Are you ready to celebrate Christmas again this year?
"Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away..."
For the last four decades, the world has been captured and anticipating the movies by George Lucas and his team as they created the Star Wars phenomenon. These stories have been so successful that other writers and directors have joined in to create more and more adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and all of the other beloved characters that you can call them by name. Think how much money has been made and spent? Why?
We love stories of adventure, good battling evil, romance, heroes and heroines, super powers and more. These fictional stories, myths, legends and fairy tales all start out with clues that these are fantasies.
But, when it comes to the best story of good battling evil, true love, adventure, unknowns and a real hero, that story starts off totally different.
"This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Matthew 1:1
Then it goes on and lists name after name after name, generation after generation after generation. Why?
Because this is not a fantasy. It is not a made up story. This is a historical record of the real Hero in the history of the world, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This the historical truth of the Creator, who has superpowers, comes to earth to battle evil. Who seems to be defeated by being killed, but conquers death, evil and sin by rising from the dead. These many generations, these many families, these many names are real historical people that average people throughout history can look up and discover their real stories in actual history.
As we start this Christmas season, let's remember this is not a good Christmas story to help us feel better. This is the record of the greatest love story ever experienced. God loving all of us humans so much that He came to us as a baby, in a manger, to put Himself in our place so He could put us in His place. The Greatest News is that Jesus died in our place so that we would not have to.
This Christmas season, read those names, look up their stories. Let the mess of their lives shock you. Let the love of God stepping into their lives to love them, rescue them and adopt them into His family tree amaze you. All those scandalous people from a variety of ethnicities, classes of people, men and women, young and old, Kings, prostitutes, adulterers, murders who all deserve to be eternally separated from a holy God, are all there in Jesus' family tree.
Do you need a Hero like this? A Hero who loves you, who has power over evil, death and sin. A Hero who has rescued you by adopting you into His family. A Hero who wants to rescue you and adopt you into His family.
Let's let this true story capture our minds, hearts and souls all over again. Let's accept this story, this Greatest News. Let's pass this Greatest News on to others.
Marveling at Greatest Marvel Hero the world has ever known,
When was the last time you heard someone, your children or grandchildren ask,
"How long until we get there?"
"How long until we eat?"
"How long until this Coronavirus is over?"
What week are we into this global pandemic?
For so many of us, it is too long.
David knew what it was to wait for relief, for rescue, for help. So, God inspired him to write Psalm 13. Take a moment to read these 6 verses. Read it again. Can you see the three prayer sections? v 1-2, v 3-4, v 5-6
v 1-2 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
David's problem. David's honest questions to God. David's spiritual feeling and spiritual reality that he feels...
What is your soul and spiritual condition these days?
Do you feel close to Jesus or distant?
How are you responding to this "shelter in place" time?
Spend some time asking Jesus to help you see your real spiritual condition...
v 3-4 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
How many prayers does David pray?
How does David address God?
"O Lord" = Jehovah = Covenant Keeping God
"God "= Elohim = Creator
"Enlighten my eyes..."
What a prayer request!
Pray this for yourself. Pray that for your family. Pray this for Southtown Baptist Church. Pray this for everyone you know. Pray that God's face will shine on each of us. Pray that God will bring us out of spiritual darkness and into the light. Pray this for the world.
v 5-6 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
What are the three ways David experiences God?
"Your lovingkindness" = checed = zeal to do kindness
"Your salvation" = yeshuwah = that which is delivered
"dealt bountifully with me" = gamal = to deal out lavishly
God answered David's prayer bountifully.
How is God answering your prayers?
Ponder Ps 13. Can you see God eagerly and zealously desiring to bless you bountifully?
Let Him bless you. Receive. Marvel. Enjoy. Pray for others.
Being blessed together,
There is nothing better than Easter. Nothing better than Jesus rising from the dead. I marvel and try to picture each day of Easter week and then each day of those 40 days where Jesus walked around in His resurrected body... Luke 24:50-53 tells us about that 40th day.
"Then Jesus led them out to the vicinity of Bethany. He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
When was the last time you were on a walk? Who was it with? What did you talk about? Did you notice the shift in the conversation after the first twenty minutes? Or maybe you did not walk that long...
"Then Jesus led them out to the vicinity of Bethany."
I love trying to picture Jesus when He is walking with people. I love when the Bible gives us a glimpse into what they were talking about during their walk. The Bible does not record most of those walking conversations. But, I bet they were some of the best ones.
Was their shock and amazement at full throttle?
Were their fears calmed down?
Were their doubts dealt with?
Were most of their questions answered?
Were their hearts renewed?
"He lifted up His hands and blessed them."
When was the last time you let Jesus bless you?
When you meet with Jesus do you sense His blessings coming on you?
What are those blessings?
"He left them and was taken up into heaven."
Another miracle experienced... wow!
"Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
They were never the same again after that.
What could top that? Pentecost... Ministry... Lives transformed... Millions of churches around the world...
Still marveling over Jesus,
Easter Week. Holy Week. The Most Important Week in history.
As you read through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John about this week, what is the Holy Spirit directing your attention too? What disturbs you? What overwhelms you? What do you love about it?
In the midst of so much darkness, there is so much light. Jesus is light.
When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God...."
Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:14-20
This Good Friday Worship Service, I too look forward to celebrating the Lord's Supper with all of you. This will be one of the most unique Lord's Suppers since we will be in our own homes with just our immediate families.
Please make preparations, much like the disciples did. Get some bread and juice to be the symbols of the body and blood of Christ. Set the table how you would like, room for everyone.
See you all Friday at 7pm via our Facebook or Website.
Praying for a special time.
As a dad, like all parents, I have desired and continue to strive to be an expert on each of our four children, now semi-young adults to young adults.
When they come home, or I come home or when I see them for the first time that day or evening, I want to discover how they are doing by observing them. I want to know how they are doing emotionally, relationally, physically, spiritually and how they are doing with their responsibilities. I have learned to notice the expressions on their faces, the focus of their eyes, the descriptive words they use to share about their day, their slouch or determination of their posture. I seek to listen. I seek to ask questions. Sometimes I have a moment with them as we greet and walk by. Other times, we are able to connect with a deeper conversation.
Then I pray and seek to give them what they need from me, their dad.
Do they need encouragement?
Do they need a listening ear?
Do they need a challenging word that gets them moving?
Do they need to be yelled at?
Do they need a hug?
Do they need a companion to go do something?
Where have I learned to be a dad? I have two great dads. My biological dad, Mark Christian Reinertson. And my Creator, my Heavenly Father.
As we are facing this Global Corona Storm, we have been looking at Psalm 46 during our Wed evening Encouragement & Prayer time.
There are at least 6 different characteristics of God in this Psalm. Take some time reading, rereading, and thinking through each characteristic. Which characteristic do you need to lean into today?
Examine your own current state of being. How are you doing emotionally, relationally, physically, spiritually, and stress wise with all your responsibilities?
Wait, ask God to help you see yourself.
Pray, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Ps 139:23-24
If you read v 19-22 of Ps 139, you will read the relational and spiritual condition of David. His heart and mind are full of confusing emotions toward his enemies and God's enemies. Is it righteous or unrighteous emotions and thoughts? It is challenging to discover the reality of our own heart, mind and soul condition because God made us very complex and wonderful.
What is God helping you see about you? Let's be extremely real with Jesus. Let's listen to what He says about our heart, mind and soul condition.
Then, let's lean into Him in Ps 46 as...
v 1 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."
v 11 "The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
God - Elohym, The Supreme One
Almighty God (Warrior God/Host of Heaven's Armies)
God of Jacob (Jacob the schemer, liar, manipulator)
Are you encouraged yet?
Praising God for being an expert on each of us.
Praising God for letting us lean into Him in all of His wonderful characteristics.
Praising God in this Global Corona Storm together,
I am trusting you are having encouraging time with your family and with Jesus. I trust the Holy Spirit is illuminating the Word in fresh ways that are filling your soul, mind and heart.
I have been listening to the Psalms being read through my phone as I walk each day. It has been refreshing. Our family has been praying and enjoying each other. I have been really busy trying to figure out how we will shift from a face to face church family to an electronic church family.
One Psalm I keep coming back to and letting Jesus anchor me with is Psalm 46. I hope you are familiar with it. I shared an outline about it last night in our first Zoom Prayer Encouragement meeting. It was wonderful to see so many faces, hear your voices, see your confidence in Christ through the Zoom technology.
Psalm 46 is a true worship Psalm. We can see the chorus being repeated in v 7 and v 11.
We can see the Psalmist proclaim four powerful characteristics of God in v 1.
The Psalmist helps us imagine the worst case scenarios that could happen to us through Natural Disasters and Warring Nations in v 2-6. This allows us to enter into both the worship song and personal wrestling with God as we face whatever bad circumstances that lie before us.
We see in v 8 and v 10 how we are to shift our attention off our bad circumstances and focus on the Living Lord by...
-Remembering what great things God has done
-Being still in His Ever-Present Characteristic
-Thinking through, talking through, praying through the amazing six characteristics this Psalmist writes about...
2. God our Refuge
3. God our Strength
4. God our Ever-Present
5. The Lord Almighty
6. The God of Jacob
Which of those names of God are feeding your soul right now?
Which of those characteristics are peaking your interest?
The Lord Almighty in Hebrew is Jehovah Tsaba.
Jehovah means self-existing, always existing, God is always, never a beginning and never an ending.
Tsaba is hosts, armies, warriors.
God is our Warrior God. God is the God of the Heavenly Army.
What does Elohim mean? I'm leaving that one for you...
Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the Psalmist with “The God of Jacob”?
Jacob, the heal grabber. The schemer. The liar. The sinner.
Aren't we all just like Jacob, a selfish sinner in need of a Savior? God is communicating to the world that He is a God who loves the world. He is a God that loves each person no matter who we are or what we have done. God is the God of Jacob who is seeking to wrestle with each person until they say "Yes" to Jesus' overwhelming, personal love for them.
What a God!
Let's remember the great things “The God of Jacob” has done in our lives.
Let's be so encouraged that we cannot help but watch for opportunities to share this characteristic of God, along with the other five characteristics, with the people we encounter today, this week and all the time.
Let's keep coming back to Psalm 46. Let's learn to sing it in our hearts and minds. Let's be encouraged by it, so that we become fearless and wise as we face this pandemic.
Psalm 46ing it together,
How was your time with Jesus this morning? I hope and pray that it was empowering for your soul to the point you are experiencing 1 Thess 5:16-18 - JPT (Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful).
Here is the link to watch last night's encouraging prayer time with 4 servant leaders of SBC.
As a church family, the leadership is seeking to continue to be the church family with each other, for each other and for those far from Jesus around us.
We have functioned in these three ways... large group, small group and one on one. We will continue to do these three electronically.
1. Large group worship experiences.
-Live stream through facebook. Then we will email or post the recording.
2. Small group experience.
-If your group is less than 10, you can meet together. If you want, you can schedule a larger room at church to meet to spread out in order to follow the distancing suggestion.
-Zoom meetings is a way to meet electronically. Our Small Group Leaders and Sunday School Leaders are working on getting this set up hopefully by this weekend.
3. One on one experience.
We want all of you to continue to connect with each other in any way you feel most safe.
Know that the church leadership, Staff, Deacons and Church Council, are all a phone call, text or email away to connect with you about a need, concern, prayer request or a visit.
Again, here is the link from last night's encouraging prayer time.
Please let me know any needs, concerns or prayer requests.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:23-25
Seeking to connect with Jesus, each other and those far from Jesus together,
How are you doing with the continual updates of the Coronavirus news?
Are you fear-filled?
Are you avoiding the news?
Are you seeking Jesus and experiencing His confidence?
Or maybe your reaction is something else.
Southtown is continuing to monitor news and updates from the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Currently, the advice is to "Be cautious but carry on."
What does that mean for us?
1. It means Jesus loves you and is in control of all of your days.
Matt 10:29-31 Jesus taught, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
2. It means we do not know what tomorrow will bring, but we know who holds tomorrow in His hands.
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
3. It means we live fearlessly and wisely in Jesus.
1 John 4:17-18 In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Eph 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.
4. It means we serve others in the midst of this crisis.
Luke 10:36-37 Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
God's Word is a light unto our path. Let's continue following Jesus and His Word. He is our light and hope. As He lives in us, we are light and hope for others.
Here are a few things we have been doing and will continue to do...
-Pray for God's remedy, for those sick, for protection and more...
-Knuckles, elbows and foot shakes instead of handshakes.
-Wash hands regularly, especially after coughing and sneezing.
-Stay home if you are sick.
-Doug (our awesome Custodian) sprays and washes touched surfaces before and after church events, especially Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings.
-We will provide hand sanitizer and have bathrooms fully clean and supplied.
-All nursery, children's and teen toys and equipment will be cleaned.
-Sunday Snacks will be pre-packaged food.
We have plans and ideas in place if things change. We are open to your ideas and suggestions.
How we respond reflects our faith in Jesus. Let's continue to trust Jesus and love and serve others.
Trusting Jesus, the Light and Hope of the world, together,
I asked Hayley Marcon, a young woman who has been part of our Puerto Rico Mission Team for the past three years, to share her thoughts on her experience this year.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
There are many words I could use to describe a mission trip: exciting, uncertain, trying, thrilling, awesome, exhausting, joyful adventures. At surface, we tend to view mission trips as opportunities to share the Gospel and share Jesus with the people of our destination. But I would argue that God uses you and me in these positions to not only bring His Word to the ends of the nations but just as importantly, to grow and stretch and deepen our own faith. I revel in seeing God use me as a tool to further His kingdom, but as God uses me to minister to others, He is speaking to me and shaping my heart.
This year’s Puerto Rico mission trip was incredible. We completed difficult, physical work in aiding the construction of Iglesia Bautista Christo la Roca’s new building led by Pastor Roberto. We scraped ceilings, removed lighting fixtures, knocked out walls and window frames, and cleaned up the rubble. We brightened local schools by painting designs and walkways and hosted classroom activities and served ice cream. We held a sports camp in a neighborhood that has allowed us to return for three consecutive years despite turning away other missionaries. We loved kids and showed them what it means to be “God made, Jesus Saved.” We held their hands and prayed with more than three dozen children who accepted Christ. It was amazing.
For me, Puerto Rico has been a blessing that I never saw coming. I went prepared to change lives and came back changed. This year, God has been teaching me a lot about His love for me. I don’t think anyone can ever fully understand it. God’s love doesn’t always make sense, at least not in human terms. It isn’t deserved. It doesn’t change. It overflows and abounds and never ends. The intensity of the love that I felt for and from people in PR doesn’t begin to compare to how much God loves me, and I felt it in my blood and my bones. God wrapped six little hands of three beautiful little girls around me, and they’ve had my heart ever since. They quickly became my kids. You don’t have to speak the same language to love someone with your whole heart. I love them with a fierce and deep love and earnestly pray that what they heard while we were there has a lasting impact, that God moves in their hearts and minds and opens doors for them to walk into His arms and proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Through them, God is teaching me that His love is even more fierce and deep. God loves those girls more than I ever could. God’s love for me is more than my love for those girls. And if His love is so great, why do I worry? I worry because I grow weary. I forget. I try to do it on my own. But I don’t need to do it alone...because I’m God made, Jesus saved, and He will carry me when I can’t do it. He will never leave me.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
God offers hope in a community run by drug lords. He offers hope after hurricanes and earthquakes. He offers hope when the cancer comes back. He offers hope when I don’t know where I’m going to live. God moves in the most difficult of times. He is an anchor when the storm is raging. God sees us through because His love is deep and vast and wide.
Puerto Rico means far more than I ever imagined it could because God used relationships with children to illustrate His love for me. He broke down language barriers and crumbled walls and filled my heart.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Quite often, we slip into a dry spell. We experience lack of enthusiasm. We get unmotivated about life in general. We forget that our attitude is a choice and we let circumstances influence how we are doing.
If the weather is bad, if we have a handful of problems from work, if we are struggling with a key important relationship, if we are overwhelmed with one personal problem, we can let these negative circumstances control our attitude and motivation.
That is why the Bible is such a gift. Each and every passage has the power to help us deal with this. Psalm 119 helps to identify issues that drag us down so we can address them with wisdom from above. After all, a lack of enthusiasm isn't a problem with emotions; it's a spiritual problem that can't be corrected with a pep talk or even a happy experience. The psalmist's lengthy poem about the Word of God holds the keys to regaining a Christ like attitude.
If we think of the spirit as needing food, the problem is often malnutrition. God's Word—His written Truth—provides the Christian with all the nutrients and true enthusiasm he or she can absorb. Coupled with the indwelling Holy Spirit's motivating power, God's Word can virtually transform a life. But the effects are not instantaneous. You can't reverse the effects of physical starvation with just one meal.
If Psalm 119 says anything, it says we must be willing to consume a steady diet of truth from His Book and digest the principles it contains. Pore over it. Pray over it. Read it. Study it. Memorize sections of it. Meditate upon it. Let it saturate your thinking. Use it when problems arise. Filter your decisions through it. Don't let a day pass without spending time alone with God, listening to the silent voice of His eloquent Word.
Read through Psalm 119. Let God speak to you personally. Listen to Him.
As we are in the current series, Finding 2020 Vision, I have been very encouraged to review each passage of Scripture about what God's will is. I have tried to picture each passage, the surrounding passages and memorizing some specific verses. The result - hope! Joy! Freshness! An Alive Attitude To Tackle Life!
According to John 6, God’s will is to daily look, come and believe in Jesus.
According to Eph 5, God’s will is to be filled with the Spirit.
According to 1 Thess 5, God’s will is to JPT always.
According to 1 Thess 4, God’s will is to celebrate and protect God’s gift of sex and sexuality.
According to Rom 12, God's will is to daily offer your life as a living sacrifice to God.
How is your attitude these days? Is it being energized by God's living Word?
Seeking God's 2020 Vision together,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.