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Triumphal Entry

I was watching golf with my dad a few weeks ago, when Tiger Woods made another return to the course. Even with all the controversy that has surrounded him in recent years, the cheers for his appearance were loud and long.

Almost two thousand years ago, another controversial person made a triumphal entry–not onto the golf course, but into the city of Jerusalem. For three years, Jesus had been traveling the countryside, stirring up people with His rebellious ideas. Then, when the time had come, He headed back to Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11 describes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. As Jesus rode a donkey into the city, people laid down their coats and cut palm fronds to lay in the street to honor His passing. They shouted, “Hosanna!” The Hebrew word hosanna means “save us.” They did believe Him to be the Messiah, but misunderstood the way He would save us. They thought the Messiah would come to lead the armies to crush their Roman oppressors and usher in an age of unparalleled prosperity. But He didn’t come to save us from government oppression or financial woes or hard times. He entered Jerusalem knowing He would die to save us from so much more–from our own sin and death to righteousness and eternal life with Him!

Tiger Woods can’t save us–he honestly can’t even save himself. Only Jesus can save us. Has He saved you? Has He made His Triumphal Entry into your heart? If not, there’s no better moment than now to make a decision to follow Him out of death and into life.

I pray that this Holy Week, you would be abundantly blessed and that we would all take time each day to reflect on all Jesus did for us.

And if you’re in the Montrose or Ridgway area, please join us next Sunday for a special early Easter worship service at 8:30 am, followed by a fellowship breakfast, and regular Sunday service at 10:30 am at Colona Community Church. We hope to see you there!

Saving Daylight

It’s a crazy time of the year for me, and changing over to Daylight Savings doesn’t help in the matter. I’ll never understand why they call it “Daylight Saving Time,” since there are actually no more hours of daylight than there were before. Yet the clocks change, and my system is thrown into a tizzy (It makes me almost miss living in Arizona, where they don’t follow Daylight Savings!). I should laugh at man’s attempt to control what only God has power over, but instead I am too tired to laugh, because somehow, man has managed to steal an hour of my life.

 

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At least we can laugh at Princess Bride memes about Daylight Savings!

While the clock ticks away, and I look at the pile of things I haven’t finished yet, one verse continues to flit through my mind: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I know that is Him, speaking to my heart, urging me to remember that all of this is in His hands. He’s reminding me that if I simply take a moment to quiet the chaos, He will give me the energy and wisdom to complete all I need to do.

And I’m so grateful for that reminder, for knowing that I need not struggle to focus and check items off of my to-do list while desperately trying to keep my eyes open with one less hour in my day today. I can choose to be still and rest in Him, and I have faith that the work will be accomplished with renewed energy…tomorrow!

I pray that you have a blessed and restful day with the Lord.

 

Be Magnified

Magnification. The older our eyes get, the more we appreciate it! But there is another type of magnification that the Bible speaks of which is much more important to our souls than our eyes.

When Mary, at that time the soon-to-be mother of Jesus, said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46, KJV), what did she mean? Mary was saying that she gave more importance to the Lord than anything else. She magnified Him above all things. Even King David, a man who ruled all of Israel, spoke of  magnifying the Lord and how God desired that from us even more than a sacrifice on the altar (Psalm 69:30-31, NKJV).

Magnifying God above all else is not easy to do. We have a plethora of distractions available to us every moment of every day. Smart phones, TV, the Internet, work, general busyness, there is always something that can keep us from resting in Him, focusing on Him, worshipping Him. But the benefits of magnifying the Lord above the things of this world are eternal!

There is a song by the group We Are Messengers that speaks so beautifully to this, called appropriately, “Magnify.” One verse of the song says, “My sight is incomplete and I made You look small; I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long.” We humans have a tendency to do just that—focus on all the things that are going wrong, instead of how the grace of God has brought us through so much. Yet when we magnify the good, when we adjust our heart lenses to focus on the grace of God, when we examine our lives from His perspective, we see how truly blessed we are. And all our troubles seem much smaller, much more easy to manage, when God is magnified, instead of our problems.

 

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We Are Messengers – “Magnify”

 

Do you want peace in the craziness? Magnify the Lord. Do you want hope in your desperation? Magnify the Lord. Do you want light in the darkness? Magnify the Lord. Magnify Him: seek Him first, set Him higher, honor Him more, and all these things shall be added unto you.

I pray that He is magnified in your life today and every day! God bless you!

 

If you’d like to hear the whole song by We Are Messengers, you can click here for a link to the YouTube page to watch the official music video. 🙂

Light in the Darkness

We live in a fallen world. This is never more apparent than when something as awful and tragic as a school shooting occurs, but the darkness surrounds us all day, every day, whether we notice it or not.

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What is darkness, but the absence of light. And what is light? According to the Word of God, Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Therefore, it stands to reason that the darkness in our world is evidence of a lack of Jesus in society.

If we are followers of Jesus, if we believe in Him, have trusted in Him for salvation, have given our lives to Him, He lives within us. We believers, His Church, are the lampstands (Luke 11:33), the cities on a hill (Matthew 5:14), the jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7) that Jesus shines His light through. If we don’t shine His light onto others, how will they ever see it?

Wherever the light of Jesus shines, the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5). But one small candle in a stadium of darkness doesn’t feel like it’s making much difference. We need to come together, put aside petty differences and offenses, focus on Jesus and His truth, and combine our lights into one brilliant spotlight, shining Jesus so brightly onto the world around us that they cannot deny His presence. When they see Jesus in us, they will see hope.

Light up a path to Jesus, so that the lost can find their way to Him and know He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life!

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Worship His Holy Name

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Sunday mornings at Colona Community Church are unlike many churches out there today. After our pastor opens with prayer and a member presents a reading from the Word, we grab our hymnals out of the handcrafted racks on the back of each antique pew and are led through a few traditional hymns by our song leader and pianist. That’s the “worship portion” of our service. That’s it. No hundred-member choir; no six-piece band with guitar and drum solos; no big screens with the words of the songs projected over colorful backgrounds. I’ve been in churches where all of these play a part in the service, and they are beautiful, but they might lead some to question whether ours is really even a time of worship in comparison to a more modern worship service.

So what is worship? According to the dictionary on my shelf, it is “reverent love and devotion; to honor or love devotedly.” In other words, whatever we devote our love, thoughts, time, and energy to is what we worship. Real worship is so much more than singing a few songs on Sunday morning. Worship is how we live our lives in response to God’s love for us. As A.W. Tozer put it, “If you’re not worshipping God on Monday the way you did the day before, perhaps you’re not worshipping Him at all.”

Worship can be done in silence or clamor, in stillness or exuberance, in whispers or shouts, so long as we are focused on Him and feeling, knowing, saying in our hearts that God alone is worthy to be praised. “Honor the LORD for the glory of His name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2, NLT).

But we can’t truly worship God unless we know Him—not just know about Him, but really get to know Him on a deep and personal level (John 4:23). We do this by reading His Word, by pouring our hearts out to Him in prayer, by listening to Him in quietness, and by drawing closer to Him in all circumstances. And, of course, by faithfully trusting in who He is.

Worship should encompass our entire lives, for it is in worship that “God imparts Himself to us” (C.S. Lewis). It is in those times that we are devoting our thoughts, time, love, and energy to God that we are worshipping Him. Be it with a quiet hymn on a Sunday morning or a spirited dance to your favorite For King & Country song on a Thursday afternoon, worship comes from the heart, where God’s throne rests.

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If you’re ever in need of a place of quiet worship and devotion to the Lord, please join us on a Sunday morning in Colona. We’d love to have you worship with us!

Fellowship of the Saints

Here at Colona Community Church we practice the fine art of “potluckery.” Yes, that’s right, once a month (typically the second Sunday) we get together after the service to share copious amounts of delicious food and sweet fellowship.

Fellowship is hugely important in the Christian life. The apostles in the very early days of the Church knew the importance of fellowship. In the second chapter of Acts, Luke reports that the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Learning, fellowship, eating, and prayer were all of equal value to the beginning of the Church, as they should still be to all believers today. The chapter finishes by saying, “Every day they continued to meet together….They broke bread…and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a). There can be no doubt that meeting together and eating together brings us closer to each other and to the Lord.

And God commands us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the  habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). He wants us to spend time in fellowship so that we can “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24) and “[encourage] one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The more time we spend in fellowship with one another, the deeper and stronger our relationships with God and with our church family become. Fellowship keeps us encouraged and energized for serving the Lord with joy.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles.” The devil knows that meeting together, breaking bread with each other, and encouraging one another, strengthens our ties, hones our will to serve, and binds us in love. So, if we want to fortify ourselves against the wiles of the devil, fellowshipping and eating together are wonderful spiritual exercises.

We may only be a tiny little church here in Colona, but we are one big family. And all are welcome to join our family in fellowship with each other and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Refined in the Fire

The silversmith  must pay very close attention when he is melting down silver to create his lovely pieces. He can’t simply toss chunks of silver into a bowl and place it in the fire, checking back on it in a few hours to see how it’s melting. No, he must sit right beside the crucible, constantly watching and caring for the silver. Should he look away for even a moment, the silver can scorch. So he sits and he stirs, ever mindful of the moment when the silver is finally ready to be taken from the fire. And how does he know when that moment has arrived? When he can see his reflection mirrored perfectly in the surface of the melted silver.

And so it is in our own lives. God is our silversmith, placing us in the fire to refine us through trials and tests of our faith. But He never leaves us alone in the fire. He doesn’t take a break to grab a snack or watch the Super Bowl or walk the dog. No, He is always right there beside us during those difficult times, caring for us, ensuring we don’t scorch in the flames. And when He can see Himself more clearly reflected in us, that’s when He knows that the refining has been complete and He removes us from the fire.

Know that when times are tough, God is right there beside you, watching you transform — and if you are trusting in Him, you will be refined into something more beautiful than you can even imagine: a reflection of God Himself.

 

  • I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. Zechariah 13:9
  • For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Psalm 66:10
  • Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?” Jeremiah 9:7
  • Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:35
  • He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Malachi 3:3

 

Praying that you have a blessed week!

A Perfectly Imperfect Example

In my quiet times recently, I’ve studied Jacob/Israel more deeply than ever before. To me he is a fascinating paradox: an often faithless patriarch of the faith.

I can imagine things weren’t easy for him in his early years, knowing that his father so obviously favored his brother, Esau (Genesis 25:28). Yet it seems he forgot the lessons he learned in that experience and went on to favor his own son, Joseph, above all his other sons (Genesis 37:3). And, of course, we know that Joseph is the one who paid for that favoritism (Genesis 37). Imperfect.

Jacob was forced to flee his home after he deceived his father (with the help of his mother) and stole Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27), yet he literally met God while he was on the run to his uncle’s home (Genesis 28). God spoke to him, blessed him, promised him that his descendants would outnumber the specks of dust on the earth and that the land would belong to Jacob and his descendants forever (Genesis 28:13-15). And what did Jacob do? He acted like a typical human and put conditions on God: IF God would protect and provide for him until he returned to his father’s house, THEN Jacob would consider the Lord his God (Genesis 28:20-21). Imperfect.

Even if we skip his time at his Uncle Laban’s home and all the ways that God provided for him in his twenty years there, we still find Jacob depending more on himself than on God. When he left Laban and wass told that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him, Jacob again behaved like most people: crying out to God for help, but still thinking up ways he could get himself out of danger. One moment he was praying for God’s help and the next he was scheming up tricks to pacify the anger he assumed was driving Esau toward him (Genesis 32). As Warren Wiersbe put it, “[Jacob] prayed to be delivered from Esau, but he really needed to be delivered from himself.” Imperfect.

Even though Jacob, now Israel, had learned so much about God, had seen God, struggled with God, he still depended on his own means (bribery, lies, etc.), because he spent so much time dwelling on his past transgressions, instead of looking ahead in faith. He was far from a perfect example of faith, yet God used him to teach us at least one very valuable lesson:

When we meet God, when we give our lives to Christ, our sins are washed in His blood, tossed to the ocean floor, never to be brought up again. If you find yourself dwelling on the sins of your past, know that it is not God who is bringing them to your mind. It is the Deceiver, who wants to take your mind off of God. When we dwell in the past, we forget to trust God with our present and our future. Look ahead instead, to all God has waiting for His good and faithful servants.

Must we be perfect? I know God would like us to be, but we are human and odds are we will mess up. We should strive for perfection, but maybe we can find contentment in imperfect perfection, always leaning on God, having faith that He is in control and that He cares for us.

Plan to Succeed

For the past few years I have been ever so slightly ambitious & have begun my year by setting up a calendar/planner/Bible journal. This year I added a Bible reading schedule to my calendar, with the grand plan of reading the Bible chronologically in just one year. I spent several days putting my calendar together, plotting out which chapters I would read each day, and how often I would journal the Word.

Well, here it is, not even the end of January, and I’m already behind on my schedule! When I looked at my grand plan the other day I was not-so-subtly reminded of the verse from Proverbs which says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (16:9, NLT). Oh, how true that is! Haven’t we all made plans that did not go the way we expected them to?

However, if you go back just a few verses in the same chapter, God tells us what we need to do to make our paths a bit straighter: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT). If we put His will above our own, obey His leading and set our desires aside, the plans we make for His glory will always succeed.

I will still read His Word, still take the time to journal about what He reveals to me, but if He has other plans for me, I choose to walk His path and not my own. I know I won’t fail when His will is done. And neither will you!

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Have a blessed week!

Dot-to-Dot

I used to love dot-to-dot puzzles when I was young. I must admit, I still enjoy them today—the revealing of a beautiful picture as your pencil (or pen, if you’re brave than I am!) progresses through the sequence of dots. It fascinates me how an artist created this work, then deconstructed it into mere dots, so that I could then play detective/artist and put it all back into focus.

 

 

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from print-ables.com

 

It recently occurred to me that our God is a master dot-to-dot artist. His work, the Word of God, is one seamlessly drawn piece. Yet we only tend to see the dots—a verse here, a chapter there, a favorite character or story over there…

However, when we open our hearts and our minds to the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we begin to read His Word, He can connect the dots for us, showing us the intricate beauty of His eternal Word.

If you desire a deeper understanding of the Bible, take a few moments to pray before you open it up. Ask the Spirit to reveal His truth to you, to connect those dots for you, so that you can see the whole awesome picture of His glory. Then marvel at the wonder He will reveal to you!