March 3, 2019    

     

From Pastor Rick:

 

We finished a week of prayer with a joint service of Spanish and English, two Sundays ago.  We continue to be stirred by the Holy Spirit following that prayer experience.  I am going to implement a few new changes spurred by the prayer week.  

 

We made our first change this past week. I will be teaching the Life of Paul from the book of Acts in English with a Spanish translation done on every Wednesday at 6:30 PM. I also began the study of 1 John this past Friday. We are offering the study in Spanish, translated to English. It is my hope that anyone from either language can participate in the study of Acts or 1 John, as they have desire.

 

I am also going to use the last Sunday of every month to have a joint service of the English and Spanish speaking groups. We will start a noon on the last Sunday or every month. We will not serve a lunch on that day.

 

The third thing I want to implement is that we focus on a week of prayer at least once a month. We will have one month of meeting together at the church, with both English and Spanish languages to pray together. On the second month we will jointly commit to pray over the same scripture and prayer items for one hour in our homes, every day of that week, as we are doing this next week.

 

It is my hope that from these new efforts of bible study and prayer weeks, we experience a new and deeper empowerment in the life of the Lord. I seek a deeper unity and intimacy in all the individuals that are serving the Lord in all these ministry groups. I want us to know each other deeper and love each other more profoundly.

 

I am calling for another week of prayer starting today! Starting Monday, March 4th through Sunday, March 10 I am asking that we publically commit to a minimum of one hour of prayer per day over these seven days. I will publish a prayer agenda for us to follow together. Please give Kayla your name if you commit to pray with us this week for one hour per day. We will send you text or email each day with the scripture and prayer points.


THOUGHTS FROM RICK 12/16/2018

December 16, 2018            

 

 

THOUGHTS FROM Francisco:  

 

As we get closer to Christmas, it is good to examine the exact reason that Jesus was born.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  God loved the world by taking action in giving the Son so we would not perish but be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Greek word for this type of love is “agape”. Agape love is not triggered by the merit or worth of the object receiving the love. It starts with the one giving the love and delights in giving that love. This type of love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, un-loveable and unworthy.  It is unconditional love. Agape love desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of the one loved. It is divine love. This is the love that God has for us. Love so overwhelming that “he gave” Jesus so we would not perish. It’s a stunning love!

 

Agape love is different and distinct from other kinds of love. Again in the Greek, “Eros” love looks for what it can receive. If it does give, it expects to receive in kind. Eros love is about “my” happiness not so much yours. “Phileo” love is affection, fondness or liking for another. It is higher than Eros love because it seeks “our” happiness rather than “my” happiness. “Storge” love is the natural love all human’s experience. We see this in the love of a husband for his wife, the love of a mother for her child. It’s our nature to love those that belong to us. Yet these fall short of Agape love. They fall short because even unsaved people love in these ways.

 

Agape love brings glory to God because it can only be done by God. Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. Do you see the phrase “just as I have loved you”? This is a call beyond the Eros, Phileo and Storge love the world gives. It is a call to love like God does. That can only be done in His power. Pray for the desire and ability to love like He did. Failure to love like that comes from not knowing God. You can’t give what you don’t have.  

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:8

 

 

THOUGHTS FROM RICK 1/20/2019

January 20, 2019        

 

 

THOUGHTS FROM Francisco:  

 

Recently, I had a telephone conversation with another believer who asked about the following passage “And no one puts new wine into old wine-skins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wine-skins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:37-39

 

In discussing this verse we agreed that Jesus’ comment about pouring new wine into old wine-skins indicates the known fact that an old wine-skin filled with new wine would burst under the pressure created by the new wine’s fermentation. The point of the parable was that Jesus was bringing a fresh, new revelation about God to Israel not intended to fit the framework of Old Testament religious practices. We also noted that this passage comes at the end of chapter 5. Through-out the chapter we see Jesus doing fresh, new things. First, he calls Peter, James and John to be his disciples. He does not call the wealthy religious educated Pharisees or Scribes. Instead he calls working class commoners, smelly fishermen, to be in his group. Second, Jesus cleanses a leper, a social outcast rejected by the aristocratic religious elite. Third, he heals a paralytic. In those days suffering with some illness like paralysis meant either you or your parents were sinners and the disease was God’s judgment for the sin. Fourth, he brings a hated tax collector, into his band of evangelists. To top it off, he attends a feast thrown by the “tax collector and sinners” and there he makes the loving comment about coming to heal the sick, not the well and to call sinners to repentance.

 

Jesus is preaching the new message of inclusion, cleansing, healing, forgiveness and restoration that is no longer fit for the old wineskins, the old rigidity of how the Jews worshiped and understood God. He is essentially introducing the age of grace we now live in.  And please note one more thing. As the new wine ferments it releases gases, those gases cause the wineskin to expand, to grow. So likewise is the kingdom of heaven. It is expansive, it is meant to grow. It cannot be limited, kept in a closet, kept under a lid. All those who receive salvation know the pressure, the very need to tell others about this new life they have found.

 

The conversation with my friend triggered a chain of thought making me ask myself these questions. As we begin a new year, am I living in the old? Am I doing the same old thing? Have I put Jesus in a box and limited his influence in me? Is his influence, his very presence expanding in me? Do I tell others about what he has done for me? Am I making rules to limit him? Am I seeking the expanding kingdom of Heaven? Am I seeking the mind of Christ? Consider these questions for yourself.

 

 

 

 

No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.

Luke 11:33

 

THOUGHTS FROM RICK 12/23/2018

I am listening through the bible on an ongoing basis. A few months ago I started in Genesis 1:1 and have been listening and reading along. A few weeks ago I was going through the Book of Joshua when I was convicted by something I encountered. In 5:6-7.

Three thoughts have been on my mind since I read those verses. For 40 years after being freed from Egypt, the descendants of Abraham walked in circles in the desert. They spent 40 years carrying a promise of God in themselves to receive a home land of great abundance. They had even seen and tasted the land. From the Valley of Eshcol ("cluster") the spies cut a great cluster of grapes so heavy that two men had to carry it suspended from a pole between them. Numbers 13:23 They knew God’s promise and even tasted the promise. Yet they did not know the Lord well enough to believe His promise and to claim their home. God’s promise and sample were lost to them.

The second thought is that God took away that promise from that generation. In Numbers 14:26-34 God proclaims His judgment. Because they had 40 days to taste the land promised, he gave them 40 years to wander in the desert. This was enough time for all the adults to die off (except Caleb & Joshua). Our unbelief carries a direct cost.

Lastly, before God could use the children of the unbelieving generation Joshua had to circumcise them. Joshua 5:7 Circumcision was a covenant between the Lord and Israel to be set aside to Him. Their parents had failed to obey this command given to Abraham. Genesis 17

Their failure to believe God and maintain covenant with Him led them into unbelief and broken relationship. This broken relationship cost them their promised home. This cost left them to die off in a desert in unmarked graves. Let us learn from their cost of unbelief & disobedience.

God may have to jump our generation & jump to the next to fulfill His promises; but have no doubt that He will fulfill His promises on the earth. I want to be part of the generation that is ‘set aside’ and obeys.

Discipleship Preparation

           

THOUGHTS FROM PASTOR RICK:  

 Every week my schedule and focus revolves around counseling, teaching groups and preaching in services. These things drive my week every week. They are unique in comparison to all else I do (i.e. admin). The uniqueness of counseling, teaching and preaching is that they are all sourced and based on my receiving instructions from the Lord. Even the weekly writing of my thoughts for this bulletin depends on my receiving instruction or direction from the Lord. Some weeks there is something burning in my heart which drives the direction of my pastoral work including what I write in this bulletin. Sometimes I sit down to prepare a presentation or this bulletin and I am blank. Let me give you some steps I follow to prepare what I present.

 I need scripture to be in my head on an ongoing basis. I listen to and read scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is living and active”. I am concerned with having a deposit of scripture to pull from memory when I am contemplating a subject. Scripture jumps into my thoughts and helps direct what I do or present.

 The second step that helps direct me is the intimacy of my personal relationship with the Lord. That intimacy must be current in the moment and ongoing in the building. Prayer impacts that intimacy more than anything else I do. I must be available to the Lord. I make myself available through prayerful relational interaction with the Lord. This availability starts when I first wake up, smile and pray “Good morning Lord, I love you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 The third step is to seek the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and help. His presence and anointing in me is the final key to what I present or do. He is ready to move through us when we do not quench Him with our flesh. John 14:15-16 He heals, instructs and empowers His disciples.

 Scripture + prayer (availability) = Holy Spirit empowerment though us. When I preach or just sit down to write some thoughts in the bulletin, I use scripture in prayer. I make time to be available to listen. I pray until I hear scripture and the Spirit’s voice to know what to present. I encourage you to put these steps into your days. 

 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  John 14:25-26 (ESV) 

The Best Gift: By Rick Banda

It’s been a ‘Black Friday’ weekend. Shop and shop then brag about how much money we saved. Toys, electronics, clothes and stuff all on sale. Retailers spend millions in advertisements to make their products glitter, shine and entice us to buy them. It seems no matter where you look you see something you want and may even need.

 

I read that the projection for dollar sales totals for Black Friday weekend 2018 will come in at over $60 billion. That is just for the weekend! That will be a 33% increase from 2017.

 

During worship time this past Friday, I was moved by the Holy Spirit regarding this phenomenon called Black Friday weekend. I had two sermon options in my Bible to pick from to preach that evening. As we worshiped these words came screaming into my thoughts. 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

 

“Seek the things that are above” (vs. 1). “Set your minds on things that are above” (vs. 2). I am captured by the contrast! Paul is telling us to seek Jesus and to set our minds on His rule and His kingdom. This is consistent with Jesus’ own words in Matthew 6:33. Am I telling us not to buy stuff during this economic holiday? No I am not. I simply want us to guard our hearts, they belong exclusively to the Lord. The Lord warned us in Matthew 6:24 ‘you cannot serve two masters’. Verse 3 of Colossians 3 reminds us that our ‘life is hidden with Christ’.     

 

Seek the best gifts ‘that keep on giving’ though eternity. Verse 4 of Colossians says that ‘you also will appear with him in glory.’ The best gift is Jesus perfecting us, bringing us into intimate love with Him and then sharing His kingdom’s glory with us.

Faithfulness to the faithful

I thought I'd share a story that reminded me of what God's doing in our church.

In Jim Cymbala's latest book, "Storm," he includes a chapter in which a woman named Avril shares her testimony. In summary, when her 3 month old baby girl died (SIDS) she called out to a God who she had a sense of but had never known. She promised God she'd take her two other kids to church if God would just take her baby to heaven. God told her, "she's already here," so she took her kids to church. From there she began following and serving the Lord, but ended up in homelessness, husband left, couch surfing, and then eventually women's shelter. As she continued seeking the Lord she eventually got an apartment and was hired on at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. She still had no money and relied on things people donated to her. As she got stuff beyond what she needed she began passing on to other people through "blessing fellowships." She'd invite people over to dinner then allow them to "shop" through items she neatly laid out as if in a boutique. She continued serving God in this way, feeling called to people who were in a place she had experienced, and God began growing and growing her ministry.

Here are a couple excerpts she wrote I found really powerful and reminded me of what God's done for us:

"Everything continued to grow. I found unused storage space at the church and claimed it as a place to temporarily hold the things I was accumulating. The church also allowed me to use its vans when making especially large deliveries. One day a sister from church called and said, 'I have a freezer I'm getting rid of. It's in really great condition. Can I donate that?' 'Let me get back to you,' I said. No one had ever asked us for a freezer, and we really didn't have a place to store it. I needed time to think about it. Just two days later, a young mom with a bunch of kids called and wanted to know if I had a freezer! 'It would really help us keep our food costs down if we could buy it in bulk and freeze it,' she said. So no one had ever asked for a freezer, but as soon as one was offered, it was matched with a need. This kind of thing happened frequently. God was faithful." (p. 53)

"It was if God multiplied everything and I couldn't get rid of the stuff fast enough. The more I gave away, the more people gave me. I couldn't outgive God." (p. 53)

She continued to describe her complete inadequacy to fulfill the ministry herself. Every need she had, she presented to the Lord. And every time He took care of it.

I hope this is encouraging to you as it was me. We are not alone in these darkening times. God's faithful continue to serve Him and declare His name across the earth. He knows his faithful servants, provides for them, and brings them into intimate and miraculous life with Him. Doesn't matter, man, woman, young, old, Black, White, poor, wealthy. We all have an opportunity to have this if we fully surrender all we are and have to Him. What an amazing trade off. Thank you merciful Father.

Be blessed today,

racheal