Messages from the heart of Changepoint Church Pastors
Trust in God’s redemption and REJOICE!
Israel was chosen by God, out of all the people of the world, to be “His people”. He spoke to them through prophets, giving the nation commands and promises. Isaiah is considered to be the greatest prophet. The biblical book of Isaiah is the first of the writings of the prophets.
When you, as a 21st century believer, read the words of this prophet (who is from around 700 B.C.), you need to imagine this strong and courageous messenger warning Israel, calling them to repentance, and comforting them when they responded correctly. And you need to put this message in relationship with your own life---return, repent, and be renewed. Then trust in God's redemption through Christ and rejoice.Your Savior has come, and he is going to come again!
One of my favorite sections in Isaiah is found in Chapter 54:7-10. Here, Isaiah is reminding a backslidden but now repentant nation of how much God loves them.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you
back. In a moment of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with ever-
lasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover
the earth and destroy it's life, so now I swear that I will never again pour out my
anger on you. For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then
I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says
the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Can you relate to this nation of people who turned their backs on God? Have you strayed and then come to your senses and turned around to God's way? Then you can know personally and deeply the compassion, love, and forgiveness of the God who spoke those words to Israel so many years ago. The New Testament book of Hebrews begins with these words to the people of Israel – and to us...
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through
the prophets. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”
And now we behold the love and mercy and compassion of God as we look at Jesus the Christ! His sacrificial life, death, burial, and resurrection display the prophet Isaiah's words so completely. And so we respond with worship swelling up in our hearts and praises on our lips that we can't hold back! We are welcomed, always, into that sweet relationship with God that our hearts hunger for. God has sworn His love for us eternally...and then Jesus is the exclamation point on that promise!
Peace and love,
Associate Pastor, Changepoint Church
God’s ways are simple! (Just not easy)
One of the things I love about small groups is that we get to talk about the things of God together, in depth. In the small group Raylene and I host, our theme is “simplify”. God’s directives to us on how to live and grow are simple. But have you ever noticed how our human nature always wants to complicate the word of God for our lives? I think this is because we don’t always understand or believe God knows better for our lives. And yet Psalm 25:10 shows us the simplicity of our Christian walk: “all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant”.
If we can accept that everything God does on our behalf is motivated in lovingkindness, all we have to do in response is obey his commands. See how simple it is? But I bet you’re thinking, “that’s so hard to do!” And I would agree. Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:41, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Have you ever said yes to a new diet or a workout routine, and then quit after a couple days? It’s because your mind said “sure!”, but your willpower said “no way!”. I think you would agree the plan was simple; but doing it isn’t so easy.
People have asked me why it’s so hard to do the right thing. My answer is almost always the same: I think we know how we should live and act, but how much do we trust God’s heart of lovingkindness to us? Because Jesus wants to be our Lord and not just our Savior, we need to be confident that Jesus means to love us, not lay on a heavy guilt trip when we struggle. Whatever the assignment or commandment we are given to obey, Jesus says it’s not a burden; it’s a joy:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
So what does it mean, that God is loving and faithful? It’s simple: it means he won’t stop loving us. He only wants good for our lives. He has nothing but blessing in store for us. And we have a part to play in receiving it.
Our first obligation is to recognize, acknowledge, and receive God’s heart of compassion. Read Psalm 136 and see what David has to say about God’s lovingkindness. Let it challenge you to trust Him more, because you can see how His faithful hand has been guiding and protecting you. See how loyal and unwavering the Lord is. Let that realization wash over you. Soak it in.
Our second obligation is to obey. How do we obey? It’s simple!
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. - Proverbs 3:4-5
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:1-2
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. - Ephesians 5:8-10
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them - James 4:17
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6
If you are not already in a small group, I encourage you to join one. Every week there’s an opportunity to better understand God’s will for your life, and a time to learn how we can help each other grow in grace as we walk a better path, together.
Your brother in Christ,
Associate Pastor, Changepoint Church
Small Groups Are Big!
As I write this article, it sure doesn’t feel like February with several 70-degree days in a row. I loved it and I hope you were able to also. Spring is in the air, and spring denotes newness and life, and that is what the leadership at Changepoint Church hopes and prays for you. This article is the launch of our new “Pastors’ Corner” column where you can hear from Changepoint Church pastors as they communicate their heart with you. We hope to have a new article by one of our pastors every quarter.
I have decided to write about the need for “Small Groups”. This term can include bible studies, discussion groups, and mutual interest groups. These small groups can be at a home, a church or some other public place. Though the need for small groups is very important, the participation in one is even greater, it’s “Big”. It is a fact that those who are involved in small groups live a more healthy and fulfilled life and not just in the Christian circles, as we see many secular small groups that include addiction, exercise, sports, finance, the arts and many more. I do though want to emphasize the need to be a part of a small group in your Christian life.
Shari and I, just a few weeks ago, started a new small group in our home. It brought back memories of a home group we hosted for several years, where we were strengthened and encouraged by each person in the group, growing in relationships with some very awesome people. As pastors and elders, we at Changepoint understand the need for small groups as we have been discussing and praying about the recent launch of several new groups. Sundays at Changepoint are amazing, and though we are not a mega church with thousands of members, one can still get lost in a crowd. Home groups are where individual struggles, needs, victories and stories have a platform for discussion and prayer and where the Word of God can be explored, discovering the power it has to convict, discern and heal.
Small groups, especially home groups are not a new concept and date back to the first century church.
Here are just a few scriptures to ponder:
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts." Acts 2:46
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." Ephesians 4:15-16
"And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." Acts 5:42
I know some have a hard time getting close to people but I guarantee you, if you take the step in faith and connect yourself to a Changepoint small group, it will change your life. You don’t need to go at life alone, as you have a family here at Changepoint Church. Check the online calendar or call the church office to get more information about the current small groups and if you feel you would like to sponsor a small group, find a Changepoint pastor or elder to discuss it.
Hope to see you at a small group!
In His Love, Frank Gallo Associate Pastor, Changepoint Church