12/27/17 Love Each Other

“I write these things to you, my children, in the hope that you would try to live in a way that pleases God, instead of living in sin to try to please yourselves.  But when you do sin, I want you to understand that Jesus is our Advocate, who intercedes with God our Father on our behalf.  He died so that we could be forgiven and set free from sin, all sin, past, present, and future, and His sacrifice paid the penalty for everyone in the whole world and in all of time.  If you are His child, you will follow His commandments.  If we claim to be His children, but shun His commandments, we are not His, but children of the father of lies.  When we follow God’s commandments, His love shines through us like a bright light, and we know that we are in Him and He is in us.  If we say we are God’s children, we must strive to live as Jesus lived.  My brothers and sisters, I am not writing any new commandments to you, but only of that which you have always known.  It is the message of Jesus that you have heard from the beginning, when you first came to believe in Him as your Messiah.  But Jesus called it a new commandment, and He lived it out in all that He said and did while He was here among us.  This is the commandment to love each other, and I know that it is already lived out in so many of you, because I can see God’s light shining through you, driving away the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother or sister lives in God’s light, and can see clearly to follow the path that God sets before him without stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother or sister lives in the darkness, blinded by his own hate, stumbling over everything in his path because he cannot see the path he should be on.  Come out of the darkness, all who are stumbling, and into the light of love!”

 

1 John 2:1-11

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12/26/17 In The Light

“Gentiles worship gods who are made in the image of their worshippers – spiteful and vengeful, changing their minds based on their moods, easily bribed with sacrifices of various kinds.  But the One True God, the Father of our Messiah, Jesus, is not like that at all.  Rather than being made in the image of His worshippers, He made us in His image.  And although we live in a world filled with sin, we were not made to be sinful.  God is light – He is Goodness and Truth personified, and there is no darkness in Him or near Him at all.  So if we claim to be His children, but we still delight in our sins, we are lying to ourselves, to each other, and to God, because only goodness and truth can come from God.  But if we live our lives seeking to do what is right according to God, then we truly are brothers and sisters in Him, and the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for us washes away the guilt of our sins.  Still, we inhabit the same bodies after putting our faith in Jesus to save us from the penalty for our sins that we inhabited before – bodies that are inherently sinful – and we live in a world that is filled with sin.  We cannot be completely sinless while we are still in our present state.  So if we say that we do not sin, we are lying to ourselves and to each other, and God’s truth is not found within us.  Even worse, we are saying that God is a liar, because He has said that no one is without sin.  But if we come to God and confess our sins, asking His forgiveness with hearts that are sincerely sorry for what we have done, He promises to forgive us each and every time we do this, and to give us a clean start each time.”

 

1 John 1:5-10

12/25/17 Great Joy Comes Through Jesus

“All that makes up the Person of Jesus, Son of God, which was in existence with God from the beginning, and will forever be, that which was prophesied about from the time of Adam and Eve, which we heard about at the time of His coming, have seen with our own eyes, and not just from afar but face to face, which we have touched and listened to and looked at and learned from, all of this we share with you, in both spoken and written word, so that you might know Him as we do.  He is God in Human form, and we are witnesses to both His Godhood and His humanity.  Because of His coming and our relationship with Him, we can, and do, have a relationship with His Father.  And now, through what we have preached to you and written to you, you can share in this relationship with the Father through the Son, a relationship that carries the hope of eternity, secured by the giving of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who trust in Him, and through which comes great joy.”

 

1 John 1:1-4

12/24/17 By Faith, You Will Know What To Do

“These people never stop complaining.  They have no respect for the will of God, but do as they please, not caring whether or not they are living in sin.  They know how to speak to people in order to get what they want.  But remember, my dear brothers and sisters, that you were forewarned about these people.  The Apostles, and Jesus Himself, spoke of them, telling you that there would be many in the days before Jesus’ return to earth who would slander God Himself and His people, doing and saying whatever they pleased.  The Holy Spirit is not in them, and so they delight in the destruction of what they do not understand.  But, my dear brothers and sisters, I want to exhort you to keep walking in faith, strengthening yourselves and each other through prayer and by the Holy Spirit.  Stay in God’s love, keeping your eyes on Heaven and the hope of eternity there with our merciful Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will see three types of these people and through prayer, you will know how to deal with them.  Some will be teetering on the edge of rebellion against God, and for these, there is still hope.  Pray for them and have compassion for them, for they may still turn to Jesus and be saved.  Others are about to be consumed by the fire of their rebellion, and if they are to be saved, it must be done quickly and decisively.  Then there are those who are already lost, and there is nothing that can be done to save them.  Stay away from them so that they do not corrupt you as well.  And now, to our God and our Savior, who alone is able to keep you standing strong and without blame in your walk of faith, so that you may stand before Him joyfully on the Day of Judgment, to the only wise God, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forevermore.  Amen.”

 

Jude 1:16-25

12/23/17 Destined To Fall

“When you sit down with your brothers and sisters to have a meal together, these infiltrators will unashamedly sit and eat with you, taking food from the poor among you to feed themselves without a second thought.  They are like rocks that will cause people to stumble and fall, or crush people.  They are like clouds that give no water in the midst of a drought, without substance so that they are blown around in the sky.  They are like trees that bear no fruit, that have died inside and will be uprooted.  They are hot-tempered and easily churned up, like a storm in the middle of the ocean, but with angry words that serve only to incriminate themselves.  And in the end, they will be like planets in deep space, orbiting in darkness for all eternity.  Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, who had such a close relationship with God that he was taken up to Heaven without experiencing death, prophesied about the fate of these people.  He said, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’”

 

Jude 1:12-15

12/22/17 Pray, Then Leave It To God

“I know you are aware of this already, but I wanted to call to mind for you what happened to the unbelieving children of Israel in the desert after God saved them and brought them out of Egypt.  Those who did not believe in Him, even after they had seen with their own eyes the great salvation He worked for them, were destroyed.  Likewise, the angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God are imprisoned in darkness for all eternity because of their wickedness.  Another example is the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sinfulness in giving themselves over completely to sexual immorality.  These infiltrators into our church that I speak of are like those unbelievers in the desert, the rebellious angels, and the sinful cities – slandering those who God sends to proclaim His message, rebelling against God, and turning themselves over to sinfulness of all kinds.  But remember that God’s archangel warrior, Michael, did not go up against Satan on his own when doing battle against him for the body of Moses.  Michael knew that to argue with Satan was pointless and beneath him, so he simply told Satan that God would deal with him.  We should follow Michael’s example in dealing with the evil people in our midst – instead of endless and meaningless arguments, we should simple pray for their souls and leave the rest up to God.  They do not know what they speak of, and they incriminate themselves through their own words against God.  They are like Cain, the brother of Abel, who tried to lie to God; like Balaam, the prophet who tried to prophesy against God’s people for money; like Korah, who led a band of Israelites against Moses and died in his rebellion.”

 

Jude 1:5-11

12/21/17 Greetings From Jude

“I, Jude, servant of our Lord and Savior Jesus, and brother of James, greet my brothers and sisters in Jesus, those who God our Heavenly Father has called to be His own, set apart and forgiven through the sacrificial death of His Son, and will keep safely in His watchful care through Jesus until the day that we are all united with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven.  May the mercy, peace, and love of God our Father grow in you all!  My brothers and sisters, I was compelled to write to you of our faith in Jesus, our Savior, and to implore you to fight daily to keep your faith strong.  We are all together in Jesus, though we may be far apart, and we share this same faith wherever we are.  We know, however, that unbelievers have snuck into our ranks with the intent to destroy the church and all the brothers and sisters in it.  These are people who, before time began, God knew would never turn to Him, and so have always been on the path to hell, showing their disdain for God and His love and grace for us by their crude behavior, their disrespect for His commandments, and their refusal to acknowledge Him as the only true God and the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.”

Jude 1:1-4

12/20/17 Benediction

“Now, I pray that God, the God of peace, the One who raised our Messiah, the Good Shepherd whose sheep we are, from death to life, through the blood of the New Covenant, would, through His Holy Spirit, work within you to help you to do His will in all that you do, through good works and all that is good in His sight, through our Messiah, who is glorified forever and ever.  Amen.  I implore you, my brothers and sisters, to follow the instruction I have given in this letter.  I have kept it brief for you.  Also, know that our brother Timothy has been released, and if he comes to me soon, we will come to you together.  Greet all the brothers and sisters, and the leaders of the church, for us.  Our Italian brothers and sisters send you their greetings as well.  Grace be with you all.  Amen.”

 

Hebrews 13:20-25

12/19/17 Sacrifice Of Praise

“We no longer belong to this world, or to the Holy City of Jerusalem here on this earth.  We belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and to the New Jerusalem, which God will reveal to us at the end of this present world.  The sacrifices that God wants from us are sacrifices of praise and obedience to Him.  We are to give thanks for all He does for us, praising His Name for all to hear, and we are to do good works in His Name.  These are the sacrifices that God desires – love, thankfulness, and obedience to Him.  In doing this, we are also showing the people of this world how great God is, and what a wonderful Messiah we have.  Be sure to listen to those in authority over you in the church, and to follow their example, because on the day when they stand before God in Heaven they will be held responsible for the state of your souls.  Help them to present themselves and their work on earth with joy, and you will be able to do the same when it is your turn.  Please pray for us, so that we might be reunited soon.  Our consciences are clean, because we strive to live always in God’s will.”

 

Hebrews 13:14-19

12/18/17 The Shame of Salvation

“Keep your church leaders and elders in your hearts and thoughts, remembering that they are the ones who taught you God’s Word.  Watch them, see how they live out their faith and what fruit their lives have born because of it, and follow their lead.  Messiah is the Son of God, and as such, He possesses all the attributes of God.  This means that He does not change.  He is the same now as He was before He made the world, and He will still be the same when the world as we know it has ended.  Keep this in mind so that you will not be swayed by new ideas that are not grounded in the Holy Scriptures.  Remember that you have been saved from slavery to sin by God’s grace, not by eating or abstaining from eating any food.  In the Temple, on the Day of Atonement, the priests spill the blood of the sacrificial animals, and the high priest takes the blood into the sanctuary for a sin offering.  But they are not allowed to eat the animals that are sacrificed.  Instead, the bodies of these animals are burned outside of the city, because the sins of the people have been transferred to the animals.  Messiah, as our ultimate sin sacrifice, allowed Himself to be led outside of the gates of the city to be crucified, His blood poured out once for all.  Now we must choose what we will follow – the Law of Moses, symbolized by the Temple and all that it stands for, or Messiah, who stands outside the city as our sin offering, His arms outstretched to us.  If Messiah, who lived a life completely free of sin, was willing to endure the scorn of His people for us, how can we, who claim to belong to Him and to have been saved by Him, not willingly do the same for Him?”

 

Hebrews 13:7-13