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Sunday, October 15, 2017

 

Today we begin a 3-week review of our vision as Grace Bible Church:

Our Action Statement is Inviting Your World to Experience God's Grace.

How to we do that?

Through Growth + Relationship + Authenticity + Community + Expression = GRACE.

The focus of today's sermon is on the first two components of our vision: Growth & Relationship.

Growth = To live a life increasingly characterized by faith, hope, and love. 

In other words, living a life of Growth is the same as being called to become a disciple of Jesus.

A disciple is one who is committed to learning. Jesus' 12 disciples spent years with him, learning from the greatest example of love, wisdom, and godliness who ever walked the earth.

Relationship = To build genuine and meaningful relationships with God and others.

Godly love is not a feeling: it is based on action.

Loving God: There is one definition throughout the Bible of love for God, and that is obedience. Jesus said "If you love me you will obey my commands." (Jn. 14:15)

Loving your neighbor (friend, family member, co-worker, even your enemies): Spend time with them. Jesus didn't just serve as a mentor to his disciples; he shared life with them.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 NIV)

Our guest speaker, Pastor Dennis Larkin, gave us a sobering reminder that our children are watching us 24/7: "You can teach what you know, but you can only reproduce what you are."

He also gave us many great suggestions of how to impress the character of Christ on our children. Among them:

- Talk openly with your children: be authentic.

- Let your sons and daughters know you're crazy in love with them, no matter what they do or how they behave.

- Discipline in love.

- Expose your kids to godly people. And take them with you to do ministry: serving the poor, the hurting, etc. (See "authenticity" above!)

One more:

- Major on the majors, not the minors. Focus on character, not fashion.

"Your greatest accomplishment may not be what you do, but someone you raise." -- Andy Stanley

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

 

Oscar Wilde famously said, "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

And as a result of following his own philosophy, he died at age 46 from the ravages of an STD, a penniless alcoholic.

When God gives us boundaries and limitations in how we live, it's for our own benefit: to help save us from lives filled with drama and trauma.

We may not always understand those boundaries, but it's really no different than a child who doesn't understand why s/he can't have candy for every meal.

What God wants for us is greater than happiness; he wants us to live lives marked by joy. Happiness is situational; joy is not.

Joy is a result of spiritual maturity. It is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives:

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Gal. 5:22-23).

God wants us to pursue holiness more than happiness. Because when we delight ourselves in the Lord, happiness will pursue us! (See Psalms 37:4, 23:6).

To download the audio from today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

A high-profile murder trial is currently underway, and it involves people who had previously attended our church. These are people who claimed to be Christians, at times convincingly so. And yet they became caught up in an adulterous affair that led to the murder of the woman's spouse.

This has caused many people to wonder, "How did this happen?" 

Pastor Dave's answer: slowly and gradually. They had an opportunity every day to change the path they were on, to stop toying with ideas the Bible clearly states are wrong.

But how does anyone keep themselves from gradually falling away from God and into a trap like this? How do we steer clear of "the sin that so easily entangles"?

The Bible gives us an answer to that as well:

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

Jesus is the Great Untangler. It's our job to stay close to him and to lead others to him also, so he can untangle them from their sins too. 

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

 

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." - Jesus, in his parable "Lazarus and the Rich Man" (Luke 16:31 NIV)

Some people will not be convinced, no matter how strong the evidence for Christianity is.

When someone doesn't want to believe, they will grasp onto almost anything that makes them feel justified in their disbelief. Even theories that have been long abandoned by scholars will be dredged up, such as the theory that Jesus never existed.

But even skeptical scholars now admit there is a mountain of historical evidence for the existence of Jesus.

And there are similar mountains of evidence for the existence of God and for the reliability of the Bible.

Pastor Dave takes us through the second half of this series by focusing on one particular proof of the reliability of the Bible: fulfilled prophecies.

Since these things are true, what should we do about it?

"Jesus told them, 'This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.'" (John 6:29 NLT)

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

 

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:13 ESV)

Undoubtedly the ultimate question of all time would be this: "Is there a God?"

Christianity is a thinking person's religion.The apostle Peter encourages us to know what we believe and why, so we can give a confident, loving answer to those who ask us questions about our faith.

The study of Christian apologetics helps us to understand that what we believe is rational. It is rooted in history, logic, and science to a degree no other world religion can claim.

This is important, because "the heart cannot long embrace what the mind cannot accept."

The evidence for the existence of God is huge! Case in point: the Universe itself. Time and time again, people who were atheists have come to the point, after an honest look at the evidence, to believe that God exists. One prime example is Anthony Flew, philosopher, former atheist, and author of the book "There Is a God".

Pastor Dave continued by walking us through two of the main arguments in favor of God's existence: the Argument from Creation and the Argument from Morality.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

 

The message John the Baptist preached was consistent throughout his life: He pointed people to Jesus as the Messiah, the one who would save God's people from their sins (Matthew 3:2, John 1:29, John 3:26-30).

But despite first-hand knowledge about the miraculous beginnings of both his own life and Jesus', an extended stay in prison gave time for doubts to rise in his mind.

He sent a message to Jesus asking "Are you the promised one, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:2-3)

Jesus answered John by telling him to consider the evidence (Matthew 11:4-5).

This is because Christianity is rooted in reality. Christians are encouraged to ask honest questions, conduct a systematic search for the answers, and weigh the evidence.

But be diligent as you search for answers! If God created you, and has expectations for you, the implications of ignoring that are intense.

He tells us, "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT)

So:

- Ask your questions.  

- Look for answers.  

- Consider the evidence.  

And make up your mind.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

 

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived...for a while.

He started out walking in the ways of the Lord, but by the end of his life he was worshipping the gods of his foreign wives: pagan gods to which human sacrifices were offered.

What happened to the wisdom?

He began to ignore what God had clearly commanded. At the heart of it, for example:

"The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself." (Deut. 17:17 NLT)

Wrong on both counts.Solomon's choices showed he was drifting away from the one true God.

The lesson resonates through all of Scripture: "Don't be deceived: bad company corrupts good character." (1 Cor 15:33)

We would do well to learn from Solomon's mistakes: he was led astray by the company he kept. Their words and their ways began to rub off on Solomon.

To whom are you listening?

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

 

Elijah had not exactly ingratiated himself with Queen Jezebel after he humiliated and later killed all 450 of the prophets of Ba'al she had hired. (Pastor Dave put that entire episode in context in last Sunday's sermon.)

And so Jezebel swore that Elijah would be dead within 24 hours.

She certainly had the means at her disposal to carry that out, Elijah reasoned, and even though he had only hours earlier witnessed the fearful power of the LORD when fire fell from heaven, Elijah feared for his own life and fled.

He travelled hundreds of miles by foot to avoid Jezebel's wrath, and his exhaustion nearly did the work for her.

While hiding in a cave he poured out his despair to the Lord, saying "I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." (1 Kings 19:14 NLT)

To which the Lord responded that there were 7,000 others who had not bowed their knees or surrendered their hearts to the false God Ba'al.

Elijah seemed alone, but he was never alone.

To listen to the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

 

The Israelites had been led astray by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and were engaged in the worship of Ba'al, who supposedly was the god in control of the weather. 

Given that theirs was an agrarian society, the Israelites wanted to appease this god into providing what they needed to grow their crops: i.e., rain.

But the LORD told Elijah to prophesy that there would be no rain for several years, and that is what had happened. So much for Ba'al actually being able to do anything about the weather. Y'know, the god had ONE job...

This led to a showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al, of whom there were 450. The challenge was to call down fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice. 

Elijah let them go first. They danced all day, crying out to Ba'al, cutting themselves in the attempt, and they couldn't even summon a firefly.

Then Elijah prayed to the LORD, and whoom! 

The contrast between the false god and the true God could not have been clearer.

Pastor Dave drew other powerful lessons from this passage as well. To download the audio of the sermon, click here.

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