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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Have you ever noticed God likes shepherds?  Over and over again, He shares his heart with them.  First, there’s Abraham.  Then Moses.  Then David.  Then the shepherding prophets.  And finally a group keeping watch over their sheep on a hillside over 2,000 years ago.

Ever wondered why God seems to favor this occupation when He’s looking for someone to reveal His plans and thoughts to?  Maybe it’s because their heart looks a lot like His.  He is, after all, a very good shepherd.  And if you’re wanting to “be about your Father’s business,” then He’s called you to be one, too.

Here’s a few shepherd pointers:

  1. Shepherds protect.  At all costs, they are ready to lay down their life for the sheep.  Are there sheep in your life you need to protect?  Maybe you need to evaluate the state of your flock and see if an enemy has come into the fold that needs to be expelled.
  2. Shepherds pursue.  No matter what the lost sheep has done or not done, the shepherd goes after it.  It’s unconditional love, and it can hurt to give, but sometimes it’s the only way to see sheep returned to the fold.  Have you written someone off as a lost cause?  Go after them with the love of a shepherd.  Even if the only way to pursue them is with prayer, it will be worth it.
  3. Shepherds proclaim.  Yep, they spread the good news.  And what good news you have for those around you!  When’s the last time you shared with someone the love God has for them?  The Great Shepherd is counting on you to share his heart with the “sheep” he brings into your life.

Don’t fall asleep on your watch.  Just like some shepherds 2,000 years ago, there’s joy in the Heavens when you hear the word of the Lord and obey it.

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An invitation is a powerful thing.

It means you have been accepted and included.  It means there is a place for you in the activity at hand.

I’ve been invited and uninvited to special events.  I’ve been thought of and forgotten.  I vividly remember the long walk home after I was asked to leave an event at a not so gracious hostess’ home one evening in college.

An invitation takes you from being a casual observer to an active participant.  It cuts through every potential barrier and puts you on the inside of the action.

One of Jesus’ greatest frustrations was the exclusive nature of the Jewish faith in his day.  Jesus gave this fiery rebuke to the teachers of the law:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  – Matthew 23:13

But, you have been invited to the party!  The ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus are your invitation to participate in the abundant life.  The only limitations you have are the ones you have placed on yourself.  Nobody has the power to limit who you are in Christ.

My friends, God is doing amazing things among us.  It is an overwhelming joy to be a part of the transformation of lives and healing of the broken.  And you can be a participant, not just a spectator.

I invite you to take your next step in ministry.  I believe God is calling you to join in the work He is doing.  How will you respond to His invitation?

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  – 2 Peter 1:3-4

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Does God still heal?

Can I pray for the sick?

Why do some people not get healed?

Where does sickness come from?

 These are the questions we are looking at during the current sermon series at EFC, Healing: The Children’s Bread.

Once you have an encounter with the amazing power of God and experience healing first-hand, you usually don’t have a problem answering the first question.  However, many people stumble on the second one.  Is praying for the sick only appropriate for a few, select people?  Maybe just the pastors?  Possibly just the really special people who haven’t taken an aspirin in ten years?

I’d like to encourage you today, my friend, with the truth that Jesus not only invited YOU to pray for the sick, He fully expected you to do it!  The Great Commission is an invitation for us to do what He himself had already done—heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, and raise the dead.

Whew!  Sounds kinda intimidating, doesn’t it?  How about this—follow Jesus, do what He asks you to do, when He asks you to do it, learn from your mistakes, and try again.  Can you handle that?

If you need some help getting started, here’s a few pointers:

  1. Find someone sick to pray for (shouldn’t be too hard!)
  2. Find out what the problem is.
  3. Put your hand on them and pray for their healing.  Pray outloud.
  4. Stop and ask them if they feel God doing anything in their bodies.
  5. If they feel something, thank God for what He’s doing and ask for more.  If they don’t, pray again.
  6. If you’ve prayed for awhile and do not sense anything happening, pause and ask God if there are any other directions you need to follow.  Obey what He says.
  7. Repeat until breakthrough comes.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Substitutions are a standard part of life.  We substitute onion rings for fries.  We substitute Splenda for sugar.  We substitute texting for talking.

We all remember causing mischief when a substitute teacher walked into the classroom, or at least I do. 😉 And some of you may even remember when the von Erichs and the Freebirds would face off in wild wrestling melees called tag-team matches.  I would watch from the edge of my seat as an injured Kevin would stretch out his hand to tag up with Kerry to get a fresh sub into the fight, and Kerry would explode over the ropes to change the flow of the match.

But, there are some things for which there are no substitutes.

Each of us have been created with a “God-sized hole” in our souls.  It’s a missing piece in the puzzle of life that leaves the picture incomplete.

Try as we may to fill the hole, we always come up empty on the other side.

There is no substitute to the presence of God to bring wholeness to our life.  Nothing else has ever satisfied, and nothing else ever will.

In John Chapter 5, we read the story of man in need of the wholeness Jesus has to offer.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.  (John 5:1-9 NKJV)

In this encounter, we hear one of the greatest questions Jesus ever asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

Jesus never asked a question for His own benefit.  Through this question, we see the invitation to abandon the substitutes and discover wholeness through the grace of God.

When you don’t know what you want, it makes it very hard to get.  When you want what you don’t need, you’ll pass right by the solution to grab hold of a substitute.

Consider today four substitutes to choosing to be healed:

  1. I want to be helped.  I need someone else to take responsibility for my situation.
  2. I want to be heard.  I want sympathy more than solutions.
  3. I want to be happy.  I chose to settle for the best of a bad situation.
  4. I wanted to be healed.  The pain of life slowly eroded my hope for real wholeness.

The reality is there is no substitute for the wholeness Jesus offers.  Many of us have wasted so much time looking other places for other solutions.  And we have come up empty every time.

But, the question of Jesus is still echoing through two thousand years of human history.  “Do you want to be made well?”

His question today is your invitation to experience the joy of life according to God’s design.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.  –Romans 5:5

Click here to discover more about the wholeness Jesus offers you today. 

Podcast

Click to listen to “Do You Want to Be Made Well?

Links

Click here to read stories of those who have been made well through the power and grace of Jesus. 

On the Radar

Night of Worship and Art Fusion coming next Wednesday, June 2!  The party will start at 7:00pm. 

Family Fun Night is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, at 7 pm.  You are invited to join us for this entertaining evening of softball, homemade ice cream, and fellowship at Newman park.

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. “Sing to the King”
  2. “I Have Found” by Kim Walker
  3. “Healer” Kari Jobe version
  4. “Awesome God” by Rich Mullins

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 30, we will conclude our “Questions Jesus Asked” sermon series.  Join us for this final exploration of the questions of our Lord.

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Every person has a story.

Every story has potential for a happy ending.

Every story has a villain.

Every villain is creating conflict.

Every story has a Hero.

Your life is an amazing story.

Your story is continuing to unfold.

Your story is not over.

Your story is interwoven with the stories of others.

You are not the author of your story or of theirs.

You can play a part — but you cannot write another’s story.

Live your story.

Love other’s stories.

Let God write something amazing.

Podcast

The Speck of Sawdust,” Pastor Eric’s message from May 16, is now available online.  Click to listen.

Links

Emmanuel Fellowship has a great blogging community.  Follow these links to find out what our friends have been posting lately.

On the Radar

Family Fun Night is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, 7 pm.  You are invited to join us for this entertaining evening of softball, homemade ice cream, and fellowship in the park.

We have 135 Question Jesus Asked posted on the blog.  Leave a response and let us know which question most captures your heart.

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. “Friend of God”
  2. “Everlasting God” Chris Tomlin version
  3. “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
  4. “I Surrender” by Kim Walker

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 23, we will be continuing our new and sermon series.  You are invited to come and explore with us the “Questions Jesus Asked.”

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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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