Tag Archives: West Virginia

The BRANCH


“The BRANCH” is a Bible Lesson that I composed for the teens at Victory Baptist Church. There are questions within the lesson that, although it was written for teens, I consider them young adults and treat them as such. Feel free to read and enjoy or use it for your ministry if you so desire.

Spring branches are a visible reminder of the new life we celebrated on Easter Sunday. The same God that the Jews longed to meet in the Old Testament, but refused to submit to in the New Testament was the BRANCH. Listed in scripture in all capital letters, which for me is like God shouting His name! It makes me want to know more about why it was listed that way, and what information God wants me to know.

Zechariah 6:12

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

The BRANCH is what caught my attention, but the context of the scripture begins in verse 9:

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

Joshua. A name we’re very familiar with, and a named that is translated from Hebrew Joshua to the English, Jesus. Joshua is also the common alternative form of Yeshua.

So Zechariah is being told by God to tell Joshua the Priest that he is a figure of the one to come. Jesus, the Messiah, now being referred to as “The BRANCH.” And just like the branches of this season come to life, The BRANCH was going to be born (come to life) in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth. And just like the spring branches that we have in view now, Jesus was going to spring forth, full of life and glory for God.

There are two roles of Christ that we’re going to talk about by unpacking the scripture references in Zechariah and those two roles are Priest and King.

We too are referred to as priests and kings in Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So how does it make you feel to know you are considered a priest or king?

Is that a position you’re comfortable with now, or is it something that you think you’re going to grow into? At what age, or state of mind do you suppose you’ll arrive there?

Jesus grew up just like kids of today. He may not have had an iPhone, but He had family, friends, siblings, and all the common things of that day, and things that we’re used to having as a family unit.

When you think of growing up in biblical times, what do you think the cultural differences and likenesses of that day were in comparison to ours?

What would teens have done for fun?

What would church services have been like for teens?

The scripture says that Jesus was going to grow up out of that place, the place called Nazareth. That was His place. Nazareth or Netzer, means “The branch from a multitude of plants that grew there.” Another branch in our story

Our place is where we live now. Far from a kingdom view. But so was Nazareth during that day. It was said to be an “insignificant village.” Even the religious of the day said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Have you ever had that feeling about our small town?

While Nazareth wasn’t a big city of that day, it’s now the largest Arab city in the country of Israel. And clearly something Amazing did come from the Nazareth. So why can’t God do something amazing here?

Pastor John Powell of Wadsworth, Ohio was born and raised in Calhoun County, West Virginia. But like many of his era who were born in the 30’s, he left our area to find work. But before that he had a back story. He had a Nazareth village.

When he was just a few months old he got pneumonia and his mother had no money to buy medicine, so she went to her father to borrow it. But instead she had to give John to him at the age of 5 in exchange for the medicine. He was used for child labor and treated very poorly. But even in that state he rose above others as an athlete and in popularity. God called him into the ministry while in Akron, Ohio and it was there that he graduated Bible College and became a man of great means through investments. But the most important thing to know about John Powell was that he reached thousands for Christ and was known for his generosity and kindness all over the world.

The man from Calhoun County.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and didn’t travel very far in the lifetime of His ministry. One study said about 90-120 miles. In this day and age, that’s not many. But we have to consider His travels were by foot. But look at the impact He made in those 100 miles.

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled, and where do you desire to go?

Jesus’ time on earth was spent preaching the Kingdom, and building a temple not made of hands. What temple has Jesus built?

When Jesus prophesied of His resurrection He said in three days I’ll rebuild the temple, which made the religious of the day angry because they thought He spoke of a building. Which was not so.

We too are considered a temple, how?

There are three ways to build the temple we’re in charge of building

  1. We listen (preaching and teaching)
  2. We learn – (Study to show ourselves approved)
  3. We live (Sharing the word of God)

That is how we build the temple, ours and the body of Christ.

It’s the same thing that Christ did as a young person. When Christ disappeared from His parents and was found three days later it says in Luke 2:46

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions.

That’s how we grow in the Lord, we ask questions. If we want to grow and feel worthy of our royal positions of priests and kings, we need to do what Jesus did.

If a child never ate physically they would die. They’d also die of boredom if they ate the same thing over and over again. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

Eat. Work! Because as we grow we also need to build.

The new temple that Christ said He was going to build in three days wasn’t what they expected or wanted. They wanted it on this earth. That was not the plan. They wanted the royalty to be here. That was not the plan either. And that’s why it’s hard for us to comprehend that we are priests and kings. Because we live in red neck country. Not Jerusalem.

Just as Joshua was active in the building of the temple, Jesus was going to be the Master Builder of the Spiritual Temple that we call the church today.

Zechariah 6

13 Even he (The BRANCH) shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

All for the Glory of God.

So what are the responsibilities of priests and kings?

I view it as one governs and the other guides.

So, what do we govern, and what do we guide on this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Not everyone is a prophet, teacher, etc. but everyone has a purpose. And every one of us are a part of the body of Christ if we’re saved. So we are overseeing the business of the Lord until His return. We are in charge of guiding others. We truly are a part of the Royal Family. And not the one in England, but the one in Heaven.

Zechariah 6

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

There were earthly examples like Adam and Joshua that God put on earth as examples of Christ. We are to be the examples of the Lord set before the generation we’re now a part of.  We are the priests and kings of this generation, even if they don’t know it, or want it.

When someone is born into a royal family, only the head of that royal family can kick them out. God’s the head of this family, and He says that none shall be lost. (John 18:19)

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

So whether the world likes it or not, we are the royal family. The BRANCH’S government. Not a branch of the government. We will have our day of sitting with the royal family in person, but today we’re ambassadors in this foreign land.

So the question is, to who, where and how are you an ambassador? Pray and seek the Lord’s will for the land the Lord wants you to cover. And don’t ever think that He can’t take a kid from Calhoun County, and do something amazing for the Kingdom. Because you are children of the King.

Don’t forget …

Isaiah 62:3

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

A Field of Dreams

Windom, Minnesota. I leave every year with new, and sweet memories. Every year it’s different and yet the same. I leave wanting to stay longer, that’s the same. I leave with new friends, that’s the new. I left with a deeper respect for folks like Loretta Jackson, whose tiny little frame stood on the platform of the BARC and gave the gospel, glorified her Savior and let the city know, God makes no mistakes. Even allowing her to battle cancer… again.

My new friend Nita Killabrew, wife of Minnesota Twin Player and Baseball Hall of Fame, Harmon Killebrew blew me away as she proved that God uses humble, God glorifying people. Both of their struggles were awe inspiring and evidence that we are all without excuse for being happy in the Lord and allowing the world to see how He works in our lives! I learned so many that I will forever treasure. I learned the power of humility.

Pastors Rick Frederickson and Phil Anderson preached messages of hope but not without conviction that stirred my soul deeply. They shared the salvation of Christ in a manner that many ministers of today have failed to do because in a world blinded by political correctness and niceties, preaching like that is forbidden and considered offensive. Both men preached on! As well as FGGAM.org’s own Dewey Moede who never fails to share Jesus! I am proud to have been a part of this team. Because the platform may have been filled with varying denominations, but no variance in belief. Jesus. That’s it. Nothing else for salvation!

The Windom Revival touches lives each year and restores the relationship of Christ with His people. It reminds us all that there is a home for which we long for, where we’ll all have the same address. Made possible by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It’s not Minnesota or West Virginia, but that glorious place called Heaven.

Below is my first night’s message. Windom, really was a field of dreams. It’s where hope came to encourage those seeking. I hope you enjoy the message, and I pray you have people in your life that encourage you each day. God Bless! ~ Shari

FIELD OF DREAMS

1 Corinthians 9 King James Version (KJV)

Minnesota. Driving through this country is not like anything in my part of West Virginia. If there’s an acre of flat ground where I live it’s a miracle. And it usually has a house built on it. Everything else is rolling hills and mountains, which is what I love about West Virginia. But in Minnesota, you can see forever, which is what I love about Minnesota. One field flows into another of crops that someone stands in hope of reaping the blessing of their work. That is my hope for Windom.

John 4:35

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

I came here with hope that the fields of Windom are ready to harvest! So what are we hoping to harvest? I’m glad you ask. Because what I want to see harvested in the fields of Windom is some pretty exciting stuff.

I know Dewey is a huge baseball fan. And I must confess, sports ain’t my thing. I go to games to see the people in the crowd, not the athletes. People go to games to see the players. In the life of the church, I’m the player. I’m the one out in the field either striking out, or hitting a homerun for Team Jesus. I’m the one who has the crowds cheering me on in Heaven, and sometimes on earth. And tonight, I’m a player on Windom’s team. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 9, the Apostle Paul says this:

Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

The Windom Minnesota team has worked for months on this event. You being here tonight is our work in the Lord. I don’t ever believe that something just “happens.” There is purpose in everything that is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not an apostle but I am a servant for the Lord Jesus Christ. And tonight Windom Minnesota is my field and I’m gonna work it just like Harmon Killebrew did for the Minnesota Twins. I want the victory!

I’ve come tonight to share my field of dreams for Windom. In that same book of First Corinthians 9, beginning in verse 9 the word of God says this:

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Your response to that likely is, “What on earth are you talking about?”

The farmers of today, especially with the size field that Minnesota has, likely don’t use an ox to plow the field, they use the technology of the day. But in the time scripture was written, oxen was the technology of the day. And Paul used them as an illustration on taking care of the ministers of the gospel.

You weren’t supposed to muzzle the ox, you were to let him eat of the field, it was his pay. And the same is true of the ministers of the Gospel. They too deserve paid. But this is not about ministers getting paid. This is about why two West Virginia girls would drive 1000 miles to plow the fields of Minnesota that we may or may not even get to enjoy the harvest. Revival may happen after we leave. And that’s okay. I’m here to stoke the fire! My key verse is verse 10

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

I came to Windom to plow the field by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is my field of dreams. And I’d go anywhere else the Lord lead me to experience a revival. Paul said later on in chapter 9 verse 16

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

There were some people in West Virginia that were seriously not happy that I came to Windom. Six grandbabies for starters and my 83 year old mother who may or may not forgive me for missing my family reunion this weekend. Whose closing argument was “Well, I guess we know who you love more.”

I don’t love you more, but I do love you as much. And I came to plow this field for 3 reasons:

Because I’m committed to Christ

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

I don’t charge anyone to come to Windom. I believe that God will take care of me. And He’s never failed. I come to Windom because there’s a group of people here who want revival as much as I do. Not only for their town but more importantly themselves. Salvation is not about coming to a church service on Sunday and leaving the same way you went in. It’s about a 7 day a week, 24 hours a day relationship that gives you hope in any situation. Apostle Paul was –imprisoned, beaten, and eventually lost his head and he counted it all joy. Nobody here is having that bad a day today. But we all have bad days. How many of you stand in need of hope for something in your life? Me too! And I have the answer for you and me both. Jesus! But we have to work our fields. You cannot get the blessings of Jesus without serving Jesus. That has nothing to do with salvation. You can get saved and sit until glory. But you’ll be a honey dipper in heaven. That’s what they call the people who clean outhouses.

I plow the fields I’m given, and Windom is one,

Because I’m committed to Windom

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

I fell in love with Windom in 2016. That wasn’t hard. You are genuinely good people. Minnesota Nice! I became, in my mind, a citizen of this city. Paul said he was a Jew for the Jews and a Gentile for the Gentiles. It doesn’t matter what city or state we’re in if we’re children of God we are all working for the same thing!

Because Commitment will Win us a Crown

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I keep running this race and working for the Lord because there is a crown of victory at the end that I can’t wait to reach. I almost did this year when I had three heart attacks and ignored the symptoms until they landed me flat on my back for a double bypass. Just two months ago! I shouldn’t be here for a number of reasons, but one of them is an 8 scar down the front of my chest that healed at a miraculous rate for me to get here. I shocked doctors. And I was privilege to tell them, my Jesus did that! He’s got work for me to do.

It wasn’t easy. But when Harmon Killebrew determined he was going to continue on regardless of what the world threw his way, it wasn’t easy either. But we’re celebrating his life tonight and he is celebrating in Heaven.

I don’t want one Windom friend to miss out on meeting Harmon Killebrew face to face. But more importantly I don’t want you to miss out on meeting Jesus face to face. It’s why I’m plowing this field tonight. I came believing that the fields of Windom were white and ready to Harvest!

If you came here looking to win victory over anything in your life. You’ll find it through Jesus Christ. But first you have to be saved. You have to be one of His children.

That happens only by you accepting Him as Lord and Savior of your life. No works. No field plowing. I plow out of gratitude. Not to be saved.

You are saved by admitting you’re a sinner who needs a Savior. We know as children, crime brings a punishment. Sin was the crime and Christ paid the price of death so you didn’t have to.

Jesus is that Savior and you have to believe that lock stock and barrel. Virgin born, crucified on the cross, risen the third day and now He’s in Heaven as your public defender. And for every sin, past, present and future He tells the Devil. It’s under my blood they’re forgiven.

You have trust what He did as enough.

If you believe that you have won the greatest Victory in your life. If you believe that do something about it tonight. If it’s your first night. Tell somebody on the Windom team. If you’ve been on this team for a while, commit to a deeper relationship and greater service, and tell somebody. Don’t keep it a secret that will keep it from happening.

 

Few but Mighty

On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer, and so we gathered today in front of our local government offices to pray for our nation.

As I stood there on the courthouse steps and listened to each Pastor take his turn in prayer for our military, law enforcement, EMS and Fire Departments, Schools, Students and Staff, Leaders all over the land and our community as a whole, my heart was humbled and broken. Those in attendance were few in number, but faithful. I’ve seen most of them each year I’ve attended. There were a few that showed up for the lunch cooked by the Hospital Chaplin Association and others that were there in support of the event, but what I observed summed up the state of our Nation.

The Pastors

They were doing their best to serve the community but it was a struggle. The struggle was actually with the hot dog grill that wasn’t cooperating. Try as they might, they couldn’t get it to catch fire. Pastors all across America have the same problem with their churches. People want canned regulated sermons that are controlled with a temperature gauge, not too hot and not too cold.

Revelation 3:15-16

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The People

They were few in number, but faithful. Much like the churches on Sunday morning, while Sunday night and Wednesday night services have all but gone by the way side in most churches. People who wonder why our country is in such a state of disrepair need not look at the Whitehouse, but rather to the church house. People have no concern for the wellbeing of the security of the souls of their family, yet they expect the nation’s leaders to be concerned for the wellbeing of their security of people they don’t even know. People who don’t bother to vote, or if they do they don’t vote with a conscience of God, but expect the leaders to have that conscience. That’s not how it works…

Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

The Purpose

The Lord was scantly represented today, but there’s still a few of us left. And I feel honored to have been among them, I believe wholeheartedly that it is why God has had mercy on our Nation as long as He has. But that mercy will end one day.

Of just the few people that was there I also seen a representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • He is the Healer (two cured of cancer, one of a heart condition, that I knew of, there were likely others)
  • He is Comforter (a widow who lives alone and often struggles, but continues to find comfort in her Savior.
  • He is Father (several prodigals that returned home in attendance)
  • He is Provider (Nobody there was starving, even without the hotdogs at times)
  • He is Spirit (On the steps of a Government that welcomes Him not, His Spirit can be felt)
  • He is Faithful (The world may not show up for Him, but He shows up for us in so many ways)

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Continue on faithful servants, men and women of God! May our circles be Unbroken…


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