Dec 24, 2016, BY Pastor John Jose IN Bible Reading Plan
Join us as we grow together through daily Bible reading in 2017. Download the January PDF today or pick up a copy at Joy this Sunday.
January Bible Reading Plan Download
Dec 15, 2016, BY Pastor John Jose IN Faith
Oct 27, 2016, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Lifestyle
I try not to fill up your mailbox or email with a lot of unnecessary information, but once in a while I feel it’s imperative. You’ve heard me say more than once, that we are a family church, teaching people, to reach their world. For 25 years that’s been the mission of Joy Christian Center. As I mentioned during our 25-year celebration, this church would not be where we are today, nor have the reputation it does, without you—the people of Joy! Your faithfulness and generosity over the years has been fully evident from the large events to the everyday life of what we do as a church. Many people around central Minnesota have been blessed, not because of ME, but because of WE.
On October 23rd, I invited everyone connected to Joy Christian Center to participate in something that we now call the “Joy to the World” offering. For the last several years we’ve used this offering for various needs within our church, but more so, to be a blessing to the world around us. This offering is proof, that “WE is greater than ME”.
During this service I presented 4 giving goals for the 2017 year. While I don’t have the space in this letter to go into all of the details, you can get a better understanding by viewing the message at our website greatjoy.org/media/sermon-library/ (From ME to WE Part 3, 10/23/2016)
100% OF THE JOY TO THE WORLD 2017 OFFERING WILL GO TOWARD FUNDING THESE FOUR PROJECTS:
- Be a blessing to a church
- Bless a pastor & spouse
- Be a tangible blessing to the 22 Benton County Sheriff’s officers
- Keep getting better as a church, through “Growth Track”
I am confident that the blessings of people, wisdom, experience and resources here at Joy Christian Center aren’t for us alone. I believe that God wants us to be a resource for other churches too. There are pastors of smaller churches that have vision and potential, but they just need a little bit of help. I want us to be the ones to provide that help. We’re working hard at getting better in everything we do, so we can put ourselves into a position to be that blessing.
How do we do this? For the very low cost of $49.95! On November 20, 2016, we are encouraging everyone to come prepared to be a part of the 2017 Joy to the World offering. I know that for some $49.95 is a stretch and others can do more. I ask that each of you prayerfully consider being a part. After all, everyone really can do more than someone.
If you’re going to be out of town on November 20, or if you’d like to donate now, you may do so online. It’s safe, secure and simple to use.
It is an honor to serve God with you in this great mission and harvest in central Minnesota, as we reach our community for Christ and advance the Gospel around the world.
You can give now. It’s safe, secure and simple to use.
Acts 8:5,8 (NKJV)
Serving Him with Joy,
Jan 1, 2016, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Lifestyle
There are many times in Jesus’ ministry where we see Him respond to questions or settling controversies with the words, “Haven’t you ever read?” Then he’d refer the people to the scriptures. In the issue of true worship and praise he said, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who questioned him about eternal life he said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26). I think what Jesus was inferring here, is that some of the most basic questions of life, eternity and God would be answered simply by reading the bible.
For some reason people look at reading the bible as something that is optional or maybe a good idea, but it’s also something that usually becomes a casualty of the chaos and demands of life. “I’m too busy”…“I forgot”…”I’m too tired”…”I don’t get much out of it because I can’t understand it”, are all common justifications for not consistently reading the bible.
There are literally hundreds of “read through the bible” plans, but all of them require one thing. Sitting down and reading! In 2016, we’re asking all of Joy Christian Center to commit to a 6-month reading plan that will take you through the entire New Testament.
After Jesus was tempted by the devil, He gave credit to knowing God’s word as the reason He was able to overcome the temptation. Matthew 4:4 (NKJV) “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
We know that if we want to live a normal, healthy life then physical nourishment is required. Likewise, if we want to live a normal and healthy life spiritually, then spiritual nourishment is required. Jesus was saying that the right diet is essential to have the strength to defeat the enemy or answer many of life’s questions.
Remember, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” and only God’s Word has the nourishment necessary to build into you the strength, to become who God has created you to be. We’re going to be looking at this principle during our “Satisfied” series in January, so let’s make 2016 a year of eating!
You can pick up a reading plan at church or download the reading plan below. We’re pretty good at feeding our bodies…let’s get proficient at feeding our spirit as well!
Mar 19, 2015, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Faith
Like most questions we have, we tend to look for answers from our experiences or the experiences of others. Sometimes we settle into an answer that starts with; “Well I just think¬…” or “It just seems to me that…” and while that can be comforting, it can also be very wrong.
At Joy Christian Center we endeavor to let the Bible answer our questions rather than experience, tradition or the comfortable…I just think. If we follow the New Testament pattern of the early church, we can arrive at many answers that will help us. So, with that background I’d like to ask you to forget for a moment the experiences and traditions of your past and look to the Bible.
At the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus chose to be baptized. In the Gospel of Mark chapter one, we find that John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Verse five says that many people came to be baptized by John. In verse nine we read; Mark 1:9 (NKJV) It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
John the Baptist was calling the Jewish people to confess their sins and demonstrate repentance by being baptized in the Jordan River. I think it’s significant that sinless Jesus joined the crowd at the river and asked John to baptize Him.
We find that when Jesus was commissioning the disciples to carry His mission on the earth, that Jesus commanded His disciples and those who followed Him to be baptized.
Matthew 28:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“So, why should I be baptized?” Because Jesus was and He commanded those who choose to follow Him to be baptized.
Another question we’re often asked is, “Who can or should be baptized?”
To answer that question, let’s first look at what Jesus said in Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved. I believe that this scripture is clear. Those who believe, or say yes to Jesus and those who place their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins are the ones who are commanded to be baptized. We believe that believing in Christ precedes baptism in Christ.
Acts 2:38-41(NKJV) Peter was preaching about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and 3,000 people “believed” on Jesus. Peter said to them, repent and be baptized. Then in verse 39 he said, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. To me, this says that the promise of salvation, the Holy Spirit and baptism, are to all people. This gives us a pattern to follow.
Acts 9:18 – After his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, Saul (later renamed Paul) decided to accept Jesus and was baptized.
Acts 10:47-48 – Cornelius and those with him were commanded to be baptized, becoming the first Non-Jewish converts to Christianity.
Acts 16:13-15 – Lydia and her household “believed” and were baptized.
Acts 16:16-34 – The Philippian jailer “believed” with his whole household and they were baptized—and this was in the middle of the night.
One of the biggest questions about baptism is, “How do we go about being baptized?”
Looking at the word baptize in the original language should reveal this to us.
The word “baptize” is a transliteration of the original Greek word baptizo. In turn, baptizo comes from the root word bapto; a term used in the first century for immersing a garment first into bleach and then into dye, both cleansing and changing the color of the cloth.
There is an encounter in Acts 8:26-39 that is revealing. The bible tells us that Philip and a man from Ethiopia were traveling by chariot and Philip was preaching Christ to him. No doubt, while they talked, they were both carrying water for their journey. It would have been easy for Philip to sprinkle water on the Ethiopian’s head, but the Ethiopian who believed the words Philip preached about Jesus was not baptized until they came to some water (verse 36). The Ethiopian then said, “Look, here is water, what is to prevent my being baptized?” So Philip and the Ethiopian both went down into the water and he baptized him. When they came up from the water, the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing. This encounter shows us that baptism required “much water” and “going down into that water”.
From this and other encounters in the bible—like Jesus stepping into the Jordan river— is that baptism was done by totally immersing or submerging a person in water. If baptism was to be practiced a different way, I would think that a word meaning something other than immersing some cloth under water to cleanse it and change it would have been used.
That brings up the most important point; baptism is a picture of an inward cleansing and change that has happened because of one’s faith in Christ. In Romans chapter six, Paul teaches that we are buried with Christ (under the water) and that being brought up (out of the water) is a picture of being raised with Christ to newness of life.
I believe that if you haven’t yet been baptized, this is an important and powerful step in your walk with Christ.
Jan 7, 2014, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Faith
The phrase “I believe” is one of the most powerful phrases in our language, yet how often do we say those two words without really thinking about them? In the modern Christian world those two words get a lot of air time but – do we really believe? Or do we just believe that we believe?
In reality, what we say we believe really doesn’t mean much if our actions don’t follow our words.
Here’s why this is important
Your beliefs govern what you think, say, and do. Your beliefs govern every area of your life. What you believe about any area of your life, your ability, or your future will either limit your life or cause your life to be limitless. Heading into 2014, I think it’s good that we examine what we believe and, more importantly, why we hold those beliefs.
I’d like you to take some time to consider these six statements. This is my declaration for 2014. Actually, it’s been my declaration for some time now but I’m making it an emphasis in my life for 2014. You will find six statements of what I believe, the result of that belief, and a scripture reference as to why I believe that.
Because I Believe …
I invite you to join me in making these declarations of faith in 2014. I encourage you to read these and say them out loud to yourself because as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:13…we have the same spirit of faith…we believe therefore we speak!
You are the reason for the season!
Yes, you read that right. YOU are the reason for the season. I know, I know, that’s almost blasphemy to most Christians because from buttons to bumper stickers we’ve been told that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Now, before you pick up a rock to stone me, let me explain. First, let me say that, yes, I agree that Jesus is the reason for the season. Christmas is not about a fat-bearded man in a red suit, and it’s not about the endless commercialism that this season brings (although an Xbox One would be nice). Christmas is first and foremost about an angelic proclamation – Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (PB paraphrase of Luke 2:9-10)
So, yes, this season is all about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but let me ask: Why is it that Jesus came to planet earth in the first place? Why was He born of a virgin in an obscure little town? Why would God send His one and only Son to earth?
It’s because God loves you, and me, and this whole world. It’s because of this well-known verse …
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
In Luke’s account of the angel’s proclamation he said – unto YOU is born this day a Savior. This Savior was born for, or because of, you. This Redeemer was born because of the great love that His Father had for you. So you see, in a way Christmas really is all about YOU! What a great line to share with someone – you do realize that Christmas really is all about me, right? And then you can tell them that Christmas is about them too.
This message changes people. From the first century through today, when people realize the God Who created the heavens and earth, Who spun the galaxies into orbit keeping them moving rhythmically together, is the same God Who loves and cares about them ― it will revolutionize their lives. It will change the way they approach God.
Christmas really is about you, and me, and us…everybody. It’s for all people. Red, yellow, black and white, rich and poor, deserving and undeserving, from the greatest to the least … all are precious in His sight. And for those of us that know and have received this love, we also know that not everyone knows this.
So let us live to tell that story! Christmas is all about you – you really are the reason for the season!
Jun 8, 2013, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Lifestyle
I am often reminded that I have a bad habit of leaving my keys in my car. I’m not sure why I do that but I justify it by saying it’s more convenient and besides it’s only when my car is in the garage… or my driveway. And … well … I probably shouldn’t do that. Why? Because someone could steal my car of course! And keys are really important.
I remember my very first car and the keys on that lucky rabbit’s foot key chain. My first car was a very beat up Chevy Impala that I had purchased for $50. None of that mattered though because with those keys in my hand a whole new world opened up to me. Suddenly I could go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. No more trying to borrow someone’s car or begging someone for a ride. Because it was all mine!
Something else came with those keys though. Responsibility because it was all mine! That $50 car still needed gas and oil and soon a battery, and then something was wrong with the carburetor. And imagine my surprise when I discovered it was still fast enough to get me a speeding ticket!
Here’s my point.
Those keys gave me two things that taught me a powerful lesson.
The keys gave me
• Authority (which I welcomed)
• Responsibility (which I was unprepared for)
• By accepting the keys I had to learn I accepted BOTH the authority and responsibility
The car was mine so I could go where I wanted when I wanted – that’s authority. And when it needed gas, oil or repair – it was mine – that’s responsibility.
Keys are wonderful things whether it’s for a new home, a new car or you’re given a key on the job. In each situation when you accept the key you accept both the authority and the responsibility that comes with that key.
Let’s say you’ve been given the keys to a building. You need to understand the parameters of the authority and responsibility you have. Is your job to make sure the building is open to customers or do you lock the door to keep the building and its contents safe? Maybe it’s both? Keys bring authority and responsibility.
So … what do you suppose God meant when he said …
Matthew 16:19 (AMP)19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.
Jesus gave His church the keys to the Kingdom. When you said yes to Jesus in your life you were given keys. Not just any keys but the keys of the Kingdom. And when you accept the keys you accept both the authority and responsibility that comes with the keys! But here’s the most important question. Do you understand the parameters of the authority and the responsibility that these key’s bring?
So let me ask you again … Have you got your keys?
May 11, 2013, BY Pastor Brian Gobar IN Connecting
I have discovered the peace and solitude of a little family-type restaurant called “The Copper Lantern.” On some occasions, Shelly and I will have a “date” morning and enjoy breakfast together. Other mornings, I’ll go alone and enjoy coffee with time to read, dream, and reflect.
I’ve noticed over the few months of doing this that there are many “regulars” like myself. There’s a group of 4-6 guys who trade stories of golf or fishing every morning. There’s another group of guys at the counter catching up with each other as they start their day. There are police officers and highway patrolmen, business people, families, and people just like myself having breakfast. Some are alone. One such loaner I named “oatmeal” man. Oatmeal man is an elderly gentleman that always orders oatmeal. I discovered him one morning as I was deep in my meditative thoughts. Actually, I first became aware of a clanking, clinking sound. As I looked around the restaurant, I soon realized that the culprit was … oatmeal man! It’s amazing how obnoxious and distracting the sound of a metal spoon clinking in a glass bowl can shatter the peaceful solitude of an early morning cup of coffee. Some mornings I would be reading, or Shelly and I would be having breakfast and suddenly there was the noticeable sound of a clank, clank, clink, and there he was. Over the next few weeks, I became more aware of oatmeal man, and I made it a point to watch for him. I thought to myself from the relative safety of my booth, “this man is rude and obnoxious.” Doesn’t he realize how obnoxious he is? But over time I began to notice something else. Anytime anyone would walk by, he’d look up – intently – almost childlike as if to ask – do you see me? Do you know I’m here? I thought to myself, bud, the whole restaurant knows you’re here! As I thought about oatmeal man, I wondered, is he always alone? What’s his name? Is he married? Is his wife housebound or perhaps has she passed away? Maybe his clanking spoon is his way of asking, do I really matter anymore, maybe his obnoxious noise was so that someone somewhere would acknowledge his existence.
I wonder how many times we experience people who are obnoxious and loud, clanking their way through life. From a safe distance, we notice their activity and wonder why they act like they do. Maybe they’re lonely. Maybe they wonder if anyone even notices them. With each clank they’re asking, am I alive? Am I valuable? Do I matter anymore?
I realized it’s really not enough to tell people that God loves them. I can’t just quote a few scriptures at them as I quietly think to myself, quit clanking your spoon!
Yes, people need to know that God loves them. God knows them and cares about them. But more importantly, God needs people willing to leave the safety of their side of the restaurant and engage people in a meaningful way. Their clanking spoon may be a cry asking someone to notice them, care for them, or express God’s love to them – Selah.
. . . Today, I bought Clarence his oatmeal.
oatmeal photo credit
May 3, 2013, BY Guest Author IN Faith
We are privileged to have Rev. Tony Cooke with us this weekend for our Sunday service and also at Elevate on Monday night. Rev. Cooke is an author and wonderful bible teacher, teaching and ministering in 46 states and 26 countries. The following article was written by Rev. Cooke and I think it will help give you a flavor of his style.
What Does “I’m Not Under the Law” Really Mean?
When a believer says, “I’m not under the law,” we usually assume that the person is really saying, “I’m not under the law of Moses.” This reflects an accurate understanding of Scripture. Even a casual study of Romans and Galatians will support this. For example, Paul was clearly speaking about the law of Moses when he wrote:
Romans 3:19-20 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Galatians 2:16 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Galatians 3:10-11 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
But here are some important questions:
- Does not being “under the law” mean that Christians are lawless?
- Does it mean that there is no governing influence or authority in their lives?
- Does not being “under the law” mean that believers have no moral restraints or ethical guidelines whatsoever?
If these are examples of what a Christian means in his not being “under the law” statement, then we have a real problem relative to the rest of God’s Word. Paul said, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). Our purpose in life is not simply to be out from under the bondage of rules and regulations relative to the Old Testament; rather, God’s goal is that our lives be fully governed by the Holy Spirit, His Word, and His love.
It is essential that we understand that the word “law” in Scripture does not always refer to the law of Moses. Even in the Old Testament, Proverbs 31:26 refers to “the law of kindness.” When we move into the New Testament, we discover that the usage of the word law – referring to a guiding and governing principle – has a much broader range of meaning than simply “the law of Moses.”
- Romans 3:27 refers to “the law of faith.”
- Romans 8:2 mentions “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
- Galatians 6:2 tells us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- James 1:25 refers to “the perfect law of liberty.” (also mentioned in James 2:12)
- James 2:8 refers to love (loving your neighbor as yourself) as “the royal law.”
As powerful as all of these references are, perhaps the most penetrating insight that delineates “the law of Moses” from other aspects of God’s principles of governance and influence toward our lives is found in Paul’s statement…
1 Corinthians 9:21 (NLT) 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
Notice that Paul differentiates “the Jewish law” from “the law of God” and the “law of Christ.” If I say, “I’m not under the law” and I’m referring to the law of Moses (or as Paul calls it here, “the Jewish law”), that’s perfectly appropriate. But if I mean that I’m free to do whatever I want and I can live however I want, without any consideration for the influence of God’s Word and Spirit in my life, then I have grossly and terribly misunderstood the teaching of the New Testament.
Romans 13:8-10 …he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
It should be clearly understood that the word “law” is not a bad word in the Bible. The law of Moses could not justify us; it was never intended to. Even so, the problem was not the law itself. The problem was US! Paul said that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:21). He said, “…the law is spiritual…” (Romans 7:14), and again, “..the law is good if one uses it lawfully…” (1 Timothy 1:8). The law set a righteous standard to which we could not measure up. Therefore, it is our trusting in the law to save us that is futile. When we trust in our performance (which can never measure up to absolute perfection), we are trusting in ourselves and not the redemptive work of Christ. So the law of Moses, in and of itself, is good; it simply revealed that we were not.
What is used 100% negatively in Scripture is not the concept of law, but rather the concept of lawlessness. If you get a concordance and look up lawless and lawlessness in Scripture, the references are absolutely negative. John said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
As Christians, we are not under the law of Moses, but we are certainly not lawless. Even the New Testament doctrine of grace, often set in contradistinction to law (see John 1:17), in no way leads a believer toward lawlessness. Paul said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:14-15).
Why should a believer focus more on the negative than on the positive? Instead of simply saying, “I’m not under the law [of Moses],” perhaps we should consider focusing more on what actually does govern and influence our lives. Why don’t we confess this:
- The royal law governs me.
- The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus governs me.
- I am under the influence of God’s love, His Spirit, His Word, and His Grace.
- The law of Christ enables me to become everything God wants me to be, and empowers me to effectively carry out God’s will for my life!”
Like Paul, we can say, “not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:21, AMP).