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Identity
 
"If anyone imagines that he knows something, he
does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone
loves God, he is known by God." - 1 Corinthians 8:2-3
 
How are you known? Are you known as someone
who can be trusted? Are you known as someone who
is loved? Are you known simply due to your job? Are
you known as a family man, a workaholic, a
shopaholic, or maybe as one who is a "good person"?
Many of these things are good identifiers but each
one lacks the only true identity that matters. Are you
known by God?
 
This morning as we study together from the book of
2nd Corinthians, I implore you to debate that
question in your mind... And if you cannot answer
that question with a resounding yes, then study with
us this morning how you can go from having an
identity that is based on foolishness to having an
identity that is overflowing with grace, mercy,
forgiveness, and love.
 
"And we have seen and testify that the Father has
sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. So we
have come to know and to believe the love that God
has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love
abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love
perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for
the day of judgment... There is no fear in love, but
perfect love drives out fear." - 1 John 4:14, 16-18
I vowed to make Christmas a calm and
peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential
obligations, extensive card writing, endless baking,
decoration, and even overspending. Yet still I found myself
exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family
moments, and of course the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an
exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been
memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of
the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke
with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal
the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend
that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately,
Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes
early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down.
Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly
scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led
into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat
cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose
to perform their song.
 
Because the public-school system had long stopped referring
to the holiday as “Christmas” I didn’t expect anything other
than fun, commercial entertainment- songs of reindeer,
Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s
class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback
by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his
classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and
bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row,
center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the
class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter “C”. Then, “H is
for Happy,” and so on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the
complete message, “Christmas Love.”
 
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet
girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter
“M” appeared as a “W”.
 
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at the little one’s mistake. But she
had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the
last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and
eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why
we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was purpose
for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and
clear:
 
“CHRIST WAS LOVE”
And I believe He still is
"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." - 1 Timothy 6:6-10
 
As you know, it has never been the money itself that is the problem... Just like it has never been what you get your kids or what car you drive or what you house you live in that is the problem... It is, simply put, when those things try to take the place of God. I know, I know, you think this is another message about giving, but it is not. It is a message about the word contentment. This does not come easy as Paul told us it is something that has to be learned (Philippians 4:11) and something that has to be continually managed and updated. This week, I challenge you to find ways to learn contentment, whether that be in the way you look, the way you dress, the way you see your spouse, the way you see your children's achievements/grades, the way you see your neighbor's new car or house, or even in the way you see God's blessings. Seek out contentment as righteous children of God and you will be blown away at the great gain God bestows upon you. 
 
In Him,
Scott

"Simple"

I have heard so many people say that they want to return to a simpler time or that they are looking to simplify their lives in some way. I agree with that sentiment! I wish it was where we could simplify our lives and de-clutter our minds from all of the worries and stresses in our lives. But, beyond that, I believe there is an overwhelming need to simplify our spiritual mindset. In too many cases, things tend to squeeze their way into our "religion" and make it a skewed viewpoint. As you read these verses from​ 1 Corinthians 2 this morning, focus on the need to simplify -

- "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

Simple speech

Simple wisdom

Simple message

Simple healing

Simple words

Simple demonstration

Simple faith

Overwhelming grace, power, and love from our Father who sent His Son into the world to simply save mankind. What a simple plan of redemption, yet so many try to make it complex! Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind, was raised on the third day, and ascended back to the right hand of God to be our defense before our Father the righteous judge. There is nothing complex in that story... so how do I simply become a Christian? a God-follower? a child of God?

Hear the words spoken by God in His word and really listen to them

Believe them in simple faith like the Ethiopian eunuch and so many others who understood "...without faith it is impossible to please Him..." (Heb. 11:6)

Repent of the things that have removed you from the simple plan of redemption - turn from them in an effort to totally rely on God

Confess that Jesus is not just someone from an interesting book, but rather that He is now the Lord (ruler) of your life

Be baptized for the remission of your sins and so that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit because, simply put, it "...now saves us..." (1 Peter 3:21)

Live a life worthy of your calling in simple obedience so that you may receive the crown of life promised in Revelation 2:10

Now isn't that simple? I totally agree with the sentiment surrounding so many these days... Let's all pursue a simpler way of life... Simply live for Jesus

If you would like to email me or text me with something I can pray for you about, please do. I am so glad to be working along side you all.

May God continue to bless you all this week,

- Scott 

A Battle For The Throne

Every kingdom has someone sitting on the throne… even the kingdom of our hearts.

For every man or woman, there are but two choices as to who sits on the throne: God or You.

1) Ruled By Me

              - The rule of my kingdom can be compromised by many things, some    of which are evil and wrong.

              - But it can even be compromised by things that are not wrong or evil themselves.

              - It WILL be compromised when the following things take my focus away from God:                            

                        A.) Family - (Mark 3:31-35 & Matthew 10:34-39)

                                           - Jesus in Mark 3 told His earthly family that those that do the will of His Father were His “real” family. My love for my family cannot overshadow my relationship with God, no matter how much that may sting.

                                           - Jesus in Matthew 10 bluntly stated that those who love their family more than Him are not worthy of Him. Jesus knew that a true disciple, a true follower would be forced to make some difficult choices, but He also knew that the reward was worth it.

                        B.) Possessions - (1 John 2:15-17 & Mark 10:17-31)

                                           - John wrote in 1 John 2 that the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride in possessions are all things of the world and not of God. Does that make ownership of things wrong? Absolutely not! But, if those desires and the pride in the things we own take the throne of our life, they are no different than sin as they separate us from God Almighty.

                                           - Mark relays to us the words of Jesus in Mark 10 where Jesus was faced with a follower, a believer whose possessions kept him from being able to have the confidence in his eternal destination. Yes, it is possible for someone to be a follower of Christ and still be in love with their stuff! Jesus did not tell him to sell everything because his possessions were evil, Jesus told him to sell everything because that was the one thing keeping him from having a true relationship with God!

                        C.) Stubborn Selfishness - (Romans 2:1-11, 2 Peter 2:22)

                                           - Paul wrote in Romans 2 that we are simply foolish to think that we will escape the judgment of God. In verse 5, he even states that because of our hard and impenitent heart, we will store up wrath for ourselves on the day of judgment. This indicates that not only can we sometimes be selfish, but there are times when we are shown the error of our ways and refuse to acknowledge it! When we are selfish, we do not obey the truth. (v. 8) The foolishness comes about when we have to suffer consequences for stubborn selfishness, yet instead of turning from our foolish ways we return back to them. God proclaims how He feels about those people through the words of Solomon and Peter’s quote of those words. (Proverbs 26:11 & 2 Peter 2:22)

2) Ruled By God

              - The removal of God from the throne can be deadly and can lead to eternal destruction.

              - God is in His rightful place when we are:

                        A.) Devoted - (1 Timothy 4:13-16, Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

                                           - In 1 Timothy 4:13-16, Paul explains to Timothy that a full devotion to the reading of the Scriptures could save not only the one reading, but those who hear it. The word of God in the honest heart cannot help but place God on the throne of that heart.

                                           - Romans 12:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tell us that a devoted, constant prayer life allows God to seize full control of the kingdom of our lives. When we ignore this aspect of our lives, we open the door for our worldly life to re-assert itself as dominant in our lives.

                                           - Mark 10:43-45 explains that when we are devoted to service, we become like Christ and put Christ in His rightful position of power on the throne of our kingdom.     

                       B.) Distinctive - (2 Timothy 2:21, 1 Peter 1:13-16, & 1 Peter 2:9-10)

                                           - 2 Timothy 2:21 explains that we are to be honorable vessels for the Master’s use. To put God in the proper place, we must be set apart for His use. We are to be distinctive and set apart for good works, not just works that we want to do.

                                           - In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter explains that we must be prepared for action, focused, sober-minded, obedient, and ultimately, holy and set apart. He continues this thought in 1 Peter 2:9-10 by explaining that we are not just set apart from the world, but set apart with a purpose.

                       C.) Disciplined - (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Colossians 3:5-10)

                                           - In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul explains that no one is shocked or surprised that an athlete trains his/her body for competition, so why should followers of Christ be any different? To truly place God on the throne of our hearts, we must commit to be disciplined in our efforts. While many in our world (and even in the church) place an extremely high value on being physically fit, we must be even more committed to disciplining ourselves to be spiritually fit.

                                           - Colossians 3:5-10 takes us through a spiritual makeover. To truly be disciplined, we may need to rid ourselves of the things that seemingly block our path. (Hebrews 12:1-2) By doing these things, we become a new creature that is renewed in knowledge after the image of God, our Creator.

“In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps that is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying.” - A.W. Tozer -

The ultimate decision is ours… Will we take up our cross or chose to leave ourselves on the throne? (Luke 9:23-27)

- Scott