Monday, May 31, 2021

The Gift of Freedom

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Gift of Freedom

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.  John 8:36

This past year….

This time last year most of us were not feeling free. Most of us were quarantined at home with our families, unable to be with extended family and friends, and unable to go to school or church. We had to connect over technology, and thankfully we could at least have that connection. We lost a lot of things in 2020 that we took for granted, and I believe most of us have a different perspective now. 

Things are “getting back to normal,” but we have this knowledge and experience of losing some freedoms, although temporarily. We are aware that it can happen. It is true that sometimes we don’t recognize the value of something until we don’t have it anymore. Because the men and women fought so long ago for the freedoms we enjoy, most of us have enjoyed a lifetime of these freedoms having never been threatened until the Pandemic. I hope we all will look differently at the sacrifices made in the past, present, and in the future for our freedom and not take it for granted.  They sacrificed their own freedom and their lives for our freedom. This is the day set aside for us to remember and honor their sacrifice. 

When we have freedom, we have peace, and both come at a high price. Just as men and women have fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, another has given His life for a different kind of freedom for us. Jesus' shed blood bought our freedom - freedom from sin, death and eternal separation from God. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 So many Christians "accept" this gift, but never totally unwrap the gift, because they never live in the freedom they have been given. They either live in the shame and guilt of past sins, or they continually run back to the sin they have been freed from. When we don't accept His gift and let it transform us, His sacrifice is in vain. It is like He handed us a gift and we gave it back and said no thank you. If you took a very special gift to a party for a good friend and they opened it but didn't't take it all out of the bag, and just left the bag sitting there, never acknowledging the rest of the gift, you might be upset. If you were being held hostage in a locked room, and someone rescued you, would you stay in the room with door wide open? 

Jesus' shed blood has bought our freedom so that we do not have to live in the bondage of sin anymore. We can have abundant life, free from chains, shame, or the weight that comes with sin. We are no longer captive or in debt for the sins we have committed. When we accept His gift of salvation, that debt is wiped away, paid for by His blood. We have Christ, and that means we have eternal life, forgiven completely, totally, and eternally. Being freed from sin allows us to live in what Christ has freed us to - to live and to thrive in a relationship with Him and living in His purpose for your life. 

Remember all the sacrifices for your freedom - your American freedoms and your freedom in salvation and eternal life. Unwrap the whole gift and enjoy living in this freedom every day. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday, May 30, 2021 

There is no outline this morning. Enjoy the sermon and have a blessed day! 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Studying and Meditating On The Word

May 28, 2021

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Studying and Meditating On The Word

Just as prayer helps us build our relationship with God, studying His word will also strengthen our relationship with Him, our faith, and give us an arsenal of power against the doubts and tricks that Satan will use to throw us off track. 

Reading and studying the Bible will help us understand God – who He is, His ways, His will, and how much He loves us. Without it, we cannot grow spiritually. As a Christian, everything in our lives will build on the foundation of the knowledge and beliefs we have of God. It is important for us to think about what we believe and know why we believe the way we do. Studying and memorizing scripture will help us remember and be ready to give an answer if we are questioned about what we believe. 

Jesus memorized scripture and was challenged by the devil himself in the wilderness. (Luke 4) It is another example He gave us of how to live out the Christian life. He quoted scripture as a boy as well as while teaching during His ministry. 

With technology the way it is today, we literally have the Bible at our fingertips, as well as just about any guided Bible study you want, whether it is from an app or online. We no longer have to carry a book to have it with us at all times, although there is nothing like holding and thumbing through the pages of a book or the Bible. We can also listen to the Bible while it is read aloud to us as we drive in the car or clean house. We can watch almost any church anywhere online these days and there are so many Bible studies available online as well. We have more options and helps than ever to be able to study the word of God. 

Meditating is another story. It takes more intentionality and time – focused and quiet time. It is difficult to meditate on His word while you are doing five other things. But once you really meditate on and learn scripture, you can “meditate” on it day and night. You can keep it on your mind constantly as you go through the days. 

When we know God and we know His word, we can slay the doubts that come our way and replace them with the scriptures we have memorized, and then act on what we know to be the truth. We can also be mindful of our thoughts and ask God to take every thought captive that contradicts His word or His character. We may not be able to control the fact that some thoughts come into our head, but we can recognize them immediately as not from the Lord and give them to Him. 

Prayer and studying God's word are Spiritual disciplines and discipline is required to make priorities. Spiritual disciplines are things we do that promote spiritual growth in our personal life and in fellowship with other believers. They are habits such as prayer and reading the Bible, and other habits that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times. The disciplines of spending time in prayer and studying God's word every day are vital to our spiritual growth and to our relationship with God. Make space for this important time and protect it.



Thursday, May 27, 2021

Listening to God

Thursday, May 27, 2021 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ. 

Listening to God

Communication is a vital part of any relationship. We have discussed how prayer is an important part of our relationship with God, but it is one on one communication with Him. Listening is just as vital as communicating in a relationship, if not more important. If you communicate how you feel, but no one is really listening, it is a waste of time and effort. 

We communicate our feelings, our fears, our questions, our doubts, and our desires to God in our relationship with Him. And He hears us. He listens to every word, cares about every feeling, and catches every tear. But we also must listen to Him for our relationship to be everything it is meant to be. If we trust Him and that He loves us and wants the best for us, we must listen and walk in obedience according to what He is saying to us. 

Getting Still and Quiet With God

Unless we intentionally sit with God and open our hearts to hear His words, we will miss what He has to say to us. The chaos of this life and the hustle and bustle of every day can distract us. Something happens and we immediately call our family or friends seeking support and advice. We get a lot of opinions and suggestions about what we can do to fix our situation, but God does not care about the opinions or suggestions of our friends. He cares about us listening to Him and walking in obedience to what He says to us. The very best thing we can do for our stressed-out weary hearts is to sit still and be quiet with God. His presence brings a peace that no amount of good advice can rival. His Spirit pouring into our open and willing heart brings wisdom beyond measure. His voice in the still quietness can calm our frazzled nerves quicker than anything else.

Communication through prayer is vital to our relationship with God and listening to Him is key to the abundant life He brings. Communication is a two-way street, but it is also a two-part deal – it requires both speaking and listening. If we truly want a relationship with Him we will listen and obey. If we truly love Him we will trust His wisdom and direction in our lives. If we trust Him, we take action by listening and walking in obedience according to His will for our lives. He is so much more capable and His words are far more reliable than any advice we would get from even our best friends. He is capable beyond our understanding and knows everything, including all we don’t’ think of to ask. He knows what we need before we even ask. Trust Him. Get still and quiet and let Him fill you with His peace and wisdom today. 


To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, be glory. Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Remember and Rejoice

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:16-19

Remember and Rejoice

Life is a combination of hills and valleys, mountaintop experiences mixed with the lowest of the lows. The most important part about getting through the lows is remembering what God has done. We can’t trust our faith in God based on our feelings, because our feelings fluctuate like our circumstances do. Even when we have trouble feeling like God is in control, we can remember how faithful He has been in the past in our lives. Prayer – communicating with God – is a way we can declare what we believe to be true, even when we are experiencing some very difficult circumstances.  Habakkuk had gotten word that the Babylonians, an enemy that was far more evil than any enemy they had faced, was coming for them. 

In Habakkuk Chapter 3, Habakkuk is seeking revival from God for his land, and he recalls all that God has done.  His reason for this was to state that revival comes from God, not the work of men. All we can do is ask Him for revival. He does the work. Then he begins praising God for all He has done and for the revival he knows that his faithful God will bring. He finds out the Babylonians are coming, and he is afraid. He tells God of his fear, but he acts in faith. He begins to state what God has already done, not frantically start praying for God to deliver them from the Babylonians. 

God You Have…

Habakkuk speaks of how God has shown His power and might. He talks of how God has rescued His people. He shows us that even in fear, we can have faith. Having faith does not mean we are not afraid. It means we can push through the fear in determination to trust our more than capable God and rejoice in the results, no matter what they are. 

Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…

Once again, the key is having a relationship with God, and prayer makes this relationship possible. Habakkuk knew God. He knew what He had already done, and He knew God was faithful. So even when the fiercest enemy approached, he knew that God would be there, He would be faithful, He would be in control, and He would be his strength. Like Habakkuk, we can remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness when the enemy closes in, when the bank account in empty, when the shelves are bare, and when our fear rises. And, as hard as it may feel, we can praise Him and rejoice is the results because He is the same faithful God, no matter the situation. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Just Give Me Jesus

 Tuesday, May 25, 2021

 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19

Just Give Me Jesus

This has been a popular meme in the past couple of years. I wonder how often we really mean that when we say it? Would we really be happy with just Jesus? Or when we seek Jesus are we seeking Him for our own personal requests? 

Prayer is so much more than a time to list off all the things we want Jesus to do for us. Prayer is talking to God about anything and everything, and sometimes there doesn’t even need to be words. In fact, I have found more peace in just sitting with my Savior recently than anything else could offer. There are those moments when we are so scared, or so hurt, or so overwhelmed that we literally don’t know where to begin.  Because He loves us so much and because He sent the Holy Spirit to intercede for us, in those moments when we cannot even put the thought together, He knows, and He intercedes on our behalf. 

Prayer should be more focused on building our relationship with God than asking for things. It should also be about giving Him the authority in our lives He deserves, recognizing that authority and trusting that authority. It is absolutely okay to ask God for things but respecting His authority and knowing that it might not get answered the way we want it to is crucial to our relationship with Him.  It is hard when prayers don’t get answered the way we think they should. It is even harder when we don’t understand why God answers the way He does. This is where the trust and respect come in.  Trust and respect are a part of every relationship and if we want a true relationship with our Savior, then we have to trust and respect His authority over our lives. That means trusting Him with the answers we don’t understand and the outcomes we didn’t plan for. 

Growing in our faith is not only a responsibility for every believer it is also the path to a deeper knowledge of God and richer Christian experience.  A simple faith may save us, but a deepened faith sustains and empowers us for the course of life.  Unfortunately, too many Christians are not willing to go through the difficult experience of discovering deeper truth. The path to this deeper faith begins and ends in prayer - communicating with Him and building a relationship.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Monday, May 24, 2021

Three Things

Monday, May 24, 2021  

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!  Matthew 7:7-11

You cannot possibly overestimate the purpose and power of prayer in the life of a believer. For many of us, we were taught to pray very early in life. We grew up listening to people praying and trying to mimic all of their words. Others feel like they can’t pray because they don’t know how. Real honest prayer is not the repeating of words like a mantra but spiritual communication with Holy God. In the passage above, Jesus gives us some simple guidelines about prayer and how we have a good father who love us and wants to give us good things. 

Three Things…
Ask implies asking for a conscious need. The word also suggests humility in asking, for it is commonly used of one asking a superior. We ask for what we wish.  Something we desire which is beyond our own power or resource.  Too many never get past the first step in the process of effective prayer.  They ask and then “leave it there.”  While there are some requests of God we need to leave to Him, personal change involves acts of faith.                                                                                                                                                        
Seekinvolves asking but adds action. The idea is not merely to express one’s need, but to get up and look around for help. It involves effort. Seek Persistently. It’s not always enough just to ask, you also have to seek.  Add some works to your faith. If you’ve asked Him for a new job, seek a new job. If you’ve asked Him for reconciliation in a relationship, seek reconciliation. If you’ve asked Him for healing, seek healing. Don’t sit back and wait for an angel to do all the work. Faith without works is dead.
Knock includes asking, acting and persevering—like someone who keeps pounding on a closed door. We knock for access to some place or thing.  When we discover we are in the right place, we still need to step through the door. Knock Determinedly.  Once you see God's promise in clear view, knock and keep on knocking until the promised door is open. 
We are to keep on asking, seeking and knocking for those things that will make us more like Jesus. Perseverance is the key to God’s treasure, just as it often proves to be with earthly treasures. Persistent prayer will get an answer - in God’s time and in God’s way. Our prayers do not change God’s purpose, create His desire to give or persuade Him to give; it opens the way for Him to give. 

God “cannot” give until we ask, because in asking we admit our need and grant Him access to it.  God is our good Father, who loves and cares for us in a way we cannot fathom. His desire is to give the best, which means according to His knowledge. We do not always know what is best for us. God will give us what we ask for or something better. (He won’t give the “stone” but may not give the “bread” either.) We will not be satisfied in prayer if we only feel God answers when we get what we wanted. If we try to predict the outcome of our prayers, we take the power away from the One who truly deserves it - the only one with the power. Persistence and trust in who we know God is will bring assurance in our waiting.  Ask, Seek, Knock, and then trust.  He is your good Father who loves you and wants good things for you. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Purposeful, Prevailing Prayer

Matthew 7:7-11

The one who has received the message of the Sermon on the Mount is well aware of the demands of discipleship and our incapability of meeting them without heavenly assistance. Here is a teaching to assist in prevailing prayer that transforms a believer. 

The instruction in this text should not be lifted from its context in the Sermon and abused.  A text without a context is pretext.

Jesus tells us how to pray for the character of the kingdom in our lives. 

In other words, what if prayer is not about requests, but relationship?

People who feel they have been wounded by God are seldom swayed by theology.

Matthew 6:9-15 shares the content and authority of prayer while Matthew 7:7-11 speaks of assurance in prayer.

The promise of Matthew 7:7-11 is not a blank check to be cashed in by a worldly and selfish individual.

I. Perseverance and Prevailing Prayer v.7  

Ask” implies asking for a conscious need.

Seek,” involves asking but adds action.

Knock” includes asking, acting, and persevering.

Things We Desire from God from Different Perspectives:

1. We “ask” for what we wish.

2. We “seek” for what we miss

3. We “knock” for access to some place or thing.



We are to passionately persist in prayer for that which we need to be used by God.

We are to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for those things that will make us more like Jesus.

II.  The Promise of Prevailing Prayer v.8

Prayer does not change God’s purpose, create His desire to give or persuade Him to give; it opens the way for Him to give.

III.   The Passion of the Provider of Prevailing Prayer v.9-11.

how much more” - Jesus reasons from the “lesser to the greater” to demonstrate God’s unfailing care for his own children.

We do not always know what is best for us.

You will not be satisfied in prayer if you only feel God answers when you get what you wanted.



Friday, May 21, 2021

The Power of Grace

Friday, May 21, 2021

But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are. Acts 15:11

The Power of Grace
When it comes to grace, people usually go wrong in one of two ways.  We either think that we’re too far gone for it and dismiss it or we take it for granted and abuse it.  While they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, they’re actually just two different expressions of the same problem; they both view grace as weakness.  The first group lives as if grace is too weak to rescue them and the second group lives as if grace is too weak to transform them. 

Both are wrong.  Grace isn’t weakness.  Grace is power.  It is power to save and to transform; to cover all of our sins and remove them from our lives; to get you off the hook and to get you into the zone of transformation.  Listen to Paul’s testimony: For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

I love that.  First, Paul relates with those of us who think we’re the exception to God’s grace.  If there was ever a candidate, it was Paul, not you.  Apparently, his sin wasn’t too powerful for God’s infinitely more powerful grace and neither is yours.  Paul could have lived in perpetual guilt for what he had done, or he could have taken advantage of what God had done for him.  But he didn’t and look at what he accomplished.  Grace isn’t just a cheap perfume you splash on to cover the stench of your sins; it’s the power to change your life from the inside out.  

Yes, grace is more than just divine favor; grace is power.  Power to save, power to live right, power to talk right, power to walk right, power to give and power to forgive.  God’s grace is the power to do anything God calls you to do in His name; power to pray and power to overcome.

We are quick to understand the need of grace for our forgiveness, for if God was not willing to offer us salvation we would have no means for securing eternal life.  But do we make the grace of God “in vain” when we ignore it as our source of power to serve and minister in His name?  We can certainly seek to please God with our righteousness but we know that is of no effect for salvation.  (Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. Titus 3:5)  Can we learn the same is true for our service?  Our feeble efforts bring God no glory.  It is His working in us that brings Him praise.  

Paul reminded the Corinthians that when we allow God to work in us we remove all temptation to pride and position.  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."  I Corinthians 1:26-31

We have the same options as Paul.  Embrace the power of God’s grace and imagine what you’ll become.  Ask God for His grace to power your life through those difficult places and relationships.  In the end, you will have reason to praise Him.

…so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:21

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