The Shepherd’s Heart  -  April 13th, 2018  By Pastor Ed Pincusoff

    Imagine how a person who lived their entire life on a desert island, isolated from the rest of the world, would perceive everything in our world. Now imagine that they had a Bible, and read it with devotion, allowing its author, the Lord Himself, to bless them with salvation, hope, and purpose. That’s a shout point right there. Praise the Lord!

 After many years, miraculously, they were found, and their island isolation ended. On the day that this person was ‘rescued’ imagine that they fell into conversation with someone who gives them an incredible piece of news. The co-pilot of the helicopter that took this person away from that island and then whisked them to the so-called mainland mentioned something. It just came up per chance (although we know that ‘per chance’ usually means ‘per Jesus’.) Our island person hears something that brings incredulity and then joy to their hearts. Wait for it . . .  They are told that . . . Church actually exists! Every town has a few churches, and anyone can go to any church.

 Here’s the question. What would our island survivor expect to find? Remember that their only impression of church is what they found in their Bible. So we would expect them to have certain expectations because the Bible says a lot about church, and about Christians. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not overcome the church. I think island man would be pretty excited about that – church is a place where faith and God wins! The church is also a place where fasting and prayer take place, and people hear from God and do God’s will. The Biblical record also reveals that miracles happen through the ministries of the church. Illness does not have dominion over the body! Also, all needs are met through the church. All emotional needs are met with acceptance and healing and love. All physical needs are met as the body shares its resources from person to person. All spiritual needs are met because the church is filled with those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! The church is characterized by grace and peace!

 The church is full of people that will be friends to this stranger from the lost island. They will take him in, help him to discover his spiritual gifts and will put him to work – on mission with God and the church to bring the good news to everyone on the mainland, and beyond. So much work to do! How exciting. And as we work together we are dedicated to not causing anyone else to stumble on the journey, seeking the good of many so that God will be exalted and people may be saved. This is simply following the example of Christ. The church is like a household, God’s household built on the foundation of Jesus! In Him, the whole house is joined together rises to be a holy temple to the Lord, a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.

 And even how things work is all worked out in the church. God has appointed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. There will always be enough workers, and they will do just the right things at the right times because church is not a human organization; it is God's workmanship (Eph 2:10), created in accordance with His eternal purpose in Christ (Eph 1:4) that in it He might show the exceeding riches of His grace (Eph 2:7).
No wonder island man is so excited. To tell the truth, I am too. Did you ever stop to think that every time a new person (a new believer or seeker that does not yet know about church) walks into our church, they are getting a first look at something that can be divine? Here’s an example of how that works. On June 3rd Franklin Graham is coming to Chico to share the Gospel. This will be a large event reminiscent of Billy Graham’s crusades. Besides all of the opportunities to invite people to attend, or to be prayer counselors, or to be friends and mentors for the people that will get saved, our church will be introducing people to what church is and, more importantly, what church can be. We will have ‘island people’ show up excited about God’s church.

 Catch the vision. We are becoming an oasis of faith, hope, and love. Every day we have the freedom to read our Bibles with devotion, allowing its author, the Lord Himself, to bless all of us with salvation, hope, and purpose. We are so blessed.

AuthorJanice Fiori