God is in the business of making things new. He takes sorrow and turns them into joy. He takes weariness and turns it into strength. He’s takes death and turns it into life. He takes old wine and turns it into new wine. The process of Christian growth is compared to the process of making new wine. The process of making new wine involves pressure and time. The best tasting wine is made over a longer period of time with pressure applied.
In a similar way, the process of renewing your life into one that looks more and more like the life Jesus lived will involve tension under pressure. Listen as Casey walks through this idea of growth under pressure.
Faith happens when action follows your belief. You know you have faith in something or someone when you do what you say you believe. In Hebrews chapter 11, you’ll find a glorious family tree. The people mentioned here are ancestors of anyone who places their faith in Jesus. They came before us and set an example of what it means to have faith in God. They were not superheros who never feared, never worried, or never stumbled. Yet, they are remembered for the situations where they paused in the middle of trials and saw past the difficulty and invited God into the moment.
What if fear didn’t run your life? What if faith is for now and not just for then? What if you were ready to do something and not just think about doing it one day? What if you start asking not “What did Jesus do?” but “What would Jesus do if he was here now?” Listen and be inspired as Casey reminds you to let Jesus into every situation at the start so you can be ready for action.
As you grow in a relationship with Jesus you will begin to recognize when God speaks to you. This is not an audible manner like we read about in some stories of the Bible, rather it is often an idea, an impression, or something like a strong urging from within that causes you to stop and consider something that you know must be from God. In the book of James, James wrote that every good and perfect thing comes from above. Jesus said that the Devil comes to steal, kill and destroy and that the demonic realm will never urge anyone to do something that is clearly revealed as good and right in God’s word as presented in the Scriptures. Jesus also said that after he ascended to Heaven, he would send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all the things Jesus taught. There’s an expectation that God the Holy Spirit will communicate with Christians as we grow in Christian maturity and that these communications will never oppose or violate what God has already revealed. Learning to hear the Holy Spirit speak to you is a practice of learning what God has already said and learning to discern your own earthly desires from heavenly ones (desires that God says are good to have).
In an extra Sunday morning message, Sherry shared a recent encounter with the Holy Spirit and talked about how she responded to what the Spirit prompted.
As the church grew from twelve disciples to thousands of believers, they met persecution from many groups. At first, it was the religious leaders of the community. These leaders were concerned that this new teaching of Jesus of Nazareth was full of error and leading people away from the one true God. They started by warning the Christians to stop preaching the gospel, but when the Christians continued to spread the good news of God the religious leaders became more violent – even to the point of murder. As the church grew in size and influence in spite of the religious persecution, the government leaders began to take notice and oppose Christianity. In the same manner, in order to appease the ruling parties of the community, the civil government began to arrest and even execute Christians.
Where is God when good people are persecuted and killed for doing what He commands? Just as the first church learned, so must we; God is right here and active. Even when faced with persecution and death, the power of the Holy Spirit continues to go before us and accomplish exactly what God wants to be accomplished. Our job is to stay close to God and walk with Him through the trials and tribulations taking the good news of Jesus to whomever will listen.