Welcome to Gospel Tabernacle in Philipsburg, PA!

Service Time: Sunday at 10:30 AM

Join us here at Gospel Tabernacle each week to discover “how-tos” for the “ought-tos” of life! Find answers to life’s pressing problems through the insightful preaching of Pastor Dan Winters and the caring prayers of the congregation here. We have Youth and Children’s ministry on Sunday Morning, and small group prayer services. We look forward to your visit!

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That Lightbulb Moment

In preparation for Easter, the youth class I teach started watching one of the early Jesus movies – The Greatest Story Ever Told – which was first1_115304_1 released back in the 1960s.  As the movie progressed, I began to realize something – the teens, especially those who had grown up in church, had a pretty good knowledge of the individual events portrayed in the film. But they didn’t seem to realize how all those stories were connected from the birth of Jesus until his death. It was like a light bulb turned on in their heads as they suddenly saw it as Christ’s whole life rather than just a bunch of unrelated stories!

Think about it - every child who grows up in Sunday School will hear the story of how Jesus was “left behind” by his parents at age 12. They go back and find him engaged in a theological debate with the priests in the temple. The lesson teaches the importance of “being about our Father’s business”  but have you ever wondered why that story was important in the whole picture of Christ’s life?

It’s there because it helps connect the birth of Jesus with his ministry and his ultimate death. Jesus wasn’t just born and never heard from again until he reached adulthood.  The story shows us He was the Son of God throughout his whole life.  But it also shows us that he had to go through  a period of growth and development just like we do to get to the point where he was ready to do God’s business.

Jesus had the knowledge as a young boy to debate with the priests,  but he wasn’t ready to be in full time ministry yet. He had more of life to experience  – like learning obedience and submission to his parents - like we  have to learn submission to God. If he hadn’t become obedient to his earthly parents at that point in his life, who knows what could have happened?

I can picture Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his trial and crucifixion. “Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” And as he kneels there his mind flashes back to the experience in the temple when he debated with the priests as a 12 year old. He remembers his struggle as he must decide to submit and return home with his parents or to take his rightful place as a Bible teacher. After all, He was the Creator in the flesh and could have easily started his ministry then and there.

BUT HE CHOSE TO SUBMIT his will to the will of his parents. Perhaps that choice some 21 years earlier helped him  to submit to the eternal Plan of salvation as he faced shame and death on the cross. He really could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set him free in that moment.

His life was a journey, like ours – full of individual events and memories. Each one  of these events and memories builds on the one before telling us a little bit more about who we are as a child of God and preparing us for the plans God has for us. We must look at our individual experiences as well as our  whole journey to get the full picture.

What kind of reader are you? Do you  look at the Bible as a collection of individual stories and life lessons? Or do you see it chronologically as a progression of  how God has dealt with man through the ages? Can you see the importance of both?

How do you read the story of your life? Is it a collection of vignettes or a saga of growth and development?

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Do Desperate Emotions Call For Desperate Measures?

The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life.
Dr. Rachel Naomi Reman

 

At first glance, the Book of Ruth is a beautiful story of love and loyalty. But when I began to dig further, I found a rich source of life lessons for dealing with emotional hurts.

As Dr. Reman’s quote suggests, unresolved grief can lead to other problems including depression.  Perhaps it was the sheer volume of Naomi’s grief – moving away from friends and family, then losing her husband and two sons in a foreign land – that caused her to lapse into such a deep depression. We know she was depressed because she tells her friends to call her “bitter” (Mara) when she finally returns to Bethlehem.

Because Naomi felt responsible for her two daughters-in-law, she may not have allowed herself to fully grieve the lthCAJAZKZFoss of her  sons. Her depression may have escalated into anxiety and desperation causing her to push the girls  back to their own families – to ensure that they would have a future and to relieve herself of the burden of responsibility.

When Ruth refused to go back, the weight of responsibility for the young woman’s welfare must have hung even more heavily around  Naomi’s shoulders. She truly loved Ruth and wanted only the best for her, but in her depressed state of mind, Naomi couldn’t even imagine a solution. She became anxious and  desperate grasping at any small hope for a future for Ruth.

The Lord was orchestrating events for the two women in response to Ruth’s faith. He pointed her to the fields of Boaz, a perfect candidate to become the kinsman redeemer, a provision of Jewish law which ensured the care of widows and allowed the deceased family to retain their inheritance. But in Naomi’s depression she was unable to trust the Lord. When she realized Boaz could be a potential savior for herself and Ruth, she saw a glimmer of hope. But as time dragged on and Boaz didn’t follow through, Naomi became desperate and took matters into her own hands. She prostituted her daughter-in-law, hoping nature would take its course which would  force Boaz to “do what was right” by the women.

Because Ruth’s marriage to Boaz was part of God’s plan, there was no need for Naomi’s anxious and desperate measures. It would have worked out in God’s time with or without Naomi’s help.

God is in control of our lives as his children. Can you think of any times where you felt so desperate for something that you took matters into your own hands? What lessons have you learned about peace, rest and trust from these experiences?

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Operation Christmas Child report from the Philippines

This year we sent 28 boxes which were packed with love! Do you ever wonder where they went or how it made the recipients feel? This is a great video report from Samaritan’s Purse about some of the shoeboxes which were delivered there. Enjoy!

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But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.        Galatians 4:4-5 NIV

Question: What do fine wine, aged cheese and Christmas have in common with us as Christians today?

Answer: God’s timing!

Like a master wine or cheese maker, God knew when the exact time had come – when mankind was at the peak of his need and when all factors were right for Jesus to be born in order to redeem us. A moment too soon and the pieces would not have fallen into their prophesied places. A moment too late and  the peak effectiveness of Christ’s sacrifice would have been lost.

Bible scholars have estimated there are hundreds of distinct prophecies surrounding Jesus’ birth and life. Scientists propose that for even 8 prophecies surrounding Jesus to fall into place would be one in 10 to the 17th power – enough to cover every inch of the state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep!

But we serve a God who fulfilled ALL of the prophecies surround Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection at the perfect time. Can you trust him to order the events of your life to bring out the very best in and through your life today?

 

 

 

 

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Operation Christmas Child Dedication Sunday

This Sunday is the last day for our shoebox collections. Join us as we pray over these boxes before taking them to the drop off point.

Just for fun, watch this special video of Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty as he learns how to pack a shoe box.

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Multiplied blessings

When I subbed at the elementary school last week, I sat with one student in a small reading group while they read a story aloud to each other. The story began with a  land that had good crops and everyone had enough to eat. The eRice-Sack-2015483mperor wanted to be prepared in case if a famine happened so he began collecting a portion of the people’s crops. He took a large portion at each harvest, leaving them barely enough to live on.

After several years of bountiful crops, a famine did happen. The first year, the crops were poor, but the emperor still collected the majority of their crops for the storehouse. By the end of the third year, the people were very hungry and began to say to themselves, “Why isn’t the emperor opening up his storehouse?” But he continued to hoard the stores of rice for something worse. He grew even more selfish, throwing lavish banquets for his own staff and friends, but not giving the people what they needed.

One day while several elephants brought the rice to his palace for yet another feast,  a young girl noticed a hole in one of the baskets and a few grains of rice began dribbling out. She ran over and picked up the grains on the ground and caught the others as they fell out through the hole.

When they got to the palace, she returned the rice to the emperor. He wanted to reward her by allowing her to keep the small handful of rice she had collected. Being wise beyond her years, she said, “No. I would like one grain of rice”. Then she asked that the emperor would double that each day for a month. He thought she was just a foolish child so he agreed.

Of course, you know the end of the story. By the 31st day of the month, she had amassed all of the grains in the emperor’s storehouse and began distributing it to her people. Forgiving the emperor for his selfish ways, she allowed him the amount he needed to live each day.

In many ways God’s blessings are like that. On days when we feel discouraged and burdened down by life’s cares we are like the starving peasants. But when we begin to look around us and to count our blessings,  we only need to find one thing, even if t is as small as a grain of rice, to praise the Lord for. That one praise will begin to lift our sagging spirits and the next day we might find 2 things, then 4 and so on. As we begin praising the Lord our hearts eventually overflow with joy to the point where we cannot contain it anymore  - even in the midst of spiritual and emotional famine conditions!

One national missionary in Southeast Asia was imprisoned for his faith. The living conditions were squalid and dark with no windows in the cell. The other prisoners taunted him constantly challenging him to renounce his faith. Even the guards had fun at his expense, taking him outside several times each week, putting a hood over his head and placing a gun to his temple. Each time he refused to give up his faith, even though he felt rejected and abandoned by God. Each time, he heard them pull the trigger. Then they removed the hood and laughed at the stark terror on his face.

His faith grew weaker each day until he was consumed by doubts. He had no more words to pray, no blessings that he could see to be thankful for. So he sat there and honestly told the Lord about his doubts and fears, even though he had always been taught that it was a sin to doubt. After he prayed, his hope was renewed because he felt that God had heard him.

The next day he was removed to a cell with a window where he witnessed a breath-taking sunset. He focused on that j0428626_microsoft_clip_art_sunset(2)one blessing as it filled his heart and encouraged him that God was still in control . The next time the guards took him for a mock execution, they removed the hood only to find the man’s face relaxed and peaceful rather than full of torment.

Something as simple as a sunset can be a blessing from God to encourage our hearts and fill us with the strength we need to carry on through difficult circumstances. And as we carry on, we build on that one blessing with more answers to prayer and more little blessings until our hearts are full to overflowing!

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The Bible is full of useless information…

UNLESS

1. You read it.

Whether you read it in a  modern, easy to read version or listen to it on some form of 6287240997_53ff1460damedia device, or if you prefer the good old standby – the King James version, God’s word won’t do anything for you unless you open the book!

God went to a lot of trouble to inspire the authors of the various Bible books to write his words because his people needed a textbook to know how to live and to remember the things he spoke out loud through his prophets and teachers.

2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Moses was inspired to create a written record of the history of Israel from the time of creation until they stood in the wilderness on the verge of entering into the promised land. And then he read that record to them to remind them of the things their God had done. He challenged them to read it to their children as well so that future generations would know and worship God alone. When Israel failed to read and remember God and his word, they  got into trouble – EVERY TIME. We have to read it!

2. You embrace it.

How many times have you read a book only to put it down afterwards and promptly forget what you read? That happens when the words don’t engage our hearts.  On the other hand, when you read a book that captures your imagination and emotions, it stays with you forever.

In elementary school I read Madeleine L’Engle’s  book, A Wrinkle in Time. I remembered that story because it had stirred things in my heart. I could relate to the main character; the insecure, glasses-wearing Meg with a big heart that wanted to help others but didn’t know how.

For years I wished I could read that book again, but I couldn’t remember the title no matter what I did. However, as an adult I ran across the book by accident and as soon as I began reading it, I knew it was the beloved book I’d read as a girl. Even without knowing the title, my heart remembered the story.

In the same way, when the Bible engages your heart, it becomes more than just words on a page. It becomes embedded in your heart.

Psalm 1:2-3 The Message ..“…you thrill to God’s Word,  you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden,     bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf,     always in blossom.”

3. You live it.

Psalm 119:11 The Voice   “Deep within me I have hidden Your word
so that I will never sin against You.”

Because of newly diagnosed heart issues, I’ve had to begin making lifestyle changes: watching my sodium intake, diet and exercise (yes I hear those collective groans!). The medication  is helping to manage things, but in order for it to be most effective, I have to live differently each day, actually doing what the doctor says. It’s not enough to read about heart disease or to  know I have to make changes. I just have to “DO” it in order for it to be most effective.

In the same way, as Christians, it’s not enough to read God’s word or to know we need to make changes because we feel conviction when we read the Bible. We must do what it says to get the most benefit from our faith.

The Bible might be foolishness to those who never bother to look inside it’s covers, but to all who read it, love it and live it, God’s Word brings life  and health.

Joshua 1:8 The Voice   Let the words from the book of the law be always on your lips. Meditate on them day and night so that you may be careful to live by all that is written in it. If you do, as you make your way through this world, you will prosper and always find success.

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