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THE PIERCING QUESTION

Do you love Me? — John 21:17

Peter’s response to this piercing question is considerably different from the bold defiance he exhibited only a few days before when he declared, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35; also see Matthew 26:33-34). Our natural individuality, or our natural self, boldly speaks out and declares its feelings. But the true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ. Peter loved Jesus in the way any natural man loves a good person. Yet that is nothing but emotional love. It may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person. True love never simply declares itself. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men [that is, confesses his love by everything he does, not merely by his words], him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).

Unless we are experiencing the hurt of facing every deception about ourselves, we have hindered the work of the Word of God in our lives. The Word of God inflicts hurt on us more than sin ever could, because sin dulls our senses. But this question of the Lord intensifies our sensitivities to the point that this hurt produced by Jesus is the most exquisite pain conceivable. It hurts not only on the natural level, but also on the deeper spiritual level. “For the Word of God is living and powerful…, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…”— to the point that no deception can remain (Hebrews 4:12). When the Lord asks us this question, it is impossible to think and respond properly, because when the Lord speaks directly to us, the pain is too intense. It causes such a tremendous hurt that any part of our life which may be out of line with His will can feel the pain. There is never any mistaking the pain of the Lord’s Word by His children, but the moment that pain is felt is the very moment at which God reveals His truth to us.

Have you ever felt the pain, inflicted by the Lord, at the very center of your being, deep down in the most sensitive area of your life? The devil never inflicts pain there, and neither can sin nor human emotions. Nothing can cut through to that part of our being but the Word of God. “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ ” Yet he was awakened to the fact that at the center of his personal life he was devoted to Jesus. And then he began to see what Jesus’ patient questioning meant. 

There was not the slightest bit of doubt left in Peter’s mind; he could never be deceived again. And there was no need for an impassioned response; no need for immediate action or an emotional display. It was a revelation to him to realize how much he did love the Lord, and with amazement he simply said, “Lord, You know all things….” Peter began to see how very much he did love Jesus, and there was no need to say, “Look at this or that as proof of my love.” Peter was beginning to discover within himself just how much he really did love the Lord. He discovered that his eyes were so fixed on Jesus Christ that he saw no one else in heaven above or on the earth below. But he did not know it until the probing, hurting questions of the Lord were asked. The Lord’s questions always reveal the true me to myself.

Oh, the wonder of the patient directness and skill of Jesus Christ with Peter! Our Lord never asks questions until the perfect time. Rarely, but probably once in each of our lives, He will back us into a corner where He will hurt us with His piercing questions. Then we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than our words can ever say.

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If you didn't catch Pastor Paul's phone message, dial 877.698.3261. You will hear the prompt "To listen to your Group's latest message, press 1."

North Park Spirit Station
 
Amy Young - continuing to rehabilitate.
Lee Scheffers - radiation treatments will end on Friday but he will continue to go for weekly checks as well as undergo some testing to prepare for a aortic valve replacement. Please continue to pray for relief from pain.
Ronda White - has an appointment today to hear about the plan for treatment for B-cell lymphoma.
Jake Glas - for strength in his walking.
David & Jill Martin, missionaries in Ukraine and friends of Kal & Karen VanderWeele. They have sought refuge in Romania and are continuing their work teaching their students, who have scattered abroad, via online classes.
OTHERS.
 
MISSIONS OF THE MONTH
 
Rev. Steve Slater                        Jesus Loves Kzoo
HopeBuilders Ministries              jesusloveskzoo.org 
sjslater50@aol.com                   536 E Michigan, Kalamazoo

On the Calendar

03.20 | Worship (9:30a)
            Sunday School & Prayer Group (10:50a)
            New Hope N/A group (5p)
03.21 | Released Time Bible Class (10:30a)
            TOPS meeting (noon)     
            Women’s Jeremiah Bible study (6:30p)
03.25 | Girls' Lunch Out at OLGA’s: 5095 Century Ave (1p)
04.04 | Women’s Jeremiah Bible study (6:30p)
04.06 | County Road Commission / Barney Rd. project information meeting in the youth center (6:00p)
04.14 | Maundy Thursday Communion Service (6:30p)
04.16 | Youth group - foster family care package assembly & delivery
04.17 | Easter - Continental Breakfast (8:30a)
                         Praise & Worship Service (9:30a)
04.24 | Spirit Station / Kalamazoo Run (7:30a)
04.27 | Wednesday Food and Fellowship Night (5:30p)
05.25 | Wednesday Food and Fellowship Night (5:30p)
06.15 | NPRC Blood Drive (12-6p)
06.20-24 | Vacation Bible School  (9-11:30a)

Care Package Item Collection


We need your help to show some love and appreciation to the foster families in Kalamazoo! The Mission and Outreach Team invites you to be a part of collecting items for care packages to be distributed to every family licensed through DHHS in the Kalamazoo area. In particular, we are collecting:
  • 8"-10" diameter Rubber Playground Balls
  • Bunch-O-Balloons 100 piece rapid-filling water balloons
  • Jump Ropes
  • Sticker Books
  • New Reusable Grocery Sacks
Please click on this link to sign up to bring items which will be collected at church through Sunday, April 10th. The care packages will be distributed Easter weekend. Please see Robin Boers [(269)910-5941] with questions.

SERMON NOTES from March 13, 2022

 
Just Jesus, Read Between the Lines
~ Rev. Paul Fazio
 
Preparation – how are you at preparation? We are in the season of Lent, journeying towards the cross and the resurrection of Christ. How are you at preparing yourself for commemorating these pivotal events? Year after year we go through this time, and we’ve forgotten how to become excited and to prepare for something new as we look at Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

When I’ve talked to “snowbirds” who get ready to go away for a while, they prepare to leave by making sure they have everything they need with them and that things are looked after in their absence. I’m reminded of the troops in Ukraine and the preparation that they go through to get ready for combat. We don’t always like to prepare. I remember my mother nagging me when I was getting ready to study for a while in Europe. “Paul, did you do this, did you do that, did you pack this, did you pack that…” I didn’t care much about preparation but when I look back, I had thought many times when I was on the study tour that I wish I had prepared better. 

Are you prepared for Lent? Are you getting ready or are you taking it for granted all over again? God wants us to walk with Jesus to the cross and in order to do that we must prepare. These passages are all about the movement to the cross and the preparation for that.
 
Matthew 26:18  “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’”

The appointed time was near. Jesus is feeling pressure.  His ministry was about to transition from one of ministering among the people to dying on the cross for the people. This appointed time was going to change the course of history. Do you feel the same pressure? We are closer to that day when we commemorate what happened on the cross. How have you been reflecting on that? Has it been part of your daily devotions and daily walk? Or have you forgotten about it completely?

Everyone was getting prepared for the time change (spring forward). Jesus’ appointed time was the ultimate time change.  Our appointed time to connect with Jesus in a new way is near. What are we going to do about it?

Jesus also said that He was going to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. It was not only a pressure time but a celebratory time. What will be new? How will you grow? How will you change and become more like Christ? It is time to celebrate because the time is near.

If you don’t prepare, you will miss out. You miss out because then it is just another day. It’s the same old thing.
 
Matthew 26:21  “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
 
 One of us will be just like Judas and betray Jesus. If we don’t prepare ourselves every day and focus on this journey, we will betray the One we say we love.
 
Matthew 26:23-24  “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.”
 
Someone who was close and had broken bread and walked with Jesus betrayed Him because they weren’t prepared for what Christ was going to go through. If we don’t prepare, we might just be like Judas.
 
Matthew 26:25  “You have said so.”

This is part of the discourse that Jesus and Judas had where Judas asked Jesus, “Am I the one?”  When you look inside of yourself, how close are you to Christ? How much do we want to journey to the cross with Christ? What have we said in our daily lives regarding Jesus and to bring hope and healing into our world? This preparation helps us look inside and determine if we’re walking closely with the One who died and lives again for each of us. The beautiful thing is that there is still hope.
 
Matthew 26:26-29  “Take and eat; this is my body.”
“Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 
Even in the midst of our lack of preparation, our betrayal, and our inability to see our weaknesses, Jesus speaks of His love for us and that He gave His body and blood for a new covenant. This new covenant will culminate in that celebration where He drinks the fruit of the vine new with each of us in His Father’s kingdom. There is hope!  If we are childlike, if we humble ourselves, then we will see Jesus. There is hope.

As I came to the end of my European adventure, I realized I didn’t have quite enough money to get me to the airport to catch the airplane home.  I had not prepared well when it came to travelers’ checks. What did I do? I called home and my parents wired some money. I could celebrate because I was good to go home. We will stumble and fall. Phone home and Jesus will come and pick you up and carry you the rest of the way.  

Are you willing to work at the preparation of Lent? Prepare to meet Jesus face to face.  
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