Monthly Archives: December 2014

THE BEST NEW YEAR

Live out 2015 in the BEST way possible!

Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, make this fresh commitment to the God who holds everything that will happen this year:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus

MORE THAN A RESCUE PROJECT

God has rescued us

But we are not a rescue project to Him

Often we view our salvation as if it is God’s big rescue program, similar to when people rescue birds caught in an oil spill. God washes us off and sets us free to live happily once more

Yes, we have been rescued (and washed) by Jesus death and resurrection for us. But God saving us contains much more than that!

God saved us to make us his children who will live in His household

God saved us to be glorified with Him forever

God saved us become the beloved Bride of his Son

God saved us so we can dwell forever in His wondrous love

God saved us so we would love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength

Our salvation is not merely a project of God. It is the fulfillment of why the entire universe was created in the first place. Our salvation is bringing us into the highest joy possible for any creature

If we don’t think of our salvation in these terms, we rob God of glory we owe Him. And we fail to have a clear understanding of what the Holy Spirit is daily laboring to fulfill in us!

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.29.14

 “Is Your Heart Full?”

“How’s life?”  What goes through your mind when people ask that question? Despite real difficulties and the mess of this world, we can answer: “My heart is full”

John 7:37-39

A little background helps us better grasp Jesus’ point

We see in v1, Jesus said this during the Feast of Booths

People spent a week living in booths to remember the wilderness years

This feast included an elaborate and festive water ceremony

This celebrated God’s provision in the wilderness and gave hope for his provision in the present

It also looked ahead to the spiritual rain of the messianic age (Zechariah 14)

When Jesus “cried out” in v37, it may have been during that ceremony

It was clearly a messianic proclamation, and to the Jew that meant the fulfillment of God’s greatest blessing (Isaiah 55:1-3)

We short-change Christ if we see his work for us as just an escape from judgment

Jesus is inviting us to come and be filled

His invitation is given to those who thirst – those who have need

As Jesus declared in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”

We all have a Sin need: we are sinners under judgment by the just God

We all have a Truth need: we are plagued by misunderstanding and treacherous thinking

We all have a Life need: we foolishly seek it from broken places (Jeremiah 2:13)

Jesus invites us to drink – to be full and satisfied

To drink is to believe in Christ

To drink is to fully accept what Jesus claims about himself, such as “I am the true Vine” . . “I am the Light of World” . . “I am the Good Shepherd

To drink is to practice his word with wholehearted obedience

To drink is to trust his Lordship by living in submission to him (Matthew 11:28-30)

There are common problems to drinking fully

1.  We don’t believe as much as we think we do: the doctrines we say we believe don’t fully shape how we live

2.  We sip and think we have had enough: we don’t see the goodness of “drinking” in fully

Yet, no one has better plans for us, or higher desires for us

Nothing can be better than to more fully know, love and live for Christ!

An essential clarification is added in v39

The active source of this promised vitality is the Holy Spirit

Jesus doesn’t simply give us blessings and benefits to use

The Holy Spirit (who is all that God is) comes to live and work in us

The Holy Spirit takes all that the gospel provides, and all that God’s plan desires and causes it to be fulfilled in us

The Holy Spirit enables our hearts to flow with life like a river

All rivers depend on a source; they flow with what they receive

We have received the Holy Spirit. We have the fullest source possible!

The Holy Spirit’s intentions are clear:

To produce fruit in us (Galatians 5)

To gift us (1 Corinthians 12)

To use us (1 Corinthians 12)

To perfect us (Romans 8:30)

A river flows best when debris is cleared away

A waterway doesn’t become clogged in a moment; a little debris along the edges snags more debris and eventually silt builds up

What is your debris? 

We deceive ourselves when we think we can be ‘functional sinners’

Jesus said this river of the Holy Spirit flows “out of (our) hearts”

Does God have your heart?  Is your heart deepening in its devotion and love for God?

Why does Jesus want you to drink?

Jesus wants you to be more than quenched in your thirst

He didn’t say drink and be quenched, he said, drink and life will pour out

Your life is meant for more than self-satisfaction, God has a greater purpose for you

Don’t shrink your life to the meager desires of this world

Lift up your heart and your life to the wondrous works of Christ’s eternal kingdom!

Jesus wants your heart to be full

Drinking deeply and being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t make life easy, but life will be joy-full peace-full

Imagine if everyone in your church drank deeply of Christ and flowed freely with the Holy Spirit

This is not a fantasy, it’s God’s plan – it’s his desire which he will complete!

Will you pray for this?  It is a worthy prayer!

 

REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ BIRTH: part 3

When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.   Matthew 1:18-20

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt.  Matthew 2:13-14

Jesus’ birth brought Difficulty

We know Joseph was initially filed with anguish over Mary’s pregnancy (he was preparing to break off the engagement)

Imagine the rumors and accusations which must have often touched the whole family

No one believed she was a virgin giving birth

People thought them liars or fools  

Then Joseph and Mary had to flee for Egypt to escape Herod’s slaughter of innocent children

Jesus birth was clearly God’s favor on Mary and Joseph!

Yet there were also burdens attached to it

We should never think hardships are evidence that God is uncaring!

The truth is – that in order to be obedient to God we will have you had to endure hardship

The truth is – that faithfulness and godliness at times will hang burdens around our neck

The truth is – that in bearing these burdens, we share what Jesus’ family shared

We should be able to rejoice in that fact

GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST

Have a Merry Christmas

Through a Worshipful Christmas

REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ BIRTH: part 2

 The time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:6-7

Jesus’ birth was Humble

His parents were simple people

His birth took place in a stable (imagine your child or grandchild being born in such a setting)

His first bed was a feed trough for cattle  

His first visitors were shepherds

He was raised to be a village carpenter

God was painting a portrait of humility to remind us that the transcendent God greatly condescended to be with us   

The humility of Jesus birth emphasizes God’s commitment to us. We see how greatly the wondrous God desires to have communion with us. God who is glorious beyond imagination or description, did not hesitate to be humbled in order to gain us for Himself

Jesus humility leaves us with no moral ground to resist humility ourselves. We don’t like to humble ourselves or to be humbled, yet, how else can we be like Jesus?

Jesus made humility an honorable position for us to hold

 

REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ BIRTH

Jesus’ birth was Obscure   

They found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:16

Despite the dramatic scenes with the Magi and Angels, Jesus birth was obscure as far as the rest of Israel and the entire world was concerned

Kings did not invite Jesus to court

Holidays were not named in his honor

No public record or proclamation was made about his birth

The rich and famous do not come to support his cause

Jesus’ work had nothing to do with earthly powers, kingdoms or influence

The gospel did not come to us through the effort of earthly powers; the gospel was entirely what Jesus accomplished for us

Earthly powers never have been and never will be our hope or resting place

The gospel may use some who are famous and powerful – but it does not need them

And if you are weak and frail – God can just as easily (and even more gladly) use you!

For the gospel and our confidence is all and only about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

LONELINESS

Loneliness has many causes

It may be that our circumstances have isolated us

Perhaps we don’t fit in with other people’s expectations

Or people we cared about – have left our life

Loneliness can also be the result of attitudes and actions that have driven people away

I don’t know your situation, but I do know we often get stuck in our loneliness, becoming unsure how to get out.

I have two suggestions for you regardless of why you lonely

First, change your focus from trying to find acceptance from others, to how God can use you to touch others.

This means relationships are no longer under the expectations of what people will be for you. Instead expectations are on how God will work in and through you.

You cannot control how people treat you, but you can be confident that God wants to use you to touch people with His love and for His gospel. This should excite us, because there are no purposes more wonderful than those that God has in using us.

Right now, there are people around you who are hurting.

It may not show on the outside, but it does not take much digging for their pain to come to the surface.

Become attentive to people.

Look for ways to serve them.

People will usually be receptive to those who genuinely seek to serve them; partly because it’s relatively rare, and partly because people are looking out for themselves.

The simple question of asking people how you can pray for them can open many opportunities to show you care.

This concern can have a powerful impact.

You will find your life filling with involvements that are God focused, and encouraging. It is incredibly satisfying when you can step back and see that God is using your in various relationships

If you are not sure who to start with, look for people the world pushes off to the side

Look for those who are being mistreated. Pay attention to people from their perspective rather than you own. There is work in all of this, but people want to be near those who care for them.

Second, make God the relationship that truly satisfies you.

It pleases God when we enjoy the good things He has created for our enjoyment – but our contentment should be in Him alone.

God deeply loves us . . He has saved us . . and He is committed to graciously finishing His work in us. These realities should all bring contentment.

When we compare what God has waiting for us, with what we think is missing from our present life, there really is no comparison.

Can you say you are content in Christ even if nothing else changes in your life?

This is something we must work at and “learn” (Philippians 4:11). But once learned, it is a precious reality, because nothing can then take contentment from us.

Make your relationship with God, the one that fills your heart, satisfies your soul, and fulfills what you have been thinking relationships should be.

Although we can feel lonely, it is impossible as a child of God to be outside of love or to be alone

6.19.12

O COME LET US ADORE HIM

o come let us adore Him

by Debbie Huber

Preparing our families for Christmas involves shopping, school parties and concerts, gift wish lists, baking, wrapping, busyness…and the list goes on. 

It is easy to be caught up in the preparation and the things to be accomplished. Then Christmas comes too quickly where we find ourselves only thinking of why Jesus came when we sit down for the hour or so during the Christmas Eve service at church.

In “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, the chorus begins slowly and softly:

“Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him,

Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him,

Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

It begins by beckoning us to come and adore Him, and then builds to the point where we are collectively singing in adoration to Christ the Lord. 

Let us pray that this Christmas season we will begin now to beckon our families to come and adore Him, dwelling on our need for a Savior and that the eternal, all-powerful, and all-loving God chose to humble Himself to be born as one of us in order to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. 

And let the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Christ build so that this Christmas we will truly adore Him in thankfulness and love. 

 

HOW DEEPLY DO YOU LOVE HER?

How deeply do you love The Church?

The Church WAS . . .

Created by God

Purchased by Jesus blood

Indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit

The Church IS . . .

The Body of Christ

The Beloved of God

The Bride of Christ

The community where we are called to serve

The community where we are called to grow

The community we are called to love

A place where we are expected (by God) to commit ourselves

The Church is NOT . . .

An invention of religious people

Simply a gathering of spiritually-minded people

Optional – that is if we want to live in obedience to God

In existence to keep you happy

Meant to provide a menu of activities for your browsing pleasure

Perfect – at least not yet!

The Church is dearly loved by God, is the Church dearly loved by you?

How does your church experience your love for it?

Ryan Shelton has written an article for the Desiring God blog that encourages us in loving our church. It is entitled, “Are You Leeching the Local Church?”