Another way to put it … can we be sure and confident of our salvation.
There are many things in life that do not have clear answers but the Bible does tell us YES - we can be certain about eternity. Revelation 22:14 tells us “Blessed are those who wash their robes, … meaning, you are cleansed from unrighteousness through Jesus, … so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
Can we be certain of our salvation? Yes! 1 John 5:13 says; “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Can we be certain of our salvation? Yes! John 20:30-31 says; “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But whew are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Am I really going to heaven? Will I spend eternity in the presence of God? Yes - I can say yes because I believe that Jesus is God’s only Son and his death on the cross paid the price for the sin of mankind and his bodily resurrection was proof of his assurance of eternal life through Him.
So, if you were to die today, would you know for sure that you would be with God in eternity?
Let me ask it this way; If you were to stand before Jesus today; why should he let you into heaven?
I attended church all the time
I was a good person
I was a good neighbor
I took care of the poor
I gave to anyone in need
I even read my bible
The flaw in these answers is the same… they imply that salvation is earned. All of these behaviors must be driven out of a personal relationship with and a love for Jesus… He said; I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me. And here is the good news… eternal life with Christ is a gift! Romans 6:23 says; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - and there is the key. Did you hear it? … the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! Just knowing about Jesus isn’t enough… He must be our Lord; demonstrated by our faith in action.
While everyone is guilty of sin and deserving of death, there is hope! This hope shows up in God’s solution of GRACE.
God offers this Grace in the form of Life … eternal life in Jesus. (Rom. 6:23)
He has done this through the death of His Son – Listen to Romans 5:8; “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It was out through his death and resurrection; Jesus made eternal life possible!
But sadly, the Bible also teaches that few will receive this Gift of Eternal life. Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said; “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Lest you become discouraged, I also want you to hear 2 Peter 3:9 “… He, (God), is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
God is cheering for you. He loves you. He gave his best for you. He is patient with you. Now, here is what He asks of us in return so that we can have that great gift of eternal life with Him… He tells us how to “wash our robes” so that we can eat from the tree of life go through the gates and into the city.
Believe in Jesus! Not just know about Jesus, but actually have faith in Jesus.
The Bible says that we must believe in Him whom God has sent… John 6:28-29, 40.
This past Sunday was another sweet day at First Church of Christ. We celebrated two more baptisms - Josh Hill and his son, Ashton. Also a new friend, Ed Boger, came forward during the invitation and expressed his gratitude for his new connections with the church. Please join me in praying for him along with the entire Hill family in this great celebration!
The church held its Annual Meeting of the Congregation this past Sunday as well. It was filled with an excellent spirit of prayer and gratitude for all the volunteers who give so much in ministry through time, talent and treasure. Yes, it was a good, good day! All those on the ballot for election to serve on our church board as trustee were elected. Larry Heschke and Mike Sparks will serve as Elders. Our Deacons will be Kirk Nelson, Mark Patten, Dan Brockett and Cliff Nelson. – this will be a new experience for Dan and Cliff and we are glad to have them jump in and serve. Guy Fishman will serve as Trustee along with Tom Mortenson and Larry Heschke. Please pray for these men as they work together to help the Lord’s church act out His will and purpose for Cherokee and the surrounding area.
The theme for 2017 is: “Believe - Love - Grow” - First Church of Christ is a body of believers who simply want to grow in their relationship with God.
We believe this is best accomplished when we:
Share our Story of Faith with others
Serve with a heart of generosity, compassion and hospitality
Gather to encourage, study and worship
Devote ourselves to a life filled with prayer
Love others just as Christ Jesus has loved us.
We must live, love and work within this framework. Here is another way to see His church. The church is established by God and powered by the Holy Spirit so that each believer may let their light shine through service for God’s glory as we reach the lost through love, encouragement and prayer. It is my desire to work through the church board and all our volunteers to help this become the DNA of our church family. I wrote the following back in 2010 – it is still true today!
I love the church and how Jesus is lived out in so many ways through this network of lives in all manner of condition. Some are filled with contentment and hope while others are seeking the same. Some are filled with pain and rejection while others are able to walk along side and help carry the load; and in all of it, it comes down to Jesus. His mercy and Word mixed with our imperfections covered by His grace. And that is what we are; a wonderfully mysterious mix of broken people who bring all manner of concern, joy, pain and victory into the life of the church. We are a people covered by grace therefore we must be people of grace. Our great Heavenly Father is filled with justice, righteousness and mercy and He sees you through veil of Christ. The apostle Paul told the church in Galatia about their new identity in the eyes of their Heavenly Father in Galatians 3:26-27; “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” This is an incredible realization! Let’s encourage each other.
Here’s the point… I could go on forever with verse after verse… Jesus loves you and he wants all of us realize that His love is not exclusive just to us. He also loves the people around us. His mercy and patience with me is enough to share. Please forgive me when I’ve been selfish with his mercy. Please forgive his church when we’ve failed to share his love. And ALWAYS… love His beautiful bride… the church.
Merry Christmas and I’ll see you Sunday! - Preacher Tom
201 meals… I am so proud of you church! Because of your generosity and service 201 meals were shared with the community of Cherokee at our 2016 Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving day. 96 eat in, 23 delivered and 82 carry-outs – but that only scratches the surface of what was shared that day. First, a HUGE thank you to Carey Hetrick, owner and operator of Carey’s Café here in Cherokee. Carey and his crew are so very generous year after year with this ministry. He makes the potatoes and gravy and “tosses us the keys”. Carey is with us at 7:30 a.m. to help things get started but then at 9 a.m. he stops serving breakfast to his regulars and steps out until about 1:30 – 2:00… what owner does that? Thanks again Carey! Now, to our congregation… THANK YOU!!! Your cash donations to help cover the cost of 220 servings of turkey from Hy-Vee and all your grocery donations make this possible. 20 doz. Dinner rolls, 7 large tubs of Cool Whip, 6 lbs of butter, 12 large cans of chicken broth, 40 boxes of stuffing mix and 30 pies – and we always have enough! Thank you! Even more valuable than the turkey, potatoes and pie is your time, effort and service. 33 volunteers covered a multitude of jobs ranging from delivery to dishes; again, THANK YOU! And, your generosity will continue to bless others in the weeks and months ahead. All cash donations to this cause go to cover expenses first, then any amount left over is given to the Cherokee County Ministerial Association to be used for community benevolence needs; this year the CCMA will receive a check in the amount of $ 164.40 … again, Thank You!
This Sunday, Dec. 4th the church family will also practice their generosity through giving Gifts and Goodies to the residents of Countryside Estates skilled nursing care facility. We’ll all meet at Countryside at 2:00 pm for a time of worship, singing carols, a brief devotion from scripture and sharing the gifts and goodies. Your investment into the lives of others makes a profound impact; not just on the residents, but on the staff as well. God bless you and thank you for this continued ministry!
Next Sunday, Dec. 11 our congregation will have our annual meeting. We are doing something a little different this year in an effort to gain the greatest amount of participation possible. At the close of our 9:30 worship service we will immediately call our Annual Meeting to order and call for the ballot at which time all voting members present will be asked to cast their ballot. Upon collection of the ballot we will suspend the meeting and dismiss to our Sunday School and Discipleship classes for their regular time. The meeting will be re-called to order at approx. 11:45 for the presentation of reports and financials. The ballot will be help open until the conclusion of the congregational meeting at which time the results will be tabulated and reported. I am encouraged by the blend of experience and newness in this year’s class of nominees. Larry Heschke accepted nomination to serve as an elder. He will join Mike Sparks who will continue to serve as an elder through his 2017 term. Kirk Nelson and Mark Patten will blend their experience as deacons and welcome newcomers Dan Brockett and Cliff Nelson. I am looking forward to serving with this new team that has been nominated.
See you Sunday– Preacher Tom.
The last verse of Genesis 6 and the first verse of Genesis 7 show us the perfect picture of how faith and obedience belong together. Both are important and valuable, however, both are useless until they are combined. Obedience is to faith as the arteries are to the heart. Obedience is the glove to the hand of faith. Obedience is fuel to the engine of faith… I think you get the picture. This Sunday we’ll continue the “Old School” preaching series with the story of Noah. Last week we took a look at the story of Moses and the lessons we learned from his encounter with Pharaoh; primarily this: We have been set free by God so that we may worship Him! Incomplete freedom or worship were never going to be acceptable to Moses or God. It was for that reason that Pharaoh’s offer to the men, women and children to go and worship – but they had to leave their animals behind (Exodus 10:24-26) was rejected. We cannot worship with empty hands – worship must be complete and sacrificial.
We celebrate with another one of the boys from Midwest Christian Services; Mason came forward at the invitation on August 7 and asked for prayer and stated that he wanted to re-dedicate his life to Christ! Amen and AMEN!!
Were you here last Sunday?! Two of the high school age boys from Midwest Christian Services came forward at the close of service! Jordan asked the church to pray for his mother, Crystal; so, we did. I also ask you to pray for her; we don’t know the need but we do know it is weighing on Jordan, so let’s lift up his mother in prayer. Anthony also came forward and stood in front of the congregation and gave his confession of faith in Jesus and said he wanted to commit his life to following Jesus! Praise the Lord! Make sure you are here to worship with us on Sunday, September 11 as the boys from MCS will be leading the entire service on that day. Music, communion, offering, greeting, skits and devotions… all from the guys at MCS! They’ve been practicing and are excited for this opportunity; let’s pack the house and have a GREAT day of worship and encouragement together!
We started our new order of service this past Sunday and I was very pleased with the seamless flow and how well the hour progressed. It seems that this new order of service will be very helpful as we continue to build a sturdy bridge connecting the bible-based foundation and heritage of this congregation with the ever-changing culture of today. One of the best examples of this type of connection is found in Bible Buddies, our Wednesday night children’s ministry. Through this ministry First Church of Christ has become a church home to many families who otherwise wouldn’t connect. I ask that you pray with the mindset of Luke 10:2 “He (Jesus) told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (NIV – italics added) A crew is in place and we are ready to love on the kiddos and their families – however – your help would be incredibly valuable. Continue to pray for the families and staff of Bible Buddies and should you desire to volunteer or help in other ways, please contact the church office and we’ll find a ministry role for you.
I’m also excited about this year’s Cherokee County Hunger Stomp! As you recall, last year this church played a critical role in establishing this ministry event which brought together 511 volunteer and raised $ 13,229.47 in donations and grants to help provide nearly 60,000 meals for people right here in Cherokee County and around the world. Well, we’re doing it again! This year’s Hunger Stomp is being coordinated by the volunteers of the Oakdale Evangelical Free Church and along with the help of the Cherokee County Ministerial Association we have set higher goals of the entire county to raise $ 16,000 which will provide 80,000 meals put together by 700 volunteers. Certainly, these are God-sized-goals and I am excited to be a small part of it. Our church will help by providing volunteers on the day of the event, which is Wednesday, October 26, and we will also collect a special offering on September 25. Be sure to designate your donations “Hunger Stomp”.
Keep growing by consuming God’s word. 2nd Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
God bless you and I’ll see you Sunday ! - Preacher Tom
The psalmist asked; “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) Now, in this case he was asking rhetorical questions which he intended to answer in the context of this powerful and encouraging psalm of assurance as to God’s omnipresent and omnipotent nature. But, let me ask; have you ever tried to hide? Have you found yourself lost, hurting, afraid, embarrassed, ashamed, confused, angry, or bitter and just didn’t have the “umph” to deal with it… so you hide? The emotional energy needed to endure, let alone overcome, some of life’s pitfalls is incredible and that is exactly why King David wrote this psalm. It was his way of expressing thanks to God for “finding” him when he needed the Lord the most. Spend some time walking down the road of life with the 139th Psalm running through your mind – you’ll be amazed at how it brings courage, strength and peace. Commit this Psalm to memory and make it a priority in your conversations with the Lord. It will change your life.
This Monday, May 30 is Memorial Day; a day in which our nation pauses to remember and pay proper tribute to those who died in service to our country through the armed forces. Please, during the business of the day, take the time to pray to the Lord that He would assuage the grief of those who mourn and give comfort and strength to the families left to carry their memory.
Finally, this Saturday, May 28, Kathy and I will celebrate with family and friends as our daughter, Amanda, is married to Everett Darnell. Wow – we are excited! Since we will be out of town for this grand celebration that means our church family here in Cherokee will have a guest speaker on Sunday morning. Corey McCracken just finished his Junior year at Nebraska Christian College where he is in the Pastoral Ministries Degree program. He’ll be preaching a sermon titled “Seasons” from Ecclesiastes 3. I’m anxious to hear all about it when I get back! In addition to Amanda’s wedding, Kathy and I are also celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with a Royals game in Kansas City and a stop at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ – the BEST ribs in the world!
We love you all and love serving the Lord with YOU !
Tom and Kathy
Love - a curious word that holds much power. When love is unleashed in a relationship it has the power to change a wayward course, empower the timid, heal what is broken, and bring a sense of security and comfort. Love is a powerful thing; but only when unleashed. If love is restrained, held back or used and steered in a contrary direction… well, it is also powerful… powerfully destructive and painful. Here is a picture of love on the loose. “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. 5 Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. 6 Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth.7 Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7) You can trust love – so, turn it loose. During the month of February I’ll be preaching a series of sermons from this great chapter. The first was; “Love Creates Value”. The next three will be “Love is Patient”, “Love is Forgetful”, and “Love is Hope Filled”. I am so looking forward to seeing how God will develop and use this study in my life, and yours too I pray, as we look at love that we learn to trust it enough to unleash!
- Pray, Love, Live
Let’s face it; most of us would like to be better prayers…especially when we’re around people who are more spiritually mature than us. Those people always seem to know the right thing to say, in the right way, with the right Christian words…and we just kinda sound like regular joes when we pray. The problem arises when we try to be something we’re not during prayer. When we try to use other people’s words or try to imitate them instead of having an authentic conversation with God, we get ourselves into trouble. That’s because the whole point of prayer is to talk with God about our life and His will…not try to impress our friends. Let’s talk about that for a few moments in our small groups so we can learn this lesson once and for all.
Merry Christmas and happy new year! Kathy, the girls and myself are so grateful for your kind and generous gifts over this Christmas season. A very generous bonus through the church board, in addition to cookie plates, gift certificates and even a piece of steak! Thank you all so much; Merry Christmas.
Are you just one of the millions to use this turn of the calendar as an opportunity for a new start? Among your new year resolutions be sure to include, at a high level of priority, a fresh start in discipline of Bible reading.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory
of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)
A Savior has been born to you. Many questions may come to mind from that statement; however, I would like to consider just two. The “when” and “who” make all the difference. TODAY a Savior has been born to YOU! We do not need to wait for God’s salvation to come, it has already been provided in His Son, Jesus. Today, because you believe, or have faith, that Jesus is God’s only son and He left the eternal realms of Heaven and came to us as a child, being made like us in every way, he submitted himself to his Father—even submitting to death on upon a cross—as payment for sin. 1 Peter 2:24 says; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” - And that brings us to the “you” portion. The herald was speaking to shepherds—common folk, young, old, wealthy, poor, - he was speaking to you. Today is your day. Believe in Jesus. Repent (turn) from sin and turn TO a new king in your life; Jesus. Confess your need for a savior and declare that belief and need to others and be baptized (buried in water) into Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. That gift is the single most important gift anyone could ever receive. You, your children, your friends, your family, your co-workers, anyone… the gift of Christmas is Jesus—the Savior.
Merry Christmas! -- Preacher Tom