Message From our Pastor

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.  1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Herb Turetzky attended the New Jersey Americans’ first-ever ABA game in October 1967 expecting to be just a spectator. Turetzky, a student at LIU Brooklyn, arrived early at the Teaneck Armory. Max Zaslofsky, the Americans’ coach and GM who had attended the same high school as Turetzky, greeted him as he walked in, “Herb, can you help us out and keep score of the game tonight?” Turetzky responded, “Max, I’d love to. I’m here, so why not?” Turetzky sat down at a wooden folding chair at half court and jotted down the lineups. That was more than 2,000 games and 53 years ago. Since then the team has moved to three different cities, played in eight arenas, and been absorbed into the NBA. And Turetzky is still setting in that wooden chair. “I’ve never left that seat since,” he says. “I’m still here and I’m still going.” NBA official Bob Delaney calls him, “the Michael Jordan of scorekeepers.” And an article in Sports Illustrated referred to him as the "courtside constant." One simple “yes” led to a meaningful lifelong service.

God has saved us and calls us to service in His Kingdom. We have a great task as believers-it is the share the gospel message, to encourage believers, and to proclaim the good news to people who are living and dying without hope and without God. There are no “bench warmers” in the kingdom of God. Each of us has been given gifts and talents by God and we are to use them for His good and glory. We don’t have to do everything, but everyone is called to do something. All God requires of us is that we be faithful. Are you doing what God has called you to do? Are you faithful?

As we prepare for Vacation Bible School and the sharing of the gospel with 200 plus children through crafts, decorating, bible stories, and snacks there is a large amount of work that still needs to be done. God has entrusted these children to our care. We have been given a great privilege and a great responsibility. Would Jesus’ words to the church in Thyatira be words He would say of us at Shepherd of the Valley? "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first."(Revelation 2:19)

As we grow in the grace and knowledge of God we are to be growing in our service to God and to the saints. Sometimes the labor is difficult and demanding but we have these encouraging words from our Lord: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

As Oswald Chambers said ,"There are no such things as prominent service and obscure service; it is all the same with God. Be it large or small, in front of a crowd or behind the scenes the work of the kingdom of God must be done. "Are you faithful in the service God has called you to do?

Pastor David

 

Voice of the Shepherd

May/June 2022

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Voice of the Shepherd

April 2022

When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.     John 19:30 

Usually, at Easter, Wichita’s Pathway Church spends money on TV ads and direct mail to promote their Easter Sunday service. But in 2019 the church used that money (as well as money allocated to help families in need) to pay off medical debt of families in the state.  The church paid the debt through a non-profit called RIP Medical, which has cleared medical debts for more than 200,000 Americans in recent years. As lead pastor Todd Carter explained to his congregation, “What RIP does is that they go out there and they buy that medical debt, a penny to the dollar.” The church ended up spending about $22,000 to clear $2.2 million in debt.

Carter told the church: "I want you to imagine for a moment what those 1,600 people felt like last week when they got that letter in the mail. What was going on in those houses when they got that letter … and all of a sudden, they realize that their debt, this debt that has been hanging over their head, has been forgiven? … that’s exactly what God in the person of Jesus Christ wants you to feel each and every day – that your debt has been forgiven."

The Apostle Paul shows the universal need, and God’s great grace in paying that debt.  He writes to the church at Rome: There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished…. (Romans 3:23-25)

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the debt for our transgressions.  He bore our sins in His body on the cross that day.  Jesus generously gave Himself as the sacrifice to make us right with God. The price was paid in full—not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus the perfect “Lamb of God.”   There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.  No work on our part is required for our redemption.   The Apostle  Paul writes,  We…know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  (Galatians 2:16)    So important is the understanding of being saved by grace, that the Apostle Paul wrote, if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”  (Galatians 2:2)

Like those who had their medical debt paid in full, we can live each day in the joy that the debt of our transgressions has been fully repaid.  God has lavished His grace and mercy upon all undeserving people, that we might be saved!  It is not of our own doing but the gift of God, so we have no reason to boast about our good works or any effort of our own.

Since we have received such a great gift, let us live each day in the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Have a blessed and Happy Easter,

Pastor David

Voice of the Shepherd

March 2022

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.  1Peter 2:24

In his blog, Dr. Timothy Tennent, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary, makes a fascinating connection between the Coronavrius and the season of Lent. The word 'Corona' has its origin in Latin and it means crown. So, the virus is called Corona because when viewed under a microscope it actually looks like a thorny crown.

When you read the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, the Roman soldiers mockingly placed a thorny crown on Jesus because of the accusation that He claimed to be the King of the Jews! The thorny 'corona' on Jesus’ head was symbolic of His self-denial and sacrifice. It offers a dramatic picture of Jesus the true King who embraces our brokenness. While our world today is obsessed with the thorny crown virus, as Christians let us be obsessed with our Savior who wore a crown of thorns to give us eternal life!

As the Lenten season is about to begin, let us remember that it was the innocent suffering and death of Christ that paid the price for our sins. Isaiah the prophet said,  "But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed."  (Isaiah 53:5)   No matter how hard we try or how great our good works, we can never attain a right standing with God by our own effort or merit.  But because of God’s great love and mercy toward us, we have been given a “righteousness” from God. We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Praise God for this indescribable gift.  

How are we to respond to the One who denied Himself, who wore the thorny crown,  and bore our sins in His body on the cross?  The Apostle Peter wrote we are to “die to sin” and “live for righteousness.” 

We “die to sin” through confession and repentance.  By the Spirit’s power we are to “put to death” the misdeeds of the body.  This is not of our own strength or power, but by the power of God at work in us.  Until we recognize and admit that our sin is “sinful” it will continue to have power over us.  By the power of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, we can overcome the world.  

 The “righteousness”  we live to is to have a purity of heart and a decency of life.  Righteousness is the being and doing right; it is conforming in character and conduct to the standard of Jesus Christ.   The Bible says that God is at work in us to conform us to the likeness of His Son Jesus. 

We can grow and be strengthened in this righteousness by spending time hearing and learning the Word of God.  We “live for righteousness” when we obey God and His Word.  God’s Word guides us in what is good and right.  Many times we have chosen the way that seems right to us only later to realize our error.  God’s Word guides us in the truth, and when we walk in the way of Truth, we will not be disappointed.    

We also “live to righteousness” as we submit to God’s discipline in our life.  God, through is Spirit, corrects us and trains us to be holy.   The Bible says,  "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness…..it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  (Hebrews 12:10-11)   As we learn to surrender to God’s discipline, and offer our bodies to Christ, we learn to do what is good and right.

The thorny crown and Cross of Christ are our motivation to “die to sin” and “live for righteousness.”

Pastor David

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voice feb2022

February 2022

The Voice of the Shepherd

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  

Mark 9:35

If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you have to be the servant of all.  Jesus said the way of leadership is through serving others. He set the pattern of service by His caring for all those around Him.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick.  Jesus was not afraid to do the jobs that no one else wanted, such as washing His disciples feet.   It was after He washed His disciples feet at the Passover, just before He was crucified, Jesus said, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you". (John 13:15)  It is not always easy or pleasant to serve others, but it IS what followers of Christ do.   The Apostle Peter said,   “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. (1Peter 2:21)   

The acts of service to God and others is a response to the salvation we have been given.  We have an obligation, not to the sinful nature to do what we want or we desire, but a duty to serve the Living Christ who gave His life for us on the cross.  How are you serving others for the sake of the kingdom of God?   

 The Apostle Paul used the human body as an illustration to point out that every part of the body is important and so is every member of the Body of Christ. (Romans 12:4-8) Every Christian, every member of the church,  has a function, purpose, and a  contribution he or she can make for the well-being of the Church.  We are all called to use the gifts and talents we have been given by God to care for and to encourage one another. Paul wrote,  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God…Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."  (1Corinthians 10:31-11:1)  Are you faithfully using the gifts and talents God has given you to serve others? 

Dr David Jeremiah in his daily devotion writes, “Commitment of the people to their calling from God was true even in the Old Testament. When the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, divisions of responsibility were established (Nehemiah 11). Some people were designated to live in Jerusalem, some in the outlying towns. Levites were to reestablish the temple functions, and the choirs were to lead in worship. Landowners grew crops to support the Levites—everyone had a contribution to make.”  Are you committed to the work of the kingdom of God?  Your life is a testimony of your faith.  Are you following the example of Christ?   Are you living to please God? Pastor, author and martyr,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer  said,  "The church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren."   

God has gifted you to serve in an important way and everyday you are given simple opportunities to serve God and others.  You don’t have to do everything, but everyone has to do something.  What are you doing for the kingdom of God?  Are you using your gifts and talents to faithfully serve others?   With each opportunity given you, remember the Words of our Lord Jesus,  “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."  (Matthew 25:45) 

What are you contributing to the health and strength of Shepherd of the Valley?  God has gifted YOU to serve in an important way. 

Pastor David

 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 

 “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.    

 Philippians 2:14-16a 

January  2022 

The Voice of the Shepherd 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Corinthians 5:17

We love “new” don’t we?  Many desire a “new” car or truck to take down the road, for others they delight in “new” clothes or “new” furniture.  If you are like me, there is always some “new” tool that would be a joy to have in the workshop.  For more than a few the “new” year brings hope for something better than the year before.    

 The Bible has a lot of good things to say about the “new.”    It begins in our relationship with Christ.  Writing to the church at Rome, Paul said,  "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4)  In our baptisms we are given a “new life” in Christ.     

 As followers of Christ, the Apostle Paul tells us we are a “new creation.”   The old person that was once alienated and separated from God, because of our sin is gone.  We have been made a child of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   The Apostle Peter put it this way, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth (born again) into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1Peter 1:3)  This “new” birth and “new” creation is not something we have done for ourselves or worked hard to achieve or earned in any way.  It is the gift of God’s grace - freely given us in Christ Jesus.  

I am sure all of you received something “new” at Christmas.  What do you do with all the “new” you have been given?  You use it.  You take off the wrapping paper and take it out of the box -  if it is clothes, you put them on and wear them.  If it is a game, you take it out of the box and play it.   What are we to do with the “new life” we have been given?  We are to put it on! The Apostle Paul said,  "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."  (Colossians 3:9-10)    We are to leave behind the old way of living and the things that are not pleasing to God, and allow ourselves to be transformed by His grace and be made more like Jesus Christ.   

 To the church at Ephesus Paul wrote,  "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made “new” in the attitude of your minds and to put on the “new” self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)   Once again we are told to leave the old behind. Therefore, let us leave behind last year’s sins and failures through confession and repentance.  We can count on God to forgive us every day.  Why?  Because His Word says so:  “His mercies are “new” every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23)    Leave behind the wounds and sorrows of yesterday or last year, by forgiving those who hurt you or your  loved ones.   Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32) 

Let this be your prayer for the “New” year:  Heavenly Father, give me a new heart and put a new spirit in me; remove from me the heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. Put Your Spirit in me and move me to follow Your decrees and be careful to keep Your laws.  In Jesus Name I pray,  Amen (Ezekiel 36:26)

God's Blessings to you in this New Year! 

Pastor David 

voice jan2022

updated April 2022