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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Internal God

I urge you to reject the lie from Satan in the beginning that we can be gods within ourselves.  I also urge you to go beyond the place where you merely believe in an External God “out there,” but come to know Him as the INTERNAL God “in here.”  Get to know the Eternal One Internally where you are His and He is yours; where your spirit is intertwined with His Spirit; where you are never alone, but Christ liveth in you!  Live with the constant undercurrent of joy that sustains you no matter what the circumstance and that daily refines you to be more like Him!

Friday, February 16, 2018


"It is when we reflect upon things that we learn to filter the emotions.  It is when we reflect we learn to go beyond just how the memories make us feel.  It is in the place of reflection where we can ponder our experiences and bring them into focus with the Word of God."  Have you looked at your memories through the lens of God's Word and perspective?

2017 Advent Sunday 4 - Love & Magi

Today's service was not recorded due to its many moving parts.  Please enjoy the outline below for our Christmas Eve Service.

Welcome – Welcome to Water of Life Fellowship.  I know we are a small crew today since many are traveling.  We are skipping all of the normal announcements for now.  The only announcement is that there will not be any Bible studies this week.  Please spend time with your families and rejoice in the togetherness, joy, and unity that comes in knowing Christ together as a family.  Please also take time to intentionally consider Christ together in light of the remembrance of His birth. Let us begin with prayer.

Lighting of the 4 Advent Candles – With Reading
            We will now proceed with the Lighting of the four Advent candles.  One of our mothers has consented to light the four candles today. 
            On the First Sunday of Advent we lit the candle representing the Hope of the Prophets.  Today we relight it and recall God’s promise through His prophets to send a Savior.  On the Second Sunday of Advent, we lit the candle representing the Peace of the Angels.  As we relight it today, we remember the voices of angels declaring a message of peace to astonished shepherds.  On the third Sunday of Advent we lit the candle representing the Joy of the Shepherds.  Today as we relight it we recall their amazement and wonder. Today we light the fourth candle which is the candle of Love and Magi.
            As we light this fourth candle, you might wonder how love and magi are related.  Ponder this: What motivated the magi to make their long dangerous journey and bring most precious gifts to a baby they had never met of a family they did not know in a place they had never been?  What would cause them to risk so much for only the hope of bowing at the feet of a newborn “foreign” king?  What would cause them to travel so far to adore someone so small?  What is amusing to me is that they did not travel nearly so far as the baby they came to adore.  He had traveled even farther than they had traveled.  What motivated Him to leave his place in Heaven?  What made Him set aside His Divinity and take on humanity? For Him it was love.  Genuine, astonishing, perfect love! As we think about the magi today - as we remember how far they traveled to adore Him - let us remember how far Jesus traveled in His love for us. “Today we celebrate the greatness of God’s love revealed through the Christ child”[1]…Joy from Heaven to earth come down!

A Capella Christmas Carols
Joy to the World – Verses 1 & 4 (p.173)
The First Noel – Verse 1 (p. 167)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Verse 1 (p. 168)
Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Verse 1 (p. 175)
What Child is this? – Verses 1 & 3 (p. 179)

Lighting of the Christ Candle – With Reading
            We have already lit the first four candles on the advent wreath.  Now we will light the Christ Candle.  Normally, this candle is lit on Christmas Eve, which today is.  In the lighting of this candle, we rejoice that the promise made to the prophets has been fulfilled.  The announcement of peace by the angels was true.  The joy felt by the shepherds was real.  The adoration of the magi was justified.  Christ is born!  Rejoice Oh Christians!  Rejoice that He who came to bear our sorrows has come at last!  Rejoice to know He is born who will bear our sins!  Rejoice to know that at His coming hope is restored, peace is complete, joy is full, and our adoration is true!  We bow at His feet – He Who is born in lowly estate in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

 Go Tell It on the Mountain – Chorus – Verse 3 – Chorus (P. 181)
 Away in a Manger (p. 176)
 “Humphrey’s First Christmas”
We Three Kings – Full Hymn (p. 202)

“Matthew 2:1 ¶ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
 9 ¶ When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”

Today, it is Christmas Eve.  Our weeks of anticipation awaiting Christmas Day are nearly over.  Tomorrow we will be awakened by children eagerly awaiting the opening of gifts that are given in love and received with joy that commemorate the gifts given by magi and the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ Himself. 

It is this greatest gift we ponder today as we close our service with Christmas Communion.  The Christmas story tells us how Jesus came into the world.  The Easter story explains why he came into the world.[2]  Communion reminds us of the entire continuing story. It is with this remembrance we anchor our joy.  As we partake of the symbolic elements of the Lord’s Supper, we remember that Jesus was born to die.  He was born to be the sacrifice for our sins.  We did not deserve such a spectacular gift, yet He gave it with perfect freedom.  For just as God is perfect in His justice, perfect in His righteousness, perfect in His holiness, He is perfect in His love.  He is perfect in His freewill giving.  He gave out of the fullness of His heart.  Though we deserved much less, He gave us far more – in fact, He gave us everything in the gift of His only begotten Son.  “John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Because of this matchless gift, we rejoice.  We rejoice that God came to dwell among us to save us.  If you are not saved this morning – if you have not been born again – you may.  All you need to do is open your heart to let Christ in.

As we prepare to receive the elements today, perhaps you are not ready to receive them.  Perhaps you say, Pastor Rick, I have not lived in the way I ought.  Pastor Rick I am in need of cleansing.  In case there is any among us who might be in need of forgiveness, let us read this confession aloud together.

“Almighty God and Father in heaven
Who also makes His home with those
Of a humble and contrite spirit:
Before You and Our Lord Jesus Christ
We confess our sins:
Whether they be sins committed with
A wicked heart in rebellion against God
Or sins of unbelief rejecting the truth.
Whether they be sins of ignoring the
Gentle presence of Your Spirit
Or sins of failing to look faithfully for the
Return of our Savior & Judge.
We confess our blindness to your coming
In those who are lonely, hungry, cold, poor, and sick.
All our sins we confess before you today
And ask Your forgiveness.
In Your great goodness, put away our offenses
And cleanse us from our sins,
For Jesus Sake.
I welcome you in my heart just now. Amen.”[3]

Having bowed ourselves humbly requesting His pardon, we rest in His mercy. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

And so now we partake of the Elements of the Lord’s Supper.
            Distribute the Elements  (Tom & Joe)
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17)”

The Apostle Paul wrote,
“1 Corinthians 11:23 ¶ For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.”

We will now partake in the same manner in remembrance.

Please take the bread and hold it in your hand:
            “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat: this is my body.” – The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy soul and body unto everlasting life.  Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.  (You may eat of the bread.)

Please take the cup of wine in your hand:
            “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom (Matt. 26:26-29).” – The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy soul and body unto everlasting life.  Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.  (You may drink of the wine.)

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen. 

Down from His glory,
  Ever living story,
My God and Savior came,
  And Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger,
  To His own a stranger,
A Man of sorrows, tears and agony.
O how I love Him! How I adore Him!
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all!
The great Creator became my Savior,
And all God’s fulness dwelleth in Him.

What condescension,
  Bringing us redemption;
That in the dead of night,
  Not one faint hope in sight,
God, gracious, tender,
  Laid aside His splendor,
Stooping to woo, to win, to save my soul.

Without reluctance,
  Flesh and blood His substance
He took the form of man,
  Revealed the hidden plan.
O glorious myst’ry,
  Sacrifice of Calv’ry,
And now I know Thou art the great “I AM.”

O how I love Him! How I adore Him!
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all!
The great Creator became my Savior,
And all God’s fulness dwelleth in Him.

Closing Hymn: Emmanuel (Page 165)

Let us pray.
O God, whose glory fills the skies,
O Christ, the true and only Light,
Shine on us with your light and truth
Through the Word that gives light to all people.
Empower us by your Spirit to walk
In that light and to reflect your glory. Amen.[4]

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).”

Merry Christmas!

2017 Advent Sunday 3 - The Joy of Shepherds

I am sure they never forgot that night.  I wonder if any of them ever went to hear him teach after he grew up.  I wonder if any of them were there the day He gave his life.  I wonder if any of them saw Him after His resurrection.  I wonder if any of them were there the day of Pentecost.  These things we may never know.  But this thing we do know, that night they met the source of all Hope, all Peace, and all Joy.  They went away from that place with great joy glorifying God.