Tates Creek Christian Church

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Lots of Promises

When we look at the sermon texts for February, we find several promises in Romans 4, 5, & 6. There is so much wonderful truth in these chapters that it is difficult to condense them into a short article such as this one. But let me try to hit some of the highlights:
First of all, we read of Abraham. Can you think of an Old Testament person who tells us more of the power of faith than Abraham? We are reminded in Romans 4 that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Wow! That simple statement that “Abraham believed God” is a powerful one that unleashes a great discussion contrasting faith and works. The chapter closes with an affirmation of the power of Abraham’s faith and how we are all blessed because of it.
In Chapter 5, there is a wonderful promise that we can enjoy peace and joy because of our faith. We can even rejoice in our sufferings because of our faith relationship with God. Did you realize that suffering produces good things in our lives? Suffering can produce perseverance, character, and hope. Hmm…next time I am suffering because of illness, disappointment in someone, or when someone says something unkind to me, I hope I can remember those situations can and should make me a better Christian. I also love the contrast in chapter 5 between Adam and Christ. Adam brought death; Christ brings eternal life. That is a pretty great promise!
Then, there is that powerful Chapter 6. Quite often, this passage is read before a person turns their life over to Christ and is baptized. This is one of the those chapters where one doesn’t know where to stop reading when sharing the Scripture with the congregation. I especially like the promise in these verses: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3,4)
We find lots of great promises in these three chapters. I am anxious to hear about them in our upcoming sermon series. We will sing about those promises, too!

Don Seevers

Dead to Sin – Romans 6

It’s a whole new season of “The Walking Dead”, the TV ad blared. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of “The Walking Dead”. Fact is I’ve never watched it, I mean, dead people don’t walk . . . or anything else for that matter.
Yet, as I was thinking about this, I realized there are some “walking dead” around us. Paul knew some. He wrote; “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) Apparently some Christians didn’t know they were dead to sin and were still walking around in it.
So Paul says, ‘Hey, consider yourselves dead”. I like the KJV’s word: ‘reckon’. Both are good words, I reckon, as both mean to give careful thought to something and come to a conclusion. I reckon being an old(er) preacher, I’ll suggest three reasons why we should “reckon ourselves to be dead to sin”.
First, because it’s true! This isn’t some form of positive thinking, it’s truth. Being united with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, because of our faith in Him, has enabled us to die to sin. You may not realize it yet, but you are dead–to sin that is.
Secondly, this “reckoning” is a part of the transformation process. Later Paul tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind”. Whoa, too much there for this little devotion except to note that our transformation progresses as we learn to see life from God’s perspective. In Christ, God sees you forgiven and dead to sin!
Third reason, related to the second; Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh within himself, so is he”. In context this is a negative thing, but it is also true in a positive sense. As someone has said, “what we think, we are”. Remember, Jesus said if you think about sexual sin you are just as guilty as if you committed the act. The power of thought!
What if, when confronted with the opportunity to sin, I say to myself, “I reckon I’m dead to sin, so I can’t do that.” Sin has no power over me, I’m dead! The devil can’t make me sin, I’m dead! Could that make a difference in how we live for Jesus? Well, I reckon!

Ken Jurgens

Preparing for Battle

What will you do when the devil shows up when you least expect it? Will you be ready? Will you run and hide or beg him to leave you alone? Do have the scriptural depth to stand firm against his schemes as he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy? Throughout the last few years the devil has shown his evil face. Through tragedies on the global front, wars, murders, and divorce. He has roared like a lion and dared anyone in any place to come and face him. Will the church respond with one voice, “We won’t go away quietly! We have the Spirit to fight for us! Our God will win every battle! While your weapon is hate, we have LOVE! Bring it on devil, THE CHURCH doesn’t fear you! It is the bride of Christ!!!”
Since the beginning of the school year the elementary kids have been preparing for battle in the Uptown Castle! Together we are learning about the devil’s schemes and the tricks up his sleeve. We have learned that we aren’t challenged to tuck our tails and run, but that we should stand firm. With God on our side and a life of dependence on HIS strength, we can overcome. So far, we have learned that God has provided us with the equipment of Truth, Righteousness, and the Gospel of Peace. These tools can defend, protect, and be used to defeat our opponent. Over the next few months we will continue to learn the other parts of our Armor from Ephesians 6:10-18! Join with us and prepare for battle. The question isn’t will the devil attack, but when. He won’t wait for you to be ready, but our scripture provides us with two secrets. Depend on God’s strength (Ephesians 6:10) and PRAY for one another (Ephesians 6:18)!

SPECIAL THANKS!!!
I LOVE serving with people that desire to Love the church and serve willingly! When the format for services changed, our team of volunteers in Uptown and Critterland sacrificed and served with flexibility. Thanks to all who serve our kids each week which is more than 100 people on rotation! Instead of losing team members we gained a stronger team and greeters for our youngest families in Critterland!
Thanks to Steve and Tara Waters, Lucas and Jaime Moore, and others that cared enough about the church to put together last month’s Family Friday Movies! Thanks to Jim and Mary Furnish for loving their neighbors and helping us deliver Christmas baskets to 6 families before Christmas! Each of you, and many others are Making a Difference!!!

Matt Lee

You Are The Man – Romans 5:12-21

Someone has said, “The early Christians did not say in dismay; ‘Look at what the world has come to,’ but in delight, ‘Look what has come to the world.’” They saw not merely the ruin, but the resources for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound. On that assurance, the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match. Something new had come into the world, not only here and there, but on a wide scale, men could attain to that once thought impossible thing, goodness. And not only goodness, but health of mind and body, rhythm and harmony in their total being.
That same sense of confidence must possess you if you are to pass from an anemic, noncreative, nay-saying type of person to one who is master of himself, his circumstances, and his destiny. But this confidence and faith must not be based on a self-hypnosis, a mental and spiritual fool’s paradise; it must be based on the solid confidence that your life is related to the sum total of reality, and that reality is working with you and not against you.
Ask yourself this question. Have I a faith in, and loyalty to, something beyond myself that gives ultimate meaning, coherence, and goal to life? And, is that something, God? Or, are there still areas of self-centeredness? Have I really shifted the center of my life from myself to God?
Don’t wait for some miracle to be performed on you from without, lifting you above your fears, doubts, and self-centeredness. You help God from within by showing love to others, and miraculously your fears, doubts, self-centeredness will vanish. The miracle starts from within, not from without.
The secret of abundant living can be summed up in this one sentence: “Not your responsibility, but your response to God’s ability.”
“Father God, my heart beats a little faster, my pulses throb in expectation at the prospect of being the person that I have felt I might be. That is my desire. I follow after You. Amen.”

Bill Johnson

Jesus is Greater

When our family learned from the doctors that they could do no more for my Dad with regard to his cancer, that day was a very difficult day, to say the least. However, after the doctor left the hospital room, my Dad & Mom, two sisters, my brother, and I had a wonderful conversation; emotional, but very good. We thanked him for being such a great Dad, for the hard work ethic he instilled in us, and for the legacy of faith he passed on to us. Each of us told him that we loved him very much! Dad told us that he loved us and the most difficult thing in all of this was that he would have to leave us. The promise that my siblings and I made to him that day was that we would take care of Mom. Since my two sisters and brother live much closer, they fulfill this promise very well, much better than I do. Making that promise was very meaningful for us. Fulfilling that promise is very meaningful, too!
When it comes to promises, what is the greatest promise we have made? Is it the promise to a loved one that we will take care of family? Is it the promise we made to our mate the day we married? Is it the promise we made to follow our Lord? Is it the promise we made to the Lord that we would raise our children to know Him?
What is the greatest promise that has been made to us? Was it the promise our mate made to us on our wedding day? Was it a promise our parents made to us? A promise a friend made to us? I submit that the greatest promise made to us is the promise that God makes to us in Romans 6:23; “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wow! The gift of eternal life!!! That promise can be difficult to process! To live in the presence of God forever and ever! What is even more amazing, this promise is a gift because of God’s grace! A gift that we do not deserve! And yet, this promise of eternal life is guaranteed through Jesus Christ our Lord! II Corinthians 1:20 says, “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes.” He guarantees the promise of eternal life through His blood shed at the cross and through His resurrection from the dead! The promise of eternal life is the greatest of promises! Do we cherish this promise? Do we anticipate and appreciate this promise? Just as we promised Dad we would take care of Mom, God promises us that He will take care of us ~ for all eternity! Wow!!!

Tommy Simpson

Hope

“A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” That is the dictionary definition of the word Hope. As we are working through the book of Romans, especially chapters 4,5, and 6, we realize that God has a great promise for us. The promise of justification through the blood of Christ! This is what gives us hope. Hope in our trials, hope in our stress, hope in our weariness, hope in our weakness, hope in our brokenness. We have great hope in the promise that the blood of Christ offers us.
As I looked specifically at Romans chapter 5, there was some phrasing that stood out to me. I kept seeing the phrases “not only so” and “how much more” repeated. Both of these indicate that there is a much GREATER promise available to us through Jesus Christ. I love the first 5 verses of chapter 5: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5 (emphasis added by me)
The hope that we have in Christ makes even the hardest things we go through worth rejoicing in. We can be sure that each of these trials and tests are developing in us and reminding us of the HOPE we have of eternal life through Jesus Christ. I know this is a difficult scripture to grasp.
James also says in James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Paul and James both knew that even in our trials, even when it seems like all hope is lost, we always have hope in the promise of eternal life. So take joy and have hope, even when the going gets tough!
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he
has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God
has promised those who love him.” James 1:12

Mike Allen

Not Guilty – Romans 5:1-11

I see myself sitting anxiously in a court room, I am the one on trial. The evidence has been presented to the court and it all points to my guilt. And in fact I myself know that, indeed, I am guilty. The judge is in his chambers deliberating on the verdict. I am nervous as I sit waiting for the judge, I feel as if I will jump out of my skin. What will my sentence be?

I hear the bailiff say “all rise” as the judge takes his seat behind the bench. I am told to remain standing and to face the judge. The judge calls out my name and says “I find you not guilty.” I can hardly believe my ears. Relief, like cool water on a hot day, flows over me. Then reality sets in, how can it be? I know I am guilty. The judge seeing the look on my face and knowing my thoughts, tells me “someone else has taken the punishment for your offences.”

I know that the above story is fiction, yet there is truth in the story, truth about how I think of my life before Jesus became my Lord and Savior. The sin that I am ashamed of. Tommy, in the January Tates Creek Current, asked how we would complete the statement: Jesus is greater than __________. I would fill in the blank with: all my sin and shame. The past, though I remember it, has no hold on me; not guilty and forgiven. When I think of that, I am amazed at the love and grace of God through His Son, Jesus the Christ. And the good news is, His love and grace is not for me alone, but it is for you too. So come to Jesus and live!

Larry Critchfield

Making Promises

Do you remember making promises to your parents when you were younger? My daughter always tries to make some sort of deal with her promises. “I promise I’ll sleep with that stuffed animal every night!” (We’ll add it to the ten already filling her bed). “I promise I will never whine again!” Sure, sweetheart. I can’t blame her though, I did the same thing, and to be honest, I still do, as do most of us.

We make promises to God such as “I promise I’ll study your Word more, if you give me that promotion” or “I promise I’ll give more of myself to the church this year”. Unfortunately, most of our promises end up being broken, due to our tendency towards sin. As followers of Christ, we must always remember that God gave us the best promise, the way to Him through His Son! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We should be ever vigilant in our spiritual walk, making sure that we grow and flourish, instead of wither and die. Romans 6:12-14

Lesley Tipton

Trusting in God’s Promises

“Just trust me! This will be quick, it won’t hurt, and if you’re brave I’ll take you out for a treat afterward. I promise!”

After weeks of staring at a loose front tooth I pleaded with my daughter to let me take it out. No one likes the thought of someone else messing with their teeth or mouth, and a painful loose tooth experience the last time had put my daughter on edge. But, by this time I was genuinely frustrated with her. That tooth mocked me every time she smiled, and I was determined to get it out. I remembered having my tooth tied to a doorknob as a kid and thought that my daughter had it much easier than I ever did. Would she trust me enough to pluck it out?
Abraham was in a similar situation in Genesis 15. The one blessing that everyone coveted above any other was the ability to pass on their name to the next generation, to know that even after they died their memory would not be lost. For Abraham and Sarah, though, it looked like time had long since passed for them. Abraham was old now and Sarah was past childbearing age. So when God came to Abraham and told him that, contrary to what he expected, he would instead be the father of as many descendants as there are stars in the sky (verse 5), there was only one person who could make that a reality. When Abraham “believed”, in verse 6, he placed his trust in God to realize the promise.
God saw that trust and counted it as “righteousness”. Normally, someone could get to be in right relationship with God by treating others well. Taking care of the orphan and widow, dealing fairly in business, and participating in the community, were the methods to show God that you were a “good” person and that He should pay special attention to you. God is righteous because He treats everyone fairly and cares for the oppressed. Look at Psalm 146, for example. If you want to be on God’s good side, then you need to act like He does.
But God did something different with Abraham. He was able to get on God’s good side because he trusted God enough to follow Him, even when experience went against the promise. When God further promised Abraham that he would receive the land of Canaan as an inheritance, Abraham trusted, even though there was no way that he could verify this.
The rest of chapter 15 shows just how serious God was. The elaborate sacrifice ritual and appearance of a smoking pot and torch mirrored the standard treaty ceremony that formalized relations between two nations. Usually the larger nation would force the weaker to walk through the midst of the sacrificed animals as a warning of what would happen if they broke the terms of the treaty. The relations were dependant on the weaker party following the terms set out by the stronger. So we would expect Abraham to be the one walking through the midst of the animals, but instead God passes through himself.
The promise to Abraham depended on one condition: God’s favor! That’s what grace is. God’s promises extend to everyone who trusts in Him. This is Paul’s point in reflecting on the cross-cultural and multi-ethnic power of the Gospel:
“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Romans 4:16 (ESV)
We don’t have to fulfill any conditions in order to participate in this promise: not money, not influence, not race or ethnicity, not even following the terms of the Mosaic Law. It is God that guarantees the promise to us. And when we broke the terms of the treaty, it was Jesus who walked through death in order to restore a new treaty, a new covenant, between God and humankind.
When my daughter composed herself just long enough for me to get my fingers on that tooth it popped right out. Just being close enough was all it took, and we went out to get a treat to celebrate afterward. It was a joy to fulfill my promise to her, and I think God takes his greatest joy in fulfilling His promises to us!

Brad Haggard

Righteousness Reckoned – Romans 4

It seems that keeping promises does not have the same meaning as it once did. Promises are often broken due to unforeseen circumstances, but often times they were never intended to be kept from the start. Whether we consider broken promises through business contracts, politics, or through our relationships, it is comforting to associate with people who keep their promises.
Sometimes we make excuses if we fail to keep a promise, or fail to recognize our own faults. As Christians, we all sin and fall short. But God has made a promise to the faithful! Romans 4:3-5 states “What does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts in God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness”. Paul illustrates that righteousness is separate from works of the law but rather through faith.
In times of sorrow and suffering, a strong faith gives us comfort and is pleasing to God. Abraham remained faithful to God and gave him glory and the Lord blessed him as the father of many nations. A strong faith is also an encouragement to others. Our church is blessed to have many members who are generous with their time and service. We are blessed even more to have many who are an encouragement to others because of their strong faith.
Paul concludes Romans 4 in verses 23-25 revealing “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness- for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.
As believers we are justified by faith, and the promise from God is the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

David Straub

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