Longing Pt.3 – For More Peace in My Life

Longing Pt.3 – For More Peace in My Life

Looking for Peace? Most of us are more familiar with tension, stress, and anxiety, rather than peace. Lack of peace is a result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world. People say…

•I’m ready to throw in the towel

•I am at the end of my rope

•I am just a bundle of nerves

•I am at my wits end

•I feel like resigning from the human race

•I am in over my head

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[b] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Peace – shalom – fulness. Having everything you need to be whole and happy (Jesus – The Prince of Peace)

(Luke 2:6-14 NIV) “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

Can there actually be Peace on Earth?

Fredrick Buechner said, “Peace is not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”

A not so silent night. There was no peace in Israel at this time. Gloom, anguish, and contempt were just some of the adjectives used to describe this darkness.

•The word of God had not been heard for four centuries.  Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, written in the fifth century BC.

•The people of God were under the oppressive rule of Rome. Political darkness reigned!

•The nation of Israel was fracturing. The Pharisees, Sadducees, The Essenes, The Zealots – which resulted in the oppressive rule of Rome

•The census was a considerable imposition.  Living in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph lived more than 100 miles North of Bethlehem.  Yet, there was no way around it.  They were forced by legal constraint to make the arduous trip.

•The poverty of Mary and Joseph did not fit the royal son they had. Joseph had no bargaining power. Without family or hospitality, darkness surrounded them.

•Through the hostile forces of Herod, Satan tried to kill Jesus. Herod, so paranoid for his own position and power that he had multiple family members executed, attempts to use the wisemen to lead him to the Christ child—not to worship, but to exterminate. He orders the execution of all the children in and around Bethlehem.

(John 16:33 NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Internet search for peace of mind – home security, hypnosis, funeral services, perfume, plumbing to insure your toilet

4 Sources Of Tension in Life

1. Unavoidable Circumstances.

Much of life is out of our control

•When things are out of our control – We get frustrated and lose our peace of mind

(Jeremiah 4:20 NIV) “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.”

Sometimes the pain and problems in your life is nobody’s fault

John 9:1-3 Message Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

2. Unbearable People.

Have you ever thought…? Life would be great if it weren’t for all these people – You make all of these great plans – people will not cooperate

(Psalms 109:3 NIV) “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.”

Never forget 3 Types of People in Your Life. Those:

1. Who helped you in your difficult time

2. Who left you in your difficult time

3. Who put you in your difficult time

3. Unexplainable Problems.

Then there is the whole “unexplainable” part of life – Things don’t turn out right – don’t understand why

(Matthew 27:46 NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3 Reasons for life’s problems

1. Sin – Imperfect world

2. Satan – Common Enemy

3. Self – we make mistakes

Problems are God given opportunities to grow – challenges drive us to deeper understanding and maturity. Problems come from the greek word which means “To Throw” or “To Drive forward”

Robert Schuller said, “Impossibilities vanish when a man and His God confront a mountain”

4. Uncontrollable Worry.

(Jeremiah 6:24 NIV) “We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labor.”

God doesn’t want you to worry!

The truth is – Christmas season is anything but peaceful for people. We all love this time of year – but produces so much worry, stress, anxiety, and depression.

I find that men and women worry about different things at Christmas Women worry about, Did I buy enough?  Do we have enough?  Have I done enough?  Are the kids going to be happy? Did I forget anybody?

Guys worry about at different things at Christmas – really two How am I going to pay for all of this? And, How long are the relatives going to be in town?

Worrying never solves tomorrow’s problems – Worry only robs today of its peace

I know there’s a lot of stuff here that we’re worried about Some real legitimate, pretty serous things

Health issues, financial problems, family crises, Are my kids going to be all right? Am I going to have a job next year? What’s the doctor going to say?

I Peter 5:7 NIV Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Focus on God, not the problem! 

Myth – I can control and fix things by worrying about them / Truth – Worry only makes me miserable

2 Options – Panic or Pray / worry or worship

How you really find peace during Christmas

(John 14:27 LB) “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

1.Receive God’s Extravagant Grace. 

You were made to live in harmony with God – When you are not – it causes stress

(Romans 5:1 NIV) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Psychologists will tell you that a main source of stress – guilt – There is nothing more peaceful than a clean slate

Justified – just as if I’d never done it – But you need to accept it – even some Christians don’t

Micah 7:18 NIV – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

God is eager – it’s the best part of His day – Think about it – total forgiveness – completely clean – That would give peace of mind

2. Run to God’s Presence.

This one is hard to explain – you have to experience it – There is a tangible presence of God

(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

Peace is a mindset – but can’t get it through secular meditation – Comes through focusing on what God says about you – Prayer – the Word of God

(Psalm 46:1, 10 NIV) “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”

Back story – 180,000 enemy troops were about to attack Israel

God says – “chill out” – sit still – hurry aggravates worry – Be still “And know” – intimacy not knowledge

3. Obey God’s principles.

(Psalm 119:165 NIV) “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

If we’re honest – most of our stress comes from ignoring His principles – What has God told you that you haven’t done yet?

Peace Comes through obedience to God’s word

Romans 8:6 NIV – The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 

Luke 2:13-14 CEV “Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: ‘Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.’ 

4. Rely on God’s provision.

(Philippians 4:6-7 LB) “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

•Trust God to take care of things beyond your control

•Quit dwelling on the “What if’s” of life

•Live one day at a time:

•Matthew 6:34 says, Don’t worry about tomorrow, Matthew 6:11, Give us today our daily bread

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found. Most people are familiar with tension, stress and anxiety than peace. The lack of peace is the result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world.

Today on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, identify areas in your life in which turmoil is reigning rather than peace.

I admonish everyone of us today to Trust in God’s Provision and Care

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” 

When we put our care in God’s hands, He puts his Peace in our Hearts

Don’t fall to pieces – Follow Peace – April Osteen Simons

All I Want for Christmas Pt.3

All_I_want_for_Christmas

By Daniel Lewis

What is Hope?

Biblical definition: “a strong and confident expectation.” (bible.org)


Christmas: The Fulfillment of a Hope of a Savior

 

A. For Israel

 

B. For All Nations

 

To the Jewish people, there was a theme of Hope that runs throughout the whole bible. The hope of a Messiah to come and bring them salvation.

Prophesies about him are found all throughout the bible, telling us everything about him.

Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

Isaiah 9:2-7

The people walking in darkness

    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

    a light has dawned.

 

Luke 2: Simeon

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

    and the glory of your people Israel.”

 

 

He is known as the Hope of all nations. (Matthew 12:21)

Christmas is a time for renewed Hope. Whatever condition your life is in today, the presence of Christ and what he has accomplished for us gives you Hope.

We’re going to look this morning at what we can be hopeful for…

 

1. A New Hope of REDEMPTION

Redemption: From our current situation

Jesus Christ was anointed for many kinds of redemption.

Isaiah 61:1-3

 

Whatever your current situation is, you can be redeemed from:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

    and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

    instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

    instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

    instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    a planting of the Lord

    for the display of his splendor.

 

·         Bad financial decisions

·         A difficult start in life

·         Heartbreak

·         Addiction

·         Dark thoughts

·         Debts

·         Mourning

·         Grief

·         Despair

…and more!

 

 What do you regret? Relationships you’ve messed up? Things that were said? Mistakes that you’ve made?

Wherever you are in life, whatever condition you are in, however much you’ve sinned and however much feel like you’re ruin or messed up your life: There is One who can redeem you.

Redemption: From our sins

Isaiah 53:6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

Christ would become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The sacrificial Lamb.

 

2. A New Hope of RELATIONSHIP

In Christ, our relationships can be restored. 2 Types of relationship:

  • Horizontal relationships
  • Vertical relationships

HORIZONTAL – Relationship: with each other

Friends

1 John 5:7

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

Family

Malachi 4:5-6

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

Healthy family relationships are a priority for God. Christmas time is a time of meeting with family. Christ can restore your relationships. He can give you an ability to re-establish relationships.

 

VERTICAL – Relationship with God the Father

2 Cor. 5:17-21

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are now able to be in relationship with God through Christ who took our sin.


3. A New Hope of RENEWAL

Jesus came to bring us healing.

Renewal of Health

Luke 8:43-48

43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

 

Renewal of Vision

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This Christmas is a time to remember that God thinks of you.

He knows you and has a vision for your life.

When you come to Christ it is a new day. You have a future in Him.

 

How do we obtain this Hope?

Through Revelation

When truth is revealed to you – hope will arise. For this reason we all need to spend regular time reading the Word.

 

Through Resilience

Romans 5:4

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Sufferings -> Perseverance -> Character -> Hope

Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Though an encounter with Jesus Christ

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

It’s a time to fix our eyes on Jesus.

What was the joy set before him? A relationship with you.

Believers Guide to the Election

Believer-TitleBy Daniel Lewis

Presidential Election

  • Here we are 93 days before the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
  • To elect the 45th President of the United States of America
  • It’s everywhere you turn!

We live in an amazing time and have the privilege of voting for the next leader of this great country. So how then should we, as believer approach this election?

Let’s see what the bible says about Government, Leaders and Authorities…

We’re going to look at 5 Major questions…

  1. Who really chooses the President?
  2. Does your vote matter?
  3. Can it be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead?
  4. Can it be Gods will for a woman to lead?
  5. How do we know we are voting for Gods person?

But first, let’s look at some of the Governments and Authorities that existed in the bible.

Governments in the Bible

Theocracy: God as King

  • Patriarchs: Adam, Abraham
  • Prime Ministers: Joseph
  • Tribes/Clans: 12 tribes of Israel
  • Prophets: Moses
  • Judges: Gideon, Samson, Samuel and Others…

Monarchy: Man as King

United Kingdom

 

Divided Kingdom

 

  • Kings:
    • Saul
    • David
    • Solomon

 

  • Israel (19 Kings)
    • All Bad Kings
    • Destroyed by the Assyrians
  • Judah (20 Kings)
    • 8 Good Kings
    • 12 Bad Kings
    • Exiled into Babylon
    • Return to their land
    • Became occupied by the Romans

 

Monarchy didn’t work out so well for the people of God. But, as usual God had a plan of redemption for his people.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

A New Government

The Invisible Kingdom

God chose to send his son into the earth in a time when Gods people were under occupation from the Romans.

Mark 1:15  (NIV)

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 

Luke 17:20 (NIV)

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

Many people were expecting God to bring them a King who would save them from the Romans.

God had something way bigger in mind.

  • To save them their sins
  • To restore relationship with their Creator (the Father)
  • To give them eternal life

Col 1:13-14

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

There is also a Kingdom of Darkness which we will discuss later.


Philippians 2:8-11

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Who then are we subject to?

We are subject first and foremost to God but notice that God did not abolish earthly authorities.

We are still subject to the earthly authorities

Colossians 1:15-18

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Romans 13:1-2

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Who then do we obey?

Both. If any earthly authority tries to cause you to sin, then you should obey God.

See: Daniel 3 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to bow.


The United States of America

We’ve talked about Theocracy and Monarchy. But what form of government do we live in?

Democracy

Definition: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting (Merriam-Webster)

Democracy is a form of Government by which leaders are elected (generally by popular majority). Democracy is not perfect. The fact that the majority believes something does not necessarily mean it is good or right.

Sometimes the majority is not necessarily right…

A lone man refusing to do the Nazi salute, 1936

Winston Churchill once commented…

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

 

The First Amendment

In the United States we have some amazing freedoms, many of which are found in the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These are amazing freedoms which protect us!

  • The freedom of speech – without this we could not share the good news without fear
  • The freedom of religion – many nations prohibit or limit particular faiths
  • The freedom of the press – we are free to print the good news
  • The right for peaceful assembly – we are free to be here today without interference
  • To petition the Government – free to obtain justice over these rights

Somebody, say “God bless America!”

We must remember that the same laws that protect us, also protect others who participate in a different religion or who have a different world view.

What have we established so far?

  • We are now subjects of an eternal Kingdom
  • The King of Kings has left earthly authorities in place
  • There is no authority except which God has established
  • In our democracy, we the people elect our leader
  • ….So, if it is God who establishes the authorities then…


5 Major Questions

1. Who really chooses the President?

God Is Sovereign over all Creation

King Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 4:28-32

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

God also respects the will of the people

Let’s look at how Gods nation switched from a Theocracy to a Monarchy.

1 Samuel 8:6-7

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

God warns the people of what this will mean…

  • Taxes
  • Conscription
  • Giving up land

1 Samuel 8:19-22

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

God allowed the people to go their own way. He respects free will.

2. Does your vote matter?

Absolutely! The systems we are in allow us the freedom to vote according to our beliefs.

Coming from a nation (Australia) that has as high as over 90% voter turn-out. In my humble opinion, I believe that believers should exercise the right to vote.

God respects the will of the people so we should make sure we are heard. Every vote counts.

3. Can it be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead?

King Cyrus

150 years before he would free Gods people from Exile.

Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer…

26b Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ And I will raise up her waste places; 27 Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers’; 28 Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’

Isaiah is prophesying the return of His people from exile and rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 45

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 2 ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

Therefore, it can be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead on behalf of His people.

4. Can it be Gods will for a Woman to lead?

Deborah

Judges 4:4

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.

5. How do we know we are voting for Gods person?

Politicians and Journalists rank as some of the least trusted professions in this county.

Are we to take people at their word alone?

Jesus spoke of the parable of two Sons:

Matthew 21:28-30

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

Some candidates will promise things they won’t do. Others may do things that they have not promised to do.

Tips for Surviving the Election

1 Thessalonians 5

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

Let’s unpack this verse…

1. Rejoice always

Don’t let the news get you down.

Have faith and praise God. He is still on the throne!

2. Pray continually

God is sovereign but he still needs us to Pray!

Remember the Kingdom of Darkness…

Daniel 10:12

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

Be persistent in prayer. Your prayers will shift the heavens! Why else would God have said…

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

 

3. Give thanks in all circumstances

No matter who wins this election, give thanks to God and pray for your leaders! (1 Tim 2)

4. Do not quench the Spirit

The Holy Spirit will give you Gods perspective.

1 Cor 2:15-16

15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

  1. Take your directions from the Holy Spirit
  2. Not Facebook, Twitter, Fox News or CNN

You may be surprised at what God might reveal to you!

Example

Could it be possible that God wants Muslim refugees to come to this nation to hear the gospel and be saved?

Here are some issues that I believe should matter to all believers:

  • Continued Freedom (Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly)
  • Justice
  • Against racism
  • Protecting the innocent
  • Compassion for the poor and needy
  • Equality
  • National security
  • Peace and Prosperity of the Nation

Jeremiah 29:7

7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

5. Do not treat prophesies with contempt, but test them all…

There are still prophets and yes, God does still speak to them!

Amos 3:7

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

Test them. Do they align with the word of God?


Other Tips

1. Avoid Arguments

Do we really achieve anything by arguing with people on Facebook?

  • Find common ground!
  • If you feel your brother or sister is in error then pray for them rather than arguing.

2. Be “Unoffendable”

Love your enemy, pray for those who mistreat you

3. Compromise

You may not agree with all of the policies of your candidate or party.

4. Vote!

Less Than 2%

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Less than 2% (Gideon’s Guide to Church Building) By Steve Light

Today we are going to take a look at an Old Testament story that has powerful and important lessons for us as church. We are going to examine the story of Gideon in the book of Judges and dive into how the Lord was able to use very few people, very few resources and very little faith to accomplish an amazing feat.

And why study this story? Because we live in a world where Christians define success by worldly measures – the size of church membership, the size of church programs, the size of the building and the size of the budget. In doing so, churches are at a high risk to not leave room for God’s blessings and provisions, His direction and most importantly room for the Holy Spirit.

This story also gives us a roadmap as a church on how to be faithful to the Lord and keep everything we do at the center of His will and His guidance.

 It requires us to be full of faith, active in prayer, driven to obedience and embracing humility.

 And if we listen and we learn from Gideon’s story, there is no doubt God will bless Gracetown. With less than 2% of what we think is needed to grow, I believe God will show us he can give us 500x more than we can imagine.

Let us pray….

Father, as we read your word, let us remember Proverbs 2:10-11…”For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you”. I ask that the Holy Spirit be present, to fill our hearts and mind that we would hear, learn and act as Your perfect will would guide us. Amen.

Midian Oppresses Israel (Judges 6:1-10)

Judges 6:1-2 (HSCB)“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in mountains and caves”.

  • Right away we learn that God’s people are being wicked and so there is accountability. God calls people to live a holy life. Salvation is the start but sanctification – a life long focus on living righteous – is required and when we don’t stay focused on this, God creates storms in our lives to get us back on track. He does this because he cares just like a parent correcting a child.
  • Who were the Midianites? Arabs from the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Why is the number seven showing up frequently through this story?

  • Seven is the number of completeness and perfection both physical and spiritual within Bible
  • It is used 735 times
  • The Israelites had suffered under the Midian’s for 7 years – God was driving them to repentance

And we see this is in Judges 6:6 – “So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian and the Israelites cried out to the Lord”.

Lesson #1 – They repented. They turned away from the world and focused on God.

The Lord Calls Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)

As we read the passages between Judges 6:11-24 we are going to learn a lot about Gideon and his faith in God.

I call this Gideon seeing his relationship with God in 3-D.

  • Doubt, Disobedience and Distance

We will see that when God shows in his everyday, ordinary life Gideon does two things. First he questions why the world is so upside down. He does not seek to learn from God the lesson of the situation, but instead merely wants relief. Second, and most importantly, he blames God for the tumultuous situation of Israel.

Here I am reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s spot on quote that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no thinks of changing himself”.

Gideon is called by the Angel of the Lord to lead the people against Midian and his first reaction is doubt in his ability to be successful. He goes on to argue with God, to be disobedient despite the command. He makes a veiled attempt at humility claiming he is from the weakest clan and he is the least of this clan. Finally, instead of taking a leap of faith towards God, he seeks to distance himself from God out of fear and doubt.

Scripture teaches us in these moments how to be faithful, courageous and strong to God’s call…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (HSCB)“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths”.

Ephesian 3:20 (HSCB)“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us”. The power is the Holy Spirit.

Gideon then runs to pull together a “gift” for the Angel of the Lord – which is a test. Is this real? Will he be there when I return? Gideon goes and gets a young goat, unleavened bread and broth. He brings it back to make a meal. But the Angel of the Lord gives him a sign. He takes the simple and ordinary – meager provisions from Gideon and supernaturally completes the meal – pulling fire from a rock.

The lesson here…Gideon brings basic effort and resources and God elevates it and glorifies it. This shows Gideon that God is truly in his presence and He worships God.

Let’s read Judges 6:11-23 and look for blame, the doubt, the disobedience and the distance away from God’s will and His blessing.

So Gideon is full of the Spirit of God and is ready to take on the Midianites now, right? No. It’s the first steps of the journey. He has to do hard things, say hard things. Things that will put him at odds with his family, with his community and with the world. Things that runs counter to culture. And where do we find him. Timid, afraid…but…at least taking the first steps in faith and obedience.

Gideon Tears Down the Baal Alter (Judges 6:25-32)

 Later that night, Gideon hears from God with crystal clear instructions…

Judges 6:25-26“Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the alter of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Build a well constructed alter to the Lord your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down”.

Baal and Asherah – male and female fertility gods of Canaanites

Gideon follows God’s command, but let’s see how he does this…

Judges 6:27“But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it all at night”.

Gideon lacked courage. He lacked integrity. He was more concerned with the opinions of the other people than God. He had a chance to be bold and he whimpered.

Galatians 1:10 teaches…“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

We cannot allow our fears of the world’s reaction to our call to diminish our sharing of the Gospel and engaging the world. We have to be bold. How did the men of the village react to the torn down altar? Now remember these are Israelites that are violating God’s law in being idolatrous. They are breaking the very first law – there shall be no other gods than Jehovah. These guys are outraged and want blood. They want death for Gideon. They are completely blinded by his call to repentance. His father steps in and wisely calls to let Baal defend himself. He tells everyone to wait for Baal to punish Gideon, essentially questioning if he is real and has any real power.

Joash – his father, also gives Gideon a new name – Jerubbal, which means “contender against Baal”.

The Sign of the Fleece (Judges 6:33-39)

Now we see that the Sprit of the Lord has descended upon Gideon. He starts to rally his clan and other tribes in the region. Yet we find he still doubts. He continues to move forward but has not yet full released his trust completely to God. But there is a critical lesson here…Gideon goes to God for confirmation and clarity. This principle is asking God to reveal with clarity His will. It is seeking out signs for confirmation that the direction is right. This often comes through discussions with others, circumstances around us – doors opening and doors closing. We have to be mindful and spirit filled to see and discern these things.

How does Gideon do this? He asks God to do some supernatural signs using some simple tools. And he doesn’t just ask once, but TWICE!. God is truly patient. Let’s read Judges 6:36-39 and look for how Gideon sought to get confirmation and clarity from the Lord.

God Selects Gideon’s Army

Notice here that the message is NOT Gideon selected his army, but the Lord did. Gideon, now full of faith and spirit, goes on the move. He has 135,000 Midianites camped in a valley north of him. He rallies 32,000 people. Not good odds. He has 1 Israelite for every 4 Midianites. VERY tough to complete the task with such limited resources. He needs volunteers but there are not enough.

 

What does God say to this? Does he bring more people, more money, and more resources? No. He tells Gideon that he has too much for the task at hand. He simplifies it. He demands faith and obedience and in that the Lord brings the necessary provisions.

Let’s look at Judges 7:2…“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: “I did this myself”.

God instructs Gideon with a test of wisdom. He tells Gideon to have each man drink from the water. Anyone who kneels to drink put in one group. Anyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog put into another group. Why this test? The men that lapped water like a dog where wise for battle – they got nourishment while being able to keep their eyes up and alert. But those that kneeled put their eyes down and were at risk of being blindsided.

What were the results? Judges 6:6 tells us “the number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was 300 men. In verse 7 “The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and turn the Midianites over to you”.

300 men? To wage war against 135,000 Midianites that had been terrorizing the nation of Israel for 7 long, difficult, horrible years. Was God crazy? He was sending Gideon to battle with only 1.4% (see the tie in now to the less than 2%?) of the men he started with. 300 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites. How could he succeed?

Here’s the greatest truth of this story – Gideon could not on his own. Not by his human strength or intelligence. Not without making room for God. Not without trusting God. Not without having faith completely, without reservation, that God would provide EVERYTHING they needed with 300 men. And not without the Holy Spirit.

Gideon Spies on the Midianites Camp (Judges 7:9-14)

 Gideon, as you can imagine, is unsettled. He has built up his faith in the Lord only to return to fear now that he has 300 men assigned by God. God rouses Gideon from sleep and tells him to go the Midianites camp and “listen to what they say; and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp”.

God knew Gideon’s heart. He was full of doubt and fear. So God tells him in verse 10 – “if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant”.

God reminded Gideon to surround himself with someone he trusted. Someone that would be encouraging and knew him well. Someone that could lift him up.

  • God had a better opinion of Gideon that he did at himself at this point. God always sees us differently from the way we see ourselves.
  • When Gideon answered the call of God his life changed and his family and friend’s opinion of him changed. I am sure he felt isolated and alone. But, like Gideon, we are not alone. God’s promises never fail and he never gives up on us.
  • His family was living in the wrong way – witchcraft, idolatry – things that blocked the blessings of God. He needed to be around faithful people.
  • Gideon needed fellowship – he had a small group with Purah. Someone he could talk to, lean on and be built up by.

Our growth as Christians and as a church requires God to take us to uncomfortable places so God has the room to show us our true selves and to help us grow into a life that is joyful, peaceful and blessed.

Gideon and Purah go to the camp at night and heard a man speak of a dream that a “loaf of barley bread came tumbling into Midinite camp, struck a tent, and it fell.” His friend replied, ”This is nothing less the sword of Gideon…God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him”. (Judges 7:13-14).

It would be preposterous to think that a simple loaf of bread could roll over a tent. Yet with God nothing is impossible. If we listen for the small voice of God in the world around us, we get the confirmation and clarity of His guidance for us.

Isaiah 30:21 teaches…“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it”.

Direction from God should be clear and should give us peace.

Gideon finally, with the faith in the Lord, and the fellowship of Purah had his peace. It was time to do God’s work with less than 2% of what Gideon originally thought he needed.

Gideon Attack the Midianites (Judges 7:15-23)

 Following God’s instruction, Gideon and the 300 men took three things to battle. A sword, a shield and a helmet. Right? No. They took a bow, arrows and a spear. Right? No. They took a trumpet, an empty water pitcher and a torch. If they did it there way, they would have used weapons and attacked using their strength. And they would have lost. But letting God lead, they submitted to His wisdom. The split up into three groups and in the middle of the night surrounded the camp of Midianites. They began to blow the trumpets, smashed the pitchers and held up the torches shouting…”The sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. God’s Spirit created a confusion and madness that swept the camp. The Midianite warriors set their swords against each other. The result was the 120,000 warriors slaughtered one another. And the remaining 15,000 fled the camp. Gideon and his men pursued them with a larger force and routed the Midianites for good.

Gideon was living out Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” and Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”.

Gideon’s Legacy (Judges 8:22-28)

There are two final critical lessons for us in this story that we need understand and apply to our lives and to our church.

  1. We need to give God complete control
  2. We need to work constantly on living right as Christians – when we are at peace we are at risk to fall back into bad ways

The battle is over and naturally the men said to Gideon in Judges 8:22 – “rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for YOU delivered us from the power of Midian”.

Wow. All that work by God and these guys do not give God credit. Gideon is wise. He says ”I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23) Gideon rightly gave glory to God.

Lesson one – our faith and our mission it is not about any human leadership.  It is only about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Our hearts and minds need to focus on entirely making Him the King of our homes and our church.

Scripture tells us in Judges 8:28…”so Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful for 40 years during the days of Gideon”.

God answered their prayers. They repented and trusted in Him for guidance and provision using only 1.4% of what they thought they needed. He brought them salvation, peace and prosperity.

But….

Judges 8:33-34…”When Gideon died, the Israelites turned and prostituted themselves with the Baals and made Baal –berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them”.

Lesson two – when life is good, things are working well and there are no issues, we forget about God and tend to focus on ourselves, our desires and our wants.

The Israelites knew this lesson well, but ignored it. They knew that life came from God. That all resources came from God. That all blessings (and curses) came from God. His command was simple. Seek Him first, live holy, love and care for others and worship Him alone.

Let’s read from Deuteronomy 8 that was the law that the Israelites had in the Torah…

Deuteronomy 8:11-13…“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command – the ordinances and statues – I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your hers and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…”

“You may say to yourself, my power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me, but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth…”

So I stand here today asking all of us to answer a simple question as a church… Why type of Gideons do we want to be? Afraid, lacking faith, trying to do it ourselves? Or bold, trusting God and ready to build God’s kingdom on less than 2% of what the world tells us we need when we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, teaching us and caring for us?

Let’s pray together….Father, we give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good. Your faithful love endures forever. Remember us, Lord, when You show favor on Your people. Come to us with Your salvation so that we may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in being Your people and boast about Your heritage. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let it Go

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LET IT GO: Forgiveness By Cierra Yanok Rider

If you guys have your Bibles or smartphone or the Gtown app open up to Matthew 6:10-13. This is a passage in the Bible that everyone should know very well, The Lord’s Prayer…whether you come from a Catholic background or this is your first Sunday, even sports teams in high school recite this prayer. Let’s say the Lord’s prayer together- you can follow along on the screen too-

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

Now let me go on and read vs 14-15 for you;

Matthew 6:14-15- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So basically what this is saying is reiterating what Jesus is telling us to pray to him, but how to apply it. We ask Him to forgive us and we forgive those who have hurt us—but Jesus thought it was so important to remind us one more time in v. 14 & 15 by saying…”listen, I want to forgive you, but if you don’t forgive others, I can’t forgive you”

Now lets look at a couple more scriptures on forgiveness real quick-

Mark 11:25- But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too

Colossians 3:13- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Luke 6:37- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

These are only 4 references to forgiveness..When I was googling how many times the word forgiveness is in the bible it said around 70 times…

Seems to me that God is pretty clear on what he is instructing us to do in the realm of forgiveness. Does anyone have one of those friends who repeats stories a lot or tells you something to do over and over again? Yeah, I have a few..quite a few family members too. But you want to know something? I bet you remember their story. When I was growing up if my mom had to repeat directions to me more than once, I got a spanking, I am thankful God has a little more mercy than the Trish. J

Today I want to address two questions pertaining to forgiveness, the first one being;

1. WHY should I forgive?
2. HOW do I forgive?
Clearly God is telling us to forgive because he has forgiven us, but in all honesty, the number one reason why we should forgive isn’t because of the other person who has wronged us, but–

1. Unforgiveness hurts me

Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Unforgiveness causes trouble and bitterness in our hearts—one ounce of bitterness can haunt you for the rest of your life and make you a miserable person and misery loves company. So you and your miserable self will be surrounded by a whole lot of other miserable people.

If you don’t want to end up a miserable old person with 20 cats and bed sores by age 40 than you have to learn to function without holding a grudge. People are going to hurt you, it is inevitable or you might have already been hurt.

I am not trying to downplay anyone’s past hurts or any unforgiveness some of you may be carrying with you today. Some of you have past hurts that include abuse, betrayal, abandonment and much more issues that make you say… “You don’t understand what I have been through” and you are right…I don’t, but I have past hurts of my own. I have had people lie to me, cheat on me, turn their backs on me, hurt my family by forcing us out of a church, call us horrible names and make up nasty rumors about our family to get their way and sadly a lot of these hurts have actually come from growing up in church. I could easily be bitter or never want to step foot into a church again or have chosen to never pursue a relationship with someone again bc of my fear of being hurt again, but I choose to move forward and not let bitterness take root in my heart. If that was the case I would have never met Josh or we would have never started Gracetown here today.

One of the foundations of Christianity is love and if we love one another we keep no record of wrong…while bitterness keeps intense details.

A famous quote by Anne Lamont says “Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and hope the other person dies”

I thought that was a pretty tweetable quote.

Now onto the second reason of WHY we should forgive;

2. Because I will need forgiveness again

We see this clearly in what we already read in Matthew 6:14-15 when it says- But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There is a parable in the Matthew 18 which is just a fancy word for “story that Jesus puts in lamens terms so we understand the lesson”

There was a servant who owed his master 10,000 tallons. Ps-I looked up what tallons were because in my head I imagine bird tallons & I know that’s not right- so if you are like me, now you know that tallons equals 150 years of labor or $2billion in today’s terms. SO back to the servant… There was NO way he could pay the mast back but he BEGGED the master to forgive his debt. The master decided to show mercy and forgive his debt. Shortly after his debt was forgiven, the servant went back to his town and found someone who owed him a day’s wages and demanded his money. The servant who owed him money begged for mercy, but he denied him. Once the master heard word of this servant’s actions of unforgiveness he called upon him in anger & turned him in to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back what he owed.”

At the end of the parable it says-

Matthew 18:35 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
You are given an option—it says this is what happens UNLESS you forgive.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather forgive someone than be put to jail and beaten.
The message of grace is so widely spread throughout Christianity now which is awesome and so refreshing, but it is amazing how we are SO quick to embrace God’s grace and mercy on our lives but SO SLOW to give the same to others.
Now that we have the WHY let’s look at the HOW
2. HOW do I forgive?
The number one thing to do is pretty simple and self explanatory, but not exactly easy…

1. PRAY for those who hurt you
Not for their Mercedes to get banged up or for them to get herpes or other harm, but for like spiritual stuff…something as simple as “Bless them”

If Jesus Christ who was dying on a cross can look up to God and say “Father, forgive them” towards the people who were crucifying him, then we should be able to sacrificially try to pray for those who have hurt us.

You aren’t going to feel like praying for someone who has hurt you, so don’t wait to “FEEL” like it..you just have to begin.

Sometimes right action triggers right feelings…Start praying and the right attitude will follow.

You may not ever see the result of your prayers for others. The person who has hurt you may not even live near you anymore or even be alive, but it’s not just about them…remember it is about YOU.

I have noticed that my prayers for others may not always change them but it has changed me.

2. Forgive as you have been FORGIVEN…the same way that Christ forgave us;

​He forgives us;

​CONSTANTLY & COMPLETELY

In Matthew 18:21 Peter asked Jesus, How many times do I forgive those who sin against me?
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times seven[g]

I am like Peter- I’d want to know how many times I have to forgive someone so that I can move on, but Jesus basically says infiniity times…so that is where the “constantly” comes in to play.

The “completely” can look a little different though;

-Sometimes you can forgive completely from a distance.

-Forgiveness doesn’t mean to stay in a hurtful situation.

Growing up I thought if I forgave someone for hurting me we had to go back to being best friends again to “show” that I forgave them, but that isn’t the case…If you are in a situation that you are constantly being hurt mentally, emotionally, sexually or physically, you need to remove yourself from that situation. Staying in an unhealthy relationship whether it is a friendship, work situation or romantic relationship, the first step is to take yourself away from the situation and let someone else know then you can work on the forgiveness part.

Forgiveness isn’t for the weak- you have to be strong enough to move on. People who can forgive see the bigger picture!

And really… unforgiveness is exhausting…you have to constantly remind yourself to be upset. It is miserable.

Today I want to encourage you to LET IT GO- Be selfish, forgive others so you can MOVE on with your life and pursue the future that God has planned for you.

What is the Gospel?

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What Is the Gospel?

Gospel means, simply, “good news.” There are numerous so-called gospels in the world proclaiming good news to those who would listen, and these gospels come in any number of forms—from the gospel of wealth and power to the gospel of health and beauty. These gospels, however, do not address the most basic problem that all men and women have—the problem of sin and guilt; that is, spiritual deadness.

Put simply, the Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is good news because, without it, we stand condemned as sinners before a holy and just God, deserving His wrath. In Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God, seraphim (angelic beings) cry out continually, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah, overwhelmed in the presence of God, cries out in despair: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:3, 5)

Yet, in God’s perfect holiness—and this is the good news—God has, in His good pleasure, made a way for sinners to be reconciled to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. John 3:16-17 says,
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

Jesus Christ lived a righteous life and then died a terrible death on a Roman cross for His people. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Thus, Jesus Christ satisfied the holy and just requirements of God. God then raised Him from the dead, vindicating Christ’s work.

Sinners are called to repent and believe the Gospel and to trust in Christ for salvation. Sinners receive this free gift of salvation from God through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone and are thereby counted righteous before God. Romans 10:9-13 states, If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Having been justified, Christians are called to walk as “living sacrifices” unto Him through the Holy Spirit because they are not their own, but were “bought with a price” (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:20). Just as God raised Jesus Christ, so Christians await a resurrection of their own bodies, Christ being the “first fruits” of the new creation (1 Cor. 15:20). Ultimately, this is their hope—that God has begun His work of “making all things new” in the work of Jesus Christ and in the continued sanctification of His saints (Rev. 21:5). They await the new heavens and new earth in which there will be no more sin, pain, or sorrow (Rev. 21:4).

Don’t Stop Believin

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Don’t Stop Believin’

We’re continuing our “Summer Concert Series” My fear is that as we have distanced ourselves from belief that we are like the song says, people who are on a train ride “going anywhere.”

Today in our passage of Scripture we’re going to see a group of people who were on the verge of not believing. They had lost hope b/c of the circumstances they were in. But Jesus came along and gave them a message that we can still use today. And that message is “Don’t stop believing.”

Mark 9:14-27 NIV – 14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

Bckgrd: Jesus and His followers always had a difficult time w/the religious leaders of the day. When He came along they saw Him as a threat to their way of life, as someone who was trying to pull people away from their religion. But Jesus had come to give them freedom. He’d come to give them life.
-The problem was, and still is, that this world is rough! We face disappointments, busted relationships, financial hardship, loss of job, and the loss of people we love. We live in a world of great uncertainty. And so the belief that we have a God who loves and cares for us can be hard to grasp when put in the light of our present reality.

-In our text, a man has a son who’s demon possessed. His son was overwhelmed w/the presence of evil in his life and the dad was desperate for help; he was desperate for deliverance. But his biggest obstacle in seeing it was the belief factor.
-I know there are people here who face the same thing. They want freedom but they don’t know where to find it. It’s here Jesus shares w/us some reasons we need to hang on to belief in Him.

Believing is called Faith
“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” CS Lewis

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith it will be done unto you.” That’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. What are you expecting God to do in your life? This is the law that God has established. It’s called the Law of Expectation. The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life. We tend to see what we expect to see. We tend to hear what we expect to hear. We tend to feel the way we expect to feel. We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish. This is the law of faith. God says you get to choose. Because “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”

Faith is… To have trust or assurance, confidence, conviction, belief, reliance in what God says. Trust that produces actions.

1. Believing when I donʼt see it.
•(Def) To accept as true or real, to expect, to have firm faith, to have confidence, or trust.

a. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
a. Amplified – Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

b. “If you believe”….Numerous times in the Bible we are told that if we only believe THEN God will fulfill His promises. It starts with believing. There is incredible power in belief.

•Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible!

Romans 4:16-17 ESV – 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
c. (John 20:24-29 NIV) – 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

•“Faith is like a light bulb. You turn it on when you can’t see”

•”Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe” –Augustine

d. Believing = Great Power
a. Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV – 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
b. Result – Ephesians 3:20 NIV – 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (The MSG: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”)

c. “If you believe you can, or if you believe you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford
d. Faith comes in Can’s & Doubt comes in Can’ts
e. 1840 –“Anyone traveling at the speed of 30 mph would surely suffocate. 1878 – “Electric lights are unworthy of serious attention” 1901 – “No possible combination can be united into a practical machine by which me shall fly” 1926 – “(From a Scientist) “This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is basically impossible” 1930 – (another Scientist) “To harness energy locked up in matter is impossible”.
f. There will always be people who say it can’t be done. That is what the “experts” said. The real tragedy is 99% believed them. BELIEVE~~

e. Dare to Believe and Activate Your Faith
a. Believing is receiving and receiving is believing; Why?
Because we must first believe in something if we want to receive and manifest the abundance of it into our lives.
b. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
– Mark 11:24
c. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
– Mark 9:23

f. “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
- George Muller
a. The world tells us to believe it when we see it. However, when we operate by God’s principles, we must learn to believe first, and then we will manifest in the natural what we have already believed and received in our heart.
b. Believe is the verb form of faith, so believing is faith in action. Faith holds a powerful force just waiting to be used.
c. Believing is the process of receiving and manifesting the reality of our hopes into our lives. Believing also requires actions that reflect what we believe. For Christians, faith in action is believing and obeying the Word of God. Christians are called believers for a reason – they believe.
d. Faith is God’s reality, and believing is putting action to that reality and tapping into the abundance of God.

e. John 11:40 NIV – Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
f. “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent.”
- Inscription on a wall in a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where Jews who eventually perished were hiding from the Nazis.

2. Persisting When I don’t Feel like it
a. Def – Continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure. Don’t GIVE UP~
b. (Hebrews 11:27) “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kingʼs anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
c. “Persistance in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak”
d. James 1:12 NIV – Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

i. “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon
ii. “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins. Not through strength, but through persistence.”
- Unknown

e. Philippians 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
i. “We conquer by continuing.”
- George Matheson
ii. “The most common trait I have found in all successful people is that they have conquered the temptation to give up.”
- Peter Lowe

How? Prayer

Luke 18:1 NIV – “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Mark 11:22-24 NIV – 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

•There is no situation in your life too difficult for God to turn around. Only believe! We get what we believe for!
•When we have a problem, God’s got a promise! II Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

•The law of believing is the greatest law in the Word of God. Believe and ye shall receive.
• “I can get more out of God by believing Him for one minute than I can by shouting at Him all night.”
- Smith Wigglesworth

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV – 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 7:7 NIV – 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

•”You are coming to a King, Large petitions with you bring, For his grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much.” 
- John Newton

•I John 5:14-15 NIV – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

i. God does not answer our prayer simply because we have a specific need – He answers our prayers when we pray persistently & believe!

•“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”
- Max Lucado
•“God will do nothing on earth except in answer to believing prayer.”
- John Wesley
•”The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.”
- Martin Luther
“See the invisible; believe the incredible; do the impossible.”
- Vernon Grounds
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
- George Muller

Will You let your faith go to waste? God is searching for those who will believe and receive.

(Hebrews 11:6 NIV) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone
who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly
seek him.”

In Closing, The Believer is promised 4 Things:
1. Nothing will be impossible to you
2. Ask what you will, and it will be done
3. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, and He will do it!
4. Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, you shall have them!

John 1:12 ESV But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
John 3:16

Renegade Pt.1: Jesus, Who He is and What He did

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Renegade Part 1– Jesus: Who He is and what He did

 

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message) “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did–Jesus crucified.”

 

Jesus Christ: No one is more loved and hated than Jesus Christ. Roughly 2000 years ago he was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town to young Jewish virgin girl named Mary. At the age of 30 he began his public ministry that included preaching, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, & befriending social misfits. His ministry spanned 3 short years before he was put to death for declaring himself to be God. He died a shameful crucifixion like tens of thousands of people before and after him.

 

Renegade – a person who leaves one group, religion, etc., and joins another that opposes it. Someone or something that causes trouble and cannot be controlled. Having rejected tradition : unconventional

 

 HIS CLAIMS

 

(John 1:1-4) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

 

(John 1:14) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

ü Jesus claimed to be God.

 

(Matthew 26:59-64) The chief priests…were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put Him to death. But they did not find any… Then they said, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

 

John 8:58 NIV –  “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

 

ü Jesus claimed to be the only way.


 

(John 14:6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”
- C.S. Lewis

 

üJesus is either:
(according to Thomas Aquinas)

 

1. Liar – like David Koresh, claimed to be God  & the lamb or revelation

 

2. Lunatic – guy on Myspace hopes to be God. Nuttier than a snickers

 

3. Lord – He’s not a liar or lunatic, He is Lord. According to the first two commandments, there is only one God & that God alone is to be worshiped. That one God is Jesus.

 

JESUS IS GOD

 

(Philippians 2:9-11) “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

1. Experience His power.

 

(John 9:17, 25) Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him?” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

 

•The Proof of Jesus is not in an explanation but in a changed life

 

•“The good news is not that Jesus Christ lived and died, but that He died and lives.”

 

I Corinthians 2:3-5 Message – I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.

 

2. Experience His presence.

 

(Acts 2:28 ESV – “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

1. It produces REST. It’s not a goofy expression, but it’s peace!

 

•Isa. 63:14 (NIV) – They were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.

 

2. It Produces FREEDOM. Not goofiness or a distraction.

 

•2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom.

 

3. Experience His peace.

 

(John 14:1, 27) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me./ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 

3 Sources Of Tension • Uncontrollable Circumstances • Unchangeable People

 

• Unexplainable Problems

 

 Trust God to Take Care of Things Beyond My Control

 

         •“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs . . . .  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”  Phil 4:6-7 LB

 

 4. Experience His salvation.

 

 (Romans 10:9) “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

“The Good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you” Martin Luther

 

“God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”

 

1. God loves us and does not want us to perish.

 

John 3:16,17 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

1 Timothy 2:4 — [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

2. All people have sinned. Sin causes separation from God.

 

Andy Griffith Show – The minister was moving away. Floyd & Andy were talking about him. “He was a good man, Andy said.” Floyd said, “I knew all his sermons by heart…but we didn’t give him much to work with..There’s just not a lot of sin in this town.”

 

Isaiah 59:2 — But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you….

 

Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 

3. Heaven is a free gift. You cannot earn or deserve heaven.

 

Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Ephesians 2:8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.

 

4. God wanted us to be brought back into relationship with Him.
For this reason, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when He died upon the cross.

 

Romans 5:8, 9 — But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

1 Corinthians 15:3 — For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

 

5. We receive God’s forgiveness through faith, by trusting in Christ.

 

John 1:12 — But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.

 

Romans 10:9,10 — …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

6.Repent – Turn away from sin and to Christ with a change of heart  & mind

 

             A.    Acts 3:19 – 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

 

             B.    I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

             C.    Acts 2:38 –  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 YOU CAN EXPERIENCE SALVATION RIGHT NOW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Yanok

GraceTown Church