Sing Along in Hope

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When you see news reports about devastating events happening around the world, how can you not cry out for help?  Why does it happen?  Why does evil continue?  There are many answers offered to these questions.  We seek answers because we all ask the same question.  Why?

When asked what he thought was the greatest commandment of God, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NIV)

The question, “What is the greatest commandment?” is really a question of “How can the world be perfect?”  When God gives a command, it is never to oppress humanity.  The Bible presents God as a loving, caring Father only wanting what is best for the people he created.  God gaves us rules because sin entered the world (through people’s own choice!) turning every person’s heart inward and downward instead of outward and upward.  The rules He gave were meant to remind us that evil exists and must be avoided, but also to give us boundaries to keep us safe from the clear and hidden dangers present in the world.  The fact that each one of us breaks these rules is meant to teach us that we are in need of a Savior.

Why do bad things happen?  Because the person who committed the evil stopped pursuing a love for God and a love for neighbor.  Lest you think only certain people stop loving others, personal experience is clear that we all do it to some extent or another.  Not everyone will sink to the depths of hatred, but we all will experience a spark of hatred against our God and our neighbor from time to time.  If we aren’t watchful, that spark will turn into a blaze destroying our soul and blinding us to the love of God made free to us through the work of Jesus Christ.

The Way of Jesus is the way out of sin and hatred.  The way to combat evil in the world is to intentionally pursue the Way of Life as lived and exemplified by Jesus.

Where else would you turn?  What is lacking in Jesus’ teaching?  Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself.  He acted in love toward his enemy even as his enemy nailed him to the cross.  He showed his audience that seeking God is a good thing with good results; not a blind religion of self-hatred and exclusion.  Do followers of Jesus get this wrong?  Yes!  But does a Christian’s mistake prove Jesus wrong? No!  Jesus expected that each one of us is a work in progress.  He accepted everyone without reservation, he loved unconditionally, and forgiveness is free for the asking.  Each of us is a work in progress.  Jesus is calling anyone who will listen to start the progress by joining him in walking the Way; His way.

As you encounter evil in your community, remember Jesus.  As you cry out in sadness, also rejoice in praise for the great God we have.  He has not abandoned nor will he forsake those who trust in him.  Do you want war to end?  Follow Jesus.  Do you want love to reign?  Follow Jesus.  Do you want crime to cease?  Follow Jesus.  If everyone were intentionally following Jesus and trusting in God, the world would immediately be a better, more loving, and safer place.  Whenever anyone fails to love God and their neighbor (and we all do it) is when evil spills out.

It’s your choice.  You want to stop evil from ruining your life?  Then start walking in the Way of Jesus.  You want your neighbor to change direction?  Then start loving them as Jesus loves them.  Be involved, be intentional, be resolved to learn how to love God and love others as Jesus did.  Don’t cry out in despair, rather look to Jesus and sing along in hope!

November 26, 2017: Be Excited about Jesus

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Preached by Evan Stewart (00:25)

Each year, Black Friday shopping events bring amazing deals that create excitement for shoppers. During the holiday season we get excited about stuff and events, but do you get excited about Jesus?

There were a few people that saw the birth of Jesus like some of us might see the ultimate Black Friday deal. The shepherds, Simeon, and Anna; they were the Black Friday shopper’s for Jesus. The shepherd’s spontaneously went into Bethlehem when they heard the ad for the best deal in town. Simeon came to the temple for the door buster deal. Anna camped inside the store for the once in a lifetime event. The tragedy is that they didn’t have to push and squirm through a crowd. They were the only ones.

We can become so wrapped up in everyday life that we can be like the other people at the temple that day who had no idea or care who that little baby was. The Creator of everything was in the temple and only two people noticed.

As you prepare for Christmas, listen as Evan encourages us to find ways to be excited about Jesus.  Jesus’ coming should excite you.

Scripture references: Luke 2:8-38; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

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May 7, 2017: Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum Presentation

Presented by Robert Canen (00:38)

Robert Canen, Director of the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum, visited LJCF on Sunday morning.  Mr Canen spoke about the work of the museum and why the Bible is the most critical piece of evidence when studying ancient earth and the origin of the universe.

Contrary to popular opinion, the question of human and physical origin is not a question of “observational science” alone (the kind of science you learn at school), but rather it is a question of “historical science” (science that relies on observational records from human history, theory and assumptions about non-observed and non-repeatable events).  Since many conclusions of origins cannot be tested or repeated in a laboratory, the pursuit of origin must include information from nature (observation), philosophy, and theology.

In a culture that continues to draw a sharp division between science and religion, Mr Canen provides a winsome and thoughtful explanation as to why the biblical record must be considered evidence when studying earth’s ancient history and human purpose.  While the biblical writings are not a scientific textbook (in terms of the material and method by which it provides information) these writings claim the authority of God the Creator and they speak to the question of origin.  The Bible as a whole and in parts should not be discarded as critical evidence of origin simply because the Bible as a whole is not written like a modern day textbook.  Science without God says, “In the beginning something happened”.  Science with God says, “In the beginning God created”.

Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 3:15; Genesis 1:29-31; Romans 5:12, 8:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:17-19

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