Everyone loves a good party, a celebration that includes gifts, delicious food, joyful music, good friends and family. Add to that a baby. Everyone’s heart softens when a baby is part of the conversation. They are cuddly, cute, and generally smell wonderful. Add a small stable, a mystical...
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.(Isaiah 53:6) We all have the choice to hold the hammer, to pick up a nail and drive it...
Luke 11:4 says, "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Now, this is a difficult thing to do. It's one of those things that sound easy but is very, very difficult. It's been said that forgiveness is kind of like drinking poison to punish someone else. We all have...
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God is a good, good father. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand God’s plan, God is good...
Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served.Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.(Matthew 20:28 NIRV) What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and...
The scripture tells us that God created each and everyone of us to know and love. But the scripture also tells us the truth. That you and I made a choice to live as though love had never come. We looked at the life that God offered and we said, "No, we want to be in control, we want to call the...
The church of the living God is called to be a powerful community of eternally inspired people who break the dark by becoming the ever-increasing light of Christ on Earth! In Matthew 5:14, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world…" He didn't say pastors are the light of the world...
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." It's like Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."To us who believe in Jesus, this...
Jesus came to lead us out of a dead and dying world into an everlasting Kingdom! The bridge to this new world is the cross and the simple reality is that entering the new means leaving the old! We're called to give up our own "world building" and the portrait of how we think life should...
November is National Adoption Month. My wife and I have felt a calling towards adoption for some time and it finally came to fruition about a year and a half ago. We had two foster children, who are biological brother and sister placed in our home and this past summer we finalized their...
Everyone loves a good party, a celebration that includes gifts, delicious food, joyful music, good friends and family. Add to that a baby. Everyone’s heart softens when a baby is part of the conversation. They are cuddly, cute, and generally smell wonderful. Add a small stable, a mystical star, angels, wise men and a few shepherds and you have one of the greatest and well-known stories in all of history.
Many people celebrate but most miss the point. Although the birth of Christ is a defining moment in history, it took another 33 years before it became meaningful. It took a death and a resurrection to make a birth a momentous occasion.
Without Easter, specifically without the resurrection of Christ, there would be nothing. No Christmas celebration, no New Testament, no early believers, no coming of the Holy Spirit. Basically there would be no Christianity as we have known it to be throughout history. This is a uncomfortable thought.
The more penetrating thought however is that there would have been no Savior. The curtain would not have been torn, death would not have been overcome, and we would not have the unconditional forgiveness, grace and eternal life now extended to us through Jesus.
This could have been the outcome of that quiet night in Bethlehem. Jesus had options, he could have chosen to end the story in the garden with a plea to his Father. Instead Jesus prays to be obedient, he prays for his disciples, and finally he prays for all believers.
Jesus’s death isn’t the end of his ministry, it was the finale that moved to new beginnings.
It was his glory.
The reason for his birth.
The death turned resurrection is the key to God’s saving grace and an outcome of his love for us.
Paul, writing to the people of the church of Corinth, in I Corinthians 15:3-4, said, “For what I received I passed on you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Paul makes it clear that the resurrection isn’t just important, it is of first importance.
From there Paul goes on to say in verses 13-14, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
It is the resurrection of Easter we remember and celebrate as the key to Christianity. Christ died and was resurrected giving us life. This is the only way life could have been given to us. It was through the love of God we are given what we don’t deserve.
John 3:16 sums it up for us: “For God so loved the world (us), that he gave his one and only son (Jesus) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Believe, celebrate, and accept the love gift of eternal life God made available through Jesus to all on that Easter morning so many years ago.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
We all have the choice to hold the hammer, to pick up a nail and drive it into the hand of the son of God. Every time we choose our way, our sinful desires, our selfish wants, we drive a nail in the hand of the Savior. Every time we say “no” to God and his will for our lives we are the voice in the crowd yelling “crucify him!”
If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that there is something in us that is offended by Jesus. God’s will always will offend our human nature.
But God chose to sacrifice his son on the cross to allow Jesus to be IN US.
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
“God made him who had no sin to BE sin FOR us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
When we come face to face with the will of God and the sacrifice of his son, we can choose to respond in one of two ways…
Reject his will and purpose for our lives. OR accept that his will and sacrifice is where we find our lives.
Until we are gladly yielding our will to Jesus; we’re actively opposing God’s work in the world.
Are you letting God’s will be louder than yours?
Are you living Jesus GLADLY or killing off his work in the world?
It’s time for us, his church to BE his work in the world.
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Luke 11:4 says, "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
Now, this is a difficult thing to do. It's one of those things that sound easy but is very, very difficult. It's been said that forgiveness is kind of like drinking poison to punish someone else.
We all have people who hurt us. We all have people who have been unjust toward us and in our heart of hearts, we demand justice for them! But we don't want justice for us -and there's the rub.
Our Father of grace has offered us unimaginable mercy in letting go of our sins. And so when we come to Father, and we come to Him in the name of Jesus, and the blood of the cross is our appeal, we're acknowledging the super high cost that God has paid to provide our forgiveness.
It is a cost higher than anyone has cost us, and so to receive Father's forgiveness it means that we must forgive!
In Matthew 7:7, the scripture says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Well, I want then to use a very generous measure of forgiveness toward others, that Father might use that same measure toward me! It is impossible to follow Father, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus with bitterness, with anger, with malice and an inner demand for justice.
And then there's Mathew 16:15 which kind of seals the deal in terms of the absolute non-negotiable, uncompromised demand of Father -that we forgive if we want to walk in His forgiveness. Jesus said very, very clearly, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
So why in the world would we want to carry the poison of hell when we are offered the grace of Heaven?
Believing that we serve an infinite God means that we can give our deepest wounds and unjust experiences in life to God in Jesus' name and know that He can redeem. That He will redeem and that in all things, He will work for good! Dr. Drew Shofner
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
God is a good, good father. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand God’s plan, God is good and His plans are perfect and when we’re on the other side of the tapestry, we’re going to see that. But on this side, we have a choice to make. To live sullen and angry and seeking our own will, or to give up our own will and to go to God in surrendered prayer. And just to begin walking the path to light and allowing the light of the love of Jesus Christ to fill our lives utterly!
If you are in a bad place right now and you don’t want to do 2017 like you did 2016, God will bring you out of that captivity if you will let Him! The way back and the way forward is wholehearted prayer! The more you and I recognize the depths of the world’s darkness and our need for God’s goodness, the more we will pray!
Believers depend upon the will of God, not their own will. Everything depends on how you and I depend. You see, God’s desire is not to give us the glory of this world, or build up the glory of our name. God’s desire is to lead us into the glory of relationship with Him! God’s plan doesn’t serve my purposes -God’s plan serves His purposes!
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” That word in Hebrew is ‘Segula’, it means what God treasures most! In all of the universe and all of the things that God created, you are the treasured possession of God!
You are not rejected. You are not denied. You are not unacceptable. Your have not sinned so much that God will not come to you again. He is your Father and He wants to bring you into His arms and to wrap your life up in the light of His grace and His love!
We are God’s special possession that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light! (1 Peter 2:9)
Today for 2017, what I’m calling you to do is to get out of darkness and go into light through prayer! That’s going to be a choice every single day, whether it’s pornography, lust, food, whatever it is, there is deep darkness in all of us --but we don’t have to be dominated by it.
God has a plan for a better life, a higher life, an eternal kind of life and you and I can stop depending upon ourselves. We can learn to live a life of dependent faithful prayer and we can walk a path that will fill not only our lives, but our world and our families with the light of Jesus Christ! -Dr. Drew Shofner
Be like the Son of Man.
He did not come to be served.
Instead, he came to serve others.
He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.
(Matthew 20:28 NIRV)
What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and stepped into the world as a baby. To grow and live. To follow God with every breath, every step. To show us the way.
The way of love.
The way of peace.
The way of joy.
Do you know the love of Jesus? A love so deep that he calls you brother. The love that put you first when he gave his life for you so you could be with him for all eternity.
Do you know the peace of Jesus? The peace that passes all understanding. The peace that covers you when everything is chaos. The peace that breathes, “Be still, I AM.”
Do you know the joy of Jesus? The joy of knowing you are a child of the King. The joy of knowing that if God is for you nothing can stand against you. The joy of a fellowship with God that gives you purpose and passion.
If you don't know these things, you can when you get to know Jesus. When you decide that your way is inadequate and the only way to really have life is by allowing Jesus to lead your every step.
If you know Jesus, it’s time to act. Time to make it real. Time to share this love, this peace, this joy, with a world that is broken and hurting; a world that needs to know how much Jesus loves them.
How will you share Jesus with the world in 2017?