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Loving People through Prayer

For three chapters, the Apostle Paul has been encouraging the young church in Thessalonica and reminding them of his deep love for them. Today, we finish this section of the letter with Paul saying again that he longs to see them, “to supply what is lacking in their faith.”

When Paul writes these words, he writes them like a prayer. And in this section we see that Paul loved these people through prayer, and we learn, in turn, to love people through prayer as well. We see the kind of heart Paul had in his prayers, that fueled his prayers and even in difficult seasons, like the one he was in, kept him praying. And we see what Paul prayed for these people.

Of all the needs, desires, and longings they must have had for themselves, what rose to the top for Paul to bring before the Father? Their spiritual growth. We often ask God to change things in our prayers, but Paul never asks God to change anything about the Thessalonians circumstances. He asks God to change their hearts.

And the good news is this, we are confident our Father hears and answers our prayers, because Jesus paid the price for our sin so that we could be reconciled to God as our loving heavenly Father.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Acts 6; Matthew 7:7-11; John 1:1-2, 14; Matthew 22:37-39

Evidences of Grace

The “Nones” are the fastest growing part of our population in the US. They’re the people who check the box “None” on survey’s asking, Which religion do you most closely identify with? They’re not closed to faith, they’re “spiritual, but not religious.” They want to know what you believe and why, so they’ll have the conversation. But they also want to see your faith lived out in your life.

In the first century, there was a group of believers who were models of what authentic Christian faith looks like. Paul wrote them a letter we know as 1 Thessalonians. In chapter 1:1-3, Paul points out their “work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope” are three evidences of God’s grace transforming their lives.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, Acts 17:1-7; James 2:14-17

God’s Wisdom for Finances

As a church, we chose years ago to not be afraid of talking about money. In fact, after studying the gospels we decided that one of our measures would be, “Do I live the life of a generous giver?” That’s a discipleship question. How I handle my money, my level of generosity doesn’t begin with my bank account, it starts in my heart.

Proverbs is loaded with God’s wisdom on Money. Today, we’re going to look mainly at chapter 3 to learn four principles on handling our money.

Scripture: Proverbs 3:9-10

Godly Ethics at Work

We all want to work with people who have a solid work ethic, but ethics at work aren’t always clear. People feel the pressure to conform to a culture in the workplace that cuts corners and lacks integrity. Does God care anything about the way we work? And how do we overcome the external and internal pressure to work in a way that lacks integrity?

Scripture: Proverbs 10:9-10, 16:11, 11:1, 20:23; Genesis 25-32, 42-43; Romans 8:28; Matthew 6:31-33

God’s Wisdom for Work

Do you remember your first job? Over a lifetime, the average person will spend about 90,000 hours at work. That’s 3,750 days.

Work takes a significant amount of time in our lives and Proverbs has plenty to teach us about the way we work. In fact, there’s the way the world works, and then there’s the better way. Everyday you go to work, you’re faced with the question, “Will I continue to work the way the world works, or will I take the better way to work?”

The Power of Jesus

If what the Gospels report about Jesus is the stuff of legend, then believe what you want. But if the Gospels are eyewitness reports about the life of Jesus, if they are history, then you have to deal with who Jesus is, that He is Lord of All.

One of the most difficult things for us to understand or believe is that Jesus can love us and still allow and even order disruptive events, seasons, storms for our lives. And if we don’t come to trust Him in the storm, we will be at the mercy of the storm, and in this world, it’s always storming.

So, who is Jesus and what kind of power does he have? The power of Jesus is historical, limitless, disruptive, and costly.

Scripture: Mark 5:35-41; Psalm 89:8-9; Jonah 1; Romans 5:8

Tale of Two Kings

Acts 12 is like a door that closes the first half of the book, focused on the Apostle Peter and the gospel going to the Jews, and opening to the second half of the book, focused on the Apostle Paul and the gospel going to the Gentiles.

Acts 12 shows us how once again, conflict threatens to hinder the gospel, but only serves, in God’s good and wise sovereignty, to cause the work of the gospel and the word of God to “increase and multiply.”

In between, of course, are the people of God, living the experience. In Acts 12, Luke longs for us to come away with a vision of our glorious God, working out His good purposes in the world and in our lives – a vision that will shape the way we live and pray every single day.

Scripture: Acts 12:1-24

The Promised Sign

Christmas is proof that God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. This is the first message in a series of four for Christmas as we study some of the promises God made and kept about the coming and work of Jesus from the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 7-12 is one unit of thought, but we will study it over three sermons. In Isaiah 7:1-8:10 the big idea is that in the midst of our greatest crisis we can experience the saving presence of God through faith in Jesus. But unbelief leads to lonely ruin.

In the midst of a terrible crisis, the King is anxious and working to save himself. God graciously promises to secure him and encourages the King to ask for a sign, an assurance that God will be faithful. But the King refuses and makes a faithless decision. God gives him a sign anyway. The promised sign is a son. “Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Immanuel…” This Son, proving to Ahaz that “God is with us” would be born in the King’s day. In the end, the Son would be a sign that God is with His people, not only in salvation, but also in judgement. 700 years later, Matthew, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, sees the ultimate fulfillment of that sign in the birth of Jesus, the Son of God with us, saving us from our ultimate crisis.

Scripture: Isaiah 7:1-8:10; 2 Kings 16:1-9; Matthew 1:20-23; Romams 8

The Prophet Daniel

The temptation to compromise our faith is enormous. Television commercials often reveal a homosexual agenda. The news carries stories about the “narrow mindedness” of Christians. Educators belittle Christian faith and values. And society, in general, is decaying into the moral abyss.

What impact is this having on you? Before you say that it has not touched your life, I encourage you to consider what you are willing to compromise now that you were not willing to five years ago.

How do we remain true to our faith in the midst of a corrupt world? Daniel shows us the way.

Scripture: Daniel 1:1-10

The Patriarch Abraham Part Two

Today we come to one of the most dramatic and most well-known events in the O.T. To understand Abraham, we must understand this passage. It is a one-of-a-kind story that portrays the greatest story ever told. Abraham would offer Isaac by faith and in doing so, gives us a good look at what would happen 2000+ years later on Mt. Calvary.

In Genesis 22 we find central truths that will help us better understand how we come to Christ and what is expected after we do.

Testing is one of the lessons of the passage. Testing is not the same thing as tempting. In temptation, Satan lures us to disobey God. The purpose of testing (or trials) is that God is behind it and the purpose is to build faith. Abraham was about to face his greatest test.

Jehovah Jira is one of the compound names of God. It means “God will provide.” Abraham was faced with a great dilemma. God had asked him to sacrifice his long-desired son. Would he do it? Why would God call for this to happen?

Finally, what does Abraham teach us about faith that is required for salvation?

Scripture: Genesis 22; James 1:2-4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 11:17-19; Romans 4:1-3