in psalm 45, a good theme comes from good thoughts and good thoughts come from focusing our thoughts on the one who loves us like no other. When we consider the goodness of God, how can our hearts not be overflowing with a good leitmotif.

Do you desire to have a good leitmotif for your day, your week and for your life? If so, focus; focus on the goodness of God daily and count your blessings. Seek the Lord and sing His praises, recite His promises, make known His deeds and declare His Word. It's really that simple. The more we fill our lives with God, the more of God will flow from our lives. Just remember, Jesus in, Jesus out!  


"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."


Philippians 4:8-9

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"Just As If You Never Sinned"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"

Romans 3:24 (NKJV)


Have you ever heard the theological word, "justification" to describe what Jesus atoning death on Calvary's Cross has provided for all who believe in Him? In simple laymen terms its a declaration, "Just As If You Never Sinned" that means when Jesus Christ died on Calvary's Cross He took with Him all of our sins, our past, present and future sins and He paid in full the price for each and every one of them leaving you and I completely forgiven, completely righteous before God. 

That brings up another theological concept to mind, "imputed righteousness" which means that God declares us righteous or "in right standing before God" solely on the basis of faith in what Jesus has accomplished for us by His life, death, burial and resurrection and not by anything we have ever done through works or the keeping of the law, as no amount of good works or the keeping of any law can justify anyone before God. Galatians 3:6 says it plainly how our righteousness is achieved, "just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Believing in God and trusting Him is all God asks of us. We call that faith. 

As a pastor there is nothing I enjoy more than helping someone come to terms with their forgiveness that is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ. It usually occurs after many anguishing months or maybe even years of being beat down by the Devil, sometimes even family members and friends who know the backstory of their shame and guilt and who frequently remind them of a past they would rather forget, they finally work up the courage to make an appointment and come in for help.

There really is nothing in this life that can compare to the moment when a sinner becomes a saint, where the guilt and shame of our sins are lifted from off our backs and placed securely on the back of Christ, and the reality of what Jesus accomplished for us sinks in as we begin to comprehend when He Himself carried each and every one of our sins up that hill to Calvary's Cross and nailed them to His own body, taking our place so that we could go free.

Many people have heard the story of Jesus Christ and how He came from heaven to earth to redeem the lost, to save sinners and set at liberty the captives. Sadly, not as many have actually received the grace and mercy God offers us by placing our hope and trust in Christ and experiencing the forgiveness and freedom, the complete "just as if you never have sinned" justification and subsequent "imputed righteousness" that follows. I know from personal experience the sickly conclusion that says, "the worse I feel about my sin and guilt the better off I am". Its why some people love sermons that make them feel bad about themselves and their past so they can appreciate God's grace all the more. If only we realized we don't have a past. All that remains for those in Christ Jesus is a hope and a future. 

What makes the Gospel good news is that the Gospel is good news! When we come to Jesus confessing our sins and inviting Him into our heart as Savior and Lord, He forgives us our sins, not merely covering them over but removing them completely as if they were never there. If you have come to Christ and received Him into your heart, then your account, the ledger bearing your name in heavens record is spotless, no thought or mention of any past sin or failure. You are as free as it gets.

Think about this long and hard today, friend. Why do you think every time a person was brought to Jesus in the Gospels who was caught in their sin, Jesus would look upon them and say, "your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more?" Its one thing to say your sins are forgiven and quite another to say go and sin no more. Yet, you see, loved one, when Jesus forgives us, He also forgets the sins we had committed as He washes our slate perfectly clean. Its a package deal and what a deal it is! 

Don't take my word for it, take Gods. Listen carefully to the words of Micah 7:19, "He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea." Or if one verse wasn't enough, how about Psalm 103:12 which reminds us, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." It was Corrie ten Boom who once said, and I would imagine it was after reading these passages she said, "God takes our sins, the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says 'No Fishing Allowed.'" Because of Jesus, we are free to move forward, as the chains of sin and shame, of guilt and bondage has been broken. We don't have a past, all we have is a future because we have been set free!

There is no greater joy than to confess all our sins to God and feel so clean and nothing worse than the subsequent attacks of the devil upon our lives as he seeks to heap condemnation upon us by reminding us of our past sin and failures. Trying with everything he's got the enemy seeks to convince us that Jesus hasn't truly forgiven us. We so easily forget that truth mixed with a lie is always a lie. Yet, still we make our way back to God in prayer to once again confess those sins again only to learn that we were already forgiven and that there remains no record of any wrongs. Oh the joy of justification, oh the feeling of imputed righteousness, of being washed and set free! Thank you Jesus! 

"What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."


Romans 4:1-8 (NKJV)


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"When Being True To Self Means Living A Lie"

"There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death".

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)


A glimpse of the world today. A young college student stands up in his philosophy class and denounces any belief in God and the class, lead by an atheist professor breaks out in thunderous applause of support. A woman makes plaster sculptures of various objects, some with the semblance of the moon and sun and stars, trees and wild beasts, some, half man or woman and the other half animal, or sea creature, and all with some form of genitalia protruding out from them. There was a time when most would have viewed this not as art but rather some form of perverted expression, done by someone in need of psychological intervention but instead is celebrated and displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world. 

A writer pens the words to a billboard hit song that uses the Lords name not just in vain, but deliberately slandering then mocking the name of Jesus Christ by using such vulgar language that for decades was banned from television and radio for being overly offensive and not suitable for any audience regardless of age. Now, the artist receives a grammy award and is lavished with both the praise and prosperity all the while thanking, "the man upstairs" during the bands acceptance speech.

Everyone listed here will admit that living life in the fast lane comes at a price, freedom. You make your mark while you can they believe, resting someday, and because time is of the essence there is no need nor time for organized religion. If there is a common denominator in the lives recounted here, it's a disdain for the biological family. Family is who run with and who follow you at the drop of a hate wherever you go. Parents are little more than anchors to a past that their wayward children would just as well forget, and a reminder of a future they don't want.

A man takes the life of a police officer doing her job and a suddenly a growing segment of society cheers the killer instead of mourning the fallen hero, killed trying to protect and serve. A news flash goes out and the country is divided. Some rush to judgment actually blaming law enforcement. Many who are interviewed sympathize with the perpetrator who is portrayed as a victim who should be exonerated. After all they say, he is only a child. Even worse, many would say they too would commit the same crime if they felt they could get away with it. The sanctity of life has little meaning unless it's our own, and oh how soon we forget aborted babies aren't old enough or afforded the right to vote so their voices don't count.

Today more than ever men and women are sex objects viewed as trophies of accomplishment in a lust crazed society. Single, married, separated or divorced are merely labels the religious place on people who are merely attempting to find happiness in this world. After all, who are we to judge two consenting adults? Their business is after all, their business.

Locks are only meant to keep out honest people, right? A man is let go from his job and finds himself hungry so he robs the local convenience store around the corner from his home. The camera's easily identify him and later he is apprehended. In just a few hours he is back home celebrating with the liquor he stole because the judge hearing his case determined had the man not been terminated from his work he would have had no reason to steal. And on top of that, the man attested to the fact that he didn't use a gun while committing the crime as he knew that particular crime came with a mandatory jail sentence. Knowing he would get nothing more than a slap on the wrist he opted for handing the cashier a note. The only punishment handed down that day was a verbal lashing by the judge against corporate America for being greedy.

People make money off of writing blogs and posting their thoughts and opinions on social media regardless or not if they are true. Fake news might be a new term but its far from new as the Enquirer has been around for decades. Gossip is as old as conversation and it sells. With the invention of the Internet, and the fact its free and readily available to anyone needing their five minutes of fame, slander has simply become a way of life for bitter people to express themselves as they have nothing better to do. "That's life" most would say until they discover the fake news posted is about them, then we all want justice.

If you have cable television you know too well what commercials are as there are now more commercials being shown during your favorite program than the actual episode you are watching. Advertisers know we live in a consumer driven world and that we know what we want and that we want it now. And now is becoming more and more easy to attain. With one simple click of a key that item that you just can't live without can be yours, safely delivered to your front door step in no longer a number of days but now, hours. Your wish is my command retailers proclaim in an attempt to satisfy our whims, that attempt to fill the void in our hearts that was designed for only Jesus to fill.

What I just did was demonstrate how easily in society we can treat the 10 Commandments as if they are nothing, and how many in society break the commands of God daily without any thought or conscious effort. Sadly, the Christianity practiced by so many professing believers these days has little if any grounding in God's Word. In an attempt at being relevant to the world it appears that many pulpits are failing to make clear the foundational truth regarding man's basic state.

My wife sent me an article about a Christian music artist who was married with a family and who was also "coming out" admitting he was gay and proud of himself in that he now was being true to himself. The part of the article that grabbed my attention said, "For any Christian, being "honest" with ourselves is coming to recognize that we are sinners, pulled towards sinful urges (sexual and otherwise) by a depraved nature that leads us into believing we can be gods of our own private universes. It requires us to confront the destiny of our sinful souls and choose repentance and reliance on a power that is not of this world – a power that makes the blind see, the lost found, and the vilest offender of the Christian faith into the greatest Christian missionary the world has ever known. It requires us to recognize that no matter how strong the urge to sin may be, no matter how natural or powerful it may appear when compared to our earthly strength, the same spirit that rose Jesus from the grave is available to raise us up out of our deadly desires and designs".

But rather than be honest with himself, many in the church today have chosen to deceive themselves (and sadly so many others) into believing that ones sinful urge defines them, controls them, and owns them. Many have decided to allow sin the power to devastate their lives, forever confuse and injure their families, and take the throne room of their soul away from Christ. Being "honest" with ourselves means that we acknowledge the way that seems – and feels – so right to us, leads us to death (Proverbs 14:12).

God tells us repeatedly that the only way to live is to die (Galatians 2:20). God desires not that we exalt ourselves but that we die to self (Ephesians 4:22-24). Believers are to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Jesus Himself told us that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it (Mark 8:35), and that anyone who does not take his cross and follow is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38). How soon we forget that the Christian life is about denial of self (Colossians 3:5) not the coming to terms with self and surely not giving into self.

Pray for Christians who are strategically placed by God in this life and who are willing and able to reach people in those vulnerable moments that every person on the path of sin and destruction eventually finds them-self on, and that they will exhibit the courage needed to speak truth that hurts but heals. Pray that those entangled in any and all sin may come to trust the Word of God over the words of men, experiencing both the forgiveness and freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.


"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed"


John 8:36 (NKJV)


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"Divine Appointments"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
'For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.'

John 13:15


Have you ever thought that what you and I consider to be an interruption in our day just might be a divine appointment? I find myself repenting a lot as of late as I consider how easily frustrated I can become when my day is (in my mind) is interrupted by unplanned events. What I am having to relearn is that what I consider interruptions are in fact divine appointments. Perusing my Twitter feed today I came across a tweet that a friend and fellow pastor posted. It was a quote by Eugene O'Neill that I just couldn't quit thinking about once I read it. It said, "Each day is a life in miniature". That tweet brought a barrage of scenes to my mind, especially after I discovered that tweet was in response to yet another tweet that was quoting C.S. Lewis who wrote, "The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own', or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life – the life God is sending one day by day."

Yes, loved one, each day we live is a life in miniature so we need to make the most of them! The apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans that whatever happens to us and whatever comes our way, good or bad, God can and will ultimately use for our good. Romans 8:28 reminds us, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." You and I belong to God and because of that, there are no interruptions to our day, they are merely divine appointments that God scheduled for us.

As I ponder these quotes above, the words of Jesus come to mind. The Gospel of Matthew gives us a glimpse into why we need to see the seemingly interruptions to our day as divine appointments from God Himself, Matthew 25:31-40 quotes Jesus speaking, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

What do you think? Do you still believe those unplanned and unscheduled disruptions to your day are interruptions or are they actually divine appointments scheduled by God? I think the answer is clear. Each day really is life in miniature. Determine to follow the Lord's example knowing God will take those interruptions we respond to with joy and like only He can, He will fashion them into a crown!

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)


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"A Bigger Yes"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

1 John 2:17


Listening to one of my favorite pastors at a conference a few years back, he was speaking on getting the most out of the Christian experience and living a life that pleases God. During his message he said, "you've got to have a bigger yes". What he meant by that statement in context was to live a life of victory while enjoying our freedoms, lives that are filled with joy, we can't just go through life saying 'no' to everything, though we do need to learn to say no to many things, especially those things the Word of God clearly instructs us to avoid or abstain from. What makes saying no possible for those who believe in Jesus is, we have a bigger yes! And that bigger yes is grace, God's amazing grace!

Consider this, no one knows their way around heaven better than Jesus and there is no greater authority on eternal life than the Son of God, so when Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" there is a good reason for it. The things of the world are temporal at best where as the things of God are eternal, they last forever!

Some people have stronger will power than others but the good news for anyone wanting to say no to sin and ungodliness is the grace of God. God's grace is good news for us, a guarantee that we can indeed live a life that is both pleasing to the Lord and to us. Because its by grace that we have been saved by the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are set free from the bondage of this world and all its passions. We are now free to love God and to walk in His ways.

In Titus 2:11-14 (NIV), the apostle Paul reminds us that having a bigger 'yes' that governs our lives is what makes it possible to say 'no' to sin. Paul writes, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

Did you catch that? Saying 'no' to the sin is possible because of the grace of God. Grace is our bigger 'yes'! When temptation knocks on the door of your heart and the pressures of this life try to pull you down, look up! Look up to Jesus, focus on the bigger 'yes', keeping in mind that one day, one day soon the Lord will appear again for us in the clouds, and gather us up to be with Him forever! "Two in the hand is better than one in the bush" the world might say, but nothing this world has to offer comes close to what God has in store for those who choose to walk by faith and not by sight. We can say 'no' to sin and ungodliness and 'yes' to God because the best is still yet to be!


"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


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"I'm Proud To Be A Christian"

PastorMikeOsthimer1

"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)"


Galatians 1:1


Most of us when we hear the word "pride" usually think of it in its negative use and not the positive. Usually, the word pride conjures up in our mind passages like James 4:6, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Studying in the book of Galatians verse 1 of chapter 1 the apostle Paul begins right out of the gate giving first his name and then his credentials, noting that he is an apostle. Some have read Paul's words as being prideful, in the negative sense, while many see them for what they truly are, an expression of 'holy pride' not 'sinful pride'.

It was Martin Luther, the father of the reformation who noted, "When I was a young man I thought Paul was making too much of his call. I did not understand his purpose. I did not then realize the importance of the ministry . . . We exalt our calling, not to gain glory among men, or money, or satisfaction, or favor, but because people need to be assured that the words we speak are the words of God. This is no sinful pride. It is holy pride."

Pride in its most negative manifestation is the sin of comparison in which we compare our strengths to the others weaknesses. Pride we have discovered is one of the most invisible sins common to mankind that doesn't require any effort on our part to obtain it, but it will take all of our energy to keep out. Yet in Galatians 6 we are taught there is such a thing good pride, pride that God has no problem with at all because it's the very opposite of negative pride that seeks to put others down to build ourselves up. 

Galatians 6:4 instructs us in this good kind of pride when the apostle Paul writes, "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." What makes good pride good is that the good kind of pride doesn't focus on being better than others, good pride focuses on being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be by the grace of God without any comparison to others. Instead of measuring ourselves by our fellow man, which is comparison, we are called of God to measure our success in this life by the standards established in the Word of God, by self examination. Then and only then do we have something to boast about.

Here is a humbling thought that keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Even if we were the only human being on this planet, Jesus Christ would still have needed to die on Calvary's Cross to save us for the Bible makes clear, "for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God". That knowledge is good and helps those of us who can easily but subtly look down on others who are less spiritual (in our eyes based on our own standards) than we are, to remember again as our Bible teaches us, "there is none righteous, no not one". We all want to feel good about ourselves and one way we accomplish this is to look for the weaknesses in others, forgetting that pride is a sin of comparison where to build myself up I must compare my strengths to your weaknesses.

It was C.S. Lewis who once said, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you." Growing up my dad would always remind me to keep seeking to improve because there is always someone else just a little bit better than you, he would say. He didn't say that to put me down, he said that to help me so that I wouldn't just focus on those who I thought were below me, but to keep in mind there is always someone better than me as well. To become the best version of ourselves we need to keep looking up and moving forward was my dad's hope for me then and my hope for you and me today too. 

What was true in sports then is true in our faith too. There is One who is not just better than us, He is perfect in every way, shape and form, the very standard by which our lives will be judged one day. Jesus Christ is the measuring stick by which we are to examine our lives so that we might have something to be proud of. 

The good news of the Gospel is each of us can have something in our lives to be proud of, something worth bragging about and that is this, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6 (NKJV). Yes, loved one, any good in us is comes by the way of Christ Jesus, and the good we do in this life is done as we allow Jesus to come into our lives as Savior and then to allow Him to flow from our lives as Lord as we draw close to Him. 

As my good friend Jason shared last night at our Men's weekly bible study, "love and obedience are intertwined." Measure your life by your love and devotion to Jesus, how closely you walk with Him, not by the walks of others. It's not what we have done that matters most in this life, its what Jesus has done and is doing still that is worthy of all praise.

The bottom line, it's not about me, nor is it about you, loved one. We don't measure crooked sticks by comparing them to other crooked sticks, we measure how straight a stick is by laying it next to one that is straight. Jesus is our measuring stick! I'm proud to be a Christian today not because of any thing I have ever done for Jesus, I am proud to be a Christian because of what Jesus Christ has done for me!


"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad."

Psalm 34:1-2 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


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"I Never Knew That About You"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…"


Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV)


Reading pastor Greg Laurie's tribute to Billy Graham this morning Greg shared something about Billy Graham that stood out to him as he recounted his memories of his relationship with Billy Graham. Greg couldn't understand how someone as important and well known as Billy Graham would be interested in learning anything about someone like pastor Greg, and yet pastor Greg shared how when they got together Billy Graham would ask him questions about his life and what was going on which he said endeared him all the more to this great man of faith. Reading that reminded me of a quote, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." 

Have you ever thought much about the fact that God is far more interested in you then you are of Him? I believe I can prove it. If two people sat down together to share a meal together and enjoy fellowship with one another who would you say was more interested in the other at the meals end? The one who knew a few things about the other person or the one who knew everything there ever was to know about the other person? Im pretty sure we all would agree it would be the latter. For the record, God is the latter. He knows everything about us.

I hope this thought means as much to you today as it means to me. Like King David in the psalms this knowledge is simply wonderful. Psalm 139:14-18, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You."

Just think, the God who created the heavens and the earth is mindful of you. He is interested in you so much so He knows things about you that you are unaware even of yourself. Consider Jesus words in Luke 12:6-7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Yes, loved one, when the facts are on the table, God is very interested in us because He loves and cares for you!

None of us has to go through this life alone, we each have someone who is interested in how we think and feel, what brings us up and what gets us down and He invites to come to Him to cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares about us! And here is the most amazing thing of all. The more we are interested in getting to know Him, the better we will understand ourselves. Behind every creation is a creator, behind every design is a designer, and every work of art there is an artist. Psalm 139 pointed this out in the passages above, as it was God Himself who fashioned each of us while we were in our mothers womb which makes Him uniquely qualified in understanding us, knowing us, and without question being interested in each of our lives. Better than spending the money on a DNA test to learn about your ancestory, why not spend time alone, just you and God and allow Him to help you better know you. Nobody knows you better than Jesus! 

Isaiah 43:7 tells us, "Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him." And we find the reason why in the New Testament when the apostle Paul pens these words in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." In other words, you and I are not accidents, we were created by design. We were created for God's own pleasure loved one, you have gifts and skills that make you unique from every other person who has ever graced this earth, and the best way then to understand how and why God gave us life is to sit before Him, taking an interest understanding His purposes and plans, getting to know Him.

Accept God's invitation today, loved one. Come to Him through His Word and in prayer. Listen to what the prophet Jeremiah declares, 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' (Jeremiah 33:3). Come to God by faith today and sit before His glorious throne and discover for yourself what the woman at the well learned herself as she encountered the Lord who was so interested in her that he went way out of His way to reach her. After encountering Jesus for herself she returned to the leaders in her community and proclaimed, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

Yes, loved one, sit with Jesus today and listen to Him. Let God share with you the lengths He went to make it possible for you and I to come to Him. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). God knows us so well He knew our greatest need in this life was a Savior and that is exactly why He sent us Jesus! There is no question about it. God is very interested in you!


"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."


Psalm 16:11


I LOVE YOU!


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"God Loves You"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 3:16 (NKJV)


Almost everyone has already heard the news this morning, America's pastor, the beloved Billy Graham has gone home to be with Jesus today, to the very One with whom he spent his lifetime telling people about and pointing us towards. As Dr. Graham said best, "My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world." I can't recall the number of times in my life I have heard Dr. Graham speak the words, "God loves you" as he would share the love of Christ with hundreds of millions of people in more than 185 countries and territories on 6 continents during the course of his 71 years of ministry.

Billy Graham ministered in person, in over 33 authored books, on television and any and all other forms of communication available to him to reach the world with his message of hope. His passing today is already being felt throughout the world as this wonderful man of God will be greatly missed. When I think of Dr. Graham's life today a quote comes to mind, "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." Today the world is both rejoicing in that Dr. Graham was born into this world and weeping that he is gone from us for a time. "A time", in that we will see him again one day! Dr. Graham believed in Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the life and he believed what Jesus said that if we would believe on Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord we too would have eternal life.

My hope for America today is that we as a country would take Dr. Graham's words to heart when he said, "I've read the last page of the Bible, it's all going to turn out all right." Yes, loved one, the world might appear to be out of control but God is still in control. As I was reading some of Billy Graham's works this morning the Lord impressed on my mind the best way you and I could honor Dr. Graham's life going forward. We can pick up where he left off. We can continue to share the good news of the gospel wherever life's travels take us reminding people every chance we get to tell them, "God loves you" keeping in mind something Billy Graham would often say regarding his role in the work of God, "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love."

If Billy Graham had a wish for the United States that has yet to be realized its that God would bring revival to our land. In honoring Dr. Graham's life today I can't think of a better thing we can do than drop to our knees in prayer and make Billy Graham's prayer our own. Pray aloud today a prayer from Billy Graham's heart to God for our country that goes like this:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"

Yes, loved one, a true legacy aren't the things we carry on when a person dies, a true legacy is the part of them that lives on in those they leave behind. May Dr. Graham's legacy continue on in us as we ask God to give us a passion for the lost in the world, and may the same kind of love Dr. Graham had for Jesus drive and motivate us through our days as it did him. And just like Billy Graham has reminded me on more than one occasion, if you forget everything else I have written here today, remember this, God loves you!

"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Romans 10:9-11 (NKJV)

I LOVE YOU!

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"Lets Get Real"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) 



I remember as a young boy my Mom reading me the children's book, "The Velevteen Rabbit" that chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbits desire to become real through the love of his owner. My favorite part of the story is the dialog between the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit that goes like this,

"Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

When I consider how hard it is to be real I am reminded of something that Dr. James Dobson, a licensed marriage and family psychologist shared years ago on his nationally syndicated radio program on a segment about friendship. During the program he shared something I have never forgotten. He said that if each of us has one person in this world who we can bare our heart and soul without reservation then we are most blessed, as the majority of people on this planet don't feel as if they have even one person in this life that they feel comfortable enough with to truly be themselves. That to me is so sad.

I read a quote on Instagram the other day that said something like, "We all have a chapter in our lives we don't want anyone to read." The reason is pretty clear. We are afraid of what others will think of us if they were to read that chapter of our lives that we would just as soon forget ourselves. None of us wants to be rejected or suffer the loss of someone we care and love and I guess thats one reason why C.S. Lewis penned these words, "why love if it hurts so much?"

Think about it. Wasn't it Jesus Himself who said, "But knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" Jesus knows we have a predisposition to think the worst rather than think the best. I suppose that's why in John 2:24 the apostle notes, "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men". No doubt Jesus knows we are fickle. Maybe that is why the apostle Paul wrote the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to begin with? You know the chapter, it's affectionately referred to as the chapter of "Love" in our Bible.

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to teach us that God's love is not reciprocating, that it is actually, "one way". To paraphrase the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and the power of "one way love" think of it like this. When someone loves you for a long, long time and not just because they receive some benefit from you, but instead they just choose to love you, in time you will feel safe enough with them to be yourself. And then and only then will you be real. I am pretty certain most people would agree, becoming real takes time.

Have you ever really considered that God doesn't love us because we are lovable, but rather God loves us to help us become real? Love is powerful, and only when we have been loved, for a long long time do we feel safe enough to be real, and God knows the more real we become the more loving we will become too. Thats why love is patient.

Know this, today is our chance to help people become real, to seek to love people like God loves people, not for our benefit but for theirs. We have an opportunity to love people today not because they are lovable, but knowing instead that in our loving them they have a chance to become lovable too. Remember, real isn't how we were made, real is what we become when someone loves us for a long long time. And just think, God has loved each of us for a long long time!


"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!

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"Just Because You Didn't Doesn't Mean You Don't"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them."


Mark 10:14-16


In the Bible in Romans 8:15 the apostle Paul reveals to us one of the most intimate pictures of the relationship every child of God can enjoy with our Heavenly Father when he writes, "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The word "Abba" in the Greek language means "daddy", a more intimate word for "father". That word "Abba" implies tenderness and intimacy, and not just with anyone but with our Father in heaven.

I don't know what kind of relationship you had with your earthly father but I hope its like the one we read about in Hebrews 12 where the writer contrasts our relationship with our earthly father to that with our Heavenly Father. In Hebrews 12:9-10 we read, "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." Its as if the writer of Hebrews is saying our earthly dads did the best they knew how to do with what they had but our Heavenly Father knows perfectly how to love us and care for us, to shape us and mold us into the best version of us we can possibly be.

I am very aware of how fortunate I have been throughout my life. I had a good dad that I knew loved me. My dad was a disciplinary, he was strong, but he was also tender at times when I needed it most. Laying in bed last night missing him and thinking about my dad I recalled a time when he took me to a Los Angeles Laker basketball game to watch the legendary Jerry West play. Both my dad and I admired number 44 for the Lakers and watching the game together I don't know who was excited more. I do know that it was a very special moment shared between father and son. Yet, what I remember and cherish most about that day with my dad was the drive home late that night after the game was over.

Being only 10 years old at the time I was worn out from the excitement of the day and maybe all the sugar my dad allowed me to enjoy at the game. Sitting in the front seat of our family station wagon next to my dad he could see that I was growing tired and he invited me to lay down on the front seat of the car and if I wanted, to lay my head in his lap as a pillow for my head. As I lay there in my dads lap looking up at him he gently ran his fingers through my hair and talked to me until I fell asleep. I can still remember laying there and feeling so safe and comfortable in my fathers lap.

Years later, as I was reading my bible after giving my heart to Jesus, the Lord used that memory with my dad to teach me more in depth about the passage above in Romans 8 and in Hebrews 12 about the love of our Heavenly Father. All I could do then and now is thank God for the gift of my earthly Dad who by his love and devotion to me as a young boy served to help me connect with and better understand the heart of my Heavenly Father for us all.

Tears rolled down my face last night and are even now as I type this morning recalling such a tender moment I shared with my dad who has since gone home to be with Jesus. Tears of joy for me and yet at the same time tears of sorrow for the many children in this word who for a myriad of reasons have never known their earthly fathers love. I know for me the roll my dad played was huge in helping me understand the love of my Heavenly Father with whom I can't see. My earthly fathers love is what made the connection for me regarding our Heavenly Fathers love and I am and will always be eternally grateful for them both.

Maybe you have never known or enjoyed the love of an earthly father growing up. I'm so sorry if thats the case. But, even if that is so, know this, just because you didn't, doesn't mean you don't have the opportunity to know an even greater love for you today. Yes, loved one, we have a Father in Heaven, God Himself who loves you and so much so that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that you and I could become part of His family with all the rights and privileges of sonship. If you will except God's invitation and become part of His family you will over time as you get to know Him through time together in prayer and the reading of His Word will grow to know the tender love of our Heavenly Father who invites us to come to Him, and if He has a lap (remember God is Spirit) I am certain He would invite each of us to crawl up in it today.

Take our Lord's words in Matthew 11:28-30 to heart today as it was Jesus who came to reveal the Father's love to us. Hear the Father's heart for you as you listen to the Sons voice, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Not only is God gentle and lowly in heart, He offers us to come to Him to find rest for our souls. I always picture my dad inviting me that night to rest in His lap each time I read this passage. Don't miss out, friend, the invitation is yours and mine to come and experience the Father's love today, to crawl up into His lap as it were and cry out, Daddy!


"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."


Hebrews 4:16


I LOVE YOU!


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"No Place Like Home"

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

John 10:9 (NKJV)


I remember when our children moved out on their own and how my wife and I sent a message with each of them as they went. The message was simple, our home will always be their home no matter where this life may lead them. The door to our house is always open for them because Jesus always leaves the door open for us to come home to Him. If you visit our home you will notice right away we have a thing for doors in our house. My wife loves door's so much so she has a number of them hanging on our walls that lead to nowhere, the very opposite of what you would expect from a door. They are merely decorations that grace our homes walls and reveal a style she has that is all her own, and that I love. It's not unusual for children and adults alike when visiting to go up to these doors and either attempt to open them or gaze behind them to see if maybe they are covering some secret passage way of sorts. She particularly loves old rustic doors with ornate knobs.

Doors by design are meant to lead somewhere, to keep things in and likewise to keep things out. I get that and so it makes sense to me when I read in John's gospel where we find Jesus claiming to be a door that once passed through leads into eternal life. I thank God for using such simple and basic images to convey eternal truths to us. The imagery of a door as a passage way is clear in any culture, from the time of Christ until today. There is no question if you are in or out. It just comes down to which side of the door you are on.

And yet, what might not be so clear on a casual reading of the text is the full meaning of what Jesus meant when He claimed to be the door of the sheep. John 10:7-9 tells us, "Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." Jesus was speaking of salvation, the very reason He came from heaven to earth. Jesus was and is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecy concerning the promised Messiah that the scriptures foretold would come into the world to save His people, first and foremost, Israel, and as well, all who would come to receive Him by faith.

Shepherds for the most part spent the day leading their sheep to green pastures and each night to a place where they could lie down in peace and rest. Sometimes in the wilderness a shepherd might make a perimeter of tree branches or tumble weeds with just a narrow opening for the sheep to come in and go out. At night, once the sheep were safely inside the pen, the shepherd would lie down in the opening to protect the sheep from predators who might attempt to come under the cover of darkness. The only way to reach the sheep was through the shepherd as his body served as the very door into the fold. A beautiful picture of what Jesus, our Good Shepherd did for us when He laid down His own life for us on Calvary's Cross.

The imagery of the door that Jesus speaks of gets better the more we study the scriptures to understand the fullness of it's meaning. Doors can communicate a lot of things to us and if you have ever been locked out of some place you were trying to get into, you know the frustration. Jesus use of a door here in John 10 conveys a very important truth we need to delve further into if we are to enjoy the richness of life that Jesus came to provide for us as John 10:10 declares. Jesus use of a door here is not likened unto an exterior door with a lock on it to separate those on the inside from those on the out. Its more like an interior door with no lock at all, a door that is merely a passage way from one glorious place to another. All within the safety of the Father's house with its many mansions.

If Jesus is your Good Shepherd, if you have come to Him by faith then you need to know the doors you will come to in Him are never locked because you are family, you are already on the inside, so you never have to fear being locked outside ever again. Jesus, the door, is always open for you! Thats what makes the gospel such good news. If you find yourself on the outside today looking in and are tired as this world has left you out in the cold, come to Jesus, take Him up on His invitation and come inside. Listen to Jesus as He speaks, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). Yes, loved one, there really is no place like home!


"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Revelation 3:20

I LOVE YOU!


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"God Knows Your Real Name"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."


Revelation 2:17


For most people our personal identity is important to us. Identity theft is real in the world today and those who have suffered from it know the embarrassment often associated with someone stealing your name and credit information. You go to make a purchase and can't as your credit card is now locked by the issuing banking institution for "unusual spending activity" which translated means someone has your credit card number and is on a spending frenzy. After what seems like an eternity, you finally get a new card issued and your ability to make purchases is restored.

Some people spend a lifetime trying to build great credit, or to build a name for themselves only to experience the fragility of human existence when what they worked so hard for is gone, be it by theft or neglect. In Revelation 2 Jesus gives us some very good news when he says to those who place their hope and trust in Him that one day they will be given a new identity and with that identity comes a brand new name. 

That might not mean much to you today but for those who have suffered from what Jesus said in John 10:10 about the greatest identity thief this world has ever known, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

One of the saddest stories I have ever heard about someone who worked feverishly in this life to make a name for himself was Penn State's legendary football coach Joe Paterno. Most are aware of the chid abuse scandal that occurred under his watch by an assistant coach that ultimatley led to his resignation and fall from grace in the public eye. Before he died he shared how he had worked so hard to make his name, "mean something" and now at the end of his life when he could do nothing about it, it was all gone, everything he worked so hard to build was undone. In coach Paterno's heart and mind he was a failure and those closest to him would say the coach finally succumbed to a broken heart when he died.

Contrast coach Paterno's life with that of football legend Reggie White, an All-Pro, Hall of Fame defensive linemen for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was also an ordained minister. Knowing his personal popularity and growing fame whenever he had the chance would tell reporters, "I'm not here to make a name for myself, I came to exalt a name already given, the name of Jesus Christ." In that statement Reggie White was articulating that he understood the reason each of exits in the first place.

Maybe you are someone who has suffered the pain of loss of your personal identity, a name you worked so hard to build but lost. If you are, believe it or not, loved one, you are in the perfect place to experience the grace and mercy of God, the very reason God sent Jesus into this world as Savior. When we spend our days seeking to make a name for ourselves we forget that God sent His Son to save us from ourselves, from the need to be self sufficient. When building our own name we forget that Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest, to give us a new name, a new identity that will stand throughout eternity. We were never meant to make a name for ourselves by the works of our flesh, because God already has a name for us, one that He will give us one day when we meet Him face to face. Our true identity is received through faith, its God's to give, which makes it all about His grace.

Yes, loved one, Reggie White had it right when he said, "I'm not here to make a name for myself, I came to exalt a name already given, the name of Jesus Christ." Believing that this is true, the best way we can spend our days is exalting the name above all names!



"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)


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