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stainedMatthew 18

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

We live in a world that lives out the philosophy that it is us against them. You hear stories about opposing team fans being beat up, made fun of, and harassed because they cheer for an opposing team.  All you have to do is look at Washington DC to see that we live in a world that can not get along and work together.  Jesus is in the business of love and unity. Do we apply the attitude of Christ to fellow believers and even family members?  Have we fallen into the patterns and attitudes of the world? If we are going to apply the attitude of Christ we must be willing to ask the Lord to Teach us the Power of Forgiveness.

When Jesus calls us to forgiveness, he calls us to an attitude that will seem strange to us and the world.   Jesus doesn’t say if you feel like it, or if you want to, or if you get around to it.  Jesus could not be any more clear that because we have been forgiven we have been called to forgive.  Aren’t we glad that God does not show us the same standard of forgiveness that we often times show the world?  Lord Teach us the Power of Forgiveness.

Are we allowing bitterness to poison our lives?  Are we allowing the power of forgiveness to transform us? I heard a story this week of a family in Iowa that called and had their grave plots moved because of the dispute they had with their own family. Even after someone is gone people do not want to let go of their bitterness.  Many of us know families that have been torn apart because of disputes over estates. Even among churches, Satan loves to come in and cause a divide in our fellowships.

Think about the difference between that attitude and the attitude that Jesus calls us to have.  Jesus calls each one of us to love our enemies.  This attitude is a revolutionary attitude that changes everything.  Imagine a world where we live out the forgiveness that God has given us.  If Christ calls us to do this, why is it so hard to show this forgiveness?  It is so difficult because there are things in this life that are seem impossible to forgive.  People hurt us, turn their back on us, and cause us pain. In those moments we can not rely on our own ability to forgive we must rely on the love and grace that comes from God.

Two very famous brothers had their own issues.  Jacob had every right to be worried. He had stolen the blessing and the birthright from his brother Esau.  Jacob fully expected his brother to show him hate and anger and felt that he deserved it.  Jacob divides his camp into two groups just in case Esau would attack.  Jacob is shocked when Esau embraces him. We often say the world needs Jesus, but we often forget how much we need the power of forgiveness in our own lives and relationships.

We live in a world that desperately needs the power of forgiveness. The power of forgiveness restores broken relationships just like it did for Jacob and Esau.  Forgiveness has the ability to restore our relationships with others and most importantly with God!  God has restored us and forgiven us by sending us Jesus Christ to die for our sins.  Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.  Do we apply this attitude of grace to those in our lives?  The world needs the power of forgiveness and it will only happen when we taste the grace of God and let the power of forgiveness begin with us!


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There seems to be so many people going through so much right now.  These people consist of my own church members, friends of mine, and many people around our community.  These people have suffered losses that i can not even imagine suffering.

I spent some time at the hospital visiting with some of these families and i was struck with this simple question.  Without Christ, is there hope?  There are so many Christians that lose their hope because of the circumstances in their lives.  Do we have a hope that goes beyond everything we face?

Many of us have said and proclaimed the words of the famous hymn Because He Lives i can face tomorrow.  The question is do we believe and live these words of this song?  Do we believe that because Christ is no longer in the grave that we no longer have to fear, that we can face tomorrow, and that he truly holds the future?  We often times proclaim that God does hold the future, but that does not always mean we are happy with the future that he holds.

I am often times called upon to point towards hope in the midst of situations that are unimaginable mere hours before.  There are many things in this world that have the potential of  destroying our hope and faith if we allow them to.  How do you maintain hope during the loss of a loved one? How do we maintain hope in the midst of the constant assault on the Christian faith?

The apostle Paul was going through a lot in his life. He was stoned, persecuted, run out of town,his friends left him behind,  he was beaten with rods and thrown in prison.   Through all that he faced he had one hope that got him through and that hope was eternal life with Christ.  Paul said that all the sufferings that he faced were nothing compared to knowing Christ his lord.  Have we focused our lives on Christ to this degree?  Are we willing to say, as Paul did, to live is Christ and to die is gain?

Because Jesus lives, we have a hope that goes even beyond the grave. This eternal life was given to us because Jesus Christ lives and has conquered the grave.  When he died and rose he removed the separation that all of us had  from God.  Because he lives we have been given a relationship with God through his death, burial, and resurrection.  Because he lives we know who holds the future. We no longer have to fear because our future is secure in heaven.  There will be times when the circumstances we are going through feel like they will last forever.  We must remember that these things are temporary and Christ is eternal.   Does this mean that things will always be easy?  Does this mean we will always understand?  Because he lives we have a hope that lasts for an eternity.

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Luke 4

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Have you ever been having a discussion with someone and said you agreed with something that you really didn’t?    Many times to avoid controversy people do just that.  The most dangerous agreement we could ever make is with the enemy of our souls.

Jesus faced the devil head on in the wilderness.  Satan made a lot of accusations that did not stick.  One of the things that God impressed on me last week was that Jesus never agreed with what Satan was saying or accusing.  How many times do we hear that voice that tells us we are not good enough and that we will always fail and we believe it?  Jesus knew the truth of the scriptures and countered every attack that Satan made.  Do we spend our lives agreeing with our enemy or trusting in God and his promises?

There are so many people today that are trapped in depression, anxiety, and insecurity because they have agreed with the lies that they are being told by our enemy.  Why is that he tells us this lies?  He does this first of all because he is the father of lies (John 8:44).  We should not be surprised that Satan lies to us.  He has been lying from the beginning.   It is who he is and what he does.

Secondly, Satan is in the business of doing everything he can to hinder us from doing God’s work.  If he can convince us that we do not have the ability to do what God wants us to do he has us.  Satan loves failure because he attempts to constantly remind us of all the times that we have not accomplished what God had for us to accomplish.  The enemy loves to point out our failures so that we will continue to fail.

Third, Satan loves to separate relationships.  Many of the arguments and frustrations that we have with each other are based on pride and focusing on self.  So many times we hear that deceptive voice that tells us you are right and no one can tell you otherwise.  The ultimate goal of this attack is destruction and devastation of relationships.  These attacks divide churches, destroy homes through divorce, and lead to isolation even among those who claim Christ.

So how do we live a life that is in agreement with Christ rather then our enemy?  The way we can do this is to follow the example of Christ.  God’s promises stand firm regardless of what the enemy attempts to tell us.  We have a hope that is secure in Jesus Christ no matter what circumstances we face.  This hope means that we still have the ability to move past our  mistakes and live for Christ.  Many of us have bought the lie that we still have to earn our relationship with God.  Jesus Christ died on the cross because there was no other way to be saved.  So why is it that we still continually attempt to save ourselves?

Have you lived your life in agreement with the enemy or with Christ?  We agree with the enemy when we fail to love and allow bitterness to build. We agree with the enemy when we believe that we will never be good enough even though all things are possible through Christ.  Are you living your life in agreement with the enemy or with Christ?

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Matthew 5

14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

For those of you that are old enough to remember, there was song by a group named Acapella Vocal Band entitled “Whats your tag say?”  The purpose of the song is getting you to examine what your life says about your beliefs in Jesus Christ.  Just like we wear Reebok or Nike’s on our shoes, the question is do we wear the name of Jesus Christ on our lives? Does the way you live show that you believe in and have a relationship with Jesus Christ?

A friend of mine,  that i went to college with,  passed away this week.  I knew him when i was in school, but we got to know each other a lot better through our communications on Facebook.  After he passed away, his timeline lit up with messages about how much his posting on Facebook had brightened someone’s day and showed what kind of relationship he had with Jesus Christ.  Are we using our time online to encourage and build others up or to tear them down?

I was left thinking about this question: “What does my Timeline say?”  When people look at my wall on Facebook do they see a person who is sold out and committed to Jesus Christ?  Most importantly, when people look at my life do they see Jesus as the lord of it? What does the timeline of our lives say?  The last several messages that my friend posted on Facebook were all about God being our refuge and being thankful for the day that God had given him.  These messages were there because that was how he lived his entire life.  Are we shining our light everywhere we go?

Do we glorify God with the way that we use the internet or does it contradict the way we live the rest of our lives?  We all have an actual timeline and that is why Mark Zuckerburg’s idea is so relevant, even though it can be a pain.  We do not know when that timeline will end all we know is that we have today.  What are we doing with the timelines of our lives?  Are we letting our lights shine before men or have we allowed the discouragement, sufferings, and frustrations of this life extinguish our flame?

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True Peace

Psalm 34

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

In the world that we have around us it is a very difficult thing to find peace.  What is peace?  Is it possible to have peace despite our circumstances? Do we often times attempt to find peace in things that are not Jesus?

What are the factors in your life that keep you from the peace that God desires for us?

Are there things in the past you can not seem to let go?

Do you have expectations for yourself that no one could ever meet?

Is the peace you are looking for based on Jesus Christ?

Throughout the Old Testament people continuously walked away from God and still expected to find peace.  If God is working on your heart about sin in your life, If God is convicting you about some decisions that you are making, If you are having trouble sleeping at night God may be trying to get your attention.  When we live apart from God’s will peace will not be found.  The eyes of the lord are on the righteous.

How can we expect the blessings of God when we are not walking and living the way that God desires us to live?  When we are controlled by the sinful nature it will never lead to peace.  When our mind is controlled by the spirit we receive life and peace.  Are we seeking the peace that comes from walking with God?

When we are walking with God it leads to peace.  Doesn’t this sound good?  We can be at peace because of what God has done for us and we do not have to worry about anything else.  The problem is we do not accept this peace.  We think we have to keep everything under control when it is not us that are supposed to be controlling it.  When we leave our lives in God’s hands is when we will find true peace.

The question is have we submitted to him?  One of the best ways to tell is if you are feeling peace in your life?  If you are not there is probably an area that you will not or have yet to give over to God.

Do you say God is in control and then attempt to control everything?

Do you say you love Jesus and then show bitterness and hatred towards your brothers and sisters in Christ?

As long as you hold grudges and remember peoples mistakes you will not find peace.

Only when we submit to God and love like he loves, forgive like he forgives, and trust him will we find true peace.

Isn’t perfect peace a beautiful phrase?  How is God able to offer this to us?  How can we claim this perfect peace?  Is this even possible in the world of trouble that we live in?

Christ came to give us peace.  He tells his disciples he is leaving how was that supposed to give them peace?  Why is it that we do not have to be afraid?  Jesus was going to leave the disciples with the peace that even the grave could not hold him.  They had peace because Jesus Christ overcame the world.

There will be trouble in this world. In the midst of all of it we have peace through Jesus Christ.  How is this the case?  Because of Christ we now have a relationship with the God of peace.

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Isaiah 40

31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Have you ever felt like your strength has run out? There are so many situations that we face in our lives that can make us feel like we have nothing left. In the last year we have faced sickness and death in our own family.  During these times it is often difficult to see the light in the midst of the darkness.  Our family has been able to see God working throughout these situations, but there are times in all of our lives that we do not understand.  When these trials hit they can leave us feeling like no one cares and that God has turned his back. Rest assured that God has not left you, and that if you continue to trust him God has promised that your strength will be renewed. This does not mean that this renewal will happen right away.  Sometimes this is a very long spiritual journey that will eventually end in renewal if we continue to trust.

I believe one of the things that prevent us from finding the renewal that we so desperately need is that we find our renewal in other things then God.  How many times do we find our renewal in a cup of coffee, camping, in taking pictures, and through spending time with family and friends?  These things are great things, but even these things will not bring us the renewal that we so desperately need.  It is only when we rely on God, even when we can not see him working, and trust his strength that we will find the renewal that we so desperately need.  This strength will only come when we rely on the spirit of God,  and the word of God,  to guide us and direct us even when we do not always understand the plan.

One of the things that the Bible teaches us is that you do not have to have everything figured out and in control to be used by God.  How many of God’s prophets said no or didn’t understand what God was going to do?  God can use us even when we are at our lowest point. When we are weak then we are strong. In our human minds this makes absolutely no sense. We are taught that we have to be strong to overcome adversity. We think we have to fix our circumstances, even though many circumstances can not be fixed. True strength comes when we realize that our strength will never be enough. It is when we trust God that we will find what true strength is all about. Even in our weakest moments, our strength will be renewed if we continue to trust in him.

The Christian life is a race that is to be run with perseverance. There will be times in a race that you feel like you can not go on. If you continue to trust, your strength will be renewed. There are many people that do not finish the race. They let trials, tribulations, and temptations derail them in their faith in God. Their strength runs out and they still refuse to turn to the only one that can renew their strength. Where have you placed your hope? Have you placed your hope in the lord or your circumstances? Have you placed your hope in yourself? Only those that put their hope in the lord will renew their strength.

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Thy Will Be Done

John 8

28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

Over the last several weeks we have covered how Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindigo put God first in their lives.  This morning we are going to be covering how Jesus himself put God first in the way that he lived his life.  Jesus was God in the flesh and he set us the example of how to live.  The way Jesus lived shows us how to put God first in our lives.

One Day Jesus was asked to respond with what is the greatest law and he responds with something that is so incredible.  Jesus summarizes all the laws into two commands.  Jesus is basically saying if you want to put God first this is what you do: you love him with everything you are and love others with the love that we have received from God.   Do we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Or do we often times make God an afterthought in an already consumed life?

Is knowing God the greatest desire we will ever have?

Are our minds filled with God’s word or have we allowed them to be corrupted by sin and the world?

Have we allowed our minds to be focused on ourselves?

Are we focused on the money we can make or the lord that we claim to serve?

Have we focused our minds on God above everything else?

Do you love God with everything you are?  We are not going to be able to love others until we do this.  Until we finally once and for all what it means to have a relationship with the God of the universe that loves his people with an everlasting we will not be able to love others as he desires us to .  Jesus always put his relationship with his father first.

Jesus did not care whether people liked him or not he was going to do his fathers work.

Are we willing to do the same?  Are we willing to seek his kingdom first and put God first?

How do we seek first his kingdom in a world that seems to have turned their back on him?  Jesus faced constant rejection from those around him, but he knew his father would never reject him and he put his life in his father’s hand. This is how we put God first. Are we willing to trust him that no matter what happens we have life eternally with him?  Are we willing to seek his kingdom first?

Jesus took all of his direction from his father. Jesus constantly prayed and sought his father’s direction and strength.   Jesus told the leaders that what he had heard from God was reliable.  Can we still hear from God today?  The answer is yes we can, but I do not think a lot of us are listening.  The way to put God first is by listening to him by reading his word and spending time in prayer.  If Jesus knew he had to have that constant relationship with his father doesn’t that mean we do to?  To accomplish this we must shut out all the noise. When was the last time you sat in a room silently.  I have two kids and i will say it does not happen very often in this house.  Are we willing to close down the things of the world and listen to our father as Jesus did?

The world will offer us everything we want and nothing that we need.  Are we striving to serve God alone?  Just as Jesus was in the wilderness, we are in a battle.  Are we willing put God first by serving him alone?  Are we willing to do the right thing even when there are consequences?  Jesus’ loyalty was never divided.  Jesus was going to serve his father no matter what.  Are we willing to serve God alone by putting him first in our lives?  Are we willing to say to him Thy Will be done.

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