Survival Tips for Dark Times - Part 1

Sermon Summary  July 7, 2019  Survival tips for dark times… part 1    By: Jim Eschenbacher    This is the beginning of a new series molded around the cultural difficulties of this present age. Pastor Drew is very thoughtful in what he gives us each week; this series is well crafted and well timed.    Ephesians 6:10-20… Paul begins this section of scripture with … Finally, be strong in the lord and the strength of His might.    With that simple sentence he lets the reader know where strength comes from. It is from the Lord; it is in the Lord. The man with the mansion outside of town is not where we get strength. The size of your bank account does not make you strong or weak.    The letter of Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus. Ephesus was a powerful city with many influences. Apparently a meteorite had hit the ground nearby, and Ephesus was the place where it was kept safe. Religious people thought it to have been hurled by a god, and by protecting it they were appeasing the god. The Christians were learning the Truth and part of that was that there is only one God. Those same Christians interacted with believers in the god who threw the meteorite. Paul was giving very practical and also very spiritual advice here.    Verse 12…For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.    The church in Ephesus did not wrestle against people who believed such hogwash; they wrestled against the spiritual forces behind the lies. We get the same instructions. We, in Arizona, don’t have a meteorite we are protecting, but there are some strong evil forces at work here. I have noticed that there is a strong bent toward lethargy, which Jesus called lukewarmness.    People work hard during their lifetimes to build up enough money to get them to the end. For many, “retirement” is the word that describes one’s final years. People who reach that designated time want to not have to do anything. That is well and good in the business world but in the church, we are still part of the body of Christ, which is still functioning. Paul instructs us to not face evil forces without armor.    Verse 13… Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.    I am not an original language scholar and I don’t know what word was translated “withstand”, but I have stood on the Oregon coast in severe winds. Sometimes they are so severe I have to lean into them to stay upright. When winds of adversity blow against you, don’t pretend like you are strong. Armor is often defensive.    Verse 14… Stand therefore having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breast plate of righteousness.  The belt of truth…  John 17:17… Sanctify them in the Truth; your word is the truth.  John 17 is, in its entirety, Jesus’ prayer to His Father on the night He was betrayed. Notice the role of truth in Jesus’ own words. The truth sets us apart from all lies and deceptions. When you step into this dark world, always wear the truth. And as a flak jacket, wear righteousness.  The righteousness we put on must not be our own righteousness; it must be Jesus’ righteousness. He must put it on us. Drew gave us another Scripture to fit in this teaching    Psalms 91…  It begins… He who dwells in the shelter of the most high shall abide in the shadow of the almighty.    When someone is sneaking up on another person, he will often try to hide in the shadows. When you live in Christ, you abide in God’s shadow. Jesus doesn’t take us to a store and get us a breastplate. He walks with us; He is our righteousness. Abide in him .    Ephesians 6:15… And as shoes for your feet having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.    Drew didn’t develop this completely; he plans to continue it. But he made one very significant point: shoes are made for walking. Be prepared to walk by being armed with the gospel. I might add that Paul included “peace” which in my mind is one of the things most missing in humans today.

Sermon Summary

July 7, 2019

Survival tips for dark times… part 1

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This is the beginning of a new series molded around the cultural difficulties of this present age. Pastor Drew is very thoughtful in what he gives us each week; this series is well crafted and well timed.

Ephesians 6:10-20… Paul begins this section of scripture with … Finally, be strong in the lord and the strength of His might.

With that simple sentence he lets the reader know where strength comes from. It is from the Lord; it is in the Lord. The man with the mansion outside of town is not where we get strength. The size of your bank account does not make you strong or weak.

The letter of Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus. Ephesus was a powerful city with many influences. Apparently a meteorite had hit the ground nearby, and Ephesus was the place where it was kept safe. Religious people thought it to have been hurled by a god, and by protecting it they were appeasing the god. The Christians were learning the Truth and part of that was that there is only one God. Those same Christians interacted with believers in the god who threw the meteorite. Paul was giving very practical and also very spiritual advice here.

Verse 12…For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.

The church in Ephesus did not wrestle against people who believed such hogwash; they wrestled against the spiritual forces behind the lies. We get the same instructions. We, in Arizona, don’t have a meteorite we are protecting, but there are some strong evil forces at work here. I have noticed that there is a strong bent toward lethargy, which Jesus called lukewarmness.

People work hard during their lifetimes to build up enough money to get them to the end. For many, “retirement” is the word that describes one’s final years. People who reach that designated time want to not have to do anything. That is well and good in the business world but in the church, we are still part of the body of Christ, which is still functioning. Paul instructs us to not face evil forces without armor.

Verse 13… Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

I am not an original language scholar and I don’t know what word was translated “withstand”, but I have stood on the Oregon coast in severe winds. Sometimes they are so severe I have to lean into them to stay upright. When winds of adversity blow against you, don’t pretend like you are strong. Armor is often defensive.

Verse 14… Stand therefore having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breast plate of righteousness.

The belt of truth…

John 17:17… Sanctify them in the Truth; your word is the truth.

John 17 is, in its entirety, Jesus’ prayer to His Father on the night He was betrayed. Notice the role of truth in Jesus’ own words. The truth sets us apart from all lies and deceptions. When you step into this dark world, always wear the truth. And as a flak jacket, wear righteousness.

The righteousness we put on must not be our own righteousness; it must be Jesus’ righteousness. He must put it on us. Drew gave us another Scripture to fit in this teaching

Psalms 91…

It begins… He who dwells in the shelter of the most high shall abide in the shadow of the almighty.

When someone is sneaking up on another person, he will often try to hide in the shadows. When you live in Christ, you abide in God’s shadow. Jesus doesn’t take us to a store and get us a breastplate. He walks with us; He is our righteousness. Abide in him .

Ephesians 6:15… And as shoes for your feet having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Drew didn’t develop this completely; he plans to continue it. But he made one very significant point: shoes are made for walking. Be prepared to walk by being armed with the gospel. I might add that Paul included “peace” which in my mind is one of the things most missing in humans today.

Some Distinctives of Disciple Making

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by: John Cosby, Elder

June 30, 2019


Believers in Christ often gather together for events or fellowship. What are some of those elements that are essential, and that determine whether discipleship is happening or not?

This question was posed to a dozen or so folks from MVBC last week. The interactive discussion that followed was dynamic and revealing. Here are some of those essential elements that make up disciple making.

· “It happens” – as two people or a small group interact, there is shared evidence that it is God who is orchestrating the conversation for His purposes in each of the lives involved, not the structure nor professional performance of the participants.

· It is “intentional” – there is a definite framework, purpose, and goal that leads toward a growing relationship with the Lord.

· It is life based – disciple making is about a person’s life being “rubbed off” onto another. There is a genuine, transparent relevancy that displays the dignity, holiness, and glory of Christ in the midst of human messiness.

· It is Bible based – disciple making is not just a couple of people talking about life. It is seeing the relevant connection between life and the truths of God’s Word. His Word is the keel and rudder that steers the direction and nature of this type of interaction.

· It is relational – disciple making cannot happen without a growing personal knowledge between the person being discipled and the person who is discipling. Know the person; authentically share yourself, building a high level of trust.

· It is a process with a long-term commitment to the process – roles, goals, and frequency of meeting together may vary throughout the process, but a disciple making relationship requires a commitment to another person for a long period of time.

The Woman Called Lydia

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“Entrusted”… Lydia

June 9, 2019

by Jim Eschenbacher

Acts 16:11-24 11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.

20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.

-English Standard Version

It is significant to note that Luke, the writer of Acts, chose to identify Lydia by name. That was a bit unusual in that day. Women were not highly regarded and were often considered a lower form of human. Even the Jews were guilty of the same thing. When God create mankind, He created Adam and it was recorded, at God’s prompting, “Adam was created male and female, in God’s image.” That tells us a little about God that we rarely discuss. It was bold of Drew to include this person in this series. It draws attention to cultural differences and also the whole nature of God. Verse 13 could have been written… On the Sabbath day, we went outside the city gate to the riverside where we supposed there was a place of prayer, but there was nobody there… just some women. That would have been culturally sensitive. But, Luke did not write it as a cultural expression. Nor did Paul, who at times gets accused of being opposed to women leaders. In verse 40, when Paul was let out of prison, he chose to visit Lydia.

As I mentioned earlier, Lydia could have been easily referred to as one of the women. But, instead, we know her name… or at least a title she was known by. That, alone, tells us the importance of women in the church expanding process of those days. As we learn when reading this, it took place in Philappi . That was a city in the larger area known as Maccedonia. Paul was in Maccedonia. In verse 9, we learn that Paul had a vision from God of a man calling to him, “Come over to Maccedonia.” It seems, Paul did not plan to go there, but God directed him.

In Phillipi, Lydia became a disciple and likely opened her home for a church to meet. One might have imagined a bunch of young men converts but that is not what we learn. We learn that discipleship has no specific demographic. Discipleship seeks the faithful, the available, and the teachable. That is what we watch for. Lydia met that criteria. She did not meet the cultural criteria of male.

When checking criteria, look for God’s, not man’s. A growing, healthy church began in Philippi. Thank you, Lydia.

Entrusted

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Entrusted

Sermon Summary

June 2, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This was the third sermon in a series entitled… “Entrusted.”

God entrusted certain men and women with the task of propagating the gospel.

Drew is studying some of those characters and is giving us important details about them, so we might create our own picture of how an entrusted one looks now. His first sermon was about Barnabas, his second was about Paul. This past Sunday he spoke about Timothy. This series is about making disciples. Jesus said, “Go, and make disciples.”

As we study these individuals, we look through the filter of discipleship. Timothy is a fairly easy study… or at least it would appear so; Paul dicipled him. In several places, he said that Timothy was like a son to him. But, one of the criteria of discipleship is that it is ongoing. In the body of Christ, we are to be dicipled and we are to disciple others. For Timothy to be a good disciple, he must disciple others. Drew brought out several points about Timothy…

*Discipleship sharpens character.

* Discipleship sharpens faith.

Character is tested when the going gets tough. A true disciple follows in bad times as well as good. As a disciple, we cannot choose only the happy times to expose people to. People need to see how we act in tough times. (2 Timothy 3:10) How do you respond when someone cuts you off on the freeway?

As I listened to this sermon, I was challenged. I have studied Paul a great deal and have found that he holds the Word of God in highest honor. It is my humble opinion that we ought always to disciple people to the Word. With that I take nothing away from relationship; it’s just that I have found people fail us. The word of God never fails. Support every action and word with the Bible. Let God guide you.

Proverbs 16:9… The heart of man plans his way, but God establishes his steps.

In the course of this sermon, Drew talked about his own experiences. He told one story that emphasized the importance of maintaining good character.

I would suggest that you go online and listen to the sermon. Powerful…

Becoming a Consistent Christian

This blog was written our Elder, John Cosby and it reflects upon his path. Those who know John will appreciate his wisdom, faithfulness and the journey he has taken to becoming a consistent Christian.

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by: John Cosby, Elder

I was 17 years old when I understood the gospel and placed my faith in Christ. That moment wasn’t based on emotion or a response to someone else’s manipulation. It was based on several months of listening and questioning the gospel message and seeing the truth it embodied. Shortly after trusting in what Christ did for me to gain eternal life, I was baptized and began attending church. I sang in the choir and attended church gatherings on a regular basis.

Following my salvation, I continued to live life in somewhat of a normal fashion. I was in and out of college, served in the Marine Corps Active Reserve. I worked here and there, began a family with the girl who helped me understand the gospel and salvation. Needless to say, I heard many messages preached from the Bible and began to form some ideas about what it meant to be a “Christian”. After a few years I was able to get training as a commercial diver and began a career working as an underwater specialist in the offshore oil industry.

Life was pretty normal with one glitch. I seemed to be unsuccessful in discovering how to consistently live the way Christians were supposed to live. I seemed to do all the required stuff like listening to sermons, responding to alter calls, sharing my testimony. There was also a time I sought after a promise of power by getting some sort of special spiritual experience. But none of that carried power for the change I needed.

It was about five years after I placed my faith in Christ that I met a person willing to do what I needed. It wasn’t complicated or complex. He simply set aside time to come along side of me. For two years he met with me regularly, walked me through the Bible, and showed me how I could depend on the Spirit of God to incorporate the Word into my life.

Back then I wasn’t aware of the term “discipleship”, but that is exactly what was going on. I am so grateful that God provided a Christ-follower to come along side and pour his life-with-Christ into mine. There’s a reason why Christ’s parting words to His followers were to “make disciples”.

True Purpose

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Sermon Summary

May 12, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

Romans 12:6-8 (ESV)

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;

8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

This is one of several lists that seems to explain the gifts God gives believers. It actually describes how we ought to respond to the gifts He has given us.

Before I start with this sermon, I want to tell you about an interesting error that was made in the bulletins. The scripture reference was listed as Romans 6:6-8. I read that and found it pertained to the topic quite nicely. Perhaps the mistake was not one at all. It stated that our old nature is dead. We are new, in Christ.

Verse 8… Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. That too describes our “True Purpose”.

I once wrote a paper on this subject titled… “Saved to”. People seem quick to list what they are saved from; but, we are also saved to. People don’t seem to be as quick with an answer for what they are saved to. Here is a short list: righteousness, witnessing, building one another up, giving, and being examples. We are saved from, in order to launch into life as God has given it. This sermon, by Drew, is definitely timely and poignant. So let’s dig in.

First, a question… Are we to live with purpose? We are not intended to bounce off walls and trip over obstacles. With the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are to live with purpose and live well. Sam Walton didn’t accidently start Wal-Mart, the best athletes don’t just get lucky, they practice hard with intention. They have purpose.

What is your purpose? Purpose is broader than a goal. I may have a goal but still lack purpose. Drew taught us about finding purpose.

1. Discover how you are gifted.

A. What do I thoroughly enjoy doing? Psalms 37:4

B. What do I think I do well? 1 Corinthians 12:7

C. What do others say I do well? Proverbs 12:15

According to Romans 12:6-8, we are to do all things with energy and zeal and cheerfulness. Here are some other scriptures about gifts: 1 Peter 4:10-11, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Corinthians 12 7-11, 1 Corinthians 12:27 & 28.

1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

We are not gifted primarily for our own benefit; it is for the good of all.

God wouldn’t give us something that would encourage selfish thinking.

The real issue is that many people don’t use their gifts. You may use a questionnaire to determine what your gift might be, but then put it to good use. If we don’t use the gift we have been given, we and the body of the church will miss the blessing. Do whatever God gives you, and do it with all your heart.

Faithfulness

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Sermon Summary

March 24, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

On Sunday, Ray Chester taught a lesson on faithfulness. Ray is an elder in the church and an author of several books I have read. He is well studied, but does not write as a super intellectual. I was anxious to hear him preach and was not disappointed. It has been my experience that the preaching at Mountain Vista Bible Church is always good. Preaching should challenge the listener; it is not to comfort and console us.

Ray coined a term… “Intentional faithfulness”. I like that phrase because it implies full investment on our part. He talked about one aspect of faithfulness that really resonated with me, being faithful for those who are watching us or will follow after us. I have been compelled by God to consider the well being of the whole world and the future church. In other words, it is not all about me. I press on to reach the goal, yes, but also to show faith to those who are watching me. He talked about grandkids and great grandkids as well. We have an obligation to be faithful for them… not only for God but because God wants us to teach those who come after us.

A friend once said to me, “The Christian life cannot be lived in solitude.” “Love” demands community, at least 2 or more people. I do pretty well with love when there are no people around. Generally, we think of others in terms of those we know. When God says love your neighbor as yourself, we think of contemporaries. Sometimes we think of hurting people in other countries. But, what if we thought also of those not yet born? What legacy do I want to leave them? I want them to say, “Jim was faithful.” For people to know I was faithful to God, I must also be faithful to them. My dad was helpful to whoever needed help. I still know that even though he has been dead for about 45 years. That is his legacy. It matters more than how nice he was to me.

Be faithful for future generations. Living for others is more than just being selfless. Make it intentional. Be intentionally kind, gracious, loving, generous, faithful. Often I hear about a grandpa in one’s past who preached truth. That becomes more powerful when we learn of the hardships he endured.

Be faithful, always, don’t be a fair-weather Christian. Be faithful to others, especially, when it does not benefit you. Anyone would be faithful if there was a reward offered but what if there is no immediate reward? That defines true faithfulness.

Ray also spoke of another issue we deal with, “retirement”. I live in a retirement community. Retirement is a state of being we come to as we age, it is also a mindset. It is the mindset to which I speak. Some retired people think that they are entitled to rest and relaxation. That may be one way of looking at the end of a career, but it ought not to apply to our faithfulness.

Ray told the story of Moses. He fled Egypt possibly to save his life. He ran to the land of Midian where he became a sheepherder. He was no longer visually confronted with the plight of the Israelites; He was tending sheep on the open range. But, God showed up in a burning bush and talked to him. Basically, He said, “Moses, you are not done yet.” Moses had retired from his responsibilities in Egypt. But, God sent him back there with an assignment, ‘Lead my people out of there.” In God’s plan, he was not retired. And he may be saying the same thing to you and me… “You are not yet retired.” You have not reached, and will not reach, an age where you are done being faithful.

I have pondered, of late, that at my current age I am more important than ever to the young people. That is what this sermon was declaring. Don’t quit, be intentional, faithfulness doesn’t just happen by chance.

Reference:

Joshua 24:14&15… Joshua made up his mind… We, too, must make up our minds.


Be Faithful

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Be Faithful

March 10, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

Sunday’s message was from Malachi 2:10-16:

10 "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? 11 "Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which He loves and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 "As for the man who does this, may the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the LORD of hosts. 13 "This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 "Yet you say, 'For what reason *?' Because * the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. 16 "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously." - Malachi 2:10-16: (NASB)

This prophecy was written about 2,400 years ago but it is still relevant today. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Knowledge of God’s unchanging character provides a foundation for us in applying these words to our world today. With that in mind, let’s walk through this section of Scripture.

The first main point of this message is that God wants His children to be faithful. Verse 10 says “Have we not all one Father?”. It occurred to me that, as a father, I want my kids to act in a way that was consistent with my desires and my actions. God calls Himself a Father in this prophecy. God is faithful, His children should reflect His faithfulness.

He also addresses our relationships with one another in verse 10, “Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers.” The word, ‘fathers’ in this phrase refers to our older brothers who have come before. I am reminded of that famous statement by Jesus, when asked which commandment was the most important. He said “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.” He continued on as if on the same subject, “This is the great and first commandment and the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Lawyer had not asked for the second commandment. Jesus gave this as a continuation, or an amplification, of the first. It helps us understand Malachi 2:10. “If you are going to be faithful to Me, you must be faithful to one another.”

Drew reminded us of a time when Abraham was given a promise by God:

4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. – Genesis 17: 4-6 (ESV)

Abraham grasped the significance of God’s promise to him. At his age, and the age of his wife, Sarah, it would be impossible to bear a child without God. As time went on, Abraham got impatient and he took his wife’s maid to mother his child. This son was named ‘Ishmael’ and he was a brute of a man, fighting his way through life. He was not the child of God’s promise but God blessed Ishmael because he was Abraham’s son.

God’s plan was bigger than Abraham could understand but Abraham didn’t trust God in his lack of understanding. Abraham didn’t stay faithful. In his desire to have God’s promise fulfilled, Abraham intervened. To this day there is conflict between the descendants of Isaac, the child of the promise and the descendants of Ishmael.

This story expresses the importance of faithfulness. I read something yesterday, “If you trust God, you must trust Him also for timing.” Apparently, Abraham was a bit deficient in that. God is going to do what He is going to do, in His timing and in His way. When we proceed with an idea that we think is better, we are telling God, “I can do this better than you can.” That is pure rebellion.

We are all sinners, saved by grace. The Sunday school teacher, the greeter, the usher – all have sinned. As sinners, there are not enough things we can do to earn the privilege of helping God with His plan. God is holy and far more capable of executing a perfect plan than we can imagine and He loves us without condition. He does, however, have an expectation. He commands us to love one another. Love as He has loved you.

The last big point of the sermon was “Be faithful to your spouse.”

You might ask, “What does that have to do with anything?” Verses 13-16 give us the details:

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” – Malachi 2:13-16 (ESV)

The Israelites He was addressing here had married foreign women with different gods. Foreigners were not prohibited; but the worship of other gods was prohibited. This comes back to, “Be faithful to God”. Don’t wander off the Path of Truth. If you are married, be faithful; if you are not, be faithful.

This message may seem difficult but it is easier than we make it. It isn't hard to be faithful when we keep our focus on the ever faithful Almighty God.


Be Authentic in Worship

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Be Authentic in Worship

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This blog covers the 2nd sermon in Malachi. This series is a wonderful reminder that the Bible is one book. Yes, it consists of two testaments, but both of them are relevant to the picture that has been painted. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the old.

Malachi 1:6-14 (I suggest that you read the Scripture before continuing.) I will refer to specific points that are made in this paragraph, but the “feel” is revealed in the whole text. One thing we learn… God is not pleased. The prophecy was written to the Jews and specifically to the priests. We could ignore it since we are not Jews, but Paul tells us that Jews are such inwardly. One is not a Jew because of outward appearance; one is a Jew in heart because of God. Peter tells us that we are priests when we are in Christ, so, the prophecy is to us as well as the priests in the day in which it was written.

God starts off with an analogy. A son honors his father and a servant his master. If God is our Father and our Master, where is His honor and His fear? We use words like Father and Lord quite often. Do we honor Him as such, or do we just use the words? In verse 7, God begins to dialogue about the animals being sacrificed. They weren’t bringing the best of the flock; they were bringing lame and sick animals. The challenge to us is, are we bringing our best to God? Drew referenced

Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”.

We no longer sacrifice animals to God; instead we sacrifice ourselves, alive, to him. Now, consider once again, are you giving your best to God? Or are you giving tired left overs?

Point # 1. Do not be quickly satisfied with minimal service.

Rather, love God with everything.

Drew described minimal service. He used himself as an example. Preaching a sermon on Sunday morning is his minimal service. Later that same day, when he is anticipating a nap, if someone needs him to help them through a difficult question, that is ongoing sacrifice. He must avoid saying, “I gave you that sermon this morning; wasn’t that enough?” We give Him our lives not just an event. The verse in Romans is one of the main verses reminding us that worship is more than a song service. It is giving our lives.

The prophecy in Malachi continues…Verse 10 is a real tough verse. “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain. I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.” We can’t hide behind the words, “I’m doing the best I can.” He will not settle for 2nd best; neither should we.

Point #2… Do not take what God has given you to use as you please.

Rather, steward your life regarding every breath as his.

This point could be a sermon by itself. He created even the air we breathe. Every breath is His. Every dollar is His. We really have nothing of our own. When we use the word ”sacrifice” we are only talking about what we could have done instead. I love the song by Jason Upton… “It is no sacrifice”. Google it.

Verse 11 implies that their less than desirable worship causes the nations to not bless God’s name and consider Him great. Fake worship is worse than no worship.

Point #3… Do not worship God with inauthenticity.

Rather, approach God honestly .

We might be inclined to try to clean up before we go to God. He already knows your condition. It is better to be honest about it. We are ugly… but we are washed from sin and clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. God knows that. Be honest about yourself. He is interested in our heart condition.

From Malachi, in the Old Testament, we learn that God knows when our sacrifices are less than our best. Don’t try to trick him.

BE AUTHENTIC IN WORSHIP

What will Giving Produce?

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What will Giving Produce?

February 3, 2019

By: Jim Eshenbacher

What will giving produce? This is the question that Drew set out to answer today. If you were to listen to a sermon by a TV evangelist, you might hear that God wants to bless you for giving. You might hear that great sums of money would be multiplied into your bank account. As wonderful as that sounds… is that what God will do?

Drew chose as his text for the message 2 Corinthians 9:5-15. Verse 5 says “so, I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an extraction.” From this verse we learn that giving ought to be done willingly, not reluctantly.

Verse 6 states, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly; and whoever sows bountifully will reap also bountifully.” From this we learn to sow bountifully, not sparingly. If we sow bountifully to the world, we will reap bountifully from the world. Do you seem to be hemmed in by the things of the world? Check your sowing history. What seeds do you so bountifully and what seeds do you sow sparingly?

Verse 7 tells us, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Give cheerfully not reluctantly. “Cheerfully” is more than a description of immediate actions; it is a heart attitude. Perhaps if your heart attitude is one of reluctance, you might be better off not giving. Your heart attitude might be a result of how you view God.

Do you view God as a taker?

Do you view God as a giver?

If you view God as a taker, you might resent His power and His control. But if you view him as a giver, you understand that you can’t out give God. The more you give away, the more he pours in.

While Drew was preaching, I remembered a story from the Old Testament. Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, became the #2 man in power in Egypt. His brothers came to get food, not knowing who Joseph was. When they left with food, they discovered that their money was still in each bag. Joseph was a type of Jesus. He went before us and is preparing for us. When we come to Jesus we always get more than we planned. God is a giver… not a taker.

Drew made an important point; a knee jerk reaction to the erroneous teaching that God wants to give us a bundle of money if we will first give him some is to believe that God does not want to bless us. How often have you lived with that thought? It is not fair to a generous God. The Bible is filled with the generosity of God. Consider the substitutionary death of Jesus. That was a gift with no benefit to God. He planned that before the beginning of time. He does give us gifts. Many of them.

So, what is in it for us? When we give to God’s work, we are likely taking away our chance to do something else. So, we make the decision, “I’d rather have what God gives than what I can see the world gives.”

Romans 14:17 says “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The kingdom of God, where He gives gifts, is not identified by our senses. It is in the realm of the Spirit, invisible, yet relevant. What is in it for you and me is an even greater ability to be righteous… a greater desire to be generous. We will give more thanks to God and our joy will be increased a we see God meet people’s needs. That is quite evident as we hear the stories from the mission field; but our immediate mission field, our neighborhood, is also in view. We will experience more affection and love among God’s people.

A takeaway from this sermon is that we receive from God, but it is not in proportion to our giving. It is exponentially greater. And his gifts to us are well thought out; they are not more things to get tangled up in. They are in His kingdom, for now and for our future.

How to Have a Life Changing Quiet Time in Just 5 Minutes!

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Do you have a regular time in the Word of God? Have you found it difficult to develop the discipline of reading the Bible in a way that actually changes your life? This could be for you. If you have a well disciplined practice of reading the Bible you still may want to read on. I have found that most who read the Bible often fail to apply it specifically in their lives.

Do you have five minutes to spare in the morning? These five minutes will change your life on a daily basis. Try the following steps. First, you will want a notebook to write in. It can be a cheap spiral or a nice journal. What is important is that you write a few things down. Next, pick a book from the New Testament. The shorter letters written by Paul, Peter, James or John work great with this method.

Obviously, in only five minutes you are not going to read very much. Work with two verses each morning. You may need to use a third verse at times in order to complete a sentence or thought. Start at the beginning of the book and work through it in order. Here we go:

1. Pray. Pray that God would bring to your mind what he would like you to do.

2. Read the verses. In your journal you will write the date and the reference for the verses you are reading that day.

3. Write the verses out in your own words. Creativity is not important here. What is important is getting the ideas if the verses written out. You don’t have time to struggle with this step. If you have a hard time writing them in your own words then simply write them out as they are.

4. Look for application. Some questions you will want to ask are:

· Is there a command to obey?

· Is there an exhortation? This is lighter than a command, a strong encouragement.

· Is there a prohibition?

· Is there a godly example to follow?

· Is there a promise to claim?

5. Make a personal application and write it down. Some guidelines to follow:

· It must be personal. Do not tell your wife what she needs to do now.

· It must be specific.

· It must be measurable. At the end of the day you should know whether or not you did what you said you would do.

· It must be reasonable.

· It must be immediate if possible. You are writing down something that you will do that day.

If you follow these steps and follow through on your point of applications then the time in the Word for that day will have been life changing for you. It may also change some else’s life.

Stay in the Word,

Pastor Drew

Giving Best Practices

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Sermon Summary

January 27, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This is a continuation in the series on giving. Drew has tastefully instructed us on the subject of giving without putting pressure on us to give more. This sermon is about the best practices regarding giving as taken from the Bible and his personal experience. He gave us, a departure from the usual, 10 points.

1. God owns everything that we think we own.

Ps. 24:1, Job 41:11, Haggai 2:8,

Job 41:11…Who has first given to me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

2. Giving is an act of worship.

Philippians 4:18… I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God

Paul thanks the church for giving to his need and uses worship words in his thank you. He was given gifts for his natural needs and he called it a sacrifice, acceptable and pleasing to God. God watches our giving.

3. Giving reflects faith in God’s provision.

Mark 12:41-44… And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins which make a penny. And He called his disciples to Him and said, “Truly, I say to you, this widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

She gave all she had saved, apparently trusting that God would provide. Which do you trust most… your savings, or God’s provision? Jesus contradicts our logic by stating that it is not the size of the offering that matters. At the same time, He did not discount the offerings of those who gave abundantly. Don’t count yourself out because you are poor.

4. Giving should be sacrificial and generous.

The widow gave all she had. She did not hold anything back.

5. Giving reflects spiritual trustworthiness.

6. It is an act of love, not legalistic obligation or guilt.

2 Corinthians 9:7… Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Drew made the comment that we would be better off not giving at all if our giving is an act of legalistic obligation.

7. Give willingly, thankfully, and cheerfully.

We should want to give. God knows what is in our heart when we give. I heard a humorous story many years ago:

A young boy was struggling to know what to put in the offering at church. He had a quarter and a dime. He wanted to give the dime but felt obligated to give the quarter. When the basket came by, he tossed in his quarter and felt rather good about it. The pastor said, “When you give God knows what is in your heart.” in the car on the way home the little guy was sobbing. His mom asked him what the problem was. He said, “I put a quarter in the offering but God knows I only wanted to put in a dime, so I wasted 15 cents. Yes, it’s a joke, but it makes the point.

8. Giving should be an appropriate response to real need.

Acts 2:44… And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need.

“As any had need” … They weren’t just giving indiscriminately; they were giving to a pressing need.

One of the points that Drew pressed was that we should be prepared.

That takes planning and forethought. Are you always ready to help someone in need or are you content to put money in the offering and consider everything done?

9. Giving should be planned and systematic. If your neighbor needs $10.00 for his medicine and you only have $5.00, you can’t completely help him.

To know the cost of his medicine, you have to know him.

10. Generous giving results in bountiful blessing. This point is next week’s focus.

Contentment

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Sermon summary

January 20, 2019

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This week, I was unable to attend church so I listened to the sermon on line. You can do likewise. I went to Mountain Vista Bible Church… clicked on ‘sermons’ under the media heading. This was the second in a series on giving.

It was very timely.

1 Timothy 6:6-19… Now, there is great gain in godliness with contentment. “contentment” = We brought nothing into his world when we came and we can take nothing out. We need to be ok with that. The world tries to convince us that some stuff is permanent. Nothing this world has to offer is permanent.

Verse 10… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

This is a modern translation. The KJV reads, ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.” Notice, it does not say, Money is the root of evil; love is. This reminds me of a verse Drew included in last week’s sermon. “You can not serve God and money; for you will love one and hate the other… etc.” Love of money equates with hatred toward God. And there is the root of all evil.

Drew spent a good amount of time on the word “contentment.” It is kind of like the opposite of greed and lust. Paul explains it further to Timothy.

Verse 8… But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

When Drew read that verse, I was challenged because I have a car and a house too. Would I be content without those? I m not sure. My wife just took off in the car. She was going to get some groceries. The car is a means to food and also to clothes. Her job is also a means to those things.

The real question is, “Am I content?” Riches can lead us astray.

Verse 9… But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Have you discovered that distraction? Have you gone down that detour?

I have thought that I am mature enough to handle a lot of money. Apparently God is smarter than me… you think? Part of our transformation is that we will learn to love God more than wealth. What is wealth? Money represents wealth; it is not, in and of itself, wealth. Money is mostly paper and some coins of mineral makeup. What money can do is buy influence and comfort. The prince of this world loves those things. Satan likes to have influence over our lives. He tempts us with the same things he likes.

That reminds me of the big question, “Am I more influenced by God or by Satan?” This sermon just got s lot more important. It is about more than giving; it is about love. When we are content, we can be generous. Lack of contentment, wanting more, does not allow us to be generous with others.

Verse 17… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

There is no sin in being wealthy; there are temptations that come with the territory. But… we need not try to be poor in order to please God. Drew talked about the place of Americans in the world. We are the rich ones. We are in the top 5% of all people. God looks down and sees all people at the same time. That is a good reason to never complain about lack. Take a test.

Which would you miss the most? Something of worldly value, like a car or a boat or some jewelry or your home. Or else, a friendship, peace, acquaintances. He ended the sermon with a challenge. There is a hotel being built next door to the church. We are invited to meet at the church this Wednesday at 5:30 to walk over to the unfinished hotel and pray for it. Also, we, as a church, can put a Gideon’s Bible in every room. The Bibles are only $5.00 each. Be generous and give toward that goal.

At this point in the series, I realize I don’t give because I have extra; I give because God is worth more than all the stuff I could acquire. I was born with a singing voice. God gave that to me. That can leave this world with me. But, all that I have accumulated won’t leave with me. Thank you, Drew, for studying this.

Develop a Healthy Perspective

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Called to Give: Develop a Healthy Perspective
(Sermon synopsis for January 13, 2019)

By: Jim Eschenbacher

Drew started a series on giving, a topic people tend to complain about. It is uncomfortable territory for a pastor, but, I give Drew credit for doing it and for not making it about money.

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the longest sermons recorded in the Bible. In Matthew 6:19 Jesus taught that we are not to lay up treasures on earth and the same instruction is recorded in other gospels. Jesus taught things more than once; who are we to decide we’ve heard it enough?

After mentioning ways we lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, Drew summed up the teaching, “This world is a poor investment.” Whatever we might find valuable on this earth (like jewelry, clothes, cars, houses, boats, or anything that men value) is subject to rust and decay. It will systematically lose value over time. Contrast that with God’s valuables and we can see the difference. God’s investments increase in value with time and will be with us in eternity.

Jesus continued with His sermon and said, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” What does that mean? Whatever your eye finds desirable will light up your life. Are you impressed with large homes? Exotic cars? Expensive jewelry?

Your eye can be healthy or unhealthy just as your perspective can be healthy or unhealthy. A healthy perspective has God as the priority.

In another place, Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What do you talk about most during the week? Your heart will be occupied with the things that matter most to you.

Jesus continued on… “You cannot serve God and money. You must choose one or the other.” Drew changed one word and made it clear to me. He said, “You cannot place your trust both God and money.” That put it into perspective. Who or what do you trust to help you in times of trouble?

Drew asked us to turn to Psalm 123:2; we are to look to God the way a servant looks to a master. A servant expects his needs to be taken care of by his master; he looks nowhere else. Does that describe your trust level of God? I found this to be a challenging point.

I have noticed that prayers increase when doctors say they have no solution. We treat God as a last resort, a fall back.

Make Him #1 in your life; as for giving, give Him all of you.

For a more complete version of this message, go to the web site and click on “Media” and “Sermons”.

His Gift of Riches

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by: Jim Eschenbacher

Drew continued in his series… “He came to Give” This week the topic was

“Riches”. Jesus came to give us riches. Drew read part of Mary’s prayer of praise when she found out she was going to be the mother of the Messiah.

Luke 1: 53… He has filled the hungry with good things.

“Good things” is being translated “Riches” He pointed out that riches, as used in the Bible when referring to what Jesus has given, is not the same as riches on earth. Some television evangelists say that we will receive riches on earth. That is a lie and a distraction from the beauty of real riches. Paul claimed that he was commissioned to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8) Another word for ‘unsearchable’ is ‘unfathomable.’ It implies that it is immeasurable... it cannot be measured or contained. That cannot be applied to worldly riches, which can be contained and measured. The timing of this sermon in my life is incredible. (Surprised?) This past week someone hacked my wife’s computer and stole our savings account which was not large but which provided a hedge fund. We were devastated but with prayer, we found peace in the storm.

So, how do we get spiritual riches? They are obtained in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3) The riches of God are found in Christ and that is where we enjoy them. Consider the metaphor of the body. The elbow does not enjoy the benefit of the body except when it is part of it. Another discipline by which we live with the riches of Christ is discipline. When you ignore or disobey God, you could find yourself outside of His complete package of riches. We err when we settle for partial blessings. We might say, “Well, at least I have grace and forgiveness. That Is true and worth celebrating, but is it all He came to give us? Not!

Colossians 2:10… You have been filled in Him…

Romans 6;4… We were buried with him by baptism, into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

The intention of God is that we receive the whole package, not just part of it. Some people walk around talking as if they only received the death, and not the eternal life. We have been given riches. Have you left any under the tree?

Apart from the riches in Christ, we are woefully incomplete. Some people, trying to appear humble, have not taken the gifts Jesus is handing them. When you accept riches from God, you don’t deplete His supply. He and His supply are eternal… unending. Be rich from God.

His Gift of Peace

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Gifts from Jesus… Peace

December 16, 2018

By, Jim Eschenbacher

One of the most precious gifts that Jesus gave, and continues to give us is peace.

John 16:33… I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace; In the World, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.

We have peace in Jesus and because of that we have peace with God. He used the same preposition to describe our relationship with Him as He used with the world… “IN”. That is tough to grasp. I can imagine living in the world; but it I more difficult to imagine living in Jesus. We don’t live in Jesus, the man. We live in Jesus, the belief system. He said to abide, live, in His words. His words define a life of faith. We live in/by faith. This sermon is about peace… His peace. He acknowledges that the world also gives peace but it is not the same. His peace is complete and alive in faith. The world’s version is circumstantial. The world’s version could be summed up in the following definition: ”lack of conflict”

‘Peace with God’ is being at ease with the creator of all things. Jesus was at peace in the midst of conflict but He could also stop the conflict at will.

Mark 4:39… And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still” and the wind ceased and there was a great calm. The disciples were rowing a boat across a large body of water and a storm arose, causing them great consternation.

Jesus was asleep in the boat. Drew asked a poignant question, “Is Jesus asleep in your boat?” We must each answer that. It is one thing to know that He is nearby, sleeping. We don’t even have to actively compare our thoughts with the Bible. It is a different story when He is awake and aware of everything we are thinking and planning. Wake Him up.

Pastor Drew brought to our attention that the Christmas season is one of the least peaceful seasons of all. People are rushed to do everything that is expected and there is a tendency to spend more money than one has, creating further lack of peace. Is it not ironic that the celebration of Jesus’ birth is not peace-filled?

Drew tossed in a little talked about point of interest. By the time the wise men travelled from the east all the way to Jesus, the little child was probably about 2 years old. Christmas cards and songs that depict the wise men at the manger are incorrect. Form your doctrine from the Bible, not Hallmark. Another line, in a song, that bothers me is “The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.” Babies cry; it is natural and even healthy. Plus one of the popular verses in the Bible reads, “Jesus wept.” It is not a sin to cry. Now back to our regular programming.

Because we have peace with God, we should be peaceable people. Are you a peaceable person? Drew accentuated this point and rightly so. We are witnesses of God’s peace. His peace exists in His children. Show it and pass it on.

No matter what goes on around us, threatening us, we have peace that is not circumstantial; it is from God. Drew quoted from a Henry Longfellow poem:

And in despair, I bowed my head.

There is no peace on earth, I said.

For hate is strong and mocks the song,

Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,

“God is not dead nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail

The right prevail.

With peace on earth, good will to men

Every once in awhile, humans portray God as He is. We rejoice in that. By the end of this poem, Longfellow saw how great and victorious God is. And, we, too, have that promise. We serve God, who has no limits. He is victorious and He shares His victory with us.

Don’t confuse world peace with God’s. The world says, “Here is peace… over here.” And it offers pleasure or pills or vacations, things that change our circumstances. God offers Jesus, and He does not change with the times and blow in the wind. He is constant. Peace is ours even in difficult times.

Thank you, Jesus!

His Gift of Grace

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Gifts from Jesus

December 9, 2018

by: Jim Eschenbacher

This is late this week. That is partly by design and partly because of schedule. Schedule dictated many obstacles this week. By design is because I write this as a reminder to me what was taught. Have you found that to be necessary?

I have… When I was a pastor in our last location, a friend would ask me about a recent writing of mine and I couldn’t remember what it was about. The same was true of sermons I preached. This week I will let you know what is still with me after a whole week. Pastor Drew is teaching about the gifts Jesus gave us when He was here. And since He is the same always, we still receive the gifts. This week he taught on the gift of grace.

Titus 2:11-14… For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, who are zealous for good works.

In this scripture we see the past, present and future referenced. Notice that grace appeared to bring salvation to all people. If you are reading this, chances are you are saved. At some point in the past God, by His grace, reached into your feeble life and lifted you out of the miry clay. There are many songs about grace that saves. We tend to relate rather easily to past grace. But grace is not done yet. “And to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.

Grace teaches us how to live. And, not just in anticipation of heaven… in this present age. Drew gave us some scriptures to look up on our own.

Ephesians 2:8&9…(read) Grace is not a result of works; works are a result of grace.

John 4:1-26… Drew paraphrased this rather lengthy passage. Jesus as walking alone and He struck up a conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well. What sets this story up is that Jewish men rarely addressed a woman for conversation, and especially a Samaritan. After a rather involved and lengthy talk, she returned to her home town and proclaimed what had happened. As a result, many people believed in Jesus that day. By grace, Jesus approached her, and grace activated her.

Does grace activate you? Is there an activity that you have avoided but you know God is gently nudging you? His grace is ever at work in our lives.

And, it works beyond our visible lives. It gives us hope for the appearing of Christ. For centuries, the church has called that the Blessed hope. Grace is in our future as well. Our blessed hope is that things will not always be problematic; we have a bright, problem-free future with God. He created time and space, the dimension in which we live, but He is not bound by either of those inventions. However, we are making decisions about his existence in another dimension even while we are trapped in this one. No matter how much persecution and tribulation we must endure, grace has prepared a place of infinite beauty for us… If we endure to the end.

So, as you can see, grace did not end at the cross. And for us, it does not end with our moment of salvation. ”Grace” is a gift that keeps on giving.

God's Provision

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Sermon

December 2, 2018

by: Jim Eschenbacher

1 Corinthians 10:13… No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Pastor Drew started the sermon this week with the statement… “God will not give you more than you can handle” or “more than you can endure.” That is a bit of transliteration of the above verse; and that happens often. We remember verses the way we want to remember them and not always exactly as they were written. The subject of the verse above is… “temptation” . James adds this;

James 1:13…Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” for God cannot be tempted with evil and He, Himself, tempts no one.

Drew went quickly to the story of Gideon, one of the most poignant about such things. When God told Gideon that he would lead an army against the Midianites, Gideon was not convinced. Under his own power and with his own thoughts, he was hiding from the Midianites, crushing a bit of wheat for food. God’s plan was much different than that.

The sermon as about proper interpretation of the Word and it was also about the difference between our own plans and Gods. Our plans are usually born from our self-will which involves our strengths. Using his own strength, Gideon was hiding and trying to secretly keep some food from the Midianites. God’s plan was for elimination of the problem. Gideon was doing what he could to live with the problem.

Drew read one of the funniest verses in the Bible…

Judges 6:12… And the angel of the lord appeared to him(Gideon), “The Lord is with you, oh mighty man of valor.”

Did the angel not see that Gideon was hiding, trying to put together a meal? He addressed him as a mighty man of valor. We tend to see ourselves in the light of our most recent accomplishments or failures. God sees a bigger picture and includes unfinished business that we can’t even see yet. Listen to how God addresses you. He knows stuff, even that which has not yet happened. He addresses us through the words of the Bible. You are a person of faith, hope and courage. The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, is all of those things. But even so, our response must be humility. If we truly believe in God and His greatness, humility will be our response.

The sermon continued on with many great examples but I was being taught by God on His timeframe. I have trusted in my own abilities. God has led me on a path to get away from that thinking. My physical mobility, which I treasured, was challenged by sore hips. They have both been replaced. One of the things I lost during all of that was my sense of balance. That eliminated my construction ability which requires good balance. So, I leaned instead on my singing ability, a gift from God. Lately, I have had moments when I realized that gift was not functioning so well anymore. To further emphasize the difference, my wife is now a sought out worship leader, a role that I held for decades. I sing to support her. I am not tying to complain; I am just showing the love of God as he strips me of self-abilities. He is our provider. That does not mean we have everything we need.

Check with the children in certain African countries.

Looking back, considering how life has gone, I can see that when I have taken credit for good things happening, I ended up in the quagmire of pride. In 1981, my wife of 10 years… the mother of 3 kids, died during a simple doctor’s procedure. As time continued on, I found myself feeling proud that I weathered that storm. That thought became an attitude which encouraged me to judge others, going through hard stuff. God dealt with me, albeit, patiently.

He is our provider. Trust Him.

God Loves Me if I am Good - Christian Lies Series

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God Loves Me If I am Good

November 25, 2018

By: Jim Eschenbacher

Drew is teaching a series about the lies that Christians believe. Not all Christians… just some. But we all must answer to the lies because they affect our belief system. And I have found that some non-believers like the lies and thereby won’t hear the truth. The lie from this past Sunday is that God loves good people more than bad people. As is always the case, the lie has some truth in it. The problem is not the truth but the opinions that we draw from the lie. God does love us to be good.

John 14:21… Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

Obedience is how we show our love to Jesus. It is not by singing our favorite song or reading our Bible in the morning. Don’t try to love Jesus just in song or sacrifice. Listen for, and respond to, His voice. “My sheep know my voice.” He does not always tell us to do something hard or painful.

To know the Truth one must read the whole counsel of God.

Romans 5:8… But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So, in the big picture, God loves people… all people.

Romans 3:12… All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

I was thinking about this earlier this morning, and it occurred to me… we use worldly wisdom to determine good. For example, most people would say that Billy Graham was a good man; and those same people might say that Adolf Hitler was not a good man. We arrive at those conclusions by weighing their actions against a list that we have in our heads. And yet, God says, “All have turned aside and become worthless.” He must have a different list in His head.

And He does…

Psalms 14:2-3… The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one.

When David wrote this, he included himself with descriptive words like “all” and “none.” Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he knew that he, too, was worthless. In the environment of heaven, “good” means more than it does to us, earthlings. “There is none who does good,… not you, not me, not Billy Graham. Only of Jesus did God say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

If Jesus represents goodness, we are not good. When someone talks about anyone’s goodness, he is showing his human side… his erroneous thinking. Jesus said, “Only God is good.” He knew that the Rich Young Ruler called Him Good Teacher, according to his interpretation of good. He rebuked him for it. We can’t use human superlatives on God. I am a song writer. I have struggled to find the perfect word for God. Any word that we would choose would have significance here on earth but would not matter in heaven. I remember when the word “awesome” was in vogue. Rich Mullins wrote a song, “Our God is an awesome God.” The Christian community went gaga over it; it incorporated an up and coming word. It was not a word that described God perfectly; I don’t believe there is such a word. All of our words are comparison words. God has no comparison. He, alone, is God.

The Bee Gees wrote a song with a line that said, “It’s only words and words are all I have.” That is a plight of humanity. But God introduced actions that spoke louder than words… specifically obedient actions.

Does being good have any place in the life of a Christian? Yes, very much so. We are grateful for salvation and we want to show God our gratefulness. Goodness is a response to God. And that is a constant. Love is a response to God. Ministry is a response to God.

‘Good’ people are not more liked by God than others. Actually, they don’t exist.

Blessing of the Bikes

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The Blessing of the Bikes

November 11, 2018

By: Jim Eschenbacher

This past Sunday was unique, in that it didn’t have the predictable song service and sermon. I think pastors should pray about, and evaluate, all church activities. Some are repeated for traditional desire. Some are touted as the best church-building activity of the current decade. Pastor Drew seems to have looked at everything with a critical and quizzical eye. The church service this past week was one of several non-conforming services that I have attended since I started attending Mountain Vista Church. Becky Jo led the songs and did a masterful job of choosing songs that fit the message of the day. I have led song services when bikers were in attendance by invitation and I learned… they really sing. One of the possible distractions of weekly church services is the people sort of stop singing. That is truly unfortunate, since singing is spoken of often in the Bible in association with praise. God, who knows that not all people have good singing voices told us to, nonetheless, “Make a joyful noise.”

Anyway, after some singing, several non-preachers were interviewed. The ones interviewed shared how they had come through drug and alcohol abuse and Jesus had successfully brought them through. One woman admitted to having an abortion years ago. The message was, “Don’t give up on others or yourself… God never does.” It was a fabulous message and one with great significance in certain people’s lives. I don’t know if the sermon was recorded so it might not be on line but I would suggest you listen if you can; or schedule conversation with Drew.

I found myself slightly disconnected since I did not have a testimony of deliverance from life altering circumstances. My mom is no longer alive so you can’t ask her but I remember being a good boy. Where in Sunday’s message does a good boy fit? I pondered that and I realized that I have struggled with pride. Several of the New Testament writers list pride as one of the most lethal of all sins. It is subtle. It does not appear as a life-defying addiction. But, it is just that.

It can be hard to recognize and can often be justified. I may justify my pride but God doesn’t. In fact He says it is often followed by a fall. Whether I trip over alcohol addiction or pride, I still trip and am in need of Jesus’ love. The message is for me, too. And in a weird sort of way, it is easier to quit an addiction than it is to quit pride. Actually, it probably isn’t easier to quit; it is just easier to recognize when you do. We don’t always see the need to quit pride. I have found that, at times, I feel the need to hang on to my pride as proof of my goodness. God has hammered on me in many different ways. Good boys need Jesus. No matter who you are or what you have done, you need the patient love of God.

Becky Jo led the song “Reckless love”. She explained how such a rough word applies to God’s love. His love reaches through all opposition. That requires reckless abandon. God loves us in spite of being misunderstood and maligned. As followers of Jesus, we have that as our example. Who, in your life, could be suffering from lack of love? Are you being asked to give that love?