Devotional by Johnathan Arnold
Read: Luke 2:40-50
The first words of Jesus recorded in Luke’s Good News account were during Jesus’ first Passover in Jerusalem. In Jesus, just a boy, — a fully human boy — was also the fulness of Deity, and with it omniscience. Entering into Jerusalem, he knew that looking after His Father’s affairs meant someday dying outside the walls of that beautiful, bustling city. Perhaps he marked the dark spot in his mind as his parent’s caravan approached the city gate.
by Valorie Quesenberry
There’s an old joke that a man told his wife on their first day of marriage “I love you and if I ever change my mind, I’ll tell you.” The implication was that since he was okay with never again saying I love you, she should be okay with it too.
I grew up hearing the common jokes from the men in the church about their women, and generally, they were good-natured and gentle. Yet, as I have gotten older, I’ve observed that, often, we actually don’t understand or appreciate each other in many ways. In fact, we often let our differences pull us apart instead of letting them bring us closer together.
by Johnathan Arnold
After the final verse of the congregational number, “Calvary Covers It All,” the pianist continued to play quietly while the pastor invited the Sunday evening crowd to approach the altar for communion. He rightly noted that only believers should partake of the Supper. There were less than two dozen people in the pews, and all of them left their seats, except one middle-aged woman who sat quietly with her head down. But, she was not an unbeliever. She was a sensitive saint.
by Alan Walter
A Bible reading plan that covers the major portions of Scripture every disciple should know and advice for using it to help your church grow closer to God and each other.
“Let’s read the Bible together!” That is our challenge to the Lebanon church family for the year 2018. Reading the Bible together is fun! But much more than that, it broadens our opportunities to connect with each other as the daily readings are brought up in various conversations and contexts.
We also hope to encourage people who struggle to read God’s Word on a consistent basis. Although many of our people routinely read the Bible from cover to cover each year, the community plan takes a slower approach.
March 6-8: Outreach and Bus Convention: We thank God for the 37 God's Missionary Church pastors and many more laymen that were encouraged and equipped to do God’s work.
Sermon on John 19:28-30 by Jeremy Fuller
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30)
"I thirst." Of all the words spoken by Jesus during those six gruesome hours on the cross, these best embody His humanity. The saying reminds us that His sufferings were real. He was not immune to pain because He was virgin-born Deity. His blood ran red. He was wrapped in Adam's skin. His organs were as dependent on water as yours or mine. His organs and cells were as subject to the laws of life as those that drove the nails. His thirst was as genuine as the thugs who hung on either side. But in His humanity, there was a perfect fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Him and that is the message of His thirst.
by Robert Booth
As a boy, one of the things that impressed me the most was watching my grandpa read his Bible. He was semi-retired and read a massive amount of Scripture. He set a goal of reading God’s Word through four times a year and accomplished this for years before he died. While that was intriguing to me, his love for God's Word was even more compelling. He talked about it all of the time. Every conversation we had ultimately turned into a lesson from God’s Word. He encouraged me to spend as much time in the Bible as I could and challenged me to read it through from cover to cover. I did when I was eight. When I told him this, he congratulated me and said, "Do it again."
Now, all of these years later, one of my greatest desires is for my girls to love the Bible. My wife and I have tried different strategies to help deepen their love for Scripture, and these five principles have worked effectively for us.
by Ryleigh Stratton
The following letter was recently published in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine. Ryleigh Stratton, age 11, is the daughter of Jeff Stratton, a Home Missions pastor at the Chambersburg God's Missionary Church.
My family moved to Chambersburg so my dad could pastor a church. The first year we prayed for 65 people to attend our Christmas program. That night, we got 70. (You have to understand, this is a small church.) While my family looked for a personage, we lived in a double-wide trailer for almost a year. At first it was fun, but then it got boring.
In January of last year, my dad preached a sermon. He called 2017 "The Year of the Impossible." April was outreach month. Our goal was 50 visitors. After two Sundays, we already had 49 visitors. We raised our goal to 100, then 125. Then we stopped setting goals and waited for the final number. We got 140 visitors!
Around that time, our friends' grandma died. She lived right across the road from our church. On a hot, sticky day in June, we won the auction for her house. After some remodeling, we moved in on August 31.
I am so thankful to God for doing the impossible.
by Johnathan Arnold
It was the longest Sabbath of their lives, and the eery silence of the day only added to their distress. The disciples had scattered to their homes to replay — over and over again — the gruesome scene of the crucifixion. They could still smell Jesus; His sweat, blood, and raw, half-baked human flesh lingered in their nostrils.
Every sound was startling. Any moment, they expected to hear the patter of feet and the blasting of their locked doors, as Roman soldiers flooded in to drag them away. After all, Jesus said that “the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
by Stefan Paulus
The historical resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of Christianity, is under attack. Believers must have confidence in the historical accuracy of the resurrection, as well at its importance in their lives.
“I affirm resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus. God’s essence cannot be killed, buried, or kept from being alive in creation or history.... But, resurrection, including that of Jesus, does not include bodily resuscitation. God does not work this way. The issue is not the absence of God’s power, but God’s own self-limiting role of revelation in history. God works within the boundaries God has established” (emphasis added).
These are the words of a Methodist bishop speaking at the Iliff School of Theology in 2002. Further in his speech he admits that he does not know God’s boundaries, but he is certain it does not include resurrection. This is a “Christian” leader casting doubt on the bodily resurrection of Jesus with no more proof than that he believes this is not how God works. So, is our faith in Jesus’ resurrection based on no more than mere belief, and is His bodily resurrection really that important?
A helpful book, Jesus Under Fire, which defends the historical facts of Jesus, states, “Fortunately, the Christian faith does not call for us to put our minds on the shelf, to fly in the face of common sense and history, or to make a leap of faith into the dark. The rational person, fully apprised of the evidence, can confidently believe that on that first Easter morning a divine miracle took place” (emphasis added).
Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 by Johnathan Arnold
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, we read the most comprehensive biblical passage on Jesus' resurrection. To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus actually, literally, physically rose from the dead, so Paul points to eye-witnesses, most of whom were alive when Paul wrote the letter, to encourage us that there is historical proof to back up our belief. Believing in the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is not ignorant or anti-science. In fact, we teach things in our history books that are supported with less evidence.
Now, we could spend a lot of time on that fact — and we will look at some of the specific proof that Paul offers to back up the resurrection, because it’s in the passage at hand — but since most of us already believe in the resurrection, I want us to focus on the point that Paul makes in verses 1-3: he says that the resurrection of Jesus is part of the gospel that he preached. It’s not an add-on.
by Dr. Timothy L. Cooley, Sr
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be there at sunrise on Easter day? Easter reflections are faithfully preserved for us in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us how three different groups of people responded to the miracle of Easter — the Resurrection of Christ, that greatest event of all history.
by Johnathan Arnold
The substitutionary, atoning death of Jesus on the cross is the hinge of human history, the crucial dogma of the Christian faith, and the turning point in the story of every believer. Good Friday reminds us to slow down, meditate, and be thankful. Here are six more reasons why Jesus died, according to the Scriptures.
Read Why Did Jesus Die? Part 1
by Johnathan Arnold
When reading the New Testament, we are brought back to the death of Jesus again and again. There are scores of verses that tell us why Jesus died. We read phrases like, “He died so that…” or “For this reason he died….” Sometimes the reasons given for his death are noticeably connected from one verse to the next, but not always. This much is certain: Christ accomplished more in his death than we can ever imagine. On that old rugged cross, there was so much more going on than any one onlooker could have possibly pieced together.
Christians are in a school of the cross, ever seeing more deeply into the meaning of the death. The death stands at the center of our theology. If Good Friday lasted for ten or even ten thousand years, we would still have more on which to meditate.
by Johnathan Arnold
The best way to prepare our hearts for Easter is to walk with Jesus through the Scriptures from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Resurrection Day. Reading any one of the four gospels will provide a valuable perspective on Passion Week, but no one gospel covers every detail of the story. To get a complete picture of each day, it is helpful to read selected portions.
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Dr. Timothy Cooley, Sr.
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