July 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

LEARNING FROM THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IN A SPIRITUALLY DRY SEASON

Psalm 23:3, ‘He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.

 

                If you’re a Christian, are you going through a spiritually dry season? From time to time, spiritually dry seasons happen for all Christians; you’re not alone. We’d rather not go into those seasons because they’re painful and can cause doubt. In light of the spiritually dry seasons, I’d like to submit a few thought provoking points for your consideration and offer some encouragement, as well…

 

Embrace The Desert & The Wilderness...

If our car runs out of gas, do we abandon it and buy another car? No. We fill up the tank and drive away. We may have to walk a few miles to get the gas or we might have to call for assistance, but we don’t just leave our car behind. We remember what the car provides in our life, we see the value in it, and we move toward a solution; in the case with the car running out of gas, the solution is to get gas. The same applies to the Christian life. Like the car/gas scenario, there’s a process we go through… “God wants us to learn and grow but we’re in a dry season?”, “To Whom do I go to get spiritually refreshed?”, “Will God strengthen and sustain me as I persevere through this dry season?”. We learn a lot in a scenario like that. The Bible communicates that God would have us to learn what we can while we’re in this season with what we have, while trusting Him.

Part of the Christian experience is that we’re still affected by sin even though we (Christians) have been made new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We still carry sin with us (Romans 7:15-21) and while sin is also present around us, it makes the spiritually dry season more difficult than it already is. Now, one reason for a spiritually dry season may be because of practicing personal sin; and in those cases, the solution may be as simple as repenting, confession to Christ (and a trusted Christian), receiving God’s forgiveness, and moving on. But when it comes to those of you who are having a genuine struggle with sensing God’s presence, feeling like you hit a brass ceiling when you pray, and not really receiving the message of the Bible when you study it… and it’s not due to sin… then you know you’re in the wilderness and in a spiritually dry season.

Can you think of people in the Bible who were in a literal wilderness? Moses spent time there, as did Jesus. And it’s never easy. But what did they do? They saw it as a providential act of God that they were there, they continued to do His will in the midst of it, and God showed Himself faithful (Exodus 3, Matthew 4:1-25). There are times in the wilderness where God’s promises to us are the one thing that God uses to grow us and sustain us. We trust that God will accomplish what He has planned to do. In the wilderness, in a spiritually dry season, we trust in the integrity of God and the trustworthiness of His Word to discover that His grace is truly sufficient. Embrace where God has providentially placed you so that you can learn how to glorify Him in the difficult season as well as the easy season.

 

Surprisingly- Spiritually Dry Seasons Help You To Grow Spiritually

Romans 5:3-5, ‘3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

It’s been said that God is not trying to make His own happy, but instead, He’s growing us to be holy. God uses spiritually dry seasons to prune us, to scrape off the waste, and sometimes to even break us. This is a good thing. Yes… this is a good thing. We rejoice in the sufferings because God has seen fit to not to make us better, but to make us more Christ-like. And there’s a difference. The world strives to be better… but to what end? For themselves, for their own advantage? The Christian path is different. Becoming Christ-like is about eternal things. It’s about God being made much of in our lives and the lives of others and not mankind’s ego. Becoming ‘better’ will end, but Christ-likeness is eternal. And suffering is part of being Christ-like. Our Lord suffered– should we expect any less? In light of suffering and persecution, Jesus even said in Matthew 10:24, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.”. Suffering is a great part of a spiritually dry season. But know this, as we suffer we learn how to endure. In the endurance we see the new things that God is doing in us and in our character, (our integrity), becomes more like our Heavenly Father’s character.  When we have that, we know we have hope. Because of the work that the Holy Spirit is putting into us He’s doing for Kingdom reasons and to bless us… and He will continue that work until the day of Christ. In fact, what does the Bible say in Philippians 1:6?... ‘And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’.

Why would the Father do such a work? His love has been poured into us and He Himself has been given to us. God invests Himself and His love into us. The one motivation to keep going in a spiritually dry season is that God loves us and His purpose for us is for a greater goal… to be more Christ-like, to experience His love, and to know that He is a God that will sustain us. In all of this, we have the best opportunity for true and lasting growth. In the wilderness process, which is part of God’s sanctifying work in our lives, spiritual growth equals Biblical holiness. Incidentally, (and this is a lesson that can be difficult to receive) we’re happiest when we walk in Biblical holiness.

 

Christians Get Refreshed By The Lord

                 Now, in all of this it’s important to remember that we will be refreshed and as we see in Psalm 23:3, “He RESTORES my soul”… God is presently restoring us in the midst of the hurt. We are being refreshed now in the pain of the spiritually dry season because we know, by faith, that He is working. He works on our behalf. He purchased our forgiveness on the cross by His blood and death and has set in motion the fullness of redemption through His resurrection. That fullness includes our sanctification. We may feel as if God has left us, (like the disciples did when Christ was buried), but His past work on the cross, and the promises fulfilled in our lives, supersedes our feelings. Feelings deceive but faith has it’s investment in God Who is our eternal source. Our faith banks on God Who never lies (Hebrews 6:18) and ever supplies (Philippians 4:19). God is refreshing… working behind the scenes (John 5:17)… preparing green pastures just beyond the wilderness (Psalm 23). He’s sustaining us with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16). His Word never ends  (Luke 1:37), His Spirit always gives. He has not left us, nor will He; and God will never forsake His own (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Beloved, be refreshed by the future promise of God as well. Acts 3:19-21 shows us a glorious picture of what is to come, ‘19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.’. Because the Christian has repented and has come to faith in Jesus Christ, they can now expect that they’ll experience the ultimate refreshment. We will be refreshed by the Lord’s presence and by the fact that He will restore all things (According to Acts 3:19-21) . A new world is coming… a world of perfection, of no sin, of pure holiness, and of the love of God. We will be ultimately refreshed (Revelation 21 & 22). By these promises, He is refreshing us now. God is always there; He never left. His love for you is great and though He owes us nothing, God faithfully fulfills His promises to His own.

What we do in the midst of a spiritually dry season is to FAITHFULLY RESPOND. You continue to study your Bible, pray, & worship Him. When Christians act Biblically, we operate on faith and not feelings… And as we do that, we are sure of the promises of God. It is the Father’s heart to be glorified and for His own to know that He will not only sustain, but refresh them in times of a spiritually dry season.

 

Christ’s Blessings to You,

Pastor Scott Welch, Christ Community Church

June 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

BARNA RESEASCH SURVEY

Church Family,

         Below is a survey taken by Barna Research that Elder Stan Davala sent to me which shows the percentage of pastors in America that have a Biblical Worldview, and those that don’t . The survey shows the spectrum from senior pastors to children’s pastors and those in between that think, live, and minister Biblically… and, again, those who don’t. The results are devastating.

 

While no one is perfect, in some ways it’s shocking to see a survey like this because by and large, people expect those that those that carry the title ‘minister of the Gospel’ to be 100% Biblical. It’s shocking, as well, because of the expectation God has for pastors. Americans wonder what’s wrong with America and I believe that this survey gives us a very telling insight. It’s been said before that how the pulpit goes, so does the country. Question… If pastors and leaders of the Gospel get their mode of operation from the Bible, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they would live that worldview out and proclaim it without compromise to others?

Consider what God says in light of pastoral work and feel the weight of the importance of a Biblical worldview…

‘And I (God) will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.’ Jeremiah 3:15

and…

‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.’ Acts 20:28

and..

 ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:15

 

Christ Community Church at this day and time is a rarity because we choose to live, preach, think, and minister Biblically. Again, we’re not perfect but we are striving by the power and grace of God to walk in His ways. This survey is one of the main reasons that we why we don’t sway to the latest cultural fad but continue to minister the truth in love. Despite what this survey says or what popular opinion thinks we should do, we won’t cave to the culture and we won’t compromise, but we will continue to walk in grace of Christ and the truth of the Scriptures.

 

As you read through this, pray for the pastors and church leaders. Ask God to fill them and His churches with His Spirit and boldness to not compromise but to speak the truth in love. And, thank God for His grace on us and ask Him to continue work holiness in us and to have mercy on us.

 

 

Scott Welch

Pastor

Christ Community Church


CLICK HERE TO VIEW SURVEY:  https://www.arizonachristian.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/AWVI2022_Release05_Digital.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1MeUD9MfzpeFtQlYNWzXc9hcmbVxWbCCbN0iXEAi31p_T2bQB33Ehqqf4

 

May 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

THE TIME FOR HOPE IS NOW

Daniel 1:17-21, ‘As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.’  

I’d like us to consider the culture we live in where godly principles and ethics are eroding away. I’d like us to consider what our role is in it. And, I’d like us to consider Daniel and his time in Babylon. There are some similarities that are striking and I believe we can learn a valuable lesson in the way Daniel and his friends handled their culture. The Bible tells us that Daniel and Israel had been taken into captivity and sent to Babylon. There came a time that Daniel and 3 of his friends were taken aside to be in the king’s service. We see their response in Daniel 1:17-21.

While Babylon was known for astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, they were also known for divination (witchcraft) and idolatry/demon worship (on various levels to Marduk, Ishtar, and various other *gods and *goddesses {aka– *demons}). Basically what you see here is a culture that has chosen to go the way of idolatry; which is putting anything or anyone above God. It should be noted that anytime any other so-called gods or goddess are recognized and worshipped as deities, that act of recognition and worship is also called idolatry. Idolatry can be seen in self worship, as well. Knowing that God strongly condemns idolatry, (we see in Exodus 20:3-6 that idolatry replaces recognition and worship to God), you begin to see in Daniel’s case that Daniel had the decision as to whether he would serve the God of the Bible or whether he would serve the culture which gave ample room to idolatry. Does Daniel speak out or remain quiet? In the Bible we see various voices speaking and acting against evil. We hear the loud voice of John the Baptist speaking against the culture and against the immorality of King Herod. In just one example of the Lord’s life, we see Jesus methodically dismantling the pharisaical system of pseudo godliness. We also see the Apostle Paul with his superior deductive reasoning with argumentation as well as his passionate disposition engaging an idolatrous culture. But… what we don’t see in the Bible when it comes to engaging the culture for the Gospel- is God condoning surrendering to the culture. We don’t see God condoning faith in Christ falling to the latest fad. We don’t see God condoning complaining. It could be said that complaining is the first step on the road to quitting. What we do see God supporting in the Bible is God’s people continuing to live for Christ, using what God has given them to glorify Him while proclaiming the truth, and redeeming the time for God.

Our culture in 21st Century America shares many similarities that Babylon had… strong in technology and advancement, but weak or dead as it comes to truly serving & loving God. America is not what it was in the 1950’s and some of us are going to have to come to terms with that. Not that America was the light on the shining hill in the ‘50’s when it came to Christianity, but certainly there was a strong morality in practice due to God’s presence being practiced by people. But one thing is for sure, America and especially the Church in America has lost it’s sense of awe, wonder, and the holiness and reverence of God. And now, many of us complain about how bad it is. True, it’s bad. And we’re certainly not without hope. But do we stay in the defeatist mindset and complain?

I can’t tell you directly what to do in your situation in the shared culture in which we live. But I can tell you that it’s sin to just stand by with a ‘do nothing’ attitude in our easy chairs and complain while yelling at mainstream media news outlets, debates, and talking heads on the small screen and also grumbling about the evils of society with others. Please pardon my grammar and the previous run-on sentence, (but if I could put it in a southern vernacular with a Louisiana draw), “that ain’t gonna cut it and that dog ain’t gonna hunt.”. If I could, however, offer for your consideration a Biblical proposal; copy what Daniel did. It’s not an easy solution but it’s what the Bible prescribes.

These are days of High Adventure. Even in the midst of a demonically inspired kingdom, God GAVE Daniel and his three brethren knowledge and understanding Daniel 1:17. You and I, if we know Christ have been given wisdom by God to live in this age and in this country. And… we have been given the permission, by God, to ask Him for wisdom.

In the wicked Babylonian culture, the Bible says in Daniel 1:18 that, “… none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.”. These youth were special not because they were better by human standards, but because they belonged to the Most High God. If you are a Christian, the same applies to you. In fact, vs 20 says, “20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.”. We apply this by getting to know the God of the Bible by reading what He wrote. Spending time with Him. Daily. When we read His Word we absorb it and God gives us a desire to apply what we’ve read. Our character begins to change; we begin to change to be more like Christ.

Daniel 1 vs. 21 says, “And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”. Daniel stayed. He stuck it out; he remained. He didn’t sit in his easy chair and complain, He stayed the duration through 4 kings and was obedient to God. And He was a godly man. Godly people are known, respected (not always agreed with but they are respected), and know that they are in this life to glorify God and proclaim His Good News of salvation through Christ alone. Godly people are known to take God at His word and put into practice what the Bible says.

There are some that look back on their life and say, “THAT was the greatest time of my life.”, or, “When I was doing THIS, THAT was the best time of my life.”. For the Christian, though we may be persecuted, bodies wracked with pain or disease, the deeper you grow in Christ the more you’re able to see what God is doing more clearly... and the closer you grow to Him. Our closeness to God should be the measuring stick as to how fulfilling our lives are, not the ‘glory days of high school’ or whatever time we look back to. Out of all the people of all time and all the places you could be, God has sovereignly planted you where you are to live for Him now. We’re not here to be frivolous or to complain. We’re here to fulfill His great commission (Matthew 28). We're here to enjoy God and love others. We’re here to live for Him. This brings to mind that God has a plan. And since He has a plan, we have hope. And since we have hope, we are on the redemptive side of history… and since this is true, then in the end, Jesus wins… and we win with Him.

The time for Hope is now! Do like Daniel and live for Christ. Despite what the world brings, live for Christ!


Christ’s blessings,

Scott Welch

Pastor, Christ Community Church


April 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

THE GOD WHO BREAKS US AND WHO REDEEMS US

8 He (God) has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and He has set darkness upon my paths. 9 He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head. 10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.’ Job 19:8-10

19 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the Earth.’ Job 19:25


GOD CAUSES & ALLOWS PAIN

One of the most difficult things for people, (whether they’re Christians or not), to understand and accept is that God will allow and cause things to happen that are painful... and at times break us. Know this though, that we, satan and his demons cause pain, too. But there is a difference between pain caused by God, satanic/demonically caused pain, and pain caused by humans. The Bible offers us at least three vital pieces of information to help us make sense of this.

1. A sinful universe: We need to remember that we live in a universe that is sinful because of the fall. Adam and Eve chose to sin against God; and humanity has paid for the consequences ever since (Genesis 3:1-6, Romans 6:23). God has allowed us to choose evil. And even though committing sin was our choice, satan had an influential part in that as well. But satan’s modus operandi is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). Remember also that we not only continually live in a sin affected universe, but we contribute to it’s sinfulness, and God (in His benevolence) still pours out His common grace continually.

2. God’s glory and His redemptive plan for His children: God uses and causes painful circumstances for His good & glory and for the redemption & sanctification of His children. Consider Saul’s conversion to the Apostle Paul as he was struck blind, (Acts 9:1-19), so that He could ‘see’ his need for Christ. Or consider another example of this is in John 9:1-3, ‘1 As He (Jesus) passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”’

3. Our growing appetite for entitlement: Something else that will help us understand God’s allowance and cause of pain is our growing appetite for entitlement. As 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, ‘3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.’. This warning is not only for those outside of Christ, but this poison has stretched into the church as well. Know that we, in 21st century America, have the good life. Comparatively speaking, in the 1800’s the average person lived on less than .50 cents a day, 43.3% of children died, sickness & disease were rampant, and life was literally the survival of the fittest. Most people between Adam and the end of the 1800’s barely survived. Suffice it to say, most of us in 21st century America really don’t know what hard living is. Most likely, you’re reading this article on a smart device or a computer in an air conditioned room with a snack in walking distance. And so because of that and the human disposition to sin, we have become dependent upon mankind and not so much on God. We have become, to a certain extent, not as thankful while expecting things... which has led to an entitled mentality. Test yourself… the next time a light bulb burns out in your bedroom, what will your reaction be? When someone in the grocery store goes in front of you, what’s the level of your tolerance… any grumbling or complaining? So when God does what He does for His glory ‘without our permission’, in today’s world with our 21st century ‘we are owed’ American mentality, is it any wonder we have trouble grasping onto the Biblical fact that God may at times choose to break us for His glory and have every right to do so? Is it any wonder that there’s a visceral kicking and screaming within our souls that God is just being Who He is… which is perfect?

We need to remember the truth of Psalm 145:17, ‘The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.’.

 

UNDERSTANDING WHEN GOD ‘BREAKS’ SOMEONE

In using a harsh term like ‘break’, especially given the context of God breaking an individual, it’s only right to explain that concept. Simply put: God is holy (apart from sin), we are sinful (we break God’s law & spurn His love for us), and our hearts are rock hard against Him, (Ezekiel 36:26, ‘And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.). Therefore if God is to redeem us, there needs to be a breaking. Most importantly, a breaking of our will. Again using the example of Acts 9, we see that Saul becoming the apostle Paul on his way to persecute Christians is knocked off of his horse and physically blinded directly by the Lord was an act of grace. Intense? Yes. But gracious? Absolutely. We now have a broken man in Saul. But in the midst of this happening, the Lord knew exactly what Saul needed in order that His redemptive truth would pierce his soul in order for Saul to become saved and be spiritually transformed into a new man, the Apostle Paul. When God breaks someone, it is ALWAYS for a redemptive purpose. And because the Lord is perfect in all of His ways, He knows exactly what we need to get to that breaking point. For some, it’s a soft break and they might choose Christ. For others, God puts, or allows, circumstances in their life for a redemptive purpose but they curse God and reject Him. And still for others, it’s a hard break and they repent and cry out to God. Your soul is so important to God that if the flesh must be mangled or destroyed so that your soul may be saved, then God will do so. Your flesh is temporary, but your soul will last an eternity. As Genesis 18:25 says, ‘Far be it from You (God) to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from You! Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do what is just?’. 

 

MANKIND IS NOT IN THE POSITION TO BREAK ANYONE

Everyone is a leader. Leaders are ordained by God and allowed to lead by God (Psalm 2, Romans 13, I Timothy 3, Ephesians 6:1-9). And every leader is allowed to stretch their followers in a healthy way. In fact, stretching is good. Look at a muscle when a child grows and plays, or when a weight lifter lifts… what happens to the muscle in both cases? As it’s stressed and stretched, something good comes out of that healthy stressing and stretching… which is a stronger muscle. Prior to the stress of continually lifting weights, the weight lifter hadn’t been able to lift the weight that he lifts now. But what happened? Over time, the muscle was continually stressed and stretched. And now, the fruit of the lifting is a bigger, healthier muscle. Healthy stressing and stretching is good. However, there is no place in the Bible where you’ll find that God approves of a leader breaking those that follow them. A weightlifter wouldn’t go from deadlifting 225 on one day to the very next day trying to deadlift 450lbs. Why? A visit to the ER would most likely happen and a probable lifetime lasting injury would occur. You won’t find the smile of God on leaders, of any sort, putting so much on someone that a broken spirit is the result. In fact, the Bible condemns that practice of perverted leadership. For example, look at what the Bible says about how a father is to lead his children in Ephesians 6:4, ‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’. A father is to lead his children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Within the phrase, ‘in the Lord’, you find perfect balance, perfect challenge, perfect love, and perfect stretching. Although a father isn’t perfect in this endeavor, he is to emulate Christ in the raising of his children. Are there intense times and seasons of stretching and stressing? Of course; that’s healthy. But no leader, no matter if you’re a mom, a dad, a boss, a supervisor, an owner of a company, etc., is blessed by God to lead people to the breaking point. Why? We don’t hold the capacity to break people perfectly with perfect intent. Breaking is a job strictly reserved for God; because when He breaks someone, He breaks them for redemptive purposes that always involve His glory.

 

GOD’S DESIRE IS TO REDEEM HUMANITY

It is God’s desire to redeem humanity. As we saw before, God will cause and allow breaking; but He also initiates redemption. It is the heart of God that mankind would come to Christ to be forgiven. And in the midst of that journey to redemption, the road can be filled with painful lessons all so that we’ll see the cross for what it is. And what is the cross? The cross is a torture device constructed to give the maximum amount of pain with the lengthiest time of suffering. The cross is what Jesus died upon; for you, me, and the whole world. We spoke earlier of God causing pain and some of you still may have the thought, “How unfair.”. But let’s take a deeper look. The only solution to our sin problem was the cross of Christ. To it was nailed all of our sins, and the very Son of God Himself. The following was the heart of God as He caused the pain of His own Son, Jesus Christ, out of Isaiah 53:10-11, ‘10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the righteous One, My servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.’. Some translations say that it pleased the Lord to crush Him. All of that pain inflicted on God’s one and given Son… for our redemption. It wasn’t just physical pain that Christ endured, but that He took on our sin on Himself and became sin for us. We who repent and cry out to Jesus for forgiveness become the redeemed, the bought back ones. And not only that, but once His children, we still endure pain but with a redemptive outlook… As the commentator Matthew Henry writes, “It is a gross mistake, but a very common one, to think that whom God afflicts He treats as His enemies; whereas, on the contrary, as many as He loves He rebukes and chastens; it is the discipline of His sons.”.

Job, a man known for suffering, was also a man known to know His God and the unending goodness of His God. Drink in the words he spoke in Job 19:25... ‘For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the Earth.’. May we despise thoughts that would keep us from knowing God in such a way as Job did.

 

You are my redemptive God...

Show me Lord the lessons I need to learn,

It’s Your righteousness for which I yearn,

You took the pain from the wrath of the Father poured on you,

For my redemption your pain was true,

Strengthen me daily by each trial,

For my journey here is yet but awhile,

Despite the pain I endure in my story,

It will be worth it all to soon be with You in glory.

You are my redemptive God.

 

 

Christ’s Blessings to You,

Pastor Scott Welch

March 2022  Pastoral Newsletter

A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

Hebrews 10:23, ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.’

 

                 One of the great joys of a Christian is to know that no matter what happens, despite the actions of others, in the midst of our unfaithfulness or faithfulness, God remains faithful. It’s really amazing when you stop and think of it. God, over all, over everything and everyone, is faithful. There isn’t one time when He let’s us down. Every Biblical prophecy that was supposed to come to pass  up to this point has, in fact, come to pass. There is nothing or no one that He has forgotten and the Bible states that He never slumbers nor does He sleep. God can truly say that He cares about all things and you with all truthfulness because He is faithful. He always fulfills His promise. What kind of being can actually be faithful 100% of the time? The One Whom the Bible says is the One Who is from everlasting to everlasting, (Psalm 90:2).

 

GOD IS FAITHFUL WHEN WE’RE NOT

We may get disappointed in God because sometimes we may feel He didn’t do what we thought He should do in the time that we thought He should’ve done it. But our disappointment is based on our selfish dispositions on how we sometimes think the world, (our personal world), should be. God knows exactly what He’s doing and has ordered our steps; He is faithful to what He’s decreed. God knows and He’s faithful. And… His faithfulness shines, even when we disobey. In fact, the 2 Timothy 2:13 declares, ‘… if we are faithless, God remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.’. Even when we sin, when we break God’s law, (and His Heart), He remains faithful. Because of His faithfulness in the midst of our disobedience, He remembers His promise to us that He has provided redemption and His children belong to Him. His faithfulness knows no bounds.

 

GOD IS FAITHFUL WHEN WE’RE UNAWARE.

When we’re not even thinking about God, or when we’re sleeping, God continues to be faithful. God’s faithfulness is working when no one is aware and is working just as much behind the scenes as it is in front of our eyes. He’s always working and there’s never a time when He’s not working; because He is faithful. He was faithful before we were born, before humanity was created, and He’ll be faithful after you and I are deceased. God is faithful.

 

GOD IS FAITHFUL IN KEEPING HIS PROMISE TO HIS CHILDREN.

God keeps all that belong to Him; because He is faithful. In just one of many Scriptures that God shows His faithfulness to our salvation, Jesus says in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”. God is able to keep us because He is perfect in all ways. He is perfect in His love toward us. He is perfect in His forgiving nature. He is perfect in His promise keeping. He is perfect in His faithfulness toward us.

 

BECAUSE GOD IS FAITHFUL WE CAN BE FAITHFUL.

No Christian is perfect, but every Christian can be faithful. We can be faithful because of God’s record of faithfulness to Who He is, what He’s promised about Himself & what He does, Who He is to His children, and the power that He’s given us to be faithful. As we see a perfect example of faithfulness set before us in God (The Father, The Son, & The Holy Spirit), we can follow that example in all that we do, say, and think. And because He has made us not only to be His image bearers but to also be born again, we now have the power (that was given to us by Him) to be faithful to Him. See the faithfulness of God the Father in His sovereign rule over all. See the faithfulness of God the Son in His work within the cross and resurrection on our behalf. See the faithfulness of God the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives to give us the power to refuse sin and choose righteousness. He is our rock, our cornerstone, and our sure foundation. God is faithful.

 

Look to God for His faithfulness to you in all things. Understand that God is faithful and He is faithful because of Who He is and because it is His desire to show His faithfulness to us.

 

 

Christ’s Blessings to You,

Pastor Scott Welch

February 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

BLESSED IN GOD'S PURPOSE

Job 42:1-2, ‘1 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’

 

                 One of the main components of the Christian life is to trust God. In all of the calamity that Job went through, in all of the hardness that he endured, he came out of it knowing that He could trust God, that God is able, and that God’s purposes will come to pass. When we begin a new career, a new endeavor, or embark on a new goal, it’s a given that while we may have trained for the career, endeavor, or goal, that we won’t be professionals at it for awhile. And certainly perfection is a long way off. It’s the same principal in the Christian life. The Christian starts out with the heart to please God, to love Him, and to love His neighbor but we fall short so many times. A fellow human who lived a long time ago had the same issue we did– he fell short, too.

 

We have a problem.

The Apostle Paul, like Job, knew that God can do all things and that His purpose can’t be thwarted. But he was also not naïve and was very transparent with the struggle all Christians have. In Romans 7:21-24, Paul shows the reality of the ongoing struggle we have with pleasing God but failing as well, 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’. The problem is sin; most definitely. But at the heart of the problem is that at the time of decision of whether to sin or to please God, we don’t trust God. Plain and simple, we don’t trust God. We trust the pleasure of sin instead of the hard road of blessing. Sin seems to fulfill while obedience looks like a famine. We need more practice of trusting to know that God fills to overflowing and that His water, as Jesus communicated, will never leave you thirsty. But again, we have a choice, and sometimes we make the choice to fail. And we don’t just feel wretched, we know that we are wretched. But God is good… and forgiving.

 

Ahhh…. grace.

Romans 7:25, ‘Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.’. God comes to the rescue. He sent His Son to live a perfect life, die on a cross for our sins, was raised three days later so that when we entrust ourselves to Him and turn away from sin and turn to Him, we will have eternal forgiveness. That’s the initial rescue… and it’s a free gift– YOU CAN’T EARN IT. When we walk the Christian life out and are tempted, we remember the initial grace that we were given to live a life that can now please God and jjust as we trusted Him for our salvation then, we trust Him for our deliverance NOW and ask for grace to endure the temptation. With that, we are given the power to overcome. No wonder Paul can say in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.’. In that text, the context is being able to thrive with much, or little. If God’s grace can overcome in physical trials, how much more in spiritual temptations? As Job says that God can do all things, we can do all things in Christ when it pertains to godliness as we trust in His grace. The same free gift of grace God gives to forgive sin is the same grace He gives to conquer sin in our daily life. Jesus truly does save to the uttermost.

 

God’s purpose is our privilege.

As we go through life one day at a time, endeavoring to be more like Jesus, understand that we are privileged to walk in His purpose. Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’. Part of the reason why we sin is because too often we wrongly believe, (if not theologically but practically) that life is about us. A selfish life brings a sinful result. We don’t understand that to walk in the purpose that belongs to God is the way of freedom; hard though it may be. If we want freedom, we would be good to remember that life is about God and His purpose, plan our way (especially when it comes to overcoming temptation) according to God’s purpose, and understand that the purpose of God is a privilege of which to be a part.

 

In the end, as Job learned and was blessed for it, God’s purpose will not be thwarted. May we be like Job.

 

Christ’s Blessings to You,

Pastor Scott Welch

January 2022 Pastoral Newsletter

WHY WE REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.


One of the most frequently asked questions that people ask about God is, “What’s God’s will for my life?”. We think of a question like that in terms of what God’s specific will is as it has to do with a career, a relationship, etc. But here’s what God focuses on: worship to Him. And as it has to do with what God’s will is for everyone, it is to rejoice and thank Him. Think about it… If we were in a continual mode of being thankful & praying to God in all circumstances, and rejoicing because of Who He is in the midst of all circumstances, would we complain, grumble, and get angry more often or less? This command is simple: rejoice, pray, and give thanks. And it is a command. But it’s a command to glorify Him and to make us more like Christ. In rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances, we’re not only giving God the worship that is due to Him, but we’re also fulfilling His will for us in our lives and again, we’re growing to be more His Son. This is the will of God– in all things.

So, what does this have to do with the closing of the year and the beginning of a new one? More than you might think. In the course of this past year you may have had some terrible seasons that you’ve had to walk through and maybe are still walking through. Jesus promised that life would have trouble. How can you rejoice? God continues to be good. God allows and, yes, ordains events in our lives to grow us… to make us more like Jesus. This is a blessing. The kind of growth that we experience in the midst of tragedy matures us like no other life event; this is a blessing within itself. We get to know our Good Shepherd better. We learn to trust Him on a deeper level. We start to pray to Him more and God uses tragedy in our lives to pray to Him continually. And through all of the terrible seasons by faith we’re able to give thanks to God because of His goodness to us. Tragedy doesn’t define Who God is, rather, tragedy allows us to see the fullness of Who He is and what He’s accomplishing for His perfectly good and holy purposes in the midst of all circumstances.


And then there’s the other side… maybe you’ve had good seasons in the course of this year. You can rejoice because you’re seeing God’s goodness from a different vantage point. Knowing that God remains good and holy, we see His blessing to us in a different light and it grows our faith. God remains good, holy, and faithful in the midst of all things.


As we look back at this past year, see that God has been constant, steadfast, and faithful in Who He is. See that He’s never stopped being the Good Shepherd during heart wrenching times. See that He still causes us to have hope in what He’s doing. And as we recognize God for Who He is and what He’s doing– we worship Him. His will in all things for us is to worship Him. We can worship Him because God keeps His promises, He will not lie, He is constant, and when mankind is unjust– God is just, He is merciful, and He loves deeper than we expect. We can rejoice, pray, and give thanks— yes, we can worship Him because He is God. There’s a beautiful reminder in Romans 5:8... ‘but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’. He could have despised us and rejected us. But He loves us. How can we rejoice? We, His Church (those who have received Him as Lord and Savior), have Jesus.

As we look forward to this coming year, how can we rejoice? We have Jesus. And we fulfill God’s will in remembering that no matter what– good, bad, and otherwise- we worship because of Who He is. This understanding of God doesn’t negate that in this life we have trouble (as Jesus said), but it recognizes that we have a hope that carries us through.


At Christ Community Church, we really have had a good year in 2021. Understand that some churches across the United States have not grown, have declined in various ways, or have closed. There are various reasons for that and it's good that we continue to pray for the church nationwide and worldwide. But for whatever reason, God has seen fit to bless us in so many ways this year. Praise Him for Who He is, what He's done, and what He continues to do!


So look back at this past year and be encouraged to Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. And for this upcoming year, let your heart be filled with worship for Who God is and make it a practice to: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. This is God’s will for your life and God is worthy.

 

Christ’s Blessings to You,


Pastor Scott Welch

December 2021 Pastoral Newsletter (featured in the FREE PRESS STANDARD December 3rd, 2021 edition)

DURING CHRISTMAS & ALL OTHER TIMES...

‘How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?’ Psalm 137:4

 

The Bible lets us know clearly that those who belong to Christ are in a foreign land. From Psalm 137:4, to  Hebrews 13:14 when it says, ‘For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.’, we understand that this world is not our home. Jesus also reminds us in John 17:14, ‘they (Christians) are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.’. There is really no other time of year that we see the world system and its ideology so poignantly, (and are reminded that we live within a system that is so bent away from God), than Christmas time. From the world system’s commercials touting sales & discounts draped in red & green, to movies & tv specials that repeat the message ad nauseum that the so called ‘real’ meaning of Christmas is about family, or friends, or that ‘special’ feeling you get... the 21st century American public is bombarded with the message that Christmas is not about God. Again, it seems that Christmas is the time of year that the Christian is reminded that Christmas has been hijacked and that clearly, (just like the Israelites in Babylonian captivity mentioned in Psalm 137), we are in a foreign land.

 

How we respond, how we live, makes all the difference.

 

Understand that Psalm 137, is a commentary of the difficulty to respond rightly to the Lord in the most extreme of circumstances. The extreme circumstances of Psalm 137 were as follows:  

- The Israelites were in captivity to the Babylonians. 

- Israelite infants would be dashed against rocks by the Babylonians while the Israelites were in captivity. 

- and to add insult to injury, the Babylonians would mockingly make the Israelites sing in the midst of their captivity.  

Of course the Psalmist asks with consternation in Psalm 137:4, ‘How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?’; why wouldn’t he ask in that way? Fast forward to the 21st century… While we don’t have the Huns and the Barbarians charging over the hills with pitchforks, swords, and torches to have us submit to them (or our flesh will be flayed to the bone)... we do have soft tyranny. And again, we see this soft tyranny especially during Christmas time. The world has an ideology that says loudly, “Anything but Christ.”, or another convenient idea: we’ll ‘wink’ at the baby Jesus during Christmas time… but we’ll leave it at that. This is the post modern/post Christian world in which we live. This is a bleak, but true, picture of the culture. Truly, this world is not the Christian’s home. But even (and especially) in the midst of bleakness, the Bible gives us direction that not only helps the people of God, but sustains them.


DURING CHRISTMAS & ALL OTHER TIMES, EXPECT THE WORLD SYTEM TO…

The Bible says in John 5:19 that, ‘We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.’. Since the world’s ideology is run by satan, and a large portion of the world is ruled by him, we can expect that people (for the most part) will act against God (however slightly and quietly at times)… even during Christmas. The Bible communicates that this behavior from the world is to be expected. When people are not Christians, they act as a part of the world system because they are a part of the world system. Therefore, Christians can’t expect the world to act like Christ. And we can’t expect the world to celebrate Christ in the way that God prescribes, no matter what time of year it is. You can’t expect a bear to be a bird and in the same way, you can’t expect a non Christian to act like a Christian. Why would we put that expectation on such a person? Knowing this gives us freedom. When you don’t expect non Christians to act like Christians, you’ve been freed from frustration; and from self righteousness. Christians are only righteous because of Christ– they can boast in no other. Understand, the world will do what the evil one tells it to do. As Jesus said about people that reject Him, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”. From people come their ideologies, for bad or good, expect no more than that.

 

DURING CHRISTMAS & ALL OTHER TIMES SPEAK…

1 Peter 2:11-12, ‘Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.’

The Christian’s heart is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to proclaim the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). No matter the time of year, no matter the persecution, we proclaim Christ and Him crucified so that mankind (who is spiritually blinded by the evil one {2 Corinthians 4:4}) will receive the rescuing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keeping our conduct is more than action from our body, but it’s also a will to include what proceeds from our mouth. Engage your culture and proclaim the Gospel.

 

DURING CHRISTMAS & ALL OTHER TIMES REJOICE…

Luke 10:20, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”- Jesus Christ

                  

Throughout Psalm 137, the Psalmist continually comes back to the truth that he will not forget God. Look here at vs. 5-6, ‘5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!’. The Psalmist uses a play on words here… a bit of sarcasm. “If I forget you, let my right hand forget it’s skill!”; just like we might say, “If I ever stop rooting for my favorite football team, let me never watch football again!”. Of course we know that wouldn’t happen. And in the same way, the Psalmist sarcastically lets us know that he would never leave his devotion for Jerusalem, which holds a very special place in God’s heart. To think otherwise would be unthinkable! But also, that loyalty that the Psalmist has for Jerusalem and God, even in the midst of extreme persecution, is because God Himself has placed that loyalty there in the first place. Even though the psalmist’s love for Jerusalem and God is great, it will never compare to the infinite and eternal love that God has for His own. See the loyalty, born out of perfect love, that Jesus has for His people when He emphatically states in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”. Even in the midst of a crooked & perverse generation, even during times where the ‘good ’ole days’ are gone, even when persecution is great or soft tyranny has taken hold, the Lord Jesus reigns. The same One Who was born of a virgin and brings hope and great tidings of joy to those who would receive Him… the same One Who would later die for the sins of the world and be raised from the dead of His own power, is the same One Who now sits at the right hand of God and will soon victoriously make the Earth as His footstool. We rejoice because Jesus is our rescuer and is King. Because of Who Jesus is, what He’s done and what He will do, we have every reason to rejoice!

 

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? During Christmas and all other times, rejoice because: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.’  Luke 2:11

 

Christ’s Blessings,


Pastor Scott Welch

NOVEMBER 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

GOD'S PEACE IS YOURS

Matthew 6:31-34, “[31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. [33] But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [34] Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”-Jesus Christ

From helping us to find harmony to gaining day to day peace and everything in between, God has used Matthew 6:32-34 in the lives of His people to remind us of God’s constant commitment to peace. It’s ironic how we’re able to trust Jesus with our soul’s eternal destiny, but when it comes to having detrimental thoughts of what our neighbor thinks of us, or thinking the worst about life, we fall short of trusting God and therefore we lose peace. The fact is, until we walk in the peace God promised us, we’ll continue to live with inner turmoil.

Peace is Yours Already
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Even though God the Holy Spirit lives within each believer, we can allow the things of life to supplant the peace that was given to us. For example, 1 million dollars could be put into a special bank account for us, but if the banker refuses to give you the account number to get into the account, you won’t get the million dollars. Speculation is one of those things of life that can keep us from peace. We sometimes fixate on something that may happen and we believe the worst about it.. we speculate with the worst outcome. Speculation can be a peace killer, but Christ has the answer. Jesus promised us peace and that He would leave that peace with us. Within the surrounding verses of John 14:27, we see that Jesus also promises The Holy Spirit to those who would trust in Him. When a person is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, they have God living in them. Among many things, this means that we have access to the God of the universe Who is the perfect picture of peace. We have a constant reminder of peace; a peace that will never leave us. And, within the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is peace. God isn’t blocking our peace, He has given it to us.

Accessing the Peace that is Yours
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

We worry about what we don’t have and we worry about the needs in our life. This worry starts to turn into anxiety. But the Bible says that God’s peace was given to us but the work Jesus did on the cross. He satisfied the wrath of God for our sin so that we would have eternal peace with Him. And because we have the ultimate peace with God, peace here on Earth in this life is not only available, but it’s accessible. When we cooperate with God by believing His promises, peace finds it’s way like a flood over the fires of anxiety of doubt. “Thus sayeth the Lord” means that God has said it and that settles it. But, our responsibility is to go to the place where that peace came from– God. Jesus says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and what we need will be added to us. Not what we think we need, not seeking our plan… but we seek Jesus; we seek the Kingdom of God. In His kingdom are needs that are met and with those needs being met is pervasive and unlimited peace. Seek Him. Not by memes on social media, not by demonic horoscopes, not by listening to ‘life is about you’ messages from false teachers… no. We find God and His truth  by looking into His Word, by praying to Him and by getting the much needed fellowship by being around His people consistently.

 


Constant Thankfulness, Consistent Hope

God promised peace and God gave His children peace. So thank Him for it. As we thank Him for the peace He’s given to us, out hope in Him is built. Daily thanks brings daily hope. Daily hope reminds us of the peace we have through Jesus.

Thank you Lord for your peace.

 

Christ’s Blessings,

Pastor Scott Welch

OCTOBER 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR HELP?

Psalm 121:1-2, ‘1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made Heaven and Earth.’

I CAN DO IT, CAN’T I?

                 Too often our hope comes from what we can see and too often our expectations for the present and future are shaped by the past experiences we’ve thought we’ve had control over. We put our hope in people, events, circumstances, and feelings. We put our hope in our intellect, our plans, and our “I can do it.” attitudes. When a situation comes up we too often look to things, schemes, and well thought out plans for the win. And for awhile, these plans, people, and our intellect works. But if all of that doesn’t work, then the “I can do it.” ethic rises up and seems to get the job done. On the other hand, what happen when all of that doesn’t work? What happens when eventually, (and it will happen because we’re sinners and we live in a sin tainted world), you’re out of options?

 

APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING

Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”. This is not just the truth for those who are followers of Christ, this is the truth for everyone. Without God, spiritually and physically, we literally can’t do anything. Try breathing without the power of God. Try to take that one breath that God has provided. And by the way, God gave us a system within our body to process the oxygen to go into all of the vital organs and throughout the rest of our body. God has also supplied an atmosphere in which it’s possible to take that next breath. Truly, apart from Him we cannot do one thing. In fact, it’s not just that God provides needs and the strength for His creation to move, live, and have our being (Acts 17:28), but Christ also holds everything together so that we can enjoy the provision He gives us. Colossians 1:17, states this reality when it says, ‘And He is before all things, and in Him (Christ) all things hold together.’. Truly, every human being is totally dependent upon Jesus Christ. We need to grasp this reality.

 

FIX YOUR GAZE UPON CHRIST

So, we go back to where we started… from where does our help come? Sadly most of mankind will never understand that the reality is that without Christ, we are lost physically and spiritually. And sadly, most people will only ‘lift there eyes up to the hills’, and they’ll never look elsewhere. They’ll just look to the hills, the grass on the hills, the sky above– they’ll just look to what has been created and not the Creator, the maker of Heaven and Earth. Understand though, that God takes pleasure in shepherding people, in guiding them, in caring for them on this journey. He’s very well aware that life is tough and even states as much in John 16:33, ‘I (Jesus) 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.”. Jesus gives us hope by offering the help that we desperately need: In HIM we may have peace, and HE has overcome the world. Instead of looking to the hills and leaving it at that, God calls us to understand that He is our help. Yes, we live in the world with all it’s pains, troubles and sufferings. Don’t be deceived that you have those troubles figured out apart from Christ. As much as we think we do, the reality is that we really don’t. However, Jesus has not only created the world, He has also overcome it. We fix our gaze upon Him and as we do, we understand with each circumstance that Christ is our hope. As we continue to fix our gaze upon Him we don’t get the hope and the help we need from our ‘can do’ attitude or our intellect; no, instead we learn that our help truly comes from the Lord– the One Who made Heaven and Earth.

 

Look to Christ from where your help comes.

 

Christ’s blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

September 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

PRESSING INTO GOD FOR REVIVAL DURING DAYS OF DARKNESS

Psalm 139:11-12, ‘11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.’

                 Sometimes, the paths we’re on and the scenery that accompanies them are dark. In the darkness there are bumps, potholes, and ditches that we can’t see. This is the early 21st Century– a post Christian society and it is a dark time. The Bible states that we live in the midst of a culture that is burning, confused, chaotic, and hopeless. We, (those that belong to King Jesus), were also like all others now who are apart from God: born in sin, deceiving ourselves by depending upon ourselves instead of Christ, and without hope. As the Bible states about those who now know Christ in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ‘9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’. In deed, and such were some of us.
But even though we’re set apart by the Lord and set apart to obey the gracious commandment, ‘think about the things that are good, lovely, and pure (Philippians 4:8)’, we get discouraged and even despondent; ‘surely the darkness covers us’. As the psalmist says, “the darkness covers us and even the things that are light appear to be night.”. The darkness, while needing to be acknowledged, DOES NOT need to be the overarching theme of our thoughts and/or conversation. That space is reserved for our God Who is good. But in the midst of a dark time, what do we do?

 

The darkness may be imposing their morality, their judgements, and/or their illogical philosophies on us, but we Press in. We press in to God. Not a cliché value to live by, but a reality that states, “Where else are we going to go but to the One Who is fully equipped to take on the darkness?”


WE LOOK TO WHERE OUR HELP COMES FROM

Many times we’re guilty of looking to the circumstance, then looking back to the circumstance, then looking back to the circumstance yet once again; as if we’re going to somehow find help in the very thing that gives us trouble. Psalm 121:1-2 entreats us, ‘ 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made Heaven and Earth.’. That’s what we do… we look to God Who, as the psalmist emphatically states in the rest of Psalm 121 that, “God will not let your foot be moved; Who keeps you and He will not slumber; Who is your Lord and your Keeper; He is your shade on your right hand and ensures that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil;  He will keep your life as well as your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”. Beloved, there is not one thing that will happen to you as a child of God that will be out of God’s sovereign and loving control. Knowing this, we look to Him. Go to where the Truth is written: the Bible. Look to Christ.

PRAY FOR SPIRITUAL REVIVAL

 There are times when the Church needs to come alive again to what God is wanting. There is usually no awakening to God in the community until there is a person and a church that has been revived by His Spirit, (Jonah, Nehemiah). Revival is a time of deep, heart cleansing repentance for the Christian. Revival is a time where we dig deeper than ever before into God. Revival is an event that cleanses the systematic and habitual sin that seemed impossible to delete. Revival is a time of confession of sin and removing it . Revival is a time to take an introspective look as we’re also looking to God. Here’s how this works: As the Psalmist says in Psalm 139:23-24, ‘ 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’... We see that God searches us, let’s us know what He finds that is sinful needs to be repented of, and so we repent and submit to Him. We find life in Him again. In other words, He reveals the need for revival and we cooperate with His Spirit. In having God search the heart, surgery is done. We are revived to do God’s will. We are reminded of Who God is, who we are, and what God’s will is for us. But, ask Him. Don’t leave the altar of prayer until you get that assurance that He’s working in you. Ask that He fill you with His Spirit. Go back to the altar of prayer and press in for your church. This is not a journey for legalistic perfection... no. This is a killing of sin, crucifying of the flesh, realization that God loves us without measure and changes us by the gracious inward working of His Holy Spirit. Press in to God through prayer and become revived to God!

 


PRAY FOR AN AWAKENING

Many times, again, we look at this culture, that society, this government, or that group of people to change. This desire for change (a change for a more moral society) is sometimes born out of frustration, and born out of the understanding that society just doesn’t function the way it used to function. Maybe, through mandates and laws the society will change for the better, and maybe they won’t. And when we look for evil agendas to change, apart from a miracle, usually they don’t. But a revived Christian, a revived church, those who are revived by God, doesn’t pray for there to be convenience for themselves or the Church with whom they serve. They don’t pray for society to be more moralistic. No. The Church, and God Himself, desires that a dead person come to life. That a person becomes born again. The Church’s prayer will be for their society to awaken to the reality of God. They’ll see that the small destructive choices the people within their society are making are actually moving themselves away from Christ and into an eternal Hell. A prayer for awakening will be mostly based on an eternal perspective. They will see the need for their society, who is lost and apart from God, to get saved from sin and just punishment. Do we want people to live the abundant life in Christ that the Bible describes (living unto God)? Absolutely. But there is an eternal perspective we have when we pray for the souls of people. Jesus spoke of Heaven to be sure. But Jesus also warned of Hell more than anyone in the Bible (Luke 16:23, Mark 9:43, Mark 9:48, Matt. 13:42, Luke 16:19–31, Matt. 25:30, Matt. 10:28); there’s a reason for that. As we pray for an awakening for our community, we need to pray for the mercy of God to be fallen upon, to be apprehended by those who are apart from Christ. We the Church need to pray that the reality of the cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, the resurrection of our Lord, and repentance to Him to be a reality in their lives. Church, pray for an awakening of your lost friends, family, and neighbors to God, His glory and the love He has for them. Storm the gates of Heaven for those who are in your community who are apart from Jesus so that road to Hell is simultaneously closed down for them. Plead for their souls. Beg for the grace of God to manifest in their lives.


USE WHAT GOD GAVE US
As God’s children, we are called to be discerners of the times (unlike the Pharisees of Jesus’ day: Matthew 16:1-4) and people who pray… but most of all, we’re called to be people who trust God. At the end of the day, our trust is in God. We trust that His will is best, that His timing is impeccable, and that His purpose is unfolding just as it should. But here’s an amazing thing about pressing into God: we are able to partner with Him. Yes, as we trust Him we’re able to cooperate with His Spirit and in doing so, there are some very interesting and redemptive tools at our disposal.

 Prayer

God gave us the opportunity to talk with Him, to read & listen to His word, to seek Him.. and find Him and the answers He provides. No matter the darkness, when we’re in prayer to God, we’re able to see that in fact, the darkness is truly light to Him as the psalmist says. God is able to pierce through the darkness because of Who He is. And when you press into God, the questions that were tainted with darkness are answered with the brightness of God’s wisdom. Remember: 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ‘3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.’.

 Discernment

God gave us discernment. HE gave us discernment to discern the times and the spirits. We, by the power of the Holy Spirit are able to figure out what is truly going on in the world (Spiritual warfare- Ephesians 6:10-20 & Deceitful philosophies- Colossians 2:8). We have the wisdom of God when we ask (James 1:5  & Proverbs 4:6-7) and we as Christians have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) to know what needs to be done.

In the days we’re living in, now is the time to be proactive with the tools we have.

 

The end of the story and the journey to get there is not ruled by the darkness, despite what we see and feel. Even though darkness surrounds us, Jesus Who not only brings light into the world but is also THE light of the world, proclaims that those who belong to Him are lights of the world. The need for revival within the Church and within ourselves is great. The need for us who name the Name of Christ  need to take our lights from under the basket and put it on a stand so that God may be glorified, His rule will be known in the world, and that others may be awakened (become born again). This is a work God will do, but we are called to cooperate with Him in this vital ministry. Now  is the time to Press in to God. He is faithful.

 

Praise God for the work He’s doing.

Pastor Scott Welch

June 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

be free...

be free

A lot Christians really struggle with living a life free from shame. Did I do enough for God? Does sin have to be this prevalent in my life? The good news is that God provides a different way… a more freeing way. And once we understand God’s way, it will revolutionize the rest of our life. God wants us to be free.


Romans 6:1-14, 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore 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. 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’


In the above verses out of Romans 6, the apostle Paul gives us real news and good news about the reality of how to deal with sin and the wonderful prize we receive as the result of what Christ has done for us.


Verses. 1-2 give us the perspective that there’s no reason for us to continue to live in sin and the impossibility to live for sin if we’re dead to sin.

Verses. 3-4 reminds us that at the point of our salvation that we were immersed into Christ and we were immersed into His death. Why? So that we might live in the new life, the life Christ purchased for us.

Verses. 5-8 shows us a more in depth look as to why we can now live in newness of life. We’ll have a resurrection like Jesus’, our old self that loved only sin was killed so that we wouldn’t be slaves to sin- so that we will live with Christ.

Verses. 9-10 let’s us know that the One we follow, Jesus Christ, has done what no one else could… He has conquered death. We are recipients of Christ’s work on the cross.

Verse. 11 gives us the best way to live in showing us to continue to follow Christ. Because Jesus did what He did, we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Sin appealing flavor and look no longer has the dominion over us that it once had and God’s way for us is what we now desire.

Verses. 12-13 gives us commands of grace. Because of all that has happened in vs. 1-11, we follow the commands that before salvation, we neither wanted to follow nor did we have the power to follow. We follow these commands willingly, joyfully. Why? we are no longer slaves to sin… which brings death on so many levels.

Verse. 14 caps off the obvious. It shows us a fact. Because the undeniable and unbeatable work that Christ has done for us, we will not be under the dark dominion of sin. Verse. 14 also gives us a very encouraging reminder, too… We no longer have to be under the *deception that if we work hard enough to keep the law of God, that God will be pleased enough with us to not only allow us to continue to live but also to gain entrance into Heaven. No. We’re no longer under *that satanic deception. Rather, because of the unspeakable gift of eternal life that Jesus purchased for us, we now live in the unbreakable boundaries of grace. The work to get to Heaven was done by Jesus Christ. And when we do sin, we live in a constant state of forgiveness. Sin can’t have dominion over us because Jesus legally cancelled our sin debt; a work we could not accomplish.


We are now the beneficiaries of eternal life, victorious living, and finally freedom to choose God and the newness of life that belongs to us. It is God’s desire for you to be free from sin and free in Him.

Praise God that He’s provided that way for us.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

May 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

WE ALL NEED HELP

Luke 10:25-37, ‘25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”’

 

A rewritten narrative...

There are some cultures in America, (and we find this particularly with Christians in the west as well), where Luke 10:25-37 is not lived out as God intended. There is a pervasive attitude that says, “No. I’ve got it. I don’t need help.”. If this current attitude were to be written into the Luke 10:25-37 narrative, the story starting in vs 34 would go something like this, ‘The Samaritan meaning to help the man by tending to his wounds, giving him a ride, giving him a place to stay to rest & recover from the traumatic experience, and then pay for everything it would take for the hurt man to recover, WAS TOLD “NO.” BY THE HURT MAN. The Samaritan was not able to be a blessing to the hurt man and went on his way. But God knew the Samaritan’s heart and would bless him for his intention.’. The end. Sounds sad doesn’t it? In the story, we want to see someone get the help they need. In reality shows we see people who are in dire straits who need new clothes or repaired homes. And these folks are given exactly what they need; and we love those shows! Why? Because we know it’s right to help and to be helped. And, we love to help and get the help we need. But, when it comes down to where we live, when it’s just us, we state proudly, “I’ve got it under control”.

 

Pride, our downfall...

 The Gospel is all about helping those, you and I, that are absolutely and unequivocally helpless to help themselves. Jesus died for the sins of the world (we could not), took the wrath of God on Himself for the punishment of the world’s sins (we could not), was buried for three days and rose from the grave (we could not), ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father interceding for His people (we could not). The Gospel says, “People could not, only Jesus could.”. And from there, the Gospel is lived out in the lives of those who belong to God by helping others as we can– to give the Gospel and to meet physical needs.

But what gets in the way of being helped? Pride. The Bible says in Proverbs 6:16-17, “16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes,…’. The Lord hates a proud look, which comes from pride. The Bible also communicates Proverbs 16:18, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.’. In fact, pride is the reason for people rejecting Jesus Christ, the reason for cults & false religions, and the reason for the downfall of satan. So, how does pride work out in our lives in the area of needing help?

When we need help and then reject help, we:

- deny and rob the other person, (or people), of their blessing to help.

- are telling God that we know better than Him.

- are denying God His desirous will to act through His people to help someone in their time of need.

- are telling God that we are totally self sufficient... when the Bible, however, rightly communicates (both spiritually & physically) that apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing. We need God and His people.

- are telling God that our cultural traditions are more important than God’s holy Word. May I say it like this? It can be a form of idolatry… especially if our values are based on our cultural traditions rather than on God’s truth.

Pride will keep us from:

- people speaking truth and encouragement into our lives.

- knowing and growing in God (from rejecting the Gospel to refusing to read the Bible, pray, & worship consistently).

- opportunities and blessings that God has for you… and others.

- When we’re prideful we believe we’re in control. But what a prideful attitude really shows is that we’re out of fellowship God and are resisting the healthy way He desires for us.

But we think, “We don’t want to be a bother, it’s not that big of a deal, I’m ok.”. Truthfully, God desires to meet us no matter we’re at.

 

A cure for pride...

 Heed the wisdom of Proverbs 16:19, ‘It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.’.

A lowly spirit:

- realizes that because of sin, he/she deserves nothing... so that when we get anything we are happy to receive it. The Gospel shows this principle clearly.

- is one who receives, but in turn not only gives but gives readily and lavishly.

- is gentle in their dealings.

- according to Luke 10:36, is a neighbor to others in the sight of God.

- according to Luke 10:37, is one who is merciful in the sight of God.

 

God can rewrite your narrative...

Today is a new day and the Bible proclaims that His mercies are new every morning! If you’re one who is in the lifestyle of not allowing help, here are a few points that can help.

 repent. turn away from, “I’ve got it.” and turn to “There are sometimes I actually do need help.”.

 look to the Bible. If nothing else the Bible is full of commands, narratives, and principles that scream, “We need Help!!!”.

 put it into practice. When someone asks you, “Can I pray for you?”, you say, “Yes.”. When you are sick or in need, obey the Bible as it says in James 5:14, ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.’. There are people that God will use in a powerful way to bless not only you, but them as well.

You are important to God and He is ever ready to help. Catch the next life preserver He throws to you, even if you don’t think you need it.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

April 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

RIGHT NOW REALLY DOES COUNT FOREVER

        As most of you know, I annually go to a conference of my choosing to get refreshed and equipped as a pastor. This year I went to the 2021 Ligonier National Conference. Ligonier Ministries was started by R.C. Sproul who has since passed on to be with the Lord. The name of this conference was RIGHT NOW COUNTS FOREVER which was taken from the sermon series and book of the same name. As is stated from the Ligonier website, “RIGHT NOW COUNTS FOREVER is designed to focus attention on the relevancy of our present lives to the eternal destinies we all face.”- R. C. Sproul. Think about that… focus on our present life in light of eternity. And that thought is echoed in the light of Scripture, especially when God’s holy Word says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’. Right now really does count forever.

Consider this, we pay bills, raise kids, go to work, go to school, have birthdays, get married, etc. Granted, we all don’t do these things but all of us do some of those things. The point is, we all enjoy God’s common grace that’s poured out to each of us no matter who we are… and then we die. So in all those things, (whatever things we did), for whose glory and satisfaction did we do those things? The Bible’s very clear that each decision we make counts for eternity, whether some will pay the consequences for their decisions in Hell or for others– reaping the benefits for those choices in Heaven. Right now really does count forever.

 

     What choices are we making? And to go deeper, what's the motive for those choices? And even deeper than that, who’s the motive for our choices? Some of us are dedicated to what pleases Christ while others are focused totally on what benefits us only. To a certain degree, what benefits us is a necessity. For example, if God has given us a family we need to ensure that we’re taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of those whom God has given us. Another example, If God has given us material blessings, (maybe a car or a scholarship), we need to ensure that we’re taking care of ourselves so that we’re good stewards of those God-given blessings. And God loves to pour out His common grace on all humanity. But in both of those examples, the understanding is that God comes first and as a result of Him being first place, we’ve chosen to position ourselves to function as He wants us to function. The problem comes when our focus turns inward, when our motivations and what we do is totally about us. Then it becomes about what suits us now instead of what’s eternal. The Bible calls this idolatry– putting something or someone ahead of God. Idolatry is consumer based– which means the person who’s devoted to consuming is simultaneously devoted to self over God, while a person who’s in relationship with Christ receives and contributes. The consumer’s motivation is purely for the fulfillment of self. Unfortunately, Christians can slip into the consumerism trap. Right now really does count forever.

 

     On the other hand, when we look at the choices we’re making from a godly perspective, that include our motives, we have a whole different template for life that’s used. What does this look like practically? We make the small choices of life– who are friends are, how we act towards others, what financial decisions we make, what we post on social media, and so on all motivated by Scripture. We submit our minds to Christ, we submit ourselves to God’s Lordship, and we seek His glory. In other words, we do what we were created to do– we live out 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’. These life choices are for God on a personal level and within the relational bounds of the local church. In other words, we grow in grace in our relationship to Christ while naturally belonging to a local church and therefore our entire life is affected. We’re being the receiver of Christ’s grace, a conduit of the Holy Spirit’s power, and a contributor of what God desires… and commands. The person whose life is Christ centric is motivated by bringing glory to God. Our ‘right now’ choices count. Right now really does count forever.

 

     Our lives count for others, as well. Jesus said to love others as ourselves. As we make choices that are Christ centric, we are in actuality, discipling the nations and people within those nations. We are teaching Christ to others by word and deed. For most of us, the people that we disciple and impact are those that are within our little corner of the world. But, as we live unto the Lord, discipleship is nevertheless happening. We are showing that right now counts forever. What about you? How open are you to submitting to Jesus’ gracious rule as the King of your life? What obstacles would you need to remove to follow Christ to make right now count for God? What inside work is God commanding to happen so that you realize that the throne of God is rightfully placed on your heart? When the inside work is done, and constantly maintained with repentance, confession of & the killing of sin, and constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, then the world– others— will know that right now really does count forever. For God, for others, and for you, right now counts forever.

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch

March 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

WHY DOES GOD SAVE PEOPLE?

It’s truly a miracle that God saves anyone. The Bible says the following about the human race apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ: our father is the devil- John 8:44, we love darkness & our works are evil- John 3:19, our minds are blinded by satan to the truth– 2 Corinthians 4:4, our sin separates us from God– Isaiah 59:2, our deeds are like filthy rags– Isaiah 64:6, we're enemies of God– Romans 5:10, our heart is deceitful & desperately wicked– Jeremiah 17:9, and so on. That’s quite the bleak picture that God paints of unredeemed mankind (you & I before being born again)… and our sinful state keeps us from God’s holy presence. That describes everyone outside of Christ. We need an eternal rescue and thankfully, God does provide that rescue. But again, knowing our total unworthiness and the fact that God is perfectly holy, why does God save anyone?

God saves people because He LOVES them

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

God saves people for His NAME’S SAKE

1 Samuel 12:22, ‘For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great Name's Sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for Himself.’

 

God saves people because He DESIRES FOR US TO TURN TO HIM AND NOT DIE ETERNALLY

2 Peter 3:9, ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’

 

God saves people because of His MERCY towards them

1 Peter 1:3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,…’

Titus 3:5, ‘He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,…’

 

God saves people because of His PURPOSE & GRACE towards them

2 Timothy 1:9, ‘Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,...’

 

God saves people because of His GIFT OF GRACE towards them

Ephesians 2:8-10, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’

 

God saves people to be GLORIFIED BY HIS PEOPLE

John 15:8, ‘By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.’

 

God saves people because of His MERCY & GREAT LOVE

Ephesians 2:4-5, ‘But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—’

 

Why does God save people? He desires to give His saving love, mercy, grace. Those who are God’s people are the recipients of, and the personal objects of, His giving and saving nature. God saves people because by virtue of His own nature, He is the Savior. He has given a promise to His people, and His promise is unbreakably linked to His Name. Anything that has to do with His Name is kept in His perfect will and it is God’s will to save people. With each reason that comes with God saving His people, He does so ultimately because it’s His desire and joy to save people. Beloved, God saves people for various reasons but none of them have anything to do with the false notion that we can gain His favor. Salvation is a work of God, and His desire for us is to receive. We see God’s great mercy & love for us and we are compelled to forsake our sinful desires and live for Him. What a great God He is and what an amazing, unspeakable gift His people have received!

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

pastor Scott Welch

February 2021 Pastoral Newsletter

SECULAR & SACRED LINES: THE POLARIZATION OF THE CHURCH

14 Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

 

THE LINES ARE BEING DRAWN...

The lines are being drawn in America; but more importantly, 2020 has shown that lines are being drawn within the Church. Polarization can be a good thing. It shows us who stands where and why. Polarization clears the air. It lets us see without any question those who are on this side, and those who are on that side. 2020 showed us the beginning of the spiritual polarization in a very poignant way. And 2021 (whether it’s critical race theory {Woke Church}, apathy, or liberal theology), is showing us that spiritual polarization is becoming indelible within the Church. The Apostle Paul spoke about the beginning of spiritual polarization in 2 Timothy 4:3 when he said, ‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,’. And Jesus spoke about the culmination of the polarization when He warned in Luke 17:34-35, 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”. Will the spiritual polarization we’re seeing now be for a season, then end, and then manifest in a stronger degree a hundred years from now? Or will it be for a season and then lead deeper and deeper to the eventual return of the Lord? Only our Heavenly Father knows. But I’ve been a Christian for quite awhile and I’ve never seen such a dividing line in the secular culture and the Church as I’m seeing now.

 

WHAT DO THESE LINES LOOK LIKE?

The Good News?... Church leaders, pastors, and Christians, who keep up with church trends know that in America there has been a resurgence of Biblical preaching & teaching, Christ centric living within the church, and people wanting truth; which is what God commands and desires. The Bad News?... Apart from this resurgence there has also, unfortunately, been a movement that has arisen within the church that manifests by way of people saying “No.” to Jesus Christ’s call of being a disciple in various ways. This movement has tipped toward seeker sensitive/pop-psychology/best life now/prosperity/so called ‘miracle’ driven ‘churches’ that produce apathy and selfishness. Now to be sure, especially in the last 3 decades, there have always been people who have been attracted to and gravitating toward the latter movement. But now in 2021, there’s a very distinct line that has been drawn. A line that is extremely recognizable. However, (and this is a good ‘however’), those who are wanting truth, are tired of the false promises of the seeker driven churches, are understanding what it means when Jesus said, “Count the cost.”, and are starting to move toward Biblically grounded churches. Biblically grounded churches don’t cater to the world by making the worship service look and feel like what the world would do in order to attract people. Rather, they bring people to Christ through love and the whole counsel of God, living the truth, counting on the power of the Holy Spirit, having a high view of Scripture, and are concerned about worship to God and serving people in a Sunday service. Let the world cater to mankind, but the Church is meant to worship God, grow in grace and reach people for Jesus. For the Biblically grounded churches, will this mean church growth in numbers? For some churches– yes, for other churches– no. The point is not numerical growth (even though the Lord has promised to add to His church), the point is becoming more like Christ. And on the personal level the question needs to be asked, “Am I truly a disciple of Jesus Christ?”.

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THESE LINES?

Because of the spiritual lines that are being drawn, people are making it extremely clear as to whether they are gravitating toward a church and a life that worships God or a counterfeit church and life that caters to felt needs. People are becoming real with their faith in Christ, or they’re not. But again, Paul and Jesus both said this would happen, (2 Timothy 4:3, Luke 17:34-35), and 2020-2021 is enabling hearts in America to show exactly where each person is in their journey of faith. And again, consequently, what is happening in churches is happening in individual lives. People are making a choice one way or the other and (whether we want to admit it or not) the fruit is extremely evident.

 

WHAT TO DO? (A CALL TO ACTION)

Know this: everyone is on a spiritual journey. Some are on a path to life in Jesus Christ, some are not. And those who are on the path to life in Christ are all at different spiritual levels; we’re all to be on the path of growing in grace and maturity. But there is a palpable sense within the world right now that a place needs to be chosen as to where to pitch your tent. And men, spiritual leadership toward your family is your God given responsibility.

So what to do?

If you’re one who is walking away from Christ, whether you’re in the Church or someone who’s never had anything to do with God...

-Seek and find. Psalm 34:4, ‘I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.’ . You, no doubt, have points of pain that have questions that have yet to be answered. God has those answers through the Bible, His creation, prayer that honestly seeks Him, and His Church. Those who seek God out will find Him.

- Change directions. Matthew 4:17, ‘From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”’. Turning toward life can sometimes be painful and the work of changing directions from death to life is impossible apart from Christ. But change directions to go toward Him. You will find life.

 

If you’re one who is walking toward Christ…

- The battle is the Lord’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15, ‘And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.’ What was true thousands of years ago is true today. God is eternal and He works through various means and ways, including His church, to accomplish His will.

- Don’t give up, trust in the power of Jesus. Galatians 6:9, ‘And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.’

- Live and tell the whole of Scripture. All Christians have God the Holy Spirit living and working within them. We have work to do, yes. But we also have God, Who is uniquely using us to accomplish His purpose: through good and evil seasons.

 

“We need to pray for our nation like never before, and then put legs to our prayers and preach the gospel to a sin-loving and Hell-bound world. To pray for America and at the same time ignore that command to preach the gospel to every creature, is nothing but empty hypocrisy. It is to honor God with our lips and have cold hearts that are far from Him. May He give us a love that moves us from the pews into the streets, and from our homes into our universities. God save us from the cozy comfort of lukewarm contemporary Christianity.” Ray Comfort

 

Christ’s Blessings to you,

Pastor Scott Welch