MESSAGE: Tomorrow morning I am starting a new sermon series based on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This will be an exciting journey as we learn about his concept of the “the new man”. Starting a new year we want to be sure we know know where we stand in our relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-5 will be in the heart of my message tomorrow. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
“Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking forgiveness and acceptance can say only,—
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
But the promise of sonship is made to all who “believe on his name.” Everyone who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon. (The Review and Herald, September 3, 1903.)
CHURCH LIFE. Our worship service on the first Sabbath of this year was a huge blessing. Thank you, Larry Otto, for the wonderful time of spiritual celebration in praises, hymns, and music. I was in my brother’s church in Auburn, AL that day, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of peeking into the live web stream from our church. I received many exciting messages from our church members commenting on the excellent service. We truly have many reasons to celebrate God’s goodness. Last year was a time of many miracles that God perfomed in our midst. Let His name be glorified.
On Tuesday night the Evangelism committee reviewed our outreach plans for the new year. I hope that in the next two-three weeks these creative ideas will be finalized and shared with the church. I am thankful to God that our church takes Christ’s commission with great sense of responsibility. I am looking forward to many wonderful activities and programs designed to reach out to the needs of our community.
Wednesday afternoon Rita shared with our office staff great news of this church’s faithful stewardship. The whole point of the Fresh Financial Start was to eliminate deficit in our local church budget and to start the new year with at least $1 in the newly established operating reserve fund. At the meeting Rita reported that as of January 1 there was about $23,000 in the operating reserve fund! This is what God can do when we give ourselves into His hands. I pray now that we get out of the “projects mode” and show faithful consistency in our local church giving. God is faithful to us not only in November or December. He showers us with His blessings during cold winters and hot summers. I challange myself and our church family to see His blessings and to respond with open hearts and hands.
On Wednesday night I had lots of fun visiting visiting the Adventurer’s club program. We have great leaders in that club! Thank you, Becky Denton, for your excellent leadership and for your happy spirit. David Denton asked me to spend a few minutes with his group of Adventurers. The kids had some deep questions for me. Here is a photo from my Adventurer’s night 🙂
That same Wednesday night during our Prayer meeting we agreed to study a new book by Ellen White, called The Santified Life. What great depth of wisdom and guidance in our daily walk with Jesus! Please, join us for a study next Wednesday night. Our head elder Steve Bremner purchased all in stock copies of this book from the Collegedale ABC store. Don’t ask for this book at the store. Come to the prayer meeting and we’ll be sure you’ll get your own copy as a gift from the church.
On Thursday I had an honor of having lunch with the Young at Heart team. We had good Mexican food and excellent fellowship time. I felt even younger after that lunch! Thank you guys for inviting me to be a part of your group. As far as I understand this is an open group for anyone who would want to feel young and to eat good food. Talk to Nancy Smiley or Lupina if you are interested in joining this happy circle.
A week from today, January 15, I invite you to participate in our own Week of Prayer. To accommodate different work schedules there will be two sessions: at 8 am and at 6 pm. Thirty minutes prior to each session there will be hot herbal tea with muffins and donuts in the morning and bagels and cheese in the evening. You don’t have to stay for the whole hour. Come when you can and feel free to leave earlier if needed. There will be no 8 am sessions on Sabbath mornings. The last meeting is on January 23 at 6 pm.
Please pray for OAKS. Over a hundred children come there every day to learn about their Creator. Shelly, her staff, and teachers need our constant prayers. Many of the OAKS students are taking bible studies and are getting ready for baptism. Our youth pastor Aubrey is providing spiritual guidance to the teachers and the students. I invite you to pray for Aubrey daily.