Dec
10
to Dec 16

The Savior is Coming

WHY it matters//

Isaiah chapter 9 is known as a messianic prophesy. This passage of scripture speaks of the promised messiah, Jesus. God not only promises that he is coming, but that when he does he will save all people from darkness and deliver them from all oppression. This salvation will not only be for a time but it will be for all eternity.

WHAT it's talking about//

The book of Isaiah was written in the 8th century BC by the Prophet Isaiah and is the first of the Major Prophets in the Old Testament. Isaiah was a prophet to to Judah. (This is a time in history when Israel and Judah are divided into two kingdoms). Chapter 9 is located in the first of 3 sections (chapters 1-33) where Isaiah is prophesying judgment and coming restoration for Israel, Judah and the nations. This passage of scripture in particular, though containing a messianic prophesy, is also relevant to the 8th century hearers. God is about to judge them, yet even in judgment expresses his mercy towards them with coming restoration.

Isaiah 9:2-7 NLT

2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.


You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.


For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.


The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

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The Unseen Battle: The Armor of God
Dec
3
to Dec 9

The Unseen Battle: The Armor of God

WHY it matters//
The Bible tells us to be aware of the strategies that the devil uses to steal, kill and destroy in the lives of Christians. We are not only instructed to be aware, but also to be prepared for the Spiritual warfare that will come. If we are ignorant or unprepared we are in danger of losing the battle. God has given us everything we need to win, but we must choose to engage and use the strategies that he teaches us through his Word. It’s very important that we understand that every natural thing has a spiritual source or catalyst. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us discern the things that we can’t always plainly see.

WHAT it's talking about//
Paul writes this letter to the church in Ephesus around 60 AD while he is in prison. At this time in history Ephesus was a very spiritual city and was known as a center of sorcery and witchcraft. The Ephesian church was being overwhelmed by spiritual warfare and didn’t feel equipped to win. The believers are trying to understand the place of Jesus in the hierarchy of the gods and spirits that are worshipped around them. Paul is reminding them that their battle is never against people, but is always against what is working behind the scenes. He is equipping the believers to know that Jesus is supreme, above all other spiritual forces, and that there is a strategy in God to defeat the devil and his angels.

Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 

14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 

15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.

16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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Nov
26
to Dec 2

Open House Week: Jesus has power over everything

WHY it matters//
The Bible tells us to be aware of the strategies that the devil uses to steal, kill and destroy in the lives of Christians. We are not only instructed to be aware, but also to be prepared for the Spiritual warfare that will come. In Jesus we have everything we need to overcome. Through his death and resurrection he defeated all of the power of the enemy and has given those who follow him the privilege of walking in his authority.

WHAT it's talking about//
Paul writes this letter to the church in Ephesus around 60 AD while he is in prison. At this time in history Ephesus was a very spiritual city and was known as a center of sorcery and witchcraft. The Ephesian church was being overwhelmed by spiritual warfare and didn’t feel equipped to win. The believers are trying to understand the place of Jesus in the hierarchy of the gods and spirits that are worshipped around them. Paul is reminding them that their battle is never against people, but is always against what is working behind the scenes. He is equipping the believers to know that Jesus is supreme, above all other spiritual forces, and that there is a strategy in God to defeat the devil and his angels.

Ephesians 1:19-23 NLT

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 

20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 

22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 

23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

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The Unseen Battle: Spiritual Warfare
Nov
19
to Nov 25

The Unseen Battle: Spiritual Warfare

WHY it matters//
The Bible tells us to be aware of the strategies that the devil uses to steal, kill and destroy in the lives of Christians. We are not only instructed to be aware, but also to be prepared for the Spiritual warfare that will come. If we are ignorant or unprepared we are in danger of losing the battle. God has given us everything we need to win, but we must choose to engage and use the strategies that he teaches us through his Word. It’s very important that we understand that every natural thing has a spiritual source or catalyst. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us discern the things that we can’t always plainly see.

WHAT it's talking about//
Paul writes this letter to the church in Ephesus around 60 AD while he is in prison. At this time in history Ephesus was a very spiritual city and was known as a center of sorcery and witchcraft. The Ephesian church was being overwhelmed by spiritual warfare and didn’t feel equipped to win. The believers are trying to understand the place of Jesus in the hierarchy of the gods and spirits that are worshipped around them. Paul is reminding them that their battle is never against people, but is always against what is working behind the scenes. He is equipping the believers to know that Jesus is supreme, above all other spiritual forces, and that there is a strategy in God to defeat the devil and his angels.

Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 

11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

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My Destiny
Nov
12
to Nov 18

My Destiny

WHY it matters//
As Christians, at the end of our lives we will all stand before Jesus to give an account for what we did and how we lived in response to his salvation. What we believe about eternity and judgment will greatly impact the way we live now. This life is short, eternity is forever. We are called to live with an eternal perspective and not to become distracted from our pursuit of Jesus. Our greatest hope is that our earthly works would prove valuable when they are judged by Christ and he will reply “well done” in response.

WHAT it's talking about//
2 Corinthians was written by Paul to the church in Corinth around 55 AD. Paul is answering questions that the church has asked him. He makes an important distinction in this chapter about judgment. Here he is addressing what awaits the Christian after death. Most believers today have a basic understanding that God will judge between those who accepted the salvation of Jesus, to be judged according to His works and those who reject Jesus and are judged according to their own works (Matthew 25, Revelation 20, 22). This is not the judgment that Paul is referring to. This is the judgment seat of Christ (The Bema Seat- Paul uses this phrase to help the believers understand the concept, as this was the same word used for the seat in the city where the governor would sit to judge). This is where Jesus judges believers for what they did with their lives after they knew him; how they lived for his glory and obeyed his commands. It is at this time that 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 describes our works being tested by fire to see what we did that was of value, while everything wasted burns away. It is also at this time that we receive eternal rewards. In light of all this Paul reminds the believers to live their lives fully for the glory of God until the time that they see him face to face.

2 Corinthians 5:9-15 NLT

So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 

10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 

12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 

13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 

14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 

15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

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My Calling
Nov
5
to Nov 11

My Calling

WHY it matters//
All of us have gifts and talents that we are born with and others that are given by God. We get to choose who we glorify in the way we dedicate our efforts. We have to decide if our calling is about us or about Jesus. As followers of Christ we are called to glorify God and lead others to Jesus with our lives, so the way we use our gifts and talents really matters. Our calling is the unique way that we fulfill our purpose and the commission that Jesus has given us.

WHAT it's talking about//
1 Corinthians was written by Paul between 53-57 AD, most likely while he was in Ephesus. The church in Corinth was relatively new (around 5 years old) and it had many issues to work out. One of the primary concerns of Paul in this letter is the churches use of Spiritual gifts in ways that did not honor God or serve others. He is also helping them to understand that all the gifts are from the same God and not from different entities (helping them to let go of a paganistic worldview). One of the overall themes in 1 Corinthians is Paul’s effort to help the believers realize that how they live affects their ability to be witnesses to those outside of the church. He also emphasizes the importance of this priority as a follower of Jesus.

(See also: Genesis 2:7,15,19 for a more full understanding of identity and purpose tied to calling.)

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 

There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 

God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 

To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 

The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 

10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 

11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

(See also Genesis 2:7,15,19- God creates Adam, then gives him assignments to do that he is enabled by God to accomplish.)

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Oct
29
to Nov 4

Open House Week: Identity

WHY it matters//
When we become a Christian our identity is found in Jesus. This statement is easy until we are challenged to rid ourselves of former idols. It can be easy to misplace our identity or gain our worth from things outside of Christ. Often these things can be hard to recognize. Jesus always knew the right questions to ask to get straight to the heart of the matter. We have the Holy Spirit who asks us these same questions today and we have the opportunity to respond.

WHAT it's talking about//
The Gospel of Mark is an account of the life of Jesus. It was written by John-Mark (Acts 12:12) sometime between 50AD- early 60’s. It was likely written to the gentile believers in Rome. A young wealthy man encounters Jesus and is confronted with an opportunity. Jesus extends an invitation to follow him, but the cost must be weighed. This encounter is a picture of the cost of following Christ and the level of Lordship that we must submit to in order to walk with Jesus. 

Mark 10:17-31 NLT

17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 

19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 

25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 

30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 

31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

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My Commission
Oct
22
to Oct 28

My Commission

WHY it matters//
A commission is a specific assignment to a person or group of people. When Jesus walked the Earth he had a commission from The Father to let people know that the Kingdom of God was coming on the Earth. He carried out his assignment in perfect submission to God. As followers of Jesus we now live “through” and “in” him. Jesus’ assignment has become the commission of all who follow him.

WHAT it's talking about//
The Gospel of Mark is an account of the life of Jesus. It was written by John-Mark (Acts 12:12) sometime between 50AD- early 60’s. It was likely written to the gentile believers in Rome. In chapter 16 Mark writes of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he ascends to heaven. As with any narrative, a person’s last words are very important. Jesus gives an assignment to his followers to carry on his mission on Earth.

Mark 16:15-20 NLT

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 

16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 

17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.

18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 

20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

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My Purpose
Oct
15
to Oct 21

My Purpose

WHY it matters//
Once we decide to follow Jesus, who we used to be, while we were in bondage to sin, is put to death. Now that we are unified in new life with Jesus, we are given back our divine purpose. We were created to glorify God. The word glorify means to worship, however, this isn’t referring to singing a few songs on a Sunday. We are called to honor God with the way we live and every choice we make. We glorify, or worship, God in the everyday.

WHAT it's talking about//
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome around 57-58 AD. He is urging the believers to understand the true meaning of worship. The Romans were used to living in a pagan society full of rituals and religious customs. Paul wants them to understand that how they live their lives is the only true way to worship God and in turn to glorify Jesus.

ROMANS 11:36-12:2 NLT

36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


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