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Malachi helps us to see the danger when we become apathetic or disillusioned with God and his ways. We also hear God’s wake-up call to live lives that worship God in every aspect.
Malachi issues to us a wake-up call about marriage. God calls us to faithfulness in all our relationships; especially marriage. Faithfulness in marriage comes from our delight in and worship of God.
Malachi is a book that allows us to see what God has to say to his people when they become apathetic or disillusioned with him and his ways. In God’s wake-up call for his people, we see the heart of God and how worship comes from all aspects of our lives.
When I think about this parable, I am reminded of the many times Jesus could have asked me this same question. “Rick, are you envious because I am generous?” Jesus’ parable is designed so that we’ll stop long enough to think clearly about our response to God’s generosity.
To do that, let’s look again at the parable.
We’re in a series where we are looking at five parables of Jesus over 5 weeks. These stories from Jesus are designed to challenge his listeners to think differently about themselves, God, or life.
This parable falls within the social norms-breaking interaction Jesus has with a woman during a dinner party.
Jesus told about the lives of two men who had a complete reversal of experiences once they died and entered the afterlife. And in this story is a warning to religious people on how they choose to live their lives and clarity about how to evaluate a life lived wisely.
Jesus is a genius. When it came to responding to confrontational questions in front of a crowd or even urgent, personal questions, no one but Jesus could instantly create and deliver a parable. With the parables, Jesus helps people capture God’s perspective for their lives.
I want to share with you Four pushes to open the door that helps unbelievers to meet Jesus. The text is Paul’s attempt to remove invisible barriers that prevent the gospel from flowing like a mighty river. We, too, may be subject to the same issue – unable to see what’s holding us back.
That early movement of people who met, knew, and followed Jesus is the backdrop for today’s text. We’ve been going through a Bible book called Colossians. In this letter that the apostle Paul writes to the Colossians, we learn that there were false teachers that were drawing people away from faith in Jesus. But the apostle Paul simply points them back to Jesus – the most amazing Person in the universe – and tells them to keep trusting in Jesus.
This passage encourages us to align our attitudes and actions with the character of Christ, resulting in healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
In this section of Colossians, Paul shifts to walking us through what is the necessary ripple effect that takes place in our lives if we allow the truth that the fullness of life is found in Christ alone to land in our lives. When the gospel gets tipped over in our lives, it calls for this whole chain reaction of dominos to fall for how we live our everyday lives.
Colossians 2:16-23, is a difficult passage to interpret exactly because we don’t fully understand the situation that Paul was writing about. But we certainly can understand the basics of what the apostle Paul teaches us. This passage is the specific explanation of what he said back in Col 2:8
The tension that Paul addresses in this letter with the church in Colossae is the sufficiency of Christ alone to bring them to fullness or completeness. This is a completeness of life in its whole. Not just life for now but life forever.
So he’s answering the question, “Is Christ enough?” This question is as relevant for us today as it was for them. Is Christ enough? Is faith in Jesus enough for everything we need to experience life now for eternity or do we need to do more to gain that life?
When you were born again by God’s grace, God wants you to grow up – to become mature in Christ.
Spiritual growth happens when we are part of a church family encouraging one another in faith; when we’re in God’s Word; when we serve; when we share the gospel.
Our search for “enough” also makes us vulnerable to people that will prey upon our desire for more. Among these, in our time, are prosperity gospel preachers. Their message is that if you have enough faith, God will heal you – or – God will bless you with the riches you desire.
Their tactic is to take what the world says is “enough” “more” or “fullness” and wrap it in what sounds like biblical preaching. Don’t be fooled by them.
The Colossians faced the challenge of similar voices
Colossians really matters for us today. We are all prone to seek after something more than Christ; or, to try to fill the gaps of our inadequacies so that we become acceptable to God by trusting in our good works. So, Paul writes this letter to call us to stay true to Christ. In Christ we find true fullness. And, as you read it, you’ll see words throughout the letter like “fullness” or to be “filled”. It is critical to your faith in Christ that you find your fullness in Christ
Think about the way Jesus lived and loved. What stands out to you about His life? How could that affect the way you live your life?
Most people who believe in Jesus that face a sudden crisis or a real loss are probably going to ask, “Why would a loving God allow this bad thing to happen?” We all want to make sense of the bad stuff. But one thing that I want us all to remember is that Even Jesus experienced bad things.
Have you ever wondered Why do science and the Bible conflict with each other? You hear some say, “God created the world in 7 days.” Others say, “But what about the big bang? What about evolution?” This conversation has led to doubt in many people.
As we talk about rebuilding faith, what is to be done when you’re walking in circles spiritually? When you’re discouraged? When you look back over your life and you see how much you grew at first when you said Yes to Jesus and gave your life to him but then things stalled out at a certain point. God is not done with you yet.
If you've ever been confused and maybe hurt, disappointed or disillusioned by Christians that don't live like Jesus, you're not alone.
In a time when it has become quite popular for people to "deconstruct faith", we need to encourage one another to build faith even as we struggle with questions and doubts. I hope you'll join us as we talk about how to reconstruct your faith with key architectural principles.
“the time is near.” John uses this phrase twice in the book: first, in the prologue and second, here in the epilogue. John begins and ends the Revelation of Jesus Christ with this conviction
We were made for a better world than the one we live in and the one we have created around us. We long for God to fix what is broken about this world and us. We need to see that finish line to persevere through each day with hope. And here at the end of Revelation in chapters 21 and 22, God shows us the finish line.
No text in the Bible raises the urgency of how we live our lives more than this one. We are all going to stand before the throne and give an account for our lives. Who can possibly stand on that day? And if anyone can, how could that be?
God prepares the way for the end of all evil. And we’ll see that you and I – everyone – are going to be a part of that.
We come to Section Five (19:11-22:7). This last major section culminates in the descent of the city of God, the new Jerusalem, the new creation. It begins with 19:11: “Then I saw heaven standing open.” What did John see when heaven itself was opened?
The unfolding of a Jewish wedding is one of the most important ways for us to understand our relationship with Jesus.
So, let’s travel through the parts of a Jewish wedding and see the parallels between it and the relationship Jesus has with his church.
When we read about Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18, we are reading about darkness – about the evil that is in this world; the evil that tempts us away from Christ every day of our lives. How can we persevere in the face of darkness?
The apostle Peter said, “The end of all things is near.” That means that believers and unbelievers will be judged by the Lord Jesus. How can we help people prepare?
We have learned that we live in a great spiritual battle even though the outcome is certain. At the cross, Jesus Christ already defeated Satan. It’s just that the dragon has yet to concede defeat. His aim is to keep you from worshiping and following Jesus. So, we ask, How can we emerge victorious from this great spiritual battle?
Revelation 13 helps us to see why it’s so hard to be true to Jesus. The dragon and the two beasts absolutely hate Jesus and they do absolutely all they can to keep us from following Jesus! These contenders want to destroy or neutralize your faith. We'll learn how to continue to faithfully follow Jesus.
There is a war behind all wars. We see that Jesus has won the decisive victory but there remains a great spiritual battle.
This section of Revelation describes the Third out of a total of Seven Unveilings of Jesus Christ.
Before we get to God making all things right and setting up his kingdom, is his judgment. In Revelation we see his judgment intensify as we near the end. We see this intensification take place in a couple of ways as we move into a new cycle of judgments described by John in Revelation 8-11.
There are two scenes in Revelation 7 that, taken together, bring us great comfort and strength. Let's take a look.
In the First Century, documents had seals on them primarily to show ownership. Only the owner was authorized to open the seals. Because Jesus the Lamb owns the scroll of history, He opens up the seals one at a time and initiates the secret of history, which will provide us with a very different perspective! Let’s begin.
Revelation features 7 unveilings of Jesus. The first unveiling found in chapters 1-3 showed how glorious Jesus is and how earnest He is that His followers would not compromise to the world’s ways but would persevere in faith and be victorious over the world. In this message, we come to the second unveiling.
We’ll touch on three letters: Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis. In each of these letters, Jesus calls us to live for Him without compromise. The Christians in those churches lived in a world constantly tempting them to compromise their faith in Jesus. It’s true of us, too. We all face temptation to compromise our faith in Jesus - so how do we overcome it?
How do we overcome trials and persecution? From these letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia, we find: Four helps to overcome our afflictions.
As a part of His first unveiling of Himself, Jesus sends a message to each of the 7 churches. Today, we focus on the first and the seventh letters: To the church in Ephesus, the call is to Return to Jesus as your first love. To the church in Laodicea, the call is to Open the door to your relationship with Jesus.
In the first chapter we get to see the first apocalypse of Jesus – (the first unveiling of Jesus) where He will pull back the curtain to let us see the most important and unseen reality of our lives. It will change how you cope with what’s happening in the world and in your personal life.
Revelation is a book of visions and symbols that is not easy to understand and apply to our lives. Given all the upheaval in our world and our lives, why take valuable time in the enigmatic book of Revelation? It will help us to resist the pressure to compromise our faith and to know why what's happening is happening.
The apostle Peter said, “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” (1 Peter 4:7). When we team up, we can help more people prepare to meet Jesus.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
We believe that all human life is sacred and is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life .
The Bible reveals that sex (sexual intercourse) is a good gift from God. Like other good gifts from God, it has been used for both good and evil throughout human history.
Sex was God’s design, not only for procreation, but for physical, emotional, and spiritual union between one man and one woman for life.
What exactly is marriage? How did God design it and why is it so important? What are four tests for a biblical marriage?
The Bible’s answer to gender fluidity is clear. God created us male and female. This design is so deeply imprinted on our humanity that we find it irreversible at a biological level.
But those who seek gender fluidity are not unlike the rest of us in that we all long for fulfillment – for belonging, acceptance, purpose, identity, and worth.
All of us want our lives to matter, don’t we? We want to make a positive difference in people’s lives. And there is no greater difference maker than Jesus. When we partner with him to make a difference in this world, we’re talking about some big life-changing differences that we can end up making with our lives.
Here's something that is true about every person and culture in the world. We all struggle with selfishness. It is deep in our humanity. How do we overcome selfishness?
Selfishness creates so many problems. We're going to look at how to move beyond selfishness.
In Ruth 4, Boaz initiates the conversation about redeeming Naomi’s property. The guardian-redeemer says he will but then steps aside. Ruth and Boaz are married and from them comes Obed, the grandfather of King David! Just as Naomi needed redemption, we all need redemption in our time.
As we look at Ruth 3, we’re going to find a story of romance and marriage – a marriage that will exemplify loyal love – a marriage that will last.
Even though the book is called "Ruth", Naomi is a major character in the story. As we explore Ruth 1, we see that Naomi "went away from Bethlehem full but has returned empty." She mourned the loss of her entire family-her husband, Elimelech, her sons Mahlon and Killion all died in the land of Moab. How do we overcome loss?
Learn the value of walking alongside one another
even in emptiness and despair. See how loyal love is the glue that gives us hope in crisis.
When the Holy Spirit comes, he comes with fire. Fire represents zeal for God and love for people; This fire in us can burn so brightly that it can transform lives in our communities and touch people around the world. This fire is what we were created for; and this fire spreads through us.
Hidden beneath the surface of every Christian, there is the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians don’t realize that they can live a transformed life by the power of the Spirit. The result is that they remain enslaved to their fleshly desires. But God has a much better way for us to live by the fruit of the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit is working out gifting purposely, diversely, in everyone, for
our good. What is the reach of each of our gifts?. How many people are each of us expected to gift? No one person is called to all the gifts, but each are called to some. The Spirit knows each persons capacity and he gifts all believers so that all the needs in the body are met.
Why is it that one person can hear about the cross and be totally transformed while the person sitting in the next seat can think of it as foolishness? Paul speaks of this very thing in 1 Corinthians 2, explaining that the Holy Spirit illuminates God's Word for us.
Fifty days after Jesus ascended into heaven, on Pentecost, the Father gave the Spirit to the Son as a gift to pour out (Acts 2:33). After Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit, the church was born – 3000 new believers in one day! The coming of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for people everywhere to have a personal relationship with Jesus and to be ready for the day of the Lord’s return.
If you are a believer in Jesus, you have the resource of the Holy Spirit; the responsibility to share the good news; and you will be used by God to reach the lost both near and far.
Jesus teaches that, while the Holy Spirit is invisible to us, we can experience the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He also teaches that the Holy Spirit is the key to having a relationship with God – to experience the fullness of life. In fact, if you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, it’s because you have been born again – regenerated – by the Holy Spirit.
Everything Jesus did on Palm Sunday was to demonstrate that he is the Messiah King and that the kingdom of heaven has come near. The more we grow to be like Jesus, the more God's kingdom grows in and through us.
There is a wide spectrum of responses to Jesus – people are in every place on this spectrum. The good news, though, is that you are never stuck in any place on the spectrum – the Lord is willing to grow greater faith in you, even today!
What has been your foundation during crisis? If you intentionally have built your house on the Rock of Jesus, then you have a living hope, you can show love even to your enemies. But perhaps you have great fear and anxiety; or, you are in the grips of dark thoughts. How do you build your life on the solid rock of Jesus?
In Matthew 6, Jesus addresses the issue of our hypocrisy. He addresses it twice before the Lord’s Prayer and once after the Lord’s Prayer. This shows us the importance of learning how to pray like Jesus prayed so that we overcome hypocrisy and have pure motives as we serve the Lord. Pray that the Holy Spirit will transform our motives.
Jesus explains what a repentant heart looks like by sharing how to know and do God’s will. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to know and do God’s will.
Were going to briefly look at each Beatitude. Come with your questions; and note which Beatitudes affirm what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life and which Beatitudes challenge you that this is a growth area where you need the Lord's transformational heart work. Are you ready to engage?
As we live by the Spirit, we should continually set our focus on two actions that turn setbacks into setups for the advance of God's kingdom.
The Holy Spirit has plans for where he wants to take us and experiences he wants us to have, all so
that we know new life in Christ and fulfill what God wants to do in and through
our lives for his glory. We'll learn how the Holy Spirit works in us and how best to work with Him.
As we begin this message series, “Inside Connection,” we’re going to explore how the Holy Spirit is an amazing gift that the Lord wants us to receive, and it comes with the fullness of God’s blessings for us.
We live in a world that teaches us to NOT be still; to worry, to be anxious, to be wound up in our fears, to be depressed. These things happen to us because our souls are not still. But God is teaching us to be still and know that I am God. How can we be still in this chaotic world?
Do you have any lids preventing you from growing in your relationship with Jesus? The choice before us is whether we’re going to comply to the lids being foisted on us or are we going to give it our all in 2022? Which choice will help you to grow in your relationship with Jesus? Would Jesus want us to disrupt apathy; challenge the doom and gloom; and pursue his preferred vision of our future? Jesus wants us to move forward; to grow.
The tests of life have the potential to make our
confidence in God grow or shrink;
even to the point of becoming fearless in the storm or shipwrecked by the
storm. It all happens in your soul.
We know God by knowing what’s happening in our
souls. God speaks his truth and encouragement into our souls. And those who
want to know God are aware of what is happening in their souls – and they share
their souls with God.
Many believers don’t understand that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, continues to fight even today. And what’s really surprising is that God’s people are part of the spiritual battle. We are the targets of Satan’s attacks. So, the apostle Paul writes this section to answer this question: How do we win at spiritual battle?
In this section of Ephesians, Paul addresses the relationships of marriage, of family, and of work. In other words, what he has to say in this section will directly apply to most of the hours of your daily experience. And here’s the good news: God’s wisdom is going to empower us to transform our key relationships into healthy and growing relationships.
What sets Christianity apart from all religions is that it doesn't preach morality in your own strength, but it preaches transformation by the Holy Spirit's power. How can I experience God's transformational power in my new self?
In John 4, there is a story with a well that changed an entire cities life. Jesus teaches that those who come to drink this water at the well will thirst again. But, there is a way to never thirst again.
Regular church participation is actually good for us. The local church body of believers is powerful. It has the power to overcome a common and very critical problem in people's lives. In Ephesians 4, Paul teaches the solution to the problem of falling away from faith in Christ.
As a Christian, you are like a glove. Once you come to know Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside you is like the hand inside of a glove– it’s the Holy Spirit that brings power.
In this prayer in Ephesians 3, Paul prays for power a lot. But, why do we need God’s power working in our lives?
In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul uses the word 'mystery' 6 times. The word 'mystery' in the Bible refers to a mystery made known. The mystery that is made known is the the gospel is the way for people to be reconciled. But, how do we help people discover Christ?
Every aspect of our lives has been impacted by sin. In heaven all will be perfect and made new. But while we're here we have to deal with hard things. And it's how we deal with these circumstances that is important to God.
As human beings we have many kinds of differences. Instead of celebrating differences, we tend to let them divide us. But God made us to fellowship and to have a sense of belonging in a healthy way that respects others. God brings reconciliation where there are human divides.
The Bible says that we all sinned; that we turned to our own way – Adam and Eve and every human being has run away from God. That’s called sin. The result of our rebellion is the brokenness in our world. And we don’t like that brokenness so we try to get out of it in a lot destructive ways.
Prayer can be a puzzle. Sometimes it feels like meaningless obligation. But when you experience prayer in a relationship with Jesus Christ, it becomes highly valuable. When you piece together the puzzle of prayer, your life finds new life and power.
Why Do We Praise God? It has a lot to do with this idea: We need to gaze at what truly matters and glance at lesser things in this life. But often we do the opposite – and that messes us up. Praising God is a powerful gift that God gives to us.
Jesus promised a new life, an abundant life for his followers. Not only is Jesus our Savior because of his life of complete obedience that led him ultimately to the cross, but Jesus is the supreme example of what is possible for our lives because he was totally dependent on the Spirit of God. When we depend on the Holy Spirit, we experience the power of Jesus in our lives. Exploring Ephesians will help us experience the power of Christ.
We all have dreams. Goals. Plans. Things we want to do. Things we want to accomplish. Ways we want our lives to play out. So we go after those dreams, goals, ideas of what we want. There are usually all sorts of obstacles to them. Challenges to overcome. Risks to take. And into these plans and dreams we have for our lives comes Jesus.
Wouldn't it be great if you had the superpower to overcome bickering and quarreling? That's what we are looking at from the Book of James this week.
There's not a person alive who hasn't allowed their emotions to affect how they treat others. Feel great and you treat the people around you great. Feel angry and you are grumpy, withdrawn or you lash out with words. So, how do we replace an angry reaction with a loving response?
We live in a culture where words are spilled more freely than ever before. It’s open season to hunt and kill with our words anyone whom we don't like or agree with. Within this world of words, we must discern what is the way of Jesus with our speech, learning to use our words in a way that reflects the character and desires of Him.
When we face trials, how do we choose joy? How do we become positive parents, when life isn't so positive? How do we remain calm in life's storms?
When you join God’s purposes, he will fortify you with three inner transformations. God doesn’t only work through you. He works in you – empowering you, fortifying you, enabling you to do what you cannot do by yourself. What happened with Esther can happen with you.
Scripture reveals to us not only that God has purposes for all his creation, but that his purposes
are often accomplished through people. God cooperates with people to achieve
his purposes. In other words, he invites us into what he is doing. And he gives
us the awesome privilege and authority to shape the course of events in this
For those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, life is an adventure. God has prepared beforehand good works for us to do each day. There is anticipation to join what God is doing. When you join God in his purposes, though, there will be challenges along the way and we must be aware of the three challenges we face to join God’s purposes for our lives.
God is at work in the lives of people everywhere. The great adventure in life is to join God in his purposes and work. But for many people there is a real barrier to doing that.
The reality for orphans is that there isn’t much you can do to fix your lack of family. You need someone to step up and choose you. And when it comes to being spiritual orphans, this same complication exists. We can’t fix our spiritual problem.
The story of Esther is going to help us discover and live out God’s purpose for our lives. Do you know what God’s purpose is for your life? Have you ever committed your life to follow Jesus – to trust him and do what he calls you to do? Have you ever had the adventure of watching God do through you what only God could do?
Our best act of friendship is to bring our friends to Jesus. The way that we do that is by bringing the good news.
This is intimidating to some. We think, “Why would I try to connect my friend with Jesus?” That seems awkward and no one likes to talk about religion.
So, let’s clarify that to share the good news about Jesus with your friend is not to talk about religion but about a relationship with Jesus. A friendship with Jesus is the best friendship that you can possibly have.
We know from the Bible that people cannot be saved without hearing the good news, the gospel. God’s plan is that we bring the good news and hearing the gospel about Jesus Christ is powerful enough to bring us to trust in Jesus. But how does that work? Am I the one who saves people? If I say just the right words and with the right touch emotions, is that how people get saved? What if my child never accepts Jesus? Have I failed my child? When we bring the good news, what’s our role? What is God’s role?
We are called to be witnesses and ambassadors of Jesus so that others can have new life in Christ. But, how do we do that? Is there a way to be normal and not scare people off or to unnecessarily offend people? We can effectively bring the good news.
Do you struggle with feeling inferior? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others; believing that nothing you do is ever good enough. or you experience persistent self-doubt and uncertainty?
When it comes to questioning our worthiness to be loved, God thinks differently about us than we think about ourselves.
We all know that is what happens when you leave a couple of glowing logs together. The power of the fire is not just in the flames. Those coals continue to burn until there is nothing left to consume. Unresolved anger works a lot in the same way in our lives, doesn’t it? What’s the alternative? The good news for those of you battling with resentment, is that Jesus has a way to restore life and joy to you without sacrificing justice. And there is a clear way to step into that freedom.
How do I win the war against lust? Some answer, “What war?” Others say, “I’ve stopped fighting.” There are those who are fighting but discouraged. To some, this is on the No Talk List. Others have had some success – but know that they must continue the fight. Whatever your response might be, we need to talk about this.
Do you struggle with worry, shame, lust, resentment or the feeling of being unloved? We don’t have to stay stuck in negative thought patterns but we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may life a new life. This means that, when we die, we go to heaven with Jesus because he paid for our sins. And, it means we can have a new life right now. Did you see it? We too may live (present tense -- right now) a new life. But here’s what is true about us. There’s a gap between the life we have, and the life we could have. (The new life in Christ.) And often that gap is in our relationships.
Palm Sunday is the day that Jesus stepped fully into the hoped for expectations of many that he was the Messiah sent by God to save his people and set up a kingdom that would enable God’s people to prosper under the justice, righteousness, and blessing of God forever. So Palm Sunday is a celebration that God is intervening in this world and personally into one’s life to bring about eternal good.