As we discovered last week, receiving God’s grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus leads to a fresh start in a whole new life. Yet, this is just the beginning. After we believe in Jesus, he extends a new invitation, “Abide in me.” To abide means to live in a close continual dependent relationship with our resurrected Christ through the presence of his Holy Spirit who indwells all who put their faith in him. In this message we discover more about this beautiful way of life as well as the rewards for all who rsvp with a “yes” to this incredible invitation.
The Prodigal Son just may be the best short story ever told. It’s incredibly concise, yet has both deep sorrow and joy in the midst of scandal and strained relationships. As we look at each of the story’s three characters in succession, it’s obvious that the one thing even more extravagant than the younger son’s self-indulgence, is the Father’s self-sacrificing love. Yet it’s all lost on the older son at the end […]
Paul the Apostle was a man gripped by Jesus. This is why he was so passionate for Jesus and willing to suffer for the cause of Christ. In his conversion, his calling, his ministry, his suffering, and his daily life, he was gripped by Jesus. The center of his life was to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and this is the message he so longed to proclaim to those who had not yet heard. What are you gripped by? Jesus Christ or the many distractions of life? Your passion will reveal what you are gripped by.
Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention the name of God. Yet, behind the scenes, God is clearly at work fulfilling His vision to protect His people through whom His Son, the “seed” of Abraham, will come to bless all nations. God does this work through two of His children, Esther and Mordecai, who risk their lives to join in His mission. Their examples challenge us to ask, “How can I invest my life for the kingdom of God?”
Two of the most famous Biblical stories are (1) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, and (2) Daniel in the Lion’s Den. They both occur during the 70-year period of Israelite exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC, yet these accounts have tremendous value for us today: they show how God brings glory to Himself in the midst of a culture of critics. Any trial in our lives, no matter how big or small, — when met with courage and faith — can become a demonstration of God’s power and creativity. When that demonstration is simply and humbly attributed to Him, the critics that surround us can become witnesses to an undeniable glory, hungry for more (just like Anton Ego in the animated film, Ratatouille).
In 931 B.C. God’s people tore into two nations and sometimes God’s people still divide today. Schisms destroy our joy and our ability to fulfill God’s call to bless all the families of the earth. With so much at stake, God reveals in I Kings 12-16 that relational division is actually the result of one or more people drifting away from God and His ways. For all who know the angst of relational conflict and division, in Christ there is help and hope.
Everyone has pressures & priorities. God made us to live according to His priorities not people’s pressures. This last Sunday of the year is a great time to remember that our marching orders are clear. We are commanded to love God, love our neighbors and love one another.
Most of us feel a little uncomfortable when we hear the word “obedience”: it conjures up feelings and/or memories of punishment and pain, or a long list of “shoulds.” Samuel and Saul are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to obeying God. Their juxtaposition provides an avenue into seeing what God is really after when He asks His people to listen to Him, wait for Him, and walk humbly with Him.
The Apostle Peter had heard Jesus describe this era as “the end of the age.” Peter, like all of the early Christians, believed Jesus. Even though it has been 2,000 years, it is still the end of this age and this carries certain responsibilities for those of us who are followers of Jesus. In this message we learn about three relational priorities: love for God, love for our neighbors and love for one another while we anticipate Christ’s return.