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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Words have power, and thoughts, like seeds, can take root in the heart to alter our perspective or change our behavior altogether.  The following is a list of quotes etched in my memory, and a brief explanation of their significance. 

This is not a collection of the greatest quotes of all time, but quotes that have impacted me, personally, for a lifetime.  It is important that we remember and rehearse the words that have touched our souls.  What words have moved you in your life?  What would your list look like?

“`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.” – from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.  Taught me that words could be fun, that language captures the imagination.

“. . . Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” – from Dulce et Decorum Est  by Wildfred Owen.  Taught me that words are powerful, descriptive, moving and memorable.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” –Proverbs 22:1.  Printed on a bookmark someone gave me in church as a child.  Taught me to treasure who I was and respect the impact of character.

“I do” – Mindy von Atzigen.  Taught me that words could be trusted.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien.  Taught me that a book could take you anywhere.

“I have not yet begun to fight!” – John Paul Jones.  Taught me that words reach further than the sound of our voice.  They can echo through history.

“Failure is not falling down, it is refusing to get back up”  – Pastor Dan Pinto.  Taught me that life is bigger than the present and there is hope on the other side of any disappointment.

“In some way, what we do on a Sunday morning has to make sense to people.”  – Pastor Morris Sheats.  Taught me to lead in such a way that empowered others to be able to follow.

“The pumps don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.” – from Subterranean Homesick Blues by  Bob Dylan.  Taught me that people don’t always have to understand you to be inspired.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God.  And that is what we are.”  1 John 3:1Taught me that I was loved and accepted by God.  That I was significant.  That sins could be forgiven.  That brokenness could be healed.  That a prodigal could come home.  That a life could be made new again, and again, and again.

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The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith.  It is our compass, our map, and our flashlight as we navigate the narrow path of life.  The Bible is the plumb line by which we discern truth and comprehend the will of God.

The Bible points us to the heart of God, yet for all of its value, many Bibles find themselves collecting more dust than fingerprints.

There are many reasons our Bibles can find themselves neglected, but I believe every follower of Jesus carries a genuine desire to grow in their knowledge of the Word of God.  The following are some personal and practical thoughts on developing a living relationship with God’s word.

DEALING WITH THE “DON’T WANT TO” – For one reason or another many people find themselves at a place of spiritual depression where they lack desire to engage the Word of God.  Two tools to dealing with the “don’t want to” attitude are:

  1. Evict the manipulating thoughts that steal the authentic joy of reading the Word.  This includes the end of accusers such as “ought,” “should,” and “more” in regard to Bible reading.
  2. Recognize this backward principle of God’s Kingdom: when it comes to Bible reading, the less you eat the less hungry you become, BUT the more you eat, the more hungry you become!  If your hunger has diminished through neglect, make the decision to force-feed yourself from the Word, and you will develop a hunger for more of God’s Word.

DIGGING IN – So you have an open Bible in your lap, what next?  Here are 5 simple tools I personally use to bring my Bible study to life.

  1. Read for the joy of encountering God’s truth.  Attitude is essential.  I choose to believe the promise of Psalm 16:11 when I encounter the Word of God, “You fill me with joy in Your presence.”
  2. Pray this simple prayer every time you open your Bible.  “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
  3. Read with your friends.  My best Bible-reading friends are a highlighter and at least three different colors of pens.  Turn your Bible into a rainbow of your response and interaction with God’s Word.  I mark my Bible as if I were leaving a treasure map for my grandchildren to discover my heart through my interaction with God’s Word.
  4. Digest what you read.  Digesting is just as important as reading; it is how the nutrients of God’s Word begin to strengthen our hearts.  Pray over and consider what you have read.  I strongly encourage you to journal your response and your wrestling matches with Scripture.
  5. Talk about it.  Bring what God has taught you in secret out to the public.  You will be amazed at how what you just read this morning applies to what someone is going through this afternoon.  Talk about the Scriptures with your family, with your friends, and with your co-workers.  This is not about bragging on your devotional life, but a time to minister out of the overflow of God’s activity in your life.

DIGGING DEEPER – Along with the daily choice to dig in to God’s Word, you will develop a desire to dig deeper into specific subjects, teachings, and truths found in the Bible.

  1. View the Bible as a mine full of precious gems that reveal the heart of God.
  2. Seek to understand the context of the Scriptures you read.  Recognize the Bible was written by over 40 authors over the span of almost 2,000 years.  Begin to understand the various geographical, political, and social contexts of the Bible.  The Blue Letter Bible and Follow the Rabbi are two wonderful online sources for digging deeper into Scripture.
  3. Follow a thread.  Once an idea from the Bible grabs your attention, continue to chase after it!  Personal study of a fascinating topic can be one of the most invigorating tools to getting into the Word.  My father-in-law once spent two years preaching through the book of Ephesians.  I have found great joy in following threads such as: Pictures of Jesus in the Bible, Names of Jesus, Bible Verses About the Father, verses that include the phrase “But God,” Questions Jesus Asked, One Anothers in the Bible, and even The Begots of the BibleBeauty of the Bible by Peter Lopez is another great site for fascinating Biblical exploration.
  4. Take a Drink from the Firehose!  A wonderful way to dig deeper into the Word of God is to remove yourself from all time limits and distraction and enjoy huge chunks of the Scripture.  Taking a Saturday morning to read through the story of the Patriarchs or reading through the book of Revelation in one sitting are amazing ways of grasping hold of some of the bigger pictures that are often missed when we take small bites of the Bible.

The Bible is alive and the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to breathe life into your study of the Scripture.  Now go dig in!

 

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Garden of Gethsemane

Through His death on the cross, Jesus purchased the salvation of mankind, but He won the victory as He prayed alone in a garden the night before.

In Matthew 26:39, we read:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

When Jesus is being arrested just moments later in the garden, John 18:11 records:

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

As He prayed with His friends asleep around Him, Jesus wrestled with the cost of saving mankind.  It was in this place our Lord won the victory over the cross before one nail was driven into His body.

Just as Jesus gained victory over the cross through His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, God invites us to this lifestyle of overcoming faith.  We can walk in victory before we step up to fight the battle — but, there is an essential key we must see in John 18.

When He had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.  Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. (John 18:1-2)

Jesus was not a stranger to the Garden, nor was He a stranger to prayer.

It is difficult for us to approach God with faith and confidence when we feel like foreigners to prayer.  We will not know how to approach God for help if we are not familiar with approaching Him as a friend.

I encourage you to meet with God in your garden today; you will be glad you did tomorrow!

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A few months back, Pastor Morris Sheats (one of my ministry heroes and mentors) shared about a sermon series he was preparing on the questions Jesus asked.  This concept intrigued me, and I decided to jump into study of this topic myself.

I have been amazed by how masterfully our Lord uses questions to teach vital spiritual truths.  Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer.  He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding.

Compiled here is a list of questions Jesus asked.  Though it is probably not exhaustive, it is an extensive collection of interrogations still demanding answers of us.

I find myself amazed at the power of these questions to cut into my soul.  I’d love to hear which question most jumps off the page and leaves you pondering as you read today.

  1. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (Matthew 5:46)
  2. If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? (Matthew 5:47)
  3. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
  4. Why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)
  5. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
  6. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
  7. Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
  8. Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
  9. Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Matthew 9:5)
  10. How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? (Matthew 9:15)
  11. Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28)
  12. What did you go out into the desert to see? (Matthew 11:7)
  13. To what can I compare this generation? (Matthew 11:16)
  14. If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  (Matthew 12:11)
  15. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?  (Matthew 12:29)
  16. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? (Matthew 12:34)
  17. Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? (Matthew 12:48)
  18. Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
  19. Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3)
  20. How many loaves do you have?  (Matthew 15:34)
  21. Do you still not understand? (Matthew 16:9)
  22. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)
  23. Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15)
  24. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
  25. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17)
  26. From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes–from their own sons or from others? (Matthew 17:25)
  27. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? (Matthew 18:12)
  28. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matthew 19:17)
  29. What is it you want? (Matthew 20:21)
  30. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? (Matthew 20:22)
  31. What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)
  32. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men? (Matthew 21:25)
  33. What do you think? (Matthew 21:28)
  34. Have you never read in the Scriptures? (Matthew 21:42)
  35. Why are you trying to trap me? (Matthew 22:18)
  36. What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42)
  37. Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matthew 23:17-19)
  38. How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
  39. Why are you bothering this woman? (Matthew 26:10)
  40. Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? (Matthew 26:40)
  41. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)
  42. But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? (Matthew 26:54)
  43. Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? (Matthew 26:55)
  44. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
  45. Why are you thinking these things? (Mark 2:8)
  46. Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (Mark 4:21)
  47. What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? (Mark 4:30)
  48. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)
  49. What is your name? (Mark 5:9)
  50. Who touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
  51. Why all this commotion and wailing? (Mark 5:39)
  52. Are you so dull? (Mark 7:18)
  53. Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? (Mark 7:18)
  54. Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it. (Mark 8:12)
  55. Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:17-18)
  56. When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
  57. When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:20)
  58. Do you still not understand? (Mark 8:21)
  59. [To the blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
  60. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? (Mark 9:12)
  61. What were you arguing about on the road? (Mark 9:33)
  62. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? (Mark 9:50)
  63. What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
  64. Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
  65. What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51)
  66. Why are you trying to trap me? (Mark 12:15)
  67. Do you see all these great buildings? (Mark 13:2)
  68. Are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
  69. Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37)
  70. Why were you searching for me? (Luke 2:49)
  71. Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)
  72. Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
  73. Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Luke 5:23)
  74. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
  75. Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
  76. What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
  77. Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
  78. Will you be lifted up to the skies? (Luke 10:15)
  79. What is written in the Law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
  80. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? (Luke 10:36)
  81. Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? (Luke 11:40)
  82. Who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? (Luke 12:14-15)
  83. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Luke 12:25)
  84. Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Luke 12:57)
  85. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)
  86. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? (Luke 14:34)
  87. Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)
  88. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)
  89. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11)
  90. Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? (Luke 17:17)
  91. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
  92. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
  93. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
  94. Why are you sleeping?  (Luke 22:46)
  95. For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
  96. What are you discussing together as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
  97. What things? (Luke 24:19)
  98. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
  99. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? (Luke 24:38)  
  100. Do you have anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
  101. What do you want? (John 1:38)
  102. Why do you involve me? (John 2:4)
  103. You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things? (John 3:10)
  104. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
  105. Will you give me a drink? (John 4:7)
  106. Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
  107. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
  108. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
  109. Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? (John 6:5)
  110. Does this offend you? (John 6:61)
  111. What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! (John  6:62)
  112. You do not want to leave too, do you? (John 6:67)
  113. Have I not chosen you? (John 6:70)
  114. Has not Moses given you the law? (John 7:19)
  115. Why are you trying to kill me? (John7:19)
  116. Why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? (John 7:23)
  117. Where are they? Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
  118. Why is my language not clear to you? (John 8:43)
  119. Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?  (John 8:46)
  120. If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? (John 8:46)
  121. Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (John 10:36)
  122. Are there not twelve hours of daylight? (John 11:9)
  123. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
  124. Where have you laid him? (John 11:33)
  125. Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
  126. Don’t you know me, even after I have been among you such a long time? (John 14:9)       
  127. Who is it you want? (John 18:4,7)
  128. Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)
  129. Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me? (John 18:34)
  130. Why question me? (John 18:21)
  131. If I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
  132. Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? (John 20:15)
  133. Friends, haven’t you any fish? (John 21:5)
  134. Do you love me? (John 21:17)
  135. What is that to you? (John 21:22)
All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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The fact that you are reading this article is evidence that you are, or have recently been, connected with the U.S. Power Grid.  Right now, through over 180,000 miles of transmission lines, power is being supplied to the millions of homes in the United States.

With all of our advances in the technology to generate electricity, it is baffling we have not developed a way to store large quantities of electricity for mass distribution.  Electricity must be generated on demand for public use.

A key limitation in the distribution of electricity is that, with minor exceptions, electrical energy cannot be stored, and therefore it must be generated as it is needed. A sophisticated system of control is therefore required, to ensure electric generation very closely matches the demand. If supply and demand are not in balance, generation plants and transmission equipment can shut down.  In worst case scenarios, this can lead to major regional blackouts, such as occurred in California and the US Northwest in 1996 and in the US Northeast in 1965, 1977 and 2003. To reduce the risk of such failures, electric transmission networks are interconnected into regional, national or continental wide networks, thereby providing multiple redundant alternate routes for power to flow should (weather or equipment) failures occur. (Wikipedia: Electrical Power Transmission)

This limitation of our electrical power grid illustrates a vitally important spiritual truth.  We can generate energy through relationship with God, but we do not have long term storage capacity.

If we desire to walk in the strength and grace of our Lord, we must stay connected to Him as our power source.  We do not have the battery capacity to neglect relationship with God and expect to remain vibrant and effective.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

If you would like to learn more about staying connected with God’s power grid, click on the podcast link below.

Podcast

Power Grid will be available on podcast soon.

Links

Click here for the full wiki article on the U.S. Power Grid.  

Click here to see the Sweetwater High School coaches have a dynamic encounter with power as they get tazed in a law enforcement demonstration.

On the Radar

We invite all new believers to participate in the upcoming Baptism Celebration this Sunday, May 16, 6:00 pm, at First Christian Church.  Please make plans to attend one of our Baptism classes as well.  Contact Pastor Eric for more information.

To Save A Life free movie night!  Wednesday, May 15, at 6:30 pm in the High School Auditorium.  Youth and parents are invited to experience this amazing and in touch film.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “See His Love” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version
  3. “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 16, we are transitioning into a new and intriguing sermon series.  You are invited to come and explore with us the “Questions Jesus Asked.”

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I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  (Jesus’ final words to Peter, recorded in John 21:18)

Who you are today is not who you have to be tomorrow.

As a young follower of Jesus, Peter’s heart was filled with intense desire and great ambition, but his strength of character had not yet caught up with his passionate pursuit.

And that is how so many of us feel on our faith journey.  It seems our greatest enemy is ourselves as we push past who we were and who we are to find the man or woman we are destined to become.

These continual transitions in life are seen throughout the pages of the Bible as wilderness experiences.  They are the moments in history where the people of God have left their place of familiarity and comfort, but have not yet arrived at their place of promise.  They are on the way.  They are in process.  They are becoming.

  • Abraham crosses the wilderness to go to a land God promises to show him.
  • The Children of Israel cross the wilderness to enter the land of promise.
  • David gathers an army in the wilderness as he waits to become king.
  • Jesus prays, hungry and thirsty, as he wrestles in the wilderness with His calling as the Messiah.

And you make your way through the wilderness each time you leave who you were to pursue who God has called you to be.  Holding tight to a fragile promise and nurturing a tender faith, you press on to lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has laid hold of for you.

As we discovered yesterday, who Peter was on the night of the crucifixion was not who Peter would become.  Peter matured as a follower of Jesus — and his character caught up with his calling! 

Peter, the man who denied Christ, was crucified upside down on a cross because he did not consider himself worthy of dying in the same manner as his Messiah.  Peter lived in victory over his fear and experienced a life of glorious faith and ministry.

And so can you.

Podcast

Follow the link to listen to the dramatic presentation Vantage Point: A Disciple’s View performed by Loran Rule.

Links

Check out this radical video of the Youth Spring Break Mission Trip.  Great job guys!

On the Radar

Community Sunrise Easter Service at the Mustang Bowl, April 4, at 6:30 a.m.

“Beautiful One,” EFC’s Spring Women’s Event is coming Saturday, April 17, 10 am – 2 pm.  Ladies, mark your calendar for this special time of fun and ministry.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “When I Think About the Lord” by Shane and Shane
  2. “I’ve Found a Love” Jenn Johnson version
  3. “In Christ Alone” Rita Springer version
  4. “Everlasting God” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Make plans to join us Next Sunday, April 4, 2010, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and encounter the cross from our own point of view through a final dramatic presentation.  Also, our children will bless us through song!  Don’t miss it!

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The View from the Cross by Lillian Jane Neal

 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”  –Hebrews 12:2

Special thanks to Lillian “Lightning Bolt” Neal for sharing this wonderful piece of art with us.  For order and usage requests contact efcsweetwater@aol.com

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Each of us has a perspective, a point of view concerning the cross.  All of our lives have been influenced by the crucifixion of Jesus.  But, what did those early witnesses see?  What was the perspective of those first century merchants, craftsmen, soldiers, and politicians?

The Bible records one sentence written in a message from a politician’s wife, and we discover even from the safety of her vantage point, her life was impacted by this Messianic preacher from Galilee.

Mathew 27 records her story: 

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Click on the media player to hear a dramtic presentation of a view of the cross through the eyes of Pilate’s wife.

On the Radar

We will not have any church activities this Wednesday evening due to Spring Break.  We pray you enjoy a wonderful time with your family this week!

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “See His Love” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version
  3. “You Gave Your Life Away” by Katherine Scott
  4. “Here Is Love” Brian Johnson version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 21, 2010, we will continue our dramatic preaching series, “Vantage Points” with a look at what three different mothers saw when they stood beneath the cross.

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Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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Consider these Bible facts:  Jesus traveled and taught for three years.  There are about 110 pages in the Bible dedicated to His ministry and message.  We have approximately 25,000 words that Jesus spoke recorded in the Bible.  Of those 25,000 words, Jesus taught about the Father in Heaven at least 181 times.

This means 1 out of every 140 words, Jesus was speaking about His Father.  His central message and purpose was to restore us to a relationship with our Daddy in Heaven. 

The following is a compilation of my ten favorite verses about our Father in Heaven.  All but two of them are spoken directly by Jesus Himself.  May you experience His love as you read the truth about your Abba.

10.  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  –Matthew 6:26 

9.  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.  –Matthew 18:12-14 

8.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  –Luke 6:35-36 

7.  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  –Luke 12:32 

6.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”  –John 14:1-2 

5.  “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  — John 16:27 

4.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  — Romans 8:15-16 

3.  “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  — Matthew 7:9-11 

2.  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  –1 John 3:1

And what is the message all of these verses are hammering into our hearts?

  • You have a daddy who loves you.
  • He is strong enough to protect you.
  • He is engaged enough to teach you.
  • He is tender enough to hug you.
  • He is alive enough to play with you.

And the Number One verse regarding the love of the Father is this amazing truth–  no matter how far you have wondered, you can still come home!  Regarding the prodigal son, Jesus tells us:

1.  “When he came to his senses, he said…I will set out and go back to my father”  –Luke 15:17

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Click to view the Father’s Love Letter

Podcast

You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “The Love of the Father,” on the Emmanuel Fellowship Church web site.  Click to listen

Links

Fathered By God by John Eldredge

Healing the Father Wound by H. Norman Wright

Groovy Giveaway — Peter Lopez is giving away videos of the new series from the creators of Veggie Tales, “What’s in the Bible?”  Head over to www.BeautyoftheBible.com to enter to win. 

Quotes

“Father! – to God Himself we cannot give a holier name.”  –William Wordsworth

On the Radar

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children second session tonight, March 8, at 7:00 pm.  Childcare is provided.

Lifegroups meet this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.  Click here for more Life in Sweetwater information.

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

Be in prayer for our Youth Mission Trip as they head to Mission Arlington over Spring Break.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “We Cry Out” by Jesus Culture
  2. “Your Love is Everything” by Jesus Culture
  3. “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
  4. “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 14, 2010, we begin to turn our hearts toward the amazing sacrifice of our King upon the cross.  “Vantage Points” is our four week series leading up to Easter.  Each week will offer a dramatic presentation of a witness to the crucifixion.

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* All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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Of all the truths we learn from following Jesus, how to live in relationship with others is one of the most essential.  The central message of the Bible is instruction on how to live in right relationship with God and with one another.  The following is a list of the “One Another” verses found in the teachings of the New Testament. 

Mark 9:50 – Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

John 13:14 – If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Romans 12:10-16Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 14:12-13 – So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

Romans 15:5-6 – Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:7 – Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 

Romans 15:14 – Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16Greet one another with a holy kiss.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33 – Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 – that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 6:2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:2 – with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:32 – And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:19-21speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Colossians 3:9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

Colossians 3:12-13 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 – And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 – But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18 – Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

James 4:11Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.

James 5:9Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

James 5:16Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

1 Peter 1:22 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

1 Peter 3:8-9 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 4:8-10 – And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5 – Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 – For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,

1 John 3:23 – And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

1 John 4:7-11 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

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