In Acts 28, we see that Paul is shipwrecked. He and his fellow prisoners are able to swim to the shore of the island of Malta. As they arrive on land, the natives of the island begin to help the desperate castaways. Sitting around the bonfire on the shore, warming up, a snake attaches itself to Paul's hand. Paul's response? He shakes off the creature and suffers no harm! This left the natives amazed. They even called him a god! There are things ALL OF US need to shake off in 2015.
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During this Christmas season, let the truth of Jesus come alive in your hearts like never before. God is not some far off impersonal force - He's a personal God that loves us so much that He came to live among us. Even now, through His Spirit, God is with us!
Jesus came to this earth in human flesh - to be with us and to experience the things we experience. Jesus knows what it's like to be tempted, rejected, abandoned, stabbed in the back. How do we cope with suffering/persecution? Pastor Matt gives three points:
1. Realize that we will endure suffering
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. John 15:20
2. Realize that Jesus himself suffered
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9
3. Realize that eternity is our home
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:16-18
Matthew 1; John 14
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! It's a time of lights, songs, food and family. But there's a reason why we do all these things - it's to celebrate Jesus. We celebrate the point in time when God humbled Himself and entered human history.
God desired to be with His people. He is not an impersonal force, but a person. He came to us that we might know Him. The major theme of the entire Bible is that God is redeeming us back to Himself so that "He will be our God and we will be His people." Unlike any other religion in the world, we can have a relationship with God.
Galatians is the story of the transforming power of God's grace. False teachers had come into the church of Galatia with their own agenda, teaching Jesus + Something. Paul is going to lead us back to what really matters - the Cross of Jesus and the Grace of God.
Do our lives bear the marks of Jesus Christ? Do we love our neighbor? Do we extend grace? Our life should look like Jesus. We have to die to ourselves so that Christ might be formed in us. God's Grace is the transforming power we need! Listen to this powerful conclusion to the Grace Alone series.
In this dynamic teaching on Galatians 6:1-10, Pastor Matt answers the question of what a Spirit-led community looks like. Paul captures this idea with a single phrase: burden bearing. This is the main idea of a Spirit-led community.
Sometimes it's so easy to think more of ourselves than we ought to. We see everyone else's problems, but not our own! Matthew 7:3 says, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" Bear long with one another. Suffer long with one another!
Pastor Matt also gives an update on what God is doing around the world. We invite you to join us at our 54th successive World Missions Conference on January 18-21, 2015. Make plans to be here!
In Part 11 of Grace Alone, Pastor Matt shares on the core message of Grace from the book of Galatians. There are two extremes to the message of Grace: rejecting it altogether or using Grace as a license to sin. Neither one is correct! We are not set free to sin, but to serve.
Grace empowers us to overcome sin! We have to walk in the fruit of the Spirit everyday so that we can become who God wants us to be. The true message of Grace is that Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
In Part 10 of Grace Alone, Pastor Doug shares on man's law vs. God's love. God has freed us from all oppression from the evil one! Christ is ruling and reigning in our lives and hearts. We have freedom! We don't have to live on the same level as the world does. Jesus came to set us free.
God is thinking about us - he cares for us. We can stand on the liberty found in God's grace. We don't have to live according to the bondage of yesterday. Christ has freed us from the heavy burden of the law. It's impossible to be justified by your works and be justified by God's grace at the same time. Freedom can only be found in Christ Jesus.
*No audio or video this week.
Has there every been a time in your life, where instead of waiting on God, you took matters into your own hands? What do we do when this happens? Abraham was a man who took matters into his own hands.
In Genesis 16, we see that Abraham tried to fulfill God's promise on his own. Relying on the advice of his wife Sarah, a child is conceived through his servant Hagar. This child's name was Ishmael. Ishmael was born according to the flesh, not the promise.
Sometimes you get good advice that's not God advice! Abraham listened to his wife, but didn't inquire of the Lord. So many times we get tired of waiting on God and act out in the flesh. It's not easy to wait on the promise. We must realize that nothing good is ever produced when we live out of our flesh.
This is the problem with the law. It enslaved everyone under a curse, because no one was able to keep it. Abraham's wife Sarah eventually gives birth to Isaac - the son of the promise. We cannot add anything to God's plan. Get rid of Jesus + Something! Sometimes people give us good ideas that are not God ideas. Like King David, we must inquire of the Lord and find out what His will is.
One of the best ways to find God's will is in God's Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Another great way to find God's will is by seeking Godly counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says, "Where there is no guidance, a people fails, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." Community groups are a great place to do this! Get around people that can help encourage you in your walk with the Lord.
Waiting on God's will isn't always easy. Waiting on God takes faith. Sometimes it takes more faith to wait on God than to make bold moves or to take risks. Abraham learned that there is nothing we can do to add to God's work. Jesus didn't go through what he went through on the cross, just so we would have to do more. His work as been completed. It's perfect. We don't receive the promise through our actions, we simply receive the promise through faith.
In Part 8 of Grace Alone, Pastor Matt shares on the weakness of man vs. the power of God. When we live life legalistically, our right standing with God is based on what we do, not what Jesus has done. In Galatians, legalism was causing many believers to turn back to the world. This happened because they were putting their faith in something other than Jesus.
Paul is a man who has been totally transformed by the grace of God. Paul is willing to expose his own weakness so that the power of God might be made manifest. A grace filled environment creates a safe place for people to confess their sin and see God's power!