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God is beautiful. In everything God has created or touches, there is beauty. This is a message that explores beauty and art in the Christian experience. We can live daily in astonishment and awe amid the godly beauty that surrounds us. We can adorn ourselves and the things we create with the beauty of God. In the shadow of God's sheltering presence, we can bask in the pleasure of eternal wonder and faith.
Part 2 of the series, "Envy - Yesterday and Today." While the invention of social media has brought us many positives, it has also turned out to be one of the most effective distribution machines for a significant negative: the temptation to envy what others have, and the distraction that everyone else is living a better life than we are. But however we use social media, we should understand that God wants us to live our lives with "no filter": he wants us to be honest about our need and weaknesses, humble and grateful for his love and salvation, and intentional about presenting our lives in such a way as to build others up and lead them to him. How can we use social media in such away that we can minimize our envy and maximize our love and influence? Answering that is the objective of this message.
Are you living life distracted? Consider your use of the internet, social media, online streaming, and the amount of time you may spend obsessed with national news, politicians, and celebrities. While there may not be anything inherently wrong with these things, it's important to realize that these areas reflect a secondhand version of life, and can distract you from focusing and living in the world right in front of you. The goal isn't necessarily to remove technology from your life, but to understand its power, and to use it as a tool for God's Kingdom rather than let it use you. Don't live in the shadow of the treasures that deserve a primary place in your heart and actions.
Do you pursue self awareness? Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Jesus once said that in knowing the truth, we would be set free. This message makes the assertion that the truth we should seek isn’t just the truth about God, but also the truth about ourselves. Without self-examination, we can never fully transform into Christ’s image and find the freedom his disciples enjoy.
Part 10 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. So many are in our world are searching for truth. But for most of us, the deepest needs of our hearts aren't fundamentally satisfied by an awareness of truth, but by the integrity of our personal relationships. So, yes, we should ask, "What is truth?" But we also need to ask, "Who is faithful?" "Who will keep their promises?" To satisfy the deepest needs of our heart, we must also ask, "Who is true?" (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 11 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Words have power. They shape our world. They inspire and instruct. They create and destroy. God's words, or God's Word (the Bible), does all these things too. But God's Word also transforms us. And God's Word ultimately, as the living embodiment of Christ himself, is the chief means God uses to invite us to live in relationship with him...and belong to him (sermon recorded in 2018).
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing one of the sermons John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) As children, the question, "What do you want for Christmas?" filled us with great joy and anticipation for the gifts we would receive come Christmas day. As adults, the question should point more to our spiritual expectations for the season, with a chief focus on receiving Christ as our greatest gift. So, what do you want for Christmas? The perfect gift? Family harmony? Hope and peace? This is only possible when Jesus is the reason for the season.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the second sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Jesus says that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like a little child with a childlike faith. The same applies when it comes to the nature of our focus during the season of Christmas. Like a child, we must return to a pure heart of faith, hope, and dependence, and to an embrace of the new life offered through the birth of Christ. In essence, we must be "born again" during Christmas, and return to the purity of heart that exists within any newborn child of God.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) In coming to the earth at Christmas, God fulfilled his dream to be with us and offer us the gift of being with him. Through the divinity and humanity of Jesus, our Emmanuel, we find a God who is eternal and everywhere present, but also present to meet every need that we have.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the final sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) One of the best ways to describe the birth of Christ is with the phrase, "But...God." It goes like this: the world was sinking deep in sin, but God entered into our world, became one of us, and joined us in our weakness and suffering so we could join him in eternal strength and joy. The light shines in the darkness and, because of the coming of Christ, the darkness will never overcome.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the first sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Every year around New Year's Eve, people take stock of their lives and make a New Year's resolution. They look forward into the coming year. They look back at the year that was. But looking forward and back again with God offers you a resolution—and revolution—for how to view time itself.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the second sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Most every day of our lives, we ask ourselves or others, "What time is it?" We find it important to live according to the expectations of time: minutes, hours, years, holidays, life events, etc. The biblical view of knowing the time is to understand that God uses time to fulfill his purposes, including our purpose under his guidance and care. So, what time is it where you are? Your answer will help you better live out God's purpose in your life.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) If you knew you had 24-hours to live, how would you spend it? What if you had 50 years left to live? Making the most of every opportunity involves living with both priorities in mind. We must live in utter dependence upon God's providence over time. And we must step out and take risks in both our daily lives and in our long-term plans to ultimately sanctify time with a view of eternity in mind.
Part 15 of 23 in the series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. This sermon begins the second major segment of this series, moving to a more practical approach to belonging to God from day-to-day. Despite our claims to being intimate with God, we should inventory our lives to make sure, as seen in John 15, that we're truly connected to the Vine: Jesus. Only by admitting our need for him and staying connected can we produce spiritual fruit and genuinely live with God in healthy personal relationship (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 16 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." To "fear God" is a recurring commandment in Scripture. But does it sound strange to your ears that we're likewise called fear Jesus? This sermon takes a look at the Jesus of the Gospels and demonstrates that people didn't just encounter the gentle, humble shepherd, but also the Lord of all creation, a person who regularly incited awe, astonishment, amazement...and reverential fear. How well we fear Jesus will affect the quality of our personal relationship with him, and whether or not we'll live in fear of everything else life throws at us from day to day (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 17 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him". Jesus once asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" In our encounters with Jesus, we should also answer this question, but then we should ask, "Who does God say that I am?" Understanding and claiming our identity in Christ should be a foundational and constant confession of faith. Because who we are is shaped by who we're with. And who we are in Christ will define what we have in him and how we then choose to live (recorded in 2019.)
Part 18 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do you relate to the Bible? Is it just a textbook or rulebook? Is it just required reading to become a good person or go to heaven? Or is it also the very essence of God himself? If the Bible is truly the "Word made flesh," then its benefits will surpass simply becoming wiser or a better person. It can be a way to relate to God in the most personal way imaginable (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 19 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do I relate to prayer? Is it just a way to get what I want? Is it something I just do, but doubt it ever really works? While God desires to meet our daily needs, he also wants us to understand our ultimate need: to belong to him. Prayer should be the avenue we use to nurture connection, intimacy, and oneness with God. If that's our first and main focus, then the answers to our prayers will be abundant...while perhaps looking a bit different than our imaginings (sermon recorded in 2019).
(John shares his next spiritual meditation based on thoughts from his upcoming book: UNTO LIFE: Reflections on Both the Journey and the Destination.) God is first-and-foremost a Creator. And as our Creator, he is also the world's first artist. As discussed in a previous meditation, the beauty we see in the natural world exists because it is a reflection of God's beautiful eternal nature. In the same way, when human beings who are made in God's image create works of art, it is possible for those works to have the mark of eternity, too. This meditation encourages you to consider how art creates a longing for God, helping you live and move and have your being in the God who made you. (Music courtesy of Coma-Media and ZakharValaha from Pixabay.)
Christianity is about change. We are born again of God's Spirit as a new creation. We then, by God's grace, pursue spiritual change and transformation. But for most of us, that change feels like a monumental task. First, it's so difficult to believe we're now something different. Our doubt and insecurity prevents our change. Second, we often fail as often as we succeed. So it's difficult to live out this change promised to us in Scripture. But the key to spiritual transformation isn't a manic focus on self-improvement or always making the right choices. The foundation of our faith isn't moral, it's believing in the power of miracles. It's believing that only God can change us, and while we are active participants, God must do more than simply shift our motives or thinking. He must raise us from the dead. While you may look forward to heaven and the promise of future resurrection, part of the good news of Christianity is that your resurrection begins now.