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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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Sunday, August 06, 2017

 

Elijah doesn't have his own book in the Bible, but as a prophet he was significant. He is mentioned as the archetype of John the Baptist, who prepared the people of Israel for the immediate arrival of the long-expected Messiah:

"Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.  His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6)

Our introduction to Elijah is in 1 Kings chapter 17 when he announces there will be a severe drought in the land...and it didn't rain for at least 3 years.

Shortly afterward he is told to go to a village and stay with a widow there. She and her son had only enough flour and oil to make one last meal, and their hopes of survival were gone. 

But Elijah asked her tp make him some bread first. She did, and the Lord honored her selflessness with a promise: "There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the LORD sends rain and the crops grow again!" And those containers were miraculously replenished again and again.

And from this and other biblical events we learn that if we put the things of God first, everything else works out. (See also Matthew 6:33.)

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

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

 

The Lord told Elijah to stay at the home of a widow during the early stages of a 3-year drought he prophesized would befall Israel. At some point the widow's son died, and she directed her grief at Elijah:

"Oh man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?" (1 Kings 17:18 NLT)

Her words were evidence of her worldview: Bad things happen to bad people.

But do good things always happen to good people? Not on this planet, sadly.

And then there's the question that plagues us all: Why do bad things happen to good people? 

It is obvious that we live in a broken world. Not a single member of the congregation could say s/he had not been affected by a crime. 

This world is not the way God created it to be (see Genesis chapter 1: it was very good).

But that brings up more questions: How did it get this way? Will it always be this way?

The Bible answers those questions and many more.

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

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Monday, July 24, 2017

 

Falsely accused, Stephen gave a masterful defense that put his accusers to shame. So much so that they became enraged and stoned him to death for his faith in Christ. His eloquent closing argument and final words make up the bulk of chapter 7 in the New Testament book of Acts.

The very next chapter tells us "A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1b NLT).

This persecution was spearheaded by a young man named Saul, who doggedly pursued Christian men and women and dragged them to prison, where they faced certain death. This continued until he was knocked off his religious high horse by an encounter with the risen Christ. (See Acts chapter 9.)

Saul, later known as Paul, went on to become "the apostle to the Gentiles" and author of most of the New Testament!

And so in a very real sense, the martyrdom of Stephen became the first step in the spread of Christianity.

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

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

 

Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. (Ruth 1:16 NLT)

Today's guest speaker was Pastor John Richart. He continued the Heroes of the Faith series by turning our attention to Ruth, whose commitment, dedication, and loyalty to her mother-in-law in her time of despair led to a genuine confession of faith in the one true God, the creator of the earth, the heavens, and everything in them.

"Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!"  (Ruth 1:17)

Rather than say "May your god punish me", she used one of the Hebrew names of God, indicating her commitment to the faith system of the Israelites.

And her commitment, dedication, and loyalty to the LORD ultimately led her to take her place among the ancestors of none other than Jesus Christ himself (see Matthew 1:5).

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

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Friday, July 14, 2017

 

Our guest speaker today was Pastor Frank Berg, who focused on the initial stage of the construction of what came to be known as Solomon's Temple. 

The initial stage was actually prior to the laying of the foundation: it was the "counting the cost" stage before construction began! King David gave the people of God a chance to participate in providing the needed funds so the builders would know what they had to work with...and then he led the way by donating literally tons of his own silver and gold to the project.

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

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Sunday, July 02, 2017

 

Both Abraham and Sarah doubted God's promise that they would have a son in their old age. Sara even laughed...and within a year gave birth to Isaac, whose name means "He laughs"!

Isaac was a much loved son, the physical manifestation of God's promise to make Abraham's descendants into a great nation. He was the one through whom this promise would be fulfilled.

And then God told Abraham, "Take your only son, the one whom you love...and sacrifice him as a burnt offering" (Gen. 22:2). Imagine Abraham's grief as they traveled three days into the desert to the mountain where this was supposed to happen!

But Abraham, the man who once laughed at God's promise, had learned that God always keeps his word.

"Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again." (Hebrews 11:19 NLT)

Long story short, God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac. And in the record of this event we see striking parallels to the future provision of the perfect Lamb of God, his only son Jesus, who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

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

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)

Though this promise was stated by the Apostle Paul 2,000 years after the time of Abraham, it is based upon the nature of God, who does not change (Malachi 3:6). And so it applies as equally to Abraham as it does to us today.

But Abraham went through some very serious times of trouble, some of which challenged his faith in God, and some of which were due to bad decisions he made.

It will all work out in the end, but the Bible is a realistic book: this promise from God does not mean that we won't suffer sometimes as he moves us in the direction of his sovereign will. But he will bring something very valuable out of our sufferings (James 1:2-4).

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

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

 

The Bible does not romanticize its significant people: they are presented honestly, with all of their weaknesses, flaws, and imperfections.

For example, Abram (later known as Abraham): God promised him that he would become the father of many nations, and that the Israelites would inherit the land of the Canaanites.

The Bible says "Abram believed the LORD, and the Lord counted him as righteous beacuse of his faith." (Gen.15:6 NLT).

However, the Bible also tells us that out of fear, Abram lied to Pharoah and allowed his wife to be taken into a harem! He even expresses doubts to God about his clearly stated promise of a future homeland for the Israelites (Gen.15:8).

But ultimately Abram believed God and acted upon that belief, leaving his homeland with his family and possessions in tow, as an act of obedience.

God accomplishes his purposes for us, in spite of our doubts and failures. No one can say exactly how our lives will play out, but we can say this: God is at work, and everything will be resolved at exactly the right time.

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

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today's guest speaker was Pastor Neil Harris, who was an associate pastor at Grace Bible Church for seven years before answering a call to Victor Valley Christian Church.

Pastor Neil spoke on the topic of love, and pointed out that one dictionary website has 28 definitions for that word!

So what do we do when we want to know the meaning of love in its truest form?

We look to Jesus, of course! He was the perfect expression of God's love for us.

And from his example we learn something huge about love: Experiencing love leads to expressing love!

Here's what Jesus said about it: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." (1 John 4:19)

Jesus experienced the Father's love, and so he was able to express that love to us.

Love's ultimate expression is through sacrifice. First Jesus invested himself in the lives of his disciples, and then he gave his life for them (and for us: see Mark 10:45).

Jesus said "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (Mark 10:45). And he did more than just talk about love, or tell us that we should love: He showed us how (see Phil. 2:7-8).

The world desperately needs to experience God's love! So follow Jesus' example: Express his love to them by helping them experience that love. 

Invest yourself in the lives of others. Your love makes Jesus known; and where Jesus is known, there is hope.

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

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