Church of God Faith Fellowship
September 2023 - Vol. 23, No. 9
Meeting place: Gray Summit United Methodist Church
September 9th - We’ll be in the sanctuary; Rummage sale in the fellowship hall (7 a.m.-1 p.m.)
September 16th - Currently scheduled to be in the sanctuary; Community breakfast in the fellowship hall. This may change because the back parking lot is scheduled to be asphalted that week and they don’t want anyone driving on it. We’ll have to use the front entrance.
September 17th - Feast of Trumpets - Gray Summit
Same issue with parking. Note: time change:
Seminar - at 11:30 - Shirley
Worship Service starts at 1 p.m.
Potluck after services
September 23rd - Women’s Heart to Heart (Jeanie’s facilitating)
September 26th - Atonement - Gray Summit - 11 a.m.
September 30th & October 7th - No local church services -
Happy Feast of Tabernacles
October 14th - Church services as normal - Feast Wrap-Up
Ricky and the Run Home
by Ron Saladin
I attended grade school at Oak Hill. I remember the school was located on a bit of an elevation with large trees lining one side. Appropriately named, I guess.
Spring had arrived and the end of the school year was approaching. The gym teacher took us outside for a softball game. I was one of the captains, and we two captains took turns choosing our teams. More out of default than being chosen, Ricky ended up on my team. As I remember, he was a rather quiet and small of build boy.
When the time came, Ricky stepped up to the plate. We were encouraging but didn’t expect much. To our surprise, he swung hard and solidly connected, sending the ball into the outfield. The race was on, one chasing the ball and Ricky sprinting around the bases.
Ricky won and crossed the plate. He had hit a home run! It was a happy moment, at least for Ricky and our team. That changed very soon though. Our hero walked over to the bench, but something was wrong. Soon people crowded around him. An ambulance was called but to no avail. Ricky died.
Unknown to most of us there that day, Ricky had a heart defect. I seem to remember, for some reason he had not taken his medication that day.
The Bible reveals we who are descended from Adam all have a heart defect. It is an incurable problem no medication will heal. A total transplant is needed; a new heart needs to be generated.
Regeneration happens in a moment. Jesus defined that event in John 5:24,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
However, passing from death into life does not automatically bring with it perfection. Those who actually have the faith Jesus described will be faced with decisions which frequently test their priorities as Christians. We can talk a good talk but what we place our time, efforts, and resources into demonstrates the depth of our commitment over the rest of our lives.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus identified several groups of believers, some produced 100 fold, some 60, some 30. Harvests do not happen overnight; a steadfast endurance is needed.
Another way of looking at this is running a race. Paul uses this analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:24,
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
Obtain is translated from a Greek word which has in view here the idea of getting the prize with eager and vigorous effort, keeping focused on the finish line and the prize.
I’ve participated in a number of 10k races. I’m not a runner by nature, and none of the races were easy for me. It took determination to reach the finish line.
The finish line for us as Christians is on the other side of the death of the body. That seems like an unlikely goal to be running for with eagerness and great effort. But that is where Christ is. The destiny of the church is to be at home with Him forever.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:4-10
It would be good to approach the finish line with the conviction of Paul.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Our captain knows us very personally.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. John 15:16
God has selected His team; you are not there by default. The team of Christ has been appointed to produce and has been given the means to do so. We are called to step up to the opposition, to swing for the fences, to run with gusto the race before us, to produce something for the scorecard in spite of the opposition.
So . . . Whose team are you on?
Purpose, Prepare, Produce, Present
by Cynthia Saladin
Why are you here? What is your purpose? Do you feel God’s Spirit moving you to accomplish a task, to reach for a goal? If you’re a parent, you know that God has gifted you with the responsibility of rearing that child to know and love God. If you’re married because God has gifted you with a mate, you are ever growing in that union! And if you are a Christian, you know that God has called you to preach the gospel to the people around you - sometimes using words if you have to. But none of those purposes is easy . . . usually. They require work and time and effort and preparation, most of the time.
Preparation is necessary for a good outcome. If you want to have a good meal, some advance preparation is necessary. If you want a flourishing child, some preparation (including a good stock of diapers) is a very good idea. If you want to have a joyful wedding, you likely will put in months of preparation so that things will go as smoothly as possible. If you plan to preach the gospel (in word and deed), you’d better prepare.
Thoughtful purpose and intentional preparation usually directly affects what you produce. Without proper preparation, aka having all of the necessary ingredients, the chances of a successful meal production decreases drastically! Without serious purpose and extensive preparation, you will not (likely) produce a good test result on a major exam. Without good planning, construction of a house becomes more haphazard, more expensive, and much more of a headache.
If you live as a solitary hermit in a remote location, you could get away with a minimum of preparation. Who would there be to produce something for, except yourself? Presenting a delightful product would be practically pointless. While such solitude may seem somewhat appealing, it would soon lose its attractiveness, because it’s not really the purpose for which any of us were created. And physical meals are not really our focus either.
We were created for God’s pleasure. He expects us to do the task He’s set before us, to bloom where we’re planted, to produce fruit. And like that perfect meal, He expects the fruit production to be something delightful to behold. That is, we need to be producing fruit worth eating, so to speak.
So why are we considering this right now? Well, gardens are producing much fruit. The grape harvest is underway. Some of the harvest is wonderful; some of it is less than desirable. But as we’re bringing in the fruit of our labor from the garden, we’re thinking about the fall harvest festival, the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s the preparation month and we’re all busy making plans to go to the Feast. We’re ready to rejoice with our church family, church people we haven’t seen for a year or perhaps many years. We’re ready to feast, listen to messages, relax.
Have you considered what fruit you are taking to present before the King? Wait. What? Sure. Deuteronomy 16:16 says that three times in the year the males are to appear before the LORD in the place that He would choose, and they are not to appear empty-handed. That kinda means you had better prepare to bring something worthy of giving the King. Oh and verse 17 says that we are to give an offering in proportion to the way the King has blessed us. Are your mental calculators going? Are you thinking about how to put a number on the blessings God has gifted you with this past year? Is that really the point? A monetary gift?
That’s good, but maybe He wants more: are you prepared to offer Him a living sacrifice? Are you coming before Him with growth - obvious growth - from where you were last year at the Feast? Have you found your purpose in seeking God with everything that you have and everything that you are so that you can produce fruit worth presenting to the King?
I don’t know what you have purposed in your heart to present to Him this Feast. I know that as I’m bringing in the harvest, I’m considering more than the physical fruit; I’m evaluating the spiritual fruit that I have to show for the past year. And I’m purposing in my heart to prepare in the coming year to produce a better harvest to present before Him.
Sabbath, September 2nd - Man looks at how someone appears on the outside. I look at what is in the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Sabbath, September 9th - The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. Mark 4:11(NIV)
Sabbath, Sept 16th and Trumpets, Sept 17th - On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Leviticus 23:24 (NIV)
Sabbath, Sept 23rd - You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths. Leviticus 23:42 (ESV)
Tuesday, Sept 26th - The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves. . . Leviticus 23:27 (NIV)
Love has nothing to do with what you are
expecting to get - only with what you are
expecting to give - which is everything.