July 8, 2018 |Trying harder isn’t God’s plan for you
Apostle Paul was adamant about the Gospel. If you’ve attend a Sunday service in the last few weeks, I hope we’ve made that clear. The Bible tells us that we are not saved by our own merit. God doesn’t forgive us because we are deserving. Our salvation is a gift free give by grace because Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
 
There’s not a single person reading this who would deny the Gospel in relation to our salvation. We know that our salvation is a gift from God. But now that we’re saved, how do we “stay saved”? Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us would confess that our faithful obedience is the key to maintaining our salvation. But I think Paul would disagree with you.
 
Paul taught in Galatians 3 that the Gospel that saved us from our sins is the same Gospel that we must rely upon for our ongoing faith. No one is perfect. We’ve all sinned. And the remedy for our sin is not to try really hard to quit winning. The remedy is Jesus.
 
When we break one of God’s laws, we don’t try harder…we believe the same promise that saved us in the first place — we believe Jesus died for our sins … we repent of our sin … and we trust Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation.
 
Repentance does not mean saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me”. While repentance begins with sincere sorrow, it leads to something more. The essence of repentance is “to turn away from”. So if you’re walking toward sin, to repent means we turn away from that sin and walk towards Jesus. Of course we experience sorrow when we turn away from sin. Absolutely, we will want to ask God to forgive us. But the difference maker isn’t our ability to walk away from sin; it’s that we walk towards Jesus — just like you did when you first professed your faith in Jesus upon your salvation.
 
There’s freedom is knowing that Jesus is our hope for, not only our justification when we’re initially saved, but also for our sanctification as we grow in our faith and become the righteousness of God.
So instead of trying harder, turn toward Jesus. Walk towards Him and you’ll certainly experience His presence.
In Jesus’ Name,
 
Ashton
 
P.S.
There’s so many who need to know the hope we posses in the Gospel. And there’s no better opportunity to share that hope with someone than next week at VBS. If you know a family with elementary aged children, please invite the to VBS starting this Sunday at 6pm.
 
July 1, 2018 |Why we visit churches on vacation…and why you should too!
“Back to life … back to reality.” The Stewart clan enjoyed a refreshing week away, and now we’re finding the groove in our routines. As wonderful as vacations are, there’s no place like home.
 
While we were away, we made it a point to attend Church as a family in a church that is not normally the church we attend. This has become our habit while on vacation as we made a commitment to attend church as a family before Amber and I were married. I hope your family has made the same commitment. If this has been your habit, then you understand the value and benefit of attending church as a guest while you’re on vacation. It this is not your habit, then please consider a few of the ways it blesses my family.
 
1.We get to worship God. The Bible encourages believers to worship God together. Psalm 122:1 echoes this encouragement, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” King David wrote this Psalm with joy that he gets to go to worship God in the temple. And that’s how I feel when we vacation, even though we are away from our home church. I enjoy taking a week off from work; but, I don’t enjoy taking a week off from worshipping God with my church. Most of the churches that we’ve attended while on vacation worships a little differently than our church does. They sing songs that are unfamiliar to use. Sometimes the music is louder than we’re used to. And that’s okay because the songs we sing are not sung for me, they are sung for God.
2. We get to hear God’s Word. Sure I can open the Bible and read it for myself while on vacation (and I do). But there’s something that happens in my soul when I sit under the preaching of someone else. Paul wrote in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” As someone who regularly preaches the Word, it’s a gift to listen to someone else preach what they have prepared from the Bible. Each person gleans something different each time they read the Word. It’s good to hear passages of Scripture that I have studied preached differently than I have. I do not compare who is a better presenter of the Word. I simply enjoy what they have prepared and it nourishes my soul.
3. We get to discover unity. Often times when we attend a church while on vacation, we do not know anyone from the congregation. And while we do not know anyone, there’s comfort in knowing that we have unity with that church through a common faith in Jesus. We are deceived if we think we can only achieve unity when we know everyone or if we agree with everyone. Unity is a gift from God given through the Gospel and we have the presence of the same Holy Spirit living within all of us. That’s what was meant in Ephesians 4:3 which says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Even if the church is drastically different from our home church, we have Jesus in common. It’s really good for our souls to see complete strangers as our brothers and sisters in Christ; for, one day we will all spend eternity together when we all get to heaven.
4. We get to appreciate our home church. As much as we enjoy visiting a church while we’re on vacation, there’s no place like home. It really is fun to see how they do things differently. We love getting new ideas and learning how we can improve ministry in our church. But I must admit, I love being home. I love our church family. There is some truth to the cliche that says “distance makes the heart grow fonder”. Being away from my church for a week makes me appreciate our church.
 
So when your family goes on vacation, make it a point to attend church as a guest. Make plans before you leave for vacation. Do a little research and find a church near your hotel. It will be a little strange being the first time guest; but, if you’ll do it, you’ll gain an awareness of how our first time guests feel when they worship with us.
 
I have to admit, it’s easier to skip church while on vacation. In fact, if you miss while you’re on vacation, you’ve probably discovered that it takes some initiative to come back to your own church the next week. You’ll find out it’s kind of nice to sleep in on Sunday. So if you’ve missed a few Sundays even though you haven’t been away on vacation, let me encourage you to get back into your habit of attending Church every Sunday for all of the same reasons it’s a blessing to attend church while on vacation.
 
The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let’s make it a habit of attending church — both while we’re on vacation and while we’re home. It will be a blessing to you.
 
In Jesus’ Name,
 
Ashton
 
P.S.
If you have noticed a brother or sister that hasn’t been at church in a while, take a moment and send them a message or give them a call. Let them know that you’ve missed them. Let them know that church isn’t the same without them. And invite them back to sit with you this Sunday. Let’s be a church that loves one another into a relationship with Jesus!

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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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