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City Harbor Church – Hampden, Baltimore, MD
39 minutes | 5 days ago
God Blesses – Matthew 5:1-10
Read text with a focus on what the people are like. Read the text with a focus on how God responds. Blessed – happiness, healthy, the transcendent happiness of life beyond care, labor, death “poor in spirit” – need new spiritual life, greater spiritual strength, receive what God has for us When I receive the love of God, by repenting and turning to faith in Jesus, I will find new spiritual life. Then I will respond by loving God and others with all I’ve got. A healthy spiritual life is at peace with God, with self, and with others. No longer do I feel the need to get something or to prove something to be at peace about who I am, to find fulfillment in life, and to enjoy relationships. A healthy spiritual life will benefit God, self, and others. How do we respond? – Matthew 6:1-18 1. Giving 2. Praying 3. Fasting We should respond to the call of Jesus to, “seek first the Kingdom of God,” in Matthew 6:33. Out of gratitude for the grace of God, we choose to give, pray, and fast as part of our personal devotion to Jesus. It’s a perfect time to change up our normal habits, slow down our level of activity, and spend more time resting in God’s presence. Replace a meal with time in prayer. Each day we will share a specific prayer focus from our daily reading. We will gain clarity by seeking God first. What are we doing? Why are we doing this? Thank you for asking. For more information about our 21-day prayer focus, explanation, and topics: https://bit.ly/2XgM3Sp
36 minutes | 12 days ago
Jesus Our Guide – John 10:14
In 2021 we are going to need the guidance of God. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,” – John 10:14 Shepherd verb – to guide, to help, to take care of, to lead, providing for Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy about our need for Him: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” – Isaiah 53:6 Jesus describes His role as the Good Shepherd who has sacrificial love for us. – John 10:11-18 From yesterday’s reading: “’And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” – Matthew 2:6 (sources Micah 5:2 2 Samuel 5:2) Jesus following the example of Father God who describes Himself as the Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34:11-16 (continues through verse 31 Good Shepherd bringing about the covenant of peace) God the Holy Spirit is our guide in truth. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” – John 14:16-17 Why should I trust God? What’s the outcome if we follow the guidance of God? Psalm 23 describes the soul at rest when the Lord is our shepherd. Are we supposed to respond? “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:8 “’For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14 “Stay close to me and I will stay close to you.” – John 15:4 in my love, obey my words What do we learn? God is available to us as a guide. The guidance of God will include direction, provision, and good health. What should we do? Ask ourselves if we are following the guidance of God. Change course as needed. Daily conversation with God, including reading, meditation, and listening. Share the journey.
33 minutes | 19 days ago
Light for the Way – John 12:44-50
God’s Word gives light for the way. When a person is reliable, their words are more meaningful. 44 Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. 45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. 47 I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. 49 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” – John 12:44-50 Jesus heard the voice of Father God, while on earth, and then said what Father God told him to say. John 12:44-50 That those who put their trust in Jesus would be “no longer in the dark,” – John 12:46 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” – Psalm 119:105 Jesus knew what God has said in the past, the truth found in the Scripture. Jesus showed a priority on what God had said and what God was saying. Jesus quoted the Scripture often. Jesus understood the purpose of the Scripture and used it accordingly. Jesus speaks to God’s value system, in Matthew 22:37-40 and Mark 12:28-34, when quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus pointed people to God’s desire for relationship and God’s heart for mercy, revealed by the prophet Hosea 6:6, in Matthew 9:13, 12:7. Jesus speaks to God’s value system, in Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-34, when quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. When Jesus revealed his own identity as Messiah, in Luke 4:16-21, he quoted Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23 when discussing God’s purpose despite the rejection he faced, in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 20:17. Jesus quoted what God had said when he faced temptation. Matthew 4:4 Luke 4:4 Deuteronomy 8:3 Matthew 4:7 Luke 4:12 Deuteronomy 6:16 Matthew 4:10 Luke 4:8 Deuteronomy 6:13 What do we learn? Jesus valued every word that Father God said. It was relevant to His own life on earth. Jesus held the Scripture with high value. Jesus taught His followers to memorize the Scripture for meditation, prayer, and guidance. Jesus knew what it meant. Jesus did not use it out of context. Jesus understood what those words meant to the people who first heard them. The followers of Jesus learned from the way that Jesus used the Scripture. In the New Testament, we read examples of them doing the same. What should we do? Read the Scripture in conversation with God. Share the journey. In 2021, we will offer a reading plan that we can all share. Reading about a chapter each day we can read through the New Testament. Starting January 1st and finishing December 31st it will be a shared journey. Our Life Groups and Sundays will become more collaborative as we will discuss what we are reading.
44 minutes | a month ago
Anticipated Arrival, Part 3 – Luke 1:26-2:20
Jesus was born for you. Jesus, our Savior at birth. This week we are reading a few longer passages of Scripture. Please do look them up. Luke 1:1-4, we are reading eyewitness reports. “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary.” – Luke 1:26-38 In Luke 1:46-55 we hear Mary’s song of praise. God’s promise to Abraham: “All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:2-3 We read about God’s word to Joseph, in Matthew 1:18-25. It included the confirmation that Mary’s pregnancy would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy. “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” – Isaiah 7:14 In Luke 2:1-20, we read the details of the amazing story of the birth of Jesus. In these passages, we read the answer to the question, “Who was born?” “you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” – Luke 1:32-33 “you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21 “Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” – Matthew 1:23 “The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today,” – Luke 2:11 Who? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior from sin, God with us, eternal victorious King. Jesus described his purpose, that he “came to seek and save those who are lost.” – Luke 19:10 What did Jesus accomplish? Why does this matter? “God, in his grace, feely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” – Romans 3:24 “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14 What should we do about this? “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37-40 How does this work? What should exactly we do? How do we do this? Spend time with Jesus. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” – John 15:4 Listen to Jesus. “my words remain in you,” – John 15:7 Obey Jesus. “obey” – John 15:10 Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” – 1 John 5:20-21 Stay in love. “Remain in my love,” – John 15:9 We welcome the anticipated arrival of Jesus here and now, on the day of His return, and at the time of His birth. We respond by staying in a close personal relationship with Jesus (listening, obeying, loving). This Advent series should bring the church closer to Jesus through a broader understanding of His identity, activity, and purpose.
30 minutes | a month ago
Anticipated Arrival, Part 2 – John 14:1-3
The return of Jesus Christ will be personal, visible and glorious, a blessed hope for which we should constantly watch and pray. What did Jesus say about His return? What did the eyewitnesses believe? “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” – John 14:1-3 “Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:28 There will be signs that, “redemption is drawing near,” Luke 21:25-28 When Jesus returns everyone will be aware: Matthew 24:27, 30 25:31-46 Revelation 1:7 “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” – Revelation 1:7 It will be unexpected Luke 12:40 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 No one will predict exactly when: Matthew 24:36, 44, 25:13 “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” – Matthew 24:36 “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together, with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 In a moment, Jesus returns and there will be resurrection life. 1 Corinthians 15:52 John 6:50-71 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” – Philippians 3:20-21 “And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” – Colossians 3:4 Followers of Jesus looking forward to His return as a blessed hope. “While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” – Titus 2:13 What do we learn about this? The return of Jesus Christ will be personal, visible and glorious, a blessed hope for which we should constantly watch and pray. What should we do about this? Jesus taught us to be alert, not distracted by the cares of this world. “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:34-36 “Remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.” 1 John 2:28 As we are in a close personal relationship with Jesus, we will have a confident hope for His return, not fear or shame. How do we do this? “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37-40 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” – John 15:4 “my words remain in you,” 7 “Remain in my love,” 9 “obey” 10 How does this work? What should we do? “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” – John 15:4 “my words remain in you,” 7 “Remain in my love,” 9 “obey” 10 Spend time with Jesus. Listen to Jesus. Obey Jesus. Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. Stay in love. We welcome the anticipated arrival of Jesus here and now, on the day of His return, and at the time of His birth. We respond by staying in close personal relationship with Jesus (listening, obeying, loving).
20 minutes | a month ago
Anticipated Arrival, Part 1 – Galatians 2:20
We welcome the anticipated arrival of Jesus here and now, on the day of His return, and at the time of His birth. We respond by staying in close personal relationship with Jesus (listening, obeying, loving). “Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 Jesus is with you. “in fellowship” – close personal relationship, one with, in union with, joined closely to, “we are in him, who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ,” – 1 John 5:20 ESV Anticipated – look for, waiting for someone better who has been predicted Arrival – what had not been real in the past is real now, what had not been true in the past is true now “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” – 1 John 5:20-21 NLT “We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.” – 1 John 1:1 “the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” – John 10:38 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” – John 15:4 “my words remain in you,” 7 “Remain in my love,” 9 “obey” 10 What do we learn? Jesus has made a close personal relationship with God available now. How does this work? What should we do? Spend time with Jesus. Listen to Jesus. Obey Jesus. Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. Stay in love.
34 minutes | 2 months ago
A New Path – Colossians 3:13-17
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16-17 “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a God forgave the people who had betrayed Him. Responding to their repentance with making a path of restoration available. This included instructions for how to live in a healthy relationship. “When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” – Mark 11:25 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” – Matthew 18:15 “Work at living in peace with everyone…look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God…watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you.” – Hebrews 12:14-15 “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:13-17 “As far as it is up to you, pursue peace,” – Romans 12:14-21 Provide a path for restoration. This is what happened… This is how it impacted me… The is the damage that it caused… This is how we can be reconciled….apology…forgiveness. This is how we can relate in a healthier way in the future… This is what I would prefer you would do differently… What do we learn? God gives faithful love first. God offers forgiveness. God makes a path of restoration available. God wants us to share forgiveness with others. God would have us offer restoration. What should we do? Believe. Repent. Receive. (believe Jesus as Savior, repent: apology, turn, receive forgiveness daily) Daily interact with the God of faithful love and forgiveness. Share forgiveness with others. Make restoration available to others. Consider the implications of this on a larger scale.
40 minutes | 2 months ago
Forgiving – Exodus 34:6-7
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a ESV Today’s focus: “Long-suffering, forgiving iniquity, transgression, sin” Long-suffering: slow to anger, fore-bearing nostril-flaring worthy offense. Psalm 86:15 “You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down on have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me,” – Psalm 86:15-16 God clarifies in Ezekiel 18:19 that a person who turns to God in wholehearted devotion will not be punished for their parents (or grandparents) sin. “’What?’ you ask. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? Says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” – Ezekiel 18:19-23 Through Jesus Christ, God did what was needed to repair the damage that our mistakes did to the relationship. “He, Jesus, personally carried our sins in his body on the cross, so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 Forgiving – to lift, to take someone else’s burden on yourself, “If we claim we have no sin we are only fooling ourselves, and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:8-9 Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, forgive us as we forgive,” – Luke 11:4 David’s prayer (based on what he had learned about God to be true): “O Lord you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.” – Psalm 86:5 Solomon’s prayer (at the dedication of the Temple referring to the character of God): “May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, year us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.” – I Kings 8:30 Forgiving (to lift): one time, repeated mistake, habit original incident leads to turning away and then lifestyle Iniquity: wickedness, perversity, mischief, fault Transgression: rebellion, trespass Sin: habitual “missing the mark” What do we learn? God is slow to anger, and constantly forgiving. What should we do? Believe. Repent. Receive. (believe Jesus as Savior, repent: apology, turn, receive forgiveness daily) “You will perish too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.” – Luke 13:3 Give Thanks. “Don’t worry; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 Share Your Story. “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” – Revelation 12:11 in John’s vision of believers walking in victory prior to the return of Jesus and culminated in the return of Jesus. God has placed you near someone who needs this message. …near someone who needs to see the evidence of this truth actively at work in your life.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
Gracious – Exodus 34:6
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a ESV Gracious – Starting with giving you something good, that you do not deserve, and the faithfully continuing to give – A heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need “You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down on have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me,” – Psalm 86:15-16 “He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” – Psalm 103:7-8 “I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.” – Psalm 145:5-9 “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” – Psalm 25:16 “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes.” (…because of my iniquity” – Psalm 31:9 “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.” – Psalm 51:1-2 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet…We must celebrate…this sone of mine was dead had now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” – Luke 15:22-24 What do we learn? God is gracious and merciful, constantly giving love. What should we do? Write down ways in which God has been gracious to you. Thank God! Read these verses and write down what you believe about God. Include what you believe about God in your prayer. Share what you are learning with someone else. “May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” – Numbers 6:25-26
20 minutes | 2 months ago
Merciful – Exodus 34:6
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a ESV rahum merciful & compassionate – to love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, have tender affection, It’s one of three root words that translate as mercy in the OT. This is where we get “tender mercies” “The personal God has a heart.” – John Barth This is not a God who has walked away, standing off at a distance, indifferent to our lives. Even in this moment with Moses, right after seeing His people betray Him, God is saying, “I am merciful-compassionate”. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34:18 “safe place to find and follow Jesus” our view of God in-person. “The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said, ‘I tell you, get up.’ Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” – Luke 7:12-15 “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” – Matthew 20:34 “Moved with compassion,” From a place of the deepest emotion, taking action for the love of another. “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 14:14 “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry,” – Matthew 15:32 “Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’” – Matthew 9:35-38 As we grow in our understanding of Who we worship, we will also grow in effective prayer and spiritual strength. Merciful Compassionate “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a ESV What do we learn? God is merciful and compassionate. What should we do? Read these verses and write down what you believe about God. Include what you believe about God in your prayer. Share what you are learning with someone else. God, we believe that You see our suffering and that it breaks Your heart. We believe that you are moved with compassion. God, we thank You for the merciful compassion that You have already shown us. Please see the broken state of our world. In Your great merciful compassion please set right the things that are wrong in our neighborhoods and nation. Please help us see where, when, and how You would have us show your merciful compassion.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
Steadfast – Exodus 34:6-7
5 Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. 6 The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.” – Exodus 34:5-7 NLT “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6-7a ESV Steadfast – steady, fixed in direction, steadily directed, strong in purpose, unwavering, fixed in place “steadfast love” heced: mercy, faithful loving-kindness Clearly important because God says He is abounding in it (continually giving them more than enough of it) and keeping it (maintaining, guarding, protecting). This clearly becomes a part of the relationship with God. Moses quotes it back to God in Numbers 14:18. David prays it in Psalm 86:15. The prophet Joel saw it as an essential truth in our relationship with God. This is also the context Peter saw when he quoted this prophecy in Acts 2. “12 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” – Joel 2:12-13 “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful,” – Luke 6:36 For pastor James and the early church it was an essential ingredient of their view of God and the context for their relationship with God during difficult days. ”We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” – James 5:11 What do we learn? God is faithful in compassionate, merciful, loving-kindness. What should we do? Turn from wrong and receive forgiveness for it. Read today’s verses. Write out what you believe to be true about God’s love. Think about this before you pray.
29 minutes | 3 months ago
Faithful – Psalm 33
Faithful – true to one’s word or promises, steady in allegiance or affection, reliable, trusted, believed. Qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion. “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” – John 4:10 The Message Who is God? Creator Provider Protector Redeemer God is alive, aware, able, and active. God is trustworthy (Psalm 33:4, 21) and faithful in love (Psalm 33:5, 22). God may have a variety of reasons for allowing challenges, in our lives. It is always an opportunity for us to look up, to God. With prayerful consideration, we should respond by following God closely. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalm 23:1-3 What do we learn? Our God is trustworthy and faithful in love. What should we do? Think, answer, In what ways has God proven to be faithful? Have a thankful conversation with God about the present, based on His past.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
More than Enough, Part 5 – Ephesians 3:20
This is Part 5 and the conclusion of our series on Ephesians 3:14-21. God can give you love and spiritual strength beyond what you have, beyond what you need. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20 NLT Love & Strength: As you receive the love of Jesus, God is giving you a spiritual strength (stability & force). The love of Jesus is to be received, enjoyed, and then shared. What do we learn? God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. God can give you love and spiritual strength beyond what you have, beyond what you need. God is alive, aware, able, and active. What should we do? Receive the love of God through Jesus Christ. Pray, read, listen, write out what you have learned. Match up the love-sourced-strength of God with any area of lack in you. Share the journey with others. Examples of matching up love-sourced-strength of God with any area of lack: Insecure about God’s forgiveness – God can give the ability to understand how much the love of Jesus covers. Anxious about current events – draw strength from God’s love for you and our world, shifting your focus. Discovering a pattern of mistakes – let the love of Jesus become the basis for a new lifestyle, motives, decisions.
31 minutes | 3 months ago
More than Enough, Part 4 – Ephesians 3:19
Ephesians 3:14-21 “Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” – Ephesians 3:19b “Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God,” 3:19 Experience and learn the love of Jesus, which is inexhaustible, so that you may be filled and made complete. God’s love, ability to make us complete. Filling inadequacies, removing faults. Fullness of life by the power of God. What do we learn? God’s love is limitless. God can give us the ability to grow in spiritual strength from a greater understanding of His love. We should be actively focused on God, relying on God, and drawing strength from God. As we are experiencing and learning about the love of Jesus, our emptiness can be filled. What should we do? Receive the love of God through Jesus Christ. Pray, read, listen, learn, reflect on the love of God. Write out what you have learned and experienced. Identify what areas of your life that you need more of the love of God. Match up the love of Jesus with any area of lack in you. Share the journey with other believers. Everything in today’s message is for you and it is also for everyone else in your life. God’s loving grace as spiritual strength is “more than enough” for you and your neighbor. Today’s there’s an invitation from the Holy Spirit for you to share this with the people who need it.
37 minutes | 3 months ago
More than Enough, Part 3 – Ephesians 3:18-19
God’s love goes beyond our spiritual needs and imagination. “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” – Ephesians 3:18-19 God’s love can be experienced by searching it out. God’s love goes beyond our spiritual needs and imagination. It covers more than you know. It goes beyond you and your world. Nothing is too far, deep, high, or low for the love of God. May you receive help from God to understand, believe, receive the limitless love & spiritual strength, from God. This is for you. This is more than enough for any area of your life where you don’t have the love, the strength. It is for any area of life where you are tired, weak, exhausted, trapped, or in pain. God’s love and spiritual strength are more than enough. What do we learn? God’s love is limitless. God’s love goes beyond our spiritual needs and imagination. God can give us the ability to grow in faith and understanding of His love. God’s love should be received before we do anything about it. We can grow in our understanding and the experience of God’s love, as we learn from each other and receive from each other. What should we do? Receive the love of God through Jesus Christ. Pray, read, listen, learn, reflect on the love of God. Write out what you have learned and experienced. Identify what areas of your life that you need more of the love of God. Share the journey with other believers.
29 minutes | 4 months ago
More than Enough, Part 2 – Ephesians 3:14-21
More than Enough Part 2 – Ephesians 3:14-21 Part 2: God’s love is the source of our spiritual strength. “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” – Ephesians 3:17 Rooted – drawing spiritual strength from God keeps you healthy and powerful spiritually. “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” – Psalm 1:1-3 “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” – Matthew 7:20 Grounded – God’s love as a foundation for every area of life. “’Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’” – Matthew 7:24-27 “You are God’s building.” – 1 Corinthians 3:9 “You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” – Colossians 1:23 “In his kindness, God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” – 1 Peter 5:10 “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:20-22 What do we learn? 1. The love of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ, by God’s undeserved grace. 2. God’s love is the source of our spiritual strength. 3. We should be actively focused on God, relying on God, and drawing strength from God. 4. This includes searching out the truth and listening to what God has said. What should we do? 1. Make a decision to focus on Jesus Christ. 2. Choose to rely on Jesus Christ. 3. Daily draw from the love of Jesus Christ for your spiritual strength. 4. Search out what Jesus Christ has said. 5. Read Ephesians 3:14-21.
24 minutes | 4 months ago
More than Enough – Ephesians 3:14-21
God can give you love and spiritual strength beyond what you have, beyond what you need. Part 1: verses 14-16, 20 God’s love is limitless. What do we learn? God is limitless. (The Source of Life from whom everyone derives their name.) “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” – Ephesians 3:14-16 We are limited. (We run out of time, energy, love, and spiritual strength.) God is able to work within us and do more than we think possible. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 What should we do? Read Ephesians 3:14-21. Thank God for your life. Ask God for spiritual strength. Ask God to fire up your imagination. More than Enough – Ephesians 3:14-21 Part 1: verses 14-16, 20 God’s love is limitless. Part 2: verse 17 God’s love is the source of our spiritual strength. Part 3: verse18 God’s love can be experienced by searching it out. Part 4: verse 19 God’s love goes beyond our spiritual needs and imagination.
30 minutes | 4 months ago
God Loves You – Isaiah 43
Why does this matter today? Because God is our: Creator Provider Protector Redeemer Let’s read all of Isaiah 43. God is speaking in a time of difficulty. “In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 God is our Redeemer: “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” – Romans 3:24 “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9 What should we do about it? Pray Thank God for your salvation. Read Isaiah 43. March 8 Who is God? Creator – Hebrews 11:3 March 15 Who is God? Provider – John 10:10 March 22 Who is God? Protector – John 10:27-30 March 29 Who is God? Redeemer – Romans 3:24
32 minutes | 4 months ago
God Values Devotion – Luke 10:25-27
“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: ‘Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?’ The man answered, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!’” – Luke 10:25-27 Matthew 22:36-40 Mark 12:28-31 Personal Wholehearted Devotion to God: God, I give my life to you. God, I will live for you. God, all that I am and all that I have is yours. Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Did you know that Jesus quotes Deuteronomy more than any other book of Scripture? Let’s look at Deuteronomy 6:5. Deuteronomy context: it is written by Moses in 1400 BC, covering two months. Preparing the people to enter the Promised Land, Moses is reviewing their past with an eye on their future. He is telling them, “God made a promise.” Deuteronomy messages: – Reminding the people to be faithful to the covenant God made with them. – Love is the right motive for following God’s guidance. – God calls us to hear and obey his guidance. – Those who obey are blessed. Those who disobey will suffer the consequences. Predicting a time when they would worship other things: “There you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him. In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.” – Deuteronomy 4:29-31 The followers of Jesus responded to his teaching in this way: “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” – Acts 2:21-24 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.” – Acts 2:32-33 “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” – Acts 2:37-39 “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47 Devoted: Authentic, committed, candid, complete, dedicated, determined, devoted, earnest, fervent, genuine, never-failing, passionate, real, unwavering, warm “They devoted themselves,” – Acts 2:42 As Jesus followers, let’s come to understand what God is asking us for, and let us respond with wholehearted devotion. What do we learn? God has shown us matchless love. We should love God with all our hearts. How do we respond? Ask God for help. “God, help me. Please heal my heart so that I can worship you.” Receive the love of God, repenting as needed. “Create in me a clean heart,” – Psalm 51 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalm 139:23-24 “That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’ Return to the Lord your God for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” Joel 2:12-13 Remove any obstacle to our wholehearted love for God. Love God with all our hearts. Benefits “If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” – Deuteronomy 4:40 “Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.” – Deuteronomy 5:29 “Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” – Deuteronomy 5:33 “And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us.” – Deuteronomy 6:24-25 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him. Therefore, you must obey all these commands, decrees, and regulations I am giving you today.” – Deuteronomy 7:9-11
25 minutes | 5 months ago
God Values Forgiveness
God Values Forgiveness “Your sins are forgiven.” – Luke 5:20 Reading Luke 5:18-20 “Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?” – Luke 5:23 Mark 2:5, 9 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous, He did this through Jesus Christ when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” – Romans 3:23-25 “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16-17 Same word Jesus uses in Matthew 6:12 “Father, forgive us as we forgive,” Sin – “missing the mark”, the moral consequence of having sinned. Separation from God, as a result of sin. Forgive – to remove the guilt resulting from wrongdoing. Restore the relationship, to give up resentment, to grant relief from payment for restitution. Forgiveness – a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” – Chris Brauns Unpacking Forgiveness Illustration: holding the key to their jail cell, the right to see them punished. Illustration: not letting go, resentment, like drinking poison while hoping they die. God’s Forgiveness: a commitment to pardon graciously those who repent & believe so that they are reconciled to Him. Repent – turn around in actions and attitude….to change behavior as a result of a complete change of thinking and attitude. God’s Purpose: Remove Guilt & Restore Relationship Apology – this is what I did that was wrong ___, this is the harm it caused ___, I am sorry, I make a commitment to never do it again, please forgive me. How can I make this right? “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” – Jesus in Matthew 18:15-35 We’re saying, “I will not dwell on this incident, bring up this incident again and use it against you, talk to others about this incident, let this incident stand between us or hinder, our personal relationship.” – Ken Sande The Peacemaker Why? “By making and keeping these promises, you can tear down the walls that stand between you and your offender. You promise not to dwell on or brood over the problem or to punish by holding the person at a distance. You clear the way for your relationship to develop unhindered by memories of past wrongs. This is exactly what God does for us, and it is what He calls us to do for others.” – Ken Sande The Peacemaker How to respond to unrepentant? Resolve to not take revenge. Proactively show love. “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” – Luke 6:27 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!” – Luke 6:32 Peter learned about God’s value system from Jesus directly. He said, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 2 Peter 3:9
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