Experiencing God for Yourself

Hearing someone’s story about a great tropical vacation can be mildly interesting. Seeing their pictures of the beautiful sky blue waters, the gorgeous ocean sunsets, and the white sand can make that story come to life in a whole new way. But experiencing the vacation destination for yourself is a completely different level of understanding. This is exactly what it’s like to experience God for yourself.

We can read the Bible stories, hear about the experiences of others, and even see pictures of great revivals. But until we experience these things for ourselves, we’ll never truly grasp the greatness of God’s presence and His power in our lives.

 All of us, with no covering on our faces, show the shining-greatness of the Lord as in a mirror. All the time we are being changed to look like Him, with more and more of His shining-greatness. This change is from the Lord Who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

As we experience God first-hand, we become more and more like Him. We become a light, a beacon of hope. But too often, once we’ve had an encounter, a beautiful moment, or a tragedy that reminds of us God in our lives, we choose to do nothing with that revelation.

Getting Closer to God

For many of us, experiencing God means going to church. It’s practicing a certain religion and “doing” the motions of church every Sunday. Is this really what God wants for us though? When we go through the motions of church, are we actually experiencing anything? Or simply following along and calling it good? Read More

Faith’s Ragged Edge: Faith Over Failure

Do you mark your life more by failure than by faith?

Many of us do.

But if you look at the Bible, every person who ever did anything significant for God had no prior success. In fact, every one of them had a terrible resume.

  • Moses was murderer and had a studder.
  • David was an adultress murderer.
  • Peter (best friend of Jesus) denied Jesus three times on the day he was killed. (Then Jesus used him to preach the first ever message – and over 3,000 people were saved!)

God is at his best when He can take people who don’t have it all together and use them for His glory

God is a God of second chances! He is faithful and just to forgive. He doesn’t hold our wrongs against us.

Let’s look at Paul as an example. He wrote over ⅔ of the New Testament, but he was the least likely of people to be called to do so…

Before he was known as Paul, he was called Saul, and he was one of the biggest “haters” of Christianity. In fact, he was murdering and persecuting the church. But then God did something amazing… Read More

Why Do I Value Relationships?

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:25

Relationships matter to God. He made that very clear when he chose to make Eve as a help mate for Adam. And from there arose the idea of family, and from family the idea of community. God has always meant for us to be together, whether in a church body or another form of small group or community.

But yet, so many people in the world today think they are better off tackling life alone. Why is it that too often we feel that relationships don’t matter? Why do we hole up and convince ourselves we don’t need anyone else to know us on a deeper level?

If we want to have relationships and success, we have to put our heart out there. Sometimes people will stab it, or take advantage of it, or just be downright mean – but the relationships overall are what matter. If you are humble and quick to forgive, you’ll be able to grow and nurture lifelong relationships that don’t crumble by the weight of little hurts. (After all, we are all human and we all make mistakes. In fact, it seems its those who we love the most that we hurt the most. But forgiveness can right those wrongs and retain those relationships.)

What can be even more harmful is when we do have others around us who love and care for us, but we chose to put other things ahead of spending quality time together. Read More

Why Do I Forgive?

Throughout the sermon series titled “Why Do I…?” Pastor Charlie has been walking us through several examples of why we, as Christians, should do certain things. But perhaps none more important than the question: Why Do I Forgive?

The foundational verse for this sermon series is Romans 7:15-20 (MSG)

“I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”

Why Do I Forgive?

In Matthew 18:21-23, Peter asked Jesus how often he has to forgive, and Jesus’ answer was clear: there is no limit.

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”

It doesn’t matter how many times you have to forgive people; you keep doing it because God keeps forgiving you.

But as humans, it can be so hard to forgive! The wrongs that people have done to us or to someone we love can seem unforgivable, and at times we aren’t ready or willing to forgive. There are reasons for these barriers that many times we don’t consciously think about when holding onto others’ faults. Read More

Loving Our Kids

Here at Harvest we love our kids and are so proud to have the opportunity to invest in the next generation.  The month of June held two exciting events for them!

VBS – Legacy Heroes

This years VBS was focused around being a Super Hero for Christ and even better yet, knowing the ultimate Super Hero, Jesus.  The kids learned how to: do their best and let God do the rest, love people because God loves people and to love God because He first loved us!

Read More

Setting Your Vision – The Journey Sermon – Part 1

 

Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose.

There are a lot of accidental things going on in the world, especially when we take God out of the equation. We end up getting off course, and we make mistakes (sin). But seeking God during our journey gives us direction and helps us to avoid making these mistakes, especially when we take the time to set our vision on what’s truly important and to lay out a road map for how to accomplish our goals. This is true in spiritual goals, life goals, and career goals. Read More

Restoring Your Compassion & Reaching The Lost

How many of you would agree with this statement: The older we get, the more we like our habits.

In other words, the older we get, the more “comfortable” we become with our routines. The more we like the way we do things. The more we’re close-minded to changing our ways.

But is this how God wants us to live? No, God wants to make new things. He loves to make new things! It pleases him to restore the old and completely revitalize it with newness. He also wants to take you to a new level of life. And doing so might mean changing (most likely it does). It might also mean getting outside of our comfort zone in order to grow. Read More

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day!

We’ve all heard the saying “carpe diem,” but how many of us truly live today to the fullest? How many of us are worked up worrying about what tomorrow might bring or feeling guilty about what we’ve done in the past, that we completely let the opportunities in front of us today slip away. This week’s sermon was delivered by associate pastor, Isaac Schmeling, who challenged us to follow the teachings of the Bible when it comes to seizing the day.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34 NIV)

You see, God has promised to take care of you, to hold your worries and troubles in His hand so that you can fix your eyes upon Him, rather than these worldly issues.

Becoming a person of today could be challenging for some, but as believers we have the promises of God to fall back on. Pastor Schmeling reminds us of two simple ideas to bring our focus on the opportunities of today:

1. Renew Your Mind

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Remember, what we set our sights on will become what we harvest. Try everyday to renew your mind to the promises of God, not to the things of the world. There’s nothing wrong with owning beautiful things, but are you spending your most valuable asset – your time – seeking a closer relationship with your Father? Are you finding quiet time each day to pray and read the scripture, so that you can set your sight on the promises and rewards He has laid out for you?

If you’re struggling with addiction – whether it be alcohol, drugs, pornography, even working too much – remember that you have the same promises that everyone else does. You too are loved and cherished by your Father, and He has great things in store for you. Let your test turn into your testament as your grow in His ways and less in the ways of the world.

12 Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG)

2. Keep Focused on Today

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV)

Focusing your thoughts on the blessings and work ahead of you today is what God wants you to do. He specifically tells us to not “turn to the right or the left,” so that we may walk the straight path to His kingdom. And when troubles come our way, we will be ready for them, because we’ve studied His word and prepared our hearts for earthly challenges, knowing that our rewards in heaven are great and His promises are true. Wouldn’t it be great to actually walk through our days thinking about how Jesus handled challenges? Wouldn’t it be great to let go of all that we carry about our pasts and the worries that keep us up at night?

We can see this point illustrated when we think about how we focus while driving. What would happen if you just stared in the rear-view mirror the whole time? What if you never looked at a map or app for directions? It’d be a challenging drive to say the least! And not just for you, but for the drivers around you and everything your car hits along the way. Is this how you’re navigating your way through each day? Fix your eyes upon the Lord. Don’t let hurts of the past damage your heart for today.

Remember learning to ride a bike? That first time you fell off and scraped your knee, it hurt and you wanted to quit. It may have taken you a few days to be convinced to get up and try again. But eventually you did, and eventually you learned how to ride without falling. That’s exactly how your faith walk might play out. But don’t be afraid of failure or pain – it can be the very thing that God has planned for your journey. Your mistakes, illnesses, extreme sadness or loss, financial issues or any other plights of this life may be what God has given you so that you can use that to help others. So live today out, study the Word, pray for guidance, give thanks, and remember that God loves you!

 

 

“Kingdom Rock” – VBS 2013!

Vacation Bible School (VBS) 2013 was last week, and once it again, God’s presence was felt in the love and enthusiasm that each child brought to the event. We had three nights (July 23-25) of singing, dancing, playing games, doing crafts and learning Bible lessons.

Our theme this year was “Kingdom Rock” and the curriculum was fantastic! The kids danced and sang along to upbeat Christian music videos, raising their hands and praising Him in a really fun and interactive way.

Some of the Bible lessons the kids learned were:

  • Day 1- God’s love helps us… stand strong.  Bible story is King David as a shepherd.  Key verse, Psalm 18:1 I love you lord; you are my strength.
  • Day 2-  Prayer helps us…. stand strong.  Bible story is Nehemiah rebuilds the wall around Jerusalem.  Bible Verse  Phil. 4:6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything!
  • Day 3:  The Bible helps us…. stand strong.  King Josiah follows God’s way.  Bible verse:  Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105