Close to Home

A devotional by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb

There is a topic that many people don’t like to discuss or use euphemisms in an effort to help them better cope with it.  Historians tells us that Louis XV, King of Spain, was so fearful of it that he ordered his court to never speak of it in his presence.  But no matter how hard you try, the subject of death is unavoidable and one that will eventually touch our lives.  This is precisely why the Bible discusses life and death in a straight forward and compassionate manner.

 

On one occasion, Jesus received word that his friend Lazarus had died.  Four days later, Jesus arrived in Lazarus’ home town and was greeted by the man’s grieving sisters, Mary and Martha.  The women questioned Jesus as to why He had not come sooner.  The sisters believed that if Christ had come right away their brother would not have died.  Jesus reassures Martha by telling her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  Upon Jesus arriving at the tomb, the gospel of John gives us the shortest verse found in the Bible, “Jesus wept.”  But, just as death is not the end of life, neither does the story of Lazarus end there because Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, proving that He is the way, the truth, and the life!

 

When death hits close to home, tears and sorrow are appropriate.  But, when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the hope and peace that is ours surpasses all other emotions.  For just as death is a reality we will all have to face, so is that fact that Jesus is the resurrection and the life!  Amen!

Like Oil and Water

SignLike Oil and Water

Preached by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb on January 29, 2017.

2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1

11 We have spoken freely to you,[a] Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

The Temple of the Living God

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?[b] Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[c] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 6:11 Greek Our mouth is open to you
  2. 2 Corinthians 6:15 Greek Beliar
  3. 2 Corinthians 7:1 Greek flesh

Feeling Overwhelmed?

A devotional by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb

We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed when there is too much to do you in a short amount of time.  We begin to worry, then we panic, and finally the thought of just giving up crosses our mind.  It is often at the point of desperation that we pray, even though we don’t expect it will actually change anything.  But, what would happen if the next time we start to feel overwhelmed, we immediately stopped and talked to God about it?

 

The Old Testament book of Nehemiah tells the story of the rebuilding of wall around the ancient city of Jerusalem, following the Babylonian Exile.  This was not only a dangerous project, it was a daunting one.  Although there was much opposition to the work, the people of God completed the project in just fifty-two days under the leadership of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah’s secret was that he began and finished the work in a spirit of genuine prayer.  This is testified to in Nehemiah 8:10 when Nehemiah proclaims in the hearing of all Israel that, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

 

Chances are good, if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed it’s because you have neglected to remember where your strength, peace, and security are found.  Difficult circumstances have a way of reminding us of our daily need to be walking with, and in the power of, Christ Jesus!

An Appeal Worth Hearing

SignAn Appeal Worth Hearing

Preached by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb on January 22, 2017.

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
    and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Leaving a Legacy

A devotional by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb

It has become the recent practice of U.S. Presidents to establish their own Presidential Library after leaving office.  President Obama has already announced that his library will be in Chicago for the purpose of carrying on “…the great unfinished project of renewal and global progress.”  The Obama Presidential Center will become the 14th Presidential Library, which begs the question, “How many more do we need and what purpose do they serve?”  Wall Street Journal’s Critic at Large,  Mr. Rothstein, wonders if many of these libraries are monuments to one’s ego rather than to an attempt to preserve historical truth./em>

Knowing our spiritual history and legacy is a vital part of being a follower of Jesus.  Acquainting ourselves with biblical history, church history, and Christian biographies reminds us of the rich heritage we have in Christ.  In Hebrews 12:1 we read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  The examples of faith before us in the Old and New Testament are not to be idolized but imitated, in so far as they testify to the veracity of the Scriptures and the eternal rewards that belong to those who store up treasures in heaven.

Every so often we should ask ourselves, “What will others remember about me? Will I leave behind a spiritual legacy that will inspire others to follow Christ?”

Agents of Change

SignAgents of Change

Preached by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb on January 15, 2017.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[b] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Or creature
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:19 Or God was in Christ, reconciling

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

A devotional by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb

The arrest of a Volkswagen executive in Florida on Saturday is the result of the federal investigation into the emission scandal that rocked the automotive world over two years ago.  Company officials were found guilty of knowingly installing illegal software into the VW’s computer system so it would pass emission testing.  Although Volkswagen had already agreed to pay a 4.3 billion dollar fine, this week’s arrest targeted the person behind the cover-up.  When will people learn that every cover-up, eventual becomes front page news?

 

In Matthew 10, Jesus prepared His disciples for the reality of persecution by instructing them that, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”  Although it is possible to hide our sins from others, the same cannot be said when it comes to God.  Everything is not only known to God, but one day He will make everything known as He renders perfect justice.  This truth claim serves two purposes.  It should motivate each one to keep short accounts with God and to seek His forgiveness for daily sins.  The words of Jesus also illustrate that, when we try to cover-up our sins, the only one we are fooling is ourselves.
Start and end your day by being honest with God about any hidden thoughts, attitudes, or actions that you have committed that displease Him.  Ask God to forgive your sins as you take steps to walk with Him because you can run, but you can’t hide!

What’s Your Home Address?

SignWhat’s Your Home Address?

Preached by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb on January 8, 2017.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Our Heavenly Dwelling

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:3 Some manuscripts putting it off

Manhunt in Progress

A devotional by Reverend Dr. Kevin Schwamb

A prison in Brazil made international news following a riot that left sixty inmates dead and one hundred and eighty four on the run. Traversing through the rain forest and thick fog, the Brazilian authorities have been able to locate fifty-four of the escapees.  The people of Brazil have been reassured that every available police officer has been called in and, by the end of the week, each prisoner will be recaptured.

 

In the gospel of Luke, we read about a different kind of manhunt which is broader in scope and never fails to find those who are the object of the search.  A tax collector named Zacchaeus comes to acknowledge Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  A dinner party follows at Zacchaeus’ house and a comment is made, by the critics of Christ, that He is dining with known “sinners”.  Jesus responds by reminding everyone within ear shot that, “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

 

The greatest manhunt ever conducted is still on-going.  God seeks after sinners to offer them forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ.  The love of God, demonstrated by Christ’s death and resurrection in our place, is unique to Christianity.  We did not find God.  He found us and made us His own and, like Zacchaeus, this is a manhunt worth celebrating!