The Greatest Easter Sermon Ever Preached

 
 
Was by 
John Chrysostom (349-407), the early church’s famed preacher and archbishop of Constantinople at the great Church of Holy Wisdom (Built by the early Christians, nowt aken over by Islam as if it were there own creation, the Hagia Sophia in what is now called Istanbul).

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On the Move

The word is getting out that Pathway Fellowship is in the process of buying the Historic, Victorian Caldwell Mansion on Greenback Lane as our new home. Understandably it has raised some doubts and fears of what might happen to the Mansion. The last 2 groups who have sought to buy the Mansion were going to raze it to the ground and build new edifices for their businesses. They were both turned down because of their goal of destroying the mansion. Our offer to buy the Mansion has been accepted by the sellers because our intent is to restore and keep the Mansion as a historical building and site.

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National Day of Prayer

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Thomas Paine once said, “these are the times that try men’s souls”.

America is in crisis, inside and out.  Protestors are threatening our peace from within, rioting if they don’t get what they want.  College age adults, trained in our schools, want limits on free speech.  They want to decide what is acceptable and what is not.  The PC police have frightened most Americans from speaking their own minds.   Outside of our borders we face new threats of terrorism on our shores.  Millions of people unhappy with their lot in life have been illegally streaming into our country in order to attain free benefits from our government: education, medical care, welfare, housing without having to work for it.  Our own politicians are enabling them in order to gain votes in any election.  O yes, they are not citizens, but they can get drivers licenses and they will vote.

 

Within our country we have seen the corruption of government in every sector, leaders who set up rules for the citizens which they themselves refuse to be a part of.  Just look at the degradation in our country due to a loss of proper values and morals.  Have your read about North Carolina’s new bathroom laws to protect our families and children, while our own Federal Justice Department is trying to overturn such laws as civil rights violations.  What about the rights of descent American’s who don’t want a few people’s perversions flaunted in their face while they try and use public bathroom?  Don’t they have rights as well?   We have a secular elite who want to remove our foundational freedoms in order to bolster their own power in government.  They are systematically tearing down and undermining the great foundations of our country.  What ever happened to the “will of the people”?

 

If there’s ever been a time in our countries history in which we ought to drop to our knees and begin to pray earnestly for our nation, this is it.

We have gone so far off course that it seems impossible to get back to what America used to be, what America needs to be for our sake as well as for the sake of the world. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”  We have always had the sense that we could do anything and fix anything, but as I look today we have gone too far.  It is going to take a miracle of Biblical proportions to save America for future generations.

 

In the book “7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” by Eric Metaxas,

He recounts a story of George Washington’s commitment to prayer during the Revolution. His nephew, George Lewis, told a Washington biographer that “he had accidentally witnessed [the general’s] private devotions in his library both morning and evening: that on these occasions he had seen him in a kneeling position with a Bible open before him and that he believed such to have been his daily practice.”

 

Would that every Christian in America had that kind of commitment to prayer.  It was a miracle that we won the revolutionary war, it was a miracle that gave us success at Midway that opened the door for victory in WW2.  Throughout our history the God fearing praying Christians of America have touched the heart of God and kept our country afloat.  We must get back to this kind of passionate prayer.

 

At Chuck Colson’s center they have given us specific focus on how Christ’s church—the people of God—can make a difference in our culture and around the world. We should not hesitate to join them and millions of others throughout our country.

And here’s what we will pray:

  1. We will praise the Lord that His sovereign goodness is as true today as ever. We will remember that this world ultimately belongs to God,

who created all things and Who, in Christ, is restoring all things.

  1. We will repent of our sin, and thank God for His promised forgiveness.

We will remind ourselves that all have sinned, and that we are welcomed

by God through repentance. Nehemiah began his work in the world with repentance. So will we.

  1. We will pray for our current government leaders to fight evil and stand up for truth. We will remember that there is no place where God is not at work.
  2. We will pray that truth and justice will prevail over “political correctness” and “tolerance,” both in our own lives and in our culture. We will remember that right and wrong do not change according to cultural fashions, nor does legality alter morality.
  3. We will pray for the upcoming election season, that God would show us mercy and not give us what we deserve. We will remember that God ultimately orchestrates human history and uses whom He will to accomplish His purposes.
  4. We will pray that God unites His people, using them to bring restoration in this broken culture. We’ll remember that those who have been reconciled to God have been put on mission as agents of reconciliation.

 

Friends, as we pray, we must remember what is true about God, about the Church, and about the world. History demonstrates that God will not tolerate legally approved immorality & a country that spurns His Word & His Ways. But history also shows us that God will hear our prayers.

We CAN make a difference!  We must for the sake of our children & grandchildren.

Mike Samarkand 1024x768

 

Coram Deo,
 
Pastor Mike


Coffee anyone?

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A group of young adults got together at a friend’s home.
They talked about a lot of things but soon the conversation turned into complaints  about politics, stress in work, trouble in our country & life.
The host offered his guests coffee.  He went to the kitchen where he had already prepared the coffee.  He picked out a number of different cups and mugs, as he had a good collection.  Some were porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite.  He brought it into the room with sugar and cream telling them to help themselves to the coffee.   After everyone had chosen a cup, and began to drink their coffee, the host remarked to the group.  "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for us to want only the best for ourselves, that is the source of our problems and stress.   "Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases, it's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup.   But, subconsciously, we go for the best cups...and then we began eyeing each other's cups.   "Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and, the politics, our position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups.  Let’s enjoy our coffee.”   When a family suffers a devastating fire in their home a number of things transpire.  There is the immediate shock followed by the sense of loss when you start to realize all that was destroyed.  The task of sorting through the rubble, is often a very painful task.  People often have to move out of the house right away due to health issues or safety problems.  That change in itself can be very demoralizing.   At some point you begin to focus on what is really important in life. It always comes down to loved ones and relationships.  You realize that your life was not the house of the things in it.  Job, in the Old Testament, experienced this in a major way that. God forbid we will ever have to experience such a nightmare.   The house the clothes, the possessions, were just the cups that hold our lives. God is most concerned about His beloved children. The cups they come and go.  Sometimes in life the cups are beautiful and precious.  At other times they are downright disappointments. But through it all, it is the “coffee” that is important, what God is brewing in our lives.  
Fortunately, we know the end of the story.  These cups here are only temporary.  Jesus is preparing a new cup for us, that will be glorious and it will carry this precious gift of life into all eternity.
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Enjoy your coffee,
Pastor Mike


Do you love me?

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Last week I made reference to the movie/musical  Fiddler on the Roof.
I drew attention to the scene where Tevye is asking his wife Golde if she loves him.  They had been married the traditional way, by a matchmaker. They never saw each other until their wedding day.  His parents had told Tevye that they would grow to love each other.  He hadn’t thought about that much until it was time for his daughters to be wed.  They had each fallen in love and did not want to be married to someone chosen by the village matchmaker.  They were breaking tradition because of the love in their hearts for someone else. Tevye gives in to their request, but now he is wondering, does his wife love him. Tevye : “Golde, Do you love me? Golde responds: “Do I love you? With our daughters getting married,and this trouble in the town you're upset, you're worn out.  Go inside, go lie down!  Maybe it's indigestion.” Tevye persists with his question: “Do you love me?” Golde responds to his persistence:  “Do I love you?  For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow, after twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?” Tevye   wants an answer, “Do you love me?” Golde,  speaking to herself: “Do I love him?  For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him, twenty-five years my bed is his.   If that's not love, what is?”
Tevye jumps at his chance: “Then you love me?”
Golde   “I suppose I do”
Tevye  “And I suppose I love you too.”
They both seem quite satisfied to know, & then they sing together:  “It doesn't change a thing, but even so,  after twenty-five years it's nice to know.”
Yes, it is nice to know.  We all need to be loved & to give love in return.  Jesus summarizes the whole of the law of the Old Testament with 2 great commands in Mark 12:28-31
quoting Deuteronomy 6, the Shema.
28      …“what commandment is the foremost of all?” 29      Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30      AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31      “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” I have a good handle on what it means to love others.  Not that it is all that easy.  Some are easier to love than others.  That is not so much a judgment on them as it is me.  My love needs to do a lot of growing here.
But the 1
st 
command, to love God with all my heart, all my soul, my mind, and my strength, now that is where I have a problem.  I have no issue loving my wife, my kids and my grandkids like this.  But to be honest, I struggle emoting those kinds of feelings towards God.
After the resurrection Jesus appears to the disciples on the shore of Galilee (John 21:15-17) where Jesus asks Peter three times in a row, “Do you love Me?” Each time John responds in the affirmative, & each time Jesus tells him to “take care of Jesus’ sheep”.   I take this to mean that our love for Jesus is shown to Jesus when we do what he wants us to do. He says as much in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And then in John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” In John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” And then Jesus closes out this section by saying in John 14:25 25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Based on what Jesus has taught in these verses, then I can say with Golde when God asks me if I love Him, “Yes, I suppose I do.” My answer does not come from my emotions, it comes from my actions, living my life in obedience.  I gave up my dreams for my life & accepted God’s will for me to preach and teach His Word, and to tend His flock by feeding them. Although I must say I have struggled to bring them in from the field. Sheep are a stubborn lot, and many prefer to just stay out in the world for whatever reason.  But for those who come I have tried my best to feed them not only the milk, but the meat of the Word of God.  And I also believe that at Pathway we have done a good job in fulfilling His greatest commission by leading His sheep into the uttermost parts of the world in order to love people and share the life changing Gospel, the good news of salvation to all who would receive. Not everyone has the same calling.  Some are called to do other things than the things that I have done.  It makes them no less or more important than me.  We are all children of God, on equal footing, seeking to be faithful to serving God’s particular call upon our lives.  The trick is in discerning what God’s will is.  What is God calling you to do? Have you been obedient to all that God has asked of you?  I can’t say that I have.  I know that I have messed up quite a bit.  But I do keep trying.  I need to lean a little more on the “teacher” “my Helper”, the Holy Spirit of God.  (John 14:26) I still struggle with the emotional part of this.  Some followers of Jesus seem to have this incredible deep “feeling” of love for God.  I wish I could experience that.  Maybe it’s my personality.  I’m just not an emotional kind of guy.  I don’t have the answer.  But I do know that I am hungering for more of Him. Mike Samarkand 1024x768
“That all may Love Him”
Pastor Mike


Faith Promise

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A Reflection on the Promises of God & the Faith of His Children   Romans 4:13-16 NASB 13     For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 16     For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all   What was it that Abraham wanted more than anything else?  As many men, he wanted a son to carry on his name.  In his time and place it was much more critical than in ours.  They knew that in order to have a male survivor to carry on the family name, to take over the leadership of the household through inheritance, one would have to have many children.  With little understanding of disease and cleanliness, health issues were a huge problem.  At one time in history 1/3 of the world’s population was killed by plagues in a matter of a few short years.  Most children did not survive to adulthood.  Warring tribes were a constant threat to life. Children were killed mercilessly or worse yet, taken into captivity to begin a life of slavery that would surely end in pain and suffering.  Abraham wanted someone from his loins to be the great inheritor and carry on the family name and tradition.  And then his name would be remembered long after his body had returned to dust from which it was created.   Of course God knew this. He knew that Sara was barren & could not have children.  But Abraham was the one who had followed God down into this strange land simply because God wanted him to.  Because of his obedience, God told Abraham that if he had faith, if he could trust God to give him a baby boy, it would surely come to pass.   Now poor old Abraham, he had two-fold troubles that were only going to multiply on him.  First of all, he had a tough time believing God could do this, but he was willing to give God a shot.    But years past, decades, and still no baby.  The further the time advanced, the less likely that they could have children.  Had God forgotten?  Sara surely thought so.  She hounded Abraham and made his faith even more shaky.  That was his second problem, his wife.  She proposed giving Abraham her hand maiden that he might have children through her.   I know it does sound a little odd to us.  But back in that day, it was a common practice, (everyone was doing it – that is, those women who could not have children).  Just let your husband take another wife of her choosing. Now Abraham had a bigger problem, a wife and child that was not in God’s plan.  And then when Sara did bear a son, Isaak, she didn’t want her hand maiden hanging around.  Sara made sure that Hagar & Ismail were kicked out of the clan.   Certainly Abraham did not want his son to suffer and die. But the wives thing was only creating more and more problems for him.   Lack of faith and trust in God can lead to all kinds of messed up lives.  And this particular mess up is still with us today. Some of the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar, are the Islamic people of today who are literally trying to tear our world apart.  If only Abraham and Sara had enough faith to wait for what God had promised.   When we read the story and from our perspective, we can criticize them for their actions.  But it is rather an unfair criticism as we have Jesus & the Gospels and the Holy Spirit to fill us and inspire as and increase our faith.  Indeed, we know how the story ends.  We know about the power of faith.  It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially when you’re sitting next to the Ultimate Pro-Bowl Coach (aka Holy Spirit).   So just how strong is your faith?  Let’s not debate other’s faith or lack of faith.  What about you?  What have you been trusting God for lately? I’m asking for specifics.  Is there something in your life, that God promised to give you, that you are waiting for in good faith.   Let’s begin with the promise.  What has God promised you lately?
What have you asked God for, that He seemed to give you the assurance that He would provide?  Are you intimate enough with God that can talk with Him this way.  If not, don’t feel bad.  Most Christians in America are not used to talking with God like this.  But that does not mean that you can’t learn how to hear His promises for you in this life.  What then, is the “desire of you heart”?  You know what Abraham’s was, what is yours?  Do you think that your desires matter to God?  Take a look at Psalm 37:3-5
NASB   3      Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4      Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5      Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.   Pretty incredible isn’t it?  So let’s try this out.  Let me teach you how to trust God for the desires of your heart.  Let’s begin with something that you know is close to God’s heart, reaching those who are lost in the World.  God wants us to share the Good News about Jesus and forgiveness & eternal life with them.  Not everyone can become a missionary.  Chances are that you are not called to go over to the 10/40 window and spend your life witnessing.  But others are called.  So how can we help them go?   We can help by making it financially possible for them to live over there.  That is why we do our Faith Promise Missions conference every year, so we can help those who are going, to live over there.  God has called them to go, but God has called us all to be a part of their going by praying for them and then contributing to their cause.   Most of us don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around to give to missionaries, but God does.  He has holdings all over the world, so money is not a problem for Him.  The problem God has is finding people like Abraham, who are willing to trust Him (by faith) for a promise that He wants to give. That’s right, God needs people who are willing to trust Him for money that He wants to put in the hands of missionaries.   Some would say, “Well if that is true, why doesn’t God just give it to them directly.”  And I would say, yes He can.  But God chooses to do things a different way.  He knows they need the money.  They have followed Him expecting that God would take care of them.  But God loves to work through ordinary people like you and me to accomplish this.  “Why?”, you ask.  Because He wants us to learn how to walk with Him and talk with Him, that we too would be able to trust Him for the provisions of life.   That is what Faith Promise giving does.  It provides money for the missionaries.  But more importantly, it helps you and me, (who could get along just fine using our own wits and resources) learn to ask God for a Promise and then have enough faith and trust, to wait on Him to provide it.   So I pray, “Lord, I know you want to use me to help support those Believers who have followed you out into the world to do Your work amongst those who are lost. So Lord, just how much money do you want to give through me?”  It takes communication with God to discern what it is that God wants to give through you.  God wants all of His children to be able to trust Him in this way, not just for missionaries, but indeed for our own daily lives.  It is a way of life that is taught and learned in the Christian community.
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Sola Fide,
Pastor Mike