Take time to read the responses of Zachariah and Mary then answer the question above, "When God speaks, how do you respond?"
By: Pastor Art
God is SO VERY GOOD! After Sunday Morning’s message on “How Do You Respond?”, I hope you are asking yourself that question and seeking God’s will, direction, guidance wherever you are. We looked at Luke chapter 1 and compared Zachariah’s response to the God verses Mary’s response. They both had excuses as to why it couldn’t happen. They both were confused and a bit afraid. They were both met unexpectedly (even though Zachariah was in the Temple and performing the priestly duties at the altar … sometimes we go through the motions instead of being in tune to what God wants also). But Zachariah held unbelief in his heart where Mary responded with an attitude and submission and belief. Zachariah paid the price (couldn’t talk about it), where Mary was able to rejoice in God her Savior. So, when God speaks, how do you respond?
Take time to read the responses of Zachariah and Mary then answer the question above, "When God speaks, how do you respond?"
By: Pastor Art
Something you may not know about me is that I liked to play with matches when I was a kid! If my mom was here, she could tell you about the time I was playing with fire and burned a large hole in our basement carpet or the time I burned the kitchen floor! When I am at a campfire, I love to stare at the flame because there is just something about the way it flickers that fascinates me. Last Sunday, Pastor Art shared about another kind of fire that needs to be continually burning in our lives: The fire of God in US! In Leviticus 6:9, 12-13, the Lord gave instructions to Moses to “keep the fire burning on the altar continuously. It must not go out!” Those instructions seem pretty important if He was constantly reiterating that message to them over and over again. Our desire should be that the Holy Spirit would consume us and draw others to Jesus.
He shared 4 questions:
By: Crystal Baker
Last Sunday morning we talked about “Dipping Deep” into God. We started with the illustration that in October of 1807, Meriweather Lewis and William Clark had crossed over the Continental Divide, and were proceeding down the Columbia river to the Pacific Ocean. Dependent upon the river for fresh water, many of his party were becoming sick due to the murky, brackish water of the turbulent Columbia river. Lewis, the great problem solver of the exhibition, gave this order, “Dip Deep Water.”
Lewis had discovered that if he dipped deep down into the mighty river fresher water could be raised and his men would be relieved from the infirmities inflicted by the brackish water.
In our spiritual lives many of our afflictions, trials and sicknesses would be lessened or avoided if we would just learn the same lesson to dip Deep Water. Too often we have settled for the scum on top. We have never plunged deep in into the fresh water that is only found deep down.
1. Dipping Deep Water means we are drinking deep of our relationship with Jesus
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
A. Found the River
Jesus needs to become the consuming fire and passion of our lives.
B. Freed the River
The power of the river is not found behind a dam. It is only discovered when it is released.
“streams of living water will flow from within him."
A dam backs up water, but if not released it becomes stagnant or it floods … both can bring disease and destruction.
It is only when it is released that it flows through the turbines … that it’s force creates power … electricity … We need to release the power of the Holy Spirit, our personal relationship with God, through prayer and praise and worship.
It is through this release that we affect others, we share the deep waters of God with them! In thinking about this, is our spiritual life a rushing stream or a trickle of water? How much water are we sharing?
John 17:20-23 implies that we need Jesus, but we also need to be in unity with fellow believers (having fellowship with them). But it doesn’t end there! It is also having fellowship with others, inviting them to know Jesus (that is much more important than inviting them to church, which is good, but not the ultimate goal)! We need fellowship with others to keep us on track, to keep us on the path that God has laid out for us, to give us correction, strength, and encouragement so we can share Jesus with others. Both are important!
Greetings on this overcast day that God has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!
God is so good! In spite of all that is happening around us, in spite of the weather, in spite of the illnesses (we will get to that later), God is good and His mercy endures forever!
We are still rejoicing in how God spoke and all He did on Sunday morning. As we listened, I was amazed at the number of times (Matt 9:20 and Matt 14:36 as examples) of the times that people touched the hem of Christ’s garment. There were crowds of people that were bumping into Jesus, but some were singled out because they touched Him. What made the difference? These people were intentional. They were reaching for Jesus. They were not passive, but aggressive in getting to Jesus. The friends of the paralytic man tore the roof off of the house … there was action in getting to Jesus. We need to put an action, and anticipation to the things God has promised for us. Sometimes in our walk with God we get too passive, “If God wants to do this he will …” But our serving God is active. He has placed His power, His presence, His anointing in our “bank account.” In banking, a checking account is a Demand Account. The money you put in that account is yours, but you must demand it, do something, write a check, to get it out. The money does no good just sitting in the account.
Well, His presence, His anointing, does no good just sitting in our “account.” We need to use it. We need to share it. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that if she knew who was asking for water, she would ask of Him so she would never thirst again. We need to ask and expect our well to be full to overflowing. God has so much in store for us. All the benefits of the cross are ours! But we need to use them! We need to ask. We need to press in to touch the hem of His garment. Let’s not sit on the sidelines, but come to the Father expecting Him to move in our lives.
We should come to every service expecting. We should be expecting every time we come together … “where 2 or 3 are gathered, I am in the middle of them…” Are you just going through today, or are you expecting God to move in your life? Are you actively looking for opportunities to make a difference? For God to make a difference in you?
By: Pastor Art Speck
When I look at or hear the news these days I could easily throw my hands up and cry “What’s the use?”
We have a nation replacing the values that have made our countries great. We have legislators trying to restrict our freedoms more and more in order to "make the world a safer place". We have modern “thinkers” (more like stinkers) imposing immoral education in our schools, starting with the earliest education. Colleges are forcing people to go through equalities training in order to graduate.
We seem to be trapped because the media have swallowed the humanistic lies hook line and sinker and are promoting them for all they are worth. Nobody ever seems to want the truth. Nobody wants to think anymore.
Gloomy enough for you? As the man said, cheer up, things could get worse. So I cheered up, and sure enough things got worse.
Well, grab hold of this promise: Habakkuk 3: 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Was Habakkuk scared? He sure was. 16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.
He saw what God had in store for Israel and he must have felt like you would feel when you see a vehicle swerving completely out of control right at you. There is nothing you can do but brace yourself, close your eyes and wait for the impact. Or scream your head off. You know it’s going to hurt. You know it’s going to be bad. And you know there is no way to escape it.
What we see happening with our country, or maybe with your life right now, is the same. The inevitable crash is coming. It’s going to be bad. It’s going to hurt. It will be devastating.
We are facing the same calamities that Habakkuk faced. What was his response? Even if the economy of the land is totally destroyed, even if there is nothing left to eat, 18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk had supreme faith in God’s sovereignty. Whatever God had in store for him, and for us, we can rejoice in the God of our salvation.
He and Nehemiah were reading from the same book. Nehemiah said (Nehemiah 8) 10…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Now, that joy is a decision we make. It’s based on our relationship with God. There is a world of difference between what we call “happiness” and God’s joy.
The world’s happiness depends on circumstances. Do we have enough money in the bank to pay the bills? Are we healthy? Are our relationships good? Does the car work OK? Is our house weather tight? Do we have the right clothes? Is work good?
All those things are circumstances. They can change like the wind. We can be on top of the world one minute, and looking up to see bottom the next.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. That joy is based on our relationship with God. He has said so many times and in so many ways that He has our back. He loves us, will provide for us, protect us, guard us. He is our strong fortress in whatever storms we are in today.
He is in absolute control. He has a plan and He is making it work out. Check out Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
We can have that joy because nothing can stop God. Nothing and nobody is more powerful than He is; nobody can thwart His plans. Nobody can out think Him. Remember Psalm 115: 3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
He does whatever He pleases in heaven, here on earth, whenever, wherever, whatever. The fifty-cent term for that is God is “Sovereign”. He is not controlled by circumstances in the world. He controls the circumstances in the world.
So long as we keep that in mind, and the fact that we are His children, and that He cares for each of us, we can have that joy that destroys the despair that would love to scream at us “all is lost. Give up.”
Sure our bodies may be killed. Is that the worst the world can do to us? If we are Christians we walk out of the problems and trials of this life into God’s presence. Jesus said in Matthew 10 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus knocked death completely out of the threat game when He died and then came back to life. 1 Corinthians 15 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Jesus died on the cross, satan scored an own goal. By crucifying Jesus he destroyed his power over man. The sting of death is sin. Jesus destroyed the power of sin over our lives by making it possible for our sins to be forgiven, for us to be made righteous so we can come before God without fear.
Bottom line: we can either look around us and focus on the circumstances in the world today and panic or go into despair, or we can fix our gaze, our attention, on God and rejoice in the fact that no matter what happens, we are in His hands. And we can rejoice because regardless of what happens, we can take shelter from the world’s storms in Him.
Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust.”
To me, this was a refreshing reminder … no matter what I am facing, whether it is health issues, people issues, personal issues, political issues, it doesn’t matter the issue … God is still God and He is still in control. I can relax and focus on Him and abide, dwell in, His peace, love, and strength knowing that He is in control. He has got this! Go God!
By: Author unknown, this devotional was shared with Pastor Art from a friend
Ah, February! The “love" month! Why? Because Valentine’s Day sits right in the middle of the month, that is why. Although there are many different stories of who St. Valentine was and what he did and accomplished, the stories agree on one thing, that he refused to compromise his faith and denounce Christ. Because of his love for God, Valentine was beaten and beheaded on February 14th.
So, how does that story fit into our current culture of love and Valentine’s Day? If you ask a smaller child, you might get the answer that love is a soft puppy. A teen might blush, fidget, and think of the warm fuzzy feeling they get when they think of “that special person.” Ask someone immersed in popular culture and you might hear that love is accepting everyone. But none of these definitions fit the Biblical view of love.
John 15:13 MKJV No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Now THAT is love. Love is sacrifice. Jesus loved us so much that He died for us. (John 3:16) God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be our once and for all sacrifice to free us from sin. (Hebrews 10:10-14)
The neat thing is that God loves us as we are. Period. We don’t have to get cleaned up, we don’t have to get right, we don’t have to do anything but come to Him. That is love and acceptance. He has a big table that is open to ALL!
But it doesn’t stop there. Because He loves us so much, He provides a way of escape from sin. He provides a way to change. 1 John 3:1 MKJV
"Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
Because He loves us He expects us to change!
Remember the story of Lazarus in John 11? Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. Jesus was told to not open the tomb because Lazarus would stink. But what did Jesus do? John 11:39 MKJV
"Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him who died, said to Him, Lord, by this time he stinks. For it is the fourth day."
He opened the tomb and called to Lazarus to come out. That which was dead was now alive! Lazarus came out, all wrapped up in his grave clothes … just the way he was in the tomb without Jesus. (v.44) And Jesus told those who were watching to untie the grave clothes from Lazarus. And there is the change. Jesus was not going to let Lazarus stay as he was, but Lazarus was given new life, and he was to show (demonstrate) this new life with new clothing, a new walk, getting cleaned up, and no longer stinking!
Now, THAT is love! Love to be honest with one another. Honest to say, “you stink and need to be cleaned up!” Love means we don’t wink at sin and let things slide. We don’t let those we love remain dead in sin. We don’t remain dead in sin! The love of the Father is about change and becoming more like Him!
That love that changes us is the same love that walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4). It is the same love that when we are afraid, we will trust in Him (Ps 56:3). It is the same love that never leaves us or forsakes us (Heb 13:5). Yes, God is love. And we should exhibit that same love. Let’s just make sure it is God’s love, and not the world’s love that we are focusing on. Ephesians 5 makes this clear.
Eph 5:1-11 ERV "You are God's dear children, so try to be like him. (2) Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave himself for us—a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. (3) But there must be no sexual sin among you. There must not be any kind of evil or selfishly wanting more and more, because such things are not right for God's holy people. (4) Also, there must be no evil talk among you. Don't say things that are foolish or filthy. These are not for you. But you should be giving thanks to God. (5) You can be sure of this: No one will have a place in the kingdom of Christ and of God if that person commits sexual sins, or does evil things, or is a person who selfishly wants more and more. A greedy person like that is serving a false god. (6) Don't let anyone fool you with words that are not true. God gets very angry when people who don't obey him talk like that. (7) So don't have anything to do with them. (8) In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. (9) This light produces every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. (10) Try to learn what pleases the Lord. (11) Have no part in the things that people in darkness do, which produce nothing good. Instead, tell everyone how wrong those things are."
Have a Valentine’s Day and month of love. Remember the love of St. Valentine was that he was not going to compromise his faith in God, even if it meant death. Spend time with God, fall in love with Him to the point where you can imitate St. Valentine’s love.
Pastor Art Speck
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Whatever we do in life, whatever causes we become involved in, whatever activities we take up, there needs to be one purpose, one overriding reason for us doing anything. That purpose is to seek God’s Kingdom. That is the compass bearing we set for our lives. It is the North Star to guide our decisions and give us direction and purpose in life. Some aspect of seeking God’s Kingdom should be what drags us out of bed in the mornings.
Now, “Seeking God’s Kingdom” has a nice nebulous ring to it. It could mean seeking the higher good for all mankind. It could mean trying to be a good neighbor or volunteer community worker, or try to make the world a better place, or a whole host of other things.
Jesus is more practical than that. At the end of Matthew, Jesus gave us our marching orders. Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
God’s Kingdom here on earth is people. Sure He owns all there is. He rules over the weather, the seas, the earthquakes, the forest fires, all forms of life. And He makes it all work together for His glory and our good. But Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty of the sins of people on himself. He didn’t die for animals or weather or climate change. He died for people. And His commission to us, His last words to us as He went back to rejoin His Father were to make disciples of all nations.
That is how we seek first His Kingdom here on earth. By leading people to Jesus, see them become Christians, help them to grow in their relationship with God. Paul described the process in 2 Timothy 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
It’s not a job for the “professionals”. It’s the job God has given to each one of us. We have one job to do. That’s to seek God’s Kingdom here on earth by building disciples, by teaching them the things God has taught us through people (as Paul taught Timothy), and by learning from His Word directly. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
In order to guide people into God’s Kingdom, we need to be worthwhile messengers ourselves. We need to keep seeking God’s Kingdom in our own lives. Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Our countries seem to be falling apart at the seams. Lawlessness and disorder are the order of the day. Our countries are actively following Satan and persecuting Christians. The only way to see that turned around is to seek God’s Kingdom here on earth, and in our countries. That starts with seeing people become Christians, and then disciples. Then they will take on God’s values and standards and way of living. We can become involved in lots of Christian organizations and activities; we can go on marches and become politically active. But unless we are carrying out God’s mandate to us to see individuals turn around, repent and become Christians, one at a time, we’ll just be wasting time and effort.
We have one job to do: Seek God’s Kingdom here on earth. That means we need to evaluate all we do in terms of “How will this help build God’s Kingdom here on earth?” It means starting with our own lives, and going on to disciple others.
P.S. We can’t wait until we are “perfect” ourselves. That will never happen. We need to start now, where we are. We need to stick as close as we can to God’s Word as we go along in life. Jesus’ commission was to make disciples as we are going.
Sunday morning devotion by Pastor Art
On Sunday morning, Pastor Dotty spoke. She reminded us of out mission statement at the Huntingdon Oasis:
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The purpose of the Oasis of Love Church of Huntingdon is to bring people into agreement with God and one another by virtue of an orderly wholeness through the following:
1. Worship unto God - to grow into a “fully devoted lifestyle” unto Jesus Christ in all areas of our lives.
2. Discipleship - to reconcile or win believers and unbelievers to God as a disciple (follower of Christ) here on earth.
3. Fellowship - to create a lifestyle of sharing, support, and companionship; to serve one another and express Christian love in tangible ways.
4. Service - to develop channels of service to the Huntingdon Community and the body of Christ.
Luk 4:18 MKJV "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed,
She reminded us of last weeks lesson and the key words, “FOCUS” and “TOGETHER.” Let’s go into the new year TOGETHER, with the focus of Christ before us and our mission to our community.
Many different ones shared about the outreaches we did last year, Lake Day, Kid’s Klub, Kid’s Activity Day, Camp, Seekers, Tweeners, In School Bible Club, Nursing Home Outreaches, Senior Hour, Etc. Many different ones reached and touched by going outside our walls. We were reminded that Isa 62:10-12 (NIrV0 says, “Go out through your gates, people of Jerusalem! Go out! Prepare the way for the rest of your people to return. Build up the road! Build it up! Remove the stones. Raise a banner over the city for the nations to see. (11) The LORD has announced a message from one end of the earth to the other. He has said, "Tell the people of Zion, "Look! Your Savior is coming! He is bringing his people back as his reward. He has won the battle over their enemies.'" (12) They will be called The Holy People. The LORD will set them free. And Jerusalem will be named The City the LORD Cares About. It won't be deserted anymore.”
This was speaking to the church and the church was reminded the following things:
We were challenged to do something this year that we haven’t done before! We were challenged to have a “Yes, I will” attitude! Remember, we are a team, no one can do it all. And T.E.A.M stands for Together Everyone Achieves Much! Let’s stay focused and together head into this new year for Christ!
Last Sunday, Pastor Art shared from Philippians 3:12-4:1 about Focus.
We all have a choice in what or who we focus our attention on.
We go where our focus is!
If we focus on the past, it keeps us from moving forward. When we are constantly dwelling on those failures, we miss out on the blessings God has for us in the future. You can’t control what other people do to you or do around you, but you can control how you respond.
Verse 15 in the Message Bible says, “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.” I don’t want to be someone that gives up or slacks off and is always concentrating on the past. I want to finish the race He has designed for me, and finish it strong! We can’t stand strong if we are living in the past. Therefore, He has blessed us with others to help us on this journey.
As Christians, if we are all running the same course and headed toward the same goal, we need to make sure we keep track of each other and encourage one another along the path.
As we begin 2019, Pastor Art challenged us to ask ourselves: What is our focus? What are you looking for in 2019? Write the word FOCUS on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you can look at it everyday! Let’s keep on track with God.
By: Crystal Baker
Okay, so I didn’t get this out in the middle of the week because I was on the road. We drove (my brothers, Dex and Rod, nephew Jay, and myself) over 3400 miles (Huntingdon, PA to Lexington, KY to Orlando, FL to Lexington, KY to Denver, CO and then from Pittsburgh back to Huntingdon) and flew over 1400 miles, watched Penn State University attempt a comeback, but fall short, and delivered a car to it’s owner in Denver, CO, all in 5 ½ days! Some would say we are nuts, and for those that say that, I don’t think anyone is arguing with you! HA!
As I watched the PSU game and then listened to the banter on social media calling for Coach Franklin to be fired, I became concerned about the way we view things. People complaining about the fake punt on Penn State’s first possession and blaming Coach Franklin for a terrible call that lead to a UK field goal would have been the same ones praising him IF the long snapper would have made a more accurate snap and the runner would not have dropped the ball. If the ball drop never occurred, the runner would have made the additional half yard needed for a first down. The game came down to special teams not executing for Penn State and the wide receivers dropping balls. In spite of quarterback Trace McSorely’s valiant effort to lead the team back to victory while nursing a possible broken foot, Penn State fell short, 27-24.
Okay, why do I start this report this way? Because last Sunday we read Phil 3:12-4:1. We talked about the need to let go of the past (the good, the bad, and the ugly) (v.13). If we don’t let it go, we wallow in it and are not able to execute in the present and future. We talked about reaching for those things ahead of us (v.14). We have a goal before us, and that goal is Jesus. We tend to head towards were we are looking. So if our focus is on Jesus, it is only natural that is where we are going.
Focus … what a powerful word. We declared that was the word for 2019 … FOCUS! We need to constantly check our focus … to make sure we are looking in the right direction, to encourage others to keep heading the right way.
Heb 12:2 ERV We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne.
In 2019, don’t get distracted, don’t get discouraged, don’t quit … keep your focus so you can successfully execute our game plan and be MORE than conquerors … we can win!
This is an excerpt from Pastor Art's weekly email