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How Can You Live Longer?

Posted by James Keller on 05/23/18 @ 11:02 AM

Ephesians 6:2-3 (GW)
2 “Honor your father and mother 3 that everything may go well for you, and you may have a long life on earth.” This is an important commandment with a promise.

The Ten Commandments can be divided into two sections. The first section deals with our vertical relationship, that is, our relationship with God.  It shows us how we are to live in relationship with God, our Creator, our heavenly Father. 

The second section deals with our horizontal relationships.  It shows how we are to live out our relationship with God among our fellow humans. 

Put simply, how you live out the first section (vertical) will determine how well you live out the second section (horizontal).  But also, how you live out the second section (horizontal) shows how you are doing living out the first section (horizontal).

Sound complicated?  The Apostle John summarizes the vertical/ horizontal relationship this way in 1 John 4:20 (GW).20 Whoever says, “I love God,” but hates another believer is a liar. People who don't love other believers, whom they have seen, can't love God, whom they have not seen.

The very first commandment of how we live out our faith horizontally is Honor your father and mother.  This is the very first earthly relationship that we encounter.  How we treat our parents reflects how we think about God and how we treat God.

So, what does this mean for us today? 

First, as children, we should obey our parents.  Children who regularly and purposely disobey their parents will also regularly and purposely disobey other sources of authority in their lives.  If you refuse to obey your parents, whom you owe your very existence to, it won’t be hard to disobey all other authorities that come into your life.   This is one reason why our prisons and detention centers are full to overflowing.

Second, how we as children take care of our aging parents determines how our children will take care of us as we grow older.  Galatians 6:7 (GW) 7 Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you'll harvest.

If as children, we willfully disobey our parents, it can shorten our life.  Life in prison is rough.  Rebelling against authorities can lead to other negative consequences on our health and wellbeing.  This can then shorten our lives.

If we teach our children that people who have grown old do not matter, or are a nuisance, what do we expect from our children when we grow older?  Shouldn’t we expect to be marginalized and ill-treated?  This, too, will lead to a shorter life and often a less joyful life in our old age. 

These are some of the natural consequences of not heeding Ephesians 6:2-3.  Can you think of others?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

What You did to the LEAST of these You did to ME

Posted by James Keller on 05/14/18 @ 8:12 AM

Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25 has three different stories that Jesus told about the day of judgment. The first story (Matthew 25:1-13) tells us two things:  First – we cannot rely on the faith of others.  We are only saved by our personal faith in Jesus.  Second – no one knows when Jesus will return, so we must already be ready.

The second story (Matthew 25:14- 30) Tells us that our faith must be more than mere head knowledge.  Our faith must be active, it must produce fruit.

The third story (Matthew 25:31-46) tells us what kind of fruit we must produce.  The king separates the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31).  To those on his right, he affirms.  But those on his left he condemns.  Notice that both groups answer the king in the same way, “When did we see you…”

Neither group recognized the king (Jesus) in their actions or lack of actions.  It is faith in Jesus however, that caused the first group to act without thinking.  The second group, though they may have acted appropriately, were rejected because of their lack of faith.  Hebrews 11:6 (GW) 6 No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Our memory verse comes form the words spoken y the king to the first group.  These are shocking words.  Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  All three stories in Matthew 25 are about when Jesus returns at the end of time.  the angel told the disciples while they stared up into heaven after Jesus’ ascension, “He will com back the same way you have seen him leave (Acts 1:11).”

But here in the words of the king, a new reality is revealed.  Jesus is present in the least of these.  Whatever act of kindness we do out of our love for Jesus, we do to Jesus!  As I thought about this verse this week, I was reminded of St. Martin of Tours.

Martin lived in the 300’s AD.  He lived in Europe and served in the military.  He became a follower of Jesus and desired to serve him full time.  Martin had a habit of giving away his things to those in need.  One day as he was traveling in his uniform, he saw a beggar who was cold.  He knew he couldn’t give away his entire cape, so he cut it in half and gave half to the beggar.  Many people laughed at him walking around with half a cape.  But that night Jesus came to him in a dream and told him that He was the beggar to whom he had given half his cape.

You and I may never have this kind of dream, but here in Matthew 25:40 we have the same promise.  Whatever act of kindness we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus!

Hebrews 10:24 (GW) 24 We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things.

Today, Jesus comes to you disguised as the least.  Don’t turn a blind eye.  Don’t merely offer a silent prayer.  Do good.  Make this your practice so that you won’t even think about doing good.  You will naturally do good to others.

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

P.S.  To learn more about St. Martin of Tours click here

2 Forms of Discipline that are Painful, Yet Helpful

Posted by James Keller on 05/04/18 @ 3:27 PM

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Who likes to be disciplined?  Who really enjoys it?  Our Bible verse for this week tells us that even though discipline is painful, it is helpful.  It produces righteousness. 

So, what is meant by discipline?  The Greek word used in Hebrews 12:11 has two meanings.  The meaning for this verse is one of correction or chastisement.

The words used here is for when you do something wrong, and you are corrected.  We tend to think of this type of discipline as punishment.  But the purpose isn’t just to punish but instead to teach.  Think of a small child who insists on running into a busy street.  You can try to reason with a two-year-old about the dangers of running into a busy street. (I’ve tried; it doesn’t work.) Or you can discipline him so that he learns not to run into the street.  The discipline you use will be met with cries and tears.  But if the child learns not to run into the busy street, won’t that be worth it?  The object is not to punish the child but rather to protect the child from greater harm.  You use a small amount of pain to keep the child from experiencing a large amount of pain. 

That is what God is talking about here in Hebrews 12.  Because God loves us, He corrects us.  He doesn’t want us to experience the eternal pain of hell.  Therefore, He disciplines us using a small amount of pain.  He does that, so we will learn righteousness.  It is for our own good that we suffer or are disciplined. 

This type of discipline is associated with punishment.  But the real purpose is correction.  We are corrected into thinking and living the correct way.  We learn what is right and wrong.  Correction’s purpose is to teach and train us.

This brings us to the second form of discipline.  Athletes discipline their bodies for their sport.  Musicians discipline themselves to practice so that they can perform.  I really don’t know anyone who likes practicing.  But I do know a lot of people who practice so they can play.  The discipline of training is not the end goal.  Playing on the field or on the stage is the end goal.  It takes discipline to be a good athlete or musician.  This discipline is training our bodies; it is educating them on what to do.  This form of discipline is also not pleasant, but we keep our eyes on the goal. 

The discipline of daily Bible reading and prayer can be very hard.  It can be very tiring.  We make up excuses about the lack of time, understanding, etc.  But what is our end goal?  Our end goal is to draw closer to Jesus, to know Him and His love for us better.  When we do these spiritual disciplines, they produce righteousness in us.  We become more and more like Jesus. 

The same word that is used in Hebrews 12:11 to mean correction or chastisement also can mean training and education.  Isn’t that what discipline means?  The ultimate purpose is to train or educate us to be the people that God wants us to be. We do that by learning more and more about His great love for us!

So, the real question is, which kind of discipline do you want to experience? The first kind also includes chastisement.  The second kind is one you initiate.  Both bring about the fruit of righteousness. Both are hard and painful.  As for me, I have experienced enough of the first kind of discipline in life.  I think I will strive for the second kind.

Let me know how I can encourage you in your disciplined journey of faith!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

 

 

Destroying Fear

Posted by James Keller on 04/08/18 @ 11:07 PM

Hebrews 2:14 (GW)
14 Since all of these sons and daughters have flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood to be like them. He did this so that by dying he would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil). 

I am always amazed at discovering themes that run through the Bible.  One of those themes is how we are to think of God.  Jesus tells us in the Lord’s Prayer to call God, “Father.”  Here in our memory verse we also see this theme.  Sons and daughters imply that there is a Father.  God was already thinking of us as His children before He sent Jesus.

Hebrews 2:15 tells us that we are afraid of death.  Many refer to death as the great unknown.  We tend to fear that which we do not understand.  Because of sin, death came into the world.  Because of sin, we are all dying.  Death is the bully.  It looms over all of us.  But death is merely the puppet.  The puppet master behind death is the devil.

When I was little, I was afraid of the dark (ok, I still am).  My parents used to turn on the lights and come into my room.  They would show me that there was no reason to be afraid.   But I knew that as soon as the lights went off, the alligators under my bed would come out.  Thus, they bought me a night light.  My parents wanted to protect me.  They wanted to take my fears away.

Jesus is the same way.  He loves us so much that He became one of us.  Like a good big brother, he hunted down the object of our fear.  He defeated death on Easter.  But He knew that death was only the lapdog of the devil.  So, He took on the devil.  Jesus not only defeated the devil but destroyed him (1 John 3:8).  Death has no power over us.  The devil has no power over us. 

The next time you are afraid of death or assaulted by the devil, call on your big brother Jesus.  I guarantee that fear will vanish, and the devil will flee!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Outrageous

Posted by James Keller on 04/01/18 @ 9:43 PM

Isaiah 53:5 (GW)
5 He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds.

The book of Isaiah in the Old Testament is often referred to as the fifth Gospel.  The reason is that Isaiah makes such accurate prophecies concerning the life and ministry of Jesus.  Isaiah 53 is titled The Suffering Servant.  Isaiah is given a prophecy about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

However, if you really meditate on the verses in Isaiah 53, you will see that God makes some outrageous claims.  Just consider our memory verse for this last week.

He was wounded for our rebellious acts.  When we read of innocent people getting hurt in a drive by shooting, we are outraged.  Where is the justice?  These people have done nothing to deserve getting injured or killed.  They were not part of the problem.  Isaiah is prophesying that Jesus is the innocent victim.  We have rebelled against the authority of God.  God has every right to quell the rebellion.  Jesus, the obedient Son, gets injured.  Where is the justice? 

He was crushed for our sins. I remember watching a movie once where they placed a board on the chest of a person.  Then they began to place heavy stones on top of the board.  The person was slowly being crushed to death.  Our sin carries weight.  The weight of just one sin is enough to sink us to hell.  Isaiah prophecies that our sins crush Jesus.  Imagine Jesus being forced to lie on His back.  A board is placed on His chest.  God takes each one of our sins and places them on the board.  Each sin is enough to sink us to hell.  Jesus is buried under these sins.  Again, where is the justice?  Shouldn’t you and I be outraged that He is buried under these heavy sins, none of which are His?

He was punished so that we could have peace.  When we sin, we are actually declaring war against God and His authority.  In a war, the winning side gets to declare the terms for peace.  You and I are no match for God.  He’s the One who spoke, and the universe leapt into existence.  How can we fight against such power?  God sets the terms for our peace.  Yet, He sets them against Himself!  Instead of requiring a great tribute, price, or punishment from us, He actually steps in and punishes Himself!  Jesus, the sinless Son of God, is punished as the terms for our peace with God!  Does that sound fair?  Shouldn’t you and I be outraged over this?

and we received healing from his wounds. Isaiah completes the picture of Jesus’ paying the price for our rebellion with these words.  Sin has made us sick.  We are not physically sick (although it can happen) but spiritually sick.  The evidence for this is found in the fact that we continue to sin.  We know that sin is wrong.  We know that sin leads to death.  We know that sin is an act of war against God.  Yet, we return to our favorite sins anyway.  Each time we think, “This time, things will turn out differently.  This time God won’t know.”  Sin has caused our minds to become sick!  We can’t think clearly.  We accept as normal the very things that are abnormal and harmful.  God tells Isaiah that only by the wounds of Jesus are we healed.  Only by the blood flowing out of His hands, feet, side, head, and back are we healed.  This blood is our medicine.  Why?  Because when we look at Jesus on the cross, in all His agony, do we finally see the ugliness of sin.  His blood not only pays the penalty of our rebellious sin but also clears our minds to see the truth of sin and God’s great love for us.  God hates sin, but He loves you!  Sin must be punished; God punishes Himself.  The innocent steps in for the guilty.  The innocent is punished so that the guilty can walk away free.  Outrageous! 

Outrageous, yes, but also necessary!  What outrageous love God has for you and me!  The truly outrageous thing in all this (that which causes outrage) is our response to this love.  Too many of us shrug our shoulders and simply grunt, “That’s nice.”  Nice?  It is not nice; it is outrageous!  An act of outrageous love on our behalf deserves an outrageous response from us.  It deserves a response worthy of its action.  The real question is, “How will you respond to God’s outrageous act of love for you?”

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

One Testament

Posted by James Keller on 03/26/18 @ 3:16 PM

Isaiah 53:6 (GW)
6 We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the LORD has laid all our sins on him.

When we talk about the Bible, we usually talk about it having two Testaments – The Old Testament and New Testament.  This division can cause us to think that God operated differently in each Testament.   Many people think of the God of the Old Testament as being a judging God.  They think of the God of the New Testament as being a loving God.  It almost seems that either they have two gods, or God is schizophrenic.

But the truth is, there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4).  The two Testaments are not opposites of each other.  They are two parts of the same story – God’s love story for us.  The two Testaments have one central theme – Jesus (John 5:39).

Isaiah 53:6 is evidence of this unity of Scriptures.  Isaiah is sometimes called the fifth gospel.  It is called that because of the clear prophecies made about the life and death of Jesus.  Isaiah 53 is a chapter all about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

Isaiah 53:6 begins by emphasizing that all people are sinful.  We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way. All of us have disobeyed God.  We have all broken the Ten Commandments.  This is the same message that the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23 (GW)23 Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory.

No one can stand before God based on his/her own righteousness.  We are all guilty.  We are all deserving of God’s judgment.

Isaiah 53:6 doesn’t end with those words because the LORD has laid all our sins on him. We have sinned, but God does something about our sin.  He takes all our sins and places them on Jesus.  We see Paul also making this same kind of statement in Romans 6:23 (GW)23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Throughout the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, we see that God judges sin.  We see that no one is righteous on his/her own.  But we also see that God takes care of our sin Himself!  God is both the Judge and the Judged! 

This is just one example of how the two Testaments are unified.  Can you think of others?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Future of Hope?

Posted by James Keller on 03/17/18 @ 3:40 PM

Jeremiah 29:11 (GW)
11 I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

When Jeremiah wrote this, many of the people had been carried away captive to Babylon.  They were hoping to come home soon.  Instead, the Lord told them to settle down, get married, and pray for the prosperity of the city they were living in (Jeremiah 29:4-7).  He also tells them that their time in Babylon will be 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10).  But, God promises to give them peace in their current situation and hope for their future.  He promises to send them back home in the future.

So, what does this promise have to do with us today?  God doesn’t want to bring disaster on us but rather peace and hope for the future.  How can you hold onto this promise if you are living in disaster, pain, and suffering?    Here are three ways to hold onto this promise:

1)      Recognize that the pain and suffering you are going through may be of your own doing.  God doesn’t promise to bless sin.  If you are a bank robber who gets arrested and sent to jail, you can’t get mad at God for not providing you with peace or a future of hope.  You have derailed the blessing that God wanted to give you.  Let me be clear; I am not saying that all suffering is a direct result of our sin.  But too many people have decided not to listen to God and follow His ways, and then they complain that God doesn’t love them.  If you are not living in peace, if your future is not one of hope, do a reality gut check.  Is the reason because you are not living according to God’s plan?  Be honest. Don’t blame God for your sinful behavior and the consequences that follow because of it.  If this is the reason for your suffering, ask God for forgiveness and change the way you think and act.  Then you can look forward to a future filled with hope.

But what if what you are experiencing is not a direct result of your sin? 

2)      Notice that God is talking about your future.  He is not talking about your present.  What was the future hope of those Israelites living in exile in Babylon?  Returning to the promised land.  What is the future filled with hope that God is promising you?  The promised land of heaven.  What was the time frame the Israelites in captivity had to wait? 70 years -- a lifetime.  Those who were carried away captive had to live a lifetime in captivity before experiencing their future of hope. If life here on earth is all there is, what do we have to hope for?  If this is as good as it gets, it doesn’t get very good.  But God promises us something better.  That is what hope is.  Hope believes that there is something better waiting for us.  What is waiting for us is heaven!  We are promised that Jesus is preparing a special place for us (John 14:2).  We are told that in heaven there will be no more suffering (Rev. 21:4).  Heaven is the future filled with hope that is waiting for all of us who follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

3)      The Israelites living in captivity were told to make the best of their situation (Jeremiah 29:4-7) while living in hope for the future.  What would have happened if they had not married and had children?  They would have died out.  Very few would have been left to return to the promised land.  Those that did return would not have lived very long after returning.  God told them to pray for the welfare of the place they were living.  Were they always happy about living in Babylon?  Of course not.  But God was using their time in Babylon to prepare them for their return to the promised land.  It is the same for us today.  What if God is using the pain and suffering that you are experiencing to prepare you for something better?   I wrestled for many years.  This meant hours of training and sweating in the practice room.  Sometimes we laughed at what was happening.  Often, we left the room with aching muscles and tired bodies.  We sacrificed a lot to be in that practice room.  We gave up time with our friends.  Why?  So, we could wrestle on the mats in a meet.  However, the real reason we practiced hard was not just to wrestle but to win.  The real goal was the winner’s podium that we would stand on.  That was the goal, not just to wrestle but to win.  It is the same with our lives here on earth.  We go through hard times so that God can strengthen our spiritual muscles.  He strengthens our spiritual muscles so that we can stand in victory in heaven with Jesus.

These are the three ways I came up to live out this verse.  What other ways do you live out this verse?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Salvation is Like….

Posted by James Keller on 03/11/18 @ 11:04 PM

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 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. 

Have you ever thought about how salvation is described in the Bible?  Our memory verse for this week describes it as a gift. A gift is not earned; then it would be a paycheck.  A gift is well a gift.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that this gift is given by grace.  What is grace?  One acrostic for grace is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is getting God’s undeserved love.  Undeserved means we aren’t supposed to get it.

Jesus talked about salvation with Nicodemus in John 3.  He compared it to being born again or being born from above (John 3:5).  What did you have to do to be born of your parents?  Truthfully nothing.  You did not choose your parents.  You did not choose the day of your conception or the day of your birth.  Jesus says that salvation is the same way.  Just like being born a baby to earthly parents, a person who is a newborn babe in the faith also had nothing to do with his or her spiritual birth.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:14 that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance.  How do you get an inheritance?  Someone has to die.  Jesus is the One who dies, leaving you an inheritance.  Again, you do not do anything to receive this inheritance.  Someone else worked for it.  They now left it to you.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:5 that we were spiritually dead, but by faith in Christ we are made spiritually alive.  What can a dead person do?  Sit around, rot, and stink up the place!

Let’s review:  Salvation is called a gift, being born, an inheritance, and being made alive.  All these point to someone else acting on our behalf.  To receive a gift, you must have a gift giver.  To be born, you must have one who gives birth. To receive an inheritance, someone must die, if you are dead, someone must raise you to life. None of these points to our effort.  All these point to Christ acting on our behalf. 

I know some people say that to receive a gift, you must accept it.  But the emphasis is on the giving of the gift, not on the receiver.  But even if you do have to receive it, so what?  You cannot receive what has not been given!  What does all this mean?  You and I are saved not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

Can you think of any other ways that salvation/being saved is talked about in the Bible?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Jesus Saves

Posted by James Keller on 02/26/18 @ 8:56 PM

John 3:17 (GW)
17 God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world.

Many people think of God as being an angry god.  They think of what Christians are against.  These are negative views of God and true Christians.  It is true that God hates sin.  It is true that God must punish sin.  But the truth is, God does not take pleasure in punishing people.  In fact, God would much rather bless people than curse people.

Our memory verse for this week is proof of that.  Most people are familiar with John 3:16 (GW)

16 God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.  But still many people think that God is an angry God.  This is what happens when we “cherry pick” Bible verses and don’t read them in their context.  God loves the world, so He sends Jesus.  What is Jesus’ purpose?   Not to condemn but to save.  Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us -- to send us to hell or tell us how angry God is with us over our sins.  Jesus came to save us from God’s anger. 

We see how Jesus came not to condemn but to save especially in the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8).  She was guilty, but Jesus did not condemn.  Jesus came so that God’s righteous anger over our sin could be poured out on Jesus.  Jesus on the cross is where God’s anger over our sins is exhausted.

The question is: why would anyone not want to love Jesus?  Why would anyone not want to follow Him?  He doesn’t condemn; He saves! 

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Treasures in Heaven

Posted by James Keller on 02/03/18 @ 9:10 PM

Matthew 6:20 (GW)20 Instead, store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust don't destroy and thieves don't break in and steal.

We all have experienced losing earthly possessions.  Maybe it was a broken piece of jewelry.  Maybe it was a lost wallet.  Maybe it was a book we left out in the rain.  Maybe it was a T.V. that was stolen.  We know that these things don’t last.  They wear out.  Your new cell phone is out of date and won’t update to the latest operating system.  You designer clothes are last year’s fashions.  You get the picture.  But what is Jesus talking about when He says we are to store up treasures in heaven?

There is an old story about a man who died and met St. Peter at the gates to heaven.  He asked St. Peter if he could bring a suitcase to heaven.  St. Peter asked him why he would want to do that when heaven was prepared for him and all his needs. The man begged St. Peter to let him in with his suitcase.  Finally, St. Peter agreed.  “But first,” St. Peter asked, “may I see what is in your suitcase?”  The man agreed and opened his suitcase.  It was filled with gold bars.  St. Peter laughed, “Why would you want to bring in pavement to heaven?”

We cannot imagine how great heaven will be.  But we are told that the streets are made of gold.  In other words, gold is considered so cheap in heaven it is only good for making streets.  So how can we store up treasure in heaven?  King Solomon, the wisest man on the earth said: Ecclesiastes 5:15 (GW) 15 They came from their mother's womb naked. They will leave as naked as they came. They won't even be able to take a handful of their earnings with them from all their hard work.

Joe Boway, missionary to the children of Liberia, had a sign above his desk for the longest time.  The sign read, “The only thing we can take to heaven is people.”  Think about that for a moment.  How can we take people to heaven?  Only by telling them the Good News that Jesus is the way to heaven.  Jesus once told a story about a dishonest manager (Luke 16:1-8).  It seems that Jesus is applauding the man’s dishonesty.  But then Jesus says these words in verse 9: Luke 16:9 (GW) 9 {Jesus continued,} “I'm telling you that although wealth is often used in dishonest ways, you should use it to make friends for yourselves. When life is over, you will be welcomed into an eternal home.  Jesus is talking about using our money in such a way that we make friends for ourselves in heaven.  How do we do that?  By using our money to spread the Gospel.  When we do that, lives are changed for eternity.  When we support our local church with our tithes and offerings, our local church can carry out its ministry in our community and beyond.  Our local church is to be the first place that shares the Good News of Jesus.  We should support missionaries and agencies that also go to those places and people that we cannot go.  Our financial support of them frees them of the burden of raising money so they can concentrate on sharing Jesus with the people around them.  If we use our monies to support our local church, missionaries, and other agencies, we will be storing up treasures in heaven.  Heaven will be full of friends eager to meet us because it was through our sacrificial giving that the Gospel was able to reach them.  What a welcome that will be!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

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