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A Grace-full Spirit

It’s been a while since I’ve written! Sitting over a cup of coffee on a rainy day seemed the best time to get caught up.

Easter is now giving way to Pentecost. All of us who trust in Jesus have been pulled from our tombs…and the breath of God has entered us. Picture God cradling a lifeless clay Adam, and then exhaling sweet, life-giving breath into that clay. Adam’s eyes open: and he looks into the face of God.

Pentecost is our celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church: the Breath of God. Jesus told the Apostles that they would make disciples of all nations [Matt 28.19-20]. Then he told them to sit tight in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Spirit from on high [Acts 1.8]. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to revive hearts and minds with faith and for building the Kingdom of God.

When reflecting on Pentecost and the miraculous gift of tongues, CFW Walther noted that the object of the outpouring of praise was what God had done…not what people had accomplished. He goes on to say that those who’ve received the Holy Spirit experience the “gift of forgetfulness”. In other words, we forget about ourselves and become engaged disciples of Jesus in his grace-ful kingdom. Though we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, what we seek is not a religious experience, or holy entertainment. What we seek as the Spirit moves in us is to serve Jesus through serving others.

Several years ago I was leading a retreat. On the first night I shared with the group, “We’re not here just for ourselves, but to encourage one another” After a moment of quiet, one of the group members blurted, THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M HERE FOR! Though I’m happy to say that this person grew into a beautiful follower of Jesus, it underscores the me-ness of our world.

The Spirit urges us to set aside our interests in the security that God is already looking out for us. The Spirit calls each Christian into the joy and fellowship of Christ’s Body the Church, and to take up a uniquely blessed life of Kingdom-building.

Which is to say, Happy Pentecost!

Grace & Courage, dear friends…pastor greg

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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in devotional

 

The 3 Nails that Hold a Family Together

The 3 Nails That Hold Families Together is the final installment in our series “40 Days of Reconcilliation”. I hope you have been challenged and blessed! Pastor Greg

Each family has been given the responsibility to both teach and celebrate faith in Christ. Walking with the Lord is not just something we do on Sunday!

TRUTH SPEAKING: helping each other to think about our lives through God’s word—and act consistent with it

 John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free

 THINKING BIBLICALLY SIMPLIFIES DECISIONS AND PRIORITIES

PRAYING TOGETHER: helping one another to take our needs and burdens to God

 Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God

 PRAYER BRINGS US INTO GOD’S PRESENCE WHERE HELP CAN ALWAYS BE FOUND

 CELEBRATION: a lifestyle of worship centered in gratitude for what God has done

 Psalm 33:1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

 WORSHIP AND CELEBRATION LIFT OUR EYES TO HIGHER THINGS

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in devotional

 

The 3 Nails that Hold a Marriage Together

Below are this weeks sermon notes. Many blessings…pastor greg

FORGIVENESS: the path to peace

I choose to forgive in the manner that I have been forgiven

THE PAST CANNOT BE UNDONE, BUT IT CAN BE RECONCILED

Colossians 3:12–13 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

SERVICE: loving one another in actions

I choose to serve in the manner that I have been served

WE LOVE OUR SPOUSES IN THE WAYS THEY NEED TO BE LOVED

Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

CHRIST: the one who holds all things together

I choose to look to Jesus for the strength that holds us together

IF I EXPECT MY SPOUSE TO BE EVERYTHING, THEN I EXPECT HIM OR HER TO BE GOD

Colossians 1:16–17 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth…He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in devotional

 

The 5 A’s of Confession

Continuing our Lenten series “40 Days of Reconcilliation”, posted below are the sermon notes…Grace & Courage, Pastor Greg

ADMIT SPECIFICALLY

In light of Christ’s great forgiveness I will admit the specific nature of my sin

Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE HURT

In light of Christ’s great forgiveness I will acknowledge that my words and actions have hurt you

Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, So that you are justified when you speak and blameless when You judge.

 ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES

In light of Christ’s forgiveness I will accept the consequences of my sin without bitterness

2 Samuel 12:20  So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped.

ASK FOR FORGIVENESS

In light of Christ’s forgiveness I will ask those whom I have wronged to forgive me

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

ALTER YOUR BEHAVIOR

In light of Christ’s forgiveness I will do my best to change my behavior

Revelation 2:5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in devotional

 

The 4 G’s of Peacemaking

This is the second installment in the 40 Days of Reconciliation series…Pastor Greg

THE 4 G’S OF PEACEMAKING

1.      GLORIFY GOD

 IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S GREAT LOVE FOR ME, instead of focusing on my own desires, I will glorify God by choosing to forgive and depending on his wisdom, power and love.

The church was created by Christ’s forgiveness, and I am strengthened as I continue to receive this forgiveness and share it with others 

John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

 2.      GET THE LOG OUT OF YOUR EYE

 IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S GREAT LOVE FOR ME, instead of blaming others for a conflict, I will trust in God’s mercy and take responsibility for my own actions. I will confess my sins to those I have wronged, and ask God to help me change my attitudes and actions.

 Matthew 7:3  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

3.      GENTLY RESTORE

 IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S GREAT LOVE FOR ME, I will overlook minor offenses or lovingly speak with the person who has offended me.

 When the conflict cannot be resolved in private, I will ask a fellow Christian to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner.

 Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

4.      GO AND BE RECONCILED

IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S GREAT LOVE FOR ME, I will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation, rather than allow a relationship to wither and die. I will seek a mutually beneficial solution to our problem.

Ephesians 4:1–3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

These principle have been adapted from materials provided by Peacemaker Ministries

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The FOUR Promises of Forgiveness

During the season of Lent we will be working through a series entitled “40 Days of Reconcilliation” on Wednesday evenings. Each week I will strive to post a sermon outline with principles and matching scriptures. Praying this will be a blessing for you and your family…Pastor Greg

Last week we talked about the ministry of reconciliation: the ministry of setting things right between God and us. The place where we meet God and learn about his gifts of mercy and forgiveness is at the cross of Jesus Christ. This is what God has commanded his church to constantly proclaim:

That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. [2 Cor 5:19]

The first work of the Church is reconciliation between God and people. The second work of the church is person to person reconciliation. This evening we’re going to examine Four Promises of Forgiveness: in light of Jesus’ great love for us as individuals and for his church.

First, in light of Jesus’ great love for me, I WILL NOT DWELL ON THIS INCIDENT [live in the past]

 How much time do we spend going over old hurts and offences?

 Dwelling on an incident can feed anger and anxiety which traps us in bitterness and unforgiveness: toward ourselves and others.

Phil 3.13 But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

WHEN WE FORGIVE WE LOOK FORWARD TO A FUTURE UNDER GOD’S HEALING GRACE

Second, in light of Jesus’ great love for me, I WILL NOT BRING THIS INCIDENT UP AND USE IT AGAINST YOU [digging up the past]

It’s tempting to dig up the past to justify ourselves and demonize the other person—I TOLD YOU SO!

 Using past sin against someone will poison the present and future relationship. It places the burden of sin back onto the person.

Isaiah 43:25 I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins

WHEN WE FORGIVE WE SEAL THE OFFENSE IN THE TOMB OF JESUS CHRIST

Third, In light of Jesus’ great love for me, I WILL NOT TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT THIS INCIDENT [gossip]

We are tempted to talk to everyone—except the one who’s offended us

Gossip murders a person’s reputation, complicates reconciliation, and turns a brother or sister in Christ into an adversary.

Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered

WHEN WE FORGIVE WE DON’T CONTINUE TO PUNISH A PERSON BEHIND THEIR BACK

Fourth, in light of Jesus’ great love for us, I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS INCIDENT TO STAND BETWEEN US [grudges and payback]

 We are tempted to shun or ignore the one who’s offended us

 We continue to care for each other, pray for each other and talk with each other.

 Psalm 103:10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

 WHEN WE FORGIVE WE RELATE TO THE PERSON AS IF THEY HAD NEVER OFFENDED US

For further study: 1 Corinthians 13.1-7, Colossians 3.8-17

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in devotional

 

One Minute Mission Trip

How long does a “moment of truth” take? If you’re a visitor to a church, it takes about a minute. In that amount of time someone can smile at them, say “Good morning” or simply welcome them. The moment of truth for a church visitor is the point when they feel welcomed or ignored.

Though they appreciate the pastor noticing and welcoming them, they also expect this. It’s what pastors do. But when a church member goes out of their way to greet them…well that’s something special.

 

Here’s some ONE MINUTE MISSION TRIP ideas:

  1. Cross the aisle during the greeting time…it’s okay, you won’t fall in.
  2. As you enter the church, look for faces you don’t know…say hello as you walk to the seat you and your family have occupied since JFK was president [any smiles, here?]
  3. Before you sit down at a bible study or meal, look for people sitting alone…and join them. You don’t have to entertain them, just be yourself!

Think of visitors as guests in your home. What would you do to make someone feel welcome if they came over for dinner? Several years ago, after we moved to New Hampshire to go to graduate school, we attended a a church for the first time. Afterwards, a couple named Doug and Holly walked up to us and asked us if we were visiting. We said, “Yes”, and they replied, “Great, can we take you out for lunch?” We found our church.

Grace & Courage, dear friends!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in outreach and missions