Encouraging Words

An Encouraging Word

Spend Time with Jesus This Season

We’ve all heard that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” many of us have even sent out Christmas cards with those words emblazoned across them — but what does that phrase even mean? For one thing, whatever the actual date of Jesus’ birth was, we can confidently say that it wasn’t on December 25th … or even during the winter season! So why is Jesus the reason for THIS season? As Christians, we probably say that to be reminded that truly “Happy Holidays” are meaningless, if not impossible, apart from Jesus. I think we say it because Christmas really ISN’T about a benevolent fat man in a red suit who can’t wait to fill our stockings with the latest iPhone or Yellie toy. The purpose of Christmas really isn’t about stressing each other out with unrealistic expectations to give the perfect gifts, or to have the most harmonious holiday in family history.

Personally, I think the “reason for the season,” the reason that we as Christians should celebrate during this season and every season, is that Jesus, the God of all creation, voluntarily left the majesty of Heaven, encased Himself in a mortal body, and came to Earth to be our Immanuel, or “God with us.” Think about that that … God … with … US!

To me, it is a tragedy that while Jesus sacrificed so much to be born in that manger in Bethlehem, to be with us, we make so little effort to spend time with Him today. We may even use the busyness of the season as an excuse not to revel in His glorious presence.

The prophet Elijah is one man who learned the importance of spending quiet time with the Lord in order to be in His presence, and to hear from Him. Let’s take a quick look at what Elijah learned in 1 Kings 19. After wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill God’s prophet, depressed and afraid, Elijah ran for his life and hid in a cave in the desert. He desperately needed the comfort, assurance and direction of the Lord at that moment! Thankfully, the Lord did come to Elijah there, and taught him, and us, a valuable lesson.

1 Kings 19:11-13 says:
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The Lord then went on to speak to Elijah, telling him that he wasn’t alone, that he had more work to do, and that God would be with him. But he didn’t hear that comforting word from the Lord during the wind, the earthquake nor the fire, but only during the stillness that followed. It was then that Elijah heard from the Lord.

The wind, earthquake and fire represent those circumstances in life that are attention-grabbing, that have a tendency to cause fear, anxiety and nervousness, that are always demanding our time and attention. The wind, earthquake and fire can also be the busyness and activity with which we fill our schedules and our lives, especially this time of year.

We’ve almost always got to be doing something. We’ve always got to have some noise blaring. Yet when the big wind came, God wasn’t there. The earthquake came, and God wasn’t there. The fire came, and God wasn’t there. Finally, there was a still, small voice and Elijah went to listen to God. I believe that God is telling us that a hurry-up, noisy lifestyle is not conducive to hearing the voice of the Lord. Turn the noise off! Just commune with Him for a while. Let Him talk to you.

My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning. I get up very early, go into to our living room and open up the Bible just for myself. This was especially important for me when my wife Joyce and I had six kids in the house! I would sit there in the quietness of the morning, before it was even light outside, before there was any activity in the house, and I would read the Word a little bit, and pray a little bit. It started my day off right! And does to this day!

I think this is one thing that God was trying to get across to Elijah. “Elijah, you’re very worried. You’re very afraid. What are you doing in this cave in the middle of the desert? All you’ve been concentrating on is the wind and the earthquake and the fire. Come to Me and listen to Me. I have things to say to you.”

When ministry demands were at their height when Jesus walked the earth, Jesus would separate himself from the clamoring crowds and his needy disciples to just be alone with His Father. If Jesus, God incarnate, needed that time alone with His Father, how much more do we?

During these “last few shopping days before Christmas,” I encourage you to make time to remove yourself from the busyness and … just be alone with Jesus. He has something He’d like to whisper in your ear. Give yourself a gift and take time to be with Him.

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Touring Israel with Pastor Brian

Pastor Brian Larson led a group of 25 people from the Truckee area on a tour of Israel in early April 2019. He gave a short teaching at many of the sites.


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An Encouraging Word

“Good” Friday?

It’s Friday — and not just any Friday. It’s that Friday that we dub “Good Friday.” Indeed, for Christians, it commemorates what, for us, was a very, very good day because of what Jesus willingly endured and accomplished on that day … the blackest day in world history. What was done to the only sinless man in history on that Friday was so shameful, horrific and unjust that even God Himself turned the lights off for a while at midday, not allowing the world to fully see His Beloved Son suffer as He did. God the Father darkened that first Good Friday for the world.

For the disciples, it was a terribly dark day. They didn’t understand what was going on.  They were “in the dark” in more ways than one that day. All they understood was that their hope, their one big hope that they had invested their whole lives into, was on that day dying on a Roman cross in front of them. To them, when Jesus was laid in that borrowed tomb later that day, their dreams for life and for eternity seemed to be buried with Him.

So, the world must wonder … why celebrate such a dark day? Well, as the late Baptist preacher S.M. Lockridge said in a now-famous sermon, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’!” Jesus had told them repeatedly that He would die and rise again on the third day, but they didn’t have a clue what He meant. But on the following Sunday morning, a new day dawned, and the Son of God arose, keeping His promise and turning the disciples’ dreams into a Biblical “hope.” I define a Christian’s hope for eternal life with Christ as “a glorious future certainty.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is also my hope, and if you have placed your faith in Jesus, it is also yours. I especially look forward to celebrating that day with you this Sunday.

If you want to hear more about what happened on Good Friday, I invite you to listen to this message of mine: “It is Finished.”

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll take just a few minutes and be inspired by S.M. Lockridge’s empassioned words: “That’s My King!”



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As you study the Old Testament Tabernacle with Pastor Brian Larson, you’ll see some of the most “boring” pages of the Bible come to life. Every aspect of that tabernacle–from its layout, to materials used, to colors, to the sacrifices performed there–are all merely pictures, or shadows, of the reality found in Jesus Christ Himself. Viewed through New Testament eyes, the blueprint God gave Moses for this tent tabernacle can be seen as a Christian’s blueprint for living the abundant life that Jesus promised to believers who would learn to abide in the magnificent presence of God.

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An Encouraging Word

It’s so simple! Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17

It’s so simple!

I remember when I first started sharing the Word as a youth pastor in southern California. Back in the early ’70s, I used to teach a Friday evening Bible study for teenagers who would come and sit on my living room floor as I just opened up the Word and shared. There was this one kid, Bill, who was first brought by a friend; he kept coming back week after week on his own.  He was so faithful to come, and so eager to study God’s Word, that one time I asked him, “Bill, how did you get saved? How did it happen for you?” I imagined he was saved before coming to my living room that first day.

Bill replied, “Well, the first time that friend of mine brought me, we just sat down there and you were teaching out of Ephesians. What you were sharing out of the Word of God was just nailing me in the heart. I listened to that …  and I believed it!” That was his conversion story!

It’s just like Paul said in Romans 10:17, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. That kid went to a Bible study, sat down amongst other kids, heard the Word of God and his life was transformed and changed. He just heard the foolishness of the message preached and was saved. Isn’t that awesome?

Over the years, I’ve seen that same thing happen over and over again. I can recount example after example of people coming into our fellowship in Truckee who simply walked in, sat down,  heard the Word of God being shared … and were nailed by the Holy Spirit, resulting in a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

I can’t take credit for even one of those salvations!  Each time I have seen it happen, it has simply been God being true to His Word. He said in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word will not come back void … so just share it, brethren! Share the Word! Bring your unsaved friends and family to church … and let the Holy Spirit do His work, trusting Jesus for the results in His time, and in His way.


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Prophecy Update 2018

How close are we to the end of this age and the return of Jesus Christ? Does age-old Bible prophesy have anything to say about the current events in our ever-changing world? Find out what Pastor Brian has to say by watching both parts of Pastor Brian’s two-part Prophecy Update 2018 message, given on January 14 and January 28, 2018, at his home church, Calvary Chapel of Truckee.

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