Naaman and the gospel

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.
[2Ki 5:13 NKJV] …”My father, [if] the prophet had told you [to do] something great, would you not have done [it]? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
The story of Naaman and Elijah is a powerful picture of the gospel in many ways. A man with an incurable disease, desperate and willing to pay anything to change it. The Hebrew slave girl that plants the seed of hope, declaring that Elijah could heal him. The impotence of the world to do anything to help Naaman. Elijah’s simple instructions to go to the Jordan and wash seven times and be healed.
When Naaman comes seeking the cure, he comes ready to pay any price. We all want to participate somehow in our salvation. We desire to pay some price for our redemption. We long to feel justified by some act or payment for our sin. However, the cross stipulates that Jesus alone paid the ultimate price. We can add nothing; we can only receive in humble obedience this gift of grace. Naaman almost missed his healing because of his pride. Had it not been for his wise servants encouraging him to take the simple step of humble obedience Naaman would have stayed a leper.
The gospel may be simple… but it doesn’t mean it is easy. Go, wash, and be cleansed. These same words are there for anyone who would listen today. They require only humble obedience for the seeker. May we, like the slave girl, be willing to plant the seeds of hope even among our enemies. Most importantly may we like Naaman not miss out on Jesus’ healing because of our pride or religious expectations. Go, wash, and you shall be clean!

Lying Prophets

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

A prophet was sent north to confront King Jeroboam about the idolatry of the northern kingdom.  The prophet was told by God to give the message, come straight home, and not stop for any reason.

When the prophet reached King Jeroboam, the message was delivered, and even accompanied by some miraculous signs.  The King was indeed impressed and asked the prophet to stay, but being true to God’s command, the prophet refused.  On the way home, the prophet was met by an older prophet from the northern kingdom.  This man too asked the younger prophet to stay, and once again the younger prophet refused.  That’s when the older prophet decided to lie.  He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back’” (1Kings 13:18). The younger prophet followed the older one home, had dinner, but because he had disobeyed God’s direct order, he was met by a lion on his way home and died.

Beloved, there are people who are out to deceive you.  The most pernicious of these lies come from those claiming to speak for God.  You and I are accountable to God to listen to the truth, and not the lie.  How do I know who is lying?  Keep your nose in the book that tells you the truth.  Keep reading your Bible and doing what it says.

“Clean in Thought, Word, and Deed”

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

In a world saturated by sin, constantly pouring out a narrative against God, godliness, and righteousness, how can we keep our heads, hearts, and hands clean? David struggled with this very thing in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I echo David’s sentiment, and I believe that having a clean heart and clean conscience really is a work from God. We are also exhorted in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” How do we keep our way clean? 1) By asking God to create a clean heart in us! 2) By confessing our sins and forsaking them!! 3) By living according to His Holy Word!!! Then, and only then, will we find the steadfastness of the Lord. As we humble ourselves – His infinite strength meets our every challenge.

Further in Psalm 51 David wrestles with the awareness of his own brokenness. He calls his brokenness pleasing to God. How can brokenness be pleasing to God? Brokenness, openness, and humility are essential elements in our maturing with God! Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” When we are humble, God will mature and lift us up. When we are proud, God brings us down to save us! So, pray with me this week, for a contrite heart, for clean hands, and clean conscience that honors God with every feeling, thought, and action!

Heart of Kindness

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

Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” (2 Samuel 9:3a)

David was not a typical new king.  He didn’t fit the mold of the guy replacing an old dynasty. The pattern of ancient history was for the new king to slaughter every known relative of the last king.  You never knew if some distant relative might think you took their rightful place and then plot to take your throne away from you.

But not David.

For years Saul had hunted David and had tried over and over to put him to death. Yet David never lifted a hand against Saul.  And now, after Saul’s death, David has a desire to show kindness to Saul’s family.  David found Saul’s crippled grandson and lavished him with wealth and honor.

Like the rest of the world, we can certainly find ourselves wanting to hold on to grudges and even the score with those who have hurt us.  We may try to guard ourselves from anyone with the faintest connection to those who have hurt us.

But not God. Think about how God has treated us.  Though we were once enemies, it was His kindness that drew us back and even saved us.  Oh that we may learn and cultivate this same heart of kindness.

“Power of the Gospel”

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

[1Sa 25:33 NKJV] 33 “And blessed [is] your advice and blessed [are] you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.

We have all been in those moments of blinding anger. Whether driving on the freeway, or that one guy at work or home who really knows how to “push your buttons.” It is amazing how quickly our patience can turn into passion when we feel wronged by a “fool.”

David had been insulted by Nabal (whose name means fool). David was so offended by his attitude and actions he rallied his army to wipe out Nabal and all his servants. When our pride has been wounded, we can so quickly boil with righteous anger. The bible warns us about our anger… the book of James says, 1:20 “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Abigail rides in with grace and humility. She brings gifts and blessings to David. She reminds him of his calling and even prophesies about David’s life. Her gentle answer quenched the flames of David’s wrath and got David to see the bigger picture. Take a moment and thank the Lord for the people He has placed in your life to point you to wisdom. Maybe it is a parent, spouse, mentor, or loved one. Abigail is a wonderful picture of how the Spirit works in our life. He comes with grace and wisdom, warning us before we sin. Reminding us of what God has done and wants to do in our lives. Let’s remember to be grateful for the “Abigail’s” in our life!  And may we also be ready to give a gracious and gentle answer instead of fanning the fury that often rages around us. Let’s be like Abigail this week!

“Influencer”

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

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

Samuel’s role in the nation of Israel was going to change.  The people had been clamoring for a king, and the time had come to install Saul as king of the nation.  What would Samuel do after this? Would he ride off into the sunset? Would he work on his golf game? Samuel’s role with the nation would certainly be changing, but his calling wouldn’t change.

Samuel had been a man of prayer.  For forty years he had been part of that wall, that hedge of protection, interceding with God on behalf of the nation.  That wasn’t going to change.

Samuel was also a man called to speak.  As a prophet, he had been a mouth piece for God. He had given guidance to the nation.  There were times he even had to call them to repentance when they had gone astray.  That too wasn’t going to change.

Do you want to be an effective influencer for God’s kingdom?  It doesn’t matter whether you are at the beginning or the end of ministry, the call is the same as Samuel’s.  Make a commitment to intercede daily for the people in your life.  Make a commitment to share truth to those you pray for. Make these your lifelong calling.

“In Darkness, What Do You Hold On To?”

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

Are you having a rough day, a rough week, or a rough life? Take courage friend, you’re in good company. Paul was imprisoned unjustly. Transported over the Mediterranean on a cargo ship. He gives the crew solid advice which the captain promptly ignores! They find themselves in the most desperate of situations – blown off course, outrageous wind, colossal waves, and two weeks of not even seeing the sun… The sailors want to abandon the ship, the soldiers want to kill all the prisoners, and none of them have eaten. (I’m not a nice person when I haven’t eaten, ask my wife)

What does Paul (the prisoner) do in the midst of all this? He prays and spends time with Jesus. In the ship where there is NO PEACE, he takes hold of the Prince of Peace. God delivers this precious message to him: Acts 27:22-25 “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”

Spoiler alert, God does EXACTLY as He said he would – everyone is rescued. Paul interceded on behalf of the whole 276-person crew. Beloved, no matter the storm, or the sickness, or the abandonment that you feel, reach out for the Prince of Peace. He is our hope, He is our anchor, He is our very life, hold on to Him and you’ll find that you have everything you need!!

Simple Message

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

“…testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)

On Paul’s way back to Jerusalem, he stopped at Miletus and called for the leadership of the church at Ephesus to meet with him. Paul had this notion that this might very well be the last time he ever sees these men.

As they wept together over what might be ahead, Paul reminded them of the simple, consistent message that he shared wherever he went.  To some folks, the “gospel” can seem quite complicated.  Paul reminded the Ephesian elders the gospel was a simple message about repentance and faith. 

Repentance is about turning around.  It’s about a change of heart, a change of mind.  It’s a person that has been running from God who turns around and runs toward God.

Faith is about trusting.  Salvation doesn’t come by trusting in what we’ve done for God.  Salvation comes from trusting in what Jesus has done for us.  Jesus died to pay for our sins and getting right with God comes when we trust in what Jesus did.

Are you uncertain about your eternal destiny?  Are you struggling with guilt and shame? Paul’s message to you would be a simple one.  Turn around and start trusting in Jesus.

“Power of the Gospel”

This Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Act 13:44] “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.”

The book of Acts shows us a glimpse of how Paul preached the gospel. Paul’s message was so powerful the entire city came out to hear it, what did he say?

Pursue: 17 “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers…” Paul begins His message with God pursuing His people. Paul walks them through the history of God’s redemptive plan. How he brought them out of slavery, led them into the wilderness, and raised up a king after His own heart.

Promise:  23 “From this man’s seed, according to [the] promise…” Paul brings His message to the focus of a promise. Connecting God’s love from Genesis to the present, he reminds them of the promised “Seed” that God would send to deliver His people.

Person: 23… “God raised up for Israel a Savior–Jesus–…” Paul doesn’t shy away from preaching Jesus. The Gospel is about Someone, not just something. He first gives testimony from John the Baptist, then Paul lays out Jesus’ prophetic death and resurrection. Without this, there is no “good news!”

Permission: 39 “and by Him everyone who believes is justified…” Lastly Paul doesn’t just tell what Jesus did, but he invites everyone to partake. As powerful as the news is, it is our response to it that changes lives. Paul gives them permission to respond.

This Easter season may we be bold like Paul to share this eternity altering message in the places He leads us!

“A New Direction”

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

“Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” (Joshua 3:4)

It had been forty years since Israel had left Egypt, and they were about to cross that final barrier into their Promised Land.  They were about to cross the Jordan River.  God had led them various ways over the forty years. Their path had been directed by a cloud and by Moses, but those things were gone.  This was going to be different.  There was some uncertainty ahead.  They had never passed this way before.  This time their guidance would come from the object that represented God’s presence, the Ark of the Covenant.  Yet for this to work, they needed to give the Ark enough space so they could see where God was leading them.

Have you been in uncertain waters lately?  Do you find yourself thinking, “I’ve never been this way before”?  You have a God who desires to lead you.  Sometimes discerning God’s direction requires that we give things a little space, that we learn to “wait” and see where He’s leading us.

Put your focus on God.  You may not know where you are going, but He does. He even knows the right time to move.  Wait on Him.