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Entries for 'pastornate'

21

 
If we want to find our purpose in life, we must consult our Master, Jesus Christ. He is the one who designed us and who knows how we best operate. He alone knows our purpose. And the great thing about knowing our purpose in life is that we don’t have to wonder or worry about it. Jesus has showed us through His Word exactly what that is.  

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Posted in: For Christ
14

 
What is your mission in life? For those who have trusted Christ, our way of life is to follow him in everything. Since his mission was to seek out and to save those who are spiritually lost, our mission, or what we do for Christ, flows out of what he did for us.  

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Posted in: For Christ
07

 
How do we prepare for Easter? Is it just about putting in the semi-annual appearance in church on a high and holy day, or is there something more that should be occupying our thoughts and attention? 

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Posted in: By Pastor Liz
31

 
Here are a few things that I know about the Lord. He is always at work, each and every day. I also know that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) and that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) So God is actively working to change our lives for the better. 

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Posted in: With Christ
24

 
The Lord designed us as human beings to work, and He has called us as members of His family to work together. 

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Posted in: With Christ
17

 
When Jesus calls us to follow him and we respond by faith, we soon realize that we are a part of a large family of people to whom we are connected by our shared faith in Christ. Our call to follow Jesus includes sharing life together with our family in Christ.

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Posted in: With Christ
10

 
God is in control. He has the best plan in mind and often reveals
(and realizes) it one piece at a time.

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Posted in: Chad Ochs
02

 
In order to follow Jesus you have to have faith. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” The last two weeks we have been talking about the reality of sin and the good news of Christ that is the answer to sin. In order to take that step and respond to the good news by following Jesus, we must have faith.

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Posted in: Follow Christ
23

 
The best news, in a sentence: even though we are sinners who have openly rebelled against a holy and righteous God, he loved us, and took the penalty of our sin on himself, sending his Son Jesus to live and die and rise in our place, so that when we repent and believe in Him, we can become citizens of a new kingdom, showing the world what God is like, free from sin and shame, and overflowing from the hope that comes from being loved deeply by the God who made us and saved us.

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Posted in: Follow Christ
15

 
We are engaged in a spiritual battle each and every day. This battle is in essence the confrontation between us humans and our tendency to sin. Although sin is not an easy topic to discuss, if we want to win our spiritual battles, we need to understand what sin is and how it impacts our lives.

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Posted in: Follow Christ
10

 
Sooner or later every person ever created will come face to face with this question: Who is Jesus? It is not just an important question. It is the most important question that we will ever have. Everything depends on it. Your life on earth and your life in eternity are completely and utterly dependent on your answer.
 

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Posted in: Before Christ
03

 
The one character trait of God which stands out from all the rest comes through all of the pages in the Bible. 1 John 4:8 says it quite simply, “God is love.”
 

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Posted in: Before Christ
27

 
Every person starts out far from God. Our connection with Him is broken. He is completely out there. But He takes the first step to begin a relationship. That requires that we see things from God’s perspective. He gives us His perspective in the Bible. Humans due to the effects of sin on our thinking need revelation from God that’s found in the Bible in order to perceive who we are accurately. We start out with an identity problem that can be solved only through the study of scripture which is God’s revelation of reality to us. The answers to these crucial questions are all found in scripture: Why am I here? Who am I? What is to come of me?
 

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Posted in: Before Christ
13

 
When we properly understand how the Holy Spirit ministers, the result is that hope is stirred up inside of us.
 

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06

 
We need lots of help. The Spirit is our Helper. He gives us comfort, encouragement and exhortation.
 

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30

 
The Holy Spirit gives us life, real life the way God originally intended it. As we live by the Spirit our lives are lived to the fullest. It is the Spirit-led life which sets us free. 
 

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16
 
By definition, there can be only one God. To worship Jesus Christ is to expose and extinguish all competitors for our attention and affection that come between us and the Lord.
 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
09
 
What is wrong with making an image of God to worship?  It has to do with making up our own image of what God is like.

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
02
 
When we are careless with God's name we are really saying that we could care less about Him. Those who honor the Lord handle his name with care.

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
23

 

Because God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy, we share in the God’s blessing of the Sabbath when we keep it holy. 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
18

 

The Lord has designed us as his kids to operate best when we honor our parents. We honor him by honoring our parents. 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
04

 

Since God made us real flesh and blood people he needs us to understand that we can’t live in a fantasy when it comes to obeying his commands. If we fail to keep his commands we will face the consequences. As our loving Father, he wants the best for his children. He doesn’t want us hurt. He doesn’t want us to live bound up by the fruit of our bad choices. 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
03

 

One of the most critical aspects of love for a spouse is respect or honor. If you want to one day have a great marriage, or if you want to turn your marriage into something great, than love expressing itself through honor is the thing that you need. Honor is the thing that is at the heart of all healthy relationships including our relationship with the Lord. Honor is the antidote for adultery. 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
14

 

Giving faithful and true testimony is not just a legal requirement. It is God’s requirement. Because God is truthful, he calls those who follow him to be truthful. Therefore, everywhere we go we always stand before the righteous and holy Judge of the universe who expects us to answer with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
07

 

In the end the same kind of heartbreak and destructive power is unleashed when selfish desires rule our lives. The God who loves us unconditionally wants us to avoid this mess, so he has warned us to watch our desires. 

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Posted in: God's Top Ten
30

 

God will not only make those changes He wants in each of us, He will also make up the difference where we lack, and the best news of all, He will absolutely complete the work that He begins in each of us.  

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Posted in: By Pastor Liz
23

 

When the Lord is at work in our lives he wants us to be a part of that work. He specializes in doing the impossible. He doesn’t need us to do his work for him. He only needs us to believe that He wants to do what is humanly impossible in and through our lives. 

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Posted in: By Pastor Nate
16

 

In truth it doesn’t matter the reason why people do us wrong. But it does matter how we respond. If we are going to breakthrough in the next level of transformation, we need to repay evil with good, with tangible acts of undeserved kindness.  

 

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Posted in: Transform
09

 

When God calls us to know him by faith, we become a part of his family. We are not lone rangers in God’s kingdom. We get to exercise and grow in our love through these family relationships. May we be the kind of people who put our love for each other into action.   

 

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Posted in: Transform
02

 

We cannot be distributors of God’s grace without knowing, experiencing and expressing the love which God has shown to us and given to us. Over the next two weeks we will take a look at genuine expressions of this love. God transforms us into people who are real in our love for each other. 

 

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Posted in: Transform
26

 

One of the greatest changes that Christ makes in a person's life is learning to think about themselves from God's point of view. 

 

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Posted in: Transform
19

 

The Lord has a plan for all of his children - transformation! He is in the business of making us more and more like Jesus. Our part is simple to understand. Put ourselves in the place where God can do his work of transformation. 

 

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Posted in: Transform
13

 
In light of all that the Lord has done for us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our redemption, we offer all that we are to him in love and worship and sacrificial service. 

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Posted in: Transform
05

 
Jesus responded with great enthusiasm when he saw someone displaying a great deal of faith. These stories can inspire and encourage our own faith in God!

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Posted in: Stories of Faith
29

 
Jesus responded with great enthusiasm when he saw someone displaying a great deal of faith. These stories can inspire and encourage our own faith in God!

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Posted in: Stories of Faith
08

 
When Pastor Nate approached me to preach, he asked me to preach about what God is doing in me. The lessons God teaches me aren’t usually detailed theological things, they are new applications of things I already thought I understood. So today, I’d like to start with a basic question. Who are you? If I asked you today to write down what you are—your identity—what would you say? There are scraps of paper in front of you. Please take one, and take thirty seconds and write down who you think you are. (Matthew 7:14) 

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Posted in: By Nick Kersten
01

 
Our freedom from spiritual strongholds depends on whether or not we serve the Lord faithfully. It depends on if we are careful to follow God’s commands, on if we cut our ties with spiritual strongholds of evil and if we are careful to love the Lord our God.

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Posted in: By Pastor Nate
24

 
The good news of Christ requires the same response from everyone, and that response is faith.  Without faith we will never begin our journey on God's road of life.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
17

 
The narrow road, the road less traveled, is the way to life. Jesus said,  “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Only those with faith gain access to this road.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
10

 
In Christ we are brand new creations - version 2.0.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
03

 
We need to know is that God's method for our spiritual growth is through suffering. Although God is not the source of our pain and suffering, he uses it in our lives for our own good. In fact the Bible offers no other road to spiritual maturity except through suffering.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
27

 
Your one and only life is worth taking God's road because the designer and builder of this road is the same One who designed and built you. It has been tailor-made, crafted to the exact design specifications for a life that is dripping with greatness and abundance.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
20

 
As challenging as it is to not suppress the truth about God, it is not the only danger we face on the Roman Road. There are ditches on either side of the highway that leads to life. On the one side is unrighteous judgment. On the other is lawlessness. Unless we are keeping our eyes down the road on Christ himself, we will be in danger of falling into one of these ditches. Let’s see how we can avoid these areas of danger as we press on toward Christ.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
13

 
God’s righteous road through life is well marked. It is clear for all people of every nation and culture around the world. However, there are also exits off of this road which lead down side roads which are not the road to life. To exit off of the Roman road of God’s righteousness and take one of these other roads has some very scary consequences. We need to understand the dangers of taking an exit from the way of truth.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
06

 
The Romans created roads that are so strong, some of them, such as the Via Flaminia and Britain’s Fosse Way, are still in use today 2,000 years later. The Romans built roads to last. Figuratively speaking, are we traveling on roads in life that are built to last? Almost 2,000 years ago a guy named Paul described a life-road in such a compelling and clear way that millions and millions of people have followed after him. This road is also a Roman one. It is a letter that he wrote to the people living in Rome in the first century. Like the roads which the Romans built all over the world, this road was built to last.

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Posted in: The Roman Road
29

 
Love is what makes our supernatural community as a church “wide and deep”. But not just any kind of human love, it is the love of Jesus that permeates us and our relationships as Christians. It is the supernatural love of God.

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22

 
I’ve got good news for you! We belong to a community called the church and it’s supernatural! It’s supernatural! What do I mean by that? I mean that this community is not something we just made up to keep the “faith” going. It’s not like the disciples were sitting around after Pentecost asking each other: “So now what? Should we create a 2000+ year strategic plan that creates small groups and call them churches?” NO! This community that we call church is actually created by God and birthed by our Lord Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection. It is a supernatural creation and when we see our church as anything less, we are missing God’s whole point.

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15

 
Thriving in the Lord is all about being in harmony with his thoughts. It is about lining up with his ways. We can have all of our needs met with plenty of food to eat, a nice warm house, friends and family, work and activities that are good and rewarding. However, if we are not in tune with the things that the Lord calls us to, we will not thrive. We will exist. We will survive. We will spend our time in life doing things that give us pleasure. Yet, we will never know the kind of life here on earth which the Lord has had in mind for us.

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Posted in: Thrive
08

 
For those who love God, all things work together for good. This is perhaps one of the greatest promises that God has ever given. No matter what happens, God has the ability and the desire to work things out on our behalf. This is a promise that is grounded in God’s redemptive nature. He takes what is bad and turns it around, so that it is not only good, it is very good. Yet this promise comes with a caveat. The condition is that it only applies to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

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Posted in: Thrive
01

 
As you can imagine, the value of our inheritance from God cannot be estimated. It is priceless. When the creator of the universe, who owns everything, decides to give an inheritance, you know that nothing on earth can compare to it. The danger is that we don’t understand and appreciate its value. The reason we do this is because we have set our hearts on many things that have temporary value but are worthless in light of eternity. It’s only when our values have been transformed by the work of God in our hearts through his word that we can truly appreciate what it is that God has given us.

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Posted in: Thrive
25

 
The cross didn’t happen by accident. It was God’s idea. Think about that for a moment. The cross on which Jesus suffered and died was God’s plan to save the world. God’s plan was unlike any human plan. Jesus didn’t come as Superman, but instead he came as Humbleman. Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in human form, [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Without the cross there would be no forgiveness of sins, and the world would be without any hope for resurrection to eternal life.

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Posted in: Thrive
18

 
The people on that triumphant Sunday did correctly see that the king was coming. They did rightly understand that he was coming to save. Yet they missed it completely on how he was going to bring about the fulfillment of his promises. In the same way, we also can miss how God wants to bring about his rule and reign because, like the people on that day, we misunderstand God’s plan in our lives. The King is coming. He continues to seek entrance into the lives of people - to rule in our hearts and to reign over all of our thoughts and lives. If we are to thrive, then our hopes and dreams must be adjusted so that the King of kings can rule and reign in us.

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Posted in: Thrive
10

 
Telling time is an important skill for children to learn, but it is also important for all of us to learn how to tell what season of time it is. Jesus chastised the spiritual leaders of his time for being able to tell when the seasons changed from winter to spring but not being able to tell what the spiritual season was. They didn’t recognize that Jesus was God come to earth in human form, so they tried to shut him down. We need to understand the times in which we are living according to God’s timetable, or else we could find ourselves trying to work against God and against God’s plan. We are living in the time where lawlessness is increasing and the love of people is growing cold.

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Posted in: Thrive
04

 
There are two parts of baptism that we need to understand: death and resurrection. Without an understanding of both of these parts, our spiritual growth will stagnate.

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Posted in: No Category
26

 
As our Spiritual Life Passage reminds us: “we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God has hand-crafted us, fashioned us just so. We are different, yet bound together as part of the church family by God’s design and workmanship. God is always good and makes good stuff. So we know that the workmanship in each of us is good, on purpose, planned out, and for a ministry that God intends. He intends for us to use these gifts to build up each other, to help each other grow to be more like Jesus. So what happens when we misuse our Spiritual Gifts?

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19

 
The truth is that God imparts spiritual gifts not for us to say “MINE!” but for the good of the whole body of Christ. My gifts are HIS and given for the church’s good and edification, not something for me to savor as though it is my toy only for me to play with. God has, in his wisdom and sovereignty, designed us in special ways, that He knits together into this thing called the body of Christ. The truth is that the gift is HIS, to give out as He wishes and to use for His purposes alone.

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12

 
Over the last five weeks we have looked at characteristics of God’s family. “F” stands for faithful. God’s family is faithful to carry out his mission of making disciples. “A” stands for adjusting. God’s family is always adjusting to God’s will and His work in their lives. “M” stands for marriage. God’s family lives in mutual submission to one another as a biblically-based marriage illustrates. “I” stands for inclusive. God’s family is called to be inclusive of those who are in need both materially and spiritually. “L” stands for life. God’s family understands that life, both spiritual and human, is a gift from God that needs to be cherished. In this final week of our series, the “Y” in family stands for Yahweh.

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Posted in: Family
05

 
The gospel of John records these words of Jesus. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The Lord came to give eternal or spiritual life, and he came to give abundant life on this earth. In our ongoing series on FAMILY, “L” stands for “life.” If we, as God’s family, want to experience this abundant life that Jesus came to give, we have to understand his perspective on life. You can’t claim the promise of abundant life and at the same time view life in a different way than God does. Jesus shows us the way to life in all of its fullness, and if we desire to have it, we will embrace his thoughts and his ways.

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Posted in: Family
28

 
Instead of a sense of belonging, our world has been dealt a hand of loneliness, of being excluded and marginalized and overlooked. But the fruit of God’s love is compassion. It desires to include the marginalized, the outcasts, the hurting, the broken, the outsiders and the overlooked. God’s family has a calling to be inclusive, not exclusive, of those on the outside. In our ongoing series on FAMILY, “I” stands for “Inclusive.”

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Posted in: Family
22

 
Over the past two weeks I have talked about characteristics of God’s family. God’s family is “faithful” to His mission of making disciples of Jesus. God’s family is continually “adjusting” to His will and His plans for our lives. This is the third message in our FAMILY series. The “M” in FAMILY stands for marriage. Marriage is what brings us together today. In this day and age, however, our society is not together on the issue of marriage. Marriage today is defined very differently depending on a person’s perspective. Even evangelical Christians increasingly do not agree on the definition of marriage. This issue which became very heated this past summer is not going away.

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Posted in: Family
15

 
Our families are constantly adjusting to the changing realities of life. In a similar way our church family is constantly adjusting to changing realities. New members enter the family through faith in Jesus Christ. Our church family expands and contracts as children grow up and leave home, as families sense that the Lord wants them to be a part of this local church family and as members move away or, Hallelujah, move up to their heavenly eternal home. I believe the Lord wants us to understand how He designed our church family to be constantly adjusting to His will and His ways and His work. He is glorified as our church family adjusts to Him.   

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Posted in: Family
08

 
Every family has certain recognizable characteristics. Over the next six weeks we are going to take a look at some characteristics of God’s family. “F” stands for faithful. God’s family is faithful. Jesus taught about being faithful, but the gospels record that he used this word “faithful” only a few times. Every time he spoke of being faithful is was in the context of His people carrying out His mission on earth. What we will learn today is that to be faithful in God’s family means to be trustworthy with the tasks which He has given us to carry out.   

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Posted in: Family
04

 
The Kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house that went to hire workers for his vineyard. From the get go, the master is the focus of this story. He is the one who is in charge. He is the boss. It is his house, his vineyard and his initiative to go out and find workers. We learn that the master has work to be done, and he looks for those who will work for him.   

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Posted in: No Category
25

 
These events of scripture were written for our benefit. We have much to learn from Caleb and Joshua and the people of Israel on what to do and what not to do. Like them, we also have an Egypt, and we have a promised-land. Like Israel, we face giants in our promised land, but these giants are not people or circumstances. The real giants that we face are unbelief and human-centeredness. Just like Israel, these giants, unless they are dealt with, will lead us to disobedience and keep us from entering our promised-land.   

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Posted in: No Category
24

 
Star Wars is a great story. It is an epic tale of the struggle between good and evil, between the light side and the dark side. We are drawn into this struggle through the eyes of Luke Skywalker who is impatient to grow up and wants to make a difference with his life. We empathize with Han Solo who is just trying to make his way in the universe but along the way can’t resist the commitment of Luke and his sister Leia to fight the evil Empire. We hate the villain Darth Vader until we realize that he has been seduced by the dark side of the force, and, just like Luke, we begin to root for his redemption. We love droids and Wookies, Yoda and Ewoks, Jedi Masters and Sith Lords. Star Wars continues to draw us into its universe with the ongoing story now in Episode 7. Star Wars is a great story, but it is not the greatest story ever told.   

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Posted in: Christmas 2016
21

 
In this our annual Christmas music celebration we worship Christ Jesus our Lord for his redeeming love for all people. Enjoy traditional Christmas music ministered through traditional choirs and ensembles.   

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Posted in: Christmas 2016
11

 
We have established over the last two weeks that the Lord designed us to belong to a church family and that He guides us into the church family where we fit the best. Once we have settled these truths in our hearts, then we can begin to see more clearly the things that we share together in Christ. In Christ we share redemption and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In Christ we can experience unity and the power of God.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
04

 
This week we are asking the question: Where Do I Belong?  By faith through God’s grace we belong to the global church the moment we believe.  However, belonging to a local church does not happen automatically when we believe.  It is the result of God’s direction and our recognition of his leading us to become connected with a particular group of believers.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
25

 
Everybody needs to belong. This is how God created humans. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” So God placed people in families from the very beginning in order to fulfill our need to belong. But our need goes beyond our families. So God created the family of God to fulfill our need to belong in the larger world. The Bible describes the family of God by comparing it to marriage. God’s people are called “the bride of Christ.” We call this the Church.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
17

 
Spiritual gifts are how God equips us to serve each other.  Proper management of our spiritual gifts is good stewardship.  When we operate in our gifts, we are glorifying God and building up the church body.  We learn in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are each part of the Body of Christ and as we operate in our spiritual gifts we form a complete package in the church body.  Each part operates as a part of the whole, and without any particular part (or gift) the body is incomplete.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
13

 
At St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, there is only one door into the sanctuary. Over that door is a hand-lettered sign that reads, “Servant’s Entrance.” There isn’t any way in or out of that church except through the servant’s entrance! That’s not a bad reminder of the fact that every believer is called to serve our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Unlike most sports teams, the Lord’s team does not have any bench warmers. Every Christian is given a first-string spot on the team, with a vital role to fulfill. A non-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
06

 
One day Jesus was coming back to his home base in the village of Capernaum when a Roman Centurion approached him and asked for help.  He explained that he had a servant who was paralyzed and suffering terribly.  The Lord quickly responded by saying, “I will come and heal him.” (Matthew 8:7)  He didn’t wait to think about what to do.  Jesus was ready and prepared to serve.  That’s because he viewed himself as a servant.  The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28) His nature was that of a servant, and if we want to follow Jesus, we will also think of ourselves as servants and serve just like he did.    

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Posted in: reFOCUS
30

 
In order to truly grow, we must put our lives in the order that God intends.  God must be first.  He is our source.  We depend on Him for everything.  Most of us start out well in this area.  When we come to Jesus, we recognize that we are nothing without Him.  As we grow, we can become more confident in our own abilities.  Then we start thinking “I’ve got this.”  We stop relying on God for every answer and every direction.  We think that since we’ve done something before, we know God’s answer and we don’t need to be open to his direction or re-direction.  So instead of asking, we do it on our own, and save asking for the “big things” of life.  Without realizing it, we turn away from depending on God as the source of everything we need toward depending on ourselves instead.  Subtly, we shut out the Holy Spirit in directing our lives.   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
23

 
The Bible says that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19).  This is the nature of God’s kingdom advancing on earth.  His plan is to bring people back into alignment with his original intent – in other words, to reconcile the world to himself.  We’ve talked over the last several weeks about our primary purpose which is to give him glory in all things.  God is glorified in us when we recognize that He is the source of all things, and we live in dependence upon him.  God is glorified in us when we recognize that He is the judge of the world, and we are not in control.  God is glorified in us when we recognize that He designed life and its rules, and we experience life to the full when we obey the rules.

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Posted in: reFOCUS
16

 
Over the next three weeks we will be clarifying the next purpose God has for us which we find in Romans 8:29. “For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  Our purpose is to become like Jesus Christ.  God has predestined it.  In other words, our destination is to be like Jesus.  Well this is good news!  Jesus is pretty cool.  I’d like to be like him. However, there’s a problem here.  I’m a long ways off from being like him.  If my destination is to be like him, then God has a lot of work to do.  There are a lot of things that need to change in me.  There are a lot of things that need to change in you too.
   

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Posted in: reFOCUS
09

 
Last week I left you with a challenge: to share good news.  News is good when God gets the credit.  When anything good happens you know that the Lord has had a hand in it.  There is good news all around us every day because the Lord is at work around us every day.  Sharing good news of what God is doing all around us is good start to making disciples, but it is only the beginning.  The next step is to share the good news of Christ otherwise known as the gospel.  

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Posted in: reFOCUS
02

 
Bringing what is real and true back into focus is the beginning of the renewal of our minds.  Renewal of our minds leads to revival.  Revival means breathing life back into us.  Revival is a condition where the life of God flows in extraordinary ways.  When revival happens you don’t need to announce it or advertise it or promote it.  It is obvious to everyone.  In the state of revival, according to Jonathan Edwards the great preacher and historian of the Great Awakening, all eyes are focused on Jesus -the eyes of the world as well as the eyes of the church.  But before the eyes of the world can be focused on Jesus, the eyes of the church need to be refocused on Jesus. 

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Posted in: reFOCUS
25

 

We have a mission.  It is a mission that Jesus gave to the first disciples and has been passed along from person to person down through the centuries.  Jesus was very clear about it.  In fact, it was the last thing he spoke of before returning to heaven after his resurrection.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)  The mission Jesus gave to his disciples was to make disciples.

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Posted in: reFOCUS
18

 
We were designed to bring glory to God in every area of our life.  The Lord says in Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  Bringing Him glory is possible only through Christ and his work on the cross.  By his grace through our faith we are reconciled to God and can become the true worshipers that He is seeking.  True worshipers bring glory to God in every area of their lives.

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Posted in: reFOCUS
11

 
I believe that NOW is the time to RE-FOCUS on God’s purpose for us as the people of God, and our purpose first of all is to worship God.  We were made to worship and for worship.  Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  Our purpose - not just to worship but for worship. Worship is not just something we do, it’s who we are.  Our purpose is to give glory to God.  It is to point out to the rest of the world and the whole universe how awesome God is.  We are worshippers, with all that we are, every thought, every action, every breath, every hour of every day.  
 

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Posted in: reFOCUS
04

 
It is a wonderful thing to see clearly, but sometimes we don’t recognize the fact that our eyes are out of focus.  We need the help of an eye doctor to bring clarity to our vision.  The doctor uses different instruments to check and re-check our vision and, if needed, gives us a prescription for glasses.  In a similar way, from time to time we need to check and re-check our spiritual vision because it is so easy in this world to lose focus on the things of God.
 
 

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Posted in: reFOCUS
21
 
We live in a throwaway world.  Unfortunately, relationships are no exception.  Why do so many have this throwaway attitude toward marriage, children, other relationships and churches?
  • Walking away seems like an attractive option.
  • Walking away seems like an acceptable option.
  • Walking away seems like an easy option. 
Today we are looking at the story of Ruth.  This story features three female characters: Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth.  Each represents a different way of responding to relationships in their lives and reveals something about their characters.

 

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Posted in: Character
14
 
Moses was called the most humble man on the earth, but he didn’t start out that way.  He underwent a complete transformation of character because he encountered God.  The path of his transformation can be described in this way: Moses went from self-importance, to self-defeat, to self-surrender, to finally self-denial.  Moses’ transformation into a man of great humility is something we should understand so that we can allow the Lord to work this same transformation in us.

 

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Posted in: Character
07

 

 
The Bible emphasizes just two main attributes of Abraham’s character, but these two are crucial to not only understanding Abraham, but also to understanding God and his desire for all the people of the world.  Abraham is referred to oftentimes as “Father Abraham”.  The kids sing a song called Father Abraham, and it goes like this: “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham.  I am one of them, and so are you.  So let’s just praise the Lord.”  Abraham is the Father, certainly of the nation of Israel, but even more importantly, he is the Father of everyone who puts their faith in God Almighty. 
 
This is his legacy.  This is how Abraham has brought blessing to all the peoples of the earth –his faith.  We have been saying this summer that it’s all about character.  Well if it is all about character, then this aspect of character, the faith of Abraham, is the most foundational part.  What exactly do I mean by Abraham’s faith?  Abraham believed God, and Abraham obeyed God.  This is how he became the Father of all those who live by faith, and if we wish to be those who live by faith, we need to understand and grow by his example.

 

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Posted in: Character
30

 

  Character makes a difference.  For Joseph it made all the difference, and for each one of us it makes a difference.  There is no substitute for it, and there is no shortcut to getting it.  You can’t buy it, and no you don’t earn it, although it may feel that way sometimes.  Character is a work of God that is developed by the application of his grace through our circumstances.  As it says in Romans 5:4, “perseverance (brings about) proven character.” Our part is to persevere through difficulties. God’s part is to apply his grace.  Without the grace of God we end up bitter instead of better.    

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Posted in: Character
24
  The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. These animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. (John Emmons)
 
How like the impala we often find ourselves as people of faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. We want to believe, but we can’t see where God is taking us, so we are afraid to jump in and trust that He knows where He is taking us even if we can’t see it. God provides us with opportunities to grow in our faith in Him, from taking small leaps of faith to great leaps of faith. 

 

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Posted in: Character
17
  The prophet Samuel was the last of the leaders of Israel that were called judges.  He lived in the time after the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River under Joshua’s leader to take possession of the promised-land and the time of the kings of Israel.  During this time the people of Israel were constantly falling under the influence of the gods of the peoples who lived next door to them.  When that happened the Lord allowed them to be oppressed by these surrounding nations until they cried out to the Lord their God for deliverance.  Then he raised up a leader who helped to save them from oppression.  Samuel was this kind of leader.  His God-fearing character provided direction for the entire nation of Israel.

 

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Posted in: Character
10
  How many of you like to be wrong?  Caught in sin?  Most of us like to appear moral, even sinless. So we end up being secret about our sin.  It is really important to most of us that we look like good, moral people who don’t have any problems.  Appearing “good” is one way of dealing with the idea that something is actually wrong with us.  We rationalize that we haven’t murdered anyone, or robbed a bank, or some other “major” sin.  Besides, WE can fix it and make it better.  We put a great deal of time and energy into keeping up the appearance that we are good people.  But this very appearance of goodness can be a way of deadening our awareness of our own sin.  The truth is that we all sin.  The question is how are we going to deal with it? 

 

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Posted in: Character
03
  Rest assured that the Lord is concerned about our character.  It is a primary issue for him.  Building our character is not a side issue.  It is the main thing.  Know that beyond a shadow of a doubt the Lord is committed to the transformation of our character into Christ-likeness.  Know that the Lord allows trials in our life not because he wants us to suffer but because it is our destiny not only to follow Jesus but to become like him.  Know that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  It's all about character!

 

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Posted in: Character
26
IF we are to stand against the evil schemes of the devil, we must do so by putting on God’s armor.  As we talked about last week, the armor of God is simply Christ Jesus himself.  When we trust Christ with our lives and our eternity, in the spiritual realm He covers us.  Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”   That baptism is not the mere act of going under the water but it represents complete trust in Jesus to redeem us. 
However, putting on Christ or putting on God’s armor is not a passive activity.  We must be fully engaged in the process.  Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  The same command, using the same exact verb is found in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” 

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19
Reflecting God's Image: part 16

Last week we talked about the need to put on God’s armor in order to stand firm against the wicked schemes that the evil one has planned against us.  You can’t use worldly weapons to fight a spiritual battle.  The Bible says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  (2 Cor 10:4)  The reason they are powerful is because they are, in fact, God’s nature and character.  When we reflect the image of God it is because we are becoming more like Him in our nature and character.  What is the armor that we have been commanded to wear?  It is Christ Jesus Himself.  When we put on Christ, we truly can stand against every strategy of the devil.

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12
Reflecting God's Image: part 15

We have been talking about how to reflect God’s image through our study of Ephesians.  If we are to truly reflect God’s image, then that reflection can’t take place just during times of peace and comfort.  It must also happen during times of difficulty, during times of persecution and during times of intense struggle.  In fact, we are not able to fully reflect God’s image until we have learned how to respond to our struggles in a spiritually mature manner.  This is why the Lord allows us to go through trials.  His purpose is to develop in us the character of Christ.  As it says in James, “Consider it pure joy when you face all kinds of trials because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance and perseverance character…” 

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05
Reflecting God's Image: part 14

Do you like being told what to do?  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, throughout your life somebody, somewhere will be telling you what to do.  It may be your parents.  It may be your boss.  When you are older it may be your children.  A person who has the right to tell you what to do is in authority over you.  On the other hand, if you have the right to tell someone what to do, they are under your authority.  

Some of the greatest conflicts we face in life are because of authority.  We have conflict because of people in authority over us. We have conflict because of those who are under our authority.  The reality is that at some point in life we are either UNDER authority or IN authority, and we need to learn how to deal with the conflicts that come from it. 

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28
The Measure of a Great Church
It had been a little over 30 years or so since Paul had written his letter to the Ephesians and John wrote a follow-up commentary in Rev. 2:1-8 about what had become of them in that relatively short time.
From what we read in Rev. 2, the believers in Ephesus had somewhere along the way abandoned what they stood for in exchange for what they stood against. That in their desire to endure and stand against evil, they somehow neglected what was good. That in someway, they like Peter, looked at the turbulent sea around them, took their eyes off Jesus and left their first love.  

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Posted in: No Category
22
Reflecting God's Image: part 13

If you were to ask most Christian men, “What is your primary responsibility in the family?” they would reply, “To be the head of the home.” 

Eph. 5:23-24: "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." 

The Bible is absolutely clear about this. But what I don’t understand is why so many American men and many American Christian men are so passive when it comes to leading their families. 

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15
Reflecting God's Image: part 12

It's very important that we understand the context in which Paul is giving this teaching, because if we don't understand the context, we may get Paul all wrong. If you look at Paul in his immediate context, what you will discover to your amazement is that he was a radical, and that he was doing more for the emancipation of women and other oppressed groups at that time than anybody else on earth. But you will never understand it until you see it in context. It's important that we see this, because many people are simply dismissing this aspect of biblical truth concerning marriage.

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08
Filled with the Holy Spirit-part 2

So from Scripture, what do we know about the Holy Spirit? Well, we know the Holy Spirit is real because the Bible says so. We Know that the Holy Spirit was at creation; at the baptism of Jesus; He lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and in John 14: 7 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (meaning the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." But what does He do?

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01
Filled with the Holy Spirit

Paul wrote these words, “be filled with the Spirit” to “the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:1).  Because they were already set apart (saint means “holy one” and holy means “set apart”) for God through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith”), we know that the Holy Spirit lived in them.  Everyone who has been saved has the Spirit of God living in them.  Romans 8:9 makes this clear: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”  It is the Spirit of God who gives life to our spirit and in so doing takes up residence inside of us.  (Romans 8:11; John 3:5)

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24
Reflecting God's Image: part 9

On March 13, 2015, in an interview, the Rev. Franklin Graham said that America faces radically different issues than those that confronted his father, Billy Graham. He stressed that “we’re losing our country,” and that “the foundations of this country are collapsing and falling apart.”

     “I have people come up to me and they say, ‘Franklin, your father would not be speaking out like this.’ And my answer to them is to say, when my father went to school, the Ten Commandments were still on the wall. When my father went to school, the teacher led the whole classroom in the Lord’s prayer.”

     “The country that we’re living in today is not the same as when my father grew up,” he said.  “It’s a different day, it’s a different century, and we have a whole different, new set of issues in front of us. And what we’re doing today is we’re losing our country.”

 

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17
Reflecting God's Image: part 8

At the end of the turbulent and tumultuous 60’s, Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary/author/evangelist, was asked to name the number one problem he saw in the American church. He replied quickly that the number one problem was irrelevance. He went on to say that 3/4ths of the opposition to the church stems from disappointment. The church promises to make people different, but the promise goes largely unfulfilled.

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10
Reflecting God's Image: part 7

Years ago Paul Harvey said on one of his radio newscasts. “The world has become so churchy, and the church has become so worldly, that you can’t tell the difference anymore.” I don’t know if the world has become more “churchy,” but the world seems more secular today than at any time I can remember. And it certainly seems true that the church has become more worldly. I’m not referring to things like the music use or how we dress. I’m thinking about questions like these: Do we really believe what God has said about morality?

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29
Answers From Easter

For most people Easter it’s just another long weekend, a break in the dreary stretch between Christmas and summer vacation. Even some Christians view Easter as a second-rate holiday.

Somehow we’ve gotten our thinking badly mixed up. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would be nothing more than a sweet-sounding fable. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way town in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. 

But it is the great miracle of Easter that gives Christmas its true meaning. So how did these two get inverted?

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27
Reflecting God's Image: part 6

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” He was speaking not just of personal pain, but also in the larger context of South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid. What is true of individuals is true of families, and what is true of families is true of cities and states. And what is true for cities and states is true for nations as well. Without forgiveness, there is no future. We could add to the statement in several ways without changing its basic meaning:

Without forgiveness, there is no freedom.

Without forgiveness, there is no recovery.

Without forgiveness, there is no healing.

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20
Reflecting God's Image: part 5

Being a Christian makes a definite difference in a person’s life. A true conversion is immediately evident in changed actions, whereby certain things no longer characterize your life. This is probably the aspect of Christianity that is or should be best known to the world around us. 

As we saw last week, Christian’s don’t or shouldn’t lie or steal or fly into a selfish rage, or indulge in rotten talk. But Christianity is not merely stopping these things. That is the mistake of so many. Even Christians feel that if they stop doing certain things which are prohibited as wrong by the Word of God, this marks them as Christians, but that’s not true. This is where so much negative Christianity has arisen and why Christians are often stigmatized as being against everything.

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13
Reflecting God's Image: part 4

Years ago, Mark Twain ran across a wealthy and ruthless business man from Boston who let everyone know that once he put his mind to some think; nothing or no one would stand in his way. He boasted to Mark Twain, “Before I die I’m going to take a trip to the Holy Land, climb Mt Sinai and read the Ten Commandments out loud at the top of my voice.” Unimpressed, Mark Twain responded; “I have a better idea, instead of going all that way, climbing Mt Sinai and shouting the Ten Commandments at the top of your lungs, why don’t you just stay in Boston and keep the Ten Commandments.”

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06
Reflecting God's Image: part 3

Of all the miracles that Jesus performed, the greatest miracle was raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Here we are told that Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was ill but that delayed going to see him, saying that “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (v.5). When Jesus finally arrives in Lazarus’ hometown of Bethany, we find that Lazarus had already died and had been in the tomb for four day. Lazarus’ sister’s Mary and Martha weren’t very happy with Jesus for not coming earlier to heal their brother, but Jesus told them not to worry because He would take care of it.

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26
Reflecting God's Image: part 2

As we saw last week, the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had spent the first half of his letter discussing with the believers in Ephesus, who and what they now are in Jesus Christ. He told them how God had graciously saved them not because of who they were or what they had done, but because of who He is. As a result, they’re no longer orphans, but children of God. And not just because God felt sorry for them, but because of His incredible love, He actually chose them, adopted them and accepted them in Jesus Christ. They have been redeemed, forgiven and sealed with the Holy Spirit guaranteeing their inheritance until the day of their redemption. It is by God’s grace that they have been saved and not because of anything that they have done, but as a result of His great love with which He loved them.

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20
Reflecting God's Image: part 1

On one of his military campaigns, Alexander the Great received a message that one of his soldiers had been conducting himself in a manner that had been shedding a bad light on the character of all the Greek troops. Summoning him to his tent, the soldier stood at attention before the great commander. 

"What is your name," Alexander asked the soldier? In a somewhat sheepish voice, the soldier replied, "Alexander, sir." 

Alexander the Great just stood there staring at this soldier with a look that could burn holes right through a person’s soul.

"Soldier” he said, “you need to either change your conduct or change your name."

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13
Simon - Peter

Last week, I spoke with you about a man named Abram who learned to follow God and as a result was given a new name, Abraham.

This morning, I want to speak with you about a man named Simon, who was given a new name and with that new name, learned to follow God. 

Our story starts on the Day of Pentecost in (Acts 2), the Apostle Peter is standing on the very streets of Jerusalem streets where not many days before, Jesus Christ had brutally been led to His death on Calvary. 

As the main spokesman for 11 remaining disciples, Peter told the large crowd that had gathered that day, which I might add included the very people who crucified Jesus, that this very Jesus had been raised from the dead. And so without hesitation or fear for his or their lives, Peter boldly and unashamedly told the crowd that they needed to “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins; and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

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03
Abram - Abraham

There is nothing more personal to us than our name. 

Now people change where they live. They change occupations and job titles. They even change the way they dress and the way they look, but seldom do people change their names. 

Most people keep the name they were given, whether they like it or not. 

Our names are deeply personal and when someone has their name changed, it can affect how they see themselves and how others see them.

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30
Leaving Unfaithfulness Behind

Are you experiencing fullness of life?  Let me caution you to allow the Lord to define what it means to have a full life.  Don’t judge your life and its fullness by human standards because God is the author of life.  If you want to know all about life, then find out from the Creator.  The Creator makes it clear:  faith is the doorway to fullness of life.  We have talked over the last five weeks about the obstacles to growing in faith: fear, doubt, worry, unbelief, the world.  The final obstacle to growing in faith is unfaithfulness.  We must leave unfaithfulness behind in order to experience what Jesus called the fullness of life.  

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23
Leaving the World Behind

We’ve been talking about growing alive in faith.  Jesus doesn’t just offer life; he offers us fullness of life.  He said, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)  This life begins by faith.  Fullness of life comes through faith that continues to grow.  

One of the obstacles to this fullness of life is the world.  The world is the state of humanity which is not under the influence of Christ. In order to become fully alive through Christ we must leave the “world” behind.  Every human being starts out in the world due to the condition of sin into which we are all born.  Through faith in Christ the world’s hold on a person is broken. Through ongoing and growing faith a person releases their hold on the world.  

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16
Leaving Unbelief Behind

Today we leave behind unbelief.  Once again in our Bible passage today we find Jesus pointing out to the disciples that they have little faith.  It’s starting to sound like a broken record.  He will keep pointing this out to them until they grow in faith because for Jesus, faith is priority number 1.  One day Jesus was asked this question. “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:28-29)  The first work of God is to believe, to have faith in Jesus, and the disciples still had some work to do in that department.  Let us learn from them this morning as we look at our passage from Matthew 17:14-20.

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09
Leaving Doubt Behind

Imagine with me for a moment that you are a fly on the wall at a reunion of Jesus’ disciples toward the end of their lives.  They have preached the gospel in India, Turkey, Russia, Africa and Europe.  As you listen to their conversation you hear the stories of the miracles that the Holy Spirit has worked through them.  Your eyes begin to tear as you listen to the stories of redemption and salvation from the power of sin.  Sooner or later the conversation turns to old times, time spent with Jesus, their Lord, their Master, their Savior, their Friend.  Someone, maybe Thomas, brings up the whole “walking on the water” incident.  He says something like this, “I still don’t know why you were so eager to jump out of the boat.”  Peter’s eyes light up as he wistfully says, “I gave up everything to follow Him.  Everywhere he was – that’s where I wanted to be.”  In an instant you are transported to the sea of Galilee on a windy night where Jesus’ disciples are struggling with all their might to cross to the other side.

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07
Leaving Worry Behind

Happy 2015!  And good riddance to 2014.  There are many things about 2014 that we should be happy to leave in the past and hope they don’t come back.  One of those things is worry.  Worry has kept many Christ-followers from experience fullness of life.  We are talking this month about Growing Alive in Faith.  The vice-grip of worry tries to keep us in the dark spiritually. Through faith we can break its hold over us.  Now is the time to say, “Goodbye!”  It’s time to let it go. Let it go!  

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24
Leaving Fear Behind

Romans 1:17 says, “The righteous will live by faith.”  Faith is the currency or the substance of a life that is dependent on and obedient to God.  It is the doorway from death to life, from darkness to light, from sin and evil into righteousness and holiness. But faith is not just the door. It is the like the oxygen we breathe because without faith, life begins to fade back into darkness and deception. 

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24
The Virgin Birth

Christmas is the first great miracle of the Christian faith. In saying that, I am of course referring to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. It is often a belief that is taken for granted among Christians, yet from the very beginning there have been those who have doubted.

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Posted in: Jesus B.C.
12
When The Time Had Fully Come

How many of you like to play the “what if” game?  It might sound like this:

* What if I had taken a left turn instead of a right?

* What if I had been 15 minutes earlier?

* What if I had gone to college?

* What if I had gone on that date?  Or what if I had NOT gone on that date?

* What if I had grown up in a third world country instead of America?

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Posted in: Jesus B.C.
04
The Seed of the Woman

Thousands of years prior to Jesus’ birth, God prophesied that a son would be born who would defeat sin and death.  That Jesus would come to earth as a man was in His plan all along.  In fact, it is the first recorded prophecy of scripture.  In Genesis 3:15 God says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” In these words we can see God’s plan of redemption, the gospel message in seed form.  It is present but not yet fully revealed.  That was waiting for a time in the distant future at a place called Calvary outside the city wall of Jerusalem.  Jesus is the seed of the woman who would crush Satan’s head, but in the process his heal would be bruised on the cross.

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Posted in: Jesus B.C.
28
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 3:14-21

Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, had a good friend and assistant by the name of Friedrich Myconius. In 1540, Myconius became sick and was expected to die shortly. On his deathbed he wrote a tender farewell message to Luther. When Luther read the message, he immediately sent a reply: “I command you in the name of God to live because I still have need of you in the work of reforming the church. The Lord will never let me hear that you are dead, but will permit you to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.” While those words might seem bold and brash, the fact is that Myconius, who had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s reply came, soon recovered from his illness, and lived six more years. He finally died two months after Luther did. What an amazing testimony to the power of prayer. 

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25
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 3:1-13

As Christians, God has given us a new perspective on life. The things that we once held dear fade into the background, while the things we once blew off come into clear vision. When we become a Christian, and start to see who we are in Jesus Christ it changes our whole perspective on life. In fact, if it doesn’t, then the chances are really good that we’re not saved. Why do I say that? Because the Bible tells us in Eph. 2:4 God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. 

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14
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:19-22

According to the website of Transparency International, an organization that helps people subjected to injustice and corruption Roqué Gonzalez lives in an isolated indigenous community in Argentina without roads, electricity or running water. However, one of the biggest barriers his community faces, is not with regard to these essentials, but a sense of identity. Without official documents proving citizenship, these isolated, indigenous people are unable to vote and are deprived of social benefits and basic services, such as healthcare and education. Cut off by geography, language and illiteracy, the people in Roqué’s community know little about their rights and privileges as citizens of Argentina.

In many ways, the believers in Ephesus were like Roque Gonzalez’s community; isolated, cut-off and unsure of their rights and privileges as a part of the body of Jesus Christ. As a result, the Holy Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul wanted these new believers in Jesus Christ in Ephesus to know their rights and privileges. 

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07
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:11-18

In September, 1938, Britain’s Prime Minister, Sir Neville Chamberlain returned from meetings in Germany with the assurance that he stopped Adolph Hitler’s aggression in Europe. However, within a year’s time, Hitler invaded Poland on September 3, 1939. Chamberlain’s great peace mission failed, as Great Britain and the world was plunged into WWII. 

It seems that most peace missions fail. History bears witness that from 1500 BC to 850 Ad there were estimated to be 7,500 peace covenants between various nations with the hope of lasting peace. The tragedy is that not one of those peace covenants lasted more than two years. 

History likewise bears witness that the only peace covenant that has lasted is the one made by God with humanity; the one that was made and sealed by Jesus Christ when He shed His blood.

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31
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:10

Salvation doesn’t come to us by baptism, confirmation, church attendance or church membership. It doesn’t come by giving money, serving on a board or committee. It doesn't come by taking communion, keeping the Ten Commandments, living by the Sermon on the Mount or giving to charity. It doesn’t come by believing that God exists, being a good neighbor or living a respectable life. In fact, hell will be loaded with people who did all of these things. 

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24
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:8-10

While all other world religions are based on a merit system; Christianity is supremely a religion of grace. They subscribe to a system of works—things we should do and things we should not do—which will make us “good enough” to please God and merit His favor. Christianity, on the other hand, is not based on a system of works, but teaches that we can never be good enough to be in the presence of a perfect, holy God. Therefore, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. This is what is known as grace!

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17
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:1-7

Bertha Adams was 77 years old when she died in alone in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1976. The coroners report stated that the cause of death was due to malnutrition, weighing only 50 pounds. Upon investigation, the authorities discovered that Mrs. Adams begged food from her neighbors, and frequently wore whatever clothes she could acquire from the salvation Army. From all outward appearances, she was a penniless recluse; a pitiful and forgotten widow.

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10
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 2:1-3

Thus far in our study of Ephesians chapter 1, we have seen that in Christ Jesus, we who truly believe have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. We have been chosen before the foundation of the earth, adopted as sons and daughters and accepted into God’s forever family. We have been redeemed from spiritual slavery, forgiven of all our sins and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance in Christ. And as we await that day when we will fully enter into God’s presence, the Lord’s desire is that the eyes of our heart would be open so that we would know the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance and the surpassing greatness of His power which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named.

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03
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 1:15-23

It is said that the late newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst, had invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. One day Mr. Hearst found a description of some valuable treasures that he felt he must own so he sent his agent abroad to find them. After months of searching, the agent reported back that he had indeed found the treasures. They were in Mr. Hearst warehouse. Hearst had been frantically searching for treasures he already owned. Had He read the catalog of his treasures, he would have saved himself a great deal of trouble.

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26
Our Riches in Christ: Ephesians 1:13-14

In his commentary on Ephesians, John Macarthur shares the story of how he met a young man at a Christian camp who had a severely withered arm and leg. The young man stay at the back of the group or in a corner by himself. John Macarthur went over to him, introduced himself and asked his name. The young man responded with a bitter scowl, pulled up his sleeve that covered his deformed arm and said, “Look at what God did to me!” After silently praying for wisdom, John Macarthur said to him. “Would you like to know something, that’s not you!” It’s just the house you live in, that’s all. It’s a very temporary house, but you are a forever person. God offers a forever plan for you and also a new and eternal body for your future.” The young man said “You’re kidding!” “No, I’m not kidding,” he said, then he went on to share the gospel with him.

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19
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 1:7-12

Bible commentator, Warren Wiersbe shared that one of the funniest cartoons he ever saw was the picture of a pompous lawyer reading a client’s last will and testament to a group of greedy relatives. The caption read, “I John Jones, being of sound mind and body, spent it all!

When Jesus wrote His last will and testament, He made it possible for us to share His spiritual riches. Instead of spending it all, He paid it all. His death on the cross and His resurrection made possible our salvation.

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12
Our Riches in Christ: Ephesians 1:4-6

I see so often in the lives of those who are followers of Jesus Christ. We as Christ-followers have been made so incredibly rich in Jesus Christ, yet so many of us seem to be living our lives as if that were not the case. I have unfortunately seen so many who never avail themselves of the great riches that they have in Jesus Christ because they too, through whatever circumstances, choices, or decisions, live lives of spiritual poverty when they have been made rich in Christ.

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05
Our Riches In Christ: Ephesians 1:1-3

Hetty Green has gone down in history as one of America’s greatest misers. Yet, when she died in 1916, this American businesswoman, nicknamed "The Witch of Wall Street", was known as "the richest woman in the world,” with a net worth in excess of 200 million dollars.

Yet, despite all her wealth, Hetty Green's stinginess was legendary. She never turned on the heat or used hot water. She ate cold oatmeal because it cost to heat it. She wore one old black dress and undergarments that she changed only after they had been worn out. She did not wash her hands and she rode in an old carriage. One tale claims that Green spent half a night searching her carriage for a lost stamp worth two cents. Another asserts that she instructed her laundress to wash only the dirtiest parts of her dresses (the hems) to save money on soap, and the worst of all was that her son succumbed to a leg amputation because she took so long seeking a free clinic. 

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29
Self-Control Unbroken

The final fruit of the Spirit in our list of nine is self-control.  What we call “self” control does not start with ourselves but with God.  His standards and expectations show us in what ways we should be under control.  Not only does he determine the standards, he also provides the ability or the inner strength that we need to live self-controlled lives.  That doesn’t mean that it’s all God and none of us.  After all, it is called “self” control.  However, through the power of the Holy Spirit we bring ourselves under God’s control. 

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
22
Gentleness Unruffled

When we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we are asking for the culture of heaven to fill and permeate our world.  The Bible teaches that God is everywhere, but his character qualities, the culture of heaven if you will, are only present when God’s people invite and cultivate them.  The culture of heaven must actively desired and developed in order to be present in the world in which we live.  Our involvement is necessary to grow the fruit of the Spirit.

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
15
Faithfulness Unwavering

A few weeks ago, I got a text from Pastor Nate:  “Do you want faithfulness or gentleness?”  To which I responded “YES!”  Then I asked why I was answering this question.  After all, doesn’t everyone want more of both?  Don’t we get all the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 as we grow and mature in the Lord?  Yes, we do, but I soon realized that PN was trying to put together this series and just wanted to know what topic and what week I was available to preach.  OK, I still want MORE faithfulness AND gentleness….and all the rest of the fruit!

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
01
Irresistible Kindness

What we like to call “random acts of kindness” are not actually all that random.  That’s because kindness is not a random impulse. Kindness is a good-natured disposition, a willingness to be helpful or considerate to others.  It does not happen by accident. Kindness, like all of the fruits of the Spirit, must be cultivated.  

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
20
Perfect Peace

The culture of heaven is love, joy and peace.  The Lord never intended the culture of heaven to stay in heaven.  His plan was always for heaven to invade and permeate earth.  When Jesus prayed, “Your will be done, your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” he was showing what his intentions were all along – to have the culture of heaven lived out in the real world through ordinary people.  

The presence of God inside of those who belong to him works to bring everything in us into conformity with his will.  The Spirit of God is constantly acting to bring about a cultural shift in our community of faith.  Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13, ESV) The Spirit leads everyone born of the Spirit into all the truth.  That means not just believing in our minds but changing the value systems of our hearts which results in changes in our actions.  

The truth or reality that the Spirit of God leads his people into is peace. 

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
11
Joy Inexpressible

When the community of faith is weak it is easy to look to lack of commitment or over-commitment as the probable cause.  However, the scripture says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  Could it be that the joy of the Lord is what is missing from God’s people, and we haven’t even realized it?  The strength that Nehemiah is talking about is the strength of protection like the strength of a fortress.  When the joy of the Lord is missing it is like giving the forces of evil a free pass through our defenses.  The joy of the Lord is like a protective coating or strategic defense for our community of faith.  It is a safeguard from the harsh realities of evil in the world which make every attempt to take away the blessing that comes from knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord.  So let’s take a closer look at the joy of the Lord to see what we can learn.

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
03
Love Unconditional

Just like the various countries or regions on earth have different cultures, the kingdom of God also has its own unique culture.  God’s culture is different because it’s not about food, or how you say or do things.  The culture of God’s kingdom is the reality of God’s character and nature.  Wherever God’s character qualities exist inside people and are growing, that’s where you find the kingdom of God.  Jesus said that the kingdom of God is inside you.  The character qualities of God are known as the fruit of the Spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – that comes from Galatians 5:22-23.

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Posted in: Cultural Shift
01
What do you do with a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

Perhaps you recall these opening words of one of modern literature’s great classics for children:  “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  

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Posted in: Community
20
Going Places as a Community

Jesus Christ had a purpose for coming to earth.  Not only did he come to take care of the problem of sin through his death and resurrection.  He also brought the reality of heaven to earth and gave his followers the mission of spreading this reality wherever they went.  Here is that mission in a nutshell.  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20)  His mission and the mission of every disciple of Jesus is to make disciples.

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Posted in: Community
13
Three Men In Community

This weekend is Father’s Day. Therefore in light of that auspicious day, I’d like to talk to the men of our church as we wind down our year-long series on Community, by asking several questions: 1) What kind of Christian man are you? 2) How do people in and outside of the church view you? 3) What kind of legacy are you leaving for your children and the generation that will follow you?

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Posted in: Community
30
Spiritual Neighborhood

How many of you remember the TV show Cheers; it ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. Although it first aired more than 30 years ago, it remains popular in reruns. Set in a bar in Boston, the show featured a cast of offbeat characters who gathered at the bar every day after work to kibbutz, trade war stories, tell a few jokes, blow off steam, and commiserate with one another about life. Each week millions of people tuned in watch Sam and Diane, Rebecca and Carla and Norm and Sam and Cliff, Dr. Frasier Crane, Woody and even coach sit around and talk about their joys and sorrows, their victories and defeats, their good times and bad times, their problems at home, and their dreams for the future. That was the whole show. It doesn’t sound very profound, yet Cheers touched something deep within the American public. Each week, in its own quirky way, the characters talked about life and we tuned in to watch and listen. 

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Posted in: Warning Signs
23
Avoid the Worry Zone

A January 2013 study conducted by the UK healthcare provider Benenden Health Researchers found that the typical adult worries for nearly two hours each day, leaving them with extreme anxiety resulting in a lack of concentrate at work, sleepless nights and arguments at home. Here are the top ten things the survey revealed that cause people to worry: 

10. Diet

9. Job security

8. Rent/mortgage payment

7. Credit card debt

6. Low energy level

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Posted in: Warning Signs
16
The Truth Exit

The sitcom Friends was one of the most popular shows on TV for 10 years during the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  It followed the lives of 6 friends as they navigated their way through young adult life.  During many episodes the show centered on a situation where one of the friends decided that telling a lie would be more advantageous than telling the truth.  Some of the circumstances they created because of these lies were outrageous.  As you may know, the lies never turned out well.  I suspect that one reason why the show was so popular was because we all know what it is like to be tempted to lie in order to avoid difficult situations. 

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Posted in: Warning Signs
09
Compassion

Compassion means to suffer with another person. To have compassion means more than just feeling sorry for somebody; it means to get down where they are in the midst of their need and to suffer with them in the midst of their pain. When Noah Webster published an American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, he began his definition of compassion by quoting from the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:20, “His father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." In defining compassion this way, Webster showed us that compassion is more than just a feeling, an emotion or feeling sorry for people in trouble. 

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Posted in: Warning Signs
02
Don't Yield To Anger

In January 1995 – Prosecutor Christopher Darden set the tone in his opening statement in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. “Everyone knows about O.J. the athlete and O.J. the celebrity. And by now most of us know far more about his personal life than we care to know.” Mr. Darden was not taking to the media, but to the twelve men and women who must render a verdict in the “trial of the century.” He must convince them that O.J. Simpson was guilty of a ghastly crime.

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Posted in: Warning Signs
25
The Daily Decision

What was true for Cain in the beginning is still true for us today.  Sin still crouches at our door and desires to have us.  Evil will always seek to be the master over people.  That is its nature.  There is a difference, however, between Cain’s situation and ours.  Between the time of Cain and our time stands for all time the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is because of his death and resurrection that we can do what Cain could not – live as masters over sin.  We are able to live in victory over sin as we daily decide to crucify our old nature which is controlled by sin and live by our new nature which is controlled by Christ.

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Posted in: The Decision
18
Resurrection Ramifications

The reality is that sometimes people will look at us who believe that Jesus rose from the dead and shaken their heads. They hear the words, they sort of know what we believe, but they don’t know what to do with it all. It’s just too much to comprehend and thus the words of Festus ring across the centuries—"I was at a loss how to investigate such matters.” Of course he was. And today we meet many Festus’ who stumble over the resurrection and walk away scratching their head. In a 2013 article in Christianity today, Missiologist Todd M. Johnson of Gordon Conwell found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America do not "personally know" any Christians. That's about 13 ½ million people—about the population of metropolitan Los Angeles. “They don’t know that they don’t know.”

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Posted in: The Decision
11
The Decision
What they did to Jesus was the greatest crime in history. Why did he have to die? To find the answer to that question, let’s take trip back in time to learn about a man named Barabbas who played a key part in the events leading up to Jesus’ death.
 
Barabbas never speaks a word. He never speaks a word in the gospel records.
Yet all four gospels mention him by name. His story occupies at least 38 verses of the New Testament. We don’t know anything about his family. We don’t know if he was married or single. We don’t know how old he was.
We can tell what we know in three short statements: Barabbas was guilty, Jesus was innocent, Barabbas lived and Jesus died.
With that we turn to some basic questions about this man and the role he played in the death of Christ.

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Posted in: The Decision
04
Unfairly Accused

What do you do when you are unfairly accused? Let’s sharpen the point even more before we move on. What do you do when you are unfairly accused by people you know and love and thought you could trust? It’s one thing to be unfairly accused by total strangers, but it’s something else when people in your inner circle turn against you. Because it is personal, the pain is so much greater.

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Posted in: Warning Signs
28
Mapping Out Church Discipline

 What do we as Christians and a church when …

–Two Christians will no longer speak to each other or one of our Bible study teacher denies the deity of Jesus Christ?
What do we do when a leader criticizes another leader behind her back or a Christian businessman cheats another man in the church?
What do we do when an usher is caught stealing from the weekly offering or two couples begin spreading rumors that a deacon is using illegal drugs?
What do we do when someone says they have a prophetic word from God, but it isn’t confirmed by others and it doesn’t come true?
And what do you do when the pastor refuses to preach in accordance with Scriptures?

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Posted in: Warning Signs
21
What Do You Owe?

We were created to worship.  We, whom God made in his image, were also made by him to worship.  We will worship something whether that is Yahweh God, the great I Am, or whether that is an idol, an image of something that God created. 

When God gave the people of Israel the 10 commandments to obey the first two of those commands read like this: You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not bow down to an image in any form and worship it.  God made it perfectly clear who his people were to worship.  He knew that the tendency was for humans to wander away from true worship of the one true God.  So he etched it in stone with his finger for the people of Israel and today we have his instructions in clear black and white.

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Posted in: Warning Signs
14

Let’s take a little quiz together called; “What would you do if?”

       What would you do if someone in your church sued another member for slander? Before you answer, consider the second question. What would you do if you discovered a case of incest by one of the leading men of the church? What if you found out that some of our leaders didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus? What would you do if some deacons slipped wine into the communion cups and then proceeded to get drunk? Or if three adult Grow Group classes demanded that the entire church adopt a vegetarian diet? What would you do if you got a note in your mailbox saying that four of the members of the Leadership Team were calling a special secret meeting to consider firing the senior pastor and replacing him with the associate pastor?  And here’s the last one. What if all these things were happening in your church at the same time? What would you do?

       If you are like most people, your immediate reaction would be, “I’d find another church!” That might be fine for you, but it wouldn’t do much to help the church. If the only people untainted by compromise left, how would the church ever recover? There must be a better answer that just pulling up your stakes and moving on.

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Posted in: Warning Signs
07
Road Narrows

Would you rather be open-minded or narrow-minded?

We all know the answer to that question, don’t we? A quick check of the synonyms reveals the essential difference between those two terms. If you are open-minded; you are accepting, tolerant, observant, unbiased and understanding. But if you are narrow-minded; you are bigoted, opinionated, reactionary and intolerant.

So which is it? Are you open-minded or close-minded? Now we know what the answer is supposed to be. Let’s all be open-minded.

But is that always a good idea? Herschel Hobbs makes this point: “No sane person wants a banker who says that two plus two equals three. We do not want a pharmacist who just throws together any drugs that may suit his fancy. We want him to follow exactly the doctor’s prescription. This is true narrow-mindedness and we commend this quality in matters of finance and health. But what about our faith? Do we commend these qualities when it comes to our faith?

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Posted in: Warning Signs
21
Approval - God's Way

Here is the lie we so easily believe: I must be approved by certain others in order to feel good about myself.  The desire for approval is a powerful motivation.  It may even cause us to do or to say evil things in order to gain people’s attention or recognition.  In order to be accepted by a person or group of people the desire for approval leans on us to cave under peer-pressure.  Said another way, the fear of rejection or disapproval works in us to do or say things which are not in line with Christ’s will.  When we want attention and don’t get it, jealousy and evil behavior rise up, yes even among God’s people.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Posted in: Warning Signs
14
Unity

Unity is a precious gift of the Spirit. It is to be prized, to be sought, and to be guarded at all costs. When it is lost, it is hard to regain. The Apostle Paul understood this truth well. He sensed that underneath the surface there were cracks in the Philippian church that if not repaired would fragment the congregation. Like any good builder, he wanted to repair those cracks while they were still small and easy to fill. 

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Posted in: Warning Signs
07
Assumicide

Have you ever been guilty of committing “Assumicide”, or have been a victim of “Assumicide?” O.K., listen to the definition before you decide. Committing “Assumicide” is when you have assumed something about another person that is not true and therefore falsely convicted them of something they did not do. If you have been a victim of “Assumicide,” someone has accused you of doing or thinking something that is not true. Now, based on these definitions how many of you have ever committed or have been a victim of “Assumicide?”

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Posted in: Warning Signs
31
Disagree Agreeably

Have you ever noticed how Christians disagree sometimes about the craziest and most meaningless things? It would be one thing if the conflicts arose over meaty and meaningful theological truths, but unfortunately, many arguments among believers are far less noble. Most disagreements stem from a person or group liking things done in certain ways or having taboos and restrictions that are not necessarily grounded in Biblical directives, but personal preferences. These personal preferences or grey areas can cause tremendous strife and conflict within the church community and have caused good ministries to get side tracked more than anything else. Take for instance an issue surrounding two good friends, colleagues and leaders of the early church; Paul and Barnabas.

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Posted in: Warning Signs
24
Free To Be Holy

If I were to say to you, “Nobody’s perfect” you would all nod your heads in agreement.  Morally we are all quite familiar with failure to reach God’s 100% perfect mark.  We are also familiar with many other kinds of life failures.  Businesses fail, churches fail, brakes fail, marriages fail, organs fail, the Packers fail, Donald Trump says, “You’re fired!” when his recruits fail.  Failure became epic in the first decade of the new millennium.  Imperfections characterize people.  We have memories that don’t work, knees that give out, hands that drop things, time that slips away, etc.  Failure is the daily condition of the human race.It is comforting to know then that God is the one thing that doesn’t fail. 

[Read the rest of this article...]

Posted in: Be Holy
17
Be Holy Because I Am Holy

1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 

The word “Holy” means to be set apart. The Hebrew word from which it stems means “to divide”.  The act of separating from what is sinful or evil and being devoted to God is the heart of what it means to be holy.  For God to be holy means that He has no connection with anything that is evil.

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Posted in: Be Holy
10
Choosing Love

A Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, I love the world, it’s just people I can’t stand.”

     I’m sure all of us have felt this way at one time or another and I’ll bet some of you feel this way right now. Loving the world in general isn’t that difficult; but loving the people can be a real challenge.

[Read the rest of this article...]

03

Last year at this time many of you were making New Year resolutions. If you did, then how did you do? Were you successful? Did you start like gangbusters in January only to petered out somewhere in March? Is what you started something you want to continue, or was it just a one year deal?

How about this year? Do you have any New Year resolutions? Maybe you don’t do that? Maybe you haven’t thought about it yet or haven’t yet come up with a good one. Whatever you case may be I’d like you to consider one. Not just a mediocre one or a self-serving one or one that has little significance over the long haul, but a big one, even a great one.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Posted in: No Category
27
Serve One Another

     Last year at this time many of you were making New Year resolutions. If you did, then how did you do? Were you successful? Did you start like gangbusters in January only to petered out somewhere in March?  Is what you started something you want to continue, or was it just a one year deal? 

     How about this year? Do you have any New Year resolutions? Maybe you don’t do that? Maybe you haven’t thought about it yet or haven’t yet come up with a good one. Whatever you case may be I’d like you to consider one.  Not just a mediocre one or a self-serving one or one that has little significance over the long haul, but a big one, even a great one. 

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23

How long would it take you to walk six miles? Six miles is from here to the Janesville Mall, give or take. According to Ask.com, the average person can walk about three miles in an hour. So, if it was a nice day, and the walk was moderate, how long do you think it would take you? Ok, here’s another question! What would it take for you to walk six mile? Unless you’re crazy like me, who likes to go on six mile runs, I’m assuming that many of you would need a reason, maybe even a really good reason to walk six miles.

What does this have to do with Christmas Eve? Well, Jerusalem is about six miles from Bethlehem. And those six miles were very significant because some choose to walk it and some did not. Some thought it important enough to take the journey and others did not.

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Posted in: Christmas
03
Thinning the Herd

In John chapter 6, Jesus is at the apex of His popularity. The crowds that follow Him are huge. They had seen Him do phenomenal miracles, like feed the 5,000 and many wanted to take him --- by force if necessary --- and MAKE him their King, especially after years of oppression under Rome. Jn. 6:15 says that Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew Himself from them. But they kept coming in droves! So Jesus does something that is so mind-boggling that it has baffled Christians and scholars ever since. Jesus “thins the herd!”  

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Posted in: Community
31
Completing Today's Assignment

Do you desire to do great things for God? If so, then how are you doing with your assignment from God today?  God won’t use a person tomorrow who is unwilling to do what He asks of them today. So what assignment has He put before today so you are ready to do the assignment He has for you tomorrow, next week or next year?

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24
The Gift IS the Holy Spirit

God sent the Holy Spirit for us to fulfill the assignment of being a witness of Him and for Him. Without that purpose and without that assignment, there was no need for what transpired at Pentecost. God could have simply saved us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and taken us to be with Him. However, that's not what He did. Instead, He saved us and then sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to witness what He did for us, what He’s doing in us and what He wants to do through us. This is God's plan and purpose for sending the Holy Spirit.

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10
"To Ethiopia and Beyond" by Pastor Nate

The Lord passed the baton to his followers 2000 years ago.  He finished his race, but we haven’t yet crossed the finish line.  The gospel has not yet been preached as a testimony to all people groups.  Since Jesus was a finisher (John 3:34), as his disciples we also must be like him and be finishers.  We are called to participate in the mission of bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth, until every ethne has the opportunity to become disciples of Jesus.  This is the reason that I went to Ethiopia and beyond – to mobilize the Christ-followers in those countries to finish the task of taking the gospel to all nations.

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Posted in: Great Commission
10
Spirit-Powered Ministry

This morning, I want you to consider something that you may or may not have ever considered before. The key to understanding the life of Jesus Christ is to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in His life. Once we see the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we will begin to understand how the Spirit desires to work in our lives. For the same Holy Spirit that worked in Jesus’ life, desires to work in our lives. 

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05
"The Reality of God's Power" by Pastor George

Have you ever lost your keys? Losing your keys is usually followed by losing your mind. It drives you crazy. It usually happens when you’re in a hurry and people are waiting for you. So your blood pressure sky rockets and your heart pounds as you frantically tear the house apart looking for those keys.  All the while, your vehicle is sitting in the driveway ready to go. It’s gassed up, tuned up, cleaned up and fully equipped to take you anywhere you want to go…but not without those keys. Without those keys, all its potential is useless to you.

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30
"The Reality of the Resurrection" by Pastor George

The Bible tells us, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Cor 15:17-19)  The resurrection is proof of Jesus’ victory over sin and it is the hope of our salvation! The resurrection however, is not a doctrine to be pondered, but an invitation to experience the very presence of God in our lives. The Word of God tells us that in Jesus Christ, we can not only know Him, (but know) the power of His resurrection (in our lives), (Phil 3:10). And that powerful relationship doesn’t start when we die and go to heaven, but when we put our life in the hands of Jesus and the Holy Spirit comes in and gives us new life; a born again life.

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22
"The Reality of the Cross" by Pastor Liz

During this Easter season when we remember Christ’s death and resurrection, many people wonder what it’s all about. The story of Christ’s final week on earth is one of extreme contrasts.  We see Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, but later see His complete rejection by the same people who had been praising him just days before.  We see Him fellowshipping with His friends, but being betrayed and abandoned by those same friends right after that.  But, one of the most obvious and fundamental questions that many people have is; “Why did Jesus have to die and rise again?  Why did it have to be that way? What does that have to do with me? What is the point of this whole story?” 

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15
"The Reality of Sin" by Pastor Nate

Jesus Christ is the most compelling, the most riveting, the most attractive being in the universe, and were we to see him as he is in reality, we would do everything in our power to get closer to him.  He is like the sun because he draws everything closer to him.  But sin is a force that propels us away from God.  It is written in the book of Isaiah, “Your sins have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”  (Isaiah 59:2)  

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02
"The Generosity of a Redeemed Heart" by Pastor George
How do you become a cheerful giver who does not give reluctantly or under compulsion? How do you become a person who sows generously with a heart motive that seeks to bless, rather than be blessed? How do you develop an attitude that seeks to give to others so they can be blessed, rather than giving to get so that you can be blessed?  Well, there is only one way that the Bible says this can truly and genuinely happen; God must do a work in our heart.

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Posted in: Treasure Hunters
01
"The Generosity of a Redeemed Heart" by Pastor George
How do you become a cheerful giver who does not give reluctantly or under compulsion? How do you become a person who sows generously with a heart motive that seeks to bless, rather than be blessed? How do you develop an attitude that seeks to give to others so they can be blessed, rather than giving to get so that you can be blessed?  Well, there is only one way that the Bible says this can truly and genuinely happen; God must do a work in our heart.

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Posted in: Treasure Hunters
21
"Heart Adjustment" by Pastor Liz
Let’s continue this week to look at what Scripture says about giving and see what it tells us about our heart towards giving.  Jesus tells us in Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”   What is Jesus saying?  That if we give, we get.  That by the measure (or way) we give, we will receive in return.  Now does this passage just talk about money?  No, this is a principle that applies in every part of our lives.

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Posted in: Treasure Hunters
15
"Faith to Give First" by Pastor George
Last week, I gave you a homework assignment to go home and think about what we talked about and to ask the Lord about your treasures and your heart, to see “if your heart is where your treasure is” or, as Scripture says, “if your treasure is where your heart is,” Mt. 6:21. I wanted you to think about the fact that our giving to God must come out of a heart of thanksgiving for what God did for us by sending Jesus, His first and only Son as a sacrifice on our behalf. 

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Posted in: Treasure Hunters
08
"Where's Your Treasure?" by Pastor George
Researchers say that the number one reason for divorce in America today is a lack of communication, with money following a close second. If we dig a little deeper, it’s not hard to see that a major problem married couples face today is that they don’t talk about their finances.

 

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Posted in: Treasure Hunters
25
The Point of No Return

The purpose of a highway is to take you somewhere, and that is the exact nature of faith.  Faith that doesn’t go anywhere is worthless and empty.  God’s nature is that he is always moving and working.  He is alive, and that means that he doesn’t stop interacting with his creation.  He works to bring about His will on earth.  That’s why your faith must grow if you want to go with God.  The moment we stop growing and going with God our faith starts to wilt and fade.  It starts to die.  But if we follow the Holy Spirit through the ups and downs of the road of faith, through the twists and turns, through the valleys and over the mountains, we will begin to experience the supernatural reality of God.  Living by faith means living in the realm of the supernatural.

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Posted in: Highway of Faith
18
The Valley of Testing

Sooner or later on the Highway of Faith you will reach a stretch of road called “The Test.”  This section of highway is in a deep and dark valley.  It may be short or it may be very, very long.  Yet, it is necessary to pass through the valley of testing if we are to reach our destination.  Jesus is our destination, and finding him is worth passing through any kind of valley no matter how hard it may be.  If our faith grows during the times of waiting for the promise as we learned last week, then our faith is proven to be real or genuine through testing. 

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Posted in: Highway of Faith
11
Are We There Yet?

The highway of faith after a while can seem very, very long.  There are times when the cry gushes out from the depths of our being, “Are we there yet?”  Then our heavenly Father calls out to us in the back seat and says, “Just a little bit farther.”  From our perspective that little bit farther seems like an eternity, but to the One for whom a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day, the little bit farther will soon be here.  It takes faith to get on God’s Highway, but it takes growing faith to stay on God’s Highway. 

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Posted in: Highway of Faith
04
Moving Out In Faith

Hebrews 11:1 says this: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  In order for faith to exist, there must be confidence in what we hope for.  That is true whether our faith is in our car working or in God.  There has to be a solid basis for our confidence.  Faith has to rest on something solid.  There has to be substance to it.  If we drive a car that constantly breaks down, we will not have confidence that it will work.  In that case we will make sure to have our cell phone with us, so that when it breaks down, we can call someone to come get us.  No one continues to hope when there is no reason for it. 

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Posted in: Highway of Faith
28
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Wise Men

“Della had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty.’ ” What heart-wrenching words! Della’s knee-length, cascading, beautiful brown hair was her most prized possession, but she has just cut it off to sell to a wigmaker. She does it so she will have money to buy her beloved husband, Jim, a Christmas present. With the money from the sale of her hair she will be able to buy a gold watch chain on which Jim can hang his most prized possession, the gold watch that had been his father’s and grandfather’s.  

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24
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Shepherds

Has God ever had to use a 2x4 up-side your head to get your attention? You rolled your SUV and survived; you had that serious illness, a tumor or cancer, but people were praying and you pulled through. Maybe God brought some people into your life to help you through that critical time and you made it. Maybe your life was good on the outside, but on the inside you were living in a dumpster. 2x4 experiences aren’t always bad or unpleasant. Maybe it was the first time you held your child and looked into her face and God spoke to you about your drinking and partying and she was depending on you. Maybe God spoke through a friend like He did to Alison you knew it was Him.   

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21
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Joseph

I want you to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. Can you imagine? Can you even fathom what was going through his brain? He and Mary were young. They were probably in their teens, because marriage in their culture tended to be arranged at a young age. I say arranged, because that’s what parents did at that time and in that culture. They arranged the marriage; so the parents new each other, as did the two families. Not to mention the uncles, and aunts, nieces and nephews and the scads cousins. 

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20
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Mary

Mary was truly given a place of great honor.  The angel said she was “highly favored.”  Even though we may not have been given a message from God through an angel, if we have trusted our lives to Christ, we have something in common with Mary.  In God’s eyes we are also “highly favored”.  In his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the apostle Paul told those believers that they were highly favored because of the grace they had received in Jesus.  This expression is used only twice in the Bible: once here and once when the angel spoke to Mary.  Anyone who has received the grace of Jesus is highly favored in the eyes of God-regardless of who they are.   

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07
Do You Hear What I Hear? - Zechariah

Have you ever prayed for something for a long time? Maybe for that lost loved one, that wayward child, for the dam to break that will give you just that one chance? Here was that one chance for Zechariah. After years and years of praying, the flood gates of God’s blessing finally broke open and the blessing of God were being poured out all over him.  But instead of creating a blessing for Zechariah, it caused a crisis, a crisis of belief. Instead of believing the angel, he begins to question God’s goodness, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (v.17) Like his forefather Abraham, he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? (Gen. 17:17).  

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01
Do You Hear What I Hear?

As we enter into the Christmas season it is so very important for us to grasp and understand how the very birth of Jesus teaches us some very important lessons about hearing the voice of God. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading over and over again the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke in my personal devotion time. As I read it over and over and meditated upon it, going deeper each time, the Holy Spirit began to reveal some amazing things to me. For instance, everyone involved in the birth of Jesus was told about it by direct revelation from the Holy Spirit.   

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24
Witnesses to the Truth

Picture this scene.  You are in a courtroom.  You are called before the judge to testify and the Bailiff is about to swear you in.  You are about to swear that whatever you say is going to be the truth.  Perhaps you witnessed an accident, or were injured yourself.  The experience is like a TV crime drama that takes you into court to provide testimony -- To tell the court the truth about something you have seen or heard.  For most of us, an experience like this is not something that we enjoy!  It’s sweaty palm time!  It is a time of nervousness and concern that we say the right thing and not get tripped up by some smart, hot-shot attorney into saying something we don’t mean, or that discredits us. Hopefully most of you don’t have to spend time in court, but that doesn’t let us off the hook as Christians!  We have a responsibility as believers to tell the truth about what we see and experience of God’s power in our lives – in short, we are to testify! To be a follower of Christ means that we are to be witnesses to the truth.

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17
The Great Forgetting

Have you ever forgotten something important--something you should never forget?  Nearly everyone has had this experience.  If you're one of the lucky few who haven't, you likely won't escape forever.  Some cases of forgetting are worse than others.  Parents are known for forgetting or confusing the names of their children from time to time--something hard to believe when you consider the hard and continuous work of parenting.  In the larger culture, there are examples of this nearly everywhere, from the world of sports, to politics, to academia, and to the arts.  Clearly, not all episodes of forgetting are created equal, some are more painful than others.

 


 

 

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08
You can run, but you can't hide!

     Do you ever run from God? Do you try to hide from Him or resist Him? You know what I mean; you tune Him out, look the other way and you mumble under your breath. He tells you to go one way, but you find a reason to go the other way. This morning, I want us to look at a guy who tried to run from God, but soon found out that He could run, but He could not hide from God.


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27
Don't Just Do Something, Stand
When God invites us to join Him in His work on earth, He will present a God-sized assignment He wants to accomplish.  It will soon become obvious that we cannot accomplish this assignment on our own. If God does not intervene and help us, we will fail. This is where many followers of Jesus crash and burn. Instead of following the leading of the Holy Spirit, they panic, come up with their own plan then wonder why things turned out as they have. Such was the case of Sarah, the wife of Abraham or at that time Abram.

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20
Getting God In Focus
Have you ever had a really bad mentor? I’m talking about someone that you can lift up as a shining example of what not to do. I’ve been blessed to have a veritable plethora, and that means a lot, of extremely good mentors, but there have been some whom I can point to as prime candidates for what not to do. As a 14 year student in middle school I was hungry for friends to hang out with. I felt self-conscious and insecure, and I was certain that if I could get in with a group of friends, these bad feelings would all be taken care of. My older brother had a best friend, and that friend’s younger brother was a year older than me. He was well-liked in school, so I began to hang out with him and a buddy of his. The problem was that this mentor of mine was a terrible influence.

 

 

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Posted in: No Category
13
Our Crisis=God's Opportunity
Spend enough time with me, and you will learn that I am not a fan of mushrooms. In fact, you might say that I am anti-mushrooms. It’s not that I don’t like fungus. Hey, I can handle a little between my toes now and then, no problem. I like the fact that fungus gave us penicillin. You might say that I’m a fan of fungus…just not of mushrooms. I’m not afraid of mushrooms. I can hold them in my hands. I don’t have an allergic reaction to them. We can co-exist. I just don’t like it when they climb into my mouth. This is where I draw the line.

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Posted in: Great Commission
06
Remembering Jesus
As the years have gone by and my niece and nephews have grown up, Frank and I are finding that our home is becoming the “Thanksgiving Central” celebration spot for our extended family.  What a wonderful time we have getting together to laugh about growing up together, enjoying special foods, and remembering our Dad and others who have passed away!  It is a rich blessing for us, and builds us up as a family.

In a way, communion is a lot like those special family meals.  You see, communion is all about remembering Jesus.  It is also about celebrating our continuing relationship with Jesus and our fellowship with the rest of the family of God.

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Posted in: No Category
29
Bullies
It is sometimes difficult to say which hurts more, physical or verbal abuse. At the very least, when someone physically hurts you there is bleeding, swelling, or bruising, there is some evidence that someone has hurt you. But words leave another kind of bruise, ones that are not as obvious.  Such was the case last week of a video taken of a 68-year-old bus monitor named Karen Klein who was being verbally abused by a group of middle schoolers on their way home from Athena Middle School in Greece, New York. Throughout the ten minute video, the young teens verbally abused her, maliciously berate her, and brought her to tears. Though Karen Klein could have brought charges against the teens, she chose not to.

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22
Staying Visible
Of all of the challenges that face Christ-Followers in this modern age perhaps the most overlooked is amnesia.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  Spiritual amnesia is like whooping cough.  It can run rampant through a community of Jesus because of its contagious nature, and it can linger on and on.  Like its natural counterpart, spiritual amnesia is a condition where a person’s identity in Christ is forgotten and along with it, their purpose for existing.  Even though the Bible is crystal clear about our identity in Christ, it is so easy to be distracted from the purity of devotion to Jesus.  He is our source of life, purpose and identity, so we must return to His words to renew our minds.

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Posted in: No Category
15
Following Orders
In 1974 at the height of the Cold War, Ethiopia established friendly relations with the Soviet Union after the Emperor Haile Selassie was ousted by a military coupe known as the Derg. Moscow dumped more than $11 billion in establishing naval, air and land bases in Ethiopia to create one of the largest military forces in the sub-Sahara. The communists took over the schools and hospitals and kicked out all the Christians who ran them. The evangelical church in Ethiopia was devastated as Ethiopian Christians were murdered and their leaders put in prison.
    In the late 80’s, the Soviet Union was starting to crumble. The Berlin wall had fallen and by 1991, the Communists in Ethiopia were gone. The church leaders that were imprisoned and the church that was forced underground emerged, not weak, but with about 10,000 strong. Today, that number is almost 20 million. That my friends is an incredible spiritual impact!

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08
The Resentment Weed
    Have you ever resented someone? A person might resent his boss for not promoting him; a wife resents her ex-husband for leaving her; a son resents his mom for going back to work; or a daughter resents her dad for yet another deployment.
    Resentment is as common as dandelions in our yard and they can multiply as quickly. If resentment is not pulled out by the roots, it will not only spread to others, but will keep us from experiencing what God may want to do in our life.

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01
A Killer of a Pity Party
     When we compare ourselves to others and start feeling sorry for ourselves, it more often than not, is the first step on a downward staircase of destructive emotions and behavior.
     It has been said; “Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” ? John Gardner
     Cain and Abel were the first born children of human parents. However, little did these proud parents, Adam and Eve realize that their two son’s names would forever be branded with what can go wrong, very wrong in a family?  Cain and Abel experience sibling rivalry at its worst and it forever stands as a classic example that the sinful war that rages within all of us is always a battle for our minds.

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25
Journey of Identity
One of the most powerful questions we will ever ask is “Who am I?”  Our identity is a core part of us which consciously or unconsciously, whether we know it or not, we will seek out our entire lives.  If we are Christ-followers, our identity is wrapped up in our understanding of who Jesus Christ is and who we are IN CHRIST.  But we are mistaken if we think our understanding of our identity remains the same.  If we are growing in our knowledge and in our relationship with Christ, our understanding of our identity in Christ will change as well.  It should change.  In fact, it must change.

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18
Don't Think Too Much Of Yourself
The desire for recognition, popularity, and notoriety from people can be a “slippery-slope” that can lead us to being at odds with God. This very thing happened to the first king of Israel, and His story reminds us that the battle is always for our mind.

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11
In ALL Things

 

The Word of God teaches us that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, Rom. 8:28. Though this Biblical principle is absolutely true, the process of God working out His purpose in us can often be long and hard. This is why it is so very important to know that our struggle is really not with our circumstances, but with how we respond in the circumstances. And perhaps this principle is nowhere more clearly seen than in the life of Joseph.

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03
Beware Toxic Thoughts

 

It is said that a cynic is a person who, when smelling flowers, looks around for a coffin. 
"A cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Oscar Wilde
"A cynic is a person whose persistent complaining, poisons the faith of others and causes them to turn their face away from God." George D. Calhoun

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20
Mind Shift

During this series we have been focusing on fact that in Jesus Christ, we have been set free from the penalty of sin and how through the Holy Spirit, God is in the process of setting us free from its power over our lives. In short, God has taken us out of Egypt, but He’s in the process of taking Egypt out of us so we can take hold of the promises He has for us.

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13
The Power to Break Free
In the last year I have come to realize that if I wanted to experience what God has for me in the present, so I can move into what He has planned for me in the future, then I would need to break the destructive ties and cycles with my past. As I have done that, I have experience incredible freedom in Christ and have begun to experience His presence in a new and fresh way. My walk with Jesus has been reignited and I’m not only learning what He has for me to do, I’ve been learning about what’s keeping me from doing what He has for me do.

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06
Resurrection Power
The Bible tells us, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Cor 15:17-19)  The resurrection is proof of Jesus’ victory over sin and it is the hope of our salvation! The resurrection however, is not a doctrine to be pondered, but an invitation to experience the very presence of God in our lives.

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30
Jesus never called us to join a religion. His plea has never been to accept a certain package of beliefs. His message has never been about performing a ceremony, and His call has never been to be or do better than the next guy. When Jesus calls a person to come to Him, it's not about changing an area or two of their life or adding on a new set of ideals. It’s not even ascribing to a new way of thinking. When Jesus calls a person, he calls them to come and die.

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23
Uprooting the Spirit of this World

I noticed an ant crawling on my counter the other day, so I killed it right away because I don’t like ants walking around on my counter.  I looked to see if there were any others, but I couldn’t find any.  The next day I saw another ant in the same place.  Again I killed the ant and looked to see if there were any others but couldn’t find any.  You see, I don’t like ants crawling on my counter.  Then a few days later I saw a clump of ants on my windowsill and right next to it on my counter.

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16
In A Holding Pattern

Last week I shared with you the sad story of a young woman who was innocently asked to throw a soccer ball back over the fence to some guys playing on the other side. After three failed attempts, the young woman gave up and asked the guys to come and get it themselves. Though obviously embarrassed, the incident went far deeper than the situation at hand.

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09
Releasing the Past

Just the other day I read in the latest issues of Readers Digest (April 2012, pg. 145) in the Humor section, a story about a young woman (20 something) that lived across the street from a soccer field. As she made her way home from a grocery store, a soccer ball came over the fence and landed at her feet. One of the guys playing politely asked her to toss the ball back. She said, “Fighting the urge to flee screaming down the street, I agreed.”

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Listen to Diane's Story

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02
Breaking Strongholds

Joan and John are not enjoying a happy marriage. There is strife between them all the time. They are both angry, bitter and resentful. They have three children who are being affected by the problems at home. The strife is showing up in their school work and behavior. One of the children is having stomach problems caused by nerves.

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Posted in: Authorized
23
Suit Up

The sun was just coming up when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. “This guy must be late to work”, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached. Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought, “The cops already know!”

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Posted in: Authorized
17
Deceit Defense

One of the greatest privileges the Lord Jesus gives to us as His beloved children and disciples in His great mission of world redemption is to use His Word under His authority and in the power of the Holy Spirit to preach good news, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and release of the oppressed Lk 4:18.

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Posted in: Authorized
10
Choosing to Obey

Obedience to the Lord is the key to His power and authority. If you desire to move from observing what God is doing, to being used in what He is doing, coming under His authority and obeying Him in all areas of your life is key!

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Posted in: Authorized
03
3 Areas of Operation
In Matthew, Mark and Luke, we’re told how Jesus had His disciples get into a boat so they could go across to the other shore. Apparently it had been a long day and Jesus was tired, because He went to the stern of the boat and fell asleep. However, as they sailed, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat and they were in danger of being swamped.

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Posted in: Authorized
28
Compassion in Action

If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we should be prepared to minister in power and authority at anytime, anywhere, to anyone, at any place, as the Holy Spirit directs. We must always be ready when God whispers in our ear to reach out to someone.

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Posted in: Authorized
21
God's Word: No More, No Less

The last words Jesus said to his disciples before he left the earth focused on what their purpose would be after he was gone.  He told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

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Posted in: Authorized
14
Authority, Handle with Care

In Acts chapter 19, we find the Apostle Paul effectively proclaiming the Word of God to both Jews and Greeks in the city of Ephesus. We are told in v.11 that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

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Posted in: Authorized
07
Authorized Prayer Activities

From a study of Jesus in the Gospels, there is no question that He prayed before He ministered to people. In Luke 6:12 for instance, Jesus spent the whole night in prayer (seeking the Father’s will) before choosing the 12 disciples. At the tomb of Lazarus, in Luke 11, Jesus prayed, v 41 Father I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.

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Posted in: Authorized
31
The Path of Life

Jesus said that he is the way.  In other words, he is the blessing.  He is the end goal – not a “good” life or a life full of blessings.  If we follow Jesus to find a “good” life we won’t find the good life or Jesus either.  But if we follow Jesus we will have both him and a “good” life or a life full of blessings.

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Posted in: No Category
25
Why Jesus Came

There is no more pressing question today than, “Why did Jesus come to the earth?” Some argue that Jesus came to give us an example of God’s love. Though that is true, is that the primary reason?  Others say that he came to show us how to live as the one shining example that can lift the rest of us up. But is that the primary reason? Many say He is the greatest teacher of all time. Though these are all true, is that the ultimate reason His for coming?

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Posted in: Christmas
25
Celebration of the Incarnation

Tonight and tomorrow we celebrate God’s first day on earth. But this morning, I want us to look at something that He probably said on His last day on earth. Taking His disciples aside, He said,   “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore (I am now giving authority to you to) go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I’ll be with you always.” Mt 28:19-20

 

 

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Posted in: Christmas
17
Who Are You...In Christ?

Jesus never feared that His Dad was too busy to talk to Him. He never was afraid that His Dad would reject Him or withdraw His love. He never questioned His Dad’s advice, or that He would steer Him in a wrong way. And because of this relationship with His Dad, He was secure in His identity, knowing who He was and what He was on earth to do.

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Posted in: Authorized
10
The Father's Authority

Jesus our example did nothing by Himself; He only did what saw His Father doing. I’m learning to not venture out on my own with my agenda or brilliant idea, but to look for what God is doing and then follow His lead. I’m learning to come under His authority.  

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Posted in: Authorized
03
Brasil - The Excellent Adventure

Listen to Pastor George and SDB Executive Director Rob Appel as they talk about their recent ministry trip to Brasil.  The work of the Holy Spirit was overflowing as it powerfully impacted the leaders of our sister churches as well as congregations and the community.

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Posted in: Great Commission
26
Whose Authority?

This morning, we are starting a series entitles “authorized.” In short, what does it mean to be authorized to do the ministry that God has called us to do? As we enter this series, it is so very important that we understand that to have God’s authority to do anything, we must first come under His authority.

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Posted in: Authorized
19
Under His Influence

What is the thread that is woven through these stories?  What is common denominator?  Influence. Influence for Jesus Christ.  What is theme?  What is the story line? Influence.  Each of these people were influential in leading another person toward the Lord.  The extent of their influence was different.  The length of time, the circumstances, the methods – all were different.  But the effects on each were the same. God left his mark on each one of them.  The Spirit of God worked in their lives.

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12

Many Christians have gaps in their understanding of the Holy Spirit because they haven’t been taught about Him.  The Father and Son are easier, perhaps, to understand, but what about the Holy Spirit?  Around Halloween especially there’s a lot of focus on ghosts or spirits, and even in recent years there are lots of t.v. shows, movies and books that deal with evil spirits.  But where in popular culture do you hear anything about the Holy Spirit?

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05
Under Authority

 What was the difference between the disciples in this situation and the Roman Centurion with his situation? The centurion followed orders without questioning and the disciples questioned Jesus’ order.  

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29
Look, Minister, Multiply

If you have given your life to Jesus, been filled with the Holy Spirit and have a desire in your heart to minister, where do you start? Where do you find opportunities to minister?
If we look at the way Jesus ministered to others, we clearly see three key principles for stepping out in ministry.

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22
Conduits of the Holy Spirit

The Lord wants to use us as conduits of His love, grace and mercy to unleash His healing so people can be delivered and come to Him.  However, if we are going to heed His call, we must stay connected to the source of that power, the Lord Himself. Mark 1 tells us after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons… 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

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15
Discipleship in the Bible

God desires to empower you, and He has a purpose for this empowering. The Lord doesn’t fill you so you can sit around and fill empowered. He wants to equip you to minister in the power of the Spirit. So what does that ministry look like?
…It’s rescuing men and women out of the kingdom of darkness …and bringing them into the kingdom of light.
…It’s setting men and women free from captivity to Satan… and bringing their lives into line with the will of God.
…It’s delivering men and women from sin and its effects… so they can experience the fullness of God’s blessing.


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01
Keys of the Kingdom

When Jesus came to this world, He came as an invader to reestablish the rule of God. He announced that through His coming, the Kingdom of God was at hand (Mt.4:17) and at His second coming Jesus will destroy Satan’s kingdom and establish His complete rule. However, during this present time, the time we live in, these two kingdoms exist side by side, and they are in conflict: the Kingdom of God versus the kingdom of this world.

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24
You Will Receive Power

“A great many people are thinking that we need new measures, that we need new churches, that we need new organs, that we need new choirs, and all these new things. That is not what the Church of God needs today. It is the old power that the apostles had; that is what we want, and if we have that in our churches, there will be new life." - D.L.Moody

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17
Intimacy with God

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I am convinced that repentance is not just for sinners, but for believers at every stage of their growth in Jesus Christ. Each stage of development in our Christian life requires that we give up certain things in order to accept and take on new things.

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10
Four Degrees of Separation

Have you ever wondered why some professing Christians have their lives totally transformed by the Spirit, while others don’t act much different from unbelievers? Unfortunately this is not a new problem. The Book of 1 Corinthians tells us about people in the church in Corinth who acted just like this.

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03
Breath of God

These are two vastly different functions of the Holy Spirit that God provides for every believer. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to give us new life and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to empower us for ministry, they are meant to work in tandem.  

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27
Empowered by the Presence

The indwelling and empowering ministries of the Holy Spirit have entirely different purposes and operate in very different ways, but it is God’s will that the Spirit perform both of these in our life.

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20
Living in the Presence

If the Spirit of God plays such a vital role, then why are so many Christians unsure about the Holy Spirit? Some Christians have been taught that it’s not right to emphasis the Spirit. They will say, “I don’t want to talk about the Holy Spirit, I just want to talk about Jesus.” That may sound spiritual, but it’s not Biblical.


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13
People of the Presence

I long for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that increases boldness in witness, continued constructive involvement to our community, prophetic voices to point the way and correct us from going astray. An anointing of God’s Presence that empowers healing at every level and deliverance that casts out the dark forces that harass and oppress. An outpouring that gives birth to forgiveness, reconciliation, and generosity among all. An outpouring where brokenness is made whole and people are empowered to be whole.

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