The Shepherd’s Staff: Devoted

The Shepherd’s Staff: Devoted

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they [began] selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47, NASB).

What Was Church Like In Those Early Days?

         These verses describe what it was like to be a member of the church soon after the day of Pentecost when the church was born. Since these initial believers were all Jewish, they continued to gather in the temple, for that was a matter of habit for them. The temple was where the Jewish people worshipped God. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father”,,,”But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21, 23-24, NASB).

     As the church grew, the believers discontinued temple worship and began gathering in their houses where the manifestation of their new identity was defined as a devotion to biblical teaching, caring community, sharing meals together and praying together. It was a daily way of life to worship in spirit and truth rather than in a weekly visit to the temple.

         The significant focus in the New Testament church, is functioning as the family of God, as demonstrated in the passage above. The church of Jesus Christ is to demonstrate to the world that we love one another. That love is manifested in the “one another” passages in the epistles, of which there are at least 22. A brief summary of these exhortations includes, “you are members of one another“, be devoted to one another”, “honor one another”, “be of the same mind with one another”, “accept one another”, “admonish one another”, “greet one another”, “serve one another”, “carry one another’s burdens”, “bear with one another”, “submit to one another”, and “encourage one another”. As you read these one another passages, you realize that they are observable expressions of loving relationships between believers. Jesus said, “by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, NASB).

     In order to live out those commands, members of the church have to have physical gatherings which will facilitate those kinds of action. Realistically, a once a week meeting will not foster “one another” relationships except for perhaps, “greet one another”. The New Testament church met together in houses and sharing with one another throughout the week. Functionally healthy families spent time together and basically performed the one another functions listed above. There were occasions where the house churches met together in order to celebrate and to hear a letter read to them from one of the Apostles. These house churches established a way of life, “body life”, where the family of God lived out the “one another” passages. Not only are we a family, we are the “body of Christ”, each of us a necessary part. Therefore, when we exercise our giftedness in the calling the Lord has revealed to us, we manifest “body life”. When that occurs, it is the evidence that we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are exemplifying body life as disciples, we are fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples (Matt. 28:19).

What Is House Church?

          In house churches, devoted believers develop community where trust is developed between one another. Love gradually manifests itself as the individual members devote themselves, first to the Lord and then to one other. The church in Acts 2:42 devoted themselves to spiritual disciplines as they frequently met together. That term “devoted” is expressed in the following definitions, depending upon the context:

1.       to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one

2.       to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing

3.       to continue all the time in a place

4.       to persevere and not to faint

5.       to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly

 

         As I envision the future of Belmont Church, I dream of devoted individuals, manifesting love in body life, where all the world will see that we are His disciples. Will you dream with me? I pray that you will.     

Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in the early days of 2021, we need to have our perspective directed in the right place.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of...

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Blessed Hope

If you have ever received correspondence from me, I typically sign it with the term, “Maranatha!”. The term is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22

The Shepherd’s Staff: Love Letters

Why am I writing this to you? Because I want you to experience the presence of the living God, Who is like
no other god created by man.

2020 Advent Devotional

Advent is a special time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world as Lord and Savior. This booklet is written by members of Belmont to encourage and help us as we celebrate this special time.

My Heart At The Holidays

There’ll be parties for hosting.  Marshmallows for toasting.  And caroling out in the snow.There’ll be scary ghost stories.  And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.  And you probably know the next few lines by heart… It’s the most wonderful time of the...

The Shepherd’s Staff: W.I.F.E

“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Hope

God, YHWH, made a covenant with the church through the blood of Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated at the Last Supper and ratified at the Cross. This new relationship was not revealed in the Old Testament, and it included gentiles, Greeks and Jews. All who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also called by His name. That covenant was also eternal, unconditional and unilateral. The loving and faithful God will never cancel either covenant.

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in our world and in our nation at the beginning of a new year, we need to have
our perspective directed in the right place. Psalm 62, written by David, provides words of focus for us as we
tread into the unknown turmoil of 2021. Here are a few verses from this beautiful portion of Scripture.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory [rest;] The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us (vvs.5-8 NASB).

When I was a teenager, I used to go to Riis Park Beach in Queens, New York. We would go as a youth
group during the Summer and enjoy the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. One of the particular features of that beach
were its “bays”. They were sections of the beach that were delineated by rock jetties extending from the fine
sandy beach into the turbulent ocean. The jetties were there to influence the current and riptides so that it was
safer to bathe. These jetties were “off limits” to bathers, but as typical teens, we wanted to explore them. So, we
would gingerly jump from rock to rock and go out to the end of the jetty. Fortunately, none of us ever got into
trouble or fell into the water. Now, as I look back, the experience of standing on those rocks reminds me of the
words and truths in Psalm 62.

I recall jumping from rock to rock, until I found one which was flat enough to confidently stand on. I could experience the big waves crashing onto the rock, with the splashing salt water drenching me amidst the loud sounds of the ferocious ocean surrounding me. In spite of the dangerous situation I was in, my feet felt no movement under me, whatsoever. My senses told me that there was formidable power surrounding me. I could hear the waves crashing, I could feel the water splashing and the wind blowing, I could taste the salt water in my mouth and the burning sensation in my eyes. But, I had no trouble keeping my balance because the rock was not moving. The rock was so big and so heavy, that it could not move. It was as if the surrounding torrent was no threat to me at all. I was safe. So when I read Psalm 62, I identified almost immediately with the rock jetties that I used to recklessly explore. In the midst of danger, the rock was a safe place.

David said that, “God only” is that safe place. God only is his rock. God only is his salvation. God only is his stronghold. God only keeps him from being shaken. God only is his strength. God only is his refuge. David rests his salvation and glory on God alone, He is his rock. So David exhorts us to pour out our hearts to God alone, for He is our refuge in the midst of any kind of tumult in our lives.

As I hear of the increasing cases of COVID-19 and accompanying deaths, as I reflect on the incomprehensible events at the U. S. Capitol, as I recall the all too frequent reports of racial violence, of civil disobedience accompanying peaceful protest, of worldwide reports of religious persecution, of economic devastation to many businesses, of divisiveness in churches over face coverings and in-person meetings, of reports about prominent Christian leaders participating in some of the most heinous sins, and the list goes on, I am at rest when I stand on the Rock of my salvation. That is only possible through faith. That is only through an intimate experiential knowledge of the Creator God.

When we experientially know Him through our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, we will by faith, rest
secure on the jetty that is extended out into the tumultuous ocean of a sin corrupted world. My prayer is that you
will read Psalm 62 and draw hope from the Rock, Who alone is God our Savior.

Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in the early days of 2021, we need to have our perspective directed in the right place.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of...

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Blessed Hope

If you have ever received correspondence from me, I typically sign it with the term, “Maranatha!”. The term is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22

The Shepherd’s Staff: Love Letters

Why am I writing this to you? Because I want you to experience the presence of the living God, Who is like
no other god created by man.

2020 Advent Devotional

Advent is a special time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world as Lord and Savior. This booklet is written by members of Belmont to encourage and help us as we celebrate this special time.

My Heart At The Holidays

There’ll be parties for hosting.  Marshmallows for toasting.  And caroling out in the snow.There’ll be scary ghost stories.  And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.  And you probably know the next few lines by heart… It’s the most wonderful time of the...

The Shepherd’s Staff: W.I.F.E

“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Hope

God, YHWH, made a covenant with the church through the blood of Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated at the Last Supper and ratified at the Cross. This new relationship was not revealed in the Old Testament, and it included gentiles, Greeks and Jews. All who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also called by His name. That covenant was also eternal, unconditional and unilateral. The loving and faithful God will never cancel either covenant.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

      With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead. In retrospect, the last 366 days were unknown to each of us, but God has been faithful and He has accomplished His sovereign will in all things, including a pandemic, an election, peace treaties with Israel, religious persecution, racial discord, street violence, natural disasters, economic distress, exhibits of personal sacrifice, the development of COVID-19 vaccines, innovative ways to conduct worship and to spread the Gospel, a new appreciation of family values, a greater appreciation of community, a greater appreciation of the little things in life, like toilet paper (LOL). 

        I have experienced a more thankful spirit because I have been learning not to take a lot of things for granted. God is with us and will never leave us and He is in absolute control in spite of all the unfavorable experiences we face. Looking back we can see hardship and we can see reasons for thanksgiving. As a result I have grown closer to Him. I have been encouraged to serve Him more this year.

       As I read Psalm 103 during one of my quiet times with my LORD, I was greatly encouraged by what David wrote for our benefit. Please follow along as I bring out some valuable lessons from David’s words to prepare you for each day which in reality will be the first day of the rest of your life.

         In verses 1-5, David begins with worship as he remembers what the LORD has done for us. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, [bless] His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, [so that] your youth is renewed like the eagle.”

         In verses 6-14, David emphasizes that the LORD does not keep our past sins hanging over us because He is compassionate and gracious. “The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel [Exodus 34:6-7]. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive [with us,] nor will He keep [His anger] forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on [his] children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are [but] dust.”  

In verses 15-19, David reflects on the LORD’s lovingkindness toward those who have reverential obedience toward Him. “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them. The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

         In verses 20-22, David exhorts the angels and all of His creation who serve Him to bless the LORD. “Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; bless the LORD, O my soul!”

          Each day, let us follow the steps laid out by David. Don’t forget what the LORD has previously done in you and for you. Remember that all your past sins are forgiven and will not be held against you.  Rejoice in His unfailing lovingkindness toward you. Finally, serve and bless Him.

 Each day, for the rest of your life, Bless the LORD!

 Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in the early days of 2021, we need to have our perspective directed in the right place.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of...

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Blessed Hope

If you have ever received correspondence from me, I typically sign it with the term, “Maranatha!”. The term is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22

The Shepherd’s Staff: Love Letters

Why am I writing this to you? Because I want you to experience the presence of the living God, Who is like
no other god created by man.

2020 Advent Devotional

Advent is a special time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world as Lord and Savior. This booklet is written by members of Belmont to encourage and help us as we celebrate this special time.

My Heart At The Holidays

There’ll be parties for hosting.  Marshmallows for toasting.  And caroling out in the snow.There’ll be scary ghost stories.  And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.  And you probably know the next few lines by heart… It’s the most wonderful time of the...

The Shepherd’s Staff: W.I.F.E

“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Hope

God, YHWH, made a covenant with the church through the blood of Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated at the Last Supper and ratified at the Cross. This new relationship was not revealed in the Old Testament, and it included gentiles, Greeks and Jews. All who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also called by His name. That covenant was also eternal, unconditional and unilateral. The loving and faithful God will never cancel either covenant.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

     I imagine you’ve heard someone describe the actions of another person who is acting in a questionable way, like this, “That guy is completely in the dark about what he is doing.” That person was blind to their actions, not realizing what they were doing or even why they were doing it. Others around them could see the consequences of their actions and how they kept stumbling through life, but that person was oblivious to it. He or she could just not see it, they were completely in the dark.

         Well, this world, and the god of this world, Satan, lives in the domain of darkness and for millenniums most of mankind was living in that domain. Men and women were living as if they were in darkness, not seeing the actions they were taking were leading them into destruction. They were not aware of the spiritual stumbling blocks, the potholes, the pits or the chasm in front of them. Those things were invisible to them because they were blind to them. The god of this world had blinded them so that they could not see, nor did they really want to see. They loved the darkness because they did evil things and believed that they could hide in the darkness.

         THEN, God shattered the darkness by sending the Light into the darkness 2000 years ago.

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfillment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:2, NASB) and, “To bring open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison” (Isaiah 42:7, NASB).

         Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NASB) Luke records Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus where Paul hears Jesus tell him that he has been chosen to be a witness to the Gentiles,“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26;!8, NASB).

         However, the Apostle John says, “this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19, NASB). Those are some of the most tragic words you can read. Just think of it this way. Imagine a person who is blind from birth, who is told that there is a procedure that a surgeon has developed which will give that person 20/20 vision and that this surgeon has performed countless successful surgeries. On top of that, this surgeon is willing to perform the surgery for free, as soon as this person asks him to do it. Imagine the blind person saying, “I love my blindness! I’m used to it. As a matter of fact, my other senses have been further developed as a result of my blindness. No thanks. I don’t want your free gift! It may be good for you, but not for me.”

 

         Do you remember the years you lived when you were blind and living in darkness? Do you remember the times when you heard about Jesus but were enjoying your life of sin? BUT, remember the moment of faith when you reached out and received the gift of sight as the Great Physician performed that supernatural surgery miraculously healing your spiritual blindness? You immediately saw the Light and He now lives in you for eternity. Paul encouraged the church at Thessalonica with these words, “for you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5, NASB).

         Paul exhorted the Ephesians, “you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord, walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8, NASB) and to the Romans he said that he was “confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness” (Romans 2:19, NASB).

     Praise God that the Light has come into the world as a little child and you have received that Light by faith. Now that you are Light in the Lord, be a guide and let your light so shine that others may comprehend the true meaning of Christmas. The Light has come and has dispelled the darkness to all who will receive the Light.

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in the early days of 2021, we need to have our perspective directed in the right place.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of...

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Blessed Hope

If you have ever received correspondence from me, I typically sign it with the term, “Maranatha!”. The term is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22

The Shepherd’s Staff: Love Letters

Why am I writing this to you? Because I want you to experience the presence of the living God, Who is like
no other god created by man.

2020 Advent Devotional

Advent is a special time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world as Lord and Savior. This booklet is written by members of Belmont to encourage and help us as we celebrate this special time.

My Heart At The Holidays

There’ll be parties for hosting.  Marshmallows for toasting.  And caroling out in the snow.There’ll be scary ghost stories.  And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.  And you probably know the next few lines by heart… It’s the most wonderful time of the...

The Shepherd’s Staff: W.I.F.E

“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one...

The Shepherd’s Staff: Hope

God, YHWH, made a covenant with the church through the blood of Jesus Christ, which Jesus initiated at the Last Supper and ratified at the Cross. This new relationship was not revealed in the Old Testament, and it included gentiles, Greeks and Jews. All who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also called by His name. That covenant was also eternal, unconditional and unilateral. The loving and faithful God will never cancel either covenant.

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of Christmas, which is beyond our comprehension. It is a theological description recorded by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi. “He emptied Himself.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah revealed this prophecy in 7:14,”Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (NASB). This verse was quoted in Matthew 1:23, where the definition of the Hebrew name, Immanuel, is translated as, “God with us.” The miraculous birth of Jesus by a virgin is defined by theologians as the “incarnation”, which means “God becoming flesh”. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a, NASB). The term for this miracle is the “hypostatic union”. It is defined as “the mystical union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one individual existence”.

 Now that we have delved into an incomprehensible truth, the question arises as to the motivation and sacrifice inherent with the incarnation. We have a simple answer to the motivation in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV). Other centered, unselfish and unconditional love was the untarnished motivation of the Father to send His Son. It was also the motivation of the Son as explained by Paul in Philippians 2:3-8, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, [and] being made in the likeness of men.” Paul describes the attitude of Christ Jesus as humbling Himself by regarding us as more important than Himself. He went to the extreme of denying all His glory as the eternal, immortal, sovereign God and taking on the form of a sinless, mortal, human being. His decision was motivated by agape love, that inherent attribute which defined Him.

 He emptied Himself. Did that mean that the Son of God discarded His deity during the time He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary and walked the earth for some 33 years until He voluntarily died on a cross? Not at all! It meant that He stepped out of the perfect realm of Heaven into the realm of sinful humankind. It meant that the Creator moved in with His creation for a time. It meant that He left behind the environment of being in the very throne room of the Triune God, with all of its glory, into a corrupt environment of hatred and evil, the kingdom of the god of this world, Satan. The term used by Paul, “emptied himself,” has been defined by Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, “His incarnation does not mean that He surrendered any attributes of deity, but that He took on the limitations of humanity. This involved a veiling of His preincarnate glory and the voluntary waiving of some of His divine prerogatives during the time He was on earth.” I cannot imagine what that meant personally to my Lord. The Son of God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are the focal point of the universe. To voluntarily remove Himself from that glory, that incomprehensible fullness of being, is beyond our comprehension. The Godhead is to receive all glory and honor based upon the fact that the Triune God is before all, and in all, and will be forevermore, the only true God.

 Imagine Queen Elizabeth voluntarily moving out of Buckingham Palace, becoming an insignificant, homeless, impoverished woman in an obscure village in England. Imagine what she would feel like in that environment after having been served hand and foot since she was a child in the  royal family. That will never compare to what it was like for the Son of God. The most profound truth of all this is in the purpose of our Savior and His resulting reward. “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-9, NASB)         BOW DOWN TODAY AND WORSHIP HIM!

Bill Olsen, Elder

The Shepherd’s Staff: Devoted

Is the future of the church defined by a building or its people? What can we glean from the New Testament about this?

The Shepherd’s Staff: My Rock

With all that is going on in the early days of 2021, we need to have our perspective directed in the right place.

The Shepherd’s Staff: Each Day is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

With a new year rapidly approaching us, I wanted to bring you some encouragement as you anticipate the unknown 365 days ahead

The Shepherd’s Staff: Light In The Darkness

A little child was born to insignificant parents, in an insignificant village in Israel and in an insignificant moment in the history of the Roman empire. BUT, that baby was the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Isaiah about 700 years prior to His birth

The Shepherd’s Staff: He Emptied Himself For You and For Me

In the midst of singing carols, decorating trees, exchanging gifts, feasting on pastries and roasted meats, and gathering together with other believers-in person or online-to worship the One Who was born 2 centuries ago, there is a deeper, and more profound aspect of...

The Shepherd’s Staff: The Blessed Hope

If you have ever received correspondence from me, I typically sign it with the term, “Maranatha!”. The term is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22

The Shepherd’s Staff: Love Letters

Why am I writing this to you? Because I want you to experience the presence of the living God, Who is like
no other god created by man.

2020 Advent Devotional

Advent is a special time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world as Lord and Savior. This booklet is written by members of Belmont to encourage and help us as we celebrate this special time.

My Heart At The Holidays

There’ll be parties for hosting.  Marshmallows for toasting.  And caroling out in the snow.There’ll be scary ghost stories.  And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.  And you probably know the next few lines by heart… It’s the most wonderful time of the...

The Shepherd’s Staff: W.I.F.E

“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one...