Pastor Alex Silva has shepherded the Fisherman’s Net for over 40 years and continues to do so with conviction, love, and the desire to lead our congregation toward meaningful and fulfilling relationships with Jesus Christ..
Message from Pastor Alex, May 24, 2020
“Go for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15 (Christ’s words to Annanias as He sends him to minister to the future Paul)
Sunday’s sermon is based on the account of the Apostle Paul’s voyage and shipwreck while traveling to Rome. (Acts 27) This venture is the outcome of Paul’s imprisonment by the Romans. A brief explanation provides some clarity. His confinement arises from a false charge accusing him of bringing Gentiles into a Temple section strictly designated for Jews. Paul is physically attacked and then rescued by Roman soldiers and placed in custody. Jerusalem officials formulate an accusation that the apostle is not only heretical, but promotes sedition. Over two long years Paul appears before two Roman governors then a Jewish tetrarch without a specific charge or date of release. Paul determines as a Roman citizen to Appeal to Caesar, meaning a hearing before the highest court in Rome. He grasps the peril contained in his opponent’s argument: those embracing Jesus as the Christ act outside the Jewish faith. Moreover, this heresy is also defiant stating that Jesus’ authority is higher than Caesar’s . Paul counters that he and thousands of others embrace the Messiahship of Jesus and continue practicing the Mosaic faith. Paul determines to act because the forces that crucify Jesus now work to destroy belief in Him.
Paul’s journey to Rome fulfills a Divine mission. He is Christ’s chosen vessel, “…to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel.” Consider that he emerges from confinement leaving the three governing officials a Scriptural basis for belief in Jesus and a clear message urging men to repent and turn to God. Paul then begins his voyage accompanied by 276 passengers, soldiers and crew. A massive slow moving storm sweeps over the sea engulfing their vessel. Overcast skies block the sun and moon preventing an ability to take bearings. The waves strain both the vessel’s frame and those aboard. Days later as the storm continues and, “…all hope that we would be saved was finally given up…” Paul stands in the midst of those aboard. The veneer of civilization is worn off and emotions are raw. His speech is plain and his prayer simple. The Lord uses Paul, His vessel, to infuse encouragement and renewal of hope for the hopeless. Throughout this ordeal the Apostle Paul demonstrates a practical man in a crisis.
During our time of hardship the purposes of God along with moral and spiritual lessons become clearer with time. Experience tells us that people draw near to God and still there remains resentment in human hearts. Paul’s message, that, “God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” is what men need to hear. A sustained shaking, as in our narrative, creates reception in human hearts. The apostle suffers alongside the others. The difference is Paul never stops gazing up with eyes of faith looking beyond the gray storm. He receives something from heaven made the more effective by its simplicity: “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must appear before Caesar and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you”. A praying man gazing heavenwards is used by God to carry the day. Our faith teaches that God is omniscient, and knows what He is doing. The people eventually complete the voyage deeply affected . Imagine the stories told of this momentous time at sea and the Jewish man who made God so personal. Upon rescue their stories are told in a hundred villages and towns. God grant us to be practical with good sense rooted in Biblical faith.
“Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplication. In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou will answer me.” (Psalm 86:6,7)
“Father, as our men and women return back to their places of employment please guide and protect those employed and those providing employment. We plead for wisdom and protection as people work alongside each other and employers provide a safe environment. In Jesus’ blessed name we pray.”
Message from Pastor Alex, May 10, 2020
“But when he was still a great way off, His father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him…” Luke 15:20
One Story Can Tell Thousands
The first thing noticed in this downriver church is it is full. A memorial service is underway. Seating is located in the overflow section. The governor’s directive concerning public gatherings, due to the Covid-19 virus, is being issued that day. Milton a long time friend speaks first remembering Dwight fondly. He includes in his eulogy that the man honored also fought battles that were lengthy and costly. The church’s pastor is next remembering Dwight’s faithful attendance, participation and eagerness to discuss passages included in a sermon or scripture study. Dwight’s son then speaks introducing one passage after another to express the faith that inspired the practical and spiritual nurturing his father provided. They share intonations. His recollections of their final years together, when Dwight returned to Christ, are deeply moving.
Years away from God exact a hefty price. The prodigal in the parable leaves his father and home and squanders riches. And like the prodigal Dwight, “came to himself.” What the prodigal loses pales in comparison to what he gains upon returning. Dwight’s return to Christ is marked by gratitude and honesty about his mistakes and honesty about his faith. Whitaker Chambers writes who can best explain the substance of Christianity but the sinner. Just like the prodigal is straightforward with his father, honesty with God keeps our relationship real.
The memorial concludes and people congregate in the foyer viewing pictures and remembering associations extending for some, several decades. Frank Majewski won many to Christ on the east side and Ralph Morrison brought many to the Lord on the west side, including Dwight. The story of the prodigal tells of lost time and what could have been; and, what a man cannot change or redeem, God can. People enter another hall for a luncheon. Instead of eating and promptly leaving, people lingered. The fellowship inspired by one story that tells thousands: the wonder of God’s grace in our lives. The memorial became this writer’s last public church service. We all long for our church coming together for worship, the ministry of the Word and the sacrament. Our encounters with God as the body of Christ impart blessings that deepen and enrich.
“Father, bless our women who are so essential to our nation’s recovery. Bless each mother who loved us in the womb, who gave us life, found us endearing, caring for us and being the magnet that keeps the family together and who embody commitment. Bless them richly in Jesus’ blessed name.
Message from Pastor Alex, May 3, 2020
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father Who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Recent events drive home the point we live with a veneer of civilization atop a volcano that does erupt. Each day the media brings a new round of interviews and updates on the virus and the economy. The costs to our manufacturing, farming, goods and services, banking and investment still are climbing. Closed businesses, cuts in income, unemployment along with uncertainty are stressors. And the stress is universal.
The pandemic also provides opportunity to witness the great courage, sacrifice and generosity of the American people. Sadly, we see also the increased risk of substance abuse, domestic abuse, and discord. Hurting people wonder does a personal God exist? Many are being awakened to this deep need. There are people praying to God as never before. People in need are discovering that faith, hope and love still carry the day.
Read the words of Christ stated above inviting us to intimacy with God the Father. Prayer and Scripture reading provide opportunity to be in the Lord’s presence. Blasé Pascal, a man of faith states, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” How insightful. The Father loves when His children come to Him. The power in prayer is it leads us to reliance on Him. A barrier to prayer comes when we take ourselves so seriously and assume God is reserved with us. (Oswald Chambers) It is the childlike spirit that brings us into His Presence. Remember, we who are further up the road spiritually can be a voice of faith and assurance. One of the fruits of abiding in Christ is putting men in remembrance of Him.
Message from Pastor Alex: April 26, 2020
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Mark 13:33
One day while in Jerusalem the disciples approach our Lord to show Him the buildings of the temple. Jewish hearts, in Christ’s day, revere Herod’s Temple. Worship, sacrifice and proclamation of Scripture take place there. Christ’s response concerning the temple startles them: of a certainty a time approaches when all this stonework shall lie toppled. The disciples pose questions to Jesus when arriving at the Mount of Olives. “Tell us when shall these things be: and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world.” (Matthew 24) Jesus begins a discourse addressing each question. In speaking of His return Jesus points out the preceding conditions of the world: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24)
This pandemic or pestilence continues to impact populations globally, affecting lives, straining medical response, commerce, indeed economies. The awareness is worldwide. Christians sense the Hand of God in all of this. We know the Spirit of God, Scripture and time bring clarity. Pastor David Wilkerson, gone now a decade, provides insight for the present. He and another Christian leader meet near the Dallas Fort Worth Airport in 1986. The minister, deeply moved, writes a summary of Wilkerson’s remarks.
“I see a plague coming on the world and the bars, church and government shut down. The plague will hit New York City and shake it like it has never been shaken. The plague is going to force prayer less believers into radical prayer, into their Bibles and repentance will be the cry from true men of God in the pulpit. And out of it will come a third Great Awakening that will sweep America and the world. He (Wilkerson) said ‘Every house will be shut up, and no one will be coming or going. The city of confusion is broken down, and every house is shut up that no man may come in.’” (Isaiah 24)
A great awakening sweeping across our nation and the world is longed for. Why? Because only God can change human hearts. As we read this, remember sin inspires the deceit, concealment and denial that birthed the pandemic spread. Netters, let this season inspire spiritual alertness and preparation for what lies ahead of which this pandemic is only a prelude. The trumpet’s certain sound is for prophetic living as well as prophetic study.
“Lord, enable us to prayerfully discern the times in which we live. Mercifully awaken the indifferent, the hardened and the proud to see their need for Thee. Father, guide our leaders at the federal and state level and send forth Thy word of healing to the sick and suffering. Please sustain the healthcare workers and the first responders. In Jesus’ strong name.”
Message from Pastor Alex: April 18, 2020
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything in My name I will do it.”
The Lord’s Resurrection remains a joy in our hearts. The empty tomb signals the Divine stamp of
approval. The disciples gather this same day behind closed doors full of dismay. Mary Magdalene tells
them Jesus is alive. He appears in their midst that evening. After this everything changes. His Divinity
comes to the forefront. In Acts one, the apostles now speak of Him as the Lord Jesus.
This season inspires prayer and reflection. The pandemic presses our intersession for family and
church family, for national and state officials, for medical and hospital workers the ill and all their
families, first responders and their loved ones. We pray earnestly because the Lord Jesus tells us, “If you
ask anything in My name, I will do it.” God places this power in His hands. At the Ascension Jesus sits at
the right hand of the Father, receiving once again Divine attributes including omniscience (all knowing).
He hears our petitions as a member of the Trinity knowing first hand human need.
God the Son invites our participation as sons and daughters to bring petitions to our Father’s
knees. Netters pray boldly: “Father, this is your son, this is your daughter speaking.”
“Father, enable us to pray in simplicity and in confidence based on the Right of the Atonement. Life is
not simple. Help us to keep this blessed access free of our complicating it. Lord, as members of Your
Body help us to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Message from Pastor Alex: April 4, 2020
Our recent sermons focus on our Lord’s forty days of fasting and temptation. Matthew begins his account with, “…Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Luke completes the story: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee”. Satan is vanquished and the Son of Man emerges victor. Most of us do not think in abstracts, but in images and pictures.
The battle is between the tempter and Jesus the man. Even the angels enter to minister to Him only after the devil left Jesus. On display is the Last Adam in weakness, wholly dependent on His Father. Think of it, the Lord relies on the power of Scripture and the Spirit’s might to repulse each attack. “It is written…” There is no arguing or debate with the devil.
The passages Christ selects provide us with marching orders in our testings. The Lord unmasks the methods and cunning of Satan. Jesus the man also grasps human strength and frailty. In Christ, our gifts and abilities abound. In Adam, we persevere through fears, struggles and conflicts. We have, the apostle Paul reminds us, “…this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Ordinary men made extraordinary by the tasks given to us. Men, not angels, express Calvary’s glory.
During this time of withdrawal, stay prayerful and take care of your loved ones and their needs. Stay in contact with one another.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
A message from Pastor Alex: March 28, 2020
“I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that life and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.” The words of the king to Daniel upon their meeting.
We are told in Scripture that Daniel is summoned to counsel the Babylonian king at a time of uncertainty. The writing on the wall arrests the attention of the king and the nation’s leaders. He listens carefully to Daniel’s words. At that moment, it becomes unmistakable that God is speaking. He demonstrates then and now that He, not us, is in control. The Bible tells us that God uses yielded vessels who serve to make Him known and reveal His intervening Hand. Joseph, Daniel, Deborah and Esther come to mind. In each the Holy Spirit is at work. They are dependent on God, having a blend of spiritual empowerment expressed in the natural. Hearts in heaven and feet firmly planted on the earth.
Our experience may not be as dramatic as theirs; but, we too can share the experience of being yielded in this critical hour. We can point others to experience a personal God who delights in mercy. Keep in mind that fear and concern are gripping many around us. Netters, remain prayerfully in touch with the Lord. Also, stay in touch with each other. Remember we bear His presence to one another. A chord is struck when we contact and when we hear from members in our church family.
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave heed and heard.” Malachi 3:16
“Lord, enable us to fully be the body in this hour: prayerful, reaching out and sharing your Word with others. Lord Jesus, each of us wants to be the right person at the right time for Your glory.”