The Lord’s Prayer

I have been studying in Matthew in my daily reading lately. Today I was studying in the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters, the Sermon on the Mount, and I read in the sixth chapter verse 8, “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Isn’t that beautiful? Our Heavenly Father who has more than a full-time job just taking care of me not to mention the rest of the whole world and everyone and everything in it, knows my need before I even ask Him! Jesus is telling us that “When you pray…” He is saying that we don’t have to pray as the hypocrites and the pagans pray. The hypocrites pray showing everyone around them how righteous they are. The pagans keep on babbling thinking that the more they pray the more God, or their gods, will hear them. “Don’t be that guy” Jesus says.
He goes on to instruct us how to pray in what has been termed, “The Lord’s prayer.” “Our Father in Heaven…” Do you realize that you have a Heavenly Father that loves you unconditionally? There are times when I had put conditions on my love for my children when they were younger. I have felt that, “Well, since they aren’t doing what I expect them to do, then I am not going to show them that unconditional love.” But that is not what our Heavenly Father does. He loves us no matter what we do. Oh yes, listen to me, we will suffer the consequences of our actions, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be loved unconditionally! You can do NOTHING that will separate you from His love. The only thing that will separate you from His love is if you die without knowing His Son Jesus as your personal Savior. Jesus tells us in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
So, let’s look at what we are promised. Matthew 6:8 tells us that the Maker of heaven and earth, yours and my Creator, the One that hung the sun, moon and stars and put everything in place, knows exactly what you need before you know! And this same God loves you unconditionally and nothing can snatch (KJV says pluck) you out of Jesus’s hand (John 10:28)! What a deal! We just need to trust Jesus as our Savior and allow Him to work out the rest.
But even as mature Christians that’s hard to do at times. Can you trust Him in all things? There is nothing that you go through that hasn’t passed through His hands first. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice (Philippians 4:4)
So, you pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Please let me know if you need anything. Naomi and I love you all. –Pastor Steve

Vertical Relationship

I was thinking about church growth. Canelo Cowboy Church has just about doubled in numbers since we moved from the schoolhouse to our new building. That’s a praise in my book! I have had people tell me that growth doesn’t matter, it is the maturity of the believers that matters. Now I do believe that as believers we need to mature. The Bible is very clear about maturing and growing up in the Lord. But I also believe that if we are mature we are going to multiply. A rancher will not survive if their cows don’t produce calves. A sheepherder will not survive if their sheep don’t produce lambs. A church won’t make it very long if they are not producing disciples.

When Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Matthew He was telling us that He had all authority, and because He has all authority we need to go make disciples. Here is what He said: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:16–20).” We are to make disciples, we are to baptize them and then we are to teach them to make disciples and then they are to baptize them and so on and so forth! That is what I call growth. And if we do that then our churches will grow and the Kingdom of God will be expanded.

And Jesus tells us that we need to be, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” So, what do we teach them? Do we teach them the things that we think are important? Jesus says to teach them everything that He has commanded us. What is the most important commandment? Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39 that loving god (Vertical Relationship) and loving our neighbor (Horizontal relationship) are the two most important things we can ever do and teach others to do. Jesus says that all the law and prophets will be fulfilled in these to commandments. And that, I believe, is what we need to teach the disciples that we make. Vertical love and horizontal love. Paul Harvey said, “So many people have stopped being fishers of men and have become keepers of the aquarium.” Is the church you are attending growing or stagnating because of you? Are you disciplining people as Christ commanded you to or are you disciplining in your own power and strength? Are you bringing division or are you bringing unity? Are you making disciples to expand His Kingdom or your own? Food for thought. God help me to follow you!
Pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Please let me know if you need anything. Naomi and I love you all.

Grace and Mercy!

I was thinking about mercy the other day. I thought to myself, “Do I really know what mercy is all about?” I heard a definition of grace and mercy once and it was something like this: “Grace is receiving what you don’t deserve, mercy is not getting what you do deserve.” What started me thinking about this subject is when someone said, “They don’t deserve that position because they are doing thus and so!” And I whole heartedly agreed! They didn’t deserve it! And then, as I was driving home my sweet Heavenly Father started dealing with my heart. “What have I ever given you that you have deserved?” And I realized right then that I do not deserve anything but death! I am a sinner! Yes, I am saved by grace, but still, I am a sinner and I sin every day! And sometimes I even know I am sinning and I still do it. But He still loves me and is mercy endures forever.

This is a Bible definition of the word mercy: “Mercy is a concept integral to an understanding of God’s dealings with humankind. In English translations of the Bible, it comes to expression in phrases such as “to be merciful,” “to have mercy on, or “to show mercy toward.” The corresponding term, “merciful,” describes a quality of God and one that God requires of His people. The noun denotes compassion and love, not just feelings or emotions, as expressed in tangible ways.” It states that God requires mercy of His people. Another word for mercy is compassion. In the book of The Lamentations of Jeremiah in chapter 3 verse 22 Jeremiah says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” KJV says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed…” And that is the type of mercy that we are supposed to show to everyone else. The same type of mercy He has shown us.

The apostle Paul knew that kind of mercy. Paul was on his way to kill Christians in Damascus when Jesus got ahold of him and straightened him out! If you read Luke’s record of Paul’s conversion in the 9th chapter of Acts Jesus asks Paul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Then Jesus had mercy on Paul and gave Paul a ministry that established His church all over the known world. Paul received what he didn’t deserve, forgiveness and a place in Heaven for eternity! Can we show that same type of mercy to those that wrong us?

Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

Tax Day!

Well, Naomi and I just finished up our taxes. Don’t you just hate doing your taxes every year? Doing your taxes together will try a couples Christianity won’t it? But the next morning I woke up and guess what scripture was running through my head? The Bible passage when the Jews were trying to trip up Jesus about where His loyalty lay. This is what they asked Him, Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not (Matthew 22:17)?” This “Imperial Tax” was a tax that was levied on all of Rome’s conquered subjects, not on Roman citizens. So, picture this, the Romans were the foreigners here and even worse, they were forcing the Jews to bow down to their rules and regulations! And the Romans were taking up residence in the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to father Abraham thousands of years before. The Romans had the gall to implement an imperial tax! Talk about rubbing salt in the wound! So, the religious leaders sent their rabble rousers to Jesus to trap Him in His words. If Jesus said yes, then they could turn the Jewish people against them. If He said no, then they could turn the Roman government on Him. They thought they had Jesus in a real pickle.     But Jesus knew their evil hearts and He said in verse 19-21, “Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought Him a denarius and He asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then He said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Jesus completely shut them down! They had nothing to say. I do wish I could give answers like that.

But think about it for a minute. We know what belongs to the government. Really, anything that they want. And if you don’t pay it, there is all kinds of penalties and interest placed on you. But what is God’s? What does He want from us? Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship.” So God wants our everything. What does a sacrifice do? It lays on the alter and gives up its everything for its Master. A sacrifice doesn’t worry about anything but being just that, being a sacrifice. Giving its all to the One that has called the sacrifice to be the sacrifice. And Paul says here, “In view of God’s mercy…” God’s mercy. That’s the only reason that we wake up in the morning. The only reason we are able to take a breath. The only reason we are able to love and the reason we should share our faith with others! I heard someone say that the only problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off of the alter. But His mercy takes us right back! Brothers and sisters, if you can find a better deal, you better take it!

Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve 

Cast your cares on Him

I just finished up the Book of Acts in my daily reading. Wow! What a fantastic record of the history of God’s church! The giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2. The first deacons in Acts chapter 6. Persecution starting in the church and the Gospel then being taken to the then known world. The conversion of Paul the Apostle on the road to Damascus. Peter, the Jew, going to the gentiles to preach the Gospel. All the miracles and healings that took place. And all the stoning’s, beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment and even death, just for believing in Jesus! We really have it easy in the wonderful U.S.A. don’t we?

In the last 2 verses of Acts 28 Luke writes, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance (NIV)!” Church history tells us that Paul was later martyred by Nero, but, “For two whole years…Paul taught with all boldness and without hindrance.” Paul was later released from prison, went on another missionary journey and was again imprisoned under Nero, and this time his living conditions were not so nice. He wrote II Timothy during his second imprisonment. Here he was held in a cold dungeon and was chained like a common criminal, just for proclaiming the Gospel! He told his mentor Timothy in the 2nd Epistle, 4th chapter verses 6-8, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” So here are two different seasons in Paul’s life while he was imprisoned. One where he enjoyed his freedom even though he was in prison, and one where he was ready to be poured out like a drink offering to the Lord. He understood that Heaven was near and that he was going to receive that crown! I don’t know what you are going through right now. But I do know Someone that does. I am not sure what your heartaches are but I do know Someone that wants to help you through them. I Peter 1:7 tells us to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” Here’s the definition of anxiety: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Couldn’t that definition fit just about every one of us in one way or another? Money issues, relationship issues or maybe health issues, He wants to take them from you and give you peace! This is what that word cast means in the Greek: “to cast upon, give up to God.” Give Him a try!

Please let me know if you need anything.  Naomi and I love you all.  -Pastor Steve