April 2022 Newsletter
by Pastor Mike Novotny
Recently, I noticed a trend at the Bible study I lead at my church. Our group, a beautiful combination of long-time Christians, brand-new Christians, and folks thinking about becoming Christians, has been reading through the gospel of John, essentially exploring a passage each time and then talking about what Jesus said or did.
And week after week, without fail, as soon as we finish reading, someone will inevitably say, “Oh snap!” or “Ouch!” or “Whoa. Jesus really said that?”
Their gut reactions reveal something you may have learned for yourself . . . Jesus can be tough.
He poked at Nicodemus’ lack of biblical knowledge despite his extensive education as a Pharisee (John 3:10). He critiqued the selfish motives of the crowd that he had just fed with bread and fish (John 6:26). He even called the religious leaders children of the devil (John 8:44)!
The devil’s kids? Can you imagine saying that to anyone, let alone to the most outwardly religious person you know. Oh snap!
Yet, despite hearing every tough word, the apostle John kept following Jesus. Why? Maybe because he was more tender than anyone expected the Messiah to be.
He was tender with the couple who ran out of wine at their wedding. Tender with the woman at the well who thought her days of belonging were over. Tender with the paralyzed, the blind, the begging, and the grieving. Jesus had so much to do on his mission from the Father, yet he took time to teach and to heal and to save people who were stuck in their sicknesses and sins.
The more I read about Jesus, the more I understand why John told us, from the very start of his gospel, that Jesus “came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
As you read your own Bible or tune in to Time of Grace this month, there might be some tough moments when God exposes your sin, calls you to repentance, and demands that you change. But don’t be afraid! His tender heart will help you, forgive you, and guide you down the path of righteousness.
Tough and tender. That’s Jesus. That’s exactly the kind of Savior we all need.
You help make God’s Word accessible!
Your support of Time of Grace helps touch countless lives in so many different ways. But here’s one you may not know about—generous friends like you help those who are deaf to “hear” God’s Word through captions provided on video devotions.
Just take a look at this message sent in from Jill . . .
“Thank you for making your videos easily accessible for deaf people like me. Your messages this last year have really helped me get through some challenging times. Making it effortless to understand with reliable captions is very much appreciated!”
Thank you for helping make God’s Word accessible to so many. He continues to move through friends like you to encourage people in challenging times!
Showing people love feels really complicated these days. Does love mean agreeing with everything someone does? Is love mostly tender and rarely tough or mostly tough and rarely tender? And who are you supposed to show love to anyway?
We need a refresher course on Love 101. And for that we need to take a closer look at the best example of love to ever walk the earth . . . Jesus.
Pastor Mike Novotny’s NEW book, What Is Love?, shows you how to love like Jesus in today’s fractured world.
Complete with a Bible study written by friend and colleague Amber Albee Swenson, What Is Love? brings you back to the basics of what Christian love should look like and how you can start applying it more completely in your everyday life.
Request your copy on the enclosed reply card as thanks for your gift to help reach more people with God’s perfect love through Time of Grace. Thank you!
Check out the brand-new video project from Time of Grace called Bible Breath. Pastor Jeremy Mattek leads this Bible basics series designed to help you dig into the Word of God in order to catch your breath for whatever’s coming next in life. If you’re new to the Bible and want to learn more about the Christian faith, or if you want a refresher on foundational truths from God’s Word, check out these videos on the Time of Grace YouTube channel today!
What would Jesus say if he judged us? Two thousand years ago, the Son of God did that very thing, evaluating different first-century churches—encouraging them, challenging them, and inviting them to greater impact for the gospel. Discover more about it this May on Time of Grace, when you watch the series Jesus Judges Churches Too. It’s a powerful series to help you live faithfully for Jesus at a time when the world desperately needs Christians to shine.
The first episode of Jesus Judges Churches Too is available to view on May 8th with new episodes released each Sunday in May.
Follow Pastor Mike
Once a week I drive past a mural on my way to a local middle school where I have the privilege of mentoring four young men.
Not everyone in that school shares my biblical values. Many of the kids whom I connect with don’t know much of anything about the Bible (“That’s like a dictionary, right?” one once asked) or what pastors do (Dr. King was their only reference point).
But differences don’t stop Christian love. As Jesus taught in the story of the Good Samaritan, God calls us to love all our neighbors, no matter their beliefs or behavior.
May we never water down Jesus’ truth. And may we never cease to show Jesus’ love.
I have a friend who loves to play “Would you rather?”—a game that forces you to decide what you love the most. For example, would you rather spend the rest of your life without ever eating pizza or without ever drinking coffee?
I know. A disturbing thought either way.
But, it turns out, “would you rather?” is an essential spiritual question.
Jesus once taught that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matthew 22:37). If Jesus was playing my friend’s game, he might have asked, “Would you rather obey God or be popular? Would you rather follow me or be richer? Would you rather end up with my Father in heaven or stay as comfortable as you can here on earth?”
I know. Difficult thoughts, aren’t they?
Perhaps the greatest challenge of our modern age is to prioritize God. Many people like the idea of God and the purpose/hope/peace that he provides. The challenge is prioritizing him before all else, to “seek first his kingdom,” as Jesus put it in Matthew 6:33.
But King Jesus is worth seeking.
No one else loves you like Jesus. No one else forgives you as constantly as Jesus. No one else secures your eternity like Jesus.
This is the message that drives our efforts at Time of Grace, the ministry that you support in such beautiful ways. We strive to be honest with you about the tough cost of seeking God first while reminding you of the tender truth that Jesus is absolutely worth it.
Or, as the angels are currently shouting in praise, “Worthy is the Lamb” (Revelation 5:12)!