Sacrifice

Hard Question: Can I have eternal security?

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Family Devotional Adults 7-9-17Family Devotional Kids 7-9-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

“Predestination” – the idea that God has already decided who to save – is a concept that has been debated by church leaders for nearly 1,000 years. Some Bible references seem to suggest this, but if we take a closer look, we’ll see a God who – while knowing the future – gives every person a choice to accept or reject His offer of salvation.

2. Bible Verse

God knows everything – not only the present, but the future.

Isaiah 46:9-10  [NLT] “…For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens.”

No one can be saved unless God draws them.

John 6:44 [NLT] “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.”

God has called all people to repentance.

John 12:32 [NLT] “And I (Jesus), when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

3. Application

 

God saves those He chose.

Ephesians 1:11-13 [NLT] “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan… And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”

God chose us… because we believed. We didn’t believe because He made us, we believed because, through Jesus’ sacrifice, He enabled us to. 

Q. God chose you, knowing in advance every time you’d make a mistake. How does that change how you view His grace? 

Q. Does knowing this make you feel less or more accountable for what you choose to do in life?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for calling you to repentance. Ask Him to empower you to keep living the life you’ve been called to, and to share the good news with others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“Humble Yourself,  And The Lord Will Lift You Up!”

One way you can put others first is by serving others.  Let’s take time as a family and come up with ways together and individually we can serve  people.  (Use individual pieces of paper, poster board, markers, pens, etc. to make a list of ways you can serve others.)

2. Bible Verse

Luke 14:11 “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  

This week, we continue our series “Say What?” by focusing on something that is hard for all of us to do:  putting others before ourselves!  Jesus wanted us to humble ourselves and always remember to put others first.  In this week’s lesson, we learn some valuable lessons from Jesus’ life on how we can do that!

Start by Reading Luke 14:1-14.

14 One Sabbath day, Jesus went to eat in the house of a well-known Pharisee. While he was there, he was being carefully watched. In front of him was a man whose body was badly swollen. Jesus turned to the Pharisees and the authorities on the law. He asked them, “Is it breaking the Law to heal on the Sabbath day?” But they remained silent. So Jesus took hold of the man and healed him. Then he sent him away.

He asked them another question. He said, “Suppose one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you pull it out right away?” And they had nothing to say.

Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table. So he told them a story. He said, “Suppose someone invites you to a wedding feast. Do not take the place of honor. A person more important than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come to you. He will say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be filled with shame. You will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place. Then your host will come over to you. He will say, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.”

12 Then Jesus spoke to his host. “Suppose you give a lunch or a dinner,” he said. “Do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, or your relatives, or your rich neighbors. If you do, they may invite you to eat with them. So you will be paid back. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite those who are poor. Also invite those who can’t see or walk. 14 Then you will be blessed. Your guests can’t pay you back. But you will be paid back when those who are right with God rise from the dead.”

Q. Did Jesus want the people to sit in the seat of honor?

Q. Why do you think He told them to give it up?

Q. What do you think it means, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves with be exalted,” based on this story?

3. Application 

Jesus was teaching it is important to not make yourself more important than others, but rather, put others first.  Even the Pharisees in the story knew this was something hard to do.  This has always been difficult for followers of Jesus!

Q. Do you think this is something easy for you to do?  Why or Why not?

Q. When do you find it the hardest to not want to be #1?

Q. What is something you think you could do to help put others first?

 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that God will help you as individuals and as a family to put others first and yourselves last!

Hard Question: Can I Trust the Bible?

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Family Devotional Adults 7-2-17Family Devotional Kids 7-2-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

The Bible has a lot to say about many things in life, but how can you be sure you can trust it? Ultimately, it comes down to a question of faith, but below are a few reasons to tip the scales in favor of trusting it as God’s word.

2. Facts

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible.

In 1947, archaeologists discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. They were 1,000 years older than the oldest copy to that point, and they were 99.5% identical, the only differences being in spelling and sentence word order.

We have 5,000 ancient copies of the New Testament, all identical, and the earliest existing copies are just 50-100 years after the events they describe.

Q. Before now, have you ever taken a serious look at the historical evidence/criticism of the Bible?

Q. Does research like this make you more confident or less confident in the Bible?

3. Bible Verse

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18 [NLT] 

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”

Jesus’ disciples didn’t take the gospel message lightly – they were willing to die for it. After Jesus commissioned them, Paul, along with 10 of the remaining 11 disciples, were speared, beheaded or crucified for their faith – hardly the sort of thing you’d do if you made up the story!

Q. Do you believe the Bible is the source of truth about God? If so, what evidence or factor was the most important in making your decision?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for telling us about Himself through the Bible. Ask Him to continue to speak to you as you study scripture, and to deepen your confidence in the Bible as the source of truth.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“With God Nothing is Impossible!” 

Write our power verse for this week on a piece of a paper and cut it up word by word.   As a family, work together putting the pieces of the power verse back together.   As you do, help your kids memorize this verse.  This verse is key to help them with any type of difficulty or challenge they may face!

2. Bible Verse

Luke 18:27 “…What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

This week we continue our series “Say What?” by talking about the “Impossible.” Many people say things like, “That’s impossible,” but it’s important our children learn all things are possible with God!

Start by Reading Matthew 19:16-30.

Just then, a man came up to Jesus. He asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter the kingdom, obey the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

Jesus said, “ ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not be a false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother.’ (Exodus 20:12–16; Deuteronomy 5:16–20) And ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ” (Leviticus 19:18)

20 “I have obeyed all those commandments,” the young man said. “What else do I need to do?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was very rich.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “What I’m about to tell you is true. It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But it is even harder for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were really amazed. They asked, “Then who can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With people, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?”

28 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus said to them. “When all things are made new, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne. Then you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones. You will judge the 12 tribes of Israel. 29 Suppose anyone has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, husband or wife, children or fields because of me. Anyone who has done that will receive 100 times as much. They will also receive eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.

Q. What do you think the word “impossible” means?

Q. What do you think is “impossible”?

Q. When it comes to God, is there anything that you think is too hard or “impossible” for Him?

3. Application 

In our story today, we learn that nothing is impossible for God.  Even when things seem difficult, Jesus can do the impossible!

Read Mark 9:14-29

14 When Jesus and those who were with him came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them. The teachers of the law were arguing with them. 15 When all the people saw Jesus, they were filled with wonder. And they ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” Jesus asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered. “Teacher,” he said, “I brought you my son. He is controlled by an evil spirit. Because of this, my son can’t speak anymore. 18 When the spirit takes hold of him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth. He grinds his teeth. And his body becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit. But they couldn’t do it.”

19 “You unbelieving people!” Jesus replied. “How long do I have to stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a fit. He fell to the ground. He rolled around and foamed at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“Since he was a child,” he answered. 22 “The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us. Please help us.”

23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.”

24 Right away the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 Jesus saw that a crowd was running over to see what was happening. Then he ordered the evil spirit to leave the boy. “You spirit that makes him unable to hear and speak!” he said. “I command you, come out of him. Never enter him again.”

26 The spirit screamed. It shook the boy wildly. Then it came out of him. The boy looked so lifeless that many people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand. He lifted the boy to his feet, and the boy stood up.

28 Jesus went indoors. Then his disciples asked him in private, “Why couldn’t we drive out the evil spirit?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Q. What did Jesus say to the man in verse 23?  

Q. What does that verse mean to you?

Jesus healed the boy in our story because with Him nothing is impossible!  Whatever you need Jesus to do for you, or someone you love, Jesus can do it – because He can do the impossible if we just have faith and believe!

4. Prayer Focus

Ask your children what types of things they need Jesus to do for them or the people they love.  Pray together that He will do the IMPOSSIBLE!

Hard Question: Homosexuality

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Family Devotional 6-25-17 AdultFamily Devotional 6-25-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Of all the controversial topics facing American Christians today, perhaps none is more fiercely debated than homosexuality. 

Cultural norms and values have been in a state of rapid change over the past few decades, but God’s view on it remains unchanged.  

Homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s teaching.

2. Bible Verse 

Leviticus 18:22  [ESV] “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”

1 Timothy 1:10-11  [NLT] “The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.”

Q. God’s statements on homosexuality were separated by over a thousand years. Do you think they are tied to a cultural period, or are they meant to instruct all cultures and times?

Q. The Bible condemns many other practices beyond homosexuality. Why do you think the topic of homosexuality generates more controversy than other sexual sins?

3. Application

Homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s design.

Matthew 19:4-5 [NLT] “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’”

Q. The traditional definition of a family has been changing in America for a long time. Do you think that change has affected the rise in acceptance of homosexual lifestyles? If so, how?

Q. Is someone who is living a homosexual lifestyle contradicting God’s family design more than someone who is addicted to pornography or engaged in an extramarital affair? Have you / the church typically acted like these sins were on the same level, or different levels?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for His wonderful design for human sexuality. Ask Him to help you live within His teaching and design, and to be loving yet truthful to those who are contradicting it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Don’t store up treasure on earth.  Store up treasure in Heaven!

As a family, make a list, chart, or just plan how individually or as a group you can work to make Jesus more important than your stuff or just number #1 in your life.

2. Bible Verse

Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

This week we began a new series, “Say What?”  The kids learned an important lesson about the things they value and find important.  Nothing in life is more important than Jesus!

Start the lesson by Reading Matthew 19:16-30.

16 A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”

17 Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have eternal life, obey the law’s commands.”

18 The man asked, “Which ones?”

Jesus answered, “‘You must not murder anyone, you must not commit adultery, you must not steal, you must not tell lies about others, 19 you must respect your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor[b] the same as you love yourself.’[c]

20 The young man said, “I have obeyed all these commands. What else do I need?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all that you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me!”

22 But when the young man heard Jesus tell him to give away his money, he was sad. He didn’t want to do this, because he was very rich. So he left.

23 Then Jesus said to his followers, “The truth is, it will be very hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. 24 Yes, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

25 The followers were amazed to hear this. They asked, “Then who can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “This is something that people cannot do. But God can do anything.”

27 Peter said to him, “We left everything we had and followed you. So what will we have?”

28 Jesus said to them, “When the time of the new world comes, the Son of Man will sit on his great and glorious throne. And I can promise that you who followed me will sit on twelve thrones, and you will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.29 Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms to follow me will get much more than they left. And they will have eternal life.30 Many people who are first now will be last in the future. And many who are last now will be first in the future.

Q. What did Jesus tell the man in the story he must do with his possessions?

Q. How did this make the man feel?

Q. What did Jesus tell his disciples about someone who is rich?

It’s easy to want “stuff” but Jesus was teaching His disciples that the more things we have the harder it can be to give up everything and follow Him. 

Jesus never wants us to make money or things more important than Him!

3. Application 

Q. What is your favorite toy or game to play with?

Q. What if Jesus asked you to give that up or give it away to the poor, could you do it?  

Q. Would it be hard for you?Jesus may not ask you to give away your favorite toy, or all your money, but He doesn’t want anything to be more important than Him.  Jesus should be number one in our lives.  He is the most important, and if we obey Him, we will be blessed!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children this week to make Jesus the most important part of their lives.

Loving or Righteous?

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I want to address an issue that I seem to consistently run into. In a very general way the issue is this: What position should the church take in reference to people living a lifestyle that the scriptures clearly indicate is sin? The questions can often be phrased differently, but the core issue is the same. Some of the ways this question has come up recently include these:

  • Should a couple who are living together and are unmarried be allowed to serve in church leadership or in a visible place of ministry?
  • Would you allow a homosexual to attend your church? Could they sing on the worship team?
  • Can a person with an addiction serve in the children’s ministry?

Whenever these issues come up, those asking the question or supporting one side of the issue or the other always divide the issue along a line that places the love of God on one side and the legalism of religion on the other.

I often see entire churches orient themselves and even advertise themselves based upon which side of this line they fall on. Having decided to be either a “loving” church or a “righteous” church they collect people of a like mindset. One side says things like…

“We want people to be comfortable around us and we want them to feel our love and then by that they will eventually be drawn away from their sin and draw close to God.”

All the while the other side of that line is saying something like…

“We have a responsibility to represent a life sacrificed to the Lord and a freedom from sin so that people can see how to live for God.”

Honestly, I’m called to do both at the same time. Scripture admonishes the body of Christ to beware of either of these absolute positions.

Notice if you will 2 Timothy 4:3-4 where we read…

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3–4, ESV)

But also notice John 13:35…

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, ESV)

We in the church are commanded by God to do both of these at the same time. We are to love and to embrace sound doctrine. We are to love people while both teaching and setting an example of what a godly life looks like. How are we saved? Solely by grace! But the same grace that pays the price for our sins lifts us out of them.   The same grace that removes the penalty for our sinful nature, gives us the ability to overcome it.

Ultimately as a pastor I am called to do the same thing Jesus was called to do. It was first written by the prophet Isaiah and then read by Jesus when he said…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19, ESV)

We are to proclaim not only God’s favor but also that people can be free from the things that have kept them captive. They can regain their ability to see right from wrong. They can be more than they are not only in heaven but here as well!

Pastors are shepherds and as such we are to lead people in the right direction. That direction is away from sin and the things that might bind them. By lowering expectations grounded in the Word and expressed in an atmosphere of love we damage the potential of people and potentially create a misunderstanding in the lives of immature or new believers about the life that Christ calls us to; a life of sacrifice. Through the Holy Spirit lives can be radically transformed from lives bound and ravaged by sin’s use of the fleshly nature into lives free, whole, happy, and complete. One of the first steps in that transformation is a realization of what sin is and an acceptance of it’s destructive nature coupled by a community living in freedom from sin demonstrating the possibility of freedom. Said more simply, people have to know that something better is possible. People have to believe that God can make their lives better.

While it’s simplistic, here’s a video clip that illustrates what happens when people are challenged to be more than they think they can be.

People can accomplish incredible things, but they seldom do until they are challenged to do so. That challenge begins in the Word but the Word is often first realized through watching other’s lives then in reading it.

Let’s not be afraid to challenge people to press towards God and away from the world. Only in the challenge do we realize who we really are!

Blessings,

Pastor Roy