Chapter 19: The Return Home


Some Things Are Worth Finishing!

A year or so ago, we bought some new furniture for our boys to have in their bedrooms. We put two of the sets together, but one set is still in the garage, not even out of the box yet.

In some of our cabinets and in the attic, we have huge plastic containers full of pictures. Personally, I dream of having these put in albums and arranged by year on a bookshelf. I get excited just thinking about it, but it remains undone.

Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, will admit we have a collection of unfinished projects. It happens with books and exercise programs too. Things started but left unfinished. Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some things are NOT worth finishing.

But don’t think, even for a second, that you can put God in your collection of unfinished projects. For starters, He isn’t a “project” Besides, He’s not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for you to give Him your attention once the kids are grown or retirement is funded or other tasks are completed.

The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They started strong but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important to God became unimportant to them.

Sixteen years passed without any work being done on the temple. You might want to read that again. Sixteen years without any work done on the house of God. So God allowed drought and downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And He said, “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5,7)

God is either the main thing in your life or He is nothing. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. God begins as the priority and then we schedule time with Him. We schedule the things that are important to Him. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God . . .” (Matthew 6:33)

The Jews eventually got back to God’s priorities and took part in one of the greatest works on heaven and earth! You can too. There are some things worth finishing.

I hope you will join us Sunday as we celebrate a God who has given us a worthy mission in the world! Sunday we will celebrate Baptisms after each Worship Celebration! Moreover, we will honor God and celebrate Hope Rising Halftime, as we look back at what God has done with us in the last 18 months, and look ahead with wide eyed commitment to finish the calling God has placed upon us as a church family. I am reminded that the Bible says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

No doubt, some things are so worth finishing!

Because of Jesus,
Pastor Benji

Chapter 18: Run From Fire


Fitting In….

Hey newhope Family,

Sometime after Adam and Eve committed their world-changing act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden, I can imagine Adam walking with his young sons Cain and Abel. They happen to pass by the ruins of the Garden of Eden. One of the boys asked their father, “What’s that?”

Adam replied, “Boys, that’s where your mother ate us out of house and home.” :-)

A lot happens in Scripture following the time Adam and Eve took that bite of fruit that gave mankind perpetual indigestion. As a result, they attempted the first cover up. But since their leaf loincloths were not very practical, God sacrificed an animal to clothe them. The pair was banished from the Garden and began life anew as exiles away from their homeland.

It wasn’t the only time God’s people lived as exiles. They spent a few summers in Egypt. Then more wandering in the wilderness of Sinai. Later, the Babylonians captured the nation of Judah and deported its people to captivity.

The first group deported included the young, elite men who would be trained as leaders. In that group were Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Shadrach, and Azariah. They were given the Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. (If you decide to give your child a Babylonian name, you might try “IntoBedWeGo.” Who knows, it just might help you put him/her to sleep at night! :-))

While in exile these young men lived powerful, purposeful, prayer-filled lives! They remained on a diet that helped them find more energy than other workers. They prayed to their God when they were told not to. They were bold to do what was right regardless of the obstacles placed in their path. And they made a difference.

It may be difficult to put yourself in their shoes, but according to 1 Peter 2:11-12 those who follow God today are exiles too. Peter writes: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the Gentiles that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” Those are two powerful verses of Scripture!

You may have days when you just don’t seem to “fit” in this world and that’s a good thing. It’s simply because as a child of God you don’t. You were made to live with Him. Until we are home in heaven, you and I are exiles. Until then, we have things to do. We can add some good to this life so that others can get a glimpse of God. We can make a difference!

According to Peter there will be a day God will “visit” us. That’s when the exile will end. And that’s when you and I will finally and fully “fit.”

Until then, let’s keep gathering on Sundays and doing all we can to make a different in this world!

Because of Jesus,

Pastor Benji

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