Star Search

This past week we were blessed to have Pastor Gene Pensiero Jr. from Calvary Chapel Hanford filling the pulpit.  I also wanted to add him as our guest blogger this week which you will find below.  Enjoy!  – Pastor Mike

This past Sunday we took a look at the journey of the Wise Men in Matthew chapter 2.

Their story is a classic, celebrated every year. But think for a moment about just how astonishing their decision to go was: They saw a star and decided to pack up and just start walking till they arrived at…

…at where?

The truth is, they didn’t know where they were going! At least, they didn’t know the place. After all, they had to ask Herod where they should be looking.

No, they didn’t know the place, but they certainly knew the Person waiting for them at the end of the road. They were willing to walk indefinitely until they reached the presence of the Lord.

What would it take for you to pack a bag, get in your car, and just start driving till you got somewhere you didn’t know you were going?

It sounds crazy, but it does give us an interesting look at what walking with Christ is like.

Now, we know that we’re headed toward a specific city, one whose Builder and Maker is God. So, in that sense, we’re not walking indefinitely the way the Magi were.

However, we really don’t know how far our road is going to be, how long it will take for us to get there, how smooth the path, how many turns, how many deserts or mountains. But God asks us to follow Him as He leads us on.

Here in Hanford, there are certain streets I try to avoid when driving because they have too many stop lights or too much traffic at certain times of day. Instead, I find the path of least resistance. But I don’t get that luxury in my walk with Christ. My directive is to follow my Leader, who is always leading me forward.

The question is: Am I pursuing God and making progress? He’s definitely leading His people to growth and to action and to destinations, but we’ve got to make the choice to step out of the door. As we saw Sunday, there were many priests and Scribes who had heard the Word, could be directed to the star by the Wise Men from the east, but, at the end of the day, they didn’t have an interest in taking a walk with God. They stayed home and missed the Messiah.

This life is about pursuing a Person – Jesus Christ. We may not know all the twists and turns, deserts and valleys that we’re going to have to go through on the journey, but we can be confident that our God will not lead us astray. He will go with us until, finally, we are face to face with our Savior and King.

Let’s hit the road.

God bless you!

This blog post comes from the thoughts of the sermon on Matthew 2:1-12 titled “Star Search” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

For more about Pastor Gene Jr. or the ministry at Calvary Chapel Hanford, please visit www.calvaryhanford.com

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No Argument On This

As we have been studying through the Gospel of John, we continue to find the Jews arguing about who Jesus is.  In their arguments though one thing they never argue about:

Whether He is a good teacher or not!

Why do I point that out? Because in today’s society there is a belief out there that says something like this: “I follow some of Jesus’ teachings because I think they are good, but I don’t really follow Him”.  And then they will go on to discuss how they also follow Ghandi, Budha and other teachings.  But there is a major problem along this line of thinking and it revolves around if Jesus could simply be a good teacher and if His teachings could actually be good.

Now before you get up in arms and wonder how I could question His teachings being good or not, I do say they are good but they couldn’t be if you don’t believe He is who He said He was.

See throughout the Scriptures Jesus states He is God – He doesn’t blur the line or sort of hint at it; He is bold in declaring it thus the reasons the Jewish leaders want to kill Him.  Now a man who claims to be divine cannot be a good teacher and His teachings can’t be good unless in fact He was divine.

Let’s put it in modern day perspective.  You have a good job and a good boss.  You like your boss – in fact your boss is a very friendly person.  But let’s say your boss one day comes in and declares that he/she is in fact God.  That he/she will rise from the dead and will also one day judge the earth.  Would you continue to be okay with whatever else comes out of the mouth of your boss?  Would you say he/she is a little crazy but I still choose to follow other stuff my boss says.  What about if one of your kids had a teacher who claimed to be God?  Would you still want your kids sitting under that teacher?  Would he/she still be a good teacher?

See Jesus can’t just be a good teacher.  He is either a liar, a lunatic or He is Lord.  We have too much evidence to show He certainly was who He said He was (rose from the dead, performed miracles, etc) so He cannot be a liar or a lunatic and therefore must be Lord.  Since He is Lord, His teachings are good and we should follow them.

That is why the Jews argued whether He was the Messiah or a crazy person but never if He was simply a good teacher whose teachings we should follow.  He didn’t leave room for them to have that argument.  Next time someone you know uses that argument, ask them why they would view Him as a good teacher or His teachings good since He claimed to be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and the Messiah.

This blog post comes from the thoughts of the sermon on John 10:1-21 titled “The Good Shepherd” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

In John 9, the disciples ask Jesus about the man born blind, questioning who was responsible – his sin or his parents’ sin.  In essence, they are trying to figure out the reason for the bad thing (blindness) that took place.  Job’s friends did the same thing to Job, thinking he had to have sinned in some way for all the bad things to have happened to him.  In Acts when Paul was bitten by a serpant, the people watched to see him die thinking he was getting his just rewards as he had to be some kind of horrible sinner.  And we continue to do the same thing in our lives when bad things happen – “what did I do to deserve this?” we question.  Now maybe, the bad things happenening are in fact due to the a poor decision or consequence of a sinful choice.  Or it could be a way of God growing you or pointing you back to Him.

But sometimes, bad things just happen…period.

We live in a fallen world with fallen people and things happen all the time that we just can’t and won’t understand, no matter how much we wrestle for answers or try to spiritualize it.  Some, when they realize they can’t find an answer to satisfy their minds, turn away from God and allow the question/problem of suffering to cloud their minds.

Don’t ever let the things you don’t know or understand, pull you from the truth of what you do know and do understand.  We know Jesus loves us, we know He is good, we know He is sovereign, and we know He is in control.  We also know He doesn’t cause people to sin or seeks to be spiteful or hateful.  We know He is always there for us and we can find peace and rest in Him (key note: in Him, not in our own answers).  We know that none of us even deserve His mercy and goodness.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Better question may be why do good things happen to bad people (like you and me)?

So when Jesus said “neither” to the disciples question of “who sinned?”, He was telling them bad things aren’t always the result of someone’s doing.  He then went on to do the works of God in healing the man and in the midst of our pain and suffering, He can do the same thing as well.

This blog post comes from the thoughts of the sermon on John 9:1-41 titled “Only the Blind Can See” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings