The Great Mystery of Sovereignty
Matthew 11:20-30 (ESV)
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
After John the Baptist’s disciples had left, Jesus went on preaching and teaching and doing miracles of healing among the people. We have in the Scriptures recorded for us many miracles that Jesus did, but we don’t have them all. In fact, I would venture to say there were more that went unrecorded than recorded. Continue Reading
A Brief Account of a Pioneer Preacher
Since 2004 I’ve been serving in an independent church called “Bigelow Church”. Often, when I’m asked where I serve and I reply, “Bigelow Church”, I receive a strange look. To most, the name really doesn’t say a whole about who we are, however, there is such a rich history associated with the name, I feel the name is a perfect fit.
The current building where we assemble is very old, being erected in 1858. The congregation was formed in 1803, and their first building was dedicated and named after a circuit riding preacher who served in Ohio many years ago. Originally, the church was called Bigelow Methodist Episcopal Church. As impressive as the history of the church is, this paper is not about the history of church buildings but a history of a man whose passion was for His Lord, a man who loved Jesus—Russel Bigelow.
As I studied the history of Russel Bigelow I was in awe of how the Lord utilized a man who by the world’s standards was in no way impressive. In fact, in many of the eyewitness accounts, he was portrayed as just the opposite. This is an account of an ordinary preacher and his passion for his Lord. Continue Reading
Remember, Prayer Transcends Trouble
1 Samuel 1:1-20
Have you ever been in a situation in which you knew you should pray, but for whatever reason you didn’t? Have you ever simply forgotten to pray? Have you ever been in a terrible situation and so caught up in the circumstances that you forgot to call on the Lord? You were so busy trying everything else that you forgot that God stands ready to hear our pleas.
I was in Cleveland a couple years ago attending a pastor’s conference. I forgot to pray. It wasn’t a real big deal, it wasn’t life or death, but I forgot to pray. Imagine that, on your way to a pastor’s conference and forget to pray. I was driving around the east side of Cleveland for a bout an hour not stopping to ask directions or to pray. I was lost. The road work was everywhere and signs were nowhere. Finally, I remembered to pray. It wasn’t long till I saw what I was looking for…a road sign that told me where to go. God wanted me to forget my situation and remember Him. All I was doing was thinking about being late and I was forgetting God. Pray… Continue Reading
The English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning. It is, in my estimation the best overall translation found.
First, it is a word-for-word translation as opposed to others that are more thought-for-thought. The Bible says every word was “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). For this reason, the ESV seeks to translate the original Greek and Hebrew words with the greatest possible accuracy and precision.
Second, the ESV is special because it carries forward the great historic stream of Bible versions in English-with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning, in a fresh and compelling way.
The ESV is unique and special. It’s the Bible to read and treasure through all your life-a great choice for young and old, for daily reading and personal study, for church and family, for teaching and preaching, and for memorizing the words of life.
What this means for GRF is that all our sermons, discipleship material, everything used corporately in the church will be the English Standard Version. Please feel free to use your favorite version and bring it with you to corporate worship if you like. We are in no way saying that the ESV is the only good translation. What we are saying is that if you like to follow along word-for-word with the teaching and preaching, you’ll want to bring your ESV.
Grace and Peace,
How do you know when a person is out of his mind? Well, what if a man behaves like nobody else behaves? What if he says he hears things nobody else hears? What if he fears what nobody else fears? What if he devotes all his energy to a cause nobody else believes in? Would you say he’s crazy? At the very least, you’d think he’s weird, wouldn’t you? Suppose this crazy person goes to work on a strange project. He claims that the world is about to be wiped out and that he’s building the only place where anyone will be able to survive when the disaster comes. How does he know all this? He says he heard a voice telling him so. There’s no sign at all of the disaster he expects, but he keeps working on his project year after year, simply because of that voice he heard. Would you take him seriously? Wouldn’t you instead laugh at him, or, at best, feel sorry for him? The man would have to be crazy!
But what if the “crazy” man is an old fellow named Noah? What if the project he’s working on is an enormous ark? What if the disaster he’s speaking about is a worldwide flood? What if the voice that told him to build the ark was the voice of God? What if the reason his behavior is so different from others is that the whole world has gone crazy with evil and that he, unlike so many, has a relationship with God? Continue Reading
A Portrait of Salvation
2 Kings 5:1-15
In our passage today we are forced to deal with many things about God that stretch our understanding. We just get to the place where we think we are starting to understand God and then He throws a passage like this at us.
In this passage we have God giving Syria success in battle against His chosen people Israel. We have God turning His back on His people and coming to the aid of foreigners. We have God including a Gentile who is unclean in His covenant.
We leave the land of Israel and enter a pagan nation. We step into Syria to the north, a heathen, pagan nation surrounded by darkness, a place of idolatry, and blindness. Naaman’s healing is a portrait of what God would later do through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is a classic picture of the love God has for those in darkness. We get a glimpse of God’s sovereign work in salvation. At times God shows grace, even to His enemies. Continue Reading