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Tag: sin

The Results of the New Nature

I want you to think back to your high school or college days. For some of us, that won’t be hard. For others, you might have to dig way back in the memory bank. And I want you to think about your best friends from back then. Maybe one or two or three of your closest friends back in the day. Got those people in your mind?

Ok, now here’s a second question for you to ponder. Are those people still your best friends today? If I had asked you to name your top one/two/three best friends today, would those still be the same people you would name? I’m guessing that the older you are, the more likely you have different best friends now.

Relationships always change – friends that were once close, over time, can become distant. People move away. Your lives take different directions. You just grown distant over time.

And at the same time while you grow distant from some people, there are other people that you grow closer with. You’re always meeting new people and making new friends. And some of them grow to be very close friends.

But relationships always change. Even our relationship with God changes over time. I imagine most of us experience times of our lives when our relationship with God is super close! It’s awesome! You love praying and reading His Word. His presence is very real in your life and you just love serving Him and just being with Him.

And then there are other times, when we just feel distant from God. He becomes almost like a Facebook acquaintance. We know in our heads that God hasn’t gone anywhere – the Bible tells us He’s right there with us all the time… but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

That’s frustrating to me. I hate those times when I feel distant from God. I want a relationship with God that grows closer all the time – not more distant. And I think that’s what God wants too. From everything I read about in the Bible, it sure seems that God wants to have that close relationship with us too. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for me so that I could feel distant from Him. He didn’t send the Holy Spirit to empower and dwell right within me so that our relationship could grow cold. No! God wants to be my closest ally and my most faithful friend.

So how do we live in that continuously close relationship with God? Can we avoid or at least minimize those times where we feel distant? How do we make sure we’re growing closer – and not moving apart? How do we do that?

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Naaman & the Barrier of Pride

Which is harder to do? To forgive someone who has hurt you deeply? Or to be the one who has to ask for forgiveness?

That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Both I think, are extremely difficult. Confessing our wrongs and asking for forgiveness does not come naturally to us. Nor does offering forgiveness when someone has wronged us. Both are difficult things to do.

And today, as we continue in our series – the Exploits of Elisha – we’re going to see just how difficult – yet also how rewarding it is to do both.

If you have your Bible or your ipad or your smart phone with you, turn with me to 2 Kings chapter 5.

2 Kings – chapter 5 – starting at verse 1.

The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.
2 At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. 3 One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.”
2 Kings 5:1-3

So we begin our story with a few introductions.

Table of contents for The Exploits of Elisha

  1. God’s Looking for F.A.T. People
  2. Elisha & the Widow Woman’s Oil
  3. The God Who Still Does Miracles
  4. Naaman & the Barrier of Pride
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The Fulfillment of Hope

In the month of December, we’ve been looking at the Bible as a History of Hope. Sometimes it difficult to put the whole Bible together – to see how one story connects with the others – to see how the old Testament fits with the new Testament. But over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been trying to do just that and what we’ve discovered is that the whole Bible is really the Christmas story. Everything in the old testament points us ahead to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and everything in the new testament is a result of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the central figure of world history. And it’s not just history – it’s HIS STORY – God’s Story.

And so today we’re going to continue looking at God’s story. Two weeks ago we started in the beginning – with God creating the heavens and the earth. And He made the perfect system for a perfect life. That was basically, as long as mankind looked to God as the source of everything they needed in life and as long as they looked to God as their ultimate authority, their relationships with each other and with God would be sweet and life would be awesome.

But of course, we know that Adam and Eve chose to reject God as their authority and as their source – and as a consequence, their relationship with God and with each other was broken. And although the consequences of their sin would effect mankind for the rest of history, God made a promise to Adam & Eve – that one day He would set things right again.

Well, then we fast-forwarded last week to Mount Sinai – where God made a covenant – or an agreement with the Israelites. And the basic gist of that agreement was that as long as the Israelites looked to God as the source of everything they needed in life and as long as they looked to God as their ultimate authority, their relationships with each other and with God would be sweet and life would be awesome. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The problem with that agreement was, that because the Israelites were all born with a sinful nature that they inherited from Adam & Eve, (just like the rest of us) it would actually be impossible for the Israelites or anyone else to fully obey God. Man was just too sinful. That rebellious nature in us kept us as slaves to sin. We couldn’t obey God even if we wanted to.

But God knew about that and He offered us another bit of hope. He allowed the Israelites to bring a lamb and offer it as a sacrifice for their sins. In other words, instead of that person being put to death for their sin (as they deserved), a lamb would be put to death in their place. The lamb would take their punishment.

Of course, the blood of those lambs couldn’t take away their sin, but it gave the Israelites hope that one day, the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – would die in their place and His blood would take their sins completely away.

So that’s where we left it last week. There’s more to this story, so let’s see what happened next.

Table of contents for A History of Hope

  1. The Beginning of Hope
  2. Old Testament Sacrifices – Symbols of Hope
  3. The Fulfillment of Hope
  4. A Future of Hope
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Old Testament Sacrifices – Symbols of Hope

Last week we started looking at the Christmas story. Mind you, we didn’t get very far. We started in Genesis chapter one and we made it all the way to Genesis chapter 3. There’s just 927 chapters to go before we get to the part about the baby in a manger. But that’s ok. You’ve probably heard that part of the Christmas story before anyway.

You see, most people are familiar with the shepherds and the wisemen and the angels – but they might not have heard the parts of the Christmas story that come before all that.

Because as we talked about last week, the whole Bible is the Christmas story. It begins with Adam and Eve and it goes right through to the end of time. All of history is the Christmas story.

And so we started in the Beginning – when God created the heavens and the earth. And He set up the perfect design for the perfect life. God set up three principles that would make life on earth awesome and amazing. And I told you that if you remembered nothing else from my sermon last Sunday, to remember those three principles. So here’s the pop quiz: Do you remember what those three principles are?

God is the source. God is the authority. Life is about relationships.

And with these three principles in place, life on earth would have continued to be awesome and amazing. Except for the fact, that one day Adam & Eve decided to reject God as their source and to reject God as their authority – and as a result, their relationship with God and with each other was broken.

And to this very day, we suffer the effects of those broken relationships. But the good news is – there is Hope. The entire Bible is a History of Hope. One day, God would undo the damage that was done in the garden of Eden and we would again experience life as God intended it.

And so today, we’re going to continue looking at God’s story, the Christmas story – to see how God continued to give mankind hope throughout the course of history.

Table of contents for A History of Hope

  1. The Beginning of Hope
  2. Old Testament Sacrifices – Symbols of Hope
  3. The Fulfillment of Hope
  4. A Future of Hope
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Satan’s Tactics: Discouragement, Distractions, & Down-Right Sin

This is our fourth week of looking at Nehemiah and how he led the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls after 70 years of exile. It’s been very interesting (for me anyway) to read through this story and discover what principles we can apply to our situation here.

And I’m very excited to share with you the next part of the story. It’s my favorite part and I think the lessons that we learn from it are very applicable to everyone here. So let’s jump right into it.

Nehemiah 4:1-3
Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”

God put it on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall, God moved the king as to allow Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem, and God put everything into place so that the walls of Jerusalem can be rebuilt for the His glory. So what does Satan do? He tries to stop it. Doesn’t Satan work the same way today? When God is doing something, Satan tries to get in the way. And he uses the same tactics back then as he does today too. So we are going to look at three of Satan’s tactics to stop God’s work. The first tactic he employs is discouragement.

Table of contents for Nehemiah

  1. Weeping for the Lost
  2. Principles of Preparation
  3. The Work Begins
  4. Satan’s Tactics: Discouragement, Distractions, & Down-Right Sin
  5. Lessons On God’s Work
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