Living for the Master - Stewardship Series #1

January 26, 2017

Our lives are not defined by how well we have achieved the goals that we set for ourselves in our few years here on earth. Our lives are defined by who we are in Him, the One who lives forever. He is our God. We are His people.

Through Christ, He has redeemed us from our slavery to sin and set us free. Our freedom in Him defines everything about who we are…our freedom in Him defines everything about the way that we live our lives…and our freedom in Him defines everything about the reason for which we live our lives.

You see, freedom doesn’t mean that we can just enjoy life and do whatever we want to do. Our freedom in Him means that we are finally free to live the life that we were created for, the life that HE intended us to live.

We are not the masters of our own lives. We are stewards, or caretakers of the life that comes from HIM.

So if that’s how it is, then what is your life about? Where should you focus your energy to live a life that really matters?

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He Never Sleeps

January 18, 2017

No matter what this year brings, you need to know that God will never forsake you. As long as you have breath in your lungs, you have a Father who will love you relentlessly, who will never take His eyes off of you, who will never fail to keep His promises to you, who will pursue you and walk with you and carry you. And He won’t stop until He has brought you finally and safely home.

He might disappoint you by not doing things the way you want Him to do them….but He will not FAIL you. 

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The Word Became Flesh - Christmas Series #4

January 13, 2017

Christmas is so nice. We put shiny, colorful decorations everywhere. We fill the air with special music. We spend lots of money to buy special gifts. We put on our smart new suits and our beautiful new dresses and we all enjoy a big celebration. And it is wonderful.

But we don’t live in a world of parties and holiday cheer. We live in the real world. And in the real world, life is tough. This world is filled with disappointment and frustration. It is filled with anger and hurt. It is filled with loneliness and betrayal. Failure and shame.

That is the world we live in, a beautiful world, but a world that is scarred by sin. And Christians are not vaccinated against the pain of this world. We live right in the midst of it, and we experience the effects of it.

But as we walk through life in this very difficult world, we can do so with the confidence that God Himself is walking through it with us, every step of the way.

“The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” It was the goal of creation. It was the promise of Christmas. It is the hope of today. And it is the hope of every tomorrow - the simple but beautiful reality that He is Immanuel, “God WITH us.”

 

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Relentless Love - Christmas Series #3

January 13, 2017

Everything about the scene in Bethlehem seemed to make it the wrong setting for the Messiah to be born. And it tells me something about how deep the heart of God really is, a big, majestic God who humbles Himself in love and stoops low to enter fully into the worst of this world.

It makes me think that if God can enter the world like that, then maybe, just maybe, He would be willing to come and live in the midst of the messy circumstances of my existence, too.

He is more than willing. And that baby in the manger is a perfect picture of just how far this wonderful, all-powerful God will go in order to turn your life inside out with His love. It’s a relentless love, a heroic love, a “no matter what” kind of love. That’s the heart of Christmas.

 

 

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Disturbing the Peace: Christmas Series #2

December 9, 2016

The Bible tells us that the sweet little baby lying in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was actually God in human flesh, invading the world of His creation so that He might take His place as King. When God invites us to Bethlehem, He is saying, “Come with your worries, your cares, your uncertainties, your weaknesses, your sins, your dreams, your desires, your life, and lay it all at His feet.”

When everything is in His hands, there is peace…and when there is peace, you will have the freedom to live as God intended.

But this is where it can get difficult. When you realize that He is a King and not just a sweet little baby….when you realize that it is GOD in that manger.

Herod didn’t want the peace of Jesus….he wanted the peace of Herod. So Jesus was a threat to his rule, both in his kingdom and in his life. And we’re not so different from Herod…

It’s not always easy to welcome a new king. Because when a new king comes, that means the old king has got to go. In order to give you His peace, He has first got to disturb your peace, the false peace that comes from trying to maintain control of your own life.

How you respond to His coming depends on the state of your heart.

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Orchestrated Hope: Christmas Series #1

November 26, 2016

This was much more than a simple random visit from some foreign wise men. It was God orchestrating the lives of men and women, and the events of entire empires, in order to announce Himself to the world.

But He is not just a God who came at the right time…He is not just a God who will come at the right time…He is a God who is here…NOW…always at the right time – Immanuel, “God WITH us.”

And the God who orchestrates the events of human history so that He might reveal Himself and His love to the world is at work in the events of your life. He was at work in your life long before you ever recognized it, and as long as you have breath in your lungs, He will never stop working in your life. He will pursue you in love to the farthest corners of the earth. He will patiently, skillfully, and sovereignly orchestrate the events of nations in order to work out His purposes, not only in your life but through your life.

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The Fruit of Abiding, Part 2 - God Among Us series #34

February 8, 2016

We were created to bear fruit, the fruit of a life that is filled with Christ. But we don’t have to try to produce the fruit. We simply need to continually surrender to Him, resting in His faithfulness and allowing His life to flow through us as we walk with Him. And He says that this WILL result in much fruit, the fruit that He desires…guaranteed.

 

He promises us that as we walk with Christ, as we surrender our wills to His will, as we live for His glory, that He will freely supply whatever we need in order to do it.

 

He is giving us absolute assurance that as His children, we do not have to work to try to make ourselves like Christ. Because Christ lives in us. We don’t have to accomplish God’s will. We surrender to Him and He accomplishes His will through us. The pressure is not on us to try to become something for Him. We can rest in what He has become on our behalf. We don’t have to try to become strong. We trust in Him and walk in HIS strength.

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The Fruit of Abiding, Part 1 - God Among Us series #33

February 8, 2016

Today, we look at the third mark of a true disciple, according to what Jesus Himself told us. In John 15, verse 8, Jesus says very clearly: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so PROVE to be My disciples.”

 

Jesus gives us here a picture of the world as a vineyard, and God as the Master Gardener who plants His vineyard for one reason. He wants FRUIT, the fruit of a life filled with Jesus, a life lived in obedience to God’s purposes, and a life that is filled with the love of Christ.

 

But it isn't about your ability to produce fruit. It's about His work in you. He is a skillful Gardener. He is a loving Gardener. His plan for you is life. 

 

And whether you are weak or strong, failing or thriving, walking closely with Him or struggling to see Him, 

 

He will do whatever is necessary, whether lifting and healing, or cleansing and pruning, in order to make a way for His life to live in you in all of its fullness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clothed With Love - God Among Us series #32

February 8, 2016

Last week, we heard Jesus say in John 8, “If you hold to My teaching, then you are REALLY My disciples.” In other words, “If you say that you are My followers, then you will actually FOLLOW Me.”

 

 

And now, here in John 13, He makes it simple again. He is about to go to the cross. He is about to leave them. So He wants to leave them with what is most important, He wants them to understand what it really means to be like Him. And what defines the life of Jesus more than anything else? He LOVES.

 

LOVE is the clothing that we wear. LOVE is the mark that really proves we are His disciples. 

 

But not just any kind of love. He says very clearly, “Everyone will know you are My disciples if you love one another IN THE SAME WAY that I have loved you.”

 

So the important question is: “What does the love of Jesus look like?”

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A Case of Unmistakable Identity – God Among Us series #31

February 8, 2016

1 John chapter 2, verse 6 says that if we claim to abide in Him, if His life really is in us, then we will “walk in the same way that He Himself walked.”

 

It isn’t saying that if we are Christians, then we should try to behave like Him. It says that if we are really abiding in Him, then we WILL live like He did. Why? Because the true Christian life is not an effort to follow Jesus. The true Christian life is the overflow of the very life of Jesus living in us and through us.

 

The proof that we are His disciples is simple: the life of Jesus is clearly on display in our lives. And what does His life look like? 

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