Longing Pt.4 – For a White Christmas

Longing Pt.4 – For a White Christmas 

Isaiah 1:18 NLT – “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

White Christmas is THE Christmas song of the United States. It was originally recorded by Bing Crosby back in 1942, and it became so popular that he had to re-record it in 1947 because the masters became worn beyond use. Its popularity had a lot to do with the fact that America had just gone to war. Our people found themselves in a confusing and unstable world – loved ones being shipped off to the battlefront, not knowing if they would ever see their families again.

LyricsI’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write.May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white. 

I wanna talk about Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dicken’s Classics A Christmas Carol.

Dickens characters usually represent some kind of hurt. Scrooge – stinginess, Oliver Twist – neglect, tiny Tim – handicap, miss havisham- rejection, hurt, unforgiveness.

•We tend to carry out in a small way that his characters did in a big way. 

Ebenezer Scrooge bound himself up by his past when he refused to forgive those who had hurt him. harboring feelings of resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness.

Many people fail to realize that when we don’t forgive those who have hurt us, we create a prison of torment for our own soul. When we stay mad at people or hold onto a grudge against someone, we hurt ourselves more than anyone else.

When we don’t forgive, we damage our ability to have healthy relationships with people in the future. The offense that we don’t forgive becomes a lens through which we view other people in our lives. Often people have troubled relationships because of a past experience with a completely different person.

When we refuse to forgive, we create stress and anxiety in our lives mentally, emotionally, and physically.

This is one of the reasons Jesus emphasized that we make forgiving others an ongoing event in our lives.

Sources of Unforgiveness

•Betrayal •False accusation •Rejection •Abuse •Humiliation

You Can’t Have Peace and Bitterness, It’s one or the other. Your hurt and pain will tell you

•Treat them with contempt

•distance yourself from them

•Give them a cold shoulder

•teach them a lesson

•they should be punished

•When someone wrongs you or hurts you it usually affects every aspect of your life, family, career, self esteem, sense of sense worth.

We love to think about what those people did to us. We get churned up inside. We love to repeat the pain time and time again.

Until we allow the spirit of total forgiveness reign in our lives, we will have no peace. We must quit nursing the attitude of unforgiveness.

Which do you prefer – peace or bitterness? You can’t have it both ways.

We Have a Wrong Understanding of Forgiveness…It’s not…

•Minimizing the seriousness of the offense.

•Instant restoration of trust.

•Resuming the relationship without changes.

•Forgetting what Happened – Choose not to remember

“To often we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget” 

•Approval of what a person did – God never approves sin

•Excusing what they did – you can’t explain wrong behavior

•Justify what they did – evil can never be justified

Be Forgiving

“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men.” – Augustine

•Folks, When everything in you wants to hold a grudge, point of finger and remember the pain, God wants you to lay it all aside.

How to Have a White Christmas 

1. Forgive them without condition.

(Ephesians 4:31-2 NIV) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The Forgiven Forgive

Luke 23:34 NIV – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

2. Forgive them in advance.

(Luke 11: 4 NIV) “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

You can turn – Inward, Outward, or Upward!

Matthew 18:21-22 NLT – Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven

“I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge.  You know why?  While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

3. Relinquish your right to get even – Choose To Bless Them

Romans 12:17-19 NIV17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.

(1 Peter 2:23 LB) “When Jesus suffered, He did not threaten to get even; He left His case in the hands of God…”

Choose to Bless

Luke 6:27-28 NIV – But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

•Nelson Mandela  – 27 years of political incarceration. The longest serving political prisoner in the world. Emerged unscathed and told his people to forgive their oppressors and focus on the future and on building a new united nation.

•In spite of the devastating trauma of apartheid, he chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than the policy of revenge and vindictiveness

“The only revenge which is essentially Christian is that of retaliating by forgiveness.”

Scrooge changed when the 3 ghosts visited him and showed him his future if he continued being bitter. Dickens says he changed and kept Xmas in his heart everyday and loved everyone 

The ultimate proof of forgiveness is when you sincerely pray to God to let those who have hurt you off the hook

Give yourself gift this Christmas and forgive those who hurt you and experience true freedom

Forgiveness Prayer

Lord, I have not loved, but resented certain people and have unforgiveness in my heart. I ask you Lord to give me the power to release and forgive those who have hurt me. I do now forgive them and I ask yo to forgive them also. Please replace my hurt with peace and the love of Christ. And forgive me for the times I have hurt others. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS HERE ARE THREE QUESTIONS I LEAVE YOU FOR PRAYER AND DISCUSSION

  1. WHO IS IT THAT YOU HAVEN’T FORGIVEN? 
  2. WHO IS IT THAT YOU CAN PRAY FOR ?
  3. WHO IS IT THAY YOU CAN BLESS?

The Gospel

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The Gospel

(Jesus Christ and GraceTown is about New beginnings, It’s about messes & mistakes turning into miracles & messages, it’s about having more chances, it’s about seeing potential in everyone.)

I’m not preaching to the perfect today! But to those of us who don’t have it all together. The hurting, hopeless, and helpless. The stressed out, the successful, the prosperous & the poor. The messed up, misfits, frustrated , those of us with flaws, the imperfect, people who have had moments of indiscretion, weakness’s & failures. I’m talking about Noah who got drunk, David who murdered & commit adultery, Abraham who lied, Thomas who doubted, & Simon Peter who denied & cursed Christ.

Romans 1:16 ESV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Gospel – Good News. It’s the message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which the believer is saved from sin and into life. Our broken relationship with God is restored. Salvation through grace.

The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

Enemies of the Gospel

1. Religion

Religion – Salvation through moral effort

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.

a. Religion says that if we obey God He will love us – The Gospel says that it is because God loves us we can obey

b. Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people – The gospel says the world is filled with people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

c. Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person – The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because he alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.

d. Religion is about what I have to do – The Gospel is about what I get to do.

e. Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God – The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

f. Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (Because I continually fall short of God’s commands) – The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.

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

•The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

• Dr. Jekyll comes to realize that he is an incongruous compound of good and evil.

•He comes up with a potion that can separate his two natures

•He describes his evil self using classic christian terminology

“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, 10fold more wicked,, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine…Edward Hyde’s every act and thought centered on self.”

•his name is Hyde not just because he is hideous by because he hidden. He is selfish, egotistic, self centered, and is self absorbed

•Once Jekyll realizes his capacity for evil he decides to clamp down  on this terrible self centeredness and he gets religion. He devotes himself to charity and good works for atonement for what Hyde has done.

•While siting on the bench in Regents Park, he begins to gloat and take pride in all the good he had done. He said, “as I compared myself with other men and comparing my goodwill…at that very moment of vain glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down….I was once more Edward Hyde.”

•Involuntarily, without the potion – this was the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations – Jekyll kills himself.

•Stevenson’s insight here is profound. Like so many people, Jekyll knows he’s a sinner, so he tries to desperately cover his sin with great piles of good works. Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The Gospel of Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self righteous.

2. Sin

Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.

James 4:17 ESV So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Romans 3:23 NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

Isaiah 59:2 NIV – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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

JI Packer said, “Men are opposed to God in their sin, and God is opposed to men in His holiness”

God cannot simply overlook sin. Our debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.  God’s holiness demands punishment for human stain.

Explain: (OT sacrifices,  In NT John the Baptist – Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world)

The Gospel gives us other Chances

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

The reference to Peter, on this first Easter morning, was intentional. Peter in previous hours had denied knowing and following Jesus… and now he was being included in with the close group of followers Jesus wanted to hang out with the most. (VIP list) By singling him out and calling Peters name,) Heaven was sending him a message that even though I don’t approve of what you have done….I do approve of you.” 

Heaven wants to get that message to all of us today 

Verse 7 – What a line!  It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall – and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again!  Peter your not left out! One failure doesn’t make a flop!

Jesus wanted Peter to know he was looking forward to seeing him – Aren’t you glad that God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, & loves us all without condition or exception.

(Micah 7:8 NIV) – Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you!

•The fact that you failed is proof that you are not finished!

•Failures & Mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade!

•The difference between average people & successful people is their perception and response to failure.

•Just ask Peter: You can have a another chance! 

•One minute Peter felt lower than a snakes belly and the next he was the high hog at the trough.

•Even the Angels wanted this discouraged, distraught, depressed fisherman to know it wasn’t over!

Heaven said, “Be sure to tell Peter ( the one who Sinned, failed, denied Christ, blew it, lost it, messed up BIG TIME!) that he gets to bat again.

What you were is not what you will be! 

The Gospel sets us up for more chances, not failures. Even though we fail, sin, and make plenty of mistakes:

Peter’s Painful Regret

John 13:36-38 (NIV) 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-3 (NIV)“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1. Stop beating yourself up

•The good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you.” – Martin Luther

Psalms 38:4-8 NIV  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;   I groan in anguish of heart.

I John 3:18-21 NIV – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

c. Your heart registers right and wrong

•You do good, your heart says nice

•You do bad, your heart says Yuk, u suck, sinner, liar, hypocrite, fake, bad, dirty, Quit. Don’t run from God when we fall, but rather run to Him. The Gospel cleaned up what we messed up! 

Hebrews 4:16 NIV – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

d. Your accuser says, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY but JESUS says FORGIVEN FORGIVEN FORGIVEN (If we confess our sin…)

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

There is hope! The Gospel has the hope. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for our sins.

Romans 5:8 NIV – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

John 3:16-17 NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  (God’s wrath has been satisfied)

2. We can begin again a Fresh Start  

Romans 8:1-2 NIV-  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending! 

Phillippians 3:13-14 NIV –  13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

The Gospel gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.

3. God invites us to receive Salvation.

Definition: Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Harm, ruin, or loss.

Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

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

Eternal life isn’t a reward for good people; it’s God’s gift for-given people

Romans 10:9-10 NIV “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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Will You Receive the Gospel Today?

“Dear God, You know every pain Ive had in my life. you know the confusion and the doubts. You know I’ve spent a lot of my time in guilt, shame, and condemnation. I’m ready for a change. I don’t want to stay the same. I need a fresh start with You. I want to live in joy, freedom, and victory. Jesus, I will learn to trust you and love you. Come into my life lead me and guide me everyday. I will rely on your power and not my own.  Thank you for giving me a brand new fresh start and saving my life. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

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Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

Introduction: Beware Of Terrorist Groups In Church

Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches.

They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin. Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ.The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians. and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin, is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along. Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ.

We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell groups has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

NO church is exempt, however, you can spot them if you bin lookin and bin goin!!

TEXTS:

1 John 2:6 LB Anyone who says he’s a Christian should live as Christ did.”

I Peter 2:21 NIV “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”   WWJD?

This decision and opportunity of Spiritual formation and maturity happens over a lifetime, not overnight – We grow like oak trees, not dandelions.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain
    3. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved. He is the Ultimate example of life.
      1. Jesus came not just to teach us how to be “spiritual” but how to live as a human (purpose of the incarnation)
      2. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

2 Reasons People Don’t Become Christians

1. The’ve never met one    2. They have met one

I love Jesus, but sometimes “Christians” frustrate me. Why? They fight & argue about the dumbest things. Too judgmental, act holier than thou, incredibly condescending.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

Dear Christian: Don’t load Bible verses like bullets in your gun to fire at your theological opponents. Scripture is too sacred for that!

How Should We Live?

Matt. 11:29 MSG – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

1. Live With Humility 

Humility – Modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. To lower oneself; lowly; abasing yourself, “down to earth”.

Humility – The discipline of putting others ahead of self -the choice to value others above self – its a matter of faith

Matt. 5:3 NLT “God blesses those who realize their need for him…”

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

James 4:10 NIV “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. 

People who are not humble think they know everything, no one can correct them, and they believe they have the answers to everything

Proverbs 16:18 ESV – Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

2. Live With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

Luke 12:15 NIV “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

•We have become slaves to our belongings – St Francis of Assisi insisted that true freedom lies in the abundance of life, not the abundance of possessions. Many times those possessions that we have acquired exercise power over us.

Matt. 16:26 NLT “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Living simply means that we carefully examine what it means to fully live. How? By focusing our efforts on things that are true, beautiful, and essential. Like Faith, Family, Healthy, Friends, and our Church, our Community

Psalms 131:1-2 MSG – God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. 2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

•’I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on 3 elements: noise, hurry, crowds… Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

•”The Value of our western culture demands us to be busy…”

Eccl. 7:29 – “God made man simple: man’s complex problems are of his own devising”

“To much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ” Remember – Your NO to others will soon translate into a YES for God!

3. Live With Faith

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

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

“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.” ―Oswald Chambers

Matt. 19:26 NLT “With God everything is possible.”

Mark 9:23 NIV “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 

“Our faith develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest.” Eugene Peterson

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

  (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and 

certain of what we do not see.” 

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

(Hebrews 11:7 NLT)  “It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save 

his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about 

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

(Hebrews 11:27 NIV)  “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kingʼs 

anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.  Not through strength, but through persistence.”- Unknown

“Feelings are notorious liars, especially in matters of faith.” Eugene Peterson

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

(Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV)  “They were all commended for their faith yet 

none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned 

something better…”

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

•The law of faith 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

4. Live With Love

C.S. Lewis said, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”

I Cor. 13:1 NIV – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.”

•The more spiritual you become, the more love you will show to others.

Matt 5:44 MSG “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.”

Luke. 6:37 NIV”Do not judge, and you’ll not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When grace is pierced, it bleeds pardon. When grace is crucified, it doesn’t condemn.

“Love deems this world worth rescuing.” – Philip Yancey

•Love takes no account of the evil done to it. Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead, it shows the grace and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us while we were yet sinners, even suffering the shame of the cross

What really happens when we are critical towards people: “Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.”

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Natural human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ-like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others. True love hopes all things and lives with an expectant faith towards others.

In Jesus parable, the rich man ends up in hell, not bc he failed to believe the right things, but bc he failed to love Lazarus. @BrianZahnd

(1 Corinthians 14:1 LB) “Make love your greatest aim…”

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

(Romans 15:7 NIV) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

•Encourage others continually.

(1 Corinthians 13:7 LB) “If you love someone…you will always believe

in him, and always expect the best of him…”

•Serve people cheerfully.

(1 Peter 4:10 NIV) “Each one should use whatever gift he has received

to serve others…”

•Forgive others freely.

(Colossians 3:13 NIV) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever

grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” Martin Luther King

•It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing. FRODO.

Choose to be kind and compassionate rather than critical and condemning. Decide to build up instead of tear down.

I HAVE DECIDED TO LIVE AS CHRIST LIVED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Follow my example, as I follow the example of

Christ.

(1 John 2:4 LB) Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my

way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

(Matthew 10:32-33) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Ghost Stories Part 4

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Ghost Stories Part 4

The Holy Spirit is for today and is at work in the church around the world.

I really believe God has an incredible plan for your life and apart of that great plan is understanding and receiving  the life, power, freedom, and strength that the Holy Spirit can bring.

I Corinthians 2:9-14 NIV – However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—the things God has prepared for those who love him—10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

•If we want to receive all God has for us, then we’re going to have to move beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm.

In my experience, take the Holy Spirit out of the equation of your life and it spells boring. Add it into the equation of your life and you never know where you are going to go, what you are going to do, or who you are going to meet.” Mark Batterson

(Luke 3:16 NIV) John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” 

Fire in scripture is the symbol or type of purifying on the inside of you

Why The Holy Spirit is Necessary

“Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter into human personality and change it” JB Phillips

(1 Thessalonians 5:19, 23 NIV) “Do not put out the Spiritʼs fire…(Let God work out the stuff in our life) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. (Holy Spirit so works on your life that you want to live for God & not do what you want to do) May your whole spirit, soul and body (He wants to sanctify us in three areas) be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

•Our spirit is drawn to idolatry.

Idolatry is nothing more than the worship of anything other than God

Apart of us that loves God – We leave and the war starts up

We get drawn to other Gods – Possessions, Money, Career, Cars, Stuff

We love God but he’s just one of our loves – He’s not content to be one of your lovers – He said there will be no other Gods before me

God doesn’t mind we have stuff that we love/enjoy but they can’t be before Him

He wants to be our primary love – Everything makes sense when he is

(Matthew 6:24 NIV) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Not talking about money in your pocket but the God of Money

Spirit that is on money – Spirit of possessions

Meaning that people think that money satisfies it all

•Our soul is drawn to pride. 

Emotions – Mind & Will – Unhealthy view of ourselves

Anger & Depression – Our soul is unhealthy

(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.”

War going on – Anger issues – Why do I do this – Respond this way

Your trying to live a certain way without the internal motivation to live that way

•Our body is drawn to lust.

God wants to sanctify our bodies – lust is your body controls you – calls the shot – Creating frustration on the inside of you

We Need the Holy Spirit so we won’t desire that – What would it be like if you let the Holy Spirit live in you?

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV) “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

What would happen if you invited the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Charles Stanley says, “God will never direct us to be prideful, arrogant and unforgiving, immoral or slothful or full of fear. We step into these things because we are insensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit within us.”

The Holy Spirit in Me 

Talking New Testament church that we live in today

(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” 

The difference between the got to or the get to – New spirit

Don’t try to do right let the Holy Spirit burn away the junk in our lives

He wants to put a HOLY SPIRIT in me

When we struggle with sin it is saying more about how close we are to God

Not asking you to work hard but to love more – You’ll get this

1. Invite the Holy Spirit to show me

I don’t want to be the law for you & tell you what is right & wrong

I Want you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you – Point it out in me God

(Psalm 139:23-24) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (I dare you to pray that prayer)

(John 16:8) “When he (HolySpirit) comes, he will convict the world (Not my job to do the convicting – I am not going to be a pastor that will stand up here & tell you how good or bad you’ve been) of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” (My job is to lead you to the one who will show you himself)

2. Invite the Holy Spirit to change me

Only the holy spirit, the spirit of the lord, can transform us.

(Psalm 51:10-11) “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” 

(Romans 8:5-6) “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” 

Galatians 5:16-17 NLT – So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants…These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.

Sink your lives into the journey of God – Fresh Start with God Class 

Give us one year of your life – Show me, change me Holy Spirit

3. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill me

(Ephesians 5:18) “Do not get drunk on wine, (Drunkness is always a type in scripture that is an excessive out of control life) which leads to debauchery. (Excessive indulgence in your senses – My senses call the shots) Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” 

We need The Holy Spirit – He is powerful – He’s always there – Counselor – Comforter – Gives gifts

One of the main purposes of the Holy Spirit is to put a Holy Spirit in me.

GOD’S PROMISE TO YOU!

Acts 2:38-39  NIV – 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The Gospel comes in power and the Holy Spirit, with much assurance. If you call upon the name of the Lord, God will transform you on the inside, give you the shock of your life, and give you everlasting life on top of that.

SALVATION CALL

RESET Our Relationships

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RESET Our Relationships

Philippians 2:1-8 ESV – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Here is a fact: God has made us to have relationships.

We can have a relationship with Him and we can have a relationship with other people. Since the fall of Adam and Eve – maintaining relationships have been a major struggle between man and man – and man and God.

God sends people into our lives. How we treat them determines whether they stay

God gives us things to use and people to love, NOT things to love and people to use.

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

Matthew 18:3 NIV  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

You will never change your life until you change the way you think.

Romans 12:2 ESV  Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

Mark 9:35 ESV  And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

You can tell how successful a person is by the way they celebrate the success of others

We have not come together to compete with one another, but to complete one another

Philippians 2:3 MSG “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”

If you have a choice between making yourself or people around you look good, choose people around you!

3. Am I willing to let go of the past? 

I Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Much criticism has to do with the unfortunate nature of people and their selfishness, arrogance, and jealousy

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

John 13:34-35 ESV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus was saying that The Church is not about religion, it’s about relationships.

Romans 12:10-11 ESV-  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord.

How to RESET Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

When right people enter your life, right things happen. Right people are those who will build you and not tear you down. They are excited about your potential and dreams.

Galatians 5:13-15 NIV – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other

Dr Carl Menger said, Our environment shapes us more than our DNA or heredity

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

Romans 12:17-18 NIV – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I dare you to make that call! Go make that visit!

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

People who take you down and not up, they make withdrawals but never deposits. They abuse and misuse you. They gossip about you instead of guard you

I Corinthians 15:33 ESV Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals

People who are more critical than complimentary

Proverbs 13:20 ESV – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm

II Corinthians 6:14 NIV – Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

(2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Message)  “Don’t become partners with those who reject God.  God himself put it this way: ‘I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.  So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God.  “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.”

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

Ephesians 2:19 NIV – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

Proverbs 18:24 NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love God?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love the church?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to make wise choices?
  • Do my friends love and accept me for who I am?

How to do thisConnect (Life Groups) At GraceTown we believe that life change happens best in the context of relationship and community. Life Groups provide a place to care for one another, and partner for spiritual growth and kingdom impact. We promote a “free market” approach that capitalizes on existing relationships and affinities.

Acts 2:42-47 ESV – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

SuperNatural – Satan and his demons

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SuperNatural – Satan and His Demons

Mark 5:2-8 NIV – When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

Researcher George Barna posed that question to a survey group and found that only 40% of Americans (2 out of 5) believe that Satan is a living being.

In his book, “What Americans Believe,” he revealed that 69% of Catholics, and 65% of mainline Protestant church-goers believe the notion of Satan is only symbolic of evil.

Satan’s best defense is the successful delusion of man into thinking he does not really exist.

2 Questions

  1. Is there good and evil? (morally excellent vs immorally bad)
  2. If so, then what is the source?

Every type of religion has its concept of good and evil, except Satanism & humanism

Satanism – innate wickedness; obsession with or affinity for evil; specifically :  worship of Satan marked by the travesty of Christian rites

Humanism – a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion. a philosophy that rejects supernaturalism. It’s godless. Its the foundation of atheism. man is the center of all things. No absolute truth.

Main source of evil today comes from Satan and his fall

Isaiah 14:12-14  NIV – How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly… I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

•Lucifer (daystar, son of the morning) He is one of three archangels mentioned in Scripture. He was created by God just as all angels were, but his role was different from the other angelic hosts. Lucifer was referred to as the ‘covering angel.’ Just as the cherubim covered the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, Lucifer was established by God to be the angel of worship, one whose ministry surrounded the heart of heaven. Lucifer was created to dwell eternally in the throne room of heaven, in the very presence of God

•Lucifer became Satan when he tried to make himself not only equal with God but as one above God

•Pride, greed, selfish ambition was his downfall – 5 times he said “I will” – Main problem today when people fall.

His names and titles – Prince and power of the air, Angel of light, Accuser of the brethren, Prince of Darkness, god of this world, thief, wicked one, roaring lion, serpent, murderer, dragon, corrupter, beelzebub, deceiver

(Quote) Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty attitude before a fall”

Revelation 12:7-9  NIV – And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

(See also Ezek 28:12-17)

What are Demons? 

Demons are evil/fallen angels who follow Satan instead of God. When Satan fell out of heaven, the demons fell with him instead of staying in their place as God’s ministers of good. Somehow, evil was found in them. The term demon comes from the Greek “daimon.”  Demons are found in the New Testament as being able to possess people (Matt.  8:28-34; Mark 5:1-4) and animals (Matt. 8:32).  They are very strong (Mark 5:4).  They are also called unclean spirits (Luke 8:29), seem to have a heirarchy of rulership in their demonic realm (Matt. 12:24-27), and can have sacrifices offered to them (1 Cor. 10:20).  Also, they will be judged in the future (Matt. 8:29).  They cannot be redeemed

WHAT DO DEMONS DO?

• DEMONS INFLUENCE THE LEADERS OF NATIONS.

Daniel 10:13 NIV – 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.

  • DEMONS DESIRE TO INFLICT SUFFERING ON YOU.

Matthew 17:15, 17-18 NIV – “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water… [Jesus said], “Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

• DEMONS SCHEME TO LURE YOU AWAY FROM GOD.

1 Timothy 4:1 NIV – The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

  • DEMONS WANT TO PARALYZE YOU WITH FEAR.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

BATTLING THE DARKNESS

1. Demons are subject to the Name of Jesus.

Luke 10:17-20 NIV –  The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Mark 16:17-18 NIV –  “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Philippians 2:10 NIV – “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

2. WE DON’T FIGHT WITH OUR POWER BUT WITH GOD’S AUTHORITY.

Matthew 10:1 NIV –  (Jesus) called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Authority doesn’t beg; authority doesn’t ask; authority commands! We are not told to ask God to cast out demons, we are told to do it ourselves! We are not told to beg demons to come out, we are told to CAST them out!

James 4:7-8 NIV – Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you…

•resist – (military term) oppose, withstand, actively work against

•The greatest power you have against demons is your humility, patience, and persistent pressure of resistance

Authority is exercised through our spoken word. The power of life and death are in the spoken word: Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Matthew 8:16 NIV, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word…”

3. Have Faith in God

I John 5:4 NIV – for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Faith is the apex of your dominion. Faith is simply knowing God. TL Osborne once said, “When you know who God is, what God has and what God can do, then you find out who you are, what you haven and what you can do.” Then it is exposed what your enemy has and what he can do, who he is, what he has, and what he can do, which is nothing. He is dethroned, disrobed, dismantled, defeated by God!

Mark 11:22-24 NIV “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.

Summary

Life is inevitable filled with all manner of struggles on a daily basis. It is critical that we understand who the instigators really are. Evil people are usually little more than pawns under the influence of satanic beings. Therefore, its imperative that we do not war according the flesh but rather utilize our spiritual weapons. It guarantees our victory!

Romans 8:37-39 NIV – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I John 4:4 NIV – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.