"And they were continually themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

I can't wait for Saturday morning and Sunday service declared one brother as he excitedly shared with the group of guys gathered for prayer. He was fired up as he sought to just talk story about his week with the guys before praying. It's so good as the body gathers to put into practice Acts 2:42. With all that has gone on this past year with Covid, the "new norm" for some may be distance learning, little or abbreviated fellowship and lack of the Lord's table, all key elements in the life of the believer.  One writer said: "The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. A single coal will soon lose its fire and become cold; but coals piled together will maintain an intense heat." Would we continue to be piled together that the love of Jesus Christ would burn with intensity in our midst.

Pastor Russell

"Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it."

With explicit instructions for the Passover given, was the slaughter of the unblemished lamb whose blood was applied over the doorposts and lintels of the homes. Those within, would be as those covered by the blood of the lamb, under the shelter, protected and freed from death that would pass over the land. Many centuries later, John would see the fulfillment of the Passover....he saw Jesus coming to Him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) Let us all celebrate daily, what Jesus has done for us.

Pastor Russell

"So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped."

As Moses and Aaron told the people all that the Lord had shared with them, they received with gladness the news of His concern for them. Four centuries of bondage and servitude had not gone un-noticed, as He had heard their groanings and cries for help. He made them ready for their departure from Egypt, as they bowed low in worship, their hearts filled with thanksgiving and joy of the Lords faithful provision. We today can be reminded of Gods faithful provision for the Body of Christ, we are humbled before Him in worship with the anticipation of His sure return.

Pastor Russell

"Therefore, our livestock too, will go with us; not a hoof will be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not with what we shall serve the Lord."

Moses was very adamant with pharaoh, declaring that our wives, our children, our flocks and herds shall go with us. You might say that they were all in. No footsies with the world, nothing left behind to go back for, we're going to serve and worship our God was the cry. A great reminder for us, that we too ought to be so resolved in our determination to worship the Lord. Not focusing on the resistance of the world, the struggles of the flesh, the warfare of the devil, but pressing forward in the upward call of Christ Jesus.

Pastor Russell

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end."

As we turn a hard corner finishing up 2020, we look forward to the next year upcoming,  sure to be fraught with challenges. Covid still in our midst, economic woes ballooning,  rampant corruption and covert intrusion by our enemies, unfinished results with our elections....much lies unsettled in the hearts and lives of people. The one sure thing is the faithfulness of the Lord. He truly has made all things appropriate in His time. Don't fear child of God, cast all your cares upon Him, for He truly cares.

Pastor Russell

"Pharaoh sent men to investigate and found that not one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go."

Pharaoh stood in a very precarious place, at the crossroads you might conclude, where a great calamity might be avoided. Like with merging traffic, the oncoming cars having the right of way, those merging, hopefully, yielding the right of way to the fast-moving flow of cars, thus avoiding a serious pile up and all the ramifications. But Pharaoh, instead chose to plunge headlong, and suffer the consequences. Many, we'll see, within Egypt would suffer the consequences of his decision. At times, we too daily, make decisions either yielding to God's best for us, or going against the flow of the Spirit. Let's avoid the drama and heartbreak and always pray that for us, we seek God's will to be done in our lives.

Pastor Russell

"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."

During the Christmas season, we all like giving and receiving gifts, especially the receiving part. But for our Heavenly Father, it was with great joy and satisfaction that He gave His only begotten Son, who would come born of a virgin, to walk this earth and go to the cross on our behalf for forgiveness of sin. to be the Savior of the world for all who would receive Him. Given for all mankind, the Child of God, the Perfect gift has come.

Pastor Russell

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness."

As Moses came to Pharoah again and again, entreating him to let God's people to go so they could worship Him, the Pharoah continued to harden his heart. We made note that the word harden could be defined in varying ways, but all the definitions had the thought of pride being involved. Not only that, but also involved in the heart was a desire for a position of control and dominance. The flesh like Pharoah, has many similar attributes, but God is at work within the hearts and lives of many, for the believer, extricating things of the old nature that still cling on, and for the non-believer coming to a place of relinquishing self-rule and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. In all of this, remember God's grace working on behalf of all.

Pastor Russell

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest upon His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

Entering the Christmas holiday season, we are strongly reminded of God's greatest gift for all men, for all time, the gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While we worship Him daily, throughout the year, even more so the scriptures that speak of His birth, the songs and carols we sing, gifts given and received, remind us of His love for us. This season, look to Him, not allowing the daily grunge of life distract us from all of His majesty and grace.

Pastor Russell

"So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage."

The cruel grip of the pharaohs hand seemed as if to encircle the throats of the hapless Israelites, choking the very life and vibrancy from them. Gone was the fire and drive that had first spurred them on, now without resolve, they failed to receive comfort and encouragement from the word of the Lord. Often, we respond in like manner, hammered by our circumstance, our world put out of order and in chaos, we fall into the grip of the lie. Rather than shut down, this is when we need to seek out the Lord even more fervently, for its He who is able to do and to accomplish beyond what we think or ask.

Pastor Russell

When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrew children."

The little boy in the basket was none other than Moses, who would one day grow up to be the deliverer of the children of Israel. This child, like many, was earmarked for death by drowning at the command of the cruel pharaoh. Yet the Lord would deliver by drawing him out of the watery grave, placing him in pharaohs house to be raised by his daughter, as a prince of Egypt. As we saw Joseph in the book of Genesis, shanghaied, waylaid, sold into slavery, then imprisoned, we just don't know the course of our life that the Lord has set before us. Like Moses, He's drawn us out of the dark, depths of death, and delivered us to be alive in Christ as children of the Light. Hang on, the ride gets bumpy at times, but He's in control, working His best plans and purposes for our lives.

Pastor Russell

And they said to them, "May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."

From great joy, jubilation, adoration and worship, came the pressure and brutality of the world upon the children of Israel. No sooner that they had set their minds to follow after and seek the plans of the Lord for their lives, came a swift retaliation by the enemies of God's people. As it was then, so it is today, we purpose in our hearts to love and serve the Lord, we should expect the warfare to ramp up. Don't be lulled into a place where we are blindsided, but anticipate that there will be retaliation by the enemy as we move out in Him. In this passage, we see fear, anger, frustration and rejection of God as the people moved away from love in the Lord, to reacting in the flesh. Let's not go there, keeping our eyes focused on Him.

Pastor Russell

"And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

Joseph's brothers were still filled with fear and the thoughts of retribution by their brother. Joseph struggled conveying this truth to his brothers, that God had used their ill conceived plans to His glory and for the furtherance and preservation of His people. At times, like Joseph, it seems that bad things happen to good people, causing them to doubt, become discouraged or question God. Examples we have in the bible like Joseph, who remained true to his call by the Lord, become as stones of remembrance laid up for us that we remain steady and stay the course even in the most difficult of times, trusting that He is still on the throne.

Pastor Russell