We all remember times of crisis in our lives. You might remember where you were during the terrorist attacks on 9-11. Maybe you went through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the rest of us. Those memories are still vivid in my mind.
Well, we are going through a national crisis right now like one we’ve never experienced in our lifetime as a nation. Fortunately, we’ve got a chance to be ahead of it this time, rather than just reeling in the aftermath.
If we make wise decisions and remain calm and positive, we will see this thing through together, with as little collateral damage as possible.
Our sincere prayers are with all those who have been directly affected by this aggressive virus. But the truth is that every American is a victim in one way or another. Maybe you are a First Responder putting yourself in harm’s way to keep others safe, or you could be in the medical field working long hours and risking your own health to make sure that nobody dies on your watch.
Maybe you’ve lost your job, you might be a student who can’t return to school, or you may have had an important event stolen away from you like a vacation, a prom, or even a wedding; you might be a business owner who is wondering how you are going to make it, through closures and loss of customers. I want you to know that our prayers are with you also.
The after-effects of this global pandemic and national crisis will be felt for years to come – in our economy, in our social habits, from the way we travel, to the way we conduct business.
Churches are also entering unchartered territory as we explore new ways to gather together and worship God. King David wrote in Psalm 122, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'” Hey, y’all, it’s no secret that I love church. I always have. There’s something about worshipping God with my spiritual family that energizes me and restores my soul like nothing else.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Did you know, there are countless Christians in the world who risk their lives every time they attend church where they live? It’s a crime punishable by death. So, they have to go in secret with the threat of being captured, beaten, and even killed.
And while I would never suggest that we bow to any anti-Christian pressure to avoid gathering together as a church, I also recognize that the enemy we are facing today is not a political one, but a medical one. And we have the responsibility to protect our loved ones and be an example to those around us.
The decisions we’ve had to make recently at New Horizon Church have been extremely difficult. But the safety of our families, children, church members, and community are our top priority. We don't want to panic; but we must take precautions. We need to listen to medical experts and make good common-sense decisions.
So, out of an abundance of caution and compassion, we are moving to online services for the time being at our normal service times on Sunday mornings at 9 & 11 am. After that, they will be available to watch anytime On-Demand.
We will have worship and a Bible lesson for the children as well as a full worship set and message for the adults. As always, we will provide a downloadable message outline for taking notes and for deeper study later on.
And remember this, "The church isn't closed, just our building is." The church has never been dependent on a physical building to define it or contain it. In fact, Christ said, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among you."
Let’s thank God we have the miracle of media technology that allows us to join with our families or small groups, and worship God together. You can find our service on our website at NewHorizonFamily.com and we’re doing everything we can to ensure that your online experience makes you feel like you are right there in the worship center with us.
Finally, please remember to remain faithful in your financial support of the church with your tithes and offerings. The wheels of ministry keep turning even if we aren’t all together at one place. You can mail your offering in or give online. You can even text to give if you wish, and I know that God will honor your faith and generosity.
We may not be together physically, but we can certainly be together spiritually. God is bigger than this crisis and He will deliver us from it. 2 Corinthians 1:10 tells us, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”
Our prayer is that we will all be able to gather together again as a church family by Easter Sunday. We’ll keep you updated as that time approaches. In the meantime, I’ll be continuing our Easter message series entitled, Red Letter – as we examine the identity of Jesus Christ from his own words. This series is sure to bring you some much needed encouragement. Please join us online.
I want to leave you with a reminder from the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Well, we are into another year. You’ve been here before, right? A new year, more resolutions, more bills, more hopes and more dreams. My prayer for you is that this year is better than last year.
But more importantly than how this year turns out for you, is how eternity turns out for you. Are you building a legacy to remember? Today, I want to point out that legacy people have an eternal mindset.
God does not exist within the boundaries of time. God created time and therefore, He is not bound by his own creation. God created time and seasons and the Bible tells us that there is a season for everything under the sun.
You and I are here on this earth for a season. We appear on the timeline of eternity for a brief moment and then our turn is over. Legacy people see this life through the lens of eternity. We have to prioritize our motives and activities based on their eternal value.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT), “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
I didn’t grow up thinking I would become a pastor. That wasn’t even on my radar. But I did want my life to make a difference in such a way that God would be pleased. I wasn’t afraid of God. My motive wasn’t to make him happy so he wouldn’t be angry with me. I’ve always had a healthy concept of God. I just wanted to honor Him with my life.
I’ve never been drunk a day in my life. I’ve never smoked marijuana. I’ve never experimented with drugs. I was never promiscuous. That doesn’t mean I’m holier than thou. It simply means that I don’t have one of those amazing transformational testimonies where I was riding on the Highway to Hell and then started climbing the Stairway to Heaven. (Pardon the 80’s musical references). I love those types of testimonies; I just don’t have one like that.
But the funny thing was that I never thought I was missing out on anything because those were not things I wanted to do. I never felt like I was living a lesser life. I just genuinely wanted to please God.
The Ol’ Country Preacher used to say, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose.”
I want to encourage you to view this life through the lens of an eternal mindset and build a legacy to remember.
The holidays can be difficult for many people who have suffered major loss and disappointment in their lives. Not everyone has a Holly Jolly Christmas.
Many people struggle with depression during the holiday season. So if you find yourself in an emotionally hard place, I want to encourage you that no matter how difficult our situation is, God is with you. Immanuel means, God is with us.
Joseph and Mary found themselves in an incredibly difficult situation. Mary was pregnant before marriage. Scandalous! What would everyone say? How would they be judged? And to top it off – she was still a virgin!
They didn’t have the benefit of seeing a Christmas play or reading the Christmas story in the gospels. They were making this up as they went – in real time. Hey, guys, how would you have handled this story from your fiancé?
Matthew 1:18-25 , “18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.”
Imagine the shock and confusion that Joseph must have experienced with this announcement. He was a good Jewish boy who had fallen in love with this perfect young girl. They have maintained the highest level of moral purity throughout their courtship.
Now she was pregnant and was telling him some story about an angel and the Holy Spirit. I wonder if Joseph listened patiently and then said firmly, “Mary, that’s NOT how it happens!”
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.”
This miraculous conception meant that Jesus was conceived by God, not man. Joseph was his stepfather, but God was his Father. That’s why Jesus was not born with the original sin that is passed through the fatherly bloodline. So only Jesus could qualify to be the sinless sacrifice on the cross. He was holy in nature and in behavior. Jesus was the only sinless person who has ever lived.
2 Corinthians 5:21, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”