March 5, 2018 |Nothing is Wasted

 

No one is exempt from trials in this life.  We enjoy those seasons of blessings; and yet, inevitably they are followed by seasons of sorrow and pain.  Often times our darkest days happen unexpectedly and without notice.  Such was the case for me on February 2, 2015.  I was working on a little renovation project on my home with an elder from my church.  We were preparing for the arrival of our son, Judson.  To make room for Stewart child number 3, we moved the girls into a shared bedroom.  To make room for the overwhelming amount of dolls and dress-up clothes, we converted our one-car garage into a playroom.  

It was during the construction of this room when my phone rang with an unexpected phone call from my dad.  He is typically at work during the day so it was unusual that he would call me in the middle of the day.  I missed his initial call due to the noise of the circular saw.  And when I noticed his missed call, I quickly listened to the voice mail that he left.  I could sense the worry in his voice, so I immediately returned his call.    

A few weeks prior to this conversation, my family was visiting my dad for Christmas.  We enjoyed all of the festivities of the holidays.  Living four hours from my side of the family means we do not get to see them nearly as often as we would like.  So it was nice to spend several days visiting, playing card games, and of course, eating lots of delicious food.  My dad has always been what I would call a “foodie”.  He loved to cook, barbecue, grill, bake, and every other method of cooking imaginable.  He spent hours each weekend surfing the cooking websites and always had a new “copycat” recipe of his favorite restaurants’ dish to try.  That’s just one of the ways my dad passed the time.  

But this particular visit was not normal.  My dad didn’t eat very much.  He didn’t cook at all.  He told me he was having terrible discomfort in his stomach.  I encouraged him to let me take him to the doctor to get checked out.  But he stubbornly brushed it off and said he would take care of it after the holidays.  

When I returned dad’s phone call that afternoon during a break from our renovation project, he told me that he finally visited the doctor.  In fact, the discomfort turned into such severe pain that he left work to go to the emergency room.  After a few tests, the ER doctor came to my dad with the news no one likes to hear.  Dad asked me if I was sitting down before he told me what the doctor shared.  Although I was no where near a chair, I told him I was sitting.  That’s when a great day turned horrible.  He told me that he had cancer.

I had no idea how to take that news.  I held strong for my dad on the phone.  I optimistically told him that this is just a bump in the road and he’ll get through it with no problem.  My dad has always been “strength” personified in my eyes.  There’s never been a stronger human being to ever walk the planet.  I had no idea how quickly his strength would fade.  

That’s how life works.  We have no idea what today will bring.  Good days may remain good for a significant period of time, only to be dramatically altered with a single moment.  You’ve no doubt experienced your own season altering moments.  As Christians, what are we to do with such moments?  How is our faith to guard our hearts during these transitions that change our lives forever?  In what way does our belief about God to make a difference in how we endure during these uncertain times?  

What if I told you that none of the moments of our life are ever wasted? Even those moments when life snatches the rug right out from underneath your feet.  What if I told you that even during the most powerless times of your life that God remains all-powerful?  What if I were to tell you that those times when you’ve felt weakest, God is still all-powerful?  What if I shared with you that the circumstances that have left you feeling utterly alone, that God was always present with you.  

This may be difficult to understand in the midst of such dreadful times in our life, but with a supernatural hindsight that’s guided by the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word, I can with absolute assurance tell you that God never wastes a single moment of your life.  That’s the thrust of the Apostle Paul’s statement in Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  

What exactly does that mean for people of faith? Well, that’s exactly the question that I aim to address in our next sermon series NOTHING IS WASTED which we’ll begin THIS Sunday.  For the next four weeks, and concluding Easter Sunday, we’re going to study the painful moments of our lives and refocus our attention on the One who never lets our pain go wasted.  I pray that your faith will expand and your view of God will become clearer.  I hope through God’s Word you’ll be given a new perspective of the trials of our life.  And most of all, I aim to give you the gift of HOPE that God is bigger than the storms we endure.  Ask the Lord to minister to the brokenness of your life through these sermons.  And together, may we find that God’s love never fails.  

In Jesus Name,
Pastor Ashton
 
February 26, 2018 |Use Your Story to Share the Gospel
 
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” — Ephesians 2:8
 

Your story can be the most effective tool you can use in sharing the Gospel with a non-believer. The changes that are obvious in your life bring to life the truths found in the Scripture. When the Apostle Paul shared his testimony in addition to the truth of Scripture, Agrippa made known that Paul “almost” won Him to faith. Some have asked “Why should you share your story with others?” The most obvious of reasons would be because it is what is most familiar to you! Where the verses of Scripture may not quickly come to mind, your life’s experiences are right there.

There can be dangers, however, in resting wholly in your own life’s experiences without knowing theScripture that attests to the changes in your life. One must be able to “be ready in season and out of season” to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction” that of the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:2). So it is important that we know Scripturally why these changes have occurred in our life.

Your story is important to you. As a matter of fact, others can in fact relate to your story. Your story may open the door for you to share the Gospel. People are interested in hearing your story. It is amazing how non-Christians who would never step foot in a church to attend for themselves may without hesitation attend a family member’s baptism in support. The reason? Because the decision made by a person that they love matters to them. Because your story can be a very impacting tool, take a moment to consider Paul’s story as you craft into words your own story.

Acts 26:4-23
“The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?

“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.

 
“On one of these journeys, I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
 
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
 
Notice the changes that occurred in Paul’s life as a direct result from the Cross (Acts 26:12-18). There was not a focus on “how lost” Paul was. He didn’t gloat in the amount of sin that he committed. Paul used his past mistakes in such a way to bring glory to Jesus who saved him from his sins!
So think about your story — 1) What was life like before you met Jesus? 2) How did Jesus come into your life? 3) What difference has Jesus made in your life? Allow God to use your testimony as common ground when you’re sharing the Gospel with your loved ones. There’s no denying what God has done in your life. What God has done in your life can be a source of light to illuminate what God wants to do in someone else’s life.
 
Your story can be used to share the Gospel!
 

In Christ,

Pastor Ashton

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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