Are You Living in Fear?

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today… The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent’” (Exodus 14:13a, 14a).

The people of God had seen God perform 10 amazing miracles to deliver them from Egypt. Yet here in Exodus 14 they are still afraid that the Egyptian army would overtake and slaughter them.

So, Moses, the leader, gives them a message designed to increase their courage.

1) Fear not.
2) Stand firm.
3) See the salvation of the Lord.
a) He will work for you today.
b) He will fight for you.
4) Be silent.

This silence doesn’t mean that they should stop crying out to the Lord for salvation. Instead, the command to “be silent” refers to how God’s people were verbalizing their worries, their fears, their grumblings, and their complaints.

Crying out aloud for salvation is something that God encourages in many places in the Bible. Psalm 77:1-2a says, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord…” Crying aloud in this way shows dependence. And then when God rescues, He gets glory and everyone knows that our Father is indeed the Lord of heaven and earth.

But verbalizing our fears with in a grumbling, complaining way is something that demonstrates that we do not believe our God is bigger than our problems. And how can God get glory from that?

Our troubles and trials can become our opportunities to live in faith, not in fear.

Question: Where are you most tempted to live in fear – not standing firm, not looking for the Lord’s salvation, and not being quiet in His love?

A prayer:

You, Lord are worthy of trust. You have never let Your people without protection and provision. You are the God who brought Your people out of slavery in Egypt by Your outstretched arm and mighty power.

To lead them, You put a cloud before them by day and a pillar of fire before them by night. You parted the Red Sea. You caused that sea to swallow up their enemies. And You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If You provided for and protected them, You will provide for and protect me, my family, and my church.

Cleanse me of all godless fear. Cleanse from living like I do not have a mighty God in heaven. Cleanse me from a life that detracts from the glory due Your name.

Thank You so very much for the cleansing blood of Jesus that forgives and for the righteous life that covers me.

Now, help me trust You to provide for me and for my family. Help me to not fear, to stand still, to see Your salvation, and to be silent when it comes to being. a grumbler who sinfully verbalizes my fears to a watching world. I want You to get much glory from my life.

Today, I yield to You as my Provider.

 In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Information + Application = Transformation

by CVC Founding Pastor, Rick Duncan

In this past week’s message, Pastor Chad challenged us to not only hear what Jesus says, but to actually do what Jesus says. The one who hears and does not obey is building his house in a wadi. When the floods – trials and troubles in life – come, that house will fail and fall. The one who hears and obeys is building his house on a solid foundation. When the floods come, that house will stay and stand!

Just calls us to obedience again in John 14.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21

Sometimes, followers of Jesus have differing emphases on two aspects of discipleship. Some emphasize learning the Word of God as the key to effective discipleship. Others emphasize living the Word of God as the key to discipleship. We believe that both are necessary. It is information plus application that equals transformation.

There will never be a time when a believer does not need greater knowledge of the Word of God. And there will never be a time when a believer does not need greater obedience to the Word of God. But the emphasis on each is different in the stages of spiritual growth.

To be sure, early in the process of discipleship, the emphasis for the new believer is learning the Word of God. New believers need a radical reorientation of their minds in order to develop a Biblical worldview. Gaining information from the Bible is absolutely critical all throughout one’s spiritual journey.  But it is especially vital in the early stages of spiritual growth. When we first begin the Christian life, we grow by learning lots and lots of new information.

But we must never forget that as a believer grows, more and more emphasis needs to be placed on living the Word of God – on the application of the Word of God. Growth is more than gaining knowledge about Jesus and His Word. Growth is a result of a maturing relationship with and obedience to Jesus.

With our present-day access to the internet and with the availability of teaching via podcasts and videos on You Tube and Vimeo, getting information about the Bible is easier than ever. While we recognize that there is an alarming lack of Biblical knowledge in the church, we must see that it is possible for believers in America to be in the midst of an information feast and an application famine.

As we begin to master some of the content of the Bible, the emphasis in our growth process must become trusting and obeying, or applying what we know.

The reason many Christians fail to be transformed is because they do not ask God for the grace to “keep” the commandments. If you want your Christian life to be exciting and exhilarating then focus on obeying. Be a radical, revolutionary doer of the word! Getting knowledge without the corresponding application only leads to pride. “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

As you live out the Christian life, expect God to challenge you to obey Him more and more. He’ll be asking you to step out in faith to actually do what He is teaching you in His Word.

Go out on a limb for God!  Step out in obedient faith. That’s where the fruit is!

 

How do you know if you love money?

This past Sunday, Pastor Chad asked us to consider several questions to determine whether or not we love money.  Take some time to reflect, talk to God, and consider if this is an area where you need to surrender to the Lord in a greater way.

Some personal reflection/assessment questions:

  • Do I have a hard time being grateful for what I have?
  • Am I obsessed with becoming rich?
  • Do I envy rich people?
  • Do I devalue poor people?
  • Do I feel like I never have enough?
  • Am I living beyond my means?
  • Am I a “show off” with what I have?
  • Have I forgotten God as the source of everything?
  • Am I tempted to sin to acquire more?
  • Do I experience suffering because of financial decisions?
  • Do I make major decisions solely on the financial impact (marriage, children, job, family life, Etc.)
  • Do I feel inadequate, less than, or inferior when I don’t have what others have, or get to do what others do?
  • Do I have a list of reasons and justifications of why I’m entitled to have more than I do?
  • Do I keep putting myself and my family at risk for what I’m chasing in the area of finances and possessions (homes, cars, toys, gadgets, furnishings, etc.)

If you answer “yes” to some or most of these questions, you are probably dealing with a love of money on some level within your heart.  Ask the Lord to help you in this area if you find that it is a struggle for you.

Joni’s Story

In his message this past Sunday, Pastor Chad referenced an article by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Joni is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center and is an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 when she was 17 left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. During her rehabilitation, Joni spent long months learning how to paint with a brush between her teeth. She persistently prayed for healing.  To read the full article she wrote on why she praises God for not saying “yes” to healing her, click here.

 

Jesus and the Pharisees in Luke

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

As we have been studying the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke this summer, it’s been eye-opening to me in a new and fresh way that these parables were Jesus’ way of confronting the self-assured, self-righteous, holier-than-thou Pharisees. These stories of Jesus in the book of Luke were devastating indictments against the Pharisees while also being gracious invitations for them to repent.

I’ve also been impressed with the notion that these earthly stories with heavenly meanings need to be heard and heeded by those of us in the church today lest we deceive ourselves into thinking that we have salvation when we actually do not. Churches all around the world, but particularly in the West, can be filled with “unintentional Pharisees.”

We cannot rightly understand the parables of Jesus in the book of Luke without understanding the extent of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.

We are introduced to the Pharisees in the book of Luke in 5:18-26. Evidently, they had heard of the ministry of Jesus. So, they came from Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem to check Him out. When Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven, they began to question Him, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” That’s when Jesus, Who knew what they were thinking, provided a physical healing in order to demonstrate that he had the authority to forgive sins.

This begins a series of confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees in the book of Luke. Essentially, it’s a “holy war.” “Who is really on the Lord’s side?” Generally speaking, the Pharisees believed they were good and right and believed that Jesus was evil and wrong.

The word “Pharisee” means “separated one.” The Pharisees were committed to the Old Testament Scripture, to the laws of Moses, and to Israel’s unique status as God’s chosen people. They resisted any type of compromise or collusion with the Roman or Greek cultures. They were committed to study, apply, and teach the law of God. Therefore, law keeping, ritual cleanliness, fasting, and prayer were vital to them. They felt that the way to God was through obedience. They considered themselves to be the “good Jews” who were living life the way God wanted them to live it.

The Pharisees saw Jesus as a blaspheming, law-breaking, false prophet who compromised His integrity as a man of God by eating and drinking with the ungodly – tax collectors and sinners. They saw Him as being used by Satan to lead the people of Israel astray. They believed He needed to be stopped because He was a demon-possessed deceiver who disregarded the law and the prophets. Eventually, they decided that He would need to be put to death.

The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees escalates throughout the book of Luke…

The Pharisees grumbled because the followers of Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. (Luke 5:30, 15:2)

They criticized Jesus because His followers did not fast like John’s followers did. (Luke 5:33)

They accused Jesus of doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath when His disciples picked and ate some grain while going through the grainfields. (Luke 6:2)

They looked for reasons to accuse Jesus, watching to see if He would heal on the sabbath. (Luke 6:7)

They accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. (Luke 7:34)

They criticized Jesus because He allowed a sinful woman to touch Him, anointing His feet with ointment and her tears. (Luke 7:39)

They questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive sins. (Luke 7:49)

They put Jesus to the test, asking Him what one must do to inherit eternal life. (Luke 10:25)

They were astonished to see that Jesus did not ritually wash His hands before dinner. (Luke 11:38)

They pressed Him hard and sought to provoke Him, lying in wait for Him to catch Him in something He might say that they perceived was wrong. (Luke 11:53–54)

They were indignant because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. (Luke 13:14, 14:1-3)

Because they loved money, they ridiculed Jesus for His teaching that one cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16:14)

They quizzed Jesus on when the kingdom of God would come. (Luke 17:20)

They questioned the authority of Jesus to teach the people and preach the gospel. (Luke 20:1-2)

After hearing Jesus teach the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Luke 20:9-18), they sought to lay hands on Him because they knew He had spoken the parable against them. (Luke 20:19)

They sought to develop a plan to put Jesus to death in a way that would not incite a riot with the people with whom Jesus was popular. (Luke 22:2)

No wonder Jesus warned His followers to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1) He challenged the Pharisees for their practice of choosing places of honor when invited to a meal. (Luke 14:7-11) Jesus criticized them because they trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt. (Luke 18:9-14) Jesus let the Pharisees know that the stone they were rejecting would become the cornerstone. (Luke 20:9-18) Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the scribes who pursued honor but took advantage of widows and prayed long pretentious prayers. (Luke 20:46-47)

Jesus denounced the Pharisees with strong words: “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And He said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:39-52).

Now, what does all of this have to do with those of us in churches in the Western world today?

Jesus tells many of His parables to challenge the religious establishment and to call them to repentance.

If He were here today, the type of people that he would be telling these stories to would be people like us. We consider ourselves not to be worldly. We are the “separated ones.” Like the Pharisees, we are committed to the Scriptures and to our unique status as God’s chosen people. We resist any type of compromise or collusion with an ungodly culture. We are committed to study, apply, and teach the law of God. Therefore, law keeping, purity, fasting, and prayer are vital practices for us. We say that we believe that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, but we can easily fall into the trap of believing that we are right with God because of our superior obedience. We can consider ourselves to be the “good people of God” who are living life the way God wants us to live it.

These parables in the book of Luke need to be heard and heeded by the church of Jesus Christ in the Western world today. May the seed from the word of God through the parables of Jesus fall into good soil so that it may grow and yield fruit a hundredfold. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8b).

Jesus, money, possessions, and you

By Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

Today, I did a quick read through the Gospel of Luke and noted that many, many verses deal with the topics of money, possessions, and wealth. Over and over, this Gospel challenges the wealthy to invest in eternal riches. And Luke encourages the poor to anticipate comforts and reward in heaven.

Clearly, a spirituality that does not impact the wallet, the pocketbook, and the bank account is a defective discipleship. A non-generous Christian is an oxymoron. A life changed by Jesus will be a life with changed financial priorities.

Has Jesus really impacted your relationship to your money? Is He Lord of all… including your finances?

Read the following verses and evaluate your life on a scale of 1-10, 10 being high.

***

Verses on Money, Possessions, and Wealth in Luke

The Lord especially has a heart for the poor. 

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. Luke 1:52-53

Repentance produces generous living. 

And the crowds asked [John the Baptist], “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:10-14

The mission of Jesus is especially focused on the last, the least, and the lost.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:18

One day, the Lord will bless the poor and the hungry. 

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:20-21

One day, the wicked rich will experience judgment. 

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Luke 6:24-25

A sign that one is in the Kingdom is generosity. 

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. Luke 6:30

Generosity is rewarded generously. 

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38

A sign that your heart is soft is a resistance to the love of riches.

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Luke 8:14

Denial of self is the sign of a soul that is saved. 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25

Caring for the broken with one’s finances is commanded by Jesus. 

And the next day [the Good Samaritan] took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back. Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” – Luke 10:35-37

We must be on guard against greed. 

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

When we seek God’s kingdom first, the Father meets our needs.

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Luke 12:29-31

De-accumulating and giving to the needy are ways we lay up treasure. 

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:33-34

The Lord is pleased when we show hospitality to those who cannot repay. 

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:13-14

True discipleship means one has essentially deeded everything he owns to God. 

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33

When we invest money in God’s work, He gives us true riches. 

If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? Luke 16:11

We must choose whether we will serve God or money. 

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Luke 16:13

***

Where did you score highest? Lowest? What are 3 changes you need make to be more faithful disciple of Jesus with regard to your money, possessions, and wealth?

 

SONG OF THE WEEK: “He is Faithful” – Bryan and Katie Torwalt

torwalt

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

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“He is faithful. He is glorious. He is Jesus and all my hope is in Him. He is freedom. He is healing right now. He is hope and joy, love and peace and life!”

May we return to simply remembering the Lord’s faithfulness. We have failed many times, but the Lord never does. We are “prone to wander” but our God is “prone to pursue” us. What an incredible thing it is to have hope in Jesus! When we hope in ourselves, we will quickly turn to despair.  Tribulation comes, the storms rage on, and we quickly discover our weaknesses are much greater than we thought. We question, doubt, and sometimes respond sinfully. God however is stronger than any storm or tribulation. He is never-changing, so we have no reason to fear. God’s love for us is not based off our ability to do the right thing, its based on the cross where Jesus reconciled us!
So praise be the One who has paid the highest price! Praise be to the One who has shown us His great love! May we continue to proclaim our love for Him with the way we live our lives! 

Prayer Guide from Luke 12:13-21

by Pastor Dale Piscura

Lord Jesus, we give you the highest praise because you are worthy of all praise and glory and honor.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our greatest need and supplying us with your wonderful riches.

Lord Jesus, help each of us to value you as our most precious Savior, King, and friend.

Father open our eyes to see the realities that your Word clearly declares; that life on earth is temporary and eternity is what matters most.

Father protect us from all forms of covetousness, desiring the things of the world beyond our needs which You provide.

Help us Lord to examine our behaviors and attitudes toward materialism. Help us to recognize and resist temptations that pull us into sin.

Lord search our hearts and reveal how we may be like the Rich Fool and grant us the grace of repentance to turn away and seek You.

Father renew a passionate love in our hearts for our Lord Jesus in whom we live and breathe and have our very being.

Father give us heavenly wisdom in the way we may lay up treasures in heaven.

Father, by your grace may we be good stewards of all that you have given to us. May we be fruitful servants in your glorious Kingdom.

SONG OF THE WEEK: “Revelation Song” – Kari Jobe

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by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

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“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything and I will adore You!”

What a lyric this is. It’s taken directly out of Scripture in Revelation 4 (v8) and 5 (v13). This song is focused on our response of praise to the God who has revealed Himself to be a most incredible, glorious, and honorable God. The lyrics of this chorus are powerful and give us a glimpse of the song of Heaven. There are many great lines in this song that help point our hearts and minds to the magnificence of Jesus. The first and perhaps greatest of these is the reference in verse 1 to Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God slain for our sins. This is the ultimate work of Christ. In it, God’s character is put on display for us to see and know. Through it, we are redeemed from the damnation of our own choosing and are reconciled back into a right relationship with God. The verse also refers to “Heaven’s mercy seat” which is a callback to Israelite’s time in the Old Testament. The mercy seat sat on top of the ark of the covenant. Every year on the “Day of Atonement” the high priest would be allowed into the Holy of Holies – a room where God’s presence physically manifested itself among the nation. The priest would make a sacrifice and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat, a representation of the blood covering the sins of the nation. Jesus Christ came as a fulfillment of that representation, paying His blood to cover our sins with His righteousness! Praise be to His lovely name!

Throughout the rest of the song, God is exalted, and we are encouraged to see Him as the tremendous ad majestic God that He is! May our view of God grow as we see Him for all He is, and understand the depths of what He’s done!

Be Rich Toward God

by Rick Duncan, Founding Pastor

This past weekend, Pastor Dale Piscura challenged us from the Scriptures to be “rich toward God” as he taught from Luke 12 – The Parable of the Rich Fool.

So, how can we be more rich toward God? One way, of course, is through prayer – asking God to change our hearts and our priorities.

We’ve learned in recent months how important it is to build prayer from Scripture. As I reflected on Dale’s text, I composed the following prayer that he asked me to share. Perhaps it will encourage us to keep applying the truths of this past weekend’s message.

***

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me not to be inheritance-minded, only focused on what I can get.

Give me the capacity to take care and be on my guard against all covetousness because life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

When I am experiencing plenty, give me the ability to ask not “What can I store for myself?” but “What can I share with others?”

May I learn to say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods. Be zealous and find joy in blessing others, in building Christ’s kingdom.”

May I be called wise when my soul is required of me. May my possessions always be leveraged for Kingdom purposes.

Show me how to lay up treasure in heaven. Show me how to be rich toward You. Make it so, dear Lord.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***

Our Creative Team meets together each week to pray, to walk through the text with the lead teacher, and to design the various elements of the service. This past week, we considered a powerful video from Pastor John Piper, a leader that Dale quoted on Sunday. We really didn’t have the margin in the service to play the video from Pastor Piper. But we thought it would be good to share links to his words here – words that reinforce the very important message that Pastor Dale gave us on Sunday.

https://youtu.be/ysEXlciSelM

https://youtu.be/5gc3s6TCSVw

So, just how rich are you? Add up what you have that money cannot buy and death cannot take away. That’s how rich you are!

Let’s be busy laying up treasures in heaven. If we do that, then when we die we will, as Pastor Dale said, be going to our treasure rather than away from it.