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August 17, 2022

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from who you learned it and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-16). 

God wants us to learn His Word, but not as an end to itself. In learning His Word, we gain wisdom in two key areas. First, in the matter of salvation, we get to know Jesus. The Scriptures show us what He has done for us and how we are saved. Secondly, all of our learning is meant to give us wisdom in the area of day-to-day living, as we are “equipped for every good work.” There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge, which the world knows much about and values so highly, is fostered by curiosity. Twenty-four hour news coverage—and behind-the-scenes coverage like we have never seen before—feeds our curiosity, increasing our appetite for more of the same. We live in a society that values information and knowledge (i.e., the more you know and have at your fingertips, the more influential and powerful you are in life). Wisdom, however, is fostered by reverence. God says, 

 “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children’” (Deuteronomy 4:10). 

 God has revealed His Word to us that we might revere Him and stand in awe of Him. This reverence will then draw us in to learn more about Him. Don’t confuse reverence with fear. Reverence, or awe, is a sense of wonder and humility that is created when one is in the presence of greatness and mystery. Fear repels us, causing us to shrink back in terror. Reverence will draw us near in humbleness as we are empowered to live changed lives. Time after time, this is evident in those who are exposed to the teaching of God.  
--Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

August 16, 2022

When you know someone well, you know their styles, their likes and their dislikes. It is important for you and them to get to know those kinds of things. As relationships deepen, it is important to not only know the personal preferences of a person, but to also know what their deepest heartfelt desires are in life. 

 Knowing what a loved one desires is part of a growing and vibrant relationship. Furthermore, you not only know what they desire, but what is important to them becomes important to you. The desires of their heart become a part of what you desire in life. This is evident among best friends, in marriages, and in healthy working teams.

It is also evident in one’s relationship with God as it matures and grows over time. It is not uncommon to find some in the faith whose main concern is to escape the fires of hell and make sure they will be in heaven someday. Their faith initially is fairly self-centered—like that of a toddler. Their concern is more on how God can help them with a variety of problems within their life. This does not mean they are not Christians. Their faith, however, needs to mature. Paul spoke about this when he said, 

 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:1-3)
 

We may look inside ourselves and think, “If you only knew . . . If you only knew what I have done and what I have thought . . . .” Jesus does know and His response is, “It’s you I like.”

Listen to what He says: “I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.” He is not impressed by those who pretend to have their act together and are impressed by their own righteousness—those who see no urgent need for Him. He is, however, touched by those whose hearts are broken and contrite. He is moved by those who know they have failed Him. His promise is there for you: “All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
 

The love of Jesus is like no other you could ever know. This does not mean that He winks at our sin. Consider the woman caught in adultery. After He places His own name and life on the line for her, Jesus turns to her and says, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? . . . Then neither do I condemn you . . . Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11). He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us so much that He does not want to leave us that way. 

This promise is not just for you and me. There are so many others that Jesus desires to call to Him. It may be the last person you would ever think about as a possibility because, on the surface, they just do not seem to be open or receptive. Jesus looks at them in a different way. He looks at them the same way He looked at Matthew or the woman caught in adultery— straight into the heart. You know some of these people in your life. These are ones to whom we are called. These are the people who make up the 100 million to whom we can communicate the love of Christ so that their hearts might be ablaze with His love and presence. 

Who is there in your life that might surprise you if you were to look at them in the same way that God looks at them? Would you be willing to pray for them? Pray for their well-being. Pray for their family. Pray for the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them. Responding to the call of Jesus to be His witness begins with learning about Him personally and about what He desires. It also involves learning about the people who matter to Him.
 

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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

August 15, 2022

1 Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone . . . This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved . . . For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men . . .”Do you hear the recurring theme as to who matters to God? Everyone! Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all men—not just some or most—but all men. 

I have heard it said that numbers are not important when it comes to matters of faith. Don’t tell that to God. A book of the Bible is named “Numbers.” If you read the book of Acts, you will very quickly get the impression that numbers do matter to God and to the early Christian Church—twelve, to begin with, and then one hundred twenty. Soon there were three thousand added to their number. But who’s counting? God apparently was. Why? Because numbers matter to God. 

 Remember what Jesus said about the shepherd: One, two, three, fifty-six, fifty-seven, eighty-nine, ninety-one, ninety-nine—where is number one hundred? The shepherd went out looking for the one. Why? Because numbers mattered to the shepherd. 

Who matters to God? Everyone! God wants all to be saved! Not most. Not a majority. He wants all to be saved. So, He keeps count. Like the woman with the coins and the shepherd with the sheep, numbers matter to God. Not numbers in themselves, but who those numbers represent. Each number represents a soul for whom Jesus gave His life as a ransom. He paid the debt that each of us owed to God on account of our disobedience. His final words, “It is finished,” literally mean “paid in full.” 

 Numbers matter to God because each and everyone of them is someone for whom blood was shed. Jesus tells us that the angels celebrate and party in heaven when just one person repents and comes home to God. Why? Because numbers matter to God. He is keeping count.
Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,
Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

August 04, 2022

Jeremiah 9:23-24 “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts of this, that he understands and knows me. That I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things."
 

They had met only a few weeks ago. Since then, there was flurry of e-mails and phone calls and notes. They talked into the wee hours of the night, not seeming to mind the loss of sleep. Their hunger to know about each other was almost insatiable. Such is the nature of love. When two people are attracted to each other, there is a desire—even a need—to learn as much as you possibly can about the other. Love feeds on this kind of information with a ravenous hunger. The more you get to know the person, the deeper the love grows. Should it be any different in our relationship with God? God doesn’t think so. Listen to what He says: “. . . let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me.”
It seems so obvious. God wants us to know Him and understand Him. Yet, if we are honest, this is not a high priority with us as much as it should be. When we turn to His Word, it is not necessarily to know Him better. We are in search of understanding our life better: What are we supposed to do in life? What are we not supposed to do? How do we quit worrying? How can we overcome a grudge? What do we do when we are lonely or depressed? You know the list. Where do you turn when you are ___________? (Go ahead and fill in the blank.)
There is nothing wrong with seeking that kind of help. That is why God put those truths in the Word in the first place. But why is it not a priority of our hearts to first learn about His heart: What makes Him sad? What does He delight in? God has feelings. He gets jealous. He delights in our offerings. He gets angry. He yearns for fellowship with us. The more I learn about Him Learn of Me in His Word, the more my heart is ablaze with His joy and His love.
This is what He wants us to learn. God is not one to delight in suffering or unfairness. There is much in life that causes confusion as to why God allows certain things to happen. But the more we learn of Him, the more we will see and understand Him to be a God that delights in showing us kindness and in doing what is right. He can be trusted. No where better can His desire to exercise kindness, justice and righteousness be witnessed than on the Cross. The Cross alone helps us to learn all that we need to know about Him. 

What difference would it make in your walk—in its pace and in its direction—if Jesus were to open His Word to your heart?
Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

August 03, 2022

John 14:6  I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

"Many roads go up the mountain, but they all get to the top."

"All religions are essentially the same."

"One religion is as good as another."

Weird statements, right? The funny thing is, often the same people who make these statements select their one doctor very carefully!

These commonly heard views summarize what is known as "universalism," the myth that ultimately all people will be saved regardless of what they believe or what religion they follow.

But the "Gospel in a nutshell" says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

There is the universal salvation. God offers salvation to all people but only through belief in Jesus Christ. And that atonement, grasped by our Spirit-empowered faith, affects our justification: We are declared righteous, forgiven, by God. We are saved, that is, rescued from our sins, and made God's children and heirs of eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son.

This is why it's so important to get the Good News about Christ out to everyone in the world as quickly as possible. And we must not forget to be faithful witnesses to Him in our own backyards.

We thank God daily for the salvation He offers to all believers. We pray that all humanity may come to know and believe in Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father and eternal life.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

August 02, 2022

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Clean the house. Shop for groceries. Cook a lovely dinner. Set out the good china. Light the candles. The company will arrive soon. Preparations have been underway for some time, and we are ready to welcome our guests. Out of love, we prepare for their coming.

In a far more majestic way, Christ is preparing a place for us and dor all who believe in Him. It is His Father's house, a mansion grander by far than we deserve. His preparations are also done out of love, but it, too, is a love more majestic than the love we show for our earthly guests.

Christ has attended to every detail, and He assures us that everything will be ready when He takes us safely there. This preparation began long ago and culminated in His perfect life, death, and resurrection.

In this farewell discourse, Jesus had just predicted Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial. Yet in these words He seeks to comfort those He loves and bring peace to their troubled hearts. In His dark hours, Jesus was characteristically thinking of others.

Jesus promised to return for His disciples, and that promise includes us. He desires that we be with Him eternally - what perfect love. Do not let your heart be troubled. He is waiting to welcome you home.
--Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

August 01, 2022

John 12:24  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Anyone who likes to garden or comes from an agricultural background understands this image. It is always amazing to think that something so lifeless as a seed - dried up, hard, dead - can, with God's help, grow into a vibrant, green, living plant.

Jesus here is describing what must happen to Him for life to blossom. He was to become dead. Alive, during His ministry on earth, He had many followers. They flocked to Him, witnessed miracles, and listened to His teaching. Yet while still alive, He was abandoned by all but a few of His followers, and He died nearly alone.

But in that death, and the glorious resurrection that followed, the seeds of His ministry, by all appearances dead, were brought to life in faith and grew to a vibrant, living church.

I often start my garden with seeds. This gives me a good opportunity to watch the change in the lifeless seeds. And they give me a good lesson in faith. Some never grow. But some, and often the hardiest of the bunch, grow and come out of the soul with the husk of the seed attached to a leaf or a stem. They grow well and are alive and vibrant, but there is a reminder of their death that grows with them.

We, too, grow with a reminder of our death. We have died, but we have been reborn. In our Baptism, and with the seeds of faith that Christ has planted in us, we live and grow in Him. Yet we remember our death. Not only our death in Christ, which He accomplished for us, but our death to sin. And in that death, there is life - everlasting life in Christ.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish

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