This past Sunday, we welcomed guest speaker Paul Billings to our fellowship. Paul and his family live in Amman, Jordan where they share the hope of Jesus Christ at Bayader Church. Please pray for them as they continue to reach the people in Jordan with the good news of Jesus!
Did you know that Jordanians and Central Minnesotans have something in common? We’re all made in God’s image! To be human is to bear His image. That’s where our worth comes from—it’s not in our abilities, nationalities, or professions. As you interact with people in your home, your community, and your city, see them in the light of the inherit worth God has given them. Even if they don’t believe in God, they still bear His image. That’s something you could tell them about…as you value the image of God in them.
On Sunday, we welcomed guest speaker Cain Kellerman to our fellowship as part of our month of mission focus. Cain is in full-time prison ministry in Florida. By the grace of God, he serves as a prison chaplain, ministering to inmates in several jails and on death row. Cain shares the Gospel in really dark places—but no heart is too hard for God! He has seen many men leave the darkness, forsake their past, and find new life in Jesus.
Please pray for Cain and his family—for physical and spiritual protection; for financial support to continue full-time prison ministry; and for open hearts in prisoners to receive the Gospel and open doors for increased ministry reach and effectiveness.
In the book of Nehemiah, we see that whenever a servant of Jesus says, “I will arise and build,” Satan always says, “Then I will arise and oppose.” Thanks be to God for His enduring help and strength as we partner with Jesus and one another to rebuild the brokenness all around us.
Visit FullThrottleFreedom.weebly.com to learn more about Cain’s ministry.
Nehemiah was born in Babylon—born in captivity far away from what should have been his home, Jerusalem. And yet, he cared about this city deeply. In fact, when he hears that the walls were broken down and the gates were burned with fire, he weeps over this city before going there. Missionaries have a similar response to the brokenness they hear about or see. The sorrow they share with God prompts them to action.
In Proverbs 4, we're instructed to "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." (Proverbs 4:23). That's because our hearts are susceptible to the condition Nehemiah found in Jerusalem—“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28) Without walls, anything can enter our hearts and take residence in the place God alone designed to reign in. Sometimes people with broken down walls don’t even realize it. Most of the time, they don’t know how to repair those walls without help.
In Jerusalem, Nehemiah had a choice. He could criticize those who let the wall crumble, condemn those who didn’t build the wall strong enough, or become apathetic about the current condition of the wall. He could build new walls that separated him from the brokenness so he wouldn’t have to see it. But…Nehemiah chose to enter into the brokenness before him, and with the help of others, repair and restore what was knocked down.
In our personal lives…in our families…in our communities…in our world, we also have a choice. We can build walls of judgement, or condemnation, or separation that keep us at a distance from the brokenness around us. Or…in the Spirit and through the Spirit, we can choose to restore the brokenness we see everywhere. Since all believers are missionaries, our hearts should break over the brokenness we see and hear about. It won’t be easy, but only in and through Christ can we help those in brokenness become rebuilt and restored.
“Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
This is the seventh time in the book of Genesis when Joseph wept. But there is something unique about this time. This is also the second of the third burials we see in Genesis 50, but unlike the others, it’s not related to death. So what’s going on?
Joseph is weeping because his brothers didn’t believe that he had forgiven them…16 years earlier!
Joseph reminds us of Jesus—who weeps over unbelief and whose heart is hurt when we do not truly believe that He has truly forgiven us. Like Joseph, Jesus calls us to himself again and again and again to counteract our lying feelings by giving His word, comforting us with His word, speaking kindly to us through His word, reminding us in His word that He has really forgiven us and does not hold our sin against us:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
It’s time to bury the past—God did…almost 2,000 years ago when He buried His son. Bury the past and believe God’s word in the present. If you’ve been grieving over your sin, believe that your sin has been forgiven in Christ…dealt with once and for all time in Christ…buried in Christ. Believe Christ and walk in the fullness of an unhindered, joyful relationship with Him.
If you’re having trouble with that, just go to Him. He will counteract any lying feelings by giving you the promise of His word:
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
In his letter to believers in Thessalonica, Paul writes, “I do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
These believers believed in a God who had defied and defeated death. While they would still grieve when a loved one died, they would not grieve as those “who have no hope.”
And for us, this is important to remember. It is completely normal, acceptable, and even godly to grieve…but we are not to grieve as those who have no hope—because we have hope…a living hope!
Just like those believers in Thessalonica, we believe in a living God who defied & defeated death by laying down His own life—then taking up His own life again by rising from the dead. We grieve…but we also believe.
So what does grieving and believing have to do with Genesis 50? Quite a bit, since we encounter three different burials that involve both grieving and believing. Listen to our study of Genesis 50 and hear what we can learn together about our great God who defeated death and loves us with an everlasting love.
Did you miss any of our studies in Genesis? Check out our playlist of all the messages from our Genesis series.
“Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.”
Israel had many enemies, but one in particular would follow him all of his days on earth. Wherever Israel would go, his enemy would follow him—no matter where he went—Bethel, Shechem, Canaan, even to Egypt and Goshen. He harassed Israel in the most vulnerable moments of his life—like when his father died, at his wife's deathbed, and when he thought he lost Joseph forever. He was a merciless and relentless foe, chasing and hounding Israel everywhere he went.
The enemy was…himself. It was his old nature—a relentless, ever-present rival that followed Israel until the day he died. You see, Israel was battling Jacob—his old nature—every day, until his last day.
If you have a new nature, then you have an enemy that follows you everywhere—it is your old nature. The Bible says that since the very day you have been saved, your old nature has been continually corrupted by its deceitful desires. That means right now, your old nature is capable of so much more destructive sin than the day you were saved!
That old nature is battling for control! If you let your old nature take the reins for just a second, you could find yourself in a seriously complicated situation with serious lifelong consequences. Don't give it the opportunity! The battle belongs to the Lord—but…you have to ask Him and let Him fight for you. Cling to Him with all you have—just like Jacob when he was given a new name, a new nature, and a new identity.
In Genesis 49, we read the last words of the unlikely man that God chose to be the patriarch of His chosen people—Israel. Aware that his time on earth was coming to an end, he begins the difficult business of putting his house in order—saying what must be said to his sons‚ the patriarchs of the tribes that would come from their families.
What Israel must say must be said because these prophecies come from God. In fact, what Israel says are the first recorded prophecies spoken by a person in the Bible. Some of the things Israel must say aren’t all that great—but Israel is faithful to the task because he knows they are God’s words, not his.
Why weren’t these prophecies always wonderful? Because sin has consequences—and Israel’s sons were no strangers to sin. Unfortunately for some of Israel’s sons, their sin would be dealt with on their father’s death bed. Even though sin can be forgiven and relationships can be fully restored, if hidden sin hasn’t been confessed, forsaken, and forgiven it will fester and it will eventually find you out.
Listen to our study of Genesis 49 and hear the final words of Israel to his family:
Summer is finally here—what a great time to pick up a good book (and THE Good Book) for some summer reading. Not only is reading good for your mind and for your body—but it's great for your soul!
Stop by our bookstore in our 2nd floor office after service on Sunday to browse the great selection of resources. From Bibles and reference books to devotionals and children’s books, there’s something for everyone. All the books are at or below retail and all the Bibles are at or below cost. Suggested donations are on the back of each resource—donations above cost go to support world missions.
So browse the shelves after service on Sundays—then set aside some time and enjoy the quiet pleasure of reading a good book!