Prayer for the Staff, Congregation and Believers Worldwide
During this highly unusual time that is shaking significant portions of the world, we want to be leaning into the privilege and responsibility to pray. To assist in that way, each week during April we will provide a prayer prompt from Scripture along with some suggested ways to pray through that particular passage. We encourage you to return to this regularly throughout the week. Part of the blessing of this is that as a church we will be praying from the same text even though we can’t be together. For this week, we will be guided by Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Pray for our church, both the staff and the congregation as a whole, as well as Christians worldwide:
To be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Pray for spiritual direction and wisdom from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to direct us now and in the months to come. May this time be viewed ultimately as a time of opportunity in the hands of God.
To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects. Pray for believers to fight against temptation, especially with extra time on computers, and for spiritual discernment on what we watch, listen to and read.
To bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God. Pray for opportunities to reach out to others and for hearts to be open to the gospel.
To be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might. Pray for a renewed passion for Christ and a strong desire to minister to others in Jesus name. Pray that we come to know Christ far more during this time than we do about the Coronavirus.
To be steadfast, patient; joyful and thankful to the Father in all things. Pray for courage and steadfast faith in this time of uncertainty.
The celebration of Easter is a well-known story with which most of us are familiar. But the life of the disciples after Jesus had risen from the grave and ascended to heaven was far different than what they expected.
After Jesus atoned for the sin of mankind on the cross, He breathed His last on the cross and gave up His spirit. The heavy veil inside the temple tore from top to bottom.
The veil in the temple was made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen with images of cherubim angels worked into it by skilled craftsmen (Exodus 26:31, 36:35). It was hung before the Holy of Holies as a barrier to keep people out of God’s presence.
The presence of the cherubim on the veil symbolized the guardian role the angels played in the kingdom of God. The cherubim were not the popular image of a child-like angel known as a cherub. A cherubim guarded the tree of life after Adam and Eve sinned with a flaming sword to keep them away from it. The cherubim woven into the veil symbolized angels guarding the way into the sanctuary of God within the Holy of Holies. It was God’s way of saying, “Stop! No way!”
So the veil’s primary function was to separate the rest of the temple from the Holy of Holies. Only once per year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:11-28), the high priest was allowed beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice for the people’s sin onto the mercy seat which rests on the Ark of the Covenant which held the tablets with the Ten Commandments.
The veil was a physical and visual barrier protecting the priests from the lethal presence of an all-holy God. Access to God was strictly prohibited because of His holiness. But at Jesus’ death, God tore the veil from the top to the bottom, because now God no longer separated Himself from mankind. Rather, He now offers Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of God saying “No way!” He now says, “One Way!”
Now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have not only permission to enter into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19), but we can do so with confidence. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. On this day of atonement Jesus became our Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for the sin of the world and all who trust in His finished work on the cross may now come freely into the very presence of God.
Jesus has ushered in a new covenant and inaugurated the kingdom of God on earth. Before Jesus’ death, the disciples thought that the kingdom of God would function basically the same way the world’s kingdoms functioned. So, James and his brother, John, came to Jesus with a request in Mark 10:37, saying, “Grant that we may sit one on Your right and one on Your left in Your glory (Your kingdom).”
These disciples thought Jesus was going to reign as King over the people of Israel in that day and they wanted be His two best vice-regents. In their minds they would have power, authority and rule over others in Jesus’ kingdom.
The world’s kingdoms teach that those who have authority will rule over other people and will be served by the people. But Jesus taught that the people of His kingdom will be despised and rejected by men and will serve those who despitefully use them. Scripture gives us the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-44: “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.’” (NASB)
As Christians who serve God now beyond the veil, we are the servants of all. Because even Jesus, who is the Lord of glory, did not come to be served, but came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Let’s eagerly serve our King Jesus this Easter and always by serving others, even if it’s only through reaching out to others online, sending a card, making a call, or lifting them in prayer. Jesus deserves all glory, honor, and worship, and serving others in His name is truly an act of worship. One day we will co-reign with the Lord when He establishes His kingdom fully on earth. But today we can, and must, give Him our praise, our worship, and our service, which He so richly deserves!
Your health and safety, and that of our community, is a top priority to me and the leadership of our church. To that end, we are following California Department of Public Health guidelines and suspending all CCMV gatherings for the next few weeks through April 19th. This includes all weekend worship services, children, youth and adult events, and all home group gatherings. We will update you about Easter as the time draws near.
This is a significant and unprecedented step to take, but we believe a necessary one as we strive to care for and protect our church community. According to the California Department of Public Health, “The timely implementation of aggressive strategies that create social distance and those that reduce close contact of people not regularly together, including limiting gatherings, has proven effective in prior pandemics at delaying rates of transmission and reducing illness and death.”
Now for some good news! A pre-recording of our weekly service will be available here on our website each Sunday morning. In addition to the sermon and worship music, discussion questions will be available for any that would like to further interact with others about the message.
Please make yourself familiar with our website. This will be the place to receive accurate information regarding our church. We will be updating it with content for you to engage with regularly.
Here are a few other things to be aware of:
If you have a need or desire to speak a pastor, you can call the church office at (949) 951-9678 and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you need to speak with someone after office hours, you can use the chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Home Group questions will be provided on our website if you want to gather together please do it via a conference call, Facetime or Skype.
This time is an excellent time for an outreach opportunity. Consider meeting your neighbors and printing your name and phone number on a piece of paper and hand it out to them. Personally, deliver your contact information to them and let them know that you will be praying for the Lord’s protection over them and their families. Let them know, too, that if they need anything they can contact you.
Remember that now is not a time to fear, but to be bold in trust and wisdom as we reach out in Jesus’ name.
Psalm 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
The staff and I will miss seeing you over the next three Sundays, but know you and your families are in my prayers. If you need anything, do not hesitate to contact anyone on staff.
As we near the celebration of Easter, our thoughts as Christians should be moving towards the events that surrounded Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and His burial and resurrection from the grave. The amazing thing about Jesus’ first coming is that He inaugurated the kingdom of God!
For most Americans, the concept of a kingdom with a king who rules over his subjects with complete authority is difficult to comprehend. Currently, we live in a culture that allows for a tremendous amount of personal freedom, so the concept of a king with absolute authority can seem distant for many.
But the kingdom of God is mentioned in the gospels 134 times and is a major theme in Jesus’ teachings. As Jesus said in Mark 1:15:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
While kingdom talk was much more common in Jesus’ day, the nature of God’s kingdom is unlike any on earth. His is an upside-down kingdom, totally counter-cultural to those of this world. Let’s look at some of the differences:
Jesus’ kingdom is present as well as future. It is an already/not yet It is already because God reigns in the hearts of His people through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The already aspect of Jesus’ kingdom is that God reigns now and delivers people from the grip of sin.
His kingdom is not yet because it is not currently present in fullness. That will come when Jesus returns and establishes His reign on earth for a thousand years. After this, He will fully renew His people and the universe.
Unlike earthly kingdoms, the moment a person repents and believes in Jesus, he or she is adopted into the family of God with all the rights of a family member.
Unlike earthly kingdoms, where people seek power and control to determine a person’s self-worth, in Jesus’ kingdom, God’s people are called servants. Christians should not seek power, position or status to determine their self-worth. In Jesus’ kingdom, humility and selflessness are most important and are an evidence that he or she is a kingdom citizen.
Jesus’ kingdom is established in the hearts of His people and in their relationships. It triumphs over sin, death and Satan.
All people are welcome to become part of Jesus’ kingdom. All a person must do is simply repent of sin and believe that Jesus Christ died for him/her. Once he/she turns to Jesus for forgiveness, they are a member of God’s kingdom.
As we turn the corner towards Easter, I am grateful for our King, Jesus Christ. He came not as a conquering and valiant warrior, but as a humble servant who sacrificially died for us, His people, and rose from the grave so that we can have eternal life when our time on this earth is done. Not only that, but He gives us abundant life on this earth in deep relationship with Him and in service for His glory.
But always remember this truth: One day Jesus will return, and when He does, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, we will have weekly blog posts that highlight the upside-down, counter-cultural nature of God’s kingdom. Please check back weekly to read and reflect. Our hope is that these posts will help prepare our hearts even more for the wonder of Easter.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is a good time to reflect on that for which we are thankful. I hear people say all kinds of things they are thankful for. These include their families, jobs, health, or even their bank accounts. While these are indeed good things, have you considered that all of this would not be possible without the generous nature of our God?
In the book of Genesis, God is portrayed as a generous host who provides everything needed for His creation to enjoy. God appoints humanity (Adam and Eve) to be co-rulers over His creation and generously supplies for all their needs. He asks them to trust in His generous provision and live according to His wisdom.
But Satan came into the garden as a serpent and deceived mankind to think that God was not generous, but was actually holding out on them. He tricked them into focusing on what they did not have instead of fixating on all the wonderful things He had given them. The result was the fall of man as they sinned against God. Instead of trusting in the truth of God’s gracious generosity, they trusted in a lie and believed they needed more than what God had generously provided.
The rest of the Old Testament demonstrates how God chose a people (Israel) on whom to pour out His generous blessing. But humanity constantly rebelled against Him and selfishly wanted more and more, just as Adam and Eve did. They were never satisfied. Sadly, the Old Testament concludes with God going silent and mankind remaining in a state of selfishness, rebellion, and sin.
As we turn the page to the New Testament, one might think that God would bring utter destruction and judgment upon humankind. But instead, we are stunned by God’s incredible generosity.
God sends His own Son, Jesus Christ, as the most generous and gracious gift to selfish and ungrateful humanity. Jesus could have come to live in opulence, but instead, He chose to live a life without comfort or abundance. He lived without the comforts of this life so that He could relate to the poorest of the poor and share God’s generosity with all who would receive Him. Jesus was so generous that He gave His own life and allowed His own people to kill Him, so that He alone could pay the enormous cost of their sin.
In Jesus, we see this unfathomable generosity of God. Because of God’s love and provision provided in Jesus, mankind has a new opportunity to trust in God rather than to selfishly trust in self or the things of this world.
Remember what Jesus said: “Do not worry about what you will eat or what you drink or what you will wear. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33).
Where is your focus this Thanksgiving? Is it on what you do not have or is your focus on what God has generously given in Jesus Christ? Jesus also said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Jesus is God’s most generous gift to mankind!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Hopefully, we are thankful for all His blessings. Ultimately, though, I am thankful for Jesus Christ because He truly is God’s most generous gift and my greatest treasure!