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Archive for the ‘Sermons’ Category

Somewhere along the journey of life each one of us takes a picture of ourselves.  And in that snapshot, we magnify our faults.  We memorialize a moment of failure, a moment of weakness, or an insecure or awkward stage of life.

At some point in time, someone said something, pointed out a fear, or made a judgment about you — and it stuck.  In fact, it is still sticking.

As much as we try to hide, it seems impossible to get away from the flaw-filled person we see in the mirror.  We are all wounded by the damage we have received, and even more, we all fear the damage we can cause.

As personal as our story may be, we are not the only ones who feel this way.  It is a wound common to us all.  Tucked away in the pages of the Bible, we find a man who shared our common pain, our common fear.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV)

I see three simple, yet powerful connections between each of us and the life of Jabez.  Through acknowledging these three truths, we could each find ourselves breaking the cycles of our past and enjoying the grace of God for our lives today.

  1. We all carry scars.  However hidden or personal our story may be, we are all united by the simple fact that we are not alone.  Everyone around us finds themselves trying to make sense of their life.  We all carry scars of the pain we have received and the pain we have caused.
  2. We all carry fear.  The most damaging impact of the scars we carry is the haunting fear that the pain may not be over, that our past may wound us again in the future.  We carry the fear of being hurt again and the fear of hurting others in the same way we were hurt.  If left unanswered, our fears will box us into a small and unsatisfying life.
  3. We all carry hope.  It is what moves us forward.  Somehow, somewhere, someone has to have more to offer than a life lived in cycles of fear and pain.  Hope invites us to take risks and embrace a life of meaning and purpose.

This was the story of Jabez.  He carried the scars of the wounds he caused as a child and the fear of the name given him that he would continue to cause pain all the days of his life.  But somewhere in the midst of the scars and fear, Jabez nurtured hope, and his hope caused him to cry out to the God who created him, “Bless me, indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Let Your hand be upon me.  Keep me from evil.  Keep me from causing pain.”

A powerful and faith filled prayer.  A prayer we still connect with on a very deep level.

If I were to summarize my personal connection with the prayer of Jabez, it would be: “I don’t want to keep hurting from the same old wounds, and I don’t want to be the link that causes my pain to become my children’s pain.”

Do you have a personal connection with the prayer of Jabez?  How does his cry touch your heart?  What does it stir in you?

May you be blessed indeed!  May God enlarge your territory, your sphere of influence!  May the hand of God be upon you.  May God keep you from evil!  May you and those you love be free from pain!  Amen.

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“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  –2 Timothy 2:2

Here it is.  In one verse Paul describes the Christian faith.  A chain of grace, linked together by love and designed for living relationally generational.

It is a verse that demonstrates honoring your fathers and loving your children and grandchildren enough to leave a legacy of faith to those who will follow after you.

2 Timothy 2:2 identifies four people in this faith legacy — Paul, Timothy, reliable men, and others.  These are the people we must have in mind in the development of our spiritual life.  We must take the viewpoint of Timothy in this verse.  From those lenses, it is essential that we identify who fills the role of Paul as a mentor in our life and who fills the role of “reliable men” as the ones we are actively discipling.  And we must disciple those reliable men in such a way that they will be able to teach others.  In essence, we are loving those we may never know through the way we train those who will lead them.

This amazing verse in the book of 2 Timothy paints a picture of very deep and significant relationships.  Relationships which are not to be taken lightly, but must be given prayerful consideration and intentional development.

It is my sincere prayer that you may know where you fit in the chain of grace.  May you know those whom God has placed in your life to coach you along the way.  And may you know and develop those God has placed in your life to receive from the wisdom you have to offer.

May your children’s children be blessed and may they receive an inheritance from your life of faith.  Amen.

 

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Happy Mother's Day

If you missed this Sunday, let me wish you a belated happy Mother’s Day. I hope your special day was indeed a special one.

I also want to publicly express a very heartfelt thank you and congratulations to the other Pastor Loran (I feel like we are living a Newhart episode) for running the show Sunday and doing a fabulous job.

I want to encourage everyone to let Pastor Eric and Pastor Mindy know they left the Church in very capable hands.

A quick recap of Sunday’s message: (1) there’s a little Rahab in all of us (and what a relief it is to learn that!), (2) God wants to use you anyway, and (3) you can rewrite your own faith Hall of Fame memorial. So, hats off to Rahab and all the mothers out there.

Podcast

Check back soon to listen to Pastor Loran’s message on Rahab Answering the Call of God.

Links

A quick reminder that the Daily Devotions for the “Ringtone” sermon series are available online. This week we will explore the life of Paul.

Find out what your mom’s salary should be and print her a check demonstrating her value like Pastor Loran printed out for Tiffany.

Speaking of moms, make sure you let the special mothers in your life know about EFC’s Mother’s Day Out coming in the fall for children ages 1-5. Space is limited and registration is going on now.

I can’t let these opportunities go without plugging my own blog, Beauty of the Bible. Check it out.

On the Radar

EFC Family Campout is this weekend, and it is going to be a blast! Check out the EFC website for more info or directions to the campsite.

Mother’s Day Out information is available online!  Emmanuel Fellowship Church is excited to host a Mother’s Day Out program beginning Fall 2011 for children ages 1-5.  More info and downloadable registration forms are available online.

Identity Weekend. May 13-15 at Camp Butman. Learn your identity and authority in Christ and how to walk in freedom. For more information contact Curtis Ward.

Study the Feasts of the Lord with us Tuesdays over lunch at Emmanuel Fellowship.

Family Connection

Connect with our children’s and youth ministry.

You Heard it at EFC

    1. “You’ll Come” – Hillsong United.
    2. “Counting on God” – Desperation Band.
    3. “Healer” – Kari Job.
    4. “What I Want”The City Harmonic.

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday Pastor Eric continues the sermon series “Ringtone: Answering the Call of God” with a look at Paul. You won’t want to miss it.

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This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.  — Jeremiah 18:1-6 (NIV)

“Can I not do with you as the potter does?” declares the Lord.

“Yes, Lord, you can,” I reply.

How about you?

 

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I sure don’t want to come across as spiritually egotistical, but my Lord is amazing.  Everything about Jesus is wonderful.  My life is better because of Him — and I believe yours could be too!

The book of Hebrews paints some beautiful pictures of the majesty and superiority of Jesus.  Here’s a collection of verses I simply title “Jesus is Better.”

  • So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  — Hebrews 1:4 (NIV)
  • (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  — Hebrews 7:19 (NIV)
  • Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  — Hebrews 7:22 (NIV)
  • But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  — Hebrews 8:6 (NIV)
  • It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  — Hebrews 9:23 (NIV)
  • You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  — Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
  • Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  — Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)
  • Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  — Hebrews 11:35 (NIV)
  • God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  — Hebrews 11:40 (NIV)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ fill you with hope.  May you come to know how much better life can be when you yield the throne of your heart to Jesus.  And may your day of discovery come soon!

 

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“So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.”  Hebrews 3:1-2 (The Message)

As you take a good hard look at Jesus this week, I invite you to review these blog posts to renew the wow factor in your heart of the amazing love of our amazing King!

 

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Sometimes black ink on white paper doesn’t do justice to the incredible faith demonstrated by those whose stories are told in the Bible.  It is easy to forget these were real people, in a real place, who had to overcome real fears to walk in obedience to God and fulfill their purpose in their lifetime.

In the book of Joshua chapter three we encounter one of those stories that makes fairy tales seem small and fiction feel tame.  After wandering for forty years in the wilderness, the nation of Israel is now poised to enter their promised land.  One last obstacle separates one million sojourners from setting feet upon their destiny — the Jordan river, in flood stage.

The story that unfolds in Joshua chapter three is one of amazing faith and a demonstration of the power of one step to open a pathway for multitudes to follow.  I believe many of you reading this article may be one faith-filled step from fulfilling God’s purpose for you, your family, your church, and your city.  Here are four keys to taking your first step:

  • PREPARE YOUR HEART

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”  Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

  • PUT YOUR FEET IN THE WATER

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  Joshua 3:13 (NIV)

  • PROVIDE A PATH FOR OTHERS

“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”  Joshua 3:17 (NIV)

  • PARTICIPATE IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED

“…the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”  Joshua 3:16 (NIV)

 

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