A Family Resemblance

excited about God

1 John 3:1-7
If you have older siblings, you know they can be something. They tell you stuff and you believe them. When I was little, my brothers used to tell me that I was adopted. According to them, Daddy went to the hospital, looked in the nursery window, and picked me because I was the only baby with blue eyes wrapped in a pink blanket. What they were wanting me to believe was that I wasn’t one of them, they chose the one sure likeness to Dad that I had, and they used it to convince me that I was different, that I didn’t really belong, and of course it worked, I’d go crying to momma telling on them. Mom would generally reply something to the effect that there was no doubt that I was their kid because I acted just like Daddy (that wasn’t a compliment by the way.)
The false teachers in this church that John was writing to were a lot like my brothers, they had told people in the church that they didn’t belong. They had eroded the confidence of some of the believers to the point that the believers were no longer sure that they were really God’s beloved child.
John tells them NO! Because of God’s love for us, He gives us the ability to be His child. John is excited about this!
Picture this old man writing this letter. His words convey his excitement, “Look how much God loves us! We get to be called God’s children because He loves us so much!” Then John emphasizes that we aren’t just called children of God, it’s what we really and truly are!
His amazement and excitement about us not just having the title of God’s children but that we actually are God’s children shines through his writing. Here this old man is giddy in his excitement!
And why wouldn’t he be? Why aren’t we???
We don’t just have the privilege of being called a child of God, we actually are a child of God. Because of the grace that God extended to us and that we accepted, God is our Father; Christ is our brother.

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Living into Our Story

resurrected lifeJohn 20:19-32

So often when we think of Thomas, our first thought is of him doubting the resurrection. But, Thomas’s doubt was only the starting place of his journey. It’s only a fact of his story, it’s not his whole story. Thomas went on to live into his story by becoming the apostle to India. He died after five soldiers ran him through with five spears. Does that sound like a doubter? Whatever is holding you down today isn’t the whole story of your resurrected life, it’s just a part of it. Just like Jesus came to the disciples when they were locked away in fear, He will come to you. He will show you His hands and side and bring you the peace and strength you need to take the steps out of your present troubles and become His disciple.

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What Difference Does it Make?

One of my favorite preachers loves the Charles Wesley hymn “And Are We Yet Alive.” In the past, and sometimes still today, conference and district meetings begin with singing: “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face? Glory and thanks to Jesus give for His almighty grace.”
And are we yet alive? That’s the question I’d like for us to think about today. Do we have a new life in Christ or are we mired down in our old sinful and selfish ways?

You’ve heard the story of the resurrection. The question is so what? What difference does it make?The Apostle Paul would be quick to say, “Everything!” The resurrection of Jesus makes all the difference in the world. In his 1st Letter to the Corinthians, he says:
1 Corinthians 15:14–19 (NIV)
14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. It’s what separates us from all the other religions of the world. It’s what gives us purpose and direction when we’re perplexed, confidence when the storms of life threaten to overpower us, hope when all seems to be lost. And that’s why Paul is quick to go on and say:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NIV)
Can people tell from looking at your life that the resurrection makes a difference to you?

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Submission Instead of Takeover

amark 11

Last week I talked about how Jesus must have felt. He knew what the crowds singing to him and honoring him thought they knew right then. But Jesus also knew that they were soon going to turn against Him. Somehow, the crowds would do a 180 and the adoration they held for him right then would turn to disdain and even hate.
Jesus wasn’t who they expected him to be so they turned their back on him.
The excitement was high when he entered the city for two reasons.
One – He performed miracles. Just before he arrives in Jerusalem he had raised Lazarus from the dead. You know word had gotten around about that. Two – They saw him as one who could make their life better. By freeing them from the political oppression of the Romans.
But, when he came, his focus wasn’t on performing miracles for the people, it was on teaching them. He teaches them mostly on submission and commitment and that wasn’t what they wanted to hear.
They wanted to hear about how he was going to make their lives easier, how he was going to get rid of the Romans. But that wasn’t what he was telling them.
He talked about submission instead of takeover.
Jesus is wonderful when He’s performing miracles and making life easier, but it’s a different matter when submission and commitment come into play.

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The Hour Has Come

obedience

Jeremiah 31:31-34

John 12:20-33

Jesus has just come into Jerusalem for the last time. The crowds are gathered around and lined the streets waving palm fronds and shouting Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel. He is being adored and worshiped as king. Many within the crowd have followed Jesus since he was in Bethany and raised Lazarus from the dead. Today, He is the golden boy, revered and cheered by all.

But, Jesus knows what is coming. He knows that the cheers will soon turn to jeers and that some of these same people who are hailing him a king today will, by the end of the week, be screaming for him again. But the next time, they won’t be screaming crown him king, they’ll be screaming crucify him. And yet, he continues his journey even knowing that it is leading to the cross.


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Love, Change, Sacrifice

mark 9.7

The change that God brings to us on the mountaintop, the love that Christ commands us to have, supersedes anything that polarizes us. It allows us to see people as individuals not as their opinion, thought, or belief that is different than ours. If we love others as Christ loves us, then we love others regardless. I’m not saying that we have to agree with others, but we must conduct ourselves with love. I’m not saying that we have to accept someone’s actions, but we have to love them anyway.
Loving others as Jesus loves us means that we sacrifice ourselves.
Psalm 51:1-17
Mark 9:2-9

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Living Our Purpose

PurposeAt the time when Jesus asked Simon and Andrew and James and John to come, let him teach them to be fishers of men, it never crossed their mind that they were going to have to leave their home. It never crossed their mind that they were really going to have to move out of their comfort zone. They have been with Jesus for less than a week. From the text. He let them at the sea of Galilee, and then come the Sabbath. They were at the synagogue were Jesus talked and cast out the impure spirit, it was that evening at the Sabbath when he healed Simon’s mother-in-law, and now it is the next morning after the Sabbath.
Experience had taught them, in these few short days, that the people came to Jesus. They had no reason to think, at this point, that becoming fishers of men. For Jesus meant that they really had to do anything.
But Jesus tells them something that probably had not crossed their minds that he would say he would ask. He said, “come on guys, let us go to the next town are few towns over so that I can preach there too. This is my purpose.”
So now they have a decision to make. And even though they do not realize it then, this decision will be followed by many decisions. They follow Jesus when he called them by the Sea of Galilee. They followed Jesus when he left the synagogue. Now they have to decide are they going to follow Jesus to the next town, and the next towns.

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Claiming Our Authority

synagogue

Mark 1:21-28

Where does our authority, our ability, to speak truth to power come from? Where did the disciples get their authority?

Acts 4:13 tells us, “when they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Our authority, our ability to speak truth to power comes from spending time with Jesus. It does not require an education, it does not require being holier than thou, it requires Jesus, it requires the Holy Spirit, and it requires courage.
To speak truth means we need to change our focus from the here and now, to a more eschatological focus. Our truth should not be about the whims of the day, because those whims change depending on who is in power. Our truth should not be about political correctness, because sometimes truth hurts. Our truth should be about leading others to Christ. Our truth must come from the Bible and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
Like the disciples, we have to spend time with Jesus. We have to read his teachings and encounter the living Christ. We have to read the Scriptures and let Jesus amaze us.

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Speak Truth

apocalypse 4140948 1920Mark 1:14-20 (NIV)

Here comes Jesus preaching the truth, preaching repent and believe. When I get a mental image of Jesus walking down by the Sea of Galilee, I picture a picturesque scene like we see today when we look at pictures of the Holy Land, a beautiful vacation spot. But in Jesus’s day, Capernaum was a place of commerce. It was a center of political and commercial life, a major crossroads for the ancient world. Armies and traders and diplomats all went through Galilee. One commentary I read called a “land of passing excitements and dangerous fashions, of barbarous dialect and offensive manners.
So it’s in this place, that Jesus busts in with his gospel, the Truth, the good news, the gospel of the kingdom of God is true, and peace, and hope, and salvation, and immortality.But to bring that message to the world can be a dangerous thing.

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Security in an Insecure World

isaiahWe are a special people, a chosen people. God chose US to be at the forefront of this battle. Are we making Him proud? Are we giving Him the opportunity to say well done my good and faithful servant?
When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by anxiety and fear over what is happening in our world right now, I want you to stop and think about this, God chose us for this time! He didn’t choose our parents or our grandparents, He chose us! We aren’t too old or too young, we are exactly who He choose.
Isaiah 46:6-13 (MSG)
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