Saturday, April 21, 2007

Faith

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." 2 Peter 1:5-9 (New International Version)

To be real, faith must be more than a belief in certain facts. If a Christian's faith is real, it will become a part of all they do resulting in good deeds and spiritual maturity. True faith changes a person; it will change behaviors, attitudes and thoughts. If a person claims to be a child of God, but remains unchanged then that person does not understand faith or what God has done for him or her. (James 2:14-17)

In 2 Peter several actions are listed which will occur in the presence of real faith: learning to know God better, developing self-control, patience, devotion to God, doing God's will, concern for others and loving others. These by-products of faith are not optional, and all must be a continual part of a Christian's life. We don't get to finish one before we start on the next one. Instead we must work to simultaneously incorporate all of the by-products of faith into our lives.

Good deeds do not gain salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, loving deeds of service are proof of a person's faith in Christ. If you truly belong to the Lord, your actions will show it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dealing With Conflict -- Sunday School Notes -- April 8, 2007

Conflict does not have to be negative, if it is handled correctly. Conflict almost always results in growth either in ourselves or in the other person.

Conflict should be handled in a way so they we act like Christ, so we are acting in love and so we are acting in Godly wisdom.

To act like Christ, look at Galatians 5:22-23 for a list of fruits of Spirit which each Christian should possess and then ask yourself if you are producing these fruits. Ask yourself: Am I being loving toward the other person in this conflict? Am I being peaceful? Am I being patient with the other person? Am I being kind and good? Am I am faithful? Am I being gentle with the other person? Am I being self-controlled?

To know how to act in love, look at 1 Corinthians 13. When you are having a conflict with another person, ask yourself these questions and if you can respond "yes", you will know you are acting in love: Am I being patient? Am I being kind? Do you rejoice when truth prevails? Are you hopeful? Are you enduring through every circumstance?. Also, ask yourself the following questions and if you respond "no" to these queries, you are acting in love: Am I jealous? Am I being boastful? Am I being proud? Am I being rude? Am I demanding my own way? Am I being irritable? Am I keeping a record of wrongs? Are you glad about injustices? Have you lost faith in the other person and are giving up?. Love never fails.

To know how to act in Godly wisdom, look at James 3:13-18. A person's actions will reveal if they are truly wise. Ask yourself: Am I doing good deeds? Am I bragging about these good deeds? Am I bitterly jealous? Do I have selfish ambition in my heart? Are my motives pure? Am I peace loving? Am I gentle? Am I willing to yield to others? Am I merciful? Am I being impartial? Am I sincere?. Being a peacemaker is not the same as being passive and it not the same thing as avoiding conflict. As Christians we have a responsibility to present the Truth to others which can and will cause conflict. We should not avoid doing the things that God has called us to do to avoid conflict with others, but instead we should do God's will in a way so that we are acting like Christ and out of love and Godly wisdom.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sermon Notes from March 25, 2007

Matthew 4:1-11 tells us how the devil tried to tempt Jesus. The temptation of Jesus occurred after He was baptized and began His public ministry. The reason for the devil's temptations -- He wanted to render Jesus ineffective. Satan tempts Christians because he doesn't want them to be an effective witness for Christ. The devil finds a Christian's weakness and tries to use it against God's child.

Just as God has a plan for each of His children lives, the devil has a plan for them too, but unlike God, the devil wants to destory all Christians because he hates them and what they stand for and believe in. The devil is every Christian's enemy. The devil may cause Christians trouble on this earth and he may even hurt their earthly bodies, but he can never touch their souls because their souls belong to and are protected by their Heavenly Father.

When facing any enemy, it is important to know your opponent and his strategies. Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times and the devil will try to attack us in the very same ways.

In the devil's first attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:3) was to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. What Satan was asking of Jesus was not too difficult for Christ and he could have easily had done it, but it would have been for the wrong reasons. The devil was trying to tempt Jesus by using doubt --- doubt that God would not provide food for His Son while He was in the wilderness for forty days. Like Jesus, never doubt that God will provide for you.

The second attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:5-6) Satan wanted Jesus to jump from a cliff and have God's angels rescue him. Again this was a doable thing, but it was also wrong. Satan was trying to get Jesus to make a bad decision and engage in reckless behavior.

The third attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:8-9) Satan told Jesus he would give Jesus everything Jesus saw as His kingdom, if only Jesus would bow down and worship the devil. Satan tried to use pride to get Jesus to sin.

Each time Satan tempted the Lord, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture from the Old Testament. God's Word was Jesus' sword in His spiritual battle with the devil. Likewise Christians should memorize Scriptures so when temptations come (and they will come, often when you least except them), they will be prepared for the spiritual warfare.

We can be overcomers (overcoming this world and the evil that resides in it which includes the devil) by being a believer, having God's love in our hearts and being obedient to God's commands. 1 John 5:1-4

You Say -- God Says

This is a handy little chart which shows that God always has a positive answer!

You say: "It's impossible."
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired."
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me."
God say: I love you (John 3:16 & John 3:34)

You say: "I can't go on."
God says: My grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out."
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it."
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able."
God says: I am able (2 Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it."
God says: It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself."
God says: I forgive you (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage."
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid."
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says: Cast all your care on me (1 Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough."
God says: I give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone."
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Living the Good Life

If you ask a group of people "What constitutes a good life?", the answers will vary from health, family, friends, money, possessions, and the list goes on and on. However, the key to a good life can be found in Psalm 34. Versus 9 states that whoever fear the Lord will lack for nothing. So to live a good life we must fear God and as a result, God will met all of our needs.

What does it mean to fear God? Not only does it involve reverence, but it also means that we should be ever aware of God's presence that He sees everything we do and that He hears everything we say even those things which we may think goes unnoticed by other people. God is aware of our deepest thoughts and concerns and He knows our heart's true intent. You may be able to hide your misdeeds from others, but you can hide nothing from God. Accordingly, we should remove everything from our lives and our hearts that displeases God. We may ignore or fail to acknowledge certain sins which remain in our lives, but God does not. If God does dismiss the things in our lives that displeases Him, then why should we.

Versus 13 goes on to state that we should keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking lies. Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it can do much damage. The words that come out of our mouths reveal the true condition of our heart. If we fear the Lord, we will control our tongue. When we control our tongue, we do not take the Lord's name in vain or use His name lightly, swear, gossip, complain, dispute, murmur, lie, exaggerate and engage in idle talk.

It is not enough to turn from evil and avoid evil, but we also must do good. Versus 14

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