Pastor's Blog

January 2015

A Greater Catch

Why aren’t the spiritual things in our life more important? I don’t think it happens intentionally. I don’t think you and I wake up and think to ourselves, “I’m really going to worship something other than God.” We really don’t do that. But we act like that. And it happens not because we consider God unimportant, but because we place God as second important. “Oh yes, church is important! Oh yes, God is important.” But something else edges all of that out for number one. God’s a very close second. Perhaps even by an inch. But he’s still second.

And if he’s second, then we’re fishing for the wrong things. Things that won’t satisfy our soul. Things that will leave us disappointed. This helps explain why you may feel lost or disappointed in life. These things will ultimately leave us condemned. God must be number one.

And Jesus gets him there for us. Imagine fishing and always catching your limit and the fish always tasting great. Imagine finding true satisfaction in your life no matter what happens. Your soul is crying out for the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God satisfies the longing of the human heart, the longing to be loved unconditionally.

Each of us wants to be loved. Even when we sin, even when we are ashamed, we crave the love and favor of others. What hurts us most of all is when someone withdraws their love for us. This is what crushes people. And when your human soul depends on the love of other people for its satisfaction, imagine how unreliable that is! Imagine how quickly your sense of self worth, your sense of security, your ability to trust, laugh or just have fun—imagine how all of that can be gone in an instant! Your greatest need is to be loved. But by whom?

That’s what the kingdom of God is all about. The kingdom of God is nothing more than God’s unending favor toward you through Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is the message that you have been pardoned for your sins; forgiven for seeking things of this world to satisfy the soul; forgiven for nudging God into second place. The kingdom of God is the message that you are declared not guilty no matter how horrific, terrible or shameful your deeds are. The kingdom of God is knowing that God smiles upon you every day. It is being free from guilt forever. Why? Because Jesus came and purchased that kingdom for you with his blood on the cross. He was pierced for our transgressions. The punishment that was upon him has brought us peace. He was wounded, we are healed. Jesus earned your pardon.

One day, Jesus went fishing on the cross, and he earned the one thing that would satisfy your soul forever. He found the kingdom of God: God’s unending favor toward you. The greatest catch of all time.

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Is Christmas still Classy?

Now that all the Christmas "madness" has passed, let's take a step back. How classy was it for you?

How do you celebrate a high-class Christmas? Do you decorate your house with the nicest Christmas decorations? Do you put together a top notch meal with the best ingredients and the tastiest desserts? Of course those things are nice. But for a lot of people, that’s all Christmas is about. But do they go to the manger to see their God?

Many are fond of saying, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” But do you? Christ means “chosen one”. Christ is chosen to be the Savior. He is chosen to fix our problem of sin. How many of you reminded your children that we open gifts at Christmas because Jesus is God’s gift to us to save us from sin? How many of you said a prayer thanking God that he rescued us? How many of you went to bed on Christmas Eve thinking more about the presents, or the meal, or the family gathering, or the family drama, than you did thinking about God’s peace to you at Christmas?

Perhaps the greatest danger is not so much that we forget about Jesus, but that we miss his significance in all of the details. We see the stable. We see the manger. We see the animals, the shepherds. And it’s very humble, it’s very peaceful, cute even. But if that’s it, then Christmas is not high class at all, it’s worthless for you.

God comes to you at Christmas. God who sees all, knows all and is in all. And at Christmas he hides it. He wraps up his glory in frail human flesh. What’s God saying? “Come and see me. Don’t be afraid!” God is removing everything that separates you from him. “Come and know me!” God hides his glory so that sinners can approach him and know him. “Come and feel my love.” God hides his glory so that we won’t die for sin but live.

In that manger is the guest of honor, the single greatest hope of this world. God solves the problems in this world by taking away the sins of the world through Jesus Christ.

This is what makes Christmas high-class. Don’t you see it? Here at Christmas you can stand before God with all your sins, with all the ugliness of your guilt and shame, with all your unsolved problems and unfinished tasks, and you can look into the face of your God who knows. He knows how you struggle. He knows how you hurt. He knows how you wait for the day when you will be free from it all. And he knows that he comes to fix it all and make things right again. You don’t have to try to make Christmas special. It is because of Jesus--and that makes it classy.

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he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. ~ TITUS 3:5