Companions

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

Click this Link to watch Pastor Rich give a video P2P Devotion: https://youtu.be/66EK-zMmTrw

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

So here we are, several weeks into this phenomena called “social distancing”.  Some folks considered “essential” are still going to work, but a whole lot of us have been staying home.  Thanks to the wonders of telecommuting, some of us working at home are busier than ever.  Some of you are bored out of your heads. And it looks like we may have at least one more month of it.

Besides bad haircuts and expanding waistlines, have you taken a moment to think how you are going to emerge out of this next month?  Do you think you will have changed? I find that I am affected by the people I spend time with.  If I’m hanging out with companions from Texas, you might hear me picking up a slight drawl.  If talking like Yoda I am, think you might of whom I have been watching.

Peter and John had been arrested for healing a lame man and pointing people to Jesus.  And now, after a night in jail, they stood before their accusers and spoke the beautiful words of truth. It was obvious who they had spent time with.

Turn off the TV.  Take a few minutes to read your Bible and pray. He is longing for you to set aside some time for Him.

Barabbas is Me

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[John 18:40 NIV] 40 “They shouted back, ‘No, not him! Give us Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.”

Mark and Luke tell us Barabbas was not an innocent bystander or political activist, but a murderer. Matthew tells us he was well known, but it was for creating chaos, and violence. Barabbas was guilty, Jesus was innocent.

This exchange is one of the great illustrations of the gospel. We see Barabbas the guilty thug and murderer and Jesus the Messiah and healer. Barabbas deserved to be condemned and Jesus set free.

This story is no mere tragedy of justice but an illustration of grace. Grace is an undeserved gift. The gift isn’t just that we are set free, that would be amazing but would inspire no real change on my part… just a “get out of jail free card.” As Barabbas walks away a free man, Jesus is led away to be beaten, whipped, and crucified.

The reason we are set free is not some judicial technicality, it is because Jesus has taken my place and paid the ultimate price. 2 Cor 5:21 says,” God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This seems so unfair, and selfless love truly is. It is not fair that Jesus is punished for our sin, but it is true.

We never read of Barabbas having a changed life. Jesus dying for me doesn’t automatically change me. It is my response to this grace that transforms my life. How have you responded to Jesus taking your place? Take some time to think about the price that was paid for you today. Jesus didn’t do it to make you feel guilt, but to transform you by His grace. Celebrate His love today by thanking Him and sharing it with someone else!

“DON’T Panic – PRAY. DON’T Fear – HAVE Faith”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.

John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” Beloved take a deep breath, and listen for the voice of the Shepherd. Listen for the calm, listen to the still small voice of the maker of Heaven and Earth. He has got this and He has got you in His enormously capable hands. Open up your Bible, and read the words of life-everlasting. Only then, launch into the action that God has for you. Re-read Ephesians 2:10

DON’T panic. Panic is the enemy. Don’t buy 18 cases of toilet paper(but if you do: tithe-that’s 1.8 cases for the church;) Over three hundred times in Scripture God tells us NOT to fear. Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah had serious reasons to fear, but with God he made the choice to have faith. He looked to God, NOT his circumstances. Take the time that God has gifted to us, and reach out in faith: call your family, call your neighbors. See how you can be of service. Share the gospel, live the gospel! And WHEN you feel anxious, PRAY!!

Viral Gospel

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[John 4:29 NIV] 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

April 18, 1775 Paul Revere, and William Dawes made their famous midnight ride sounding the alarm… “the British are coming!” Historians argue that this daring ride may have turned the tide in the war that led to the birth of our nation.

In our story Jesus engages with a “Samaritan” woman who seems to be on the “outside” of a people who were already “outcasts.” Jesus pushes past all the cultural barriers and engages her with a life altering conversation. “Living water, eternal life, and Jesus is the Messiah!” This woman has encountered the most amazing gift the world will ever know and what does she do next?

With desperate passion, she leaves everything and compels the entire village to come see Jesus for themselves. In two simple but urgent sentences she ignites a response that changes the village forever.

[John 4:42] “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

In this time of great chaos as we navigate our daily lives. Let us not take for granted the gift of the gospel. Jesus has come into our brokenness and offered us healing and hope. The question is what will we do with it? Her passion and urgency to bring others to Jesus resulted in them seeing the truth for themselves. She didn’t let bitterness or fear keep her from getting the message out. May we have the same passion & courage to get others to Jesus this week!

Giants

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:33)

Did you have any expectations when you asked God to lead your life? Sometimes we have these unspoken ideas that perhaps our lives will be “better” or at least a little “easier” when we chose to follow Jesus.  In many respects, this is true.  Yet allowing God to lead you will also mean that there may be changes up ahead. Do we avoid trouble?  Do we choose the easier path?

God was leading the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and toward their “Promised Land”.  As they camped on the border, they sent twelve men across the border to spy out the land and give a report.  Two of the spies came back with glowing tales of milk and honey.  The other ten chose to focus on the difficulty ahead.  All they could talk about was those giants in the land.  The nation grabbed onto their fear and refused to move ahead to the Promised Land.  It was one of those watershed moments in Israel’s history.  Do they go forward in faith, or do they hold back in fear?

The older I get, the less I like change.  I would like everything in my life to stay the same.  Yet I find that as God continues to lead, He challenges me to face a changing future. Let me have the faith of Caleb who said, “we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30).

Lost & Found

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Luke 15:20 NIV] 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The Fathers’ eyes had been fixed on the horizon with loving grace, anxiously waiting for any sign of the son’s return. One could only imagine the daily prayers as He sat hoping for any signs of life. When the moment miraculously came the Father breaks into a sprint not to condemn but to comfort.

So often it is the fear of rejection or anger that keeps the “lost” from coming back. This story illustrates the gracious heart of our heavenly Father. Like a “light-house” on a rocky shore, His love shows us the way safely home. The bible teaches us in [1Jo 1:9] “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

If all this is true why are so many prodigals still afraid to come home? In our story the Father is not the only one to respond. The elder brother is filled with bitterness and refuses to celebrate. The issue is not the anger over the prodigal’s sinful life, but his outrage for the Fathers gracious response. How many prodigals remain at large because the fear of the family is greater than the perceived love of the Father?

The elder’s brother’s resentment over the Fathers grace robbed him of his joy and undermined his own sense of security with the Father. May we this week model the love of the Father, praying and preparing for the return of the prodigal. May we rejoice with heaven over each sinner who repents and guard our hearts from bitterness at the Father’s gracious response.

Daddy’s Girl

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.
[Luke 8:48 NIV] 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

There is something special about the relationship a father has with his daughter’s. The term “daddy’s-girl” instantly brings to mind fathers shepherding the hearts of their princess. As a dad to daughters (and to sons) I understand this special bond of love when saying the words “daughter.”
This woman had been suffering for 12 years with a very personal problem. She had tried everything, but nothing worked. In a moment of desperation, she decided, if I could just grab the hem of Jesus’ garment maybe things could be better.
One could only imagine the feelings of isolation and discouragement, wondering why it was never getting better. “Was God mad at me?” “Had I done something wrong.” “Does God even care!”
When Jesus felt the tug on his garment, instantly He knew someone had reached out in faith. Jesus in the midst of the crowd, asks “who touched me?” Luke tells us (47) that she was “trembling.” Why is she so scared? Verse (44) tells us she has already been physically healed. Jesus wanted to take it one step further. He wanted her to know, I see you, I know you, and I love you. The healing Jesus wanted to do goes even deeper than the physical. He reassures her that she is loved and treasured by her heavenly Father. That He sees her faith, loves her as His child, and cares about her circumstances.
Maybe you are struggling with some personal or private pain. It is time to reach out to Jesus. Grab onto His promises & experience the healing of the gospel. Let Him remind you today, that He sees you, knows you, and loves you!

Follow HIS Lead

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.

As CCF we are faced with a move in our near future! BUT God has gone before us and prepared a way for us, don’t miss His provision and guidance. God faithfully provided for and protected the Israelites on their 40-year move: Exodus 40:36-38 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

God lit up the night sky with the warmth of fire and the light of His presence. He also protected the Israelites with shade by means of a pillar of cloud in the desert. So often in our modern, frenetic lives we run ahead or fall behind. I would like to encourage you to do neither. Don’t get ahead of the cloud of God’s leading and don’t fall behind the warmth of his fire. Stay right in in the ‘sweet spot’ of waiting on Him to move and moving with Him when He does. Good things are ahead!!!

“Mobile”

This weeks Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. (Exodus 25:15)

As Moses and the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, God had them build a portable place of worship, the Tabernacle.  The centerpiece of the Tabernacle was a piece of furniture called the “Ark of the Covenant” (cue Indiana Jones music).  As God gave Moses instructions for how it was all to be built, there is this little footnote about rings and poles.  The Ark was built to be portable.  It wasn’t supposed to settle down and become stationary.  At a moment’s notice the whole thing needed to be ready to get up and move.

Studying the Tabernacle in the wilderness can be instructive on so many levels.  The Ark itself was supposed to be a model of God’s throne.  God was said to “dwell between the cherubim” that were molded on the Ark’s lid.  When the people stopped to camp, the Tabernacle (and Ark) was supposed to be in the very heart of the camp.  And it was all so very mobile.

Is God at the center of your heart?  Does He have the say over decisions you are facing?  Are you aware of His Holy Presence?  So what about those rings?  We need to stay mobile my friends.  When God says “move”, we pick up and go.  God has people to reach, places to go.  He may even want to send you.

The Great Raid

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Exo 12:41 NIV] 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.

In January 1945, the US Army carried out one of the most daring – and most successful – rescue missions in the history of warfare. The rescue mission grew out of the Battle of Bataan, a huge military defeat for the Americans and their allies. The Imperial Japanese Army took tens of thousands of prisoners. They made them march huge distances in unbearable conditions in what became known as the Bataan Death March. By the beginning of 1945, around 500 men were still being held here in unspeakable conditions. The American High Command was determined to get the men out, however difficult that might be. On January 30, they were given the green light. An estimated 500 Japanese soldiers were killed in a brief but intense firefight. Just four Americans died. All but two of the prisoners were safely escorted back across American lines to safety.

In Genesis 15:13-14, God tells Abraham that for 400 years they will be will captives in a foreign land, but He will bring them back. Now 400 years later God delivers on His promise.

[Exo 12:28] The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. The story of Passover culminates in the rescue of God’s people from slavery. The story climaxes in the Israelites placing the lamb’s blood on the doors of their homes so that judgment will “Pass-over” them. God fulfilled His promise to rescue His people from slavery, and by faith the people were saved through the blood of a lamb.

Just like in Exodus, Jesus has come to our rescue, but we too must do our part. We must place the lambs blood over the door of our hearts and by faith follow Jesus out of slavery and into the promise land!