Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking for Peace

This week the violence that fell upon Aurora, CO has caused many of us to pray for the victims and their families as well as the family of James Holmes, the suspected gunman behind this tragedy.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new.  The evidence can be traced all the way back to the book of Genesis.  Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, man has been at war.  Our rebellion against God (sin), developed into war against one another.  Cain, jealous of his brother, killed Able.  And so our conflict has continued even to this day.  One might say that man has always been predisposed to conflict.

Some of us have clashed with so many people that we don’t really know how to live peaceably with others.  I have heard of people who are so comfortable with conflict that they are not happy unless they are fighting with someone.

Paul admonished the church in Rome, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” [Rom. 12:18.].  

How do we find peace?  How do we become peacemakers?  Peace is a hard thing to get a hold of… we want peace – peace at home; peace at work; peace in the church…peace everywhere, no war, no conflict, no tragedies. 

In the midst of conflict, Jesus speaks to the Jewish crowds gathered and said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God.” [Mt. 5:9].  The Word of God in fact is a book of peace.  Peace means to bring reconciliation between two or more parties that are in conflict.  Man, as I said, has been in conflict with God since the Fall and the Bible is God’s instructions on reconciliation.

For the full message shared on 07-19-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI go to:
Looking for Peace

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Declaration of Dependence: For Liberty

In the United States, the month of July marks our birth; for it was in this month on the 4th, 1776 that the Second Continental Congress ratified the document known as the Declaration of Independence.  In this Declaration, Thomas Jefferson penned one of the most influential statements of the English language.  He wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today marks the second of three messages in a series: Declaration of Dependence.  We shall look into the inalienable right of Liberty.

What is liberty? Wikipedia defines liberty as ‘the ability of individuals to have agency (control over their own actions).’  Synonyms include: autonomy, birthright, emancipation, self-determination, sovereignty.  The word that comes to my mind is FREEDOM - Freedom to live and act as you choose.

Our base text for today is found in 2 cor. 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  The liberty, or freedom, talked about here is more political freedom, religious freedom, or financial freedom.  It doesn't matter whether you are red, yellow, black, or white; rich or poor; male or female, citizen or alien – liberty is available to all.

Men fight for freedom, for liberty, but the battle has already been fought.  .”  Spiritual freedom is the most powerful freedom that there is – it is the freedom of being free from sin.  How many of us have felt the grip of sin in our lives? How many of us have felt the oppression that sin can cause? How many of us have felt guilt – and remorse because of sin? I would venture to say that all of us have felt the bonds of sin at one time or another. We have all been slaves to sin. 

Let there be no doubt in your mind that God has the power to set you free. He has the power to set you free from the slavery of sin. He has the power to set you free from the penalty of sin. He has the power to set you free from the guilt of sin. He has the power to set you free from the death of sin.  May we never forget – “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” There is freedom.The price for freedom has been paid.  Your liberty is secure, but it is dependent upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

For the full message shared on 07-12-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI go to:
Declaration of Dependence: For Liberty

(Thanks to Charles Spurgeon for inspiration and content for this message.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Declaration of Dependence: For Life

This past week we celebrated one of the most famous of declarations, the Declaration of Independence, written and ratified on July 4, 1776.

In Jefferson's declaration, he addresses three inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  These rights are not rights but gifts of grace granted by the Sovereign God Almighty.

We often think of ourselves as independent, but are we?  I mean, who among us can create life?  Sure, we may be able to procreate, but we cannot create life.  And who among us can sustain life?  The very breath you just took was a demonstration of God's grace in sustaining your life.  We are so dependent!

Paul, in His letter to the church in Ephesus, clarified what it means to have life.  In Ephesians 2:1-10, he makes it clear that humanity is born to death.  Not born to die; born into death.  When we are born, we are born without Christ, and we remain so until God breaths the breath of life into our spiritually dead corpse.  It is only then that we are able to respond to His prompting and act on the faith He has given to us to receive the gift of life He offers.

Life is only possible through faith, by grace, in Jesus Christ (This is also known as salvation.)  Our salvation is dependent upon God, it is not by any work of man. (Remember, we were dead.)

So, if we are going to celebrate, let's celebrate our dependence on God.  To God Be The Glory!!

For the full message shared on 07-08-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI go to:
Declaration of Dependence: For Life

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's Time to Take Out the Trash

Hoarding is classified as an obsessive need to acquire and keep things - even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary.  

For the Believer the effects of hoarding (spiritually speaking) tend to be unfulfilled, fruitless lives.  They are trapped in a cycle that is "like being swallowed alive."

Although hoarding typically is related with material items, we often hoard that which is unseen - sin.

Today, it's time to take out the trash.

For the full message shared on 07-01-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI go to:  
Time to Take Out the Trash