Humility or Anger?        

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I’m not going to detail for you the last couple of years as I walked with Christ.  There were enormous blessings, over and over again.  It’s Jesus’ everlasting love.  But there were also times when things were rough.  I mean really rough.  And more than I would like to confess, there were times when the rough became fits of anger.  Am I saying that sometimes Christian’s let the circumstances of the world, and day to day living, affect them?  The answer is a resounding YES.

I did not grow up in the church.  Only by the grace of God I serve Him and love God with all of my heart.  God is my core.  I have an eternal and intimate relationship with Him.  It’s only by His grace and the mercy He poured out on me that I even exist.  The Prophet Isaiah said it this way, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV) We are but filthy rags when we think about the wondrous, gracious, and merciful God that we serve.  Though circumstances are rough, and the outcome may be long and painful, I still believe.  I remain.  God sustains me.

My faith is very important to me.  I desire, and often pray that my life would reflect “Jesus Christ Alive”.  Yes, Jesus alive in me and working through me by the power of His Holy Spirit.  But because I am human, I fail from time to time.  What does God think about my faith when I fail?  It was once said that our faith fails, or is fallible, because our view of God is too small. That failed faith refuses to accept a sovereign God who is able. The good news? When our faith fails, God does not. God’s faithfulness in the face of our failure is one that applies to us today: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). 

Have you ever wondered, what is faith?  Faith to me is the unwavering belief in the power of God to equip me to serve Him and glorify Him no matter what.  The Bible says “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) The confidence that I have rests with a faithful God even when I don’t see or feel that anything has happened.  Does faith squelch my fits of anger when the rough times get devastatingly rough?  Sometimes.  I’ll be honest… sometimes the light that I desire to shine is not so bright.  Faith is truly taking God at His word and trusting Him.  This is where humility plays a part; at least for me.

The times that I spend in humble conversation with God everyday are the best times because, in His presence is hope, love, healing, deliverance, recovery and the unending sense that my Father will care for me. In both the Old and New Testaments, it is evident that God is trying to re-establish a relationship with us.  Why?  Because trust had been broken. And trust and confidence in Him are very important.  What kind of relationship could we have if there is no trust?  Stop and think about that for a moment.  At the very heart of faith is trust and confidence in God and His Word.  God will do what He says He will do. Will we trust Him?

Let me go back to the fits of anger.  I find that during my angry outbursts with those around me, and even God, I can’t think straight.  I’m not open to listening.  I just want to take charge and change things.  How is it that I can re-establish my relationship with God if anger is in the way?  If anger is a barrier to me listening and receiving? This is how…  1 John 1:9 says this, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession and forgiveness is the pathway to a clearer understanding and a willingness to now listen.

So how do we grow in faith and believe what God says in His Word?  First, by hearing the Word of God.  Romans 10:7 ESV says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” This is foundational.  Secondly, faith grows by applying God’s Word.  We must take what we are taught and put it into action in our lives.  Are we going to be perfect in doing so?  No.  But if we don’t apply anything and just put on the “Mask” of a true believer who walks in faith, we are kidding ourselves.  Our circumstances won’t change and we will find ourselves suffering over and over again.  And you know what else?  You can’t hide from God. The Bible says this in Hebrews 4:13 NIV, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Friends, the question is Humility or Anger?  We will experience both responses.  When struggles come, when times get rough, most of us don’t build on the foundation of Christ’s Word.  Anger causes us to be deaf and blind and act in ways that may not honor God.  God’s Word in James 4:10 NIV says this about humility, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  And “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NKJV and Psalm 51:17 NKJV “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.”  Humility is the gateway to strong faith.

If you would like to listen to a powerful message by Pastor Aaron Taylor on the “5 Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith”, click on this podcast link: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=21

I am always thankful to be able to share my thoughts with you.  I will be praying that you have an incredible week as God’s Word touches you.  God bless you.

George Leonhardt

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Weary or Triumphant?

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I wrote a letter to God about a year ago.  Sometimes I find it helpful if I put my prayers down on paper.  My prayer was my thoughts about a season in my life where I needed to submit to God.  Below is the letter.  It’s short so please read.

Hello, it’s me God.  It’s been a rough few days and I know I’ve been trying to figure this all out by myself.  Again, I confess that I can’t.  You see God, it’s overwhelming at times.  It seems that every day something new comes up and gets heaped upon my shoulders.  The weight is getting unbearable.  Yet, I think I’m superman or something.  I know you didn’t create me to be superman or any other super hero.  But I just seem to forget.

You know those white boards that we keep in our offices to keep track of things that need to be accomplished.  A visual “to do” list?  Well, when I was thinking about all of this before bed a few nights ago, I saw an empty white board in my thoughts.  And then all of a sudden the board was full.  Like there was no more room to add a single task.  It was then I thought to myself, “That’s where I’m at.”  Again, it overwhelmed me.

I’m told that You hear and answer every prayer.  I’m told that You are faithful and that You are able.  I’m told that You never leave my side and that You are my Rock, my Refuge, my Strong Tower.  Well God, I really need You.  I’m at my end and I submit to You that I’m not able.  I need You to help get me through the next moment in time, even if it’s just the next second, because I have no more strength.  Help me God!  Really… help me God!

I have no more to say because I can’t put anything more into words.  So, I’m turning to my faith and my hope in You.  Encourage me along the way because I really need it.

Signed,
Your beloved.

Truth be told, I had forgotten about this letter until this morning while seeking God for help with this blog.  The letter was written during a time of great distress.  I couldn’t continue on my own.  I had to let go.  To be totally honest, I confess that most times I’m trying, in the flesh, to go from day to day.  I know that God walks with me and that He orders my steps, yet in my humanness, I try to go it alone.

Jesus tells us what we are to do in times when we can’t seem to go any farther.  He writes in Matthew 11:28 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus calls us unto Himself.  He calls me, a sinner, to come to Him.  Jesus pursues me…weak and weary.  His desire is that I not remain weak and weary, but whole and restored… equipped to do His will.  Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  I have Jesus’ help to become this new creation.  The problem lies within us… sinners.

Some of you may like to listen to Southern Gospel music.  I do.  Especially the sounds of The Cathedral Quartet.  My favorite song of theirs is “Sinner Saved by Grace.”  In the lyrics you find these words:

How could I boast on anything
I’ve ever seen or done
How could I dare to claim as mine
The victories God has won
Where would I be
Had God not brought me
Gently to this place
I’m here to say I’m nothing but
A sinner saved by grace

 God is faithful!  I repeat…God is faithful!  We are reminded of this often in God’s Word.  In fact, Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners like me.  It is here where I often fail.  I fail to recognize that Jesus came to seek me out…to call me.  And Matthew understood better than any other gospel writer that the story of Jesus, and the story of Christmas, is a story about God drawing near to those who were withdrawn. That it was about God leaning in toward those who had leaned away from God. Whatever the reason, they found themselves leaning away from God.  During the season in which I wrote this letter to God, I was overwhelmed.  I had health issues, financial issues, and employment issues all of which were weighing on me.  I was being crushed; or at least I felt like I was.  It was exactly the season that I needed.  Yes, I needed this season to realize the faithfulness of God.  God was walking with me through all of it so that I would be strengthened and even encouraged through it. He showed me that in His faithfulness I too could remain faithful.

If you would like to hear a powerful message called, “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Pastor Aaron Taylor, click on the podcast link here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=17

Friend, in this Christmas season, do you feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, the burdens of the world being heaped on you to the point where something must change?  Often times the holiday season can be stressful.  We sometimes even grieve during this time instead of being “joyful and triumphant.”  We are weary and burdened.  But Praise be to God, we can find relief in Jesus Christ!  We can experience His faithfulness.  We can experience His grace.  We can rejoice that we are a new creation.  It’s a matter of choice.  Jesus is waiting for you today to make that choice.  In love, I would say to you, choose Jesus.  Allow Him to forgive you.  Allow Him to heal you.  Allow Him to transform you from faithless to faithful.  Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant.

May the Lord bless you indeed this week and show you His faithfulness!

George Leonhardt

SILENCE

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In a little less than a month, my whole world is going to change. As I prepare for a four-month journey in another country to finish my undergraduate degree, I cannot help but wonder what I will do once I get back. It’s not like I will be spending the summer at home and then returning to Malone in the fall. Not this time. This time… I graduate. I walk across a stage to receive a slip of paper telling me I am now eligible to live in the real world and become an adult.

As I think about what I want to do after graduation, I am completely lost. I have a passion for just about everything that has to do with serving people and sharing the Gospel, but I also want to further my education, get my own apartment, and get a job. I have considered joining a mission’s agency, such as YWAM, or even join the Peace Corp. I have a list of schools that offer the graduate program I need and have started some of the applications. I have spent 30+ minutes (in one sitting) looking up jobs in my field and saving them in case I want to apply. All in all, there are about what seems to be a thousand paths I could take, and I have no idea which one is the right path.

This is difficult for me because I have always had a plan, with a backup plan that has a backup plan. I have never struggled with gaining vision on where I am to go next or how to achieve it. I wanted to get my associates degree when I graduated high school, so I did. I wanted to spend my summer interning at Focus on the Family without an income, so I figured out how to make it work. I wanted to publish a book, so I wrote one and self-published it. My dad calls me a “go-getter”.

But right now? I am not that. I cannot recognize what I want to do and I can’t figure out how to achieve it. I’m lucky I even remembered to write this blog and go to class this morning. So, naturally, or maybe not so naturally, I took this to the Lord. I said, “God, what do you want for me? Show me your will so I can pursue it”. I said that back in April. Here I am though, in the same position. Nothing has changed. Just when I think I figure it out, I’m unsure again. I keep asking God to show me and open the right door and guide me and give me vision. But God is not saying “this is the path, walk in it” (Isaiah 30.21). In fact, it doesn’t seem like he is even hinting in the slightest direction as to what I am to do. God is silent.

One consistent thing I have noticed during this silence are the specific events that have been taking place. Somehow, I have ended up encountering things that I am passionate about that are reminding me what I truly love to do. A speaker at chapel shared about the importance of aid and development all over the world. I have been learning about Southeast Asia in my geography class. I went to an open house for a grad school… etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on and on and on. Through it all, I learned to just be silent with God and allow Him to cultivate the passion in my heart that will help lead me to make the decision I need to.

This is not the only time God has been silent. For instance, look at the gap between the Old Testament and New Testament. Where in the world was God then? This is an important question. Silence from God is something we all encounter at some point in our lives. It is something that we, most of the time, cannot avoid. But we have to realize, that even in the midst of the silence, God is acting. Even when the still small voice is not speaking, God is present. Pastor Aaron, in this year’s Christmas series, “Carols”, shares about the incredible works of God in the gap between the Old Testament and New Testament that prepared the way for our new born King. During the 400 years of silence, God dropped the curtain and rearranged the world stage so that when Jesus arrived, the world would be ready to receive His message. You can check out the podcast here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=17

I’m not entirely sure I will ever hear a voice from above say: “Jenny, you need to go to grad school at Case Western University”, but I am confident that he will give me peace if that is the decision I make, just like we receive peace through Jesus Christ.  So remember, when God is silent, He is not absent… He’s simply dropped the curtain and is working behind the scenes of your life, resetting the stage, so when the curtain opens, you’ll be ready for what He has next!

Trusting in the waiting,
Jenny Bushnell

What Has Your Attention?

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“Old World Style” was a slogan of a product that graced the table of countless homes for decades.  The Ragú brand of spaghetti sauce was first sold in 1937 and in 2014 was the bestselling U.S. brand of pasta sauce.  The Ragú pasta sauce line consists of smooth Old World Style sauces, Chunky sauces, bold Robusto! sauces, as well as organic and light pasta sauces. While most well-known for selling jar packaged pasta sauce, Ragú also purveys a pizza sauce and an Alfredo sauce.

In its first several decades, Ragú advertising and sales broadened the appeal of Italian-American food in the United States, with slogans like “That’s Italian!” and “Ragú brings the Italian out in you!” Americanized Italian cuisine is now the most common “ethnic” cuisine served in U.S. households, followed by variations of Americanized Mexican cuisine. Current advertising highlights the natural ingredients and “full serving of veggies” found in the sauce.

My love for good pasta sauce was birthed by my mom’s Ragu.  Yes, we were one of the American homes that used jar pasta sauce.  For a very long time, that was the only sauce I would partake in.  Then in the 1980s, a friend of mine changed my focus.  She lovingly shared her authentic recipe for “Sunday gravy”, or as we like to call it “Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.”  I was changed.  My internal attitude changed.  I thought for many, many years that I already knew what was good.

Focus is all about what has our attention or, what we give our attention to.  All of us develop hypotheses about everything, all the time.  Whether we realize we’re doing it or not. We then look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.  Now, this blog is not going to be a debate on spaghetti sauce.  But, I had to make this point, if you decide that you don’t like something or someone, you will notice everything that is wrong with the thing or person.  We see what we are looking for.

This hypotheses can be applied to our relationship with God and our time we spend in Worship.  There are things we do when we look at our focus.  That includes Worship. Worship begins with a Pre-Decision.  A worshipper makes a pre-decision to look for something to praise God about even in the direst of circumstances.  The focus of a worshipper should be on Worship and not on external circumstances or what the immediate situation seems to look like.

We find this happening in the Book of Acts, Chapter 16.  If you have ever had a bad day, you need to read Acts Chapter 16.  Paul and Silas are in a prison cell in Philippi. Paul casts a demon out of a fortune-teller. Her master doesn’t like it because she loses the ability to predict the future so he has Paul and Silas arrested.  They are thrown into prison.  Now if this was me, that would be the epitome of a bad day.  Acts Chapter 16 and verse 25 (NLT) says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”  Singing praises to God!  Their focus was not on what they saw, but rather on Worshipping God.  They had made a pre-decision regarding the calling on their lives and the work of God that they were called to do.  Worship takes our eyes off of our external circumstances by focusing on God.  One of the most pure forms of worship is praising God even when you don’t feel like it because it shows God that your worship is not based on the circumstance, but rather it’s based on God’s character.

God makes His promise to never leave us or forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5-8)  God has a proven track record.  The heroes of faith found in Hebrews Chapter 11 are proof of that.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If God did it for Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, he will do it for you.  “And all of these people were still living by faith when they died.   They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13 NIV)

Friends, I still make my “Sunday gravy” the same way that I was taught to make it from my friend.  It tastes exactly the same each time.  I have even passed the recipe on to my wife, Nancy and her sauce tastes the same as mine.  My focus was on packaged pasta sauce.  It was changed by a friend.  Don’t let your focus remain on packaged, world made merchandise or beliefs.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

If you would like to listen to a powerful and challenging message from Pastor Aaron Taylor on “The Focus on Worship” click on this podcast link:   http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=16

This week, I pray that as you focus your worship on Almighty God, you begin to understand there’s no better place than in God’s Glorious presence… that you will experience the richness found in the depths of Worship!

God bless you.  If you want the recipe for my “Sunday gravy”, you can ask me and we’ll talk.

George

Your Attitude Drives Your Worship Response

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This semester in college I have the privilege of being on a travelling worship team. We have services almost every weekend at youth groups across Northeast Ohio to help usher students into the presence of God as well as share more about our college. Last weekend we had an event that took up the entire weekend. It was a middle school retreat at a camp in the middle of nowhere (cue the Christian summer camp flashbacks).

While I love playing bass guitar, and worshiping, I was not excited for this particular weekend. I was not excited that I had to pack my bag for the weekend and stay in a cabin. I was not excited to eat camp food. And lastly, I was not excited to be around excited, screaming middle schoolers all weekend (I remember what I was like at that age). But, I had made the commitment, so there I was, standing on a small stage at Camp Carl in front of screaming middle schoolers.

One thing that aggravated me was that we had to use headphones that were plugged into the system in order to hear each other play. I did not know this when I left, but the headphones I grabbed were broken. I could not hear unless our sound guy turned on the whole system; I felt like a nuisance. I was probably aggravated because I did not want to be there in the first place. The leader of our worship band kept telling me how fun it was, but I did not believe her.

After the first and second sets (out of four) I was basically wallowing in my own misery because of how bad I did not want to be there. So, naturally, I retreated to my bed in my cold cabin to nap. Bundled up in my flannel, sweatshirt, and sleeping bag, I decided that instead of napping, maybe I would try to spend some time with God. So, I pulled out my Beth Moore devotional and let Jesus speak to me.

Beth (actually, the Holy Spirit) must have known what I was feeling because she picked a good day to write about what she did. She mentioned some stuff about doing everything we do for the glory of God – and with a good attitude. I was immediately convicted. Certainly, I had not been doing that during this weekend worship gig. I may have been “worshipping” during the sessions on the stage, but I had not been worshipping Jesus with my life and with my attitude.

You see, sometimes we let ourselves take on this attitude that worship is just when you go to church, or a concert, and the band plays these songs that eventually hit you in the right spot and take you into the presence of Jesus. We think of it as throwing our hands up to God in surrender, or maybe getting down on our knees. While this is very true, I would like to argue that it is just one form of worship.

If we believe that God is almighty and all-powerful, then shouldn’t we worship Him with our whole lives instead of just on Sunday mornings before the sermon? Think about it, God is not almighty and all-powerful only when our knees are bent, arms are surrendered… at church. He is almighty and all-powerful all the time. The Holy Spirit does not just come and go, in and out of our lives, as He pleases when a certain song comes on; He is always with us, in fact, He lives within us.

As a Church, and witnesses of Jesus Christ, instead of just handing our lives over to God during the altar call, we need to live as if we truly have given our lives to Christ. It’s easier said than done. We need to live a worshipful life. Everything we do should point back to the fact that we acknowledge God as almighty and all-powerful, as the Lord of our lives and the God of creation, as the one who holds our futures.

Pastor Aaron in our recently started series: “Wired for Worship,” shares about a few characters from the book of 2 Samuel that we can learn from when it came to their attitude towards worship and the presence of God. Check it out! http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=16

After I encountered Jesus in my cabin, I took a long nap, and was ready to worship God and lead the youth into His presence. And after that service, my team and I debriefed and spoke about the goodness of God and how beautiful it was to see middle schoolers worshiping the Lord. I had decided that it WAS a lot of fun and wished I could redo the first two sessions over again. Had things gone differently though, I wouldn’t have learned the valuable lesson that I did… so for that, I am grateful!

Worship with abandon this week, God deserves it!
Jenny Bushnell

It’s Just That Kind Of Day…

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It was a cold, rainy day, and a busy wife and mother decided she would proudly cross one item from her mile long to-do list right from the get go. She busted out the old crockpot and placed the lovely beef roast with all the fixins’ inside. She pictured the tranquility of 12 hours into the future when her hungry brood would sit down and enjoy the fabulous meal together. Off and running… there were lunches to pack, kids to deliver, laundry to fold, bills to pay, groceries to buy, friends to visit, blah, blah, blah! At least she didn’t have to worry about dinner!

Upon returning home, she walked in expecting to smell a most delicious smell, but there was none. To her dismay, there lying on the counter, next to the crockpot, was its unplugged cord! Noooo! In her busyness she had forgotten to plug it in! That very important detail of plugging the crockpot into the wall resulted in an absence of the power necessary for the crockpot to function as it was created to function. Without power it failed to do what it was created to do… cook dinner, producing nourishment for the hungry and emitting a fragrance any passersby would have loved to smell. [This may or may not have happened. 🙂 ]

Do you have power? Are you functioning the way you were created to function? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior from sin, then He has equipped you with POWER to be His witness here on this earth and spread the fragrance of Christ wherever you go. (See Act 1:8, 2 Cor. 5:15)

 BUT YOU MUST BE PLUGGED INTO THE POWER SOURCE!

In the spring of 2012, I was hungering and thirsting for more of Jesus. I had been a believer for a long time, but I sensed that there was a disconnect… something missing. I read Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians and adopted it as my personal prayer. I memorized it and prayed it daily…

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know him better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…(Ephesians 1:17-23)

And then one day, it was as if all the pieces of the puzzle came together, scales came off the eyes of my heart, and I realized the breadth of truth in that prayer as God faithfully answered it in my own life. That same Power is living in me… and you! He has called us to be conduits of the LIFE-GIVING power of His Spirit.

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

You and I have been commissioned by the King of kings to “Go… and make disciples of all nations…”  reflecting His nature and the nature of His Kingdom on the earth.

How shall we go? What does that look like?

This commission requires that we remain CONNECTED to the Source of our power, Jesus Christ. It is through this vital connection we receive the “current” of His Spirit. Remember in John 15 when Jesus referred to Himself as the True Vine and we as the branches? The Holy Spirit is the life-giving sap. It is through that abiding connection that the fruit of the Spirit manifests in and through us.

By His power we can LOVE.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~Jesus (John 13:34-35)

By His power we are able to guard our witness. (See Titus 3:1-8)

By His power we are emboldened to proclaim Jesus, the Source of life now and for eternity! We do people a great disservice if we never get around to telling them about where (WHO) our hope and power for living comes from! We have nothing to lose and the world has everything to gain!

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:15

Are you prepared? Are you PLUGGED IN to Jesus? Take a few moments to check out this week’s podcast and get ready to go deeper on this very subject!  http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=14

“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” ~Jesus (Matthew 28:20 MSG)

Spread Good News This Week!
Jenny Gallion

Bringing the Kingdom

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Last week I had a presentation in my Cultural Geography and Globalization class. I had to choose any country in the world, research the history, geography, demographics, cultural information, and economic/social development. Naturally, I chose the country of Nepal because that is where my heart is. When I arrived at the history part, it was very confusing for me. This particular country does not have a democracy with a president, a House of Representatives and a Senate. This country had a king; a monarchy. That is something that is so unfamiliar to me. And maybe it is to you too.

The only king I really know about is Jesus. If Jesus is a king, then what is His kingdom like?  To answer that we have to consider where Jesus resides. In Heaven, of course. His throne is in Heaven. That means one thing and one thing only: when Jesus came to earth, He left His throne room. He left Heaven to be with us, and more importantly, to die for us.

What kind of King does that? What kind of King steps down from His throne, knowing that He is going to die? Yes, He rose and conquered death altogether, so shouldn’t that authenticate His power?  Um, yes!! The resurrection confirms that Jesus is a king with power over all things, including the one thing all mankind fears, death.

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, however, He commissioned His people with a special command: go to all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20). What a command! First, I would like to point out how this command proves Jesus’ love for us. The fact that He wants ALL nations to be His disciples means He wants all of us to be saved. He wants to be the king of our heart. What this tells me is God’s kingdom is not relegated to territory or plots of land, but men’s hearts. God’s kingdom is RELATIONAL. Second, we are “the chosen ones”. We are the ones that are called to help carry out this command. We are the ones that are called to be ambassadors and bring the Kingdom of God to the unreached people of the world. We get to share the best news ever!!

Now, this may look differently for different people. It may mean having a job in your own country such as nursing, teaching, law, sales, etc. It might mean being a minister working directly at a church. It might mean selling all you have and going to a foreign land to share the Gospel with the disenfranchised. We are all called to participate in this movement one way or another. Being called to work in our homeland and share Christ with those here may mean praying and giving towards overseas missions endeavors. Being an overseas missionary may mean interceding for the ministries back home. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, you have an important role in bringing the Kingdom of God to those in your sphere of influence. I want to repeat that…

You have an important role in bringing the Kingdom of God to your sphere of influence.

Say it out loud. Yell it from the top of your lungs. You have been given Christ’s authority to share His amazing love with the world! It is up to you how you choose to be obedient in doing so.

Since this whole kingdom thing can be a bit difficult to understand, Pastor Aaron does an excellent job breaking down the kingdom’s functions and bringing a foundation for missions in his sermon series, “Unfinished”. http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=14  Be sure to take the next forty-five minutes or so to listen! Pull up the PAG APP and click on media and let it play in your car while you run errands. Listen to it during your daily exercise, while you are cooking dinner, etc. Just listen! I really encourage you to take the next step and go deeper because knowing about God’s kingdom will help you BRING God’s kingdom! Before we can bring it, we have to know what we are bringing!

See you on the mission field!
Jenny Bushnell