Useful articles which covers Biblical principles for a better christian life.

“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:15

What does it mean to “do good”? That’s the big question we explored this past Sunday as we continued to look at various traits that define us as Christians.

To take a closer look at doing good, we should start in the first chapter of Genesis where the Hebrew word for “good” — transliterated as “TOB” — is used seven times! You know the story: God was creating the Earth, and the Lord saw that it was good. Not just that it looked good on the outside with wonderful things such as fruit-bearing trees — but also because the seeds from the fruit of those trees created more trees and more fruit. The trees worked. They provided food and nourishment and sustenance. The trees weren’t merely a wonder to behold, they also were good — down to their core.

Then God created man — and the Lord said this particular creation of his was very good. Imagine that: You and I are the height of God’s creation! But things took a really bad turn in Genesis 3 when man sinned, which precipitated our fall. Brokenness came into the world, and our “TOB” gave way to problems such as disease and racism and sexism and hurtful relationships. We began to experience pain and suffering. But God had a plan for redemption through his son Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins and opened the door for us to enter God’s kingdom through trusting alone in Christ’s death and resurrection. It is indeed Good News as all things in our lives become new in that salvation moment.

OK — so how do we get to real goodness in our day to day lives?

Well, the process starts with pursuing holiness. A good way to put flesh and blood on that concept is to recall the story of Jesus encountering the rich young ruler in the Gospels. This young man had everything the world had to offer — but he also lacked one thing money couldn’t buy: Eternal life. So, he went right to Jesus, called him “good teacher,” and asked him what he needed to do about that problem. Jesus responded in a very interesting way (as Jesus typically does!) with a question of his own: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

You see, Jesus didn’t want this rich young ruler to get the idea that he could earn his way to heaven with actions. And in the rest of this story, the rich young ruler went away sad when Jesus replied that he needed to sell all he owned and give the money to the poor — and then to follow him. In that moment he didn’t want to do what he needed to do to inherit eternal life — to put aside the things of this world and trust Jesus by following him. And that’s where holiness starts.

And being in this relationship with Jesus also means that doing good and goodness takes on new meaning. Indeed, Scripture says the Lord long ago prepared good for us to do. Not goodness to earn God’s love (because the Lord loves us freely) but because goodness comes from God! As Christ’s workmanship we are prompted to do good as an outgrowth of our relationship with him (Ephesians 10:2). Again, goodness doesn’t equal actions or behavior to earn God’s love or acceptance, and it’s certainly not about being nice. Instead it’s a state of being deep down in our core.

Have you ever prayed and asked God to point out the ways he wants you to change so he can increase his goodness in your life? To shine his spotlight on sin he wants you to dismiss? If there’s any prayer we can pretty much guarantee God will answer in the affirmative, it’s that one! And responding to God’s nudging in these areas of change means choosing virtue. That’s the next step in figuring out goodness.

And the third step in that process? To champion generosity. That means sharing our lives with others, giving of ourselves, and exceeding what’s expected as we take on such challenges. We all know about the story of the Good Samaritan (again, that word “good”) — and what did the Good Samaritan do? He had compassion on a man who was beaten and robbed on a road, a man who was from a different place, a man who gave his time and his money to help this man. That’s a lot of what goodness looks like — and we can do the same thing.

We’ve also learned during our Sundays together that there are three types of people in the world: Takers (those who are out for themselves), “balance the scale” folks (“I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”), and givers.

But be forewarned: If you resolve to be a giver, eventually you’ll get hurt (if it hasn’t happened already). At some point you’ll be taken for granted and even mistreated. So, the question is: What will you do with that pain when you experience it? The answer has some theology behind it, but plenty of practicality, too: When you share your goodness with others, you must do it for God and not for others or yourself! Besides being of the correct spiritual mindset, doing good as unto the Lord goes a long way toward reducing the importance of how others react to the good we do for them. That’s because — unlike people who are imperfect — God will never hurt us or mistreat us, ever. Keep that attitude in mind as you “seek to do good to one another and to everyone,” as our latest verse in 1 Thessalonians 5 charges us.

Have you asked the Lord to give you opportunities to do good? With family members, friends, and even strangers? The kind of “TOB” goodness detailed at the dawn of creation is now ours to share freely with others because of Jesus being at work in our lives. And all we need to do is ask God to lead us toward that next moment — and he will provide it. And perhaps the most exciting part is that doing good things for others that the Lord gave us to do in advance, will draw to God those we’re reaching out to. How exciting to be a part of that adventure stretching toward eternity! Let us be about that kind of goodness this week — and for the rest of our days.

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This Sunday we continued to look at 10 principles from our passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22. We started off our journey the previous week with a discussion about authority — verses 12 and 13 — which is one of the foundations of the Christian life. Because if we don’t understand authority and don’t put it into practice, we will end up in places we don’t want to be. We could develop an integrity problem, which is why God wants us as believers in Jesus to live well under civil, spiritual, and parental authority.

And this past Sunday we talked about a second principle — and it’s literally from a five-word sentence at the end of verse 13. And this is all it says: “Be at peace among yourselves.”

Peace and living peaceably is more than stress management. In fact, the idea of peace from the Greek words in this passage is that it’s a verb! An action. Now, of course, in English the word “peace” is a noun. But when we look at it here through a spiritual lens, it’s a verb — so we then add verbs to it and strive to “live in peace” and “practice peace.” And then we begin to see why having peace and being focused on peace is such an important part of what it means to be connected to God.

Our discussion about peace has three parts to it. The first is the idea of release. Every time we move toward peace, we’re releasing something. For example, releasing anger toward another person or releasing control of certain things. Or maybe we’re releasing guilt. Perhaps we come to a point in our lives when we discover that we can’t try to balance all the scales of right and wrong and that we need a savior — and that’s when we release guilt and receive what Jesus provides.

Again, the peace of God is not stress reduction. This is so important to keep in mind. Because instead God’s peace is, in face, him giving us something. He allows particular challenges in our lives and then gives us peace that floods over us amid those challenges. Like Psalm 23 says, the Lord prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. He doesn’t make our enemies disappear. They’re still around us. But in the midst of our troubles, God’s peace abounds. He gives us that daily grace and energy despite our problems

Indeed, peace is also something we must put into practice on a daily basis. That’s the second part to peace. In fact, our life’s mission in many respects is to live in peace. Are you having a problem with one of your children? Well, did you know that God allowed this child in your life so that God could do something special in your heart? To do something that actually benefits you? So whether it’s a difficulty in a personal relationship or somebody cut you off on the road or you got a bill you weren’t expecting or you’re experiencing an ache or a pain that brings up anxieties, God is using all those things so that you will seek after his peace — to put into practice living in peace each day.

Finally, God’s peace is something we need to receive. His peace is, in fact, just one of the things we receive when we come to faith in Jesus — and it transforms our lives and our relationships. There is no more self-condemnation. And we don’t need to keep on saying that we can’t forgive this person or that person, but instead we can allow God to work in our lives. The Lord’s peace is so big and powerful that it fills up every nook and cranny in our hearts.

Yet the question remains: Will we allow God to give us his peace? It may sound like a strange question, and we may initially assume the answer is, “Of course! Why wouldn’t I want such peace in my life?”

But look at what Isaiah 26: 3 says: “You keep him in perfect peace   whose mind is stayed on you,  because he trusts in you.”

Is your mind focused on the Lord right now? Are you trusting in him every day, hour by hour, minute by minute? And is God’s peace something we’re prepared to receive and put into practice? And are you viewing Christ’s peace as merely a stress reducer — or are you willing to receive it and let it wash over you in the midst of your problems and challenges?

We’ve come upon an incredible passage of Scripture in our study of 1 Thessalonians. In fact, verses 12 through 22 of the book’s fifth chapter are so rich with meaning and power that we need to look at them over the next several weeks bit by bit. This past Sunday we looked at the first two verses, which talk about authority in the lives of Christians: “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

Indeed, all of us in the church are under authority in one way or another. That’s how God designed it. But sometimes the idea of being under authority — not just in the church, but in our lives in general — doesn’t sit well with us. Some folks develop a mantra that they don’t respect authority. Of course, when earthly authorities fail in their duties and end up hurting people, it can be very natural to lose respect for them. But the Lord has another way of looking at these issues, and his word will help us know where to draw the lines.

First, let’s look at civil authorities. Paul wrote about them in chapter 13 of his letter to the Roman church:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

Paul wrote these words when the Roman Empire was ruling over the known world and began persecuting the church. Not a good thing at all. Yet Paul says God instituted earthly authorities to carry out his will. How are we to make sense of that? How do we reconcile that? In short, it’s something we as believers must hold in tension. For example, while the Roman Empire was brutal in countless cases, it also benefitted the early spread of Christianity through its establishment of trade, roads, and shipping.

Now, in our present situation — in the era of the coronavirus — what do we do when our government says we cannot meet as a church? How do we as Christians respect and subject ourselves to such authority? Again, it’s something we must hold in tension. In our country, we have a Democratic form of government that’s ultimately in hands of the people. But still we must support those in leadership, even when we disagree with what they decide. So, for instance, last Sunday night I exercised my First Amendment rights and spoke out with other pastors in calling for reform in our government. But still we must obey the law. It’s a constant tension we must examine and grapple with — and of course ask the Lord’s help when we do so.

Now let’s take a look at spiritual authority.

Christians are different from others because we say, “I am going to place myself under the authority of God’s word.” We do what Scripture instructs. We go to God’s word first when we have questions and then do our best to apply the Bible’s principles to our lives. And we do so even when what we’re commanded to do goes against culture. That’s incredibly challenging, particularly given the times we’re living in, when social and cultural pressure is so pronounced and constant. And then there are those who decide they’re not going to adhere to what God’s word says — and they end up elevating their own wisdom over God’s. That’s called humanism. But we all know that human wisdom in the face of God’s wisdom is flimsy at best.

In addition, spiritual authority doesn’t belong to a person — rather we’re all vehicles through which the Holy Spirit’s authority is able to be carried out. Pastors, for example, are only a Godly authority as they rely on God and his word. If they don’t, their authority doesn’t mean much. Also, submission to earthly authority means we accept the wisdom, power, and peace that comes from God through others. No, it doesn’t mean obedience — but it does mean having the wisdom to listen and be open to hearing from others, particularly those who’ve lived on this planet longer than us.

In fact, that’s one of the benefits having older Godly people among us. They’ve been through experiences we haven’t, and they can offer solutions to problems we may never otherwise have considered. Let me challenge you again to seek out such people — to be open to their counsel and experience. Let them help you grow and develop as a person and as a Christian. We all need others in our lives with more wisdom and experience who will look out for our best interests. Don’t miss that! Because when the world creeps in, and we start to think we can do whatever we want, and we can do it all on our own, God will use others — those with spiritual authority — to speak into our lives and pull us away from the thin ice we’re skating on.

Finally, there’s the issue of authority in family life. Parents and children are often at odds in this realm. But parents can begin to shape their children by modeling being under the authority of the Lord themselves. Watch what happens when you to God, “My answer is yes,” and your children are watching. Now that’s countercultural! And for young people, God will do some amazing things in your lives when you choose to submit to the authority of your parents, just as you submit to the authority of the Lord.

Being under authority isn’t always easy, but God designed those relationships — through our government, through our church, and through our families — to protect us, to help us grow, and ultimately to become closer to him.

This past Sunday we talked about the rapture.

One of the first things we covered is the fact that the word rapture doesn’t appear in the Bible. But that’s OK. The word trinity doesn’t appear in Scripture, either, but that doesn’t diminish the complete legitimacy of the trinitarian nature of God when it comes to our faith as Christians.

We also looked at what the word means. Rapture communicates the idea of being “snatched away” without warning — in the same way a thief comes in the night and suddenly takes away what he wants, and you never knew what hit you. That’s what the rapture of the church will be like. Suddenly. Instantaneously. No emergency broadcast system. (Sounds pretty exciting so far, doesn’t it?)

Then there’s the how. How will the rapture happen? Well, Paul tells his readers in 1 Thessalonians 4, verses 15 through 17, the following process. First, Jesus himself will descend from heaven with a “cry of command.” If you recall the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb, he literally gave an order to his deceased friend to “come forth.” And with that, Lazarus — dead as dead can be — walked out the tomb. That’s what Jesus will do when he comes for the church in the rapture. And what will his command produce? Well, all the Christians we’ve known who’ve died (and those we’ve never known) will rise first. And what about believers who are alive when the Lord comes back? This is the exciting part, assuming we’re alive when it happens: We’ll be “caught up together” with the now formerly dead in Christ “in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Given all the strife and worry and disease and fighting and killing and hatred going on in our world at this very moment — and turned up to an intensity few, if any, of us have ever known — wouldn’t it be glorious to suddenly leave all our troubles behind and be with Jesus forever? It without a doubt will be the most amazing thing to ever happen on earth, save for Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven. And some of us, someday, may get to experience it.

Another way to understand the rapture is the biblical account of Jesus’ last moments on earth, which took place a good month or so after he rose from the dead. In the book of Acts, we’re told the disciples asked Jesus when he would come again, and his reply was that no one knows the hour or the day. It’s a hidden entry on God’s calendar, and one of our only tasks is to live each day as if “this will be the day.” Even more clues about the rapture came when Jesus was blessing his followers on the mountain amid that Acts passage — and he was taken from them into the air and covered by clouds. Boom! Gone. What an indescribable sight that must have been. But then two man dressed in white — angels — appeared and asked why they were staring into the sky — and that Jesus would return one day in the same way he departed from them. (So, if you’re wondering what it will look like when the Lord himself descends with a word of command, we might want to consider what Scripture says about his ascension.)

Our passage in 1 Thessalonians also tells us that as a church we should “encourage one another with these words.” Indeed, beyond all our present troubles, the promise this passage brings is the best kind — especially for those of us who’ve lost loved ones in the Lord. The rapture means we’ll get to see once again those we’ve lost to death. And all of us together will be with the Lord — always. Which also explains the early part of the passage which says we should “not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

Paul continues with his discussion of the rapture in chapter 5 and gives yet another clue — that when people are feeling full of “peace and security,” a “sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” Ouch. That is a sobering truth to digest. But fortunately, as believers in Jesus, we can put on the “breastplate of faith and love” and the helmet of “the hope of salvation.” We have nothing to fear, as “God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

So, let us live like the rapture could arrive at any second. Indeed, it could happen right now — exactly at the moment you read these words — but also let us live without distractions. Let us live the truth that we all have purposes in Jesus moving forward — right now — that can be marked by our witness and spread of the gospel.

Get ready to fly.

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What does “normal” look like in the Christian life?

In the Christian life, it’s normal to be loving, to be gracious. But are we loving all the time? Unfortunately, no. There are times when we can be grouchy and irritable. And then what do we do? When we’re out of step with the Lord, we must make the decision to get back in step with him. To be back on track — and in the center of his will. And we make such decisions through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, who’s already dwelling inside us.

Another part of the normal Christian life is growth — again the idea of “more and more” — a movement forward. But sometimes our growth is stunted or stops or pauses because of selfishness or other distractions in our lives. And then what do we do? Again, we must move back in step with God’s desire for our continual growth through the power of the Holy Spirit who continually guides us when we let him.

Still another aspect to living the normal Christian life is the desire to please God in all that we do. But do we always behave like that? Again, no, we don’t. Sometimes we’re too busy to please God. Sometimes we’re more interested in pleasing others or ourselves. That, too, is outside of the “normal” in our Christian lives. But again, if we find we’re not focused on pleasing God, we can move back into step with him through the Holy Spirit’s power.

One reminder: These processes of getting back in step with God when we fall out of it is not about our standing with God, which is a permanent state we experienced once and for all when we accepted Jesus into our lives. It’s instead about our sanctification — our daily, hourly, minute by minute movement forward to become more like Jesus.

As we get into our passage, verse 9 of chapter 4 reads: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Paul mentions the word “love” twice in this verse. First, he talks about “brotherly love,” which is a family kind of love — then later in the verse he mentions love again, and this kind of love is agape, which is the sacrificial committed love God has for us and that we should have for each other.

Then in the next verse we see the phrase “more and more” pop up — and it’s in respect for the kind of love we as believers should be expressing. But there’s another important phrase that precedes “more and more,” and it’s “do this.” In fact, the act of doing is crucial as believers and is also part of living a normal Christian life. It’s about producing fruit, which is a continual process. A fruit tree doesn’t bear fruit only once. It’s also about letting Jesus turn us into “fishers of men,” as he told his disciples in the Gospels.

Here’s another cool thing about the phrase “more and more” that we keep seeing in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians — it implies the notion of “leftovers”! It’s the same concept as when Jesus fed the 5,000, and there was so much food that there were leftover pieces of fish and bread that filled many baskets. That’s the kind of love we should be giving more and more of — that there so much of it proceeding forth from us that there is more love left over to go around. An abundance of love that others will notice. That also should be our normal way of living our Christian lives.

In verse 11, Paul also urges the Thessalonians to “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.” There’s much more here than meets the eye as we study this passage together. First of all, why would Paul — an apostle of Christ who turned the world upside down as he spread the church over the known world — want us to “live quietly”? That’s certainly an example of an oxymoron, when two opposite ideas are in the same phrase. But as we dig deeper, we see that Paul’s charge to work really hard to live quietly is actually about a dual presence that should be active in all of our lives. In other words, while we’re being salt and light and helping others become uncomfortable where they are so that they can see Jesus, we also should have a quiet inside our own hearts. Because the world is a noisy place — and as believers, we need to be able to turn down the world’s volume so we can hear God’s voice more clearly.

Then Paul instructs them to “mind your own affairs.” Bear in mind that the Thessalonians are young Christians who are just starting their walks with the Lord. And as we know, young Christians who’ve just experienced the excitement of their changed hearts and brand-new way of looking at life and the world can be a bit overzealous in their interactions with others when it comes to how to live the Christian life. Sometimes new believers question others in areas where there are no specific guidelines in Scripture, which can create unnecessary disharmony in the body of Christ. So, when Paul says to “mind your own affairs,” he wants his young church to let others have their own convictions in the gray areas, to not impose themselves on others unnecessarily. Because people are watching how we treat each other.

Finally, he tells the Thessalonians to “work with your hands.” What does Paul mean here? Well, as we know the Greeks at that time were known for their love of philosophy — and talking and debating about it. While there’s nothing wrong with having such discussions, Paul here seems to be saying that there’s value in acting as opposed to speaking. And it relates to the other two things he’s urging us to do, so that we can be “dependent on no one” and be a good testimony to outsiders. Also, the mandate in verse 12 to “walk properly” is the same idea we saw last week in verse 1 — that our “walk” is how we conduct our lives.

All of us are going to trip and fall in our Christian lives. But when we do, we must rely on the Holy Spirit’s power as we get back up and back in step with the Lord. That’s the heart of what it means to live a normal Christian life. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians talks about being “continually” filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s also part of the “more and more” phrase we’ve been seeing. Again, we have the Holy Spirit in us permanently in our eternal standing with God; but we must ask the Holy Spirit to fill us daily with respect to our sanctification — the continual process of our forward movement in Christ.

You can do that right now, in this moment, as a matter of fact. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Christian for five days or 50 years. You can ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up right now with his power so that you can live your day for Christ with all of God’s strength. And if you mess up, don’t wait for a special time to confess your sin to the Lord — confess now. And then keep moving.

The world is not a “normal” place — and we’re seeing that more clearly every day as our lives become more complicated due to the pandemic. But we can all still live out our normal Christian lives with power, grace, and strength!                                                            Watch the live facebook post:

In our continuing study through Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church, we find the apostle in chapter 4 getting down to the nitty gritty of what it means to live the Christian life — particularly for those who are brand-new believers, as those in the Thessalonian church were.

The first phrase to notice in verse 1 is “how you ought to walk.” And the Greek word for “walk” here and throughout the Bible means how we live — our conduct. For Christians our walks aren’t about lists of dos and don’ts that we live by legalistically and then cross off to determine how well we’re living; it’s about freeing ourselves up — leaving our sin behind — to be completely on the cutting edge of availability in service to God.

There’s a sense of mission in how we walk — how we live — as Christians. And Paul reminds his brothers and sisters in that he’s already gotten them started on exactly how since they “received” (verse 1) such instruction from him already. Much like the Israelites who “received” the Law and the Ten Commandments from the Lord in the Old Testament, when we “received” Christ into our lives — as the Thessalonians did — it signaled the beginning of forward movement. The start of a walk. The opening up of our hearts to Jesus and trusting him — as verse 1 says, “more and more” each day. And that pleases God.

And on that note, exactly how else do we please God? On Sunday we discussed several examples in the Scriptures outside Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians: First, we must have faith (Hebrews 11:6). Second, we must be spiritually minded (Romans 8:6-8). Third, we must fear God (Psalm 147:11). Fourth, we must follow Christ’s example (Matthew 17:5). Fifth, we must obey God (1 Samuel 15:22). Sixth, we must give God the sacrifices he wants (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Now here comes Paul’s first point in our passage: Our sanctification is God’s will for us (verse 3). And what does sanctification mean? Well, as you might expect, it’s literally the essence of our Christian walk. It’s the process of becoming holy. It’s not having reached it or mastered it — it’s about the journey, the movement forward. And while that certainly means change, it’s something all of us can do and should embrace.

What’s Paul’s next point in verse 3? “That you abstain from sexual immorality.” Pretty straightforward. When it comes to sexual purity, God wants to be right in the midst of our efforts in this area. In other words, since sexuality and purity are big and powerful issues in all of our lives, the Lord wants all the more to help us. And part of that happens when we’re being sensitive to God’s leading and instruction — because if we’re not, and we blow off God’s voice, we very well may veer into the carnal, the worldly ways of “anything goes” sexuality. But if we’re listening for God’s leading and desiring to follow him, God will empower us to grow and become strong in the area of sexuality.

Holiness sometimes can be a difficult concept to completely understand. Of course, walking in holiness pleases God — and that’s always a good enough reason to keep our steps going in that direction. However, the Lord himself says that walking in holiness also is “for our own good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) Holiness is also for you and for me. What a gift!

So, as we journey on our walks, remember that even when we trip and fall, we can get up. If we become out of step with God, we can listen to his voice, make an adjustment, and get back in rhythm with the Lord. Because the Christian life lived to the hilt, to ultimate, is an epic journey, an adventure to end all adventures — but if we’re not seeking after holiness on our walks, we miss the most amazing stuff the Lord has for us. And by all means, don’t miss it.

“For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”—1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

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At this point in our study of 1 Thessalonians, we know Paul has been alone for a long time. He only got to spend about three weeks with the church he established in Thessalonica — so he sent Timothy back to find out how his brothers and sisters were doing in their faith. And when Timothy brought back an encouraging report — that the Thessalonian church was strong and vibrant — Paul was very excited.

That’s what’s on Paul’s mind and heart in verse 6 of chapter 3 when he shares how much he longs to be with them in person. And isn’t that something all of us at Calvary Chapel Living Hope can relate to? The coronavirus has socially distanced and separated us physically — and indeed we all long to be together again.

And why is that? Well, Paul answers that in verse 7: “for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.” For Paul — and for us, too — it’s not merely that we miss an emotional connection in friendship after not being together in person for so long; even more it’s being able to experience each other’s faith up close and personal because that actually comforts us! Learning more about each other’s faith stories inspires and spurs us on to greater heights of our own faith.

In verse 8, Paul writes, “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” To live — that’s our vitality and empowerment. Knowing that someone else is growing in their faith or that someone has come to know Jesus — how exciting! Knowing that God is at work in others’ lives inspires us and helps us to flourish in our own faith

Can you tell Paul is pretty much overflowing with joy right about here in his letter? So much so that in verse 9 he asks his Thessalonian church what thanksgiving he and his companions can return to God for having the privilege of witnessing the faith they’ve grown in! But that’s not all — he also reveals an important truth, revealing to his readers that part of their being together also will include Paul and his companions supplying what is lacking in the Thessalonians’ faith. (Can you imagine being visited by Paul and him supplying what is lacking in your faith? How amazing is that prospect?)

But of course, it’s a mutual thing. And Paul already acknowledges that the Thessalonians — so very young in their faith — have nevertheless helped him grown in his faith! (Can you imagine Paul confessing to you that your growing faith has inspired his own faith? Can you see a pattern here?) Indeed, that principle applies to us at Calvary Chapel Living Hope, too.

As we come to verse 11 Paul prays, “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you.” I think we can apply such a prayer to our own situation — that when it’s time for us to resume gathering together in person as a body of believers, it will be through the power of the Lord that it comes to pass. And not through the power of earthly authorities. In fact, if perhaps we’re doubting that elected officials will never change their way of thinking — just watch and wait: God has more than enough power to change the minds of mayors, governors, and presidents!

Verse 12 reveals the idea of being in the state of “abounding in love.” Now if you were to picture what that might look like, consider a “love tank” that’s so full it begins overflowing. Can you imagine? Love pouring out everywhere like a flood. And you know what happens during a flood: Water invades every space we can think of, and even nooks and crannies we forgot existed — or never knew existed! On earth such a force of nature is a disaster for sure — but spiritually speaking, an overflowing tank of love filled by God is a cause for celebration!

That’s what Paul is talking about in verse 13: “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

When we’ve experienced this kind of love from God, it develops and increases our holiness. And what do we mean by that? No, holiness isn’t about following a list of rules. It’s about living our lives demonstrating the love God has given us. And how do we do that?

Well, in the second-ever book Paul composed — his letter to the Galatians — he talks about that. Holiness, in fact, leads to more of nine awesome things. Namely, to more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self-control. When we’re in that state, we’re in a very exciting place of being finely in tune with the Holy Spirit, letting him guide and direct us — even if that means just sitting in God’s presence and letting him fill us.

May we all strive to this point in our spiritual lives. Because that will unlock the door on the path toward even greater things happening in our walks with the Lord.

Listen to the sermon here:

Join us for this special testimony of Don Brien. One year ago his son Caleb took is life. Today Don will share how God has worked in and continues to work in his heart. Watch Don on Facebook live by clicking on the image above.

One of the most powerful prayers we can utter as Christians is as follows: “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.”

That’s straight from the Bible. Mark’s Gospel describes a moment in Jesus’ ministry when a father wanted healing for his son who was being attacked by a spirit. Jesus told the desperate dad, “All things are possible for one who believes.” The dad’s reply? “I believe; help my unbelief!” And then Jesus healed his son.

Those words from that father should be encouraging to us. They demonstrate that belief is God can be hard! And, in fact, God wants more from us than merely belief; he wants faith. And we should want faith, too.

What does it look like to strengthen and grow in our faith? The passage we studied Sunday in the first five verses of 1 Thessalonians 3 gives us a glimpse of what real faith is. The Greek word Paul uses here for “faith” is “pistis” — and it implies something deeper than just agreeing with a concept or philosophy. And as we will discover, faith — real faith — is about truth and trust and action.

One of the big errors people make when thinking about belief and God and circumstances is that when we believe something is fair and just and reasonable — and it doesn’t come to fruition — then we tend to assume God isn’t real or has left us. But the sticking point is this: Fair and just and reasonable to us. It’s much easier to believe when circumstances line up with what we deem as part of the best plan.

But God doesn’t base his plan for the world and what happens to people day to day on what we believe should be done! No. It’s about what God decrees should be done — and we need to have the faith that he will carry it out.

There are three components to faith we will look at: Truth, trust, and action.

Let’s look at truth. When we study the Scriptures and truths it heralds, that increases our faith. The Bible’s teachings keep us grounded in the facts about God. And while truth certainly is crucial to faith, it’s not everything that encompasses faith.

The next component is trust. And it actually builds on the truth about God we already know. It’s about taking what we know and applying it to the unknowns of our lives. And there are sure a lot of unknowns, aren’t there? None of us know what’s going to happen from day to day. For a lot of us, simply waking up and getting out of bed is an act of trust. Trust is way more than agreeing with a concept; it’s admitting we don’t know what the day holds and moving forward with God’s strength anyway! It’s a state of being, not of belief alone.

The third aspect of faith is action. In James’ epistle, he discusses faith and works. And James drives it home for us: Mere belief isn’t enough to make faith complete! We actually need to “do something about our belief.” It means asking God every day, “How can I serve you?”

And let’s not forget our 5 takeaways from our Sunday study on how our faith can be strengthened — or in the Greek, “sterizo,” which suggests the idea of placing stakes in the ground in order to strengthen and hold up a young tree.

The first takeaway is to share with others what we’ve learned from our own failures. Ouch! No one wants to be that vulnerable and lay bare his or her weakest moments. But consider this: Peter did it! One of his lowest moments was denying Jesus three times before his crucifixion, yet Jesus foresaw Peter’s fall and told him to make sure that when he gets back on the road of faith to help his brothers.

Isn’t that amazing? Some may dismiss Peter as a screw-up. But perhaps more than anyone in the Bible, his life and ministry are open for us to examine and learn from. In truth, we are Peter! We falter just like he did. But Peter was willing to let others learn from his failures, and most definitely Peter did. Late in his life, the fisherman who once sank in the lake because he couldn’t maintain faith that Jesus was right there with him and of course denied his master three times managed to face down the Roman empire and led the young church there while penning two books of the Bible. You are Peter. I am Peter. We all are Peter.

The second takeaway: Interact with others while using our gifts. God has given each one of us talents and abilities and strengths. It’s our responsibility as believers to find out what those strengths are and to share them so that all of us can be mutually encouraged.

The third takeaway is recognizing that faith comes from God and allowing him to strengthen us. There’s a reason why Jesus is called the “author and perfecter” of our faith — it’s because he’s ultimately in charge of it. Sure, we have roles to play, but remember this: Faith isn’t something we whip up on our own power; rather it’s something we open our hearts to!

The fourth takeaway is living out our faith daily and being patient and relying on God in the process. There are a lot of benefits to waiting on the Lord — and often it means him doing something deeper in our hearts.

And finally, takeaway number five: Allow suffering to build your faith. That may seem strange to say, but for any of us who’ve been through hard times, we all know that it’s during those seasons of difficulty that God does his deepest work in us. Count on it.

Finally, remember this over the remainder of the week: We must all grow in our faith, for if we don’t, our faith can get left behind and replaced by other structures, idols, and falsehoods. Instead, let us all agree together to believe with every fiber of our beings that God has things in mind for us that far exceed what we can possibly imagine. So let us, again, turn to the Lord and cry: “I believe! Help me in my unbelief”

Our series on 1 Thessalonians — titled “Real Christians in Challenging Times” — had been planned for a quite a while before we finally began it a few weeks ago.

But who could have known that when we started it, our church — and our world — would begin battling a pandemic that has closed schools and businesses? That has put millions out of work? That has overwhelmed doctors and nurses? That has struck fear in hearts and minds? That has forced friends, family members, and coworkers to stay separated from each other?

It is indeed a challenging time. But it’s also an exciting time to be part of God’s plan for the planet. And we’ve been learning through our study of 1 Thessalonians that the Lord has given his sons and daughters in Christ many resources to deal with life’s challenges.

This past Sunday we looked at seven verses in chapter two. And at this stage of state-mandated social distancing measures — which have been in effect for a little over a month — we can all relate the Apostle Paul’s longing to be with his brothers and sisters in the church at Thessalonica. Check out what he writes in verse 17: But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face.”

Wow! We at Calvary Chapel Living Hope sure can relate to Paul’s longing. We were torn away from each other by the coronavirus — and we certainly want to be together again and see each other face to face. Paul’s term “torn away” in fact implies the idea of being orphaned. (It can feel like that sometimes, can’t it?) But he also uses the word “heart” — and we know that just as Paul couldn’t see his church family, he still shared a heart connection to them that’s beyond flesh and blood presence. And we have a heart connection with each other just like that!

And keep this unexpected blessing in mind too: Since we’ve started “virtual” small groups which meet online, we have more people in them than we had before the pandemic hit! Something else to consider: Before this crisis happened, a survey came out saying that 72% of people feel lonely. Can you imagine what those people who don’t have a church home are feeling right now? Where do they go for support? Where do they go to safely be vulnerable? Where do they go when they need prayer? Let us keep them in mind and in heart as we move forward to stay connected as a church body, even though we can’t be together in person.

In verse 13, Paul writes: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” Let’s look at the word “received.” The idea here is the same as when Jesus in Gospels tells his listeners that whoever welcomes one of these children welcomes him. It’s that kind of welcoming in and taking to heart, just as if you’re caring for a little boy or girl. That’s the degree to which the Thessalonians received the power of God’s word in their lives!

And God’s word is also “at work” in them. Which means that, just like the Thessalonians, God through his word empowers us and encourages us, especially when we’re frustrated or need energy to complete a task the Lord has given us to accomplish.

We’ve indeed covered a few more resources in this passage: First, our connectedness to each other; second, God’s word at work in our lives. And there is a third resource: Sharing the gospel with others. What does sharing the gospel mean to you? What has your experience been when you’ve tried it? It’s not always easy to do, that’s for sure. We’re treading on very personal ground with others since it means more or less telling them there’s sin in their lives (like there’s sin in everybody’s life), and they have an eternal need: Jesus.

And how many times have you heard non-Christians declare that they don’t need Christ in their lives? That they’re happy with the way things are? Well, remember — that may be true! God’s “common grace” falls upon everybody to one degree or another, and people who’ve been rejecting God still may be the recipients of his grace and mercy. It can be quite a concept for Christians to wrap their heads around, too, because seeing others living apparently happy lives without God can make our gospel efforts seem pointless. But take heart — they’re not! One of the biggest misunderstandings about the gospel is that it’s supposed to make us “happy.” Not true! The gospel is supposed to save us and launch us into an amazing relationship with God — one that certainly may take us to great heights of happiness … but also through dark times when we suffer, emotionally and physically. The gospel of Jesus rescues us from sin that would kill us eternally. It’s not built to make us temporally or materially “happy.”

When you’re faced with the other common misconception about the gospel — that God looks at our lives with a scale and determines that if we’ve done more good things than bad, he welcomes us into heaven — remember that’s also not true. Not even the person who’s done the most “good” things in life is worthy of heaven because everyone is still stained by sin. And Christ is the only one who can clean that sin from our lives as we put our trust in his finished work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Keep that in mind as you share the gospel with others.

And there’s one more thing we can examine from this passage. In verse 18, Paul tells the Thessalonians that Satan “hindered” him from coming to them. So, who is Satan, and what does he do? For starters, he’s a liar, an accuser, a tempter — and yes, a hinderer. He puts roadblocks in front of our best efforts so that hopefully (in his mind) our thoughts will stray from God and hurt our faith in him. But remember: Whatever hinderances or roadblocks Satan puts in front of us, God still wants to empower us — and to remember that when all is said and done, Satan will never destroy the church. Jesus said so. No amount of political unrest or persecution — and not even the coronavirus — will prevent the church from moving forward.

Consider what Satan and his angels may have realized after the pandemic forced churches to stop meeting in person around the world: Sure, all the churches may be empty … but instead churches opened up in every home. Nothing will ever stop or destroy Christ’s church. Count on it.

What was it like to be a follower of Jesus on the morning he rose from the tomb?

The Bible tells us that it all started when the sun was just coming up. The sky probably was still pitch black. But then an earthquake rumbled, an angel came down from heaven, and the guards were paralyzed with fear and fell down like dead men. At that point a group of women including Mary Magdalene visited the tomb where the angel told them Jesus is risen, just as he promised.

That was amazing enough — but then as the women began running to tell the disciples the wonderful news, Jesus suddenly was there in their midst. Boom! He literally interrupted their emotions and invaded their presence: “Do not be afraid,” he told them.

Can you imagine being one of those women — the first believers to see him risen from the dead? What did he look like? What did he sound like? Did he seem different? The same? They had front-row seats to the most important event in all of human history — and in that moment their lives were forever transformed. How could they not be? This Jesus was so much bigger than they ever could have imagined. And it of course gave them an entirely new meaning for living as Christ-followers.

But how does that affect you and me? Well, just like the women who literally ran into Jesus, we need to recognize how big God is, especially when he interrupts us.

Around the middle of the day, Jesus met two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They, too, had visited his tomb and didn’t find his body. They were downcast and upset. Even though they’d heard the news that the women saw Jesus alive, their countenances didn’t reflect the amazing news. And then suddenly there was Jesus, walking with them! But they didn’t know the true identity of this fellow traveler.

You know what else is interesting about his passage? These two disciples were walking in the wrong direction! Away from Jerusalem and all the action surrounding Jesus’ resurrection. But Jesus still came to be with them. And isn’t that just like us? We tend to move away from the Lord and drift in our thinking, too. It’s our sin nature pulling us like a magnet away from God and transporting us into selfishness. And yet, Jesus is right there in our wanderings away from him.

The disciples on the road to Emmaus also were victims of dashed expectations — which is also a lot like us. We’ve all had our share of disillusionments. We’ve had ideas in our heads of what our marriages, relationships, finances, and careers were supposed to be — but then in the aftermath maybe they haven’t been what we’d hoped for.

But then here comes Jesus, interrupting us in the middle of our wanderings — and turning our negative, ungodly thinking inside out! And just as he went through the Scriptures with the two disciples and showed them God’s huge plan to redeem the world, he also shows us that God is so much bigger that we ever could have imagined.

Of course, the pair of disciples still didn’t realize this guy who’s blowing their minds is Jesus, but they wanted to spend more time with him. So about 3 p.m. or so they all headed inside for a bite to eat and a rest. Then as Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, the two disciples’ eyes were opened, they recognized Jesus — and then he disappeared. Incredible!

But as it turns out, God gave them just what they needed: A momentary glimpse of the risen Lord. And that’s all they required to get moving — and that’s all we need too, isn’t it?

The first day of Jesus’ rising ends in the upper room in Jerusalem where the disciples — hunted by Roman soldiers and accused by the Jewish leaders of stealing Jesus’ body — were behind a locked door in total fear. What would they do? Where would they go? How will they survive when so many are out for their hides? And then suddenly Jesus interrupted their fearful debate and stood among them — just like he interrupted the women at the tomb in the morning; just like he interrupted the disciples on the road to Emmaus later in the day.

That’s what Jesus does to us, too. He has our lives in his hands, and all he wants is our attention, our devotion. And when he doesn’t get it or our eyes are focused elsewhere, Jesus thankfully interrupts our tiny thoughts that blind us to his presence, charges in — and changes us!

As the Lord himself stood in the upper room, he knew his friends were startled and scared. “Peace be with you,” he told them, also encouraging them to dismiss the doubts that were invading their minds. But soon Jesus would remove all disbelief that he was really there with them — just like he proves to us all the time that he’s right here with us.

The truth is that just like the disciples needed to experience Jesus in this way to empower them to do the amazing things in the church that the Lord had planned for them, we need that same touch from Jesus to accomplish our mission. And through the Bible, he’s telling us the same things: “Peace be with you” and “be not afraid.”

If you come away with one thought after our virtual Easter gathering this week, let it be this: Let Jesus interrupt you! Invite him to swoop into your life and tell you “be not afraid.” Ask him to give you new insights as you read the Word he wrote! He’ll do it all if you just ask.

Happy Easter, Calvary Chapel Living Hope!

Listen to sermon here:

Entering the Living Room of God

What do imagine the living room of God looks like? Or better yet, feels like? Could it be that it feels like the very best experiences we’ve ever had with friends and family over the years — times infinity? Every loving hug from your parents. Every birthday celebration. Every Christmas morning opening presents. All in the brightest technicolor you’ve ever seen — and your heart is full to overflowing, forever.

With that in mind, the passage we covered this past Sunday — 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 — is full of family metaphors. We find the Apostle Paul relating to the church in Thessalonica like a dad and a brother — and even as a mother! His words have great implications and applications to our own lives and in the life of our church. Let’s take a look once again.

In verse 7, Paul tells the Thessalonians he treated them with gentleness, like a “nursing mother taking care of her own children.” This reflects a sense of warmth and the act of cherishing others — the same way Jesus cherishes us. Verse 8 talks about Paul’s affection for the Thessalonians — so great that he and his coworkers were ready to share with them “not only the gospel of God” but also their own lives since the fledgling church “had become very dear” to them. That kind of love is reflected an agape love that we at Calvary Chapel Living Hope should have for one another — which always sees the value in others.

In verse 9, Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers” and reminds them how hard he worked on their behalf; not differently than a family member — especially parents — will go to any lengths for relatives. And in verse 10, Paul says his conduct was “holy and righteous and blameless” — which is what Christians should be able to count from each other on as we live life together.

Finally verses 11 and 12 show Paul saying, “like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” We don’t come to church just to get something; we come together with a sense of mission as we serve, encourage, and care for each other.

Clearly, we believers in Jesus are connected to each other as a family — and it’s with this family that we all enter the living room of God. And while we have connections to each other individually as well as in earthly family units, all of us also are connected to God — who provides our ultimate example of love.

As we concluded Sunday’s service, we looked at seven attributes of God that reminded us not only of who he is but also about what he gives to us:

  1. God is loving. When it comes to entering God’s living room, often we want to move on — but believe it or not, God wants us to move in. God is inviting us in because he loves us!
  2. God is gentle. Gentleness is not a synonym for weakness; rather God uses gentleness as a strength in our lives.
  3. God is righteous. Perhaps you’re thinking right now that you are unworthy to enter God’s living room because you don’t measure up to God’s righteousness. Well, it’s true. None of us measures up; but it’s not true that you’re unworthy — only because of Christ’s righteousness can we enter God’s living room with boldness and confidence. And now that we trust in Jesus, and he lives in our hearts, God no longer looks at our sin. All he sees is Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice.
  4. God works hard. In our day-to-day lives we tend to focus on the work we’re doing — but God is looking at the work he’s doing in us.
  5. God encourages us. We’re the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter and encourager — and who is with us always.
  6. God comforts us. In the Gospels, Jesus once said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Do you believe that God does nothing but demand things of us? Well, it’s not true. More than anything God just wants to be with us — and for us to spend time with him. And that can be done by coming before God’s presence with the simple expectation that he will give us rest and comfort — and that we can experience that with him.
  7. God points the way. The Bible says the only way into this amazing living room of God is through Jesus Christ. And if you haven’t let Jesus be that entryway yet, you can ask him to be your Lord and Savior right now.

Amid the heightened challenges we’ve been facing, amid the social distancing that’s made it impossible for us to be in the same room as a church, all of us nevertheless can still look to God and come into his living room together. We don’t need a physical building for that, and we don’t need to be in the same physical space, either. Let us instead thank the Lord for the challenge he’s placed before us in this strange but exciting time, let God lead us to connect with each other in every way we can, and encourage each other with words from 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

See the sermon video here:

Entrusted with the gospel

The word “gospel” means “good news.” You might say that it’s a rescue package — and all you have to do to receive it is to believe in Jesus. As Christians we have the rescue package. The solution to the problem of sin that runs rampant through this world. And we know this because when we became Christians, we recognized our own brokenness and sin and asked Jesus to forgive us and come into our hearts. That’s the gospel. It’s for you, it’s for me, it’s for everybody.

In this strange and scary time, all of our lives have been turned inside out and upside down in one way or another. The COVID-19 virus is of course something all of us are trying to stamp out and avoid contracting. But in another way, it’s a sobering reminder of the reality of sin — the sin that’s blemished and damaged our world. In fact, the Bible says that when sin came into our world, the whole world groaned. COVID-19 is a sign that our planet and those who live upon it are broken. But the exciting and encouraging reality is that all of us as believers have the rescue package. The solution. The cure. The antidote. The vaccine. And it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus came into our broken world to rescue us. And when we accept Jesus into our lives and hearts as Savior and Lord, we receive not only his salvation and eternal life — but also something very powerful in our lives right now. Just as a hiker may encounter another hiker on a trail who’s hungry or injured — and then gives that hungry or injured hiker nourishment or care from within his backpack — we as believers can do the same thing as we walk our spiritual paths carrying our rescue backpacks. And all we have to do is open them up and freely offer what’s inside to outstretched hands and hearts.

You may say, “How can God give me that? I don’t have the righteousness for that.” Exactly right! You don’t have that righteousness. None of us has it. But as believers in Christ, we rely on Jesus’ righteousness, not our own. You also may say, “I’m not qualified for this — to be entrusted with the gospel.” Again, true — in and of yourself, you aren’t qualified. But God is.

As we read in Sunday’s passage — 1 Thessalonian 2:1-6 — Paul in verse 4 tells his fellow believers that he and Timothy and Silas “have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” That’s true for all of us: God has approved us to be entrusted with the gospel — the good news. We are worthy of that trust because the Lord is worthy; we are qualified and passed God’s test because Jesus already passed it for us.

In that spirit, let’s remind ourselves from this passage from Paul’s letter the four elements that characterize being entrusted with the gospel:

  1. The first is that the gospel is full, not empty. Paul in verse 1 tells the Thessalonian church that “our coming to you was not in vain.” There is life and fullness in their message.
  • The second element is that the gospel is about boldness instead of fearfulness. In verse 2, Paul says that despite their sufferings, he and his proclaimers of the gospel delivered it boldly. That’s because the gospel is the antidote for anxiety and the ultimate answer to life — and having that rescue package makes every other difficulty much, much smaller.
  • The third element is that that there’s complete genuineness and sincerity in the gospel and in how we deliver it and proclaim it to others. Paul declares in verse 3 that he and his fellow workers weren’t lying or seeking flattery or money. May we have that same spirit as we proclaim the good news.

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  • Finally, in verse 6 Paul says he wasn’t after glory for himself. As we are entrusted with the gospel, we must remember that it’s not about us or building ourselves up. It’s about others. It’s about being selfless.

In these trying times when so much is up in the air — our health, our finances, our jobs, and even our day-to-day connection to each other as a church — let us remember that we each carry a rescue package. And it isn’t just for us; it’s for others. Our world is waiting for us who’ve been granted an everlasting vaccine from the effects of sin to share it with them. There’s even more isolation, loneliness, and anxiety out there these day for those without Jesus in their lives. But the exciting thing is that the Lord is inviting us to be the deliverers of his message rescue to them.

Listen to the sermon here:

What does spiritual vitality look like in our lives?

The theme we’re examining as we go through 1 Thessalonians as a church is “Being Real Christians in Challenging Times.” It’s not hard to figure out how such a theme applies to all of us right now, is it?

On Sunday we continued our journey through the very first book of the Bible the Apostle Paul wrote and got into verses 5 through 10 of chapter 1. Starting off we’re introduced to the idea of being “imitators” and “examples.” Verses 6 and 7 say, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

If we’re serious about living out our Christian faith, we will look at those around us we can imitate or take after. Particularly in the first-century church, persecution and danger lurked everywhere for believers in Christ — and naturally they had to have been asking themselves, “How do we live under pressure as believers?” Well, one of the best ways to do so — then and now — is to be a good imitator. But here’s the other side of that coin: Once we become imitators and have a grasp of how the Christian life should be lived, we then become examples. In this circle of the spiritual life, we who’ve been blessed with instruction and understanding must do the same thing for others coming after us!

Further, the importance of spiritual vitality shines through the passage as we see four related traits of believers: They are centered on others, they are Bible powered, and they endure under pressure and exhibit supernatural joy. Let’s look at those traits.

In verse 5 Paul tells the Thessalonians that he and his companions came to them for their sake. That’s what it means to be centered on others. In times of crisis and persecution, many people focus on themselves — but as believers in Jesus, we’re called to look out for the needs of others as more important than our own. So, if you’re feeling pressure from outside forces today, it’s time to get into God’s word and see the best path to relief from anxiety — especially during a crisis like COVID-19 — is to reach out to others who may be in need.

In verse 8 we read that “the word of the Lord sounded forth from” the Thessalonian church. What a tribute to the young church from the Apostle Paul! He recognized that his flock was all about the business of “echoing out” the Good News of the gospel. And one incredibly important thing to remember — particularly now when any number of people you know are looking for answers — is that more than likely you are the gospel, and people see the gospel in you. Long before they crack open a Bible! That’s a sobering but exhilarating idea.

Following that same thought in verse 9, we find Paul looking into the pasts of believers who — like most people of their time and place — worshiped idols made of stone, wood, or metal instead of the true God. But do idols have to be things we can touch? Of course not. For us, idols are anything we worship or bow down to. How does such a definition impact your own life? Well, is your idol the stock market, your personal financial security, your health? Thing is, the stock market — for all the power it’s been exuding lately — has been in free fall and is incredibly unstable at the moment. There are so many things we can’t control — but we do know the Lord is the one who’s in control of all things. And that has to be part of our communication of the gospel.

Finally verse 10 says we’re to wait for Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. We learned Sunday that the Greek word for the verb “to wait” takes on the meaning of to “remain up.” Interestingly last week we talked about having steadfast hope — and the Greek meaning for that idea is to “remain under.” In this latest passage, we see that the idea of “remain up” is closely related to our lives not being bound to earthly things since we’re waiting for Jesus, the Son, to come back from Heaven. These days people are waiting for a lot of things besides Jesus Christ: They’re waiting to start socializing again, they’re waiting for the COVID-19 infection rate to reduce, they’re waiting for their kids to go back to school and for the economy to improve — all very important things. But as Christians we have supernatural joy about what Jesus is going to do in our lives whether there’s a deadly virus going around the world or not. And we always should wait on Jesus to deliver us as we “remain up” in our worship of him.

Listen to the sermon here:

Hi Friends, we want to share some links to resources to help you keep growing spiritually even while we can’t meet together in person on Sunday mornings.

Worship at Home with Contemporary Christian Music

K-Love Radio: 106.9 FM. They also have an app.

Star 99.1 FM Radio. You can also listen online through their website.

Pandora online music. Search for Contemporary Christian music stations. I also enjoy Instrumental stations like Jim Brickman and David Lanz.

Devotions and Bible Reading Plans

YouVersion App. The Bible App, and The Bible App for Kids. Read devotions and group plans to read through the Bible, including: The Bible Project Reading Plan

The Bible Project: Videos for each book of the Bible and topical videos

First Five Bible Study App, short but meaningful daily devotions

Faith and Fun For Kids

God’s Big Story: 15-minute podcast for kids that tells Bible stories in very creative and fun ways.

Adventures in Odyssey Club: Daily devotions for kids, and unlimited streaming of more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey radio drama episodes. Great content for the whole family. Free Trial to test it out.

Free Audio Books – Parents can pick and choose free audio books for their children.

20 Virtual Field Trips: Art Museums, Zoos, Aquariums, and more

Strengthen Your Family

Visionary Family Ministries : is offering FREE streaming access to six video Bible studies along with participant workbooks. The Scriptures shared in these studies have the power to transform family relationships.

Weekly Family Devotions from The Bible Project: Sign up at this link to receive weekly Video, summary teaching, and Scriptures to discuss together.

Please share more ideas and links in the comments! Thanks!

The coronavirus suddenly has affected every one of us. And not just at Calvary Chapel Living Hope, but in every church across America and across the globe. And at this time when the earthly foundations of our everyday lives begin to buckle under, each of us must ask ourselves, “What empowers you to keep going in life?”

The passage in our brand-new series we covered on Sunday in 1 Thessalonians answers that question.

One of the interesting aspects of this book of the Bible is that it’s the very first letter the Apostle Paul wrote. He did so after a series of journeys and escapes from persecution, and one of the spots he landed in — for a mere four weeks — was Thessalonica in Greece. After his stay, Paul was in Corinth for over a year, waiting for his companions Silas and Timothy to bring him news of how the churches they planted were doing. Finally, Paul’s friends showed up — and brought him amazing news: The church in Thessalonica was flourishing! With that, Paul put pen to parchment and sent his fellow believers an inspiring, encouraging message.

Paul writes in verse 2, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.” That gets to the very heart of what we’re looking at today: What empowers us to keep going is life is God’s power. This gospel power through prayer enables each of us to grasp God’s supernatural strength so it can be unleashed in our lives.

Verse 3 continues, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith. Love. Hope.

Let’s look at faith first. Paul doesn’t mean merely a belief system. Real faith goes beyond that; it’s as an active, living force in our lives — and we need that kind of faith, because we don’t have enough of it on our own. It’s the kind of faith from God during dark times. Through anxieties. Through hardships. Through job losses. Through divorce and loss of friendships. Through death and through disease. Exercising that real faith means taking bigger and bigger steps toward God each day, even when the path appears too daunting. Because with God, all things are possible! And when we’re faced with what seems impossible, we need to move forward and give it all over to God. Note to self: Get more faith.

Now let’s look at love. Of course, we’re talking about agape love — the love associated with God’s unconditional love for us. But like faith, this kind of love is more than a feeling or an emotion; it’s a power God grants us so it can be used. So we can put it into action. Love must be our motivation, each day. We must act not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. Note to self: Get more love.

Finally let’s examine hope. The Greek word for hope means to “remain under.” And Paul spells it out so well, telling the Thessalonians that their endurance (or steadfastness) was “inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Think about that: When you consider the struggle to just get through the day, to deal with school closings, and curfews, and reports of the coronavirus spreading deeper into our communities — that all takes endurance and steadfastness. And where does such strength come from? Hope that God has given us!

God is working in all of our lives right now. He’s been there in the good times, and now for all of us, this is a bad time. But he’s here all the same. God allows us to live in challenging situations in order to stretch us. We don’t merely agree with a belief system, we don’t merely feel love, and we don’t sense hope like it’s 50-50 proposition and we’re crossing our fingers and we’re “hoping for the best.” No. Faith, love, and hope from God is rock solid. And with those powers inside of us, God wants to do incredible, supernatural things in our lives. Let us believe on that as we move forward in these days to come.

Listen to the sermon here:

Are you a giver or a taker?

As you no doubt know, givers think about others and look to their well-being while takers think about themselves and how they can take advantage of others. (There also are “matchers” who will do for you as long as you do for them.)

But as Christians, we’re givers. We have no choice. Indeed, we’re all born as takers and inherit a sin nature, but Christ has come into our lives and turned us into givers. And God is the ultimate giver: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at commitments of faith as revealed in Nehemiah: First, obeying God, then the marriage relationship, and then letting God control our business and financial lives. This past Sunday we examined the fourth commitment — taking care of the house of the Lord. And that “Are you a giver or taker?” question most definitely came into play.

We noticed in Nehemiah 10:32-38 that a whole lot of work and people-powered service went into the care of the temple. There was financial giving so the temple could run, of course, but also there were feasts, festivals, offerings — as well as the giving of wood, crops, and cattle. And the key word: Firstfruits. In other words, the Israelites gave back first a portion to the Lord what the Lord freely gave to them.

In terms of principles, our church operates in much the same way. At Calvary Chapel Living Hope, our short- and long-term goals are the same: Evangelism, discipleship, and mobilization. But to continue focusing on those goals requires that we all be the givers that God has turned us into through Jesus.

While giving certainly isn’t all about money and finances, that is a part of what our giving and service means. But also it’s crucial to know deep in our souls that when we give to the church, we’re really giving to God. We’re really serving God. And when we give, we also give away our selfishness.

We started off our time with the question, “Are you a giver or a taker?” But we also explored a second question: “Are you a leader or a follower?” And the answer to that question has huge implications for how we function as the body of Christ — and not just at Calvary, but globally. In short, we’re all leaders, and we’re all followers. Obviously we all follow Jesus, who is Head of the church and guides and leads us. Pastors provide leadership as well, as the one who teaches, guards, and equips the flock.

But all of us also are leaders! When we became Christians and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when our hearts turned toward following God, when the Holy Spirit empowered us, all of us were given spiritual gifts. Which means that by identifying your spiritual gift and letting God unleash it, you are impacting the church. In fact, the exercise of your spiritual gift (or gifts) will change the course of the church!

But it all starts with your willingness to be a giver.

Listen to the sermon here:

What does it mean to be committed to the Lord?

That’s the question we’ve been exploring over the last couple of weeks in our study of Nehemiah. We’ve been encountering the Israelites rediscovering their spiritual lives and declaring they want to make changes and be committed to God.

We initially looked at how they learned to be obedient to the Lord — the first commitment. Then we looked at valuing and raising up the marriage relationship — the second commitment.

Then this past Sunday we investigated how to operate in our business and financial lives — and it comes from this verse in Nehemiah 10:31: “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.”

Let’s first look at the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament. As believers in Christ, we’re not under the Law as the Israelites were in Nehemiah. But the Old Testament nevertheless contains valuable principles we can apply to our lives today.

The Jews honored and celebrated the Sabbath. As Christians, we do not. But why? The answer has to do with covenants God set up between himself and his people in the Old Testament. There was God’s “rainbow” promise to Noah that no more floods will cover the Earth; there was God’s promise to Abraham that all nations of world would be blessed through him, which extended all the way through to Christ. Then there were the covenants of circumcision and keeping the Sabbath day to set apart the Israelites. And then we find the prophecy in Jeremiah 31, in which God tells the Israelites that he will write the Law on their hearts — a sign of a new covenant to come in Jesus.

With the coming of Christ, there’s a shift from the Law to grace. There will be no more temple sacrifices needed — Jesus made one sacrifice on the cross for all and for all time. Through Christ’s covenant, we are now the temple where the Holy Spirit lives, giving us the closest possible relationship with the Lord. As for the Sabbath day and keeping it holy, as believers in Jesus, he instead gives us the rest we need, and we’re no longer required to keep the Sabbath day.

So, what do we do with a passage like Nehemiah 10:31, where we find the Israelites declaring they won’t do business on the Sabbath day? Well, the idea of Sabbath-like rest is still very valuable — and can apply to how we go about our financial lives. And namely it’s about Who is ultimately in control: God! If the Lord is responsible for our livelihoods, then we will be trusting him and letting him impact the way we work at our jobs and businesses. Do you bring your work home all the time? Do you labor 24/7? Is your mind constantly on money — how much is coming in, how much is going out? Where does God fit into all of that? By finding time to rest from our labors, we’re saying to God, “I trust you. May your will be done in my financial life.”

The verse in Nehemiah also talks about leaving the ground fallow every seventh year — which is a principle that farmers still use. It’s about using the Earth in a respectful, healthy, sustainable way and not continually robbing from it. But that also requires trust in God. Leaving the ground fallow one season so it can replenish itself means that we won’t be able to use it for a while — but again, it comes back to the question: How much am I trusting God and believing that he will sustain me?

Finally, the verse talks about cancelling all debts every seventh year. This is a valuable principle that shows us not only caution in terms of loaning to others but the power of giving to others. When we do things like loan money to family and friends, for example, that can forever change those relationships — and often in negative ways. But when we freely give, we don’t have to worry about those relationships changing negatively — as all good gifts ultimately come from the Lord.

So let us take time to rest from our labors as we trust in God to provide for us and deepen our relationships with him; let us honor the Earth that God has given us and be good stewards of it; and let us freely give to each other as the Lord freely gives to us.

Listen to the Sermon here:

Previously in Nehemiah we looked at the Israelites as they learned what it means to obey God and keep his commandments. For them — and for us, too — that’s the first commitment: To know God and obey him.

This past Sunday we encountered the second commitment to God — and it has to do with marriage. The verse we focused on — Nehemiah 10:30 — talks about a commitment the people made to God, as they promise “not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.”

Valuing and raising up the marriage commitment is as important for us as it was for the Israelites. But just as the Israelites came out of a culture devoid of God, we find ourselves in the same predicament. Our culture today clearly doesn’t value marriage the way God does. Divorce and sexual immorality aren’t just rampant; they’re the norm. And sadly, it’s not so different a lot of the time with Christians and the church.

These days our culture — and many Christians, too — view marriage through four lenses: Experience, passion, culture and school, and entertainment. So … what has your experience taught you about marriage? Perhaps you come from a broken home or saw your parents fighting all the time. Or perhaps you’ve been divorced or are in a difficult marriage right now. All of which probably tells you that marriage maybe isn’t such a great thing or a wise choice. Or maybe you’re viewing marriage through the lens of passion. In other words, sexual attraction. And if that’s your criteria for choosing a mate, you will find yourself ultimately disappointed.

Then there’s the influence of culture and school — both of which are driven by humanistic values rather than biblical values. Scripture says “in the beginning, God” — the Lord is the One who is in control. But with humanism, things happen by chance and evolve. It’s about how we feel. These days if you approach sexuality and marriage from a biblical foundation, those in our schools and in our culture say there’s something wrong with you. You’re out of date. Behind the times. And worse, if it’s discovered that you don’t endorse the trend of “gender fluidity” and LGBTQ acceptance, you’re seen as an enemy. Of course, we’re not talking about doing away with compassion for those caught up in such values, but at the same time it doesn’t mean we compromise ours.

Finally, there’s the lens of entertainment. And we don’t have to say much about that, do we? For many years now, movies and television and the media in general have been celebrating sexual freedom and liberation, and it’s sold to us every time we look at a screen — and a biblical view of marriage is nowhere to be found. That’s a lot of daily pressure on Christians.

But just as the Israelites have decided they want a new commitment to God and want to do marriage right, we believers today must do the same.

For young people especially, don’t fall in love — you’ll only fall overboard! Instead, plan your love life. Ask God to provide a person for you who isn’t merely a Christian but also who’s on fire for Christ and growing in faith. Don’t make your marriage choice based on physical attraction and compatibility. That’s the world’s criteria — and it’s an unstable foundation. Why? Because people change over time. The person you’re so compatible with now may develop new interests over time, and you’ll find yourselves not enjoying the same things you enjoy together now. What’s more, the person you’re attracted to physically at present may not be so physically attractive to you five or 10 years down the line. Equating sex and attraction is a recipe for disaster. It’s the world’s way. But God designed sex for something much better: Spiritual oneness. It’s part of your devotion to God with your spouse. Sex is actually a spiritual activity. It’s about deep commitment and connection. And that will last.

So, ask yourselves: Is the person I want to marry kind? Is that person sacrificial? How does that person treat others? How devoted is that person to the Lord? While we live in a broken world, God is still in control — and he gave us principles to help us grow and keep us close to him. Let’s all approach marriage valuing as highly as God values it.

Listen to the sermon here:

The movie Chariots of Fire is based on a true story, in part about Scottish runner Eric Liddell — a Christian who’s looking to compete in the 1924 Olympics. But Liddell’s sister — also a Christian — puts pressure on him to return to China as a missionary.

And at one point, Eric tells his sister that he’s finally decided to go to China — but that he first has a lot of running to do.

“I believe that God made me for a purpose — for China,” Eric tells his sister. “He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”

Eric’s passion for running has hit a noble height: He doesn’t run for his own glory or to feel proud of himself or for the personal thrill of winning. He runs because he recognizes God has gifted him with fleet legs and feet — and when he exercises that gift, he senses God cheering.

Cheering on his creation that he made for a specific reason and purpose.

In our passage in Nehemiah 10:28-29, we find the Israelites have reached a point in their spiritual lives where they want to make an oath to God to keep all the commands he’s given them in the Law of Moses. But their decision to obey is not due to a desire for reward or fear of punishment or even their growing wisdom, trust, or gratitude to the Lord. They’ve been down those roads with God already — and now they’re experiencing passion for him.

They want to obey God out of love for him.

Each of us faces the same question every hour of every day: Will I obey God? But there’s another important question: Why will I obey God? What is our motivation for doing what he wants us to do?

Make no mistake, it’s always better to obey God than disobey God — no matter what your motivation! But as we grow in our spiritual lives, we should be arriving at a place where obeying God means much more than hoping good things will come to us as a result of obedience … or merely to avoid pain or heartache … or not wanting to anger the Lord.

Hopefully, we’re on a road of learning that there’s real wisdom in obeying God — and more, that he’s even taken us through hard times and difficult circumstances to show us how trustworthy he is. Maybe we’re even at a point where we gratefully obey God because of how much he’s done for us.

Again, all great motivations. But the best place to be in our relationship with God is when we obey out of love.

It’s very much akin to a long marriage at its peak, with a husband and wife who have been and continue to be committed to each other. They’ve been through thick and thin together — and they discover they don’t love each other because each does nice things for the other … or that they’re compatible … or that they’re constantly full of pleasant feelings. No. Instead their love has deepened as a result of their commitment. And the intense feelings they experienced early in their relationship have blossomed and matured into delight for each other.

It’s the same in our relationship with God. Psalm 34:7 spells it out: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

And finally, in a deep and long marriage, there’s always sacrifice … laying down our lives for the other. Giving things up … even good, legitimate possessions and experiences and pursuits. Again, it’s the same way in our love relationship with God. There will be good things we will say “no” to — things we sacrifice. But when we’re deeply committed to the Lord, the result is more depth … indeed, more of God.

Which is exactly where we ought to be.

Listen to the sermon here:

Listen to the sermon here:

How do you respond to someone who says, “My sins are too great to be forgiven?” What if you are that person?

Well, God has an answer — and it’s all about how big and great and powerful he is … and also about how much smaller we are and utterly helpless without God we are.

Consider the long prayer from the Levites in Nehemiah 9 we went over Sunday. It encompasses these truths — and watch out, because they’re truths that will set us free. Free to surrender and receive God’s boundless love and free to let go of the lie that our sins are too great for God to handle.

First, let’s recall God’s attributes that the long prayer described. Namely, that God is far greater than we can imagine (vs. 4-5) … that the Lord keeps his promises (vs. 7-9) … and is faithful (vs. 10-11) … and is personal with us and communicates to us (vs. 12-14) … and is compassionate toward us and cares for us (v. 15) … and is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love (vs. 17-18) … and is good (vs. 19-25). But another aspect of God’s love is that he disciplines us (v. 27). And in those times when we cry out for help? You’d better believe that God listens to us (v. 27). Not only that, he delivers us, even after warning us (v. 28). Indeed, the Lord is forever patient with us (v. 30) … and is gracious and merciful (v. 31).

Wow. What a portrait of just a few of the Lord’s amazing attributes and qualities! And have you noticed those qualities also have a major common denominator? Us! His people. They’re all about God covenanting with his human creation. And that brings us to our attributes — indeed, our failures. The prayer in Nehemiah touches on them, too, and it’s not a pretty picture — but it’s a true, accurate image of us. And we need to acknowledge that very human portrait so that through it we may grow closer to God. First off, we’re arrogant, stiff-necked, disobedient, poor listeners, forgetful, and rebellious (vs. 16-17). Yikes! Talk about a list of unappealing attributes to kick things off! But the prayer isn’t finished laying it out. In addition, we’ve even committed blasphemy (v. 18) and turned our backs on God (v. 26) and have done evil (v. 28). And verses 29 and 30 underscore how sinful we are in all of those respects.

So back to the original question: What if someone, maybe even it’s you, believes his or her sins are too great for God to forgive? Well, given that short list of our shortcomings, it’s no wonder we can get caught up in thinking stuff like that from time to time. But latch on to this: Isn’t that kind of thinking a way of elevating ourselves just a bit — or rather bringing God down to our level and measuring God’s abilities through our human lens? We must cast such temporal, faulty thinking aside and refocus on God’s attributes, which ultimately are unmeasurable by all our human efforts and intellect.

In the end, the question isn’t, “How can God forgive the truckload of sins I’ve committed over the course of my life — they’re too big and too many — because just one act of one of our human failures previously described (oh, and there are more!) separates us from the Father. But even facing that dire truth, the Good News is that all those amazing attributes of God flow freely, all the time — and God, in his unending patience, is just waiting for us to turn that nozzle on so his love can wash over us. Won’t you let that happen today, right now?

The verse we’re memorizing as a body — 1 John 3:1 — captures this perfectly: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”

Let it flow.

Listen to the sermon here:

In today’s passage, we find the Jews desiring to start over with the Lord. To turn over a new leaf. To begin a new chapter, get clean, put their wanderings behind them, and move forward with God.

What they were after is what we all need today: Spiritual renewal.

But what does that mean? And how and when do we do it — and why?

A helpful way to look at the process of spiritual renewal is through four components: Confession, Separation, the Word, and Worship. You might say they represent the “how” of spiritual renewal.

Let’s take a quick look at them:

  1. Confession: Everybody does wrong. All the time. We can’t help it. It’s part of our sin nature. But while the world often says we’re doing OK as long as we keep more tokens in the “good ledger” than the “bad ledger,” Christianity is far different. The way of Jesus starts with admitting and taking responsibility for our sins, our mistakes, our transgressions — so we can be forgiven and have the slate wiped clean. Which sets us up for spiritual renewal.
  2. Separation: We were created for community, but there are times when we need to pull ourselves away from the world — a world that often corrupts and stains us — so we can effectively refocus on God. In the Nehemiah 9 passage, the Jews fasted and donned sackcloth and put ashes on their heads. Why? They were ways of physically reminding themselves that sometimes with comfort comes complacency. When we get hungry due to fasting, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves why we’re fasting and to harness God’s power over our fleshly desires. Same thing with sackcloth — itchy, uncomfortable clothing — as well as covering their heads with dust. Who doesn’t want to get rid of all that stuff and get clean?
  3. The Word. In the third verse of Nehemiah 9, the Jews spent a notable part of the day — about three hours it turns out — reading from the Law. While confession and separation are about removing things that don’t belong in our lives, the Word is about filling ourselves up. It’s another strategic step in spiritual renewal. (Do you have a method in place for getting into the Bible daily? If not, why not try John Piper’s Solid Joys app? Or something similar you enjoy? It’s so easy with today’s technology to get connected to God’s Word in an instant. Why not give it try today?)
  4. And for our fourth element, we have … Worship. Nehemiah 9 also says the Jews spent time in worship during the time they spent in confession. Here’s an encouragement: We can confess our sins while we’re worshiping God. One needn’t follow the other or go in a particular order. Confession can give way to worship when we feel the joy of God’s forgiveness; worshiping God can remind us of his love, which can lead to confession when we’ve fallen short.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “When do we exercise the process of spiritual renewal? Once a year? Once a month? Weekly Daily?” How about this for an answer: Continually! It’s more than a task on a time sheet; it’s a lifestyle. We should strive to be in a constant state of mindfulness regarding God’s desire to renew us — continually. Do you have a quiet time at night? Great! But why wait until bedtime to ask God to forgive you for this or that? Or to pray for others? Not that we shouldn’t have such a time set aside — but we also can adopt a continual attitude of spiritual renewal throughout the day. (Sort of like living as if God really is by our side always — as he is!)

Finally, it will help us if we also ask why: Why do we need spiritual renewal? Answering this question will assist us during those times when we’re on auto pilot and forget why we’re doing it in the first place.

Simply put, the reason we need spiritual renewal is because it clarifies our purpose, our mission, our identity in Christ. Like food and drink in preparation for a race, it gives us the energy we need to live as believers in this world.

So, come partake. Taste and see that the Lord is good. You need not call ahead for a reservation; you always have a place at his table of spiritual renewal. Plus, his gathering place is never closed, and your money’s no good there.

Come.

Listen to the sermon here:

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that in the rush and activity and cares of day-to-day life, it’s incredibly easy to forget about God.

From the simple act of heading to work or school all the way to complicated circumstances involving relationships, finances, and health, our limited, mortal minds and hearts aren’t always geared toward God as much as they should be.

This can be especially prevalent when things are going well, right? How many of us tend to put the Lord on the back burner when life is rich with success and happiness — only to come back to God for help when things take a wrong turn.

In today’s passage (Nehemiah 8: 13-18), Ezra reads from the Law to his fellow Israelites a command from God to “live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month.” And why? So they all will remember what they went through during their desert wanderings — and that God was the One who brought them out of captivity and into the Promised Land.

Ezra may have read from a passage like Deuteronomy 8:10-18, which reminds the Jewish people to “be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands … Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” 

But instead what we find in this Nehemiah passage is the people heeding the command to build temporary shelters so they will remember the Lord — and verse 17 says, “The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.”

Remembering and thanking God is a joyful act, isn’t it? True, the world we live in combined with our sinful natures makes it easy to forget the Lord. But there are things we can do to counteract that — even using the technology that often sidetracks us.

We can use apps and email sign-ups to provide moments every day to get into God’s word, even with the expectation that the Lord will show us something great, something life changing. We can apply what we’ve learned each day, whether that means encouraging just one person, talking to somebody who’s in need or lonely, or integrating our faith into everything we do.

But the bottom line is this: Remember the Lord. Always.

Listen to the sermon here:

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength “, now if you want to exercise this Joy in your life, Nehemiah is going to go on in the passage and tell us how to do that. How do we maximize this joy, how do we exercise this joy solution when our hearts are heavy?

This what Nehemiah told the people they needed to do:
1) Go and celebrate God’s grace by enjoying a meal together, allowing God to bring joy into their hearts to deal with the mourning, regrets and the grieving that’s going on.
2) Share God’s grace with others, by sharing their food with others and shifting their focus from their pain to others who can be blessed.
3) Finally they’re going to understand God’s word by listening intently and seeing that He is at work in their past, present and futures. Joy at its depth is understanding God and what He’s done for us.

Today is the day we’re going to embrace the joy of the Lord in our hearts. Today is the day we’re going to be different people. We’re going to think about the future, we’re going to allow God to forgive us for the past, and when the grief and the loss and the pain that we experience in our hearts reveals itself, we are going to rely on the joy of the Lord as our strength.

And that joy’s going to grow to be so strong that we may not forget the regrets and the mourning, but the perspective of having the joy of the Lord as our strength allows us to be able to have compassion on others, to be able to give a testimony about the things we’ve done in the past that we regret, and bless others in the midst of that.

Listen to the sermon here:

There’s nothing like anticipating something great: A movie we’ve been dying to watch, seeing a friend or family member after a long time apart, or waiting for that great meal as the ingredients coming together waft through the air.

God wants us to come to Him and His word with that same sense of wonder and anticipation — that the Lord will reveal something life-changing and profound when we open the Bible and let Him speak to us through it.

This passage in Nehemiah describes a group of people who very likely were eagerly awaiting the public reading God’s word. It was a huge moment because no one had “Bibles” to carry around back then — much less instant access to verses on the Internet. So, the occasion was momentous and profound.

And think about it: Centuries upon centuries have passed since then — but we’re reading the same truths. And we have access to the same power of God.

How? Exactly how Nehemiah’s people accessed it: Reading God’s word, believing it, declaring it — and last but not least, obeying it. When we as Christians combine our faith and belief in Jesus and the reading of His word, great things will happen — not just in our own lives, but in our church, in our communities, in our country, and in our world.

God wants to unleash his power in our lives today — right now. It’s all there for those of us who believe. But we have to want it — and take that first step by opening up God’s word. Won’t you do that today?

Link to the Sermon here:

Now that it’s the year 2020, why not pause for a moment right now as you’re reading these words and briefly reflect upon what you accomplished in 2019.

Did you make more money or increase your assets? Did you get a promotion at work or a better job? Did you improve your health? Did you make strides in your relationships with people — or in your relationship with God?

Today’s passage deals with a similar theme, as it’s about an important milestone Nehemiah reached.

But while achieving visible goals is important, we also must remember that God looks at our hearts, too, and sees deeper ways we’re growing and changing — strides that often aren’t measurable.

Nehemiah has just built the wall of Jerusalem and set the doors in place — a huge accomplishment! But afterward he shifted his focus. First, he solidified the wall by appointing gatekeepers to look after it. Then he celebrated the milestone by appointing musicians and Levites to lead his people in the worship of God. 

Whatever measurable goals we reach, let’s follow Nehemiah’s example by solidifying and celebrating them according to God’s will. 

What does God want to accomplish in your life in 2020? What changes does he want to make in your heart? Whatever those things are and wherever God leads, let’s all make sure to take the necessary steps to keep the Lord at the center of our “to-do” lists.

We all need the ability to focus. It’s not just about focusing on getting things done and doing, but God has this call on our lives, the call to be more like Christ.

In the midst of the challenges in our day or the struggles that we face, it’s the focus that helps us to remain centered in our relationship with the Lord. When we’re centered in our relationship with Christ, then God is able to do more work in our hearts.

Our passage today is about distraction.

Nehemiah is distracted in three ways: opportunities, criticism, and fear. I think those are things that we face in our lives. Sometimes we don’t even know what’s going on with the distractions. We just kind of go with them and we don’t realize what they are doing.

We can admire Nehemiah as a leader that we can emulate because of his ability to say NO. “No, I’m not going to do this,” He’s has pondered and realized that the distractions aren’t helpful and he takes a stand to remain steadfast in what God had for prepared for him to do.

When is it acceptable for Christians to feel anger? We live in a world full of social injustice. Through this sermon you will learn about Nehemiah’s righteous anger and how through his anger he was close to God’s heart. “When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. ” You will learn when it is justified to feel angry and how to handle it, to become part of a solution. “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?

Why do we act with integrity? We’re act with integrity because we know that we serve a God that’s concerned about justice in our world. We know that we believe in a God that’s concerned about the hearts of people, the needs of people, and that He’s chosen us to be part of the solution to those challenges.

Pastor Scott – “So I go away from this message that I read in Nehemiah with a feeling of the need to be part of the solution. So I asked myself, what does that look like? What does it mean to be part of the solution?

So I listed ten things that you might consider in your internal staff meeting and ponder for yourself. I suggest you want to do these things and make them convictions in your own life. “

Never compromise your faith.
Share the gospel with excitement.
Live boldly.
Love unconditionally.
Be a light in your home and in the world. Be kind.
Give generously and sacrificially.
Speak out.
Be courageous.
Where God leads, take action.

What does Spiritual Protection look like? When is it needed?
Wow, what an amazing  practical teaching about this subject for each of us. We tend to either take these things for granted or we don’t even understand them. If we focus on “the doing” continually, we might miss the truth that we need to believe in order to gain the spiritual benefits from God’s protection.

As Pastor Scott further explained with his diagram below “The problem, though, with all the doing and action and activity that we often look at, is that we can in some ways become so focused on the activity and the action and the doing that we do that we miss out on the believing that we must have as well. If we focus too much on the application without the depth, the belief, then we end up in a place where we almost become humanist. I need to do this myself. I need to protect myself and so on. That’s why at the very center of my circle I put the blood of Christ. It is because of the blood of Jesus Christ that we have protection. “

Discouragement is one of Satan’s best tools to weaken believers. We all need to have a plan. Nehemiah faces the discouragement from outside forces as well as from internal challenges. His solutions are ones that we need as well. As you listen to this sermon you’ll discover tools that will help you face difficulties in your life right now. And don’t forget to pass this message on to someone you know who might be discouraged.

Our words can bring life or death! So we don’t want to be like Tobiah and Sanballat who used sarcasm and mean words. But how can we be more careful? Pastor Scott helps us with the Edification Test from Ephesians 4:29. As he goes through Nehemiah 4:1-6 he also draws out principles to help us not only when we are tempted to use unwholesome language but he also helps us with principles from Nehemiah’s life for dealing with mean words that are directed at us.

Stop, take a deep breath.

Reflect on how the hand of God is working in your life. God is always working in your life, even when it feels like a time of silence. God loves and cares for you. The gracious hand of God is on you. 

Pastor Scott teaches today’s message from Nehemiah ch 3.  Word by Word he goes through the chapter and applies insights that you will be able to incorporate into your daily life. You will learn about the rebuilding of gates, how God loves all his people, and how God uses the family.

Imagine the most selfish, negative and bitter person you know. Most of us can easily identify someone.  Can you identify any of these undesirable traits in yourself? Have you ever had a poor, destructive attitude?

How would God want us as Christians to act?

Pastor Scott teaches about different life attitudes in today’s, insightful sermon. Our journey through Nehemiah continues (Ch2 11-20).  While listening to this message you will learn about four positive ways Nehemiah faces challenges. He has an attitude we can all learn from.

You will learn about the attitudes of rest, evaluation, communication, and perseverance. You will want to evaluate your attitudes and relationship with God. Practical applications are given through out this message

This week you will face opposition; are you ready? How do you handle the opposition? Do you take it personally or plan revenge?

God wants us to do neither. As Christians we have different ways of handling our daily struggles.

Today you will learn, from Pastor Scott’s teachings, how God equips us to deal with opposition. Continuing our study of Nehemiah we look at two different people and how they opposed Nehemiah. Pastor Scott gives practical ways you can handle confrontation. You will learn the difference between carnal desires and Godly desires.  God has equipped us all with the Holy Spirit, so we can all do what is right.

God knows your struggles and through trusting Him we can meet our challenges with confidence.

How do you define success? By your accomplishments or by attaining your goals? Success should not be outcome based. The best way to measure achievement is by asking and being able to say YES to the following question: Am I doing what God wants to me to do today? 

We need to measures ourselves compared to God’s standards not the world’s standards. Pastor Scott teaches us in today’s message what characteristics define Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1-10).  These are traits we can all practice and achieve. Among them are patience, overcoming fear, being willing to share your heart, planning and being dependent on God. Through the example of Nehemiah, you will discover strategies to develop these personality traits.  You will learn how to acquire confidence, overcome your fears, and how to wait on God’s timing.

Remember life is not in the destination but in the journey.


Vulnerability: It is the birthplace of courage; the entrance to a spiritual breakthrough. So many of us are afraid to share our hidden secrets and shame with others. We are afraid of being judged, being the only one to fail, or being different. Nehemiah’s prayer in ch. 1 vs. 4-11 is a good example of going to God, humbly sharing his inadequacies, and taking responsibility.

In today’s powerful message Pastor Scott shows us how taking responsibility can change your life. You will learn how to take responsibility, how not to have a victim mentality, and how to embrace humility. The difference between shame and guilt are explained. You will feel empowered and encouraged after listening to this sermon.

The Old Testament is full of treasures. Some people do not enjoy these books because they feel that the God of the Old Testament is a God of anger and vengeance. When you read the Old Testament more closely you will find the same loving God as in the New Testament. You will also find adventure, love stories and examples of God love for us.  All Christians should read and learn of these amazing books.

Pastor Scott share reasons why we should all fall in love with the Old Testament. In these books you will be shown how all roads lead to Christ, you will get to know Gods character better, and gain perspective on Gods purpose for the world. As a result of understanding and loving these books your faith and knowledge of God will grow!

Nehemiah. A cupbearer for the king. A man who lived in relative comfort and luxury. But was he serving God with his whole heart? Are you serving God with your whole heart? Nehemiah traded his wordly comforts to follow the Lord. Through his work God helps restore a broken nation. God wants to restore your brokenness.

Pastor Scott starts with the first chapter of Nehemiah. We begin by learning about God’s promise and prophecies. We see how slowly wickednesses and false idols can take over a person’s and a nation’s heart. Pasted Scott shows us a map to better understand where this was happening. The good news from this lesson is you will learn how God uses others to restore the heart of a nation, your heart. This sermon will leave you wanting to learn more about Nehemiah and how God works through him.

Solutions are often ten feet away from us! When faced with adversity it can be hard to see solutions. Jesus says, “follow me.” Jesus shows us solutions when the time is right. Listen to this powerful message if you want to learn how Jesus takes you as you are and moves you to where you need to be. 

Pastor Scott finishes up the book of John and teaches us about Jesus and the Miraculous catch of fish. You will learn how God works in large groups and individually.  The difference between fairness and equality is explored. Jesus is doing work all around us all the time. Through out this message you will be shown how to identify the miraculous gifts God provides us all. 

Thomas couldn’t imagine that Jesus was alive. But Jesus had come into the locked room and revealed himself. Too often we lock up our lives with self protection and control that we can’t imagine Jesus doing something big. In the same way that the disciples experienced Jesus in the midst of their secure world, we can see Jesus in our own lives. He wants to knock down the walls and free us to experience his power. Imagination is the first step toward faith. We have to imagine that things could be different.

Because God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, it’s clear that we might not be able to envision the vastness of God’s plan for our lives. So the imagination gets things started. We must imagine that things could be different so that we can free up ourselves to respond to God’s grace. The last verses of the passage reveal that there is a special blessing awaiting for those who believe. This is a powerful passage of scripture and Pastor Scott inspires us to bigger and better things in our own lives.

Should you follow Jesus or the crowd? Are we saved by salvation or through good works? It’s a decision we all have to make. In this world of false idols there are so many opinions and distractions that can take us further and further away from Jesus. As Christians we believe “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Brother Tim teaches us today about the third chapter of Galatians. In this book Paul is arguing, boxing style, that salvation is the only way we are saved. Brother Tim breaks down Paul’s arguments and the tackles possibly one of the toughest verses in the New Testament. At the end of this message you will learn how to remember God’s goodness in times of trial. 

I have seen the Lord! Mary Magdalene was sent on a mission by Jesus to tell everyone she saw him.  He rose from the dead. Sending her on a calling was Jesus’s way of helping her heal, as well as showing her gentleness. One can define gentleness as “just taking a little more time.” We all can benefit from taking more time with ourselves and others.

The focus of today’s lesson is on the tenderness of Jesus and how to receive comfort. Pastor Scott share many stories from the Bible of Jesus’s compassion. Also tells the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Practical suggestions are given to become more gentle and how receive these gifts. These gifts from God are something we all need. 

Recently I ordered a shirt I that says, Spoiler  Alert: the tomb is empty. The crucifixion of Jesus was a dark, unfair day. All of us have experienced dark days of failures, traumas, disappointments, and subjects of unfair treatment. It is so easy to get stuck in these dark days. Through the resurrected we know that better days are coming! Chris has risen!!!

Pastor Scott explores the power of the resurrection. Through the writings of Paul and Peter we learn that the power is available to all of us. So is living hope, which our church is named after. Pastor Scott shares a personal story of how one life, his Aunt Anne, inspired others to believe and know that better days are coming. In this world we all need to learn about hope and the riches God has in store for us even in difficult times.

When we experience trauma, abuse, and mistreatment, three emotions surface: anger, sadness, and anxiety. They must be managed well or they end up controlling our lives and damaging our hearts. In fact, many people who have suffered need emotional healing. We need practical solutions that we can implement in our daily lives because of the residual waves of emotional pain.


In this sermon, Pastor Scott follows Peter’s lead in looking at Christ’s example of suffering. The crucifixion was the most atrocious of all abusive events in history. As we look at the crucifixion from Peter’s perspective we can learn a lot about managing our own hearts when it comes to unjust pain. We can’t escape hurt and pain but it doesn’t have to become our identity. Walk through the solutions from God’s Word to learn more about healing in your own heart.

Pontus Pilate. He is not a man many people envy. He had to make an impossible decision: to crucify Jesus or not. A decision he did not want or choose to make. What guided Pilates decision? Was it google, politics, popular opinions, or faith? What guides your choices?

Today we learn all about the conscience. God gave us all a conscience. Some people, like Pilate, lack faith. In this sermon Pastor Scott teaches us that the conscience is not the ultimate authority. Jesus made Pilate aware he had no power or authority except for that given from above. Pastor Scott shows us how the conscience helps us deal with our own sin, how it needs training, and how to handle a guilty conscious. After this sermon you will be asking yourself: How far am I willing to go to do the right thing?

Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Temptations lurk everywhere.  Over time cracks will form in our hearts and take us away from God. This is a dangerous place to be. God wants to protect us and restore us. God wants us to know and feel on our darkest days we are never, ever alone! 

In this message, we learn how Peter denies Christ three times. Pastor Scott shows us where Peter allowed temptations in, which leads to sin. Some of the danger zones we can all fall into are: being prideful, relying on self instead of God, becoming comfortable with the world, and following Christ at a distance.  We learn how to safeguard our hearts and identify potential pitfalls in our lives. When we rely on the mighty hand of God we will have a greater confidence and joy in our day to day lives.

I love you and you and you! Today’s society leads us to believe that we should love everyone-just the way they are. Is that just a selfish, self-seeking definition or the true meaning? In the love passage, Corinthians 13 2-7, defines an active, deeper love. Describes it as patient, kind, not arrogant, not boastful, not easily angered, and not self seeking. 

Pastor Scott shows us in today’s sermon that Gods’s love disciplines and corrects when needed. Just as a loving parent corrects their child.  Pastor Scott discusses how Jesus modeled love for all of us. Many practical ways we can practice our affection and root our love in biblical truths is shared. When applied correctly love compels us all to make a difference. God’s love can change our broken world.  

Life is hard. We all have experienced times of suffering. God says in 2 Corinthians 4: 8-12 we are hard-pressed on every side. Left at that, life can seem hopeless.

The good news for Christians is that God wants us to feel safe. The end of that verse goes on to say BUT not crushed, perplexed BUT not in despair. Pastor Scott teaches us this week that over 100 verses in the Bible talk about safety. Many of these verses are shared to be tucked away in our hearts in times of trouble. Our safety as Christians is in God. He wants us to feel safe so we can speak boldly, live confidently, and share the good news with others! In today’s message you will find a lot of hope. You’ll also learn how feeling safe is designed to prepare us to take risks for the Lord that take us into danger.

Listen to the sermon above.

God provides us with three broad ways to experience his glory. First, is to see his magnificent creation or just to to experience his greatness as we live life. The second has to do with experiencing God’s presence. The Israelites saw God’s glory when God’s presence came down on the tabernacle. The third is seeing his plan in motion in your life or the lives of others.

We have a glory dysfunction, a tendency to misunderstand or misrepresent the glory of God. But God does want us to participate in his glory. Listen to this sermon from Pastor Scott Turansky to understand more about what the glory of God is, and how you can best experience it in your own life.

We have several small groups at Calvary Chapel Living Hope. They meet in people’s homes and are good opportunities to study the Bible, share your life with others, and build significant friendships. Those people who get involved in small groups tend to grow spiritually more quickly and find strategic support for their lives.

Sometimes groups last only six or eight weeks because they cover a topic such as Growing Deeper in Your Faith, or God’s Principles of Finance. Other groups meet continually to provide regular opportunities for fellowship and learning.

You can learn more about the small groups at Calvary by checking the bulletin or stopping by the Information Table on Sunday mornings.

The family is under tremendous pressure today. But what better place to find strength than in God’s church. We take God’s discipleship mandate seriously and look for ways to disciple families in their roles and relationships.

Dr. Scott Turansky is on a Global Team of Resource Providers. He along with several other key leaders are responsible for the creation of this booklet as a tool for churches to help their people understand the importance of the church’s role in strengthening families.

We at Calvary Chapel Living Hope are eager to help and support you. Whether it’s support for a challenging situation, recovery from a traumatic breakup, or simply building a strong family, we are here to help. Please take initiative with us and see what other resources are available to you.

Download the free ebook here.

Life can get pretty complicated at times. In fact, things can feel out of control and overwhelming. This booklet was written by Billy Graham and is an excellent tool for calming your heart. God doesn’t promise us that we will be free from storms in life, but he does offer us peace in the storm.

Download this eBook and use it as a tool to develop peace in your heart in 30 days. Each day you’ll find comfort from God’s Word to guide your thinking, provide hope, and help you reorient your life.

We at Calvary Chapel are here to help you as well. Getting involved with others will provide you with the support you’ll need to get your spiritual strength back.

Download the free ebook here.

I am Scott Turansky. I am the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Living Hope Mango Tango products.

I want to challenge anyone and everyone that considers and searches for Truth with a capital “T” to a discussion of faith. No Replica Handbags, I am not afraid. No canada goose down skirt https://www.cagoosestore.ca Canada Goose expedition parka outlet fake, I am not timid. No, I am not one bit concerned about the outcome. I would like to talk with—engage in serious and deep conversation—the fierce skeptics and the silent seekers. I would like to sit and chat with those who are discouraged and put-off by church and church people. I would like to talk, face-to-face and persons-to-person with those who simply wonder where in the world God is in the midst of this mess of a culture that we have either been given or created.

Why? Because I believe the truth sets people free. I believe that God has placed in a person the need to know him and learning more is an important part of the process. I believe that an open conversation about things without a pushy or condemning attitude frees people to learn more about their potential. I believe that God wants to work in the hearts of people , to be a catalyst.

Abraham Lincoln once said Replica Handbags, “Truth is discovered through discourse.” I want to push through the limits of conventional and traditional surface conversation and truly get to the root of what it is like to serve God and to comprehend and probe the depths of faith. Which brings this conversation to you Replica Handbags, dear reader.

Dear Reader:

What is it that you seek from God? Do you seek understanding? Do you seek comfort? Do you seek God to self-identify and show up in some tangible way in your life? Do you have a particular thorny memory of being mal-treated by some person or group of faith? Do you wonder about the afterlife and how or where this might be? Do you ask yourself: “Where is God when I need him most?” What about Jesus Christ. Do you question or seek understanding of him and his claims? Do you seek to know more of Christ? Or, do you wish to debunk the church and deny all of his claims? I care about what you think and would seek to plumb the depths of your personal inquisition.

It goes without saying that I am a Pastor of a congregation and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. My desire is to listen and to learn and to join you in your spiritual quest for guidance and meaning. In short, I’d like to help you explore faith.

Ping me. Let’s Get Coffee!

Scott

I am a Pastor. I spend my time listening to, counseling with, and providing comfort for, burying and marrying people. People’s lives are not all that dissimilar. People, normal everyday folk—like you and me—in the end want simple things.

Simple things like: happy families and well-educated kids and paid bills and steady jobs and a viable, long-lasting and enduring marriage. Believe it or not, you have been lied to—again. Marriage is doing better than some people think, according to Shaunti Feldhahn, author of the new book, “The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce.

Time to Look at the Stats Again

According to Feldhahn, here are the real stats that govern marriage, divorce and longevity of this most cherished and sacred of all relationships:

  • The overall divorce rate for society as a whole has never been close to 50%.  While some high-risk groups have hit that number, according to Census figures the overall first-marriage divorce rate is probably closer to 25-30%.
  • The common belief that second marriages have a super-high divorce rate of 60%+ is an urban legend; the second-marriage divorce rate is probably closer to 35%.
  • The rate of divorce is not the same in the church: it is 25-50% lower, and the common belief otherwise is based on a serious misunderstanding of the Barna data.
  • Most marriages aren’t perfect, but most are happy; about 80% of couples enjoy being married, and the 20% who aren’t happy are very likely to be if they stick it out for 5 years.

Contrary to popular opinion, marriage doesn’t require rocket science to make it work; some little adjustments usually make a big difference. Here are some simple adjustments to consider that just might make your spouse’s day a wee-bit easier and gentler to glide through:

  • Communicate affirmation: Send a text that just says, “I love you!”
  • Spend time together: Take a Walk! No kids…no hassles…no agendas…just walk
  • Serve the other person: Do a chore! Lots of tidying up to do around every house…take a moment and help out
  • Give a gift: Buy a pastry or special treat! Who doesn’t like chocolate!
  • Grow Spiritually together: Come to church and share spiritually with each other.

And don’t forget to listen. Really. Just listen. Turn off the devices. Turn off the TV. Throw away the cares of this day and nestle into the beautiful and calming sound of your spouse at rest. In my mind, that is the true and lasting picture of beauty.

Join me this week!

I am Scott Turansky. I care about families. I have dedicated my life to nurturing and growing and sustaining families. Give me a shout-out. I would love to hear your story. I’m teaching this Sunday, Maybe you’d like to join me.

Scott

 

I spend a great deal of my time flying around the country. I speak at churches and conventions and symposiums all across our great nation. I address issues that affect families and parents and the level of risk that our kids face—risks that you and I didn’t even know could, let alone would, exist. There are some simple conclusions that I’ve come to in the last few years. Let’s take a look at one of these…

The Quest for Perfect

Many times husbands and wives cringe when their spouse asks them to go and look at furniture, or ‘new homes,’ or worst of all: designer wallpaper. The reason is that men and women are bombarded with programs and literature and magazine ads that push and tug at visual improvements. I’m not saying this is a ‘bad’ thing in and of itself. What I’m saying is that in this culture in contemporary America, this whole thing seems to be over-the-top.

The push for perfectionism is everywhere. The tug and nudge to spend and improve and update seems non-stop. The desire to meet the standard of ‘best’ or ‘better’ swarms around every single family. As a long-standing pastor of this community, I see the impact and effect of this kind of focus.

Let me state my intent here as clearly as I possibly can: Much of the time we don’t need the things we buy. Your home is fine. Your present car—as long as it is running and capable of getting you and your team from Point A to Point B is fine and useful. What is not useful is purging yourself of what you have and constantly looking to replace and update and improve.

I have a friend who is a contractor. He frequently finds himself in the uncomfortable position of playing marriage counselor. He said that sometimes the words and the language and the ill-feelings of whether or not to ‘redo the downstairs bathroom’ can be brutal.

Think: is your life going to be all that much ‘better’ if you change out your downstairs carpet and replace it with a brand new laminate floor?

The Most Important Things

The Bigger Picture is that your family needs spiritual guidance. Your family needs spiritual mooring. Your family needs the comfort, care, instruction and wise counsel of local people who will walk with you through good times and not-so-good times.

Stated simply: you and your family need a spiritual home. Do yourself a favor, ping me. Let’s Get Coffee! I’d love to get to know you. I’d love to find out who you are and swap life stories. I’d love to introduce you to some of our community’s best and brightest people. I’d love to share insights from God’s Word and the accumulated wisdoms of the Scripture.

One thing is a given: there’s a time coming when you’re going to need such a community. Calvary Chapel Living Hope is your place where contentment radiates forth. Let’s find time to connect and get to know one another this week. In fact, I’m teaching this Sunday. Come and join me.

 

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Ed Miller coaches the Hamilton As baseball team that went on to the USABL World Series Championship. He also attends Calvary Chapel Living Hope. Here’s what Ed says:

I love being part of a larger family at Calvary Chapel Living Hope. We worship, serve, learn and have fun together. There are many challenging issues in the world today. This is a place where we can wrestle and struggle together as we seek to live out Christian principles in every-day life.

Here’s what one of the dads of a player says:
Little does he know the importance of having such a fine man and mentor as his baseball coach. It’s truly amazing how in life special people come into our lives! This man gives of himself many hours teaching boys the game of baseball, which is really a byproduct of what he’s actually teaching them about is life itself. He’s a man of God, leading by example and we couldn’t be more blessed!

Thank you Ed Miller for representing Christ on and off the field!

We have a lot to be proud of in our community and our heritage is rich. Let me just tell you one piece of our history. Mercer County is named after Hugh Mercer, a General in the Continental Army. General Mercer was stabbed during a battle for Princeton. He refused to abandon his troops. General Mercer leaned against and propped himself up with a giant oak of Mercer County as crutch and support chair.

The Mercer Oak became the emblem of courage and determination and the very symbol emblazoned upon the seal of Mercer County. Mercer County’s history can be traced to one man who refused to abandon those in peril.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

A different kind of danger to our community now concerns me. Families are under tremendous pressure today. The work needed to protect a marriage and raise a family is immense with pitfalls at every turn. I have committed my life to strengthening families, identifying and nurturing the necessary ingredients that will make a family strong.

Some people mistakenly believe that if they can help the individuals in the family be successful, then they’ll have a successful family. Dad and Mom might be doing well in their businesses, kids may excel at music and sports, grades might be good, and finances managed. But if the family as a unit isn’t nurtured, then those successful people tend to drift apart. Relationships become tense and closeness becomes illusive. In fact, many people believe that to be normal and expected.

I’m convinced that a family can grow closer and be successful today. Blended families, single parent families, and adoptive and foster families all need the same ingredients to contribute to their success. At Calvary Chapel Living Hope we are committed to strengthening families.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The family is the backbone of a community and it’s what makes our community great! I encourage you to stop by on a Sunday morning and check us out. We meet at the Pond Road Middle School at 10:00 am. Or, if you’d like, shoot me an email and let’s talk seroquel dosage.

Let’s Get Coffee!

Scott

3 Ways to Cope With the PRESSURE of Family Busyness

Families are under tremendous pressure today. Setting up and running a family is a HUGE endeavor. Once we get the kids enrolled in their activities, then we must outfit them, transport them, pay for it all, and attend their events. Not that those things are bad. We love our kids, but when you add those things on top of keeping food on the table and clothes in the drawers, or at least clean, and paying bill, then it all adds up to significant pressure. Some are able to handle it better than others, but we all would benefit from these three solutions as we plan, organize, and execute family life.

1) Plan Time to Rest and Enjoy Relationships.

If you don’t plan rest, it won’t happen. The Correll family did it this way. Dad and Mom with their 14, 10, and 8 year old decided they would block out Saturday evenings for rest and two evenings a week to eat together. They put those priorities on the calendar first. And, when it’s time to rest, it’s not just about everyone going to their own rooms or getting on the electronic media independently. It’s about spending time together and sharing life stories. It’s not always easy, but the Corrells report that their family is growing closer together instead of experiencing the fragmentation that pressure often produces.

2) Keep Long Term Goals in Mind But Enjoy the Moment

The urgency of the moment often causes us to miss the important things we want for our family. Our goal for our kids can’t be to make them happy. They need to develop character, responsibility and maturity if they are going to be successful in life. Those parents who indulge their children or deprive them of the privilege of working hard are often sorry in the end because their kids become soft and unable to face the challenges the real world provides. Those who are successful with family life are able to enjoy the everyday experiences while keeping the long-term goal of character building in mind.

3) Don’t Let Other People’s Expectations Cause You To Overcommit, Including Your Kids

There is a line that you cross where busyness exceeds your family’s ability to manage it. When you cross that line then relationships become tense, distance grows between the members, and family satisfaction takes a dive. Be strong enough to stand up to the Jones’ mentality that says all kids need to be in a particular program. Set aside your fears that if you don’t enroll your child in this event or activity, then they’ll be scarred for life. Sometimes it’s best to say to kids who have an insatiable desire for activity, “In order for you to add that to your life, you need to be doing well contributing at home, working at school, and treating family members well. Then we can talk about adding something else to your plate.

Of course one of the main ways to keep this balance is to have the support of a community. I’m the pastor of Calvary Chapel Living Hope. Let me remind you on this day, that there is a village nearby, just outside of your circle of knowledge that will support you and help you strengthen your family.

Calvary Chapel Living Hope suggests you center your life and home upon faith because faith works!

Let’s Get Coffee! Ping me. Let’s find a time and a place to sit, chat and get to know one-another. My life is centered in service to men and women and their families. I teach around the United States every week about strengthening families. I understand your struggles and believe that your goals are within your reach. Family life doesn’t have to be as hard as some allow it to be. Oh yes, it’s hard, but my mission it to make it a bit easier.

 

There seems to be a lot of bad news reported today in the media. Terrorism, violence, natural and not-so-natural disasters seem to happen continually. Even the weather report is often negative.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

When the news starts to breed anxiety and fear instead of courage and hope, then maybe it’s time to change the channel. I’m not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand. It’s important to stay informed, but it’s also important to consider where we get our news feed.

It reminds me of a story in the Old Testament in the book of Numbers. Twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land to check it out before the Israelites would enter go to my site. 10 of the spies (We’ll call them Channel 10) reported about the giants in the land and predicted doom and gloom. Unfortunately, the people chose to listen to this news source and fear and anxiety was the result.

The other two spies saw the same things, but their report was different. “With God’s help we will win!” They too saw the giants but their perspective on the facts was vastly different because they included God in the equation.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Our world is challenging today, but I believe in a God who helps us become victors instead of victims. He gives us hope instead of despair. Faith replaces fear. I too am a news reporter. And I want to regularly communicate the living hope that God provides for us.

If you’re finding that the news is getting you down, why don’t you check out 150 Pond Road on Sunday mornings. I’m Scott Turansky and I’m preaching this weekend! As always, I’ll be sharing a message of Living Hope!

Please allow me to introduce myself…I’m Scott Turansky. I’m the pastor at Calvary Chapel Living Hope.

I’m your neighbor. I shop at the same grocery stores that you do. I watch movies at the same theaters that you do. I sit in traffic as you do.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

I live and work here. For the majority of my adult life, I have served the people of this area. I understand the people here. I know of the triumphs and the downturns of their lives. I have celebrated many a victory with families that you both know and don’t know. I have walked the shadow of despair with others that once were your neighbors.

Over the next few months, I am going to be posting notes, thoughts and invitations to you. My primary purpose here is to improve the quality of your life—every single aspect of it. You say, “How in the world can anyone do that!?” My answer is pretty simple: I care and I’m committed to helping people move to the next level of their personal development.

I’ve lived long enough and served enough people that I can calmly and gently say, “I know something about helping people.” I know something about the people that live in this community. I know something about the struggles and tugs and time restraints that our people face in their day-to-day lives. I also know something of how to bring relief and remedy.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

So, sit back and relax. A few times a week, you will be hearing from me. Let’s make a commitment to one-another: let’s decide to get to know one-another. Drop me a line. Send me an email. Let’s get some coffee someday soon.

Scott