Proverbs 20:6 states “Many claim unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” In other words, true faithfulness is a rare quality. What does it really mean to be a faithful servant of Christ?
This world is designed to wear you down and sap your spiritual strength. If you’re tired of barely scraping by in life, there is hope in Christ. Learn how to have your strength renewed so you can move from surviving to thriving in Christ!
When you look ahead to 2019 what do you see? Do you see another year of defeat in your life and spiritual decline in world? Do you see an opportunity for personal victory and spiritual awakening in our land? Seeing with eyes of faith can transition your life from continued failure to victory in Christ!
On that first Christmas night, the wise men and the shepherds were seeking out the newly born Savior. We too can seek and find a fresh life-changing relationship with the Savior of the world. It’s such great news!
This is the season of the coming of Christ into the world - when He came to meet us in our humanity. As we reflect on the incredible love of God in sending His Son to us, we will receive fresh hope in the goodness of God’s plan for our lives!
The early church flourished as the power of God was on display through "extraordinary miracles" (Acts 19:11). Living a powerless, ordinary Christian life can be frustrating. However, God’s intent is for our lives to demonstrate His extraordinary power!
Everyone has a lifestyle. Our lifestyle defines what we do, how we live, what we value. Pastor Chris shares how we can develop a kingdom lifestyle of sharing the love of Christ with the people in our daily lives!
It is obvious that Jesus is the central figure of the Christian faith, but what about the Holy Spirit? Do you have a clear understanding of who the Holy Spirit is and what His role is in the life of a believer? As we continue our journey through Acts, we find out how we can have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. And that changes our lives forever!
Sometimes we can become very discouraged trying to reach people for Christ in a secular, anti-Christian environment. But we are never as alone as we might think. Even in the darkest places, God has prepared many hearts to receive the gospel if we are willing to speak!
Having an effective and powerful prayer life is vital to our relationship with God and others. How we can go from hopeful praying to effective, powerful and confident prayers that have amazing results?
While in Athens the Apostle Paul noticed an alter inscribed “To An Unknown God.” Paul realized that even with their pantheon of “gods”, the Greeks understood they did not truly know God. With all the different religions & ideas about spirituality today, can we truly know God? We can, in fact, have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe!
At the core of every human life is the desire for freedom. But what does true freedom mean for the Christian? What is its ultimate purpose? Acts 16 holds a surprising answer to the true purpose for your freedom in Christ!
At some point or another, we will all be hurt by someone close to us. What is the importance of extending forgiveness? Why should we give people a second chance when experiencing failure?
The Council of Jerusalem was a pivotal point in the development of the early church. Is salvation maintained through keeping the works of the law or by grace through faith in Christ alone? Your answer to this question will have a profound impact on your life both now and for eternity!
In our fallen nature, we are prone to promote ourselves above the interests of others. But what would happen if we chose to live for the will of God and the sake of others? We will explore the costly yet powerful impact of a selfless life.
In our postmodern age of moral relativism, how can we understand truth and the difference between right and wrong? Apprehension of truth is wholly dependent on how we respond to the gospel!
Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life? How can we hear more clearly from God to receive direction for our lives? What does God-inspired, God-empowered ministry look like? We explore these questions and more in this message, as we continue in our study of the book of Acts.
How do you maintain peace in the midst of adversity & deep darkness of the soul? Developing our friendship with God is key to effectively employing the weapon of prayer in a time of need!
The church in Antioch was the first thriving, Spirit-filled church comprised of Jews AND Gentiles. We, too, even today, can be an ethnically diverse, spirit-empowered church that will greatly impact the world!
Coming to faith in Christ secures our salvation, but it’s only the beginning of a life-transformative process. We can examine Paul’s life post-conversion to learn how we, too, can overcome the challenges of transitioning to a new life in Christ!
The Lord's Prayer has often been memorized but is rarely understood. Using Christ's blueprint, we too can experience the power of effective prayer!
We all agree on the importance of loving our neighbors. But what about the neighbor who is mean to us, or even those who are actively trying to destroy us? How can we gain access to both the motivation and the strength to truly love our enemies?
Saul was heading down a certain direction in life when God intervened and completely turned everything around. God can transform even the most unlikely person and use them to change the world for His glory!
When we are willing to make ourselves available to be used by God, incredible opportunities abound everywhere! We see this as we look at Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. Our willingness to be present can be a gateway to being used powerfully to lead others to Christ!
The martyrdom of Stephen began a wave of persecution that scattered the church throughout the surrounding regions, which only served to spread the Gospel even further. Sometimes, adversity can become the most effective opportunity we have to spread the love of Christ!
Servants are considered the lowest rung of society, yet Jesus said the greatest in the Kingdom is the servant. As we study the extraordinary life of Stephen, we get a glimpse into how we can go from humble servant to bold witness, “full of grace and power.”
There is no shortage of self-help gurus today with advice on how to overcome life’s challenges to find “success." But does their message align with God’s Word? Learn the keys to becoming indomitable in Christ!
Sometimes we can be so bound by destructive behaviors and attitudes that only the hand of God can open our prison doors. But there is hope! The power of Christ in us can move us from bondage to boldness!
What should church really look like? Is it composed of those that are strong, wise and gifted? Or is it the weak, the broken and the poor who constitute the true body of Christ? You may be surprised to learn the true nature of the church Jesus intended to build.
We often struggle to reconcile the goodness of God with the wrath of God. There is an understanding of the balance between the love of God and the fear of the Lord, and uderstanding this balance can change your life forever!
Since the establishment of the early church, believers have always experienced persecution, yet Christianity continues to thrive throughout the world. How can standing strong in the face of opposition increase the power of God at work in your life?
What's the difference between a mediocre religious life and an extraordinary life in Christ? In a word, PRAYER! Prayer can unlock the power of God working through your life!
In Acts 3, Peter encounters a lame beggar who gets miraculously healed. But how? You, too, can experience a miracle where it is needed in your life. What are the conditions that can lead to a miracle manifesting in your life?
After Pentecost the early church experienced tremendous multiplication, but how did they accomplish this? Discover how you can employ these same principles today to experience a vibrant, fruitful life in Christ!
Waiting on the Lord in prayer is difficult, but it’s the only pathway to spiritual empowerment. God's power was poured out on the early church during Pentecost, and that very same spiritual power is available to us today through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit!
God’s redemption plan was secured by the death and resurrection of Christ, but the story didn’t end there. How can we, like those in the early church, flourish in the face of fierce opposition and receive fresh empowerment to be an effective witness for Christ today?
Western culture has taught us that fulfillment comes from focusing on accomplishing our own dreams and accumulating wealth. But the truth is that the real “abundant life” in Christ comes when we give our lives away for the sake of others.
Throughout history we find time and again that God chooses unqualified, undeserving, ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We, too, can partner with God to accomplish the impossible through our lives!
Deep down inside, people from all walks of life have been asking the same question - what is the meaning of life? Jesus had a simple, yet profound, answer to this most important question.
Two depressed and discouraged disciples were on the road to Emmaus when they encountered the risen Christ. As they walked with Jesus, their spirits were lifted and hope was restored. Do you find yourself in a similar place on your journey through life, stifled by discouragement? Christ can free you from this discouragement and restore your hope!
"You are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He is risen, just as He said." We have glorious eternal life because of the power in His resurrection. He took on our sin and shame in exchange for OUR relationship with God the Father. His selfless sacrifice means our best life, and that is truly a wonderful gift!
As predicted by the prophets, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with jubilant shouts of praise. How then, did these same people hand Him over to be crucified just a few days later? What does it mean to truly welcome Jesus into our lives?
Christianity is a radically different experience when we are pursuing the presence of God. People can see Jesus in us, when we posture ourselves to actively seek His presence. So, how do we cultivate a church environment that is saturated with the presence of God?
In order to withstand the pressures coming against the true believer in our increasingly godless modern culture, we need to know how to win the secret battles. The key to mastering this is maintaining a clean conscience and cultivating confidence before God and man.
Jesus' earthly ministry was devoted to communicating the truth of the gospel with unsaved people. How can we develop a healthy church community that shares God's heart for the lost? After all, "The Son of Man (Jesus) came to seek and to save the lost."
Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations”, but what exactly does that mean? In a culture of fierce individualism, how do we become true disciples of Christ? We need to be actively seeking to gain a true Biblical understanding of discipleship. This will enable us to live vibrant Christian lives and effectively fulfill the Great Commission!
Somehow in our postmodern culture, we have forgotten that the legitimate church of Jesus Christ has always been a supernatural body. A church that is increasingly functioning without the power of God is another sign that a storm is coming. How do we develop a church culture that depends on God's ability and not our own?
As Christianity becomes an increasingly less relevant part of modern culture, we have allowed society to redraw our priority lines so that our lives are no longer ordered around the things of God. We need to return to the restoration of Christ & His church as the center of Christian life!
In Matthew 17, Peter, James and John are with Jesus on a mountain where His appearance is transfigured before them. This was a powerful encounter that must have served to solidify their faith in Jesus as the messiah. However, it also revealed their tendency toward legalism and tradition, which brought a strong exhortation from God Himself. Join us as we expose the insidious nature of legalism and learn how to guard against its destructive power in our spiritual life.
In the first sermon this series, we explored the importance of breaking free from generational curses. This week we reflect on the importance of contending for our God-given inheritance in the face of resistance that will surely come. In Genesis 26, Isaac discovers that the wells dug by his father, Abraham, have been stopped up. Like the patriarch Isaac, and the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at Jacob's well years later, if we persist in our pursuit of "living water," we will have access to all blessings that belong to us in Christ!
We have a spiritual inheritance that the enemy has tried to bury so that we cannot get access to it. However, in order to lay hold of our inheritance, we must first break generational curses that are keeping us bound to the past and keeping us from apprehending all that God has promised us in Christ. We await breakthrough as we re-dig the wells of revival in our own lives, in the church and in our nation!
The cost of our redemption was everything God had to give, and so we understand that gaining anything of true spiritual value will be costly. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength, we must learn to overcome the challenges and difficulties in life, which become our schools of faith and character. Let’s believe for 2018 to be the year where we finally embrace our weakness, and exchange it for the overcoming power of God!
God devised a plan to redeem our lives, even though Adam and Eve sinned in the beginning. His plan was one of ultimate sacrifice - to offer His only Son, Jesus, for our redemption. And He chose to send His son, our Savior, as a baby, weak and needy so that we could identify with Him. At Christmastime, we are afforded the celebration of that severe mercy and grace. What a gift Jesus is to us!
When we continue to cry out to God, there eventually comes a tipping point when He finally responds. This was the atmosphere in Israel suffering under Roman occupation before Jesus was born. Talk of the Messiah was everywhere, in every synagogue and at every dinner table. God finally responded by sending not just their deliverer, but the savior of the whole world. Today as our nation has drifted far away from God, there is once again a deep heart cry rising from people everywhere longing for deliverance. Can you hear it?
During times of struggle, it can appear as though God has abandoned us. In actuality, He is waiting patiently until the difficulty of our circumstances has produced an awareness that life without Him is empty and futile. Then, at just the right moment, God breaks into our lives with His love and mercy and changes everything.
Becoming a Christian doesn't just mean you have entered into a relationship with Christ, it means you have become a member of His body. For believers, living in community is not just a novel idea - it is essential for spiritual health and growth. So how do we thrive in Christ through being connected to spiritual family?
Although salvation is a free gift, no one said that the Christian life would be easy! In fact, there is a spiritual battle that is continually being waged to destroy the life of the sincere believer. In this week's sermon, we will look at what it means to put on the full armor of God, so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the enemy.
The key to successful relationships in every sphere of life is learning how to walk in humility and mutual submission. But how do we submit when we are dealing with an imperfect, flawed individual? There is power in mutual submission, as it is approached "in the fear of Christ."
Marriage is a vital institution because it determines the health of our families and by extension, human civilization depends on it. But marriage is sacred for one more very important reason: It is a representation of the relationship between Christ and the church. Join us as we seek to understand why marriage is such a powerful and profound symbol of Christ’s love for us.
How does someone who is a Christian fall into spiritual slumber? And how does one wake up and regain their spiritual fervor? We have a rich history of spiritual revival going back to biblical times, right up until the modern-day church movement around the world. Let's examine the process of revival in our individual lives, church families and the world beyond us.
Jesus came to earth not only to atone for sin but also to provide a tangible demonstration of the character of God for mankind. In fact, the Scriptures say that He is "the exact representation of His (God's) nature." How then can we, too, be imitators of Christ?
When we are born again, we became a new creation. However, because the "old self" was not eradicated upon conversion, we need to learn to walk daily in our new nature in Christ. We can, and will, learn how to lay aside the old self and "put on the new self" in Christ.
The Scripture says, "When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:8) This week we will explore how Christ both liberated and empowered believers with spiritual gifts for "the building up of the body of Christ."
The hallmark of Christian community is expressed through the presence of supernatural love and unity. As we continue to explore the book of Ephesians, we will learn how to "preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Since the fall of man in garden, God has been moving throughout human history to unfold His redemption plan. Although there were clues along the way, it was never entirely clear how God would accomplish salvation for His people. In this portion of our study of the book of Ephesians, we will learn about "The mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men" (Ephesians 3:5).
At the time we were born again, the scripture says that "when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5). There is a stark contrast between life with Christ and life without Him. As we continue our study in Ephesians, we will find fresh strength and encouragement to continue to leave our old way of life behind and fully embrace our new life in Christ.
What happens when vision, active faith, and obedient risk, come together in the power of the Holy Spirit? The kingdom of God gets built, and Light shines in the darkness! Noah found this out when he built the ark as described in Genesis 6, and we can find out what this means for our own lives as well!
Most Christians understand the importance of the resurrection of Christ in accomplishing their salvation. But many do not understand that this same resurrection power is continually available to us in our Christian life. In part 2 of our series on the book of Ephesians, we will explore what is "the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)
In Ephesians 1:10 Paul says “all things are summed up in Christ.” Our existence, our redemption, our purpose on earth, our destiny in heaven; all these things come to us through Jesus Christ. Join us as we explore what it means to live life in the fullness of Christ, so that our lives can bring glory to Christ!
***NOTE: We apologize for the quality of this recording and pray that you still receive everything God wants to speak to you through the word.
Like the Laodiceans, we are generally a wealthy, self-reliant people, blinded from recognizing our deep depravity apart from the grace of God in our lives. Yet even in our spiritual apathy Jesus extends an invitation for deep intimacy that can radically transform our lives!
Jeremiah 8:3-6 is a dramatic depiction of the choice that the Lord gives each one of us to choose Him and His ways over the paths of "death." Genesis to Revelation in the Scriptures reveal that we are responsible for the choices we make here on earth in the sight of the Lord. And yet, God draws us to the sheer beauty of Jesus Christ and His powerful, merciful, love filled kingdom. His kingdom is ultimate Reality and a precious place to dwell!
According to Jesus, the church in Sardis was in serious trouble. They needed to be awakened from a spiritual slumber that had set in because of compromising on the exclusivity of the claims of Christ. If we are not careful we can find ourselves in the same predicament today. If we water down the truth of the gospel in an effort to be inclusive, we are rendering it powerless, which leaves us with a spiritually dead form of Christianity. We will discuss the importance of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:5) and how to avoid compromising the truth "in the name" of love.
The church in Thyatira had a lot of good things going for it. It was commended by Jesus for its continual growth in love, faith and good works. However, it had one serious Achilles heel that threatened its demise. It had developed a culture of tolerance for false teaching and immortality. As we examine Christ's message to the church in Thyatira we will explore the importance of maintaining a culture of reverence for the truth of God's word, and for holy living.
Continuing with the sermon theme of emotional health, how can we as the body of Christ be devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42) in a way that brings honor to God and allows the Lord to nourish one another's souls through spiritual relationship? The first powerful principle discussed in Pastor Peter Scazzero's book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, invites believers to "take a deep, hard, look inside their hearts asking, 'What is going on that Jesus Christ is trying to change? They understand that a person's life is like an iceberg, with the vast majority of who we are lying deep beneath the surface.'"
A church of Jesus Christ can only be as healthy as its members are emotionally healthy. And we are all growing more and more like Jesus Christ, including the elders and pastors of a church. We are all in this sanctification process together. Acts 2:42 implores us to be "devoted to fellowship" and it implies that it is healthy fellowship. How can we be devoted to fellowship in an emotionally healthy way that brings honor to God and allows the Lord to nourish one another's souls through spiritual relationship. We must grow emotionally and God will help us!
The people of Pergamum were known as the "Temple-keepers of Asia", with multiple temples of pagan Gods drawing worshipers from the entire region. The church in Pergamum was under tremendous pressure to adhere to the dominant pagan culture. Some Christians gave in to the pressure and co-mingled their faith in Christ with pagan worship, which drew sharp condemnation by Christ and a call to repentance. But what about us? Are we allowing the neo-pagan culture of our day to seep into our lives and even influence our faith? We will discuss how to guard against assimilation with the world, and how to access the empowering grace of God to walk faithfully in Christ.
The first century church in Smyrna experienced severe persecution under emperor Domitian, with many being martyred for their faith. However, rather than weakening the church, the opposition they experienced only served to make them stronger. Today we find ourselves in a culture that is increasingly hostile to those who want to live for Christ. What can we learn from the Church of Smyrna so that we too can grow stronger in our faith even in the face of opposition? We will explore this and more in part 2 of our series on The 7 Churches of Revelation.
This begins a series based on Jesus' messages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation in chapters 2 and 3. As Jesus evaluates these churches, we see seven different spiritual conditions represented. Christ’s admonition to these churches provides great insight into how to be successful not only as a church body, but also as individual Christians. Jesus said to these churches, “He who has an ear let Him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. Let’s listen carefully to the words of Jesus and apply them tour lives so we can live healthy, effective Christian lives for the glory of God!
True wealth, harmony with God's creation, and providential care, all result from learning and acting on the wisdom of the Lord (Proverbs 3:13-26). The entire Bible, and the book of Proverbs in particular, is loaded with wisdom that our loving, heavenly Father desires to share with us.
Do you ever feel like your life is unimportant and irrelevant in the grand scheme of things? I bet Esther felt this way as an orphaned peasant girl living away from her homeland in Persia around 475 B.C. Yet, if you remove Esther from the history of Israel, the whole nation would have been eradicated, and the Hebrew lineage would have stopped short of the birth of Jesus Christ. Your life too has significant meaning and purpose in God's plan of redemption. Without you fulfilling your God-given role in life, many people may never know the love of Christ.
Interpersonal communication is often the front line in the battle between light and darkness, especially within families. Ephesians 4:1-3 implores believers to communicate with humility, gentleness, patience, and love, "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Our homes can become the places of love, encouragement, and honor we desire them to be.
After multiple plagues and confrontations with Moses, Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites go but refuses to allow their children and flocks/herds to go with them. From a spiritual perspective, the same struggle is present in our own lives as Christians. Having lost the battle for our soul, the enemy shifts his focus to trying to limit our effectiveness as believers. As we leave Egypt behind, let's determine to take back everything that has been stolen from us through deception. Like Moses, we must remain resolute that everything God has promised us in Christ is ours and will not be left behind on this journey of faith!
Sometimes when we are at our lowest point in life we are tempted to give up and start to believe the lie that God has abandoned us. It's important in these times of trial and vulnerability, that we are listening to the right voices. In the 5th chapter of the gospel of Mark we read of two individuals facing the most desperate of circumstances. While others had written them off as hopeless, one encounter with Jesus changed everything. No matter what difficulty you are facing today, you are never hopeless. One touch from Jesus can radically change your life!
The resurrection of Christ is the single most significant event in human history. It was the culmination of God's plan to save His people from the deadly consequences of turning away from Him, extending all the way back to the garden of Eden. When Jesus arose from the dead roughly two thousand years ago, he defeated death and broke its power over those who would place their trust in Him as savior. This message is broken into two components; the significance of the cross in atoning for sin, and the importance of the resurrection in accomplishing redemption for mankind.
All four gospel accounts record Jesus's "Triumphal Entry" into the city of Jerusalem as the prophesied Messianic King (Zechariah 9:9)! Jesus stirred up the city with this humble, yet spiritually dramatic entry (Mathew 21:10). Will we acknowledge Jesus as King moment by moment today, and "throw our coats on the ground and waive palm branches" as He rides into every area of our hearts.
"Do you ever get a vague feeling that something feels off in your soul? Psalm 142:5 says, "I cried out to you , O Lord; I said, You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living." God promises to "supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). If we'll let him, Jesus will show himself to be Enough for sure!
Romans 13:4 says that Government "is a minister of God to you for good." And Theologian Wayne Grudem writes, "….if pastors and church members say, ‘I’m going to be silent about the moral and ethical issues that we face as a nation,’ that will leave a moral vacuum, and it will not be long until the ultimate adversaries of the Gospel –Satan and his demons – will rush in and influence every decision in a way contrary to Biblical standards. And if that happens, then governments around the world will increasingly use their tremendous power to silence the church.” How is a faithful follower of Jesus Christ to respond?
As we look to the New Year with hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God exhorts us to walk no longer in futile thinking and darkened understanding, but to instead lay aside the old self and "put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:17-24). As citizens of heaven, we have been given vision and power to see and move in a reality that transcends this world and allows us to walk faithfully in the way that Jesus compels us to go for His glory!
The birth of Jesus Christ is "good news of great joy which will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). This message encourages us to rely on the Holy Spirit and to be sure we "recognize" Jesus for who He really is this Christmas season. The book of Hebrews is explored, highlighting the promised Messiah as the Mediator of a new and better Covenant. There is so much to be joyful about the coming of humanity's Savior King Jesus!
Last week we examined 4 bible characters who lived life in the overflow of the presence and power of God. This week we are going to go a little deeper and see how this overflow works and operates in our lives. The scripture speaks of three different kinds of people in this world. The natural man who cannot understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), the carnal man controlled by his own passions (1 Corinthians 3:3) and the spiritual man walking in subjection to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:15). We will explore what it means to be a mature spiritual man or woman, governed and led by the Spirit of God.
Lasting transformation doesn’t result from a new year’s resolution. Most of our self-efforts to change are short-lived and end in disappointment. We will be examining 4 bible characters who had a life-changing encounter with God that was followed by an ongoing inner renewal that lasted a lifetime. Each of these people was “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3). The psalmist here describes a person that is continually being filled up and energized by the grace of God, and as result is overflowing with spiritual fruit. Let’s determine to live continually in the overflow of the presence and power of God in our lives!
1 Peter 2:21 says, "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps." This scripture leads us to an important truth as we endeavor to catch the "little foxes" that are spoiling the vineyard of our lives. When you decide to stand against attitudes or behaviors that get between the loving relationship you have with Jesus, there is often a great pressure placed on the soul that can be described as suffering. We can endure this suffering though in God's strength, and go on to realize the victory we have in Christ Jesus!
The phrase "take courage" is a powerful one and used throughout the Old and New Testaments by God to encourage humans in many different situations. Could you use more courage in your life as you face the challenges of life in a fallen world? You are not alone and the Lord desires that you "take courage," as we obey Him and come to His precious son Jesus.
Fear can dramatically hinder our walk with God, tempting us to become discouraged, distracting us from Kingdom truth, and challenging our faith to stand on the promises of God. The Lord understands this struggle and desires to encourage us in the same way He strengthened the Patriarch Issac declaring, "Do not fear, for I am with you" (Genesis 26:24)!
John Chapter 15:1-17 is intimate Scripture capturing Jesus's heart and vision for His disciples on the evening before His crucifixion. His words tell us that we must "abide" in Him. How is this done and what does it mean for victorious Christian living, friendship with Jesus, bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God, and loving one another? We are shaped by the Lord to function as branches in the True Vine, Jesus Christ!
In their quest to posses the promised land the Israelites would have to fight many battles. However, one of their enemies changed tactics and instead of aggression, they turned to cunning deception to negotiate a peace treaty that would allow them to remain in the land. We too face many enemies in our walk with God, but none are so dangerous or insidious as those that gain access to our soul through deception, becoming entrenched in our lives over time. These "thorns in the flesh" are often not defeated easily, and we can find ourselves engaged in an on-going battle. However, If you continue to trust the Lord, He can turn your struggle into fuel for the grace of God in your life, providing new strength to walk in victory!
After an incredible victory over Jericho unmistakably accomplished by the hand of God, the Israelites decided in their next battle that they did not need to consult with God for guidance, wisdom and strength, and the result was utter failure. We often experience the same pattern at work in our own lives as believers. We cry out to God in the midst of difficulty and He answers us and delivers us. Then we slowly begin to take the favor and power of God for granted and stop seeking Him, tragically thinking we can have success walking in our own strength. Yet even when we have failed miserably and find ourselves in “The Valley of Trouble”, God provides a Door of Hope!
How does God call us to think about the time he has given us on earth after we have been redeemed, restored and born again? Where can godly motivation for living be found and in what context are we called to live lives pleasing to God, "no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 provides much insight.
You are shaped for an eternity with a loving God, but there are competing ideas about where we came from, the meaning of life, and where we are headed after this life, if anywhere. And the prevailing view of our age in the West is that you can’t know because there are so many different paths. Any if there are so many paths, then they must all be right in some way, or somehow lead to the same place. But we know that Jesus himself said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Mathew 7:13-14).
Today's message looks at several people in the Bible whom God used to bless others through their ability to hear God, and their willingness to obey God. And it is not so different in our own lives today. God is still speaking, calling us to the Truth of the Scriptures, and encouraging and empowering us to be used to bless others by walking in the vision and plans He has placed on our hearts.
As the Israelites continued their journey through the wilderness, God was teaching them to walk in total reliance upon Him. However, they quickly learned that surviving the harsh conditions of the wilderness required not only reliance on God, but also reliance on one another. They had to be willing to bear one another’s burdens and share the responsibility of protecting and building their new community, which would ultimately be forged into a mighty nation. Similarly, if we are to be successful in our walk with God, we must be committed to serving one another and carrying one another’s burdens. In doing so, we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), and we demonstrate the kind of love that bears witness to the love of Christ (John 13:35).
Jesus said, "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again'" (John 3:7). He also said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). John the Baptist, Jesus, and His 12 disciples all began their earthly ministries proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God is a real place, and unlike this world which will pass away, the Kingdom of God is eternal, and begins with the born again experience. Pastor Craig shares how he was introduced to the Kingdom of God 13 years ago as well.
Multiple times God said to Pharaoh through Moses, “Let My people go so that they may serve WORSHIP Me”. Other times He would say “Let My people go so that they may serve SERVE Me”. We learn then that God’s purpose for delivering His people from bondage is so that they can be free to worship Him and serve Him. But deliverance did not come easy as Pharaoh was not willing to let them go without a fight. One thing is as certain for us as it was for the Israelites. The forces of darkness that would try and hold us captive are no match for the power of God at work in our lives. God has purchased your freedom through Christ so that you may be free to WORSHIP Him and SERVE Him all the days of your life!
Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm my own worst enemy?" Galatians 5:17 tells us, "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Regular bible interaction, activated by prayer and faith, can supernaturally prepare us to win the war with our sinful nature.
Coming into the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and drove out all those who sold merchandise; But why? When Jesus entered the temple His first priority was to forcefully cleanse it from all forms of idolatry and evil practices. In the same way when we are born again Christ comes into the temple of our hearts and immediately begins His cleansing work, driving out all forms of idolatry so He can take His rightful place of preeminence in our lives. This process can be challenging and even painful at times, but it will ultimately produce the peaceful fruitful of rigorousness in our lives.
There is a song in your heart. Did you know that? Metaphorically speaking, the song in your heart celebrates and gives expression to that in which your soul delights. Sadly, many celebrate those things that starve their souls and will ultimately drive them to their eternal death. However, when you are born again, God puts a new song in your heart, and you can't help but give expression to that in which your soul delights; Jesus Christ! As we will see in scripture, myriads of angelic beings and countless redeemed souls throughout history will sing the song of heaven for all eternity.
Is life really “all about me?” Has the Self Esteem movement convinced you that loving yourself is foundational to living a full life? Yet the Scriptures teach us that the greatest commandment is to love God, and to love others (Luke 10:27); not ourselves. Overemphasizing “Self” can have a devastating effect on our walk with Christ, without us even being aware of it.
Throughout the old and new testament God would repeatedly remind His people of all that He had done for them. They were to celebrate feasts and set up memorials so that throughout the generations they would remember how God supernaturally redeemed them and saved them from their enemies. At times He would allow testing to remind them of their weakness and powerlessness without Him. It is a dangerous thing to forget what God has done for us. The exhortation Moses gave the Israelites still holds true for us today: Beware lest you forget the Lord Your God!
For the Christian, life should not be focused on self, but rather on knowing God and making Him known. The amazing thing is as we focus on growing in our relationship with Christ, we naturally develop a heart for those that do not know Him. Reaching out to our friends and neighbors in love with the gospel of Christ is something that all Christians are called to do.
How as Christians are we able to "walk by the Spirit," as Galatians 5:16 implores us to do? Is there a way that we can be "absorbed" in the kingdom of God in a way that allows us to live in the world, but not be of the world? "Spiritual Disciplines," many of them as old as the church itself, can be powerful tools, helping us to walk intimately and victoriously with Jesus moment by moment.
There is an unseen cosmic battle being waged all around us for the the souls of men and women. As Christians, we need to be equipped to fight in this spiritual battle. One of satan's greatest weapons is discouragement. His goal is to get us to give up the fight, and surrender the idea that we can live a life of righteousness and victory through Jesus Christ. There is much at stake: our marriages, our children, our testimony, and our calling to reach the lost for Christ. Let's resolve to Never Surrender the fight for these things, knowing that Christ is with us and will not let us fail!
Two spiritual forces symbolically represented as rivers in scripture, are relentlessly at work to capture you and sweep you away in two very different directions. One river leads to enslavement and destruction, while the other brings life, healing, and liberty wherever it goes. The River of God is wild, unpredictable and involves great risk. Those who are willing to trust in the goodness of God and jump in, will experience great peace, joy and freedom, even in the midst of life's trials.
Christians are, "the salt of the earth, and the light of the world" (Mathew 5:13-14). Ultimately it is an act of love for Christians to "significantly influence" the political process, and yet our hope is not in politics, but in the Lord Himself. There are some that want to "Make America Great Again," but the question is how? Are we to expect that America will be great without following the Lord and His ways?
This world is designed to wear you down, and occupy every moment of your attention on earthly preoccupations so that you won’t have the energy to access the source of your true strength in Christ. If we are not careful we can find ourselves in a place of spiritual exhaustion that leads to hopelessness and despair. What are the traps that lead us down this dangerous road? God didn't design you to just endure life, you were created to soar in the Spirit with Christ!
When we come to grips with our own weakness, we can humble ourselves before God and pray for the strength we need to face challenges in life. As we will see, throughout history God's people have often turned to prayer and fasting when there is a need for repentance, spiritual breakthrough, or in preparation for effective ministry. When men begin to call on the name of the Lord, nothing is impossible!