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Reading through the Old Testament,  read with New Testament eyes.

 

Psalm 15, ask the question, who will abide in God’s tabernacle?  Who will dwell in His holy hill?  Then it gives a list of what that person looks like:

  • They walk uprightly
  • are righteous
  • speak truth
  • they do not talk about people behind their back
  • They do not do evil to their neighbors
  • they don’t take up a negative disapproving opinion of their friend
  • They honor those who fear the Lord
  • do not change to protect themselves from pain
  • Nor do they lend their money for interest
  • or take money to speak against an innocent person

 

With New Testament eyes we realize we are not doing these things to get into heaven we are doing them because we are already apart of heaven.  It is the blood of Jesus who has made the way for us.

 

Acts 13:38-39 Let it be known to you that through Jesus is preached to you the forgiveness of sins.  And BY Him everyone who believes is justified from ALL things from which you could not be made right by the law of Moses.

 

Acts 15 Jesus is all we need!  The Jews were trying to get the new believers to come into alignment with their beliefs in circumcision.  No, just Jesus!

 

Verse 11We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved….

 

Acts 16, Paul wanted to go to Asia, the Holy Spirit said, NO.  He tried to go to Bithynai, but the Spirit said, NO.  They kept traveling and Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him to come and help them. Paul recognized God’s leading.

 

While there a girl follows them around saying, these men are the servants of the most high God.  It bothered Paul and one day he rebuked the spirit in the girl and it left her.  The girl’s owners became angry, took Paul and Silas to the magistrate, claiming they were troubling the city, teaching things that were unlawful.  The Magistrate had Paul and Silas stripped naked, beaten, thrown in jail.

 

Paul and Silas knows who they are, God’s children, because they believe in Jesus. They didn’t go into the jail and pout, or complain about how bad the government was, or go into depression and blame God for their situation.  They began to praise!

Paul and Silas lived Psalm 15.  They were:

  • walking uprightly
  • in right standing with God
  • speaking the truth
  • not talking bad about people who just beat them and threw them in prison
  • not changing their story to keep them out of prison

 

When they began to praise God in the midst of their circumstances, the place shook, their chains fell off, the doors flew open!  The jailer wanted to kill himself but instead he accept that this Jesus Paul and Silas was talking about was real and the jailer and his whole household accepted the Lord!

 

Believers in Christ:

Live differently

Are the light of the world

Focus on the good

Praise! No matter the situation

Praise!

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Super Bowl Sunday – one vs. one – who is going to win?

Republican vs. Democrat

Christian vs. Non-Christian

 

The enemy wants to keep division, separation in our lives, homes, families, work places, politics. He is all about division, disunity. He doesn’t want oneness, unity like he saw in Heaven with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He witnessed that first hand and knew the power of unity.

Satan believed when he has Jesus crucified, he had weakened the unity that was in Heaven. He did not. By Jesus dying on the cross and being resurrected, He made it possible for all men/women to get into unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the power of His blood. By faith believing that Jesus paid the price for the forgiveness of our sin.

From our Life Journal reading this week – Acts 9 Saul vs. Christians on ‘The Way’

A voice from Heaven  – ‘Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ Not why are you persecuting people on ‘the way’. Saul was persecuting Jesus by locking up followers of Jesus.

Acts 10 Cornelius and Peter – Roman vs. Galilean

In Peter’s vision a sheet was let down with 4 footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things and birds

v13-14 ‘Rise, kill and eat Peter’ ‘No Lord, I have never…

‘Rise, kill and eat Peter’ 3 x’s

v15 ‘Do not call something (someone) unclean if God has made it clean’

That goes for you and me. When God says our sins are forgiven by our faith in the blood of our Savior, Jesus, we are not to call ourselves unclean or anyone else.

Peter, goes to Cornelius’ house and tells him the ‘good news’.

Acts 10:34 God shows no favoritism.

v35 He (God) accepts those who fear Him and do what is right.

v36 This is the message of the good news… there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord

v38 God anointed Jesus … with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

He will do the same for us if we will ask – see verse 34

v41 but to us whom God has chosen (He chose you!)… to be His witnesses (tell of what you have seen of Him and heard from Him)

v42preach everywhere and testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge for all

v43 everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name

The enemy tries to keep us focused on the flesh/world, rather than on our Savior and what He says (His Word). We need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

God has chosen us to be forgiven, anointed with the Holy Spirit so that we can witness, testify and heal all who are oppressed by the devil.

Do you believe this? Could God, would God choose you? Yes, He has!!!

Take time to celebrate communion today. Remember what God has accomplished through the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Believe Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and His blood has the power to forgive all of our sin if we ask and receive.

Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean!

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10 lepers call out to Jesus for their healing.     Luke 17: 13 “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us”.

He is near because He is everywhere. Are you calling out to Him for what you need? You may not feel His presence, but the truth is, He is near, very near! We tell ourselves that He won’t or doesn’t want to answer our requests, or prayers, because we don’t deserve it – that is usually a lie.

Come to where He is – Where is He? Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

2 Cor. 11:1-4 I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

My fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ would be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. Satan’s desire is to divide you from Christ. To remove you from the peace, rest and joy of being in relationship with Jesus.

I have 4 D’s and 3 E’s for today’s sermon.

The 4 D’s are not of God.

1. Deception

2. Depression – no sadness in God. He is not sad, so we should not be either.

3. Disillusion – wrongly perceived – God does live in illusion, He lives in Truth

4. Disheartened – God never loses heart/confidence in what He has planned for His creation

God does not doubt His power concerning His creation because He knows the truth. He is faithful to His word.

The 3 E’s are how we need to pursue God.

1. Encountered

2. Experienced

3. Established

Encounter God in everything – come to where He is, He is everywhere – you can’t escape Him

Luke 17:11 Lepers couldn’t come close, but they did cry out when they knew Jesus was near. Jesus is near you, cry out! Look for encounters so that you can experience Christ and be established in His truth.

Luke 18 Persistent widow

v.2 She came repeatedly to seek justice

v.5 I’m going to see that she gets justice before she wears me out

v.7 so don’t you think God will give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him?

v.8 He will grant justice quickly

Encounter, Experience & Establish by simple faith DAILY – Trust and Obey

The Enemy is trying to get us to doubt God’s love for us and His word to us

2 John 8b – 9 Be diligent to receive your full reward. V.9 …But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

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The Bible is full of relationships.  Troubled relationships

Genesis 3: 15  And I will put enmity (animosity, hatred, hostility) between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

God told the servant (Satan) there will be hatred, hostility between you/your offspring, and the woman and her offspring.  Men will bruise Satan’s head and Satan will bruise men’s heel.

When you have a bruise on your foot it makes it difficult to walk, there is a limp, pain!  Satan’s goal is to make it difficult for us to walk in good relationships.  With God and with other people.

Romans 16:19-20 ….be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.  And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

Our goal is to make sure that Satan is under our feet and he is not winning in destroying any relationship we have.

Jesus tells us how to keep Satan from winning in Luke chapter 6.

Verse 20 –  Blessed are the poor (Matthew adds: poor in spirit). This is Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not to your own understanding.    Jesus showed us how to lean not to our own understanding and to be poor in spirit when He was in the wilderness.  He could have turned the stones into bread, but He wanted what God wanted.   When we are poor in spirit, we are trusting God!

Verse 21  – Blessed are you who hunger (Matthew adds: for righteousness) now for you shall be filled.  Esau was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup.  We want to hunger for what God has for us and not give in for that temporary moment of satisfaction.

Verse 22 – Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil. for the Son of Man’s sake.  Abram was told in Gen. 12:3  I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you.  The law of sowing and reaping is put into effect (Galatians 6:7-9).   Abram was a blessed man because he choose to bless others.  If we bless others we will be blessed when we choose to curse others we bring curses on ourselves.

Jesus goes onto explain how to continue to bruise Satan’s head and to walk without a limp ……

27 – Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.

28 – Bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.

29 – If someone hits you on one cheek, let him hit you on the other too.  If they take away your shirt, give them your coat too.

30 – Give to everyone who asks of you. If someone takes your stuff don’t ask for it back.

31 –  Do to others what you want done to you.

32 – Love,  33 –  Do good to others,  34 – Lend to others,

35 –  Love your enemies, do good and lend, not looking for anything in return, then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High God.  He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

36 –  Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.

37 –  Do not judge!   Do not Condemn others.   Forgive!

38 – For with the same measure you give judgement, condemnation, forgiveness it will come back to you.

Thank you Jesus for instructing us how to live.

Take time to pray and ask the Lord to form these qualities in you so you look more and more like the child of the Most High God.

Your relationship with the Father will be peaceful & good.

Your relationship with others will be peaceful & good!

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The Spiritual Gift of Knowledge

The biblical gift of knowledge is relational. The Spirit can bring to our minds things about Christ, ourselves and others, so that we may know Him and make Him known.

Knowledge is more than just facts. Biblical knowledge comes from an up-close-and-personal relationship with someone or something. The way to know more about anything is to deepen your experience with it.

Our word “disciple” comes from the Koine Greek word mathetes meaning “learning” or “student,” and all learning begins with a realization that we don’t know something. In my early life, I thought I knew it all. Then I realized I knew nothing. Now I realize I know a little about a lot. My mind is set on the one thing that opens the door to all knowledge: Jesus.

When we put on the mind of Christ, and open to the circuitry of the Spirit, our minds and spirit are constantly renewed by the One who knows everything. The Spirit can dispense knowledge and wisdom whenever and to whomever. Knowledge becomes wisdom, which becomes truth. Knowledge is to know Christ. Wisdom is to make Christ known. Truth is Jesus, the culmination of all knowledge and wisdom.

—Leonard Sweet is a theologian and a professor of evangelism at Drew Theological School, Drew University 

PRAYER:

  • Jesus, help me to know one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ and Him crucified, our risen, regnant and returning Lord.
  • Dear God, You have promised to increase our faith. So today I ask for an increase in crops, especially the fruit of the Spirit called knowledge. Give me the desire to receive this fruit with humility, not to lord it over others, but to point others to the Lord and giver of life.
  • Lord, may my highest ambition in life be not only to pray the Lord’s Prayer with meaning and mission, but also to become a Lord’s Prayer, so that everything I do is a prayer-offering to You.
  • Eternal God, fill me this day with Your Spirit, so that I may be Spirit-driven in all I do, guarded and guided with the knowledge of Your will and ways, thereby bearing the marks of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

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Gentleness, or meekness, is a divinely balanced virtue that only the Holy Spirit can operate in our lives. Interestingly, Luther translated the Greek word praytes in German as sanftmut; “sanft” means gentle, and “mut” is courage. We need the Holy Spirit in order to bring gentleness and courage together in our own lives.

We all know gentle people, and we all know courageous people. But in order to live out both virtues in our lives, we need to pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. We need help to follow our King and Savior, who is gentle and humble. Matthew 11:29 instructs us: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (NIV). By His Holy Spirit, Christ cultivates that same quality in us to make a difference in a harsh and violent world.

—Volker Heitz is the Foursquare national leader of Switzerland

Gentleness is power under control, and in a harsh and hurting world, it can help heal. Jesus was our example; He had a gentle spirit and yet spoke courageously as He encountered an unrighteous world.

PRAYER:

  • Let us pray for gentle hearts in our dealings with those around us.
  • Pray for balance in your life between gentleness and courage.
  • Pray for a gentle spirit when we are challenged or attacked.
  • Pray for courage to stand up against unrighteousness and mockery.
  • Pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted.
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Life Journal Reading:

GenesisNoah listened, built, was abused, entered, was protected, blessed, got drunk and naked in his tent

Ham saw him and went out and told his brothers who went in backwards, and covered their Dad. Because Ham told his brothers, his son, Canaan was cursed. Canaan was not his oldest son, but he was cursed by God to be the servant of all.

Canaan became the father of the Canaanites, the Sidonites, the Hittites, etc.

Ham was the youngest son of Noah, yet he is usually listed as 2nd. Shem, Ham and Japheth

Just noting interesting things, I saw as I was reading Genesis.

Tower of Babel – build to make a name for themselves, pride. God brought confusion to divide and send them all over the place.

Luke 4 – Temptation of Jesus – tempted with pride – same temptation as Eve and Adam – “Did God really say…” “I will you …, if you …” “If you are …”

Jesus honored His Father in all His responses. Ham, not so much

How many times does the enemy come to us and challenge God’s word? “Did God really say …” “You aren’t forgiven because …” “If you are healed, then …” “You haven’t changed because you …” “If you are …”

All of our life is about the Kingdom of God and His son, Jesus.

Psalm 3 So many are saying “God will never rescue him.” But you oh Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Luke 7 – Faith of a Roman officer “Lord don’t trouble yourself, just say the word from where you are.”

How do we recognize the enemy’s challenges to God’s words? Slowdown in your emotional reactions – stop, think – ‘would God really say …?’ ‘Does God really say …’

What does God want to be for you in this situation, that He could not be for you without this situation?

You know, He is that for you anyway, whether you recognize it or not.

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The Christian life is about more than having faith; it is necessary that we be found faithful. Faithfulness is permanence in the ways of God. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin to grow in faithfulness.

A faithful or loyal person is one who remains constant in his affections, in the fulfillment of his obligations, in the trust he owes to another. Faithfulness is linked with gratitude. A loyal person is one who has received good from another and has not forgotten it.

Unfaithful is the one who betrays, the ungrateful person who has forgotten the good that has been done to him. God is the epitome of faithfulness to us. Psalm 89:8 says, “You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.” God is faithful to His promises; His words are eternal and do not change. In His great love, God has remained faithful from the beginning. His faithfulness is eternal and perfect.

—Sergio Cáceres is the Foursquare national leader of Argentina

Prayer:

Lord, may I be found faithful!

May I be part of a generation that is influential and inspirational. In times of temptation and trial.

I choose to be faithful to the One who has called me.

Thank You Lord that my character can change to be more like Yours.  Holy Spirit work in me to exalt Christ as Lord of Lords and demonstrate the signs of His love.

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Mathew 2:1-23

Wise men saw a star in the sky and they knew that it represented the birth of a King for the Jewish nation.

Watching and studying stars is something that has been forever.

Job 9:9  Job talks about God creating the Bear, Orion and Pleiades.  These are constellations in the sky.

Orion, the great hunter.  In this constellation the start Betelgeuse lies on the shoulder of the hunter and is 1000 times the radius of the sun.  A star name Rigel is also in this constellation and it is 40,000 times brighter than the sun.

Pleiades, has 6 stars that are visible to the naked eye.  There are 500 starts in this cluster.

In Job 38:31  God talks to Job, can you bind the cluster of  Pleiades?  Orion, can you take off his belt?  

Man has used the stars to travel with and these wise men knew there was a big event taking place the night Jesus was born.

God could have spoken a star into existence the night of Jesus birth but His plans are not last minute.  He designed the starts and planned for them to be in the right place for the wise men to see them.  He designed the wise men to already be looking and expecting for a new king to be born.  They accepted the challenge.

Think about these men.  They went looking for a new-born king.  They didn’t travel by plane, car, or  train.  They didn’t have hotels to stop in along the way.  There wasn’t fast food restaurants.  No internet to go to for directions. They had to prepare for this adventure.  Food, being away for an unplanned time, clothing, even the gifts they brought were planned before they left home.  They had no idea how long they would be gone.

When they met King Herod and told of this new king, the prophecy from Micah 5:2 was read to explain where this child was to be born.  In Bethlehem.  When the wise men started out after meeting Herod the star went before them and when they found the place they rejoiced with great joy.  The night Jesus was born the angel said there would be great joy to all people!  It is a joyous experience to find what you are looking for.

These men put their life on hold until they found the new-born king.  By the time they found Him He was no longer in the stable but in a house.  They traveled for over a year or more till they found Jesus.  Herod had all the little boys under the age of two killed thinking he would get rid of this new king.

We need the dedication these men had, to prepare for our adventure with Jesus and to stick with it no matter the difficulties or length of time.  Just as God directed them to start, He also directed them after they found Jesus and told them to go home a different way.  Don’t let Herod know you found Him.

God continues to direct our steps if we will listen.  He did for the wise men.  He did it for Joseph and Mary.  Take the child and go to Egypt.  Okay now you can go back to Israel.  Oh you are afraid, then go into Galilee, to the city of Nazareth and you will be safe.  God understood Josephs fear of going back to a place they wanted to kill this baby he was given to raise and redirected their steps.  God wants to do the same for each of us.

God knows each of us very well.  

Jeremiah 29:11 says he knows the thoughts He has for us.  Thoughts to prosper us and not for evil.  To give us hope and an expected end.   Even though during this time the people were in captivity.  God told them to build houses and marry and plant gardens.  He had a plan for them.  Just as He does for each of us.

Romans 8:28 says all things work together for good to those who love God and are called by Him.  He isn’t going to leave us. 

He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

As 2018 starts readjust your relationship with the Lord.  Get purposeful!  Make a plan!  Stick with it!  Find out more about Him.  Read His word.  Join us on the “Life Journal” reading plan for 2018 as we set our sights on knowing Jesus more and more.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

The more we get to know God and Jesus the more He works in our lives by His grace.  The more we see Him in our lives the more peace we have!  Get to know God and His Son Jesus, make a plan, stick with it, get purposeful!

 

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Luke 2: 8-20 The ‘Christmas’ Story

Have you ever given a gift that was flat out refused or destroyed? They may not have liked or wanted it, but usually they say thanks and throw it in the closet or re-gift it. Right women? Men think they have the perfect gift and women think, ‘what was he thinking’. Right?

We have the greatest gift – ‘Good tidings of great joy’ – ‘Good News’ – Jesus Christ – Holy Spirit – Love – Grace – Peace – Rest – etc.

Yet we choose not to give it to people because ‘they won’t accept it’ or ‘they don’t deserve it’.

Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”

Romans 1:20  “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.”

His creativity shouts of His love and Power

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NLT)

It is the free gift of God, given to us to give to others, to ALL people – eternal life through/in/with Christ Jesus. We must receive Jesus

Once He is received we are to give Him to others. The more you give the more you get!

Keep your hands open – others need what you have – Love, Joy, Peace, Gentleness, Rest, Kindness……

The enemy wants to keep us to keep focused on good vs. evil rather on the Good News. We do not need to focus on whether people are good or evil, we need to focus on the Good Tidings of Great Joy – God is Good

Goodness of God leads people to repentance. What is the Goodness of God? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. Those are the gifts we need to give people, ALL people.

God’s gift, Jesus Christ, was given to destroy works of the enemy, and He did – It is finished!

It is our responsibility to make sure the ‘Gift Goes On’

God has given us His gift by allowing us to know His love so that we can pass this love on to others. Pass His peace, rest, joy on to ALL people. Do not be afraid. Will some reject the gift? Maybe, but most times people welcome being accepted, loved.

Takes the good tidings of great joy to all people. Jesus is asking, ‘will you trust me and share the good news?’

The Gift Goes On

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