Many people make New Year's resolutions to lose a few pounds, and travel with a lighter load around the waist. What if in 2019 we focused on offloading another type of weight? What ideas, fears and anxieties weigh you down?
Many people live their lives in the tyranny of the urgent. When we move at a rapid rate it can be difficult to stop and reflect on the past. Our past is important. Remembering God’s faithfulness and lessons He has taught us along the way help to inform our future. What has God taught you in 2018? What do you believe He has in store for you in the coming year?
Imagine you are God and you want to introduce yourself to humanity (your creation). How would you do it? Would you appear larger than life like the Jolly Green Giant and demonstrate your power? Would you write a message in the sky? Would you speak to each human via email, by letter, or on television? God choose an extremely humbling route; He came as a child. A child cannot defend itself. A baby cannot command and lead a group. An infant is dependent on others. He came in a spirit of love and humility.
Some people love to give. Generosity is an attribute of God, and yet recognizing the fact that God gives generously, entails that someone receives. How do you do when it comes to receiving?
Do you believe that title statement? Jesus was quoted as speaking those words in Acts 20:35, but do they ring true during this season? Christmas is coming, a holiday which reminds us of the greatest gift given to mankind, God's son Emmanuel. What does it mean that God was willing to make such a sacrifice on our behalf? How do we respond to such a gift?
FAITH OVER FEAR
When an obstacle presents itself in your life how do you respond? Do you move immediately to the worse case scenarios, or do you begin to consider solutions? Do you panic, or do you place your fear at the feet of the One who can diminish any Goliath-size problem, and calm any storm, regardless of the severity?
In the USA there is a special value placed on self-made people; on those who have pulled themselves up from their own bootstraps, and made something out of nothing. There is no problem honoring achievement; in fact it is a good thing. However, I wonder if that ideology has had an adverse effect on group achievement? How does that impact the way we think and face struggles? Is your first thought to get through something alone, or to turn to others? Jesus sent His followers out in groups of two. Jesus put a strong emphasis on community over the individual, on the team over the player. Scripture says that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken, and that it helps to have more than one human when trying to keep warm. What value do you place on being together?
How does the exercise of gratitude impact your life and attitude? What are you thankful for? When something goes your way, or a person does something kind for you, do you feel deserving or appreciative?
It is easy to talk a big talk, but when the pressure is on how do we actually live? The world is looking for people who are true to their character, and who are honest about their personal mistakes. The evidence of God's Spirit at work in our lives should bring about a change and a willingness to be truthful about our shortcomings.
The characteristics that God's Spirit are at work in a person's life are commonly referred to as the "fruit of the Spirit." In our modern vernacular people rarely use the word "fruit" to describe a response. The word "evidence" more accurately describes what God's Spirit is up to when transforming a follower of Christ. What is our part when it comes to His work in our lives?
The Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into all truth, convict the world of sin, empower followers of Jesus to do miraculous things, and to bring about change in our lives. What have you witnessed Him doing in your life? What would you love to see Him do?
Overlooking a valley filled with the bones of men and women who had died without a proper burial, God asked the prophet Ezekiel, "Can dry bones come to life?" Ezekiel responded, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Rather than answering with a simple "yes" or "no," God encouraged his prophet to act. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." Ezekiel prophesied, and the miracle took place before his very eyes. How do we understand the power of the prophetic word with the truth and power of God? Does God still give men and women words of prophesy?
There are a few topics that have historically polarized the church in terms of their interpretation of particular biblical subjects. One area has to do with the understanding of prophesy, and speaking in tongues. I Corinthians 14:39-40 says, "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."
We are in our third week of the "It's for Real" series. We continue to study what the Bible has to say about Spiritual Warfare, and aspects of the Holy Spirit. This week we will begin to take a look at the Spiritual Gifts. How has God equipped us uniquely to make an impact on this planet?
In the epic series "Star Wars", the battle between the Force and the Dark Side is what guides every plot. When Darth Vader invited his son Luke to join the Dark Side, the audience sat in suspense, hoping he wouldn't turn. For many people today, the struggle between darkness and light is relegated to sci-fi films. In reality, Jesus dealt with demonic forces wherever He went. They feared Him and He had power and authority over them. In my travels to developing countries it is common to see those possessed by evil spirits. How does the devil influence and invade the lives of people living in Loudoun County?
I loved watching Bugs Bunny as a kid. Whether it was Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, or a mad scientist, Bugs would put up with a certain amount of harassment until it crossed a line. It was then that he would say his classic line, "of course you realize this means war," before outsmarting them in some way. I wonder if many of us view spiritual battles in the same way.
If we really took certain Scripture to heart, how would we view spiritual warfare? The Bible makes it clear that we are at war. We have an enemy who roams around like a ferocious lion, seeking whom he might devour. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but principalities, and spiritual wickedness. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy while Jesus comes to offer life to the fullest. How do these truths impact everyday life?
Elisha knew he was soon to inherit the ministry of Elijah the prophet. He was not sure when the day would come but he knew the time was soon. He decided to ask boldly for more than most would imagine. Most people knew of the amazing miracles that God had worked through Elijah and that would have been bold to ask for that same anointing, yet Elisha took it one step further; he asked for a double portion of the blessing. His trainer Elijah granted his request, provided that Elisha witnessed God taking him up to heaven. Once Elisha understood the terms, he was unwilling to leave his side until his "Jedi Master" was escorted to heaven in a chariot of fire. He got the double blessing! Do we dare invite God to work in our lives with this kind of boldness?
There are times when God puts something on our hearts to do as a matter of obedience. We may not fully understand the ramifications of the decision, or have heard God’s audible voice, and yet we know deep down that we should act. Joshua knew exactly what God expected him to do. A daily walk around the enemy’s fortress was a dangerous proposition, especially since God told them to march and trust Him for the victory rather than fight. What does trusting obedience look like in your life today? Are there examples of following Jesus that seem counter intuitive to you? Join us this Sunday at 5pm as we consider our own march of obedience.
The Lord sets the times and dates according to His will, and there are occasions when He expects us to do things that could put us in harm's way. Esther had a challenge that put the lives of all the Jewish people at risk, including her own. She chose to trust God and step out in faith regardless of the risk.
At a time when God's people were being mistreated, the people cried out to Him for help. The Lord raised up a man by the name of Samson and gave him superhuman strength. While he is known for his foolishness with Delilah, he was used by God to bring justice.