June 26, 2016 – Love as Jesus Loves

Preached by Rod Benner (00:42)

Jesus wants to love and transform people.  People are not transformed by attending a church or believing a certain fact about God.  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, born of the Spirit, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”  Humans are born by other humans, but spiritual life is born by the Spirit of God.

The power of the Spirit meets an imperfect and broken person exactly where he or she is at.  The Spirit does not wait for a person the be transformed to better living before he meets them.  Rather, he meets a person in their sinfulness and starts a life long process of transformation.

The Christian life is all about relationship.  As long as you live, you will continue the transformation from sin to godly living.  The Spirit transforms certain sinful behaviors soon after a person is born again and other times that sin is released years later.  The spiritual effect of sin is taken care of and settled the moment the Spirt gives rebirth to a person, but the transformation from sinful to truly good living is a life long process.

As Christians, we must see others as Jesus sees us.  Sin abounds and problems exist and we must seek out relationship with others in prayer and with much wisdom.  Do we ignore our own sin?  No!  Do we celebrate and smile at the sin of others? No! Does that then mean you hate yourself and beat yourself up when you sin?  No!  Do you seek a way to reveal another person to their own sin?  No!  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will reveal my sin to me and their sin to them.  My job is to love unconditionally, accept without reservation, and be ready to offer forgiveness 24-7.

By doing this, we will begin to see as Jesus saw, feel as Jesus felt, and do as Jesus did.  As this begins, we will find ourselves living and acting like Jesus did.  He did not condone sin, but he did not make a point of specifically condemning everyone’s sin.  Rather, he was filled with compassion and he told the truth in living relationship with others.  When sin was identified and spoken about, he always did it in such a way to help a person better feel the love and better know the wisdom of God.  Even in the dramatic confrontations with the religious leaders, Jesus did not bluntly call out their own hypocrisy just to prove them wrong.  He was provided a relationship with these leaders and he boldly cut through the garbage to show them the love of God.  He offered loving insight to point a sinner to the awesome love and fullness God offers.

Scripture References: John 3:1-15

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June 12, 2016 – I am Not Ashamed

Preached by Rod Benner (00:21)

Our world needs Jesus.  The people of the world need Jesus.  Your neighbors and family need Jesus.  Do not be ashamed of the gospel.  Even when speaking about it is unpopular, even when people don’t understand it or feel uncomfortable because of it, be respectful in your tone but never be ashamed.  Do not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ “for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”.  The gospel is the only way the righteousness of God is revealed.

You needed it, you heard someone talk about it, you saw someone live it, and you received it.  Do not be ashamed of it.  Live a life of visible appreciation and honor to God.  Someone you know needs it and you are the one to share it.

Scripture References: Romans 1:16-17

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June 5, 2016 – Acts: Full of the Spirit and Wisdom

Preached by Rod Benner (00:40)

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is much more than the evidence of one or two characteristics.  In the early church, there arose a troublesome dispute among believers.  Everyone complained to the apostles, but the apostles needed other men to take the lead of certain ministries.  Instead of picking the most dynamic or popular men in the group, the apostles told the other believers to choose seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom.  The eligible men were already living a life characterized by the fullness of the Spirit and godly wisdom.  The chosen men didn’t campaign for the position, rather they consistently lived for God.  They were already known as Spirit filled and wise men.

Problems among a congregation can be resolved by those among us who are Spirit filled and wise.  We should value these characteristics more highly than others when selecting a leader.  All other gifting and talents aside, the fullness of the Spirit and wise living will be seen in the lives of men and women who whole heartedly and humbly seek a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Acts 6:1-7

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