The Spotlight Belongs to Jesus

We tend to read miracles written in the Bible as stories told for our benefit. But truth be told, the Word is God is all about God, not about us. We tend to view miracles as to how it would help and encourage us but that’s just a small part of the Scripture. It is for us to believe in the One who is being introduced in the Word. 

 

In the story of Lazarus, people tend to see that it was for Lazarus’ benefit. That the story was all about Lazarus getting raised from the dead and how it must have been so cool for him to experience it. But no. This story WAS NOT for Lazarus’ benefit. It was only for Jesus’ and God’s glory!

 

Here are 5 important words to remember that the Scripture ultimately aims to highlight Jesus and to glorify the Father.

 
  1. DELAY 

 

“So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. “ - John 11:5

Here we find the deliberate delay of Jesus upon hearing the news of Lazarus’ sickness and death. He decided to stay for 2 more days even after hearing what happened to Lazarus and even though He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

 

How would you feel if you were sick and the person that you wanted to stay by your side to encourage you and pray for you decided to delay coming to you? Martha and Mary even told Jesus  that if only He had been there early, Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21, 32). But here, we see that Jesus’ delay was all part of the plan to once more confirm the prophecy of Jesus’ death and resurrection and to give God greater glory.  

 
  1. PROPHECY

 

“Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” - John 12:7

This was a prophecy that Jesus made to His disciples signifying that He would go away. In verses 23-28, we find Jesus again prophesying of this death and how it will bring glory to the Father. Jesus’ act of informing His disciples of His death and foretelling His resurrection around the context of this miracle shows that everything that happened in the story is all about Jesus’ resurrection from death to life.

 
  1. WITNESSES 

 

“You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” - John 11:42

The variety and multitude of witnesses who were present at the tombstone of Lazarus to watch what Jesus would do gives us an indication that it was more than just raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus wanted the people to see that He is the resurrection and the life -- that they would have no other option but to say “Oh! He backs up every Word He’s ever spoken! He must be the Messiah!”  More so, Jesus wanted the witnesses to believe.

 

They assumed and thought that Mary would go to the tomb to weep over her brother, but God had a better plan. He wanted the people to witness firsthand who He really is so that they would believe that the Father sent Him.

 
  1. BELIEF 

 

“Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen…” - John 11:45

We find two groups of people who witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The first group is the believers --those who were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. These were the people who knew that the miracle was not just about Lazarus rising from the dead, but that it’s about someone greater. They needed no other proof before they believed for their eyes of faith were opened to the reality of the Messiah who was face to face with them.

 
  1. UNBELIEF

 

“But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” - John 11:46

There were also those who were full of unbelief and were afraid that many would turn to Jesus. They were offended and went away to report the incident to the high council. It was from that time on that they began to plot Jesus’ death (John 11:53). The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection was not enough to make them believe in Jesus. Instead, they tried to find fault in what happened. Rather than rejoicing in the revelation of the Messiah, they were hard-hearted and blinded to the truth.  There was great unbelief in their hearts. May we never be like the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

 

Ultimately, we see from these 5 words that the spotlight was not for Lazarus to begin with. It was all for Jesus. It was all for God. All for His glory. As we read the Scriptures, may we come to the knowledge that everything written in the Bible is to give glory to the One from whom all things come from and to whom all things return.

 
 

We Need Reminders

I have been away from the gym I work out at for over a year, last week I went back!  It was really great to see people that I haven’t seen for so long and to be encouraged in moving once again.  I am always amazed at the difference between exercising alone or in a group class. I sure work a lot harder when someone is leading and showing me what to do, and reminding me, I can do it!  I was thinking about the similarities between the reminders from the instructor and the reminders we have been sending out as a church to you. 

 

“Pull your belly in” -  “Tighten your core” - “Use your breath” - “You can do it” - “ 10 more seconds” - “Pull your belly in” - “Grab a drink” - etc. 

 

And these and more instructions, reminders, encouragements are repeated over and over.  Why?  Because, we forget!!   

 

“Write in your Penzu journal” - “Love your neighbor” - “Listen well” - “Give it a try” - “Write what you are thankful for” - “Read your Bible” - “Connect to lifeGroup” -  “God is with you” - “Welcome in Jesus” - “You are loved” - etc.

 

Why so many instructions, reminders and encouragements repeated over and over?  Because, we forget!!

 

We understand your lives are busy. There is a lot that you manage and you don’t want to have to do “one more thing”.  What if the “one more thing” helped you manage the other things?  Could it be that the spiritual disciplines of reading God’s Word, prayer, worship, being in community, living out the Gospel in your neighborhood would help the rest of the pieces of your life?  

 

The reminders are not intended to make you feel overwhelmed, or any kind of guilt or shame.  They are meant to remind you to look up and fix your eyes, thoughts, and mind on the one true God and know that He is with you and for you.  To just pause for a moment and be reminded that you are a child of God.  You have a purpose.  You matter.  God wants to use you to share His love with those around you. 

 

The goal is not the Penzu journal.  The goal is to have every Household know they are bringing living water to those around them by Welcoming in Jesus, Engaging with neighbors, Listening well, and Loving to try.  The journal is just a way for us to help encourage each other with stories of how it is going, what we are trying, and how we are struggling. To see that God is at work!  To be reminded it is a lot of fun to join Jesus in what He is already doing and writing it down is a way for us to remember as we look back at what God has done so we can give Him all the glory and praise.  The Penzu journal is just one way that we thought we could try.  

 

It is not too late to start a journal if you have not done that yet. (Did you know there is an app? You can write in your journal on your phone if that is easier for you)  You don’t have to write a lot, or even in complete sentences, just jot down some thoughts.  The June prompts are short and sweet. Even just put in a picture of what you are thankful for, or what you saw that reminded you of God, or a part of creation that made you be in awe of your Creator.   Try asking your kids to help you, or let them write in it themselves.  This process is meant to be a delight not a burden. Take a minute and read some of the stories. I think you will be inspired and know your brothers and sisters in Christ a little better and  even know how to pray for them.  All throughout scripture God reminded the Children of Israel to remember, to celebrate a festival so they wouldn’t forget all God had done for them.  We need reminders.  We need Jesus.  And, we need each other. 

 
 

5 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS

  1. Jesus was a man.

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene....” - Acts 2:22

 

Here Jesus was described as Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man. Many in our society today think that Jesus is just an idea, or some kind of a philosophy or theology that is made up by man. The truth is and will always be this: Jesus was a human being who lived in the 1st century. He lived for around 33 years and did ministry publicly for 3 years. Jesus was a man -- in the flesh, a man who felt pain, emotions, hunger, and exhaustion, and was even tempted by the devil (yet, He did not give in to any temptation). He went through the normal day to day life of a human being and felt all the struggles of being in the flesh. 

 
  1. Jesus has unchallenged credentials

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.” - Acts 2:22

 

Wherever Jesus went, signs and wonders broke out. Jesus performed countless, undeniable miracles that could not be challenged, questioned, nor disproved, even by the religious people. His credentials were unchallenged. He gave the lame man the power the stand and walk, He caused the blind men to see, dead people were raised from the grave, He multiplied food causing the five fish and two pieces of bread to feed a huge crowd of over 5,000 people with 12 basketfuls leftover, He walked on water, He caused the mute to speak, and even drove out demons. 

 
  1. Jesus died.

“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.” - Acts 2:23

 

During His time, people were debating whether Jesus really died or not. But the Word of God is our source of TRUTH. Jesus did actually die and in verse 23 in Peter’s sermon, Jesus’ suffering and death was a part of God’s plan all along. Jesus is NOT a man who was just caught up in some political problem back in the day and loved some people the wrong way. God knew what would happen. It was all planned. And God’s prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed, and with the help of lawless Gentiles, they nailed Him to a cross. Why would God do such a thing? To send His Son to die for sheep who would reject Him and go on their own way? Because Jesus’ suffering was all part of the plan.

 
  1. Jesus receives total victory over death.

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.” - Acts 2:32

 

Death was not the end of God’s plan for Jesus because He received total victory over death and was glorified. Peter said in verse 32 “God raised Jesus from the dead.” There’s no tomb to visit. Jesus actually rose from the dead! Jesus is alive and He defeated death and the powers of hell forevermore! This is good news to every believer who receives Jesus.

 
  1. Jesus is God. 

“Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.Acts 2:33

 

Jesus of Nazareth was not just a man. He is also God. He’s a God-man! A true God and true man. In verse 36, Peter said, “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Jesus is not just a good teacher. He is not just a prophet. He is Lord and Messiah! What a powerful truth! 

 

This is the SIMPLE GOSPEL. These are the words that will equip us to share the Gospel message of Jesus to all. It is our prayer that as you read these five truths about Jesus, the simple Gospel will stand on its own and that you will let the Spirit of God work through it and through you. May the Holy Spirit empower you to share the Gospel in all its truth and simplicity so that others may come to know Jesus, our good and faithful Shepherd. 


 
 

Another School Year Has Wrapped Up (And Help Wanted)!

We wrapped up another school year! It was definitely a different kind of year but we heard lots of laughter and saw so much growth in all of our kiddos. We saw new friendships formed, sang lots of songs, read stories and learned how to follow Jesus. We are already looking forward to next year!  If you would like to join us, please contact Karen Hettenbach.

Check out our end of the year video here: https://www.livelifetogether.com/preschool

HELP WANTED : Preschool is looking to add a lead and assistant teacher for the 2021-22 school year.  If you enjoy spending time with preschoolers and helping them learn and grow and want to join our fun staff please email Karen Hettenbach at preschool@livelifetogether.com.  We will provide all necessary training.

 

 

The God Who Sees and Helps

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” - Luke 4:18-19

 

There are so many people right now who are going through tough times -- people who are oppressed, tormented, helpless, grieving, crying, struggling, and weak. People are suffering and are being pressed down, and for some, it seems like the torment never ends. During these dark times, some people tend to question God’s presence and God’s help. 

 

Where is God in the middle of all our trials? Does He really see our needs? Does He know our pains? Does God really care for us? 

 

Short answer: Yes. And while we may not always see and feel God’s presence working in our situation, we have to remember that God is ever present. He is always there with us, in every situation. He is working on our behalf. He never stops working. He never stops seeing. He never stops helping. He came to help and to deliver us out of captivity, oppression, and torment. Jesus came to set us free.

 

 

God Sees and Knows Everything

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrificed my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” - John 10:14-16

 

God does not turn a blind eye to our situations. He does not ignore our cries for help. He listens. God sees our situation and His heart aches for us. He knows exactly what’s going on in our lives. He knows His sheep inside and out. He cares about every little detail of our lives and wants to be involved in our daily lives -- even in our struggles. 

 

God aches for us when He sees us hurting. He is not just a bystander. He sees us. He hurts for us. He has compassion for us. Our Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He knows when we are hurting. It pains Him every time we are afflicted. Each time we cry out to Him for help, He sends help.

 

Keep crying out to the God of the harvest. He is the God who heals, who provides, who delivers. Don’t stop asking God for help for He is the One who can do something about it. He’s our only hope. And through His power, anything is possible. Nothing is too difficult for Him. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 

 

God Sends Help by Using People

Did you know that you are an answer to someone else’s prayer? God wants to use you to be a blessing to someone. Praying to God is not enough. We have to do something. Remember that faith without deeds is dead. We have to supplement our prayers with work. (James 2:14-26) God is actively working in our lives to make things right and we have to partner with Him because He wants to use us.

 

Prayer and acting -- these two go together. Jesus did not just pray for the people. He did something to help them. When Jesus commissioned the 12 disciples, He sent them out by name. He gave them the authority to bring the Kingdom to earth-- to cast our demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, give as freely as they have received, and proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven is near. (Matthew 28:16-20). The authority is not ours. It’s God’s and it has been freely given to us so we need not hold it back. We have to give it as freely as we have received. And that’s why we are here. That’s what He sends us to do.

 

He is constantly working for us. He comforts, He invigorates, He boosts, and not only that --  He also multiplies His work and the workers. He sends His followers out with His authority to continue His mission to seek and save the lost and that includes us. Jesus is sending us out to be the help to humanity. We are not here to provide for ourselves and save ourselves. We are here to help and provide for others in Jesus’ name and it’s all about giving back what God has given us. It’s not a burden or a weight on us. We have His authority on His behalf. We point people to Him, not to us.

 

Today, remember that you are an answer to someone’s prayer. You are meant to give hope and light to this world. So go out, see the needs of others, and be the help that others need.