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Harassed And Helpless

Harassed and Helpless

Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus’ preaching ministry was characterized by preaching the “good news of the kingdom.That good news consisted, in part, of his destroying the power of the devil. That is why his ministry also included healing sicknesses and diseases. Whether directly or indirectly, these were caused by satanic power wreaked upon a world under the dominion of sin.

In describing Jesus to Cornelius, Peter referenced the nature of Jesus’s work, Acts 10:38 He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil….

When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless. He was moved to help. The word compassion does not begin to show the force of the strong emotional word used here. It was an emotional gut reaction; his heart went out to them. He felt their pain in his heart!

It was not just from the direct action of the devil that they were harassed and helpless. Indirectly, his power is exercised through tragic circumstances, broken hearts, grief, destructive false  philosophy, deception, guilt, oppression and the thoughtless, selfish, or evil actions of others.

They were like sheep without a shepherd. They had no one (humanly speaking) to guide them, protect, or care for them. God uses people to help others. That’s the reason workers are needed for the harvest.

I’ll say more in my lesson, Joey

By | 2024-07-13T23:42:07-06:00 July 13th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Jesus Is Enough!

Jesus Is Enough!

John 1:11-18 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–  13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Jesus possesses complete and infinite fullness of all that is good, glorious and blessed. Upon salvation, he shares this fullness and abundance with all those who believe. Jesus is enough! He gives  us everything we need. All that we might strive for in life to fill that emptiness is nothing compared to his actual provision.

However, sometimes we might not feel full. Even after salvation, we might still feel something is lacking. What can I do to enjoy the fullness of Christ?

  • Check your feelings. Feelings can lie. Faith trumps feelings.
  • Understand, we can’t DO anything to add more of Christ’s fullness to our lives. We are complete. We can’t earn his fullness.
  • Know that to desire more of Christ’s fulness, when he has already given us everything, reveals discontentment with his provision and spiritual immaturity on our part.
  • Meditate regularly on all Christ has given you and his promises.
  • Thank God for his blessed provision of all things in Christ.

I’ll say more in my Lesson, Joey

By | 2024-07-07T00:46:45-06:00 July 7th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Restore To Me The Joy Of Your Salvation

Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation

I received a call on the church line a couple of weeks ago from a woman in New Jersey. She was distraught. She had been searching the internet for a Bible believing church that could answer her  questions. Hartford Institute estimates there are over 350,000 Christian churches in the US. Think for the moment about the odds of her reaching me in Boise, Idaho. This was a divine  appointment.

She felt lost. After an early exposure to Christianity in her youth, she was lured away by the pleasures of sin and the distractions of the world. For years she was away from Christ until she had a disturbing dream about being taken by demons. Instead of the dream leading her back to Christ, it led her to embrace occultic and new age practices. She did not elaborate, but it was a definite anti-God/Christ belief system. Finally, two years ago she was invited to a church; she repented, accepted Christ, rededicated her life to him and was immersed. I gathered from the timeline she was in her mid-sixties.

Her problem? She didn’t feel saved. She had no joy in her salvation. She had been living the Christian life for two years, but she still felt lost. Instead of questioning her feelings, she questioned her  faith. Apparently, she was in a fellowship that emphasized feelings over fact and it also seemed to be Calvinistic in its doctrine. Her question to me was if she was really a part of the “elect.” Her  question dealt with whether God had predestined her to damnation, instead of salvation.

I didn’t have the time in our 47 minute phone call to explain the fallacies of Calvinism, so I reframed her narrative (within her worldview) to show God’s prevenient grace in drawing her to himself throughout all her life out of sinfulness and back into a saving relationship with Christ. This was evidence of her election. We concluded that the same faith in Christ that brought about the fact of her salvation, was also the answer to her problem feelings. Trusting Christ is the answer when our heart condemns us.

How many of us have doubted our salvation because of guilt from our past or the fact that we don’t feel saved. Emotions are fickle. Sometimes we ride high on the waves of emotion, but sometimes we crash. Feelings DO NOT overcome fact. The fact of our salvation is anchored in the finished work of Christ.

Joey

By | 2024-06-22T17:52:47-06:00 June 22nd, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Our Father In Heaven

Our Father in Heaven

Matthew 6:9-13 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily  bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Jesus taught his disciples to address God as “Father.” This is in contrast to the Old Testament in which the Fatherhood of God is not a central theme. The term is used mainly in the OT by way of analogy and not direct address; e.g., Deuteronomy 32:6 Is this the way you repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?

The tendency in Jewish circles was to multiply titles ascribing sovereignty, lordship, glory, grace, and the like to God. To call him Father or “Abba” would be considered way too presumptuous and familiar.

This seems strange to us because this was overwhelmingly the way Jesus addressed God and the way his disciples were taught to approach him. Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Jesus emphasized the Fatherhood of God precisely because he wanted to emphasize the intimacy of the relationship. Jesus shared a special relationship with the Father as his “one of a kind” Son.  While our filial relationship differs from the unique relationship of Jesus, God invites us to call him Father as well.

We enjoy his protection and provision in a way that is not unlike our fathers in the flesh, but on an infinitely greater scale. My lesson Sunday will explore this intimate relationship with our Father in heaven.

Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

I’ll say more in the lesson!

Joey 

By | 2024-06-15T22:58:36-06:00 June 15th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

One Another

One Another

Love One Another

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Honor One Another

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10b)

Greet One Another

“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” (Romans 16:16)

Welcome One Another

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)

Show Hospitality to One Another

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)

Have Fellowship With One Another

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

Agree With One Another

“…agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11b)

Live in Harmony With One Another

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” (Romans 12:16)

Be at Peace With One Another

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50)

Be Kind to One Another

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (Ephesians 4:32a)

Forgive One Another

“…forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32b)

By | 2024-06-09T00:23:11-06:00 June 9th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Paul’s Pride In The Gospel

Paul’s Pride in the Gospel

Christians are called to love everyone – even those with whom we might disagree or who have a different worldview than our own. Some might ask, “Even sinners?” Well, those are the only kind of people who exist.

There are three kinds of sinners – non-accountable sinners (children and those with diminished mental (moral) capacity), forgiven sinners (those who are committed to Christ Jesus), and  non-repentant sinners (those who have not yet committed to Christ or those who are not faithful to that commitment). That’s it. We’re all sinners in need of Christ; Christ followers are called to love all three.

There is no room in our faith to hate, belittle, ridicule, ostracize, or otherwise mistreat anyone. Our commitment is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ. This applies to those in the LGBTQ+ movement – whether radicalized or those just struggling with their perception of self. We love, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Having said this, God has never asked his children, in the name of love, to affirm what God himself has condemned as wrong and sinful. Jesus again, is our example with the woman caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus offered her mercy and, I believe, forgiveness. However, his command to her was to “go and sin no more.” In the same way, we can accept, love, and forgive people, without affirming their sin.

My lesson Sunday is entitled, Paul’s Pride in the Gospel; it is taken from Romans 1.

Romans 1:16-18 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven  against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

I’m sure it has not been lost on any of us that June is celebrated by many as LGBTQ+ pride month. There will be parades, marketing campaigns, social media posts, and other “virtue-signaling”  affirmations to celebrate what God has unambiguously called sin. Those who do not share such “pride” – faithful children of God for one – are called homophobes, hate-mongers, and otherwise  made to feel “shame” over their lack of affirming attitudes and behavior. (This, by the way, was a part of a blueprint written by Marshal Kirk and Hunter Madsen in 1989, After the Ball: How  America will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ‘90s; I think the book itself is out of print but there are plenty of references to it if you just google it).

Paul, however, declares that his pride is in the Gospel of Christ because it reveals the declared righteous of God upon believers while at the same time revealing the wrath of God upon all  unrighteousness. It should not surprise us that Paul gives as his paradigmatic examples of people rejecting God, the very homosexual behaviors celebrated in today’s LGBTQ+ Pride events. These  pride events celebrate what the Scripture says should cause shame.

Children of God should share Paul’s pride in the gospel and not participate, support, or affirm those things that God says are shameful.

I’ll say more in my lesson.

— Joey

By | 2024-06-01T10:59:30-06:00 June 1st, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Greater Love Has No One

Greater Love Has No One

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands
and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and
that your joy may be complete.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you.

You did not choose me,
but I chose you and appointed you
to go and bear fruit
— fruit that will last.
Then the Father will give you
whatever you ask in my name.

This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:9-17

 

Special thanks to the Honi Deaton Trio and all those who made our End of School Celebration a great success! Kudos also to Hunter Stevens for constructing this wonderful pavilion.

 

You can hear a sample of the performance here:  Honi Deaton Trio

 

By | 2024-05-26T00:46:36-06:00 May 26th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Love INC (In The Name Of Christ)

Galatians 6:9-10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,  especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Love INC is one of the ministries we support in our effort to “do good to all people.” Love INC is short for Love in the Name of Christ and we provide a home for their Boise executive offices and Care Center in our east wing. Vic Clapp, one of our deacons, is on the Love INC board and is our liaison with the organization. Up until her surgery, Tina Gafford served as their Office Administrator. Vicky Knapp is their Abundant Living Coordinator. Jeff Deaton is their Director of Operations/Care Center Coordinator. Their Executive Director, Honi Deaton, will be headlining our concert tonight. The following are a few facts from their website: boiseloveinc.org

Partnership with Churches

Since the beginning of the Love in the Name of Christ movement in 1977, Christ has been central to bringing together a broad base of Christian churches in a community to minister to the needs of that community.

Vision

To See Christian churches united in purpose and fully engaged in actively living out their faith by lovingly serving people in need in their communities.

Care Center

The basics of Love INC is to provide assistance to our community using resources that are provided within Love INC, or by directing people to the needed resources that are provided by local  churches, organizations, and charities.

Abundant Living

The Abundant Living Program is founded on Biblical principles from a holistic perspective. Participants learn not only money management skills but skills that affect every aspect of their lives. Our approach is through community classes given in a non-judgmental, loving, and relationship building environment. Our goal is to educate, encourage, and empower participants towards a life changing transformation. Our hope is that participants will discover that Jesus came so that they may have life and have it abundantly.

While going through the Abundant Living Program, participants can earn food distributions, haircuts, Christmas gifts, oil changes, gas cards, and other resources to assist in reducing their  spending while paying off debt. On average, graduates reduce their debt by $7000.00 while participating in the program.

Our End of School Celebration tonight is co-sponsored by Love INC. They will be providing a concert and information about how we can be involved in Love INC and those in need can take  advantage of their resources.

By | 2024-05-19T00:05:03-06:00 May 18th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

I Hate Mother’s Day!

I Hate Mother’s Day!

I hate Mother’s Day, but it’s not because I don’t have a great mother; I do! In fact my life has been filled with a number of wonderful, giving, nurturing, godly women. Starting with my mom, Marion Jo Gafford, who is 83 and has been the standard by which I measure all women. She was the glue that held our family together. She was my first Christian mentor.

Next, her Mom, Roxie Ann McGough, was an example of generosity. She worked menial jobs, when she did not have to work, just so she could buy all her grand-children Christmas presents. I also must mention all those great holiday dinners she prepared.

My paternal grandmother, Rubye Johns Gafford, was a spiritual mentor for me throughout my life and my biggest cheerleader, when I was called to preach. She still influences my thinking.

My mother-in-law, Betty Hester, is probably the best mother-inlaw a man could have. She has been lavishly generous with my family and children and has masterfully walked that tightrope between providing assistance without interfering.

Finally, my wife, Tina Marie Gafford, has been an awesome mother to our children. She has been a loving, devoted, generous, Christian mom both when we were all together as a family and
even now as they have begun their own lives.

It is also not that I’m too cheap to honor my Mom. I take seriously the biblical mandate to care for one’s parents. I care for my mom the best I can, long distance, and arrange other hands-on resources to take care of the needs I cannot. I delight in the opportunity to send her roses and provide gifts whenever possible.

Why do I hate Mother’s Day? I guess hate is a strong word. It is not so much that I hate Mother’s Day as it causes me a lot of discomfort. There are things that I hate about Mother’s Day.

  1. I hate that Mother’s Day is not always a happy holiday for many. Some may not have had a happy childhood or an ideal mother. Others may be grieving the loss of their mother. Others may be dealing with the heartache of infertility or other things that have kept them from the joy of motherhood. Still others, may be grieving over children that have passed or children that have left God and are lost.
  2. I hate the commercialism of Mother’s Day as a manufactured holiday. Sure it’s great to have a memory jog to do what we should be doing throughout the year, but this is a cash cow for florists and card makers alike. This sets up high expectations for mothers who are often disappointed by thoughtless children.
  3. I hate trying to come up with appropriate Mother’s Day messages. I am sensitive to the fact that God should be the center of our worship and messages should be God-centered at their core. There are only so many biblical texts that can accomplish the tasks of honoring mothers without diminishing our focus on God. It can be done, mind you, but it often challenges my creativity and biblical integrity.

I’ll say more in my lesson

— Joey

By | 2024-05-12T00:41:31-06:00 May 12th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments