To Marvel & Mend this Christmas

To Marvel & Mend this Christmas
December 2017
Samantha Krieger
The shepherds’ desire to see this sign was no Sunday stroll in the park. I can just imagine them running as fast as they could, sweating, hearts racing, maybe even stumbling through the fields because it was night.
I can imagine their hearts pumping through their chests as they reach their destination and look Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the eye for the first time. I doubt many words were uttered on their part but just sheer amazement. And this amazement could only lead them to make known what they had just seen.
The glory of God had just come down from heaven- a shining light in the midst of evil and darkness. Love had come down to save them and set them free from their sins. God had chosen them- lowly shepherds- to be the first to see this humble King lying in a manger.
They couldn’t help but spread the news that Peace was here. They shared the news to everyone and it spread far and wide.
“And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:18)
But not only that, all the hearers of this good news marveled too.
And it’s this word “marvel” that jumps out at me today. It’s a word that I can’t skip over when I’m reading Luke’s account of Christ’s words and works.
Do I marvel at the gift of God sending his son Jesus down to this earth to save us? Has this good news so impacted my life that others see it and believe it as well?
Have I taken the time in these days leading up to Christmas to sit, reflect, be still and marvel at the mighty, mysterious works of God?
Because truthfully, I know there is a marveling that needs to be done in my own heart that has yet to happen. And there is a mending of brokenness needing to be done too. Both of which require God’s hand to awaken and heal.
And then I am reminded again of why Jesus came…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
I want to see Jesus for who He is. To know him more. To put him first. To share his love to everyone he puts in my path. But I have to understand that this can’t be accomplished in my own strength. It has to be his mighty work through me for his glory.
Like the shepherds, when we see Jesus for who he really is, we are changed forever. Light pierces through our darkness. Our lives are radically different. And we can’t help but desire to see that change in other people too.
May you experience His light in a way you never have before this Christmas.
Samantha Krieger

U-Turn: A Signpost for the Spiritual Journey

U-Turn: A Signpost for the Spiritual Journey
November 2017
Jeremiah Krieger
God’s love for His people is unlike any other love that I have ever witnessed in my life. Throughout the message of the prophets, we can see God practically begging His people to return to Him- not in a desperate sort of way, but in a way that demonstrates deep concern and yearning for their well being. God’s love for His people is truly remarkable.
In Zechariah 1:3, the Lord said to His people, “Turn to me.” God wanted his people to return to Him with their whole heart. As I read this, echoes of God’s covenant with Israel ring throughout my ears. In Deuteronomy 30:1-3, the Lord promises Israel that when His people are taken into captivity in far away lands because of their disobedience, if they turn to the Lord and obey him with their entire heart, mind and being, then He will have pity on His people and reverse their captivity! In other words, God said that if His people were ever found lost and lead to captivity in distant lands, then the only way back was to do a spiritual U-turn.
When Zechariah prophesied, his purpose was to challenge returned exiles to return to the Lord so that they can be cleansed of their sins and once again enjoy the Covenant blessings. His message was, “return to me.”
Repentance is the U-turn for the heart that is lost in captivity from sin. Even believers today can get caught up in sin and cause immense pain in their life. We have all had that even after professing Christ as our Savior.
Today when believers fall into sin, the way that sin is dealt with is different than how it was dealt with in the Old Testament, but God’s appeal to us still remains. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Today a believer enjoys relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Christ’s blood covers his sins past, present and future. His standing before God is eternally secure in the New Covenant. However, sometimes we make decisions that hurt ourselves and others. There can be a time when sin takes us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay. It is in these moments when we can be assured of two certainties: 1) God loves us and his blood covers over all our sin 2) God wants us to return to him with all our heart.
Therefore, no matter how far removed from God we might find ourselves, not only do we have the opportunity to be reconciled back to right relationship with God, but that is exactly what God wants us to do. God’s promise always remains for any remnant of people who trust in Him. If you have found your heart distant from God, what are you waiting for? Return back to Him!
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
Pastor Jeremiah

Simple Faith

Simple Faith
October 2017
Jeremiah Krieger
Do you ever find yourself confused trying to figure out just what God wants from you when you decide to follow Jesus? Have you ever felt overwhelmed or exhausted with Church life? Do you ever feel guilty because you don’t feel like you’re doing enough, even when you’re doing so much for Jesus?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then chances are you might be making your walk with Jesus more complicated than it needs to be. When Jesus bids us to come to Him, he is not asking for an open ended commitment to leading and building church programs. He is asking us for something far greater: to be fully devoted to Him.
Being a fully devoted follower of Christ doesn’t require us doing more for Jesus. It requires Jesus doing more for us through the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:11 reminds us how the Holy Spirit is the agent who works on us so that Jesus can work through us: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The longer we follow Jesus, the more available we will become to Him, and the more He will continue to work through us.
Yet, if we gathered every believer from our church together in a room and asked a question, “What does it mean to be fully devoted to Jesus,” we would likely find out that everybody has a slightly different answer. We would discover that we have made the faith more confusing than it needs to be. Some of us are spending too much time doing too much work and getting burned out because we want to please God. Others are doing too little and are spectators rather than players in the game…
If we are going to be fully devoted to Christ, we might want to rethink our spiritual habits and to what we are devoted. We each have 168 hours per week. We each have natural gifts and talents. We each have resources that we are called to steward for the glory of God. How can we maximize our stewardship for God’s greatest glory and our greatest good?
There are 3 hours of our life that we should consider devoting completely to Christ— no if’s, and’s, or but’s. I believe that if we are willing to devote these three hours to Christ and to defend them at any cost, not allowing anything else to dislodge their use, then we would see a remarkable transformation in ourselves and an awakening in our church and community.
The first hour that we should unequivocally devote to Christ for His glory and our good is in God’s grace through corporate worship. Meeting together regularly is normative for disciples of Jesus.
When we follow Jesus, we become part of a body. We become part of something much greater than ourselves. Being part of the Church is not optional in the faith. You can’t say “I love Christ,” but hate the bride. You can’t say, “I’m devoted to Jesus,” but not be devoted to his people. Over and over throughout the New Testament we see how we are grafted in to Christ and are used to serve others. Being part of the Church is also how Christ grows us.
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to the Church, how are you doing? Corporate worship on Sunday mornings is an opportunity to be reminded of Christ’s faithfulness and to remind others of the same. It is an opportunity to express gratitude to God through songs, tithing, and service— all of which evangelize and declare to unbelievers that we truly believe that life is found in Jesus Christ.
Second, we should unequivocally devote an hour to Christ by growing with each other. Too often people come as spectators rather than players. Have you ever watched the Broncos score a touchdown and then turned to your spouse or friend and gave each other a high five or slap on the bottom like it was you who scored?
There is a remarkable difference between a spectator and a player. Both perform the same actions (high five and a slap and cheer) when their team scores. But only the player is engaged in the game. Only the player will get the reward. The same is true with the disciple. Scripture calls us to be devoted to each other. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love.” In John 13:34, Jesus told his disciples, “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.”
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to each other, how are you doing? Showing up on Sunday morning, singing a song, paying tithe, and listening to a sermon are all part of following Jesus. However, when we are called to Christ, we are called to abiding relationships with each other. If we don’t intentionally meet together for the purpose of edification and practicing the “one anothers” of Scripture then you are playing more the spectator than the player.
In the Epistles we will find the words “one another” joined together 45 times when speaking of our devotion to other believers for the purpose of deliberately building up their lives. Practicing discipleship through small groups is instrumental in spiritual growth. It is instrumental in finding freedom from sin. It is instrumental in aiding believers in their full devotion to Christ. It is the practice field where the team is built up and prepared for the game.
Third, if everyone in our church devoted one hour of service per week to Jesus by serving in a church ministry, it would result in personal growth and the corporate growth of our church. This past spring we did a series from 1 Corinthians 12 called, “Gifted.”
We have all been given unique gifts, aptitudes and abilities that only we can do, and nobody else. We all have something to offer the body of Christ. If we do not serve the Church, we are hurting both ourselves and the Church.
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to serving the Church, how are you doing? Devoting time to serve with the Church is normative behavior in the life of the Christian. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2, Paul goes as far as to say that he doesn’t want us to be uniformed about our spiritual gifts. The implication is that those who do not use their gifts to serve the Church are those who are using their gifts to serve mute idols. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and money. He is calling us to singular devotion to him.
Understanding what Christ is calling us to is essential to the faith. It is essential to know what Christ is actually calling us to if we are going to actually follow Him— either as an individual or as the Church. Following Jesus wasn’t intended to be confusing. When Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casing their nets at the sea, he said, “Follow me.” Andrew and Simon got up and followed Jesus. That’s what all the disciples did. They left what they were doing and followed Jesus.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus calls us to make disciples. Disciples are made, not born. In the discipleship process we need to make it clear what it looks like to follow Christ. It doesn’t have to be that hard. We all have 168 hours in the week. We are all called to follow Christ. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. If we want to follow Jesus, we should definitely start first by devoting an hour each week for corporate worship together, an hour each week for growing together in abiding friendships that spur each other on to follow Christ more, and to devote one hour per week of serving alongside each other with the Church.
Devote that time to Christ and watch him change your life. Devote that time to Christ and watch him transform this church and our community. It really is that simple.
God bless you,
Pastor Jeremiah