2023 Holy Week Bulletin

LWF is proud to share its 2023 Holy Week schedule. Our theme this year is Reflect on the Son. The bulletin outlines church happenings during this year’s Holy Week while offering interactive activities to help you enrich your walk with the Lord during this special time.

View or download it on our homepage.

LWF welcomes Elizabeth Osias as its International Missions Coordinator

Living Word Fellowship is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Osias as its International Missions Coordinator. A registered nurse whose served on the frontlines during the COVID pandemic, Elizabeth’s love for God and people is evident in all she does.

As part of her new role, she will spearhead LWF’s partnership with international organizations, such as Compassion International, and coordinate local events to raise awareness of how all Christians can work to fulfil the Great Commission.

Please join us in welcoming her.

Service Canceled on 2/16. Pre-recorded message available.

Our service tonight (2/16) has been canceled, however our pastor has pre-recorded a message on divine love that is available below. Services will resume on Sunday 2/19.

Our text tonight is from Ephesians 4:15-16. It reads:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Let me read that again, this time in a little more modern English.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

There are three things I’d like you to understand after our study of the scriptures this evening. First: What God’s objective for His Church, or Bride, is in this hour. Second: How that objective is to be achieved. And finally, I want you to understand the role that divine love plays in all of this.

First: God’s objective for His people in the last day’s of human history is spiritual maturity. He wants her to be mature in thought, word, and action. Now, when you were born naturally, you were not mature. You were a cute baby that made nonsensical sounds and was fully dependent upon those around you to nurture you, care for you, provide for you, and do everything for you outside the basics necessary for life. All you had to do was lie there and look cute.

As you grew older, however, you realized that dynamics were changing. You began to have responsibilities. Then, all of a sudden you were a teenager and the demands on your schedule were more intense. School. A job. Clubs. Church. You had more to do and less time because the responsibilities increased as did your age. For some people, this is a difficult thing to grasp. But life waits for none of us.

As you grew, you realized that it wasn’t okay to do nothing anymore. You didn’t earn people’s approval for lying around, like you did when you were a baby. Now, unless you produced results, you got criticized. If you earned Ds in school, perhaps your parents or guardians came down hard on you. Why the change?

Because you were growing up and the expectation was that you were maturing in your mind and abilities as well as your body. In the natural world, results are what matter and so it is with God. As we near the coming of the Lord, the only thing that matters to Him is not our doctrine or our knowledge—which will always be imperfect this side of heaven. What matters is our maturity.

Not our ability to quote sermons. Our maturity. Not our ability to explain deep revelations. Our maturity.

What kind of maturity?

The maturity of our faith. The maturity displayed in our daily choices and reactions to unexpected scenarios. The maturity displayed in our level of surrender to Him. The maturity shown by our words and actions when situations we do not like are confronting us.  The maturity in how seriously we treat His kingdom.

Let me give you a quick example. In the Bible, Jesse entrusted his sheep to the care of his youngest son, David who would have been about 14 or 15 years old. Those of you who were present on Sunday will no doubt recall me stating that 13 years old was often considered an age where boys should be independent as Abraham showed when he sent Ishmael away into the wilderness. I know this might seem shocking by modern standards, but keep in mind that the violent nature of life meant that everyone had to be prepared to do their part. So, David at 15 was perfectly equipped to responsibly care for his father’s sheep alone in territory inhabited by wolves, bears, and lions.

Now, notice how seriously this young man took his responsibility. When a bear and lion took his father’s sheep he went after them and killed both the bear and the lion. God respected his courage and commitment because this mature thinking showed that David was capable of being Shepherd over the entire nation. God ultimately made him a king.

At the end of the world’s history, God is judging our actions to see if we are fit to rule and reign as kings with Christ (see Revelation 20:4-6, 2 Tim. 2:12). For maturity in our character is what draws the eyes of the Almighty. We can and will spend more time on this when gathered together, but I want you to self-reflect on your life. Can God see you as being mature?

Remember, the age of babying is over. Many times we want to be cuddled when God expects us to “stand firm like men”. He will always be the strong arm we can depend upon but remember that God expects His strength to now flow into our bodies so we too can manifest the power of God.

 This is the age of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The Church, born on the day of Pentecost, has had 2,000 years to grow and become a Woman that pleases the Son of God. Your individual spiritual maturity will show whether you’re a part of that group that goes to marry the Lamb… or not.

One more example on this note before we move to our second objective for this message.

Moses was charged by God to deliver the people of Israel from bondage. As he stood by the Red Sea, wondering what to do, God rebuked the prophet because he should have been mature enough to think like God and move the sea out of the way. Truly, it seems to be an impossible thought—and I have no doubt many of us would have cried out to God as Moses did—but again, we are to “grow into the headship” or mindset/thinking of Christ. Moses had seen God’s creative power working through his body, did he not? He had seen God use his words to rain down plagues upon Egypt—all by the power of the spoken word. So what was the difference then between judging a rebellious nation and judging a rebellious sea?

Like the Red Sea, Pharoah had made the mistake of coming between God’s servant and his goal and look what had happened to him. Why should the sea also not be conquered?

But Moses, who had stood boldly up to a man forgot that the sea was also made by the Creator. And he panicked. That was immature.

I will tell you that Moses had more reason to panic than probably any of you listening to my voice today. His own people were going to stone him to death, but worse than that was the knowledge that he had failed, that these fathers, mothers, and children had trusted in him and he had led them all to their deaths. The promise that God had made to Abraham, the promise that 440 years of Israelite hearts had clung to was all going to die with him in a bloody slaughter as the Red sea ran with Jewish blood.

So, what’s your problem then?

Despite the terrible conditions, God rebuked His servant for not thinking maturely. And I wonder tonight that, after 2,000 and more years of Christ doing miracles, after a vindicated prophetic move of God in these last days, after decades of miracles and the Holy Ghost filling in your life that God has done, what excuse will you offer for giving up? For being discouraged? For panicking?

Rather, let us stop and consider our ways for we want to be found mature in our thoughts, words, and actions in the eyes of God. That is God’s objective.    

Now, with that said, let us return to our text. How is maturity accomplished?

Simply put: Maturity in the Christian life happens as the Word of God is preached, and received, in the Spirit. As we stay in the atmosphere of the Spirit of God (which follows the preaching of the Word of course) we mature. This is a great time for me to remind this congregation that, after the sermon concludes, do not just jump up and leave the building like if you don’t want to be there or your weekly duty is done. Do not just leave the presence of God quickly as though you had somewhere more important to be or something more important to do.

Stay in His presence. Soak in the after-effects of His love. Meditate upon what has been said and give thanks to Him for what he has done.

Let me tell you that every sermon is a sacrifice, regardless of who the minister is. No matter how gifted he may be, he is literally giving up his life so that you can benefit. The strain on his body cannot be calculated. But he does it. Because he loves the Lord and His people. And once the sermon is over, and everyone goes home, he is then tested by the enemy and his mind often tormented over whether or not the people have understood, whether the Word was appropriately delivered and a thousand other thoughts.  So do not rush out. The Truth, spoken in love, or in the Spirit, is what brings results.

My wife makes a wonderful bean soup. And I’ve noticed that the flavor of the soup is stronger when it’s had time to soak it into the beans. Really what’s happening is that the flavor of the soup is mixing with the beans. So is it with the Word of God. When we soak in what the Spirit has to say (the truth), when we stay in its atmosphere, then we begin to reflect the flavor of the Spirit.

Let’s go a little deeper into our final objective. What role does divine love play in all of this?

Paul has just finished establishing the importance of God’s ministering gifts to the congregation, what we commonly call the five-fold ministry. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are all listed. Permit me to emphasize yet again that prophets are not the only ones on the list. All five are required for God’s Bride to come to maturity. Indeed, I feel sorry for those who feel that one man could accomplish all of God’s work. But, while the ministers of God might disagree sharply on doctrine, they do have one focus: the maturity of God’s people. And Paul is explicit: maturity happens only through the power of divine love.

Again, I want to reference my sermon from last Sunday. We learned that love is a force, a power that transforms us into the image of its Creator which of course is God. Love, true love changes lives for the better. We see this in the natural. In our world, love is often expressed through physical touch. Psychologists and scientific researchers now know that infants deprived of touch often experience cognitive developmental delays, impaired immune systems, among other effects. When we hug or touch in a positive way, we encourage the flow of positive hormones that affect our health, mindset, and ultimately our life choices. This is true of adults as well as children and I encourage you to do more independent research on it.

Now, if the God who built our earthly bodies, linked physical expressions of affection to the development of our physical bodies, doesn’t it make sense that He would also make divine love a key force in building the spiritual body of Christ? If humans who are deprived of affection often experience sickness due to weakened immune systems, what can we expect from the spiritual body of Christ in a world that whose atmosphere is saturated with germs of hatred, malice, and selfishness? The church becomes sick because of a lack of divine love!

But not only does the church become sick. It remains immature. Divine love is the force that matures the Bride of Jesus Christ, taking us as individuals from immature, doubtful believers into strong confident sons and daughters that are able to face the pressure of this age exactly as our Lord did.

Let me explain.

The Bible says that we are to grow up in to the headship of Christ as we “speak the truth in love.” The Word of God is the truth according to Christ in the Gospel of John. When the truth is encased in the love of God the Word is wrapped up in the Spirit. For love is not simply a good feeling nor is it simply saying something in a kind way.

 Believe me, it was love that made Paul blast Peter publicly. And that was not very kind by human standards. Yet, the truth wrapped up in the power of the Holy Spirit that day brought about a maturing of Peter’s thinking. He began to see things as God saw them. That the Jews and Gentiles could sit together around the table of God in fellowship, not as second class citizens but as fellow-heirs in Christ.

Now, that same principle is to be applied in your life. The truth of God’s Word, wrapped up in the power of the Holy Spirit, when  spoken to you has a transforming effect upon your life. Your understanding of the situation changes. Your eyes are opened to see things as God sees them—BUT only if you are willing to let love have its intended effect.

Christ is the head of the Body as we read in Ephesians 4. He is God’s love incarnate. Therefore, if we are to “grow up” into him, we must all change into the image of divine love. Each day our life should be getting more love-like. Again, realize that this takes us into a place beyond human reasoning or human efforts to “be good people.” In an age of hatred, isolation and self-love, God is literally calling us to lay aside our thinking until it reflects Him who is our head. To lay aside our own attempts to be good until we are good, until we are love. This is a lifelong journey with daily growth required. And much of that growth comes down to our decisions on whether or not we will let divine love change us.

 In James 1:4, the Bible brings out this point when speaking of patience:

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

 The same is true of love. If we desire to be mature, we must be transformed by that power of God’s love.

As I close, remember that maturity is the goal of God in this last hour. His Word is delivered in the power of the Spirit to bring that goal about. But you must remain in its atmosphere in order to reflect the very love of God. Finally, divine love is the power that transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ.

Growing up is hard. It’s comforting to be the baby and expect everyone to cater to you. But, in the real world, it’s not that way. Part of growing up is accepting the fact that you have responsibilities and that no one will just give you what you want. You have to earn it. It’s the same in God’s world. Growing up in Christ means you don’t expect him just to give you what you want in life or in your spiritual walk. You have to fight for it. You have to yield to him. You have to be changed by him. Until you become him.

Pursuing God #1: Your spirit, God’s garden

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These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 

Genesis 2:4-5ESV

The Bible means the Book, and it is the ultimate guidebook for life.One that combines metaphor, prophecy, and history into the perfect guidebook for life. But every guidebook has an objective. And God’s objective is to develop a rich, lasting relationship with you. Today, I have two objectives. First: to show how spiritual heart is God’s garden and second to prove that a relationship with God must be constantly nurtured.

The Garden of God

The very first place of human habitation was a garden east of Eden. While Eden was a real place in another dimension, let us look at it from a symbolic perspective for a moment to bring out a point. Let’s compare Eden to your heart.

When I say the “heart” I don’t mean the physical body part in your chest. I mean your spirit. The invisible part of you that houses your emotions, your memories, your sense of logic, your conscience—which judges right from wrong—and your imagination.

Let’s visualize this inner part of us as a garden which God intends to be His dwelling place, just as the Garden of Eden was the dwelling place of God and His children. I have to say first that this can only really happen if you’re a Christian for Christ changes our heart from a place of torment to a place fit for His presence. Outside of Christ, our hearts are filled with anger, self-indulgence etc.

But, when you are a Spirit-filled Christian, your heart becomes the home of Jesus Christ.Your spirit is now filled with God’s spirit. Jesus alluded to this when He said that His Father is the gardener (John 15) and He is the true vine or the Tree of Life.

Perfection must be maintained

In Eden, a perfect relationship existed between God and his two children: Adam and Eve. They also had a perfect relationship with each other and the earth.

So many times we think of Eden as a place where no work needed to happen. Everything was perfect so what needed to be changed? But that thought isn’t correct. God’s entire purpose of putting humans on earth was so that they could upkeep this garden. Work on it to keep things running perfectly.

And that’s what I’d like to emphasize today. Once we are regenerated by the Spirit (see John 3:3), we must work to keep our hearts free of anything that would destroy that relationship with Christ and with His people. We must cultivate our relationship with God as we would a natural garden that we want to be productive.

Threats to our spiritual garden

Sooner or later Spring will come. Millions of us gardeners will break out our tools and start working on the soil. But, if you’ve ever gardened, you know that plants aren’t the only things to multiply in the soil. Weeds. Bugs. Strange creatures that target your favorite fruit or vegetable multiply—especially when you get close to harvest season.

The same is true of our spiritual garden. Satan sows fear wherever he can, knowing it is a spiritual pesticide that kills the plant of faith. He allows weeds of discontent where God has sown the seed of joy in your heart. He inundates you with sexual messages, hardening you to its pervasive effects in hopes that you get so used to seeing weeds of lust in your garden that you’ll allow them to grow unhindered.

Bitterness thrives because words are spoken in the flesh and not the spirit. Frustration and confusion wall up within us because we rush through life instead of cultivating the quiet of God’s holy atmosphere. We produce only scrawny fruit instead of the powerful abundance Christ intends for us to bear. Where are the miracles promised to the church? Where is the beauty and joy of the Holy Ghost? Where is the peace, gentleness, and faith that we are to bear in abundance according to Galatians 5?


Evil in God’s garden

Note that even in Eden there was a threat to the spiritual well-being—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you read Genesis 2 carefully, you will see that God did not plant this tree but Satan had a right to test humanity and was allowed access to the Garden. This evil tree was not removed from the garden and ultimately ruined perfection. I hope you see how important it is to keep your garden clean.

In short: through many ways— media, scientific knowledge, busy lifestyles etc.—Satan works to sabotage the believer’s ability to bear fruit unto God. You are the only thing that can keep your spiritual life from becoming an unproductive mess. It is not God’s job to till the soil of our hearts any more than it was His job to till the soil in the garden of Eden.

But, unlike Adam, we are slow to upkeep our own garden. Too often we are like the woman mentioned in Solomon’s Song of Songs who confessed,

 …they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

Song of Songs 1:6 KJV

Left alone our gardens become unproductive. Like relationships with family or friends, if neglected it deteriorates into a chaotic mess. So let us purpose to nurture our gardens until we are bearing an abundance good fruit.

The Word Seed has been sown but it is not bearing fruit because we fail to “work the ground” of our hearts. Think: after hearing a sermon, do you take time to reflect on what you heard? Do you dig into the parts of your life to which the Word applies and water it with praise and prayer? Do you act upon what you’ve heard or is it simply seed scattered on the ground (see Luke 8) that is swallowed up by the busyness of life, the worries about getting what you want, or the pursuit of wealth and beauty?

God’s work, our hands

God’s first garden was a work of creation but it was maintained by human hands. Our spiritual garden is also a work of creation by the Holy Spirit but it must be maintained by our efforts to make it what it needs to be especially in these last days of the harvest time.

As we close, remember that the Eden is a metaphor of the ideal relationship with God. Let us do all we can to build and protect our spiritual life against anything that can hinder its productivity.

Live it!

Take time this week to identify one area of your spiritual life you know needs to change. Focus your prayers on that aspect of life, then decide what you will do to bring about a different outcome. For example if you want deliverance from anxiety how will you change the situation? A good starting point is to repeat over and over that you can change it.

Say it. Believe it. Live it.

Living Words:

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. —John 15:1-3

Maximize your life

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“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10b ESV

A word for life

Each January, my wife and I discuss our plans and establish clear goals. This year I decided to take that a step further and define our focus for the year in one word. Defining your outlook for the year in one word can help guide your spiritual and natural decisions. It keeps you focused.

Our word is Maximize which Merriam-Webster defines as “to make the most of.” What a great lesson! Make the most of every day. Make the most of the relationships in your life. Make the most of the body God has given you, nurturing it. Make the most of the earth that He has created by not being wasteful or abusing it.

Abundant living

Jesus taught us that He came to bring abundant life. Without a doubt He was speaking of the Holy Spirit giving richness of life to those who would receive It. But Christ is also speaking of our natural life as the entire scope of Scripture proves. In other words, these few days that we have upon the earth are to be rich in meaning and purpose.

Maximize was first used in colloquial English in 1802. Note that it’s a verb which means you have to do something. The goal is to maximize the value of each day. To strengthen relationships while increasing our physical and spiritual well-being.

Making the most of something means understanding what can be accomplished and focusing on that aspect. While we all make hundreds of choices each day, our choices are often emotional instead of focused on what should be done.

For example, this morning I was really tempted to hit the snooze button on the alarm but that would have cut into my morning workout and prayer time. So, I rolled out of bed on time and made it happen.

Maximizing vs productivity

There’s a difference between maximizing your day and being productive. The world stresses productivity which often leads to full days and empty lives. Christ urges us to abundant living. Life lived to the full, regardless of our income or social standing.

Productivity is simply checking boxes off a never-ending to-do list but maximizing your life means drawing the full potential from each moment.

 Jesus calls us to an abundant life. Here are five steps to achieving this:

  1. Start your day with worship. In prayer, reflect on God’s goodness and keep praising Him until you feel positive.
  2. Get a morning workout in. Getting moving in the morning will get endorphins (happy hormones) flowing, help you combat stress, and reduce depression.
  3. Pause in the busyness of the day to connect with the Lord, friends, or family.  
  4. Integrate upbeat God-pleasing music into your day. Music shapes our moods and outlook. It affects your emotions which impact your decisions. Keep it moving. Paul taught us to sing and make music throughout the day for a reason.
  5. At day’s end, reflect on the blessings and challenges of the day. How did you handle them? What could have been done better? Perfection isn’t possible in this life but we should strive constantly to improve.

In the end, the goal is to have a rich experience that leaves you feeling fulfilled. This is true whether we’re talking about relationships or daily tasks.

Maximize your choices

Maximizing life means making hard decisions. Which opportunities to pursue and which ones to pass up. Telling ourselves “no” when we’d really like to say an enthusiastic “yes.” You cannot have all things.

Jesus gives a parable in Luke’s gospel chapter 13. A landowner has a tree that hasn’t born fruit despite several years of fertilization. He approaches the gardener and tells him to remove the fruitless tree because it’s “burdening the ground.” In other words, it’s taking precious resources from the earth without giving anything back. The gardener pleads successfully for one more year.

While this parable has many spiritual applications, it’s also a good reminder that we must maximize each aspect of our lives. Remove the parts of life that aren’t producing positive results. You might need to distance yourself from an emotionally toxic environment. Or cut out whatever keeps you from becoming the best that you can be.

Can you ever really know if you’re truly living each moment to the fullest?

Not exactly. Life often doesn’t have simple to its most important questions. God allows us to live with questions so we can pursue Him for the answers we need. But life’s beauty is contained in the journey. In the efforts we make to improve ourselves and the world around us.

It’s natural to think about maximizing opportunities but it’s also important to make the most out of problems. Negative situations are teachable moments. Moments where God either wants to reveal Himself in a new way or spotlight something in our life that is keeping us from abundant living, even though we don’t always feel like it at the time.

These moments of soul-searching will lead you to a better understanding of yourself and how to maximize both opportunities and problems so you too can have life abundantly.

Live it!

Choose one action step listed above and implement it faithfully for 14 days. How do you feel?

Living Words:

Proverbs 27:19: “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
James 1:12: “”Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

LWBC Name change

We’re excited to share that our church will have a name change effective 1/1/2023. The Living Word Bride Church will become Living Word Fellowship. We trust this change will better reflect our mission to be an oasis of fellowship as we wait on the the Lord’s soon return.

God bless you!