A Strange Combination of Ingredients Can Make A Great Recipe!
With the beginning of the new church year we're at a time where this is a unique combination of ingredients: thinking about the end of the world + looking forward to Jesus' coming + Thanksgiving. This unique combo makes for a beautiful recipe in a messy world!
1) We can feel that there is a darkness in the world. But in Advent we focus on the light of Jesus coming!
2) When the world turned against Jesus, He lovingly humbled Himself in order to save the world!
3) On the cross an exchange took place. Jesus took on the cold sin of the world and gave us the warm love of God.
4) Even in a challenging world, we feast on God's mercy.
5) A Christian shows Thanksgiving by showing love and sharing the light of Christ!
This World Needs Some Love
God's love is meant to transform us so we love Him and others. In a world where love is lacking, this can be easy to forget. Take a look at what Jesus says about the need for love and how you can "Never Lose Heart" with this message on Matthew 24:12-13.
His Victory. Your Hands.
God has won the victory and given it into your hands. It's time to take hold of it!
1) The battle isn't really ours. It's God's.
2) There's a sinister enemy in this world and in our hearts. We get to be part of its defeat.
3) God wins the victory and then places it in our hands. He invites us to join Him.
4) He didn't give us the victory so we could take part in things that are broken. We get to be part of making things right!
5) Jesus won it all by dying and rising. One day He will return when once and for all we see The Conquest
Every decision we make comes down to one of two Hebrew words - CHA-REM (abandon my sinful way of thinking and my plans for my life) or KA-DOSH (give God my whole heart, fully trusting the promises He's made). Like God giving victory in Jericho, Jesus came and gave us the victory over sin and death - we get to live in the victory each day!
What's Your Crocodile? It's hard to let go and not be in control. But we get to trust God more than we trust ourselves!
1) Are we teaching those around us, including little kids, to live by faith or by fear?
2) The world around us tries to tell us that marriage and children aren't all that important.
3) God chooses who gets to live, not us.
4) Our fears can distract and divide us.
5) What's your crocodile? God is bigger than every fear, every crocodile in your way!
It's often said, "When God shuts a door He opens a window."
But what do you do when the door is closing? See how we get to live as people of hope by digging into what God does in the lives of Moses' parents in Exodus 2:1-3.
If You've Ever Been Hurt By Someone, This Is For You. One of life's most difficult challenges is dealing with the ways people have hurt us. Thankfully, Jesus made reconciliation possible not just between God and us, but between us and others. He is "Healing Hearts."
1) When someone wrongs you, ask, "Am I in the place of God?" Then remind yourself what God's place is in all of this.
2) Christian forgiveness is not saying that the wrong someone did is okay or not a big deal. It means trusting that God is a God of justice who is setting everything right.
3) Our God is so big and so amazing that He can use the ways people break His world to bring healing to this world. That's what happened on the cross.
4) There is no wrong too awful that God won't use it to achieve something good.
5) There will be a day when your heart is completely healed and you are reconciled with others. The God who will heal you completely then is already at work in you now.
Life is hard. Forgiveness is hard. As we study the life of Joseph, we see what he (and we!) can learn through hardship - 3 Godly life lessons:
God has given you the opportunity to make choices and to trust Him as you step forward in faith!
1) God often doesn't take us where we're going immediately. It's a process. He is patient with us. Are we patient with God?
2) Along the way God gives us the opportunity to make sanctified choices.
3) We have more than the promises of God to rest on. We can hang onto the character and nature of God.
4) We are so quick to replace God's ways with our ways. We want God to follow our plan.
5) Fear is not defeated by our good plans but by God's presence.
You're Going Somewhere
God has called you out so you can step forward in faith. Like Abraham, you're on "The Incredible Journey."
The Key to Significance
God worked through Noah to preserve humanity on the face of the earth. Talk about significant! What was central to Noah's life of significance can be central to ours as well. We are oBEdient.
We all love heroes. But it can be a tall order trying to live up to them! Jesus, however, makes us heroic like Noah!
1) Some might say that Noah wasn't all that heroic. He just followed directions. But humans are notoriously bad at following directions, especially from God!
2) God has given us very simple directions in the 10 commandments but none of us follow them.
3) Jesus perfectly obeyed for us. We are saved through Him!
4) As Christians we aren't afraid because we're wrapped in Christ. We're safe in the ark!
5) We get to do something Noah didn't. We get to throw a lifeline out to others so they can be saved with us. We get to be heroic!
Our Sanctification series continues with a study Psalm 51:10-12.
Where real living begins!
We know we've been given a new life in Christ and want to live that way more and more. Sometimes it goes well. Other times, not so much. Sometimes it's a combination of the both. That's why we need to remember how this new life works!
1) We need God to carve out a pure heart in us that can be in His presence and partner with Him. When He does, it changes everything about how we live!
2) Even though God has accomplished great things in us, we all have been guilty of doing what is in our own best interest, with a complete disregard for others. None of us deserve God's favor or His Spirit.
3) Jesus was forsaken by God so justice could be served for our sins. Because of Him, we can confidently look to our God to give us life.
4) We get to ask God to give us a like-new spirit, solidly filling up our spiritual lungs so we can live.
5) God can bring us out into the light of His salvation, the light of Jesus and give us a willing spirit to step forward into life!
Our "Sanctification" Series continues with a study of Philippians 1:3-6.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
It's often the little things that really make all the difference. The little things begin with humility.
1) Biblical submission is not about being less valuable than another. It's about willfully submitting yourself to the direction of another.
2) There are little things that will creep into our hearts and take a position that belongs to God.
3) God didn't leave us alone to fight the battle in our hearts.
4) Jesus entered the game to be our substitute. Through His life, death and resurrection now no matter what your position, you matter.
5) God has made you valuable so now you can go and make a difference in someone else's life
The Light For You and For The World!
For all of eternity, God the Father & God the Son have shared a unique relationship. Now God extends an invitation to join in!
1. There's a challenge we all face as Christians. On the one hand, we're God's children. But on the other hand, there's a sinful nature within us that aligns with the devil.
2. Man-made solutions just won't do. The only way to resolve the problem of sin is Jesus.
3. God has chosen us and given us the gift of faith. He makes us born again.
4. Even in a sinful world, God has given us the power to be light and to show love.
5. This world matters to God and so God calls us to be lights in the world.
Are you hiding in the dark?
Stepping out into the light can feel scary. It means being honest about how we fall short. It means looking to God to cleanse every part of us. But there is a beautiful new life that's been given to us when we are "Living in the Light."
What Ever Christian Parent Wantsâ€¦
Above all, every Christian parent wants their child to be with God for eternity. Your Heavenly Father wants the same!
1) When life gets rough, we might sometimes wonder if God is angry with us but that couldn't be further from the truth! Jesus already paid for all our sins!
2) Living in this broken world, our default temptation tends to be to question if God really loves us and if He's really trustworthy.
3) God not only knows what is necessary to build up who we are now in Him, but also what is necessary to beat down the sinful nature that fights against us.
4) A parent who lets their child do whatever they want is NOT a loving parent. God IS a loving parent, offering the right correction.
5) Faith is like a muscle. When stretched and worked, it grows!
Is God Against Me?
Sometimes it can feel like everything in life is going against you, even God. But when we face life gets tough, we have every reason to embrace the love our Father is showing us.
Not Natural. But Good!
There are many things in life that are not natural to us but are good for us! Jesus changes us for the good!
1) If someone were to tell us that we need to do something, it shows that we haven't been doing it!
2) If someone were to tell us, "You need to be zealous" for something, it would make it almost impossible to do so because then we would be doing it out of obligation.
3) Thankfully, the directives God gives us begin with His mercy!
4) Jesus is more than an example. Our evil was glued to Him. His goodness is now glued to us!
5) As we pursue righteousness in view of Christ's mercy, it changes us!
Transformed through Christ we embrace lives of love!
1. Be disgusted by what is evil.
2. Be glued to what is good.
3. Value one another with brotherly love.
4. Be "all in" for God!
5. Joyfully anticipate good things to come, even when you are under pressure, through continual prayer!
We have something that this world does not have and desperately needs - God's promise that when we make the wrong choices in life of serving other gods and ourselves, His Son will rescue us and give us back the life we were created to have.
You Have A Choice!
Choices can be difficult. But you've been given an amazing opportunity with "Your Choice. Today."
1) Even though God has done so much for us, there's a part of us that will sometimes feel like it's bad to serve God. We need to be honest about that.
2) If it seems bad to serve God, we need to ask ourselves, "What other god will we serve?" You were designed to worship. You will serve something or someone.
3) Serving God is not primarily about what we do for God but trusting what God has done, is doing and will do for and through us!
4) Even our ability to choose to trust God today is a gift from Him. It's all about His power!
5) When we're faced with the choice to serve God or another, it's an opportunity to turn to the God who has rescued us, is here with us and will always come through on His promises to us!
Once the Holy Spirit implants the precious seed of His Gospel of love in our hearts, there is also a part for us to do. To take part in the means of graces so our roots of faith deepen into good soil and produce a harvest of peace, trust in His perfect plan.
God Wants You To Grow!
But how are your growing conditions?
1) We can't make our faith grow. That's God's job. But we can remove barriers to growth and turn to Him to grow us!
2) When we want something different than what God offers, we're not ready to receive what He's giving. What wrong thing do you want or want the wrong way?
3) When our faith lacks deep roots, the pressure of life can make our faith shrink away. What stops your roots from growing deep? Self-reliance? Independence?
4) Biblical anxiety is when our mind is pulled in a variety of directions. When this happens, our faith may survive but it's hard to produce much fruit.
5) God turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Spend time with your Father in prayer, look to His Word, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. See how much He can grow you!
Don't Settle For Deflated!
When a balloon is deflated, you might still be able to kind of tell what it looks like, but you're not really seeing it as it's supposed to be. The same goes with our lives of faith. The Spirit fills us up so we can begin to see what we were meant to be!
1) We've been rescued from destructive thinking. Now we get to bring what's on our mind to God and have Him reshape our minds.
2) The Spirit fills us with the ultimate, all-in love of Jesus. Now we get to stretch that all-in love out to others.
3) The Spirit has built us into God's house. God lives in us and has chosen to partner with us through giving us opportunities to serve others.
4) Every one of us has a spiritual gift that is to be used to serve others. We can go all-in with these gifts because they come from the Giver, not just from us.
5) Our lives are all about Christ. He made us right with God. He sends the Spirit. He gets the glory!
The world's ways are not God's way, the world's ways are not what God had planned for our lives. God sees that what the world offers is a big lie - He offers us something better! And to prove it, He gave up everything for us - even His own Son.
The Holy Spirit is the intercessor between us sinners and Holy God when it comes to sanctification. When we are struggling, God Himself knows exactly what we need. The day is coming when we get to live our lives the way we always wanted to - perfectly - so we are encouraged to persevere in our walk of sanctification - keep trying!
You Don't Have It All Figured Out. But He Does!
It's hard to admit, but we really don't know what we need. God knows and thankfully we can trust the Spirit to speak for us and to guide us every step of the way!
1) Waiting to open a gift can be hard, especially when you're expecting something good but don't know what gift is in the box. Living our lives of faith can be the same way. We don't know exactly what resurrection life is going to be like and we don't know what good plans God has for this life!
2) At the core of everything broken about this world is the thought that we know what's good for us, not God.
3) The Holy Spirit knows what this broken world and we, as broken individuals, long for. He joins us, longs with us and expresses what we need to the Father.
4) The Holy Spirit expresses what we long for in a way that perfectly matches God's desire for us and our lives.
5) God set us apart for Himself and is guiding us according to His plan! Trust the Spirit who knows what our need and trust God to lead your life in a way that is good according to His plan!