How Families Can Withstand Pressure

Two different families may come from the same mold, but we won’t know the difference between the two until pressure is applied; job, finance, emotional, psychological. Once the pressure comes there is no amount of skill or training that can compensate for being hollow – it all falls apart.

If families are built from the inside out, they can sustain pressure from the outside in.

The Truth About Peace with God

Using the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus separates the tradition about God from the truth about God.

In the middle eastern culture of Jesus’ day, if a son returned home after messing up life, he would be kept at arms length peace. He’s kept at a distance. This was tradition.

But here’s what true about our Heavenly Father, when we return to Him, he gives us arms around peace. God offers us complete forgiveness of sin through Jesus. When we get this idea that we are a second class citizen held at arms length from God, that’s a tradition that is not true. In fact – it’s an outright lie.

What is Actually True About the Nativity Scene

What are some of the traditions of the Nativity scene versus what actually happened at the Nativity?

What we know to be true is Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. He was God in human flesh. God left Heaven, took on human flesh, and lived with us. He lived a sinless life and then volunteered to be crucified for all of our sins.

This is the point of Christmas, so that we may have peace here on Earth.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth PEACE to those on whom his favor rests.

Luke 2:14 (NIV)

 

 

Reach Out For Good

Discovered: When you chase Feel Good; it progressively destroys good. When you chase do good; it grows feel good!

Question: What is The Greatest Good?

Answer: Bring Someone to Jesus

…that the might Believe, Receive, Follow, and Love Him! (forgiven, restored relationship with God our Heavenly Father, the gift of eternal life; transformed life here and now. Merry Christmas!)

Reach Out For Good:

  • Change my mind
  • Engage my heart
  • Train my actions

God Will Pull With You

Jesus says to “Take my Yoke upon you and learn from me…” – Matthew 11:29-30

What does “Yoke” even mean?

A yoke pulls together two oxen so that they can share the load plowing a field. Jesus is saying for us to “yoke up” with Him, so that we can partner with Him and be transformed, and made good (Holy) at the core of our being.

When we join up with Jesus, he’ll plow our lives for us. He’ll pull with us and for us.

Gear Up for Good

Challenge: Gear Up for Good

3 things to shift this season:

  • Shift gears from “Feel Good” to “Do Good”
    • When you chase feel good; it progressively destroys good!
    • When you chase do good; it grows feel good!
  • Shift gears from Good Intentions to Doing Good
  • Shift from Lower Gears to Higher Gears of Good

The Definition of Discernment

The beginning of discernment is separating out a truth from a lie.

Jesus gives us a good bit of truth to that, but not an answer for every situation. Jesus goes on saying God grants us wisdom and has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us everyday as a counselor.

Ultimately, we want to know what is truth in life, but there are circumstances where the truth isn’t clear, and that’s where wisdom and asking for guidance comes into play.

Christians: Don’t Judge, Do Discern

It’s important for believers to discern the truth about how to live righteously. But using that truth to judge others can do more harm than good in trying to lead others to Jesus.

Figure out what lost people can discern of God and only share information that will invite them to investigate matters of faith further.

Shining your light to the world means leading with love. What people need most is the love of God, not the laws of God.

An Overview of The Sermon On The Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is one the most intense points of scripture. It’s lengthy.

What is it? It is what life would look like if you had perfect faith in God. The standards laid out in the sermon are not attainable by anyone on their own. However, anyone can, with the help of God. It describes the kind of people reborn Christians are, or should be.

The context of the Sermon on the Mount is to describe the saved, not declare a path to salvation.

It’s broken into 3 sections:

  • True Righteousness – Matthew 5:1-20
  • True Intentions – Matthew 5:22; 6
  • Hinderances To Righteousness – Matthew 7

Jesus is trying to move us from religion to relationship. He moves us from law to love and from behavior to belief.

Complacent Spirit

When you come to faith in God through Jesus, you are transformed in the moment, but you’ll never fully “arrive.” You have a lifetime of pursuing God ahead. You will spend the rest of your days “in flight.”

Don’t settle for a complacent spirit that tells you you’ve arrived with God. Keep chasing Him and striving to be more like Him every day.

 

Jesus Lifts Us Over the Bar

Perhaps the church should be more loving to people and tell them, “We’re not above you. We’re actually just like you. We’re only made righteous because of Jesus.”

None of us can leap over the bar of righteousness on our own. Jesus lifts us over the bar with his righteousness.

The Role of the Church Is Not to Judge People

The Pharisees were prideful and judged others harshly. But the Bible teaches us that God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

The role of the church is not to judge the world, but to introduce it to Jesus. We must unlearn religious judgement and relearn what it means to love.

Does Jesus Raise the Bar?

The Pharisees raised the bar God set for righteousness, and the world removes the bar completely. The world removes the bar by allowing everyone to simply decide for themselves how they should live; there’s no right and wrong.

Jesus came to lift us over the bar. He didn’t come to condemn the world. He came to save it! But if you dismiss Jesus, you condemn yourself.

Man-Made Rules Are Religion

The Pharisees raised the bar for holiness, which was set by God, and added their own set of man-made rules. Then, they condemned the people who couldn’t measure up.

The Pharisees sought to be more righteous, but they only became more religious. And in doing so, they lowered the standard of God’s love.

 

Jesus Wants Us to Unlearn Religion

Often, people who were raised in the church may have a great deal of knowledge about religion, but no real understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

That’s because what was intended to be a relationship with God became a religion about God. Many people go to church out of religious duty, but never know the power of a life transformed by Jesus.

It’s time to unlearn religion and learn more about Jesus.

 

Theory: Everyone Has A Signature Sin

Dr. Wayne Schmidt believes most of us has a “signature” sin; an area where we have a spiritual “Achilles Heel”.

If we know what ours is and it’s persistent in our lives, we have to put it to “death” daily:

Every dream passes through the cross. Every dream takes you to where you let go of everything and everyone, every agenda and expectation, and then it is only as the Lord resurrects you and your dream that you can go on.

We spend much of our time and energy trying to avoid that place. We want just enough of Jesus to make us happy, just enough to give us peace, and just enough to make things go our way to fulfill our dreams and our agenda.

Meanwhile, He wants to take us to the cross, where our selfish dreams, egos, and plans for “great accomplishments” have to die. The cross brings you to a place of total and absolute surrender of all you have and all your are.

– Chip Ingram, “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”

 

A Historical Look at Communion

The word “communion” is defined as the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation. The word “communion” is the Greek word, “koinonia,” and it means a partnership, participation or social intercourse, fellowship, communication, distribution, contribution, or to communicate.

Communion is a fellowship of believers gathering together to remember the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do so by sharing in the bread, symbolizing the broken body of our Savior, and the cup, symbolizing Christ’s shed blood. We come together as believers from time to time, and take the bread and the cup as an act of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice.

Communion is never to be taken lightly; it a reverent act that requires us to empty our hearts of sin, thereby honoring the grace we now live under because of Christ’s sacrifice.

The Very First Communion

To better understand present day communion, it’s helpful to consider the history of this reverent act. Before Jesus was crucified on the cross, he gathered his disciples together for one final meal. It was during the season of Passover, the holiest time in the Jewish faith. During the course of this Passover meal, on the night before he was betrayed, Jesus guided the disciples in the “The Lord’s Supper,” or holy communion.

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

Luke 22:19-20

The elements Jesus used during the very first communion hold deep significance in the Jewish faith with rich Biblical history to be found in what he used and when he used them.

Unleavened Bread

The Unleavened Bread is also called the “bread of affliction” because it was made and eaten in haste before the Exodus. (There was no time to let it rise).  When the bread is eaten during the Passover meal, the host breaks the bread and recalls this Passover tradition by saying: “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.  Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want come and celebrate the Passover with us. May it be God’s will to redeem us from all evil and from all slavery.”  It was at the serving of this bread to His disciples that Jesus re-defined the unleavened bread, saying “this is my body broken for you.”

The Third Cup of Wine

During the Passover meal, four cups of wine are served. The third is the “Cup of Blessing.” We know Jesus took the third cup because the gospels say “after supper he took the cup”, and the third cup was the one served after supper. At this point the people celebrating Passover say: “I will take the chalice of salvation, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.” It was at the serving of this cup that Jesus said “this is my blood shed for you…” His declaration pointed to himself as the blessing and our salvation.

Paul Extends the Tradition

The Apostle Paul extends the communion tradition by leading believers in the order of the Lord’s Supper. After he recalls the passage above, he takes communion a step further, giving access to this sacred act to all believers by saying,

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”

I Corinthians 11: 23-28

As Paul leads believers in holy communion, we are reminded that communion is a reverent act that we participate in only after examining our heart, confessing any sin, and accepting God’s grace anew. Communion should always be approached with humility and prayer.

Today’s Believers

At 12Stone we continue the tradition of participating in communion. We acknowledge that holy communion began with Christ at The Last Supper, was continued by Paul in the early church, and exists for believers today as an act of obedience and remembrance of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He gave his life a ransom for whoever believes. There is nothing magical about the elements of bread and wine/juice in and of themselves. The Holy Spirit is present when believers assemble together to fellowship, to remember Christ’s sacrifice and to examine their own hearts as to whether they have any unconfessed sin. The Holy Spirit then gives us reconciliation to God individually, and corporately when we engage in this sacred act with pure hearts.

Communion is a holy privilege. Taking the elements gains no merit for the participant other than one of remembrance in thanksgiving for what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for all who trust in Him as their personal Savior.