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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February 7, 2016 – Acts: A Faithful Witness

Preached by Rod Benner (00:45)

Rod continues a study in the book of Acts.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven he told his first disciples that they would be his witness to all the ends of the earth.  Today, we have a personal testimony and can be a witness for Jesus when we talk about our experiences with him.  Yet, we are not eye witnesses to the life of Jesus. There have been hundreds of people who say they once believed in Jesus, even experienced his presence and power, yet now they do not believe in Christianity, Jesus, or even the existence of God.  A personal testimony is powerful, your story of your interactions with Jesus, but the most sure testimony will always come from the people who lived with and walked with Jesus two thousand years ago.  Their testimony is preserved in the New Testament.

Jesus expected them to be his witness and in turn he expects the same from us.  As you experience Jesus in your life and tell other people about it, always remember that your story points to the real Jesus and not just your personal experience.  We are to stand on the eye witnesses of the first century and the writings they produced.  Don’t merely trust in their story, but trust in the One whom they witness and testify about.  They were witnesses to his life and his resurrection.  Their testimony is first about what they saw and heard from him and secondly about their experiences with him.

It’s a common thing to put your faith in your experience or the experience of others. When your faith is in an experience your faith can fail when that experience loses credibility.  But when your faith is in the One from whom your experience is derived, then you stand on the solid rock of God and not the sinking sands of experience.  Personal experience is valid and faith is not produced without it, but remember that the first disciples, and now you, were a witness to Jesus and not only their experience with him.  Put your faith in the Word of God (in Jesus Christ) and live the experiences it creates.

Scripture references: Acts 1:8

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