The Big Finish to the Beatitudes

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:10 ESV

Why does “persecution” follow “peacemakers”?

When is my suffering persecution and when is it just punishment?

“When a man is called on to suffer something for his Christianity that is always a crucial moment; it is the great occasion; it is the clash between the world and Christ; it is a moment in the drama of eternity. To have a share in such a moment is not a penalty but a glory.”  Barclay

This past Sunday we finished the first section on the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus did; with talk of persecution and the desired blessing that comes with suffering for righteousness sake.  To follow the saints and prophets who have gone before us, to be different from the world, not because we’re righteous, but because Jesus is. To taste of the agony of being called names and mocked at, all because those who don’t yet know Jesus only know there’s a difference. And we’re called to live in that difference.

“Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.”

  • Pray for the persecuted church around the world.
  • Pray for brothers and sisters in your community being harassed and mistreated as they live out the Kingdom principles of Matt 5.
  • Pray for a prepared heart for when the insults and rejections come your way.
  • Rejoice and endure

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. 1 Cor 4:12-13

41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  Acts 5:41

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10

Give thanks to the Lord for what He suffered for our sake and for the privilege to be called His.

 

A shofar kind of morning

While we were in Israel a couple of months ago, we bought a shofar. A ram’s horn, to be exact.

As we are going through the NT book of 1 Thessalonians at Grace, today we came to chapter 5 on the Day of the Lord.  Of the 19 times we read of the Day of the Lord in the OT, one classic passage is Joel 2:1ff:

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near.  

In chapter 4 Paul taught about the rapture of the church. He was answering a concern the new believers had about those that died before Christ came back.  He answered with this:

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  1 Thess 4:16-17

The coming Day of the Lord in chapter 5 is different from the rapture of the church in chapter 4. The Day of the Lord speaks of the Lord’s second coming, where He will come down at the Mount of Olives.

We sounded the shofar this morning at church!  The sound of the trumpet serves as an alarm that the Lord is coming back and the Day of the Lord; judgment, will be completed and be final.  So, the trumpet is an act of grace. God doesn’t come unannounced. He has told us He’s coming. Are we ready?

As followers of Christ, we need to be encouraged to stay alert. To keep our feet firmly planted in the here and now, but keep our eyes looking to Jesus!  He has saved us and has given us the mission to tell others of His amazing grace.

  • Know that He loves you.
  • Know that He wants you to trust Him, as Savior.
  • Know that His Spirit is with us, allowing us to be alert and sober, keeping an eye on the events of our day, while we telling the story of grace.

Good Friday

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Salvation. It’s really all about salvation.

He came and died in my place, your place. He took my sin, and yours. He became sin so that we can become the righteousness of God.

Wait, WHAT?

Yep, look at this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21 

For the criminal on the cross it was a good Friday. He woke up in Paradise, and there was Jesus. BAM!

For us, today is a great day, because of what He did for us on that one day.  My prayer this weekend is that many people in many churches will come to Christ. I’m praying for pastors who will preach the simple message of the cross and empty tomb. I’m praying for guests that have been invited.  People need Jesus.  Two criminals on two crosses. One mocks, the other cries out in faith.

Thank you, Jesus for the cross.  And for saving me.

I’m praying for Grace this Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection and welcome guests into our church community.  I’m starting a new series this Sunday, check this out.

Many of you remember the impact Zac Smith (my nephew) had on my life and our church family. Zac passed away 4 years ago. This Easter weekend NewSpring Church is retelling his story as Mandy and the kids each give testimony to the glory of God, just as Zac did. Check it out here.

Access

If you missed this past Sunday’s sermon at Grace Community, you can hear it here. In Jesus’ Name.  The passage was John 14:1-14.

I’ve been thinking about this all week!  Because Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life, we can now have access to the Father ONLY through Him.  Because Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him, (meaning: Jesus IS God) we can now have access to the Father, through the Son.  What an amazing gift. To pray to the Father, in the Name of Jesus.

So, what are you praying for?  What would happen if God said yes to what you’re asking of Him?  How will the Father be glorified through our prayers?

For God’s Glory

Nineteen years ago today it was a Sunday. This would be our first Sunday meeting as Grace Community at Sinagua High School. We advertised in the paper. We had dorky little cards made up. We called it a new beginning.  And it was.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

Thank you, Jesus, for the sacrifice that cleanses us and makes us new and for the assembly of those with whom we share this new life.  For Your glory!

Two Hundred and Ten

That’s how many people at Grace came to the One Answer event, ready now to lead someone to Jesus as God brings them.  Because Jesus came and died and rose again, we have a message to pass on to others.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:17

This coming Sunday our church family will celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering the Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, hailed as the Son of David, but soon to be treated as a criminal. Not because of His crime, but because of my sin.

The sin that separated me from God.  Then Jesus died.  His blood covered my sin, satisfying the wrath of God.

Odd isn’t it?

I sinned, He didn’t

He died, so I could live.

As Palm Sunday ushers in the events of “holy week”, we remember the death and burial of Jesus.  But then we get to Resurrection Sunday!  Jesus is no longer dead, but He’s alive.  Join the 210 people of Grace that are asking God for the opportunity to invite someone.  This is by far the most significant time of the year for the message of the Gospel to go unhindered.  Let’s be clear: every single Sunday we celebrate the Resurrected Jesus, but this one coming up is special.  I believe God is calling people to Himself.  And He’s put me and you in their path to show them and speak of His great love and grace.  Go ahead, ask someone. Simply invite them to church with you.  Let’s see what God does.

Absent from the body and present with the Lord!

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”  2 Cor 5:8

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Mary Olson passed away peacefully this evening.  She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed. But all who knew her know of her love for Jesus, and tonight, she is with Him!  Sorrow and grief are real and difficult, but the peace and the hope we have is a beautiful act of God’s grace for us. She is with Him!

One Answer

This past Sunday we announced an event coming March 3rd and 10th.  This will be a single event that we repeat so you can either come to both or come to one and serve at the other. We are providing childcare for all kids so that everyone can come. Those available to help with childcare for one of the nights will do a great service to our church!

The event will be from 6 – 7:15.  We’re working hard to keep it real close to just over an hour.

You know we love the gospel at Grace Community. It is often that I bring the clear gospel message into sermons.  In the past I have taught a four week series on evangelism where we covered how to talk to someone about the need for salvation and then how to take the Bible and lead someone to faith in Christ!

That’s not what this event is about.

This is NOT about how to get someone interested, or ready, or get them to understand their need for what Jesus has done for them. This event is about YOU and I knowing what to say when the person is ALREADY READY!

There is a great place for evangelism training and how to answer a lot of questions. We’ve done some of that, and we’ll probably do more in the future.

This is only about how you and I can help a person who is ready.

I want us all to know and be ready with what to say and what verses to go to!

I KNOW you can do this. I think it would be awesome to have a couple hundred people of Grace clearly ready to share the beautiful grace of Jesus when asked!

Drawing Near

This past Sunday to finish the 2012 year at Grace, I spoke on Praise and Prayer.  The key idea came from 1 Peter 1:3-9, and especially 6-7:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We also spent some time looking at James 1:2-8, then we finished with James 4, especially vs 8:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

The main idea was that our praise to God comes from a closeness to Him and His purposes in our life. Praise doesn’t come only through “blessings” that we enjoy and give thanks for.  Praise is knowing God. Praise is the result of being near Him and growing in our understanding of Him.

The challenge was put out to find some time this week to “draw near to God”.  Because the result is what we long for, as a church family, but just as much as individual members, “and He will draw near to you!”

Perhaps 2012 will be remembered for some serious pain or disappointments, or maybe it was a banner year. Regardless, we praise Him because of HIM.  I want to be in that process of drawing near Him because I want to know His presence in my life, His nearness, His ‘praise-worthiness’ regardless of the situation.  I want to know God and His ever-present, always comforting, power-infusing nearness.

The Humility of Jesus

This past Sunday Brian Ketter spoke on humility.  As happens, when you sit under the teaching of God’s Word you are putting yourself in a good position to both hear about God and hear from Him. And I, like you, need both.

This week I’ve done a lot of thinking about the humility that God calls us to as well as the example Jesus sets for us.  This is so obvious, it may seem simplistic to write the words. But, if you are getting wound up pretty tight on all the Christmas season expectations and busyness, or even if you’re not… perhaps this simple message will remind you of the One who loves you so much He humbled himself.

Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Phil 2:6-7

Jesus. Fully God, became fully man.  That’s humility.

He humbled Himself. He wasn’t humbled by another. He stepped out of eternity and entered our time, our space, to be with us, to be one of us.

Ready for this?

So that we could become one of His.

And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Phil 2:8-11