December 27, 2015 – Blessed Are the Pure At Heart: the Kingdom is Worth It

Preached by Courtney Kluver (00:44)

Blessed are the pure at heart for they shall see God.  It’s important to remember that God gave mankind power and authority to care for and be in charge of the world (Gen 1:26) Yet, that power and authority was weakened by sin.  Jesus came to not only rescue a rebellious people worthy of death, but he restored the God given authority to men and women through the Church of God.

Acting in the authority given to you as a Christian is a process of purification.  Not only is authority a process of addition (we receive power and authority as ambassadors of Jesus) it is also a process of subtraction (the Holy Spirit in love removes sin and corrects sinful desires from us).  The chastening or discipline of God is a good process, even painful, and full of nourishing fruit. God renews our heart in love so that we live in love.  With God, get your heart right to act in authority right.  Living the authority God intends for us to have is a process of purity in heart; authority isn’t about demanding what’s right or demanding your rights, it’s about living what’s right – loving God and loving others.

Scripture references: Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2; Hebrews 12:5; Romans 10:9-10

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December 13, 2015 – Philippians: Always Be Full of Joy

Preached by Rod Benner (00:38)

Rod concludes his series in Philippians

The Bible instructs us to do things that are not easy to do.  Paul encouraged, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!”  As easy as it sounds, we all know joyful living is hard.  Christmas is supposed to be the season of joy and merriment, but how many are caught in stress, anxiety and depression produced by an attempt to be happy and make others happy.  Yet, God wants us to rejoice always and in every circumstance.  How would your life be different if you rejoiced always at home, at work, and while you’re in your community?  Frustrating events will always occur, but God says rejoice even then.  You will still feel frustrated and annoyed but Joy must be in charge of those feelings.  Joy can only be in charge of your emotions when Jesus is in charge of your life.  An unending joy is only possible by the power of Jesus given to his friends through the Holy Spirit. Jesus must be your King and Lord in order for you to be always full of joy.  This is not self help.  You can produce many happy moments with self help programs, but a program and positive thinking will not enable joy in every circumstance. Self help reveals the power you have, while joy is revealed by the power Jesus has.  Follow Jesus to learn joy.  Start at the cross, make Jesus your leader and you will steadily get to a joyful life.  It’s not a matter of working harder with Him, it’s a matter of submitting your work to Him.

Scripture references: Philippians 4:4; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:2,14:17

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November 29, 2015 – Truth and Unity: Finding the Balance

Preached by Evan Stewart (00:30)

Before Jesus was crucified he prayed that all of his disciples (then and now) would be sanctified in truth and perfected in unity.  He wanted his disciples to be known for truth and be united as a loving family.  The combination of truth and perfect unity would show the world that Jesus is the Son of God.  Yet, truth and unity is a difficult achieve and can be hard to balance.  In the well intended search for truth Christian churches may easily divide by demanding that the everyone must believe in a long list biblical facts in order to maintain Jesus’ desire for truth.  On the other hand, through the well intended pursuit of unity a church may water down biblical truth to the point of vague morals in order to avoid disagreements amongst the group.  So how can we seek the truth without causing division and how can we stay unified without abandoning truth?

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages Christians to practice godly principles in all situations: to love enthusiastically, to hate evil but love good, not to think too highly of yourself, to practice hospitality, and pray often.  We are to remember that Christians are members of the body of Christ and therefore “individually members of one another”.  Christians are a real family and we need to act like it no matter where we are from and no matter the situation.  Paul taught that the we are to practice this behavior because of God’s truth and such behavior is the only reasonable way to worship God because of the mercy he has bestowed on us.  As we are transformed in the way we think and act by the truth of the gospel, we will act in a way that will create an attitude of unity, but it takes practice and requires patience.  To balance truth and unity we must learn to love God with a passion and forgive often.

Scripture references: John 17:11, 14-23 and Romans 12:1-21

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