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Come as You Are / Message #1

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

Most of us spend our entire lives trying to earn acceptance. We want to earn it from our parents, peers, partners in life, people we respect, and even people we envy. The desire to be accepted drives us to do all kinds of things. It can influence the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, the kind of house you buy, even the career you choose.

Would you agree that people do the craziest things to be accepted? Remember as a kid you wanted so badly to join the in-crowd that someone would say to you, “I dare you to do this,” and you did something stupid? You did it because your desire to be accepted overruled the desire for personal safety in your life. When you played baseball as a kid and teams were chosen, remember how great it felt to be picked by the better player? Remember how bad you felt when they got down to the last two or three and you still weren’t chosen?

We love the feeling of being accepted.

Being chosen does tremendous things for your self-esteem. First Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people” (NIV). That ought to raise your self-esteem! Christ has accepted you — not based on your performance, something that you earned, or something that you deserve. God simply says, “I chose you.”

You may have accepted Jesus into your life, but have you ever realized that Christ has accepted you? You don’t have to earn it; you don’t have to prove yourself.

“Even if my mother and father abandon me, the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10 GW).

As a part of God’s family, you have been accepted by God!

 



Who Controls Your Future / Message #2

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).

One of the great fears we all face is the fear of the future. We fear for the futures of our families, our friends, our jobs, our communities — and everything else in between.

It’s natural. We’re not in control. But that realization should drive us to trust God more deeply.

We might not be in control of our future, but God is. He created the whole universe. If he wanted to, the Lord could just snap it out of existence in a moment. Yet he is working his plan in history. He is moving history to a climax, a destiny. One day Jesus Christ will come back to Earth. Nothing will stop that. Just as he is working in history to move events toward that day, he will work in your life for a purpose, too — if you’ll let him.

The Bible says, “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).

God’s Word doesn’t say that everything is good. It also doesn’t say that God causes everything. He doesn’t cause war. He doesn’t cause cancer. He doesn’t cause rape, abortion, abuse, or molestation. He doesn’t cause evil. We do that. God gives us the freedom to choose. Evil is the price of that freedom.

But the Bible does say that God causes everything to work together for good. He can take the dumb, evil, and bad decisions I’ve made in my life and use them for good if I’ll trust him. Romans 8:28 isn’t a promise for everyone, though. It’s for “those who love God.” It’s for those who trust God and say, “Here, Lord, you take all the broken pieces of my life and put them together.”

This is why when I read the headlines each day, I don’t worry. Sure, there are a lot of problems in the world today, but God is still in control. God is still moving history to a climax. And God is still moving his people toward his best for them. One day God will work everything out for his purpose.

Because God is in control, we can trust him with everything — including the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives.

 



What Salvation Means for YOU / Message #3

“There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us” (1 Timothy 2:5 CEV).

Christmas is all about Good News. But it’s not the good news of special gifts. It’s not the good news of a big meal. It’s not even the good news of spending time with friends and family.

Christmas is about the Good News of God’s love.

The Bible says all of us are lost without God. We’re directionless. We’re without protection from God. Our potential eternal impact upon the world is unrealized. We’re without real joy. Our eternity in Heaven isn’t secure.

The Good News about Christmas is that God sent Jesus to seek and save the lost. The Bible says, “There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us” (1 Timothy 2:5 CEV).

If you’ve ever spent time in church, you’ve likely heard the word “salvation” many times. But you may not know what the Bible means with the word. The word is like a diamond — you can look at it from many different angles.

Here’s what salvation means:

  • Jesus came to rescue us. We can’t solve all of our problems on our own. Without Jesus we’re trapped in the expectations of others. We’re trapped in living for the approval of our peers. We’re trapped in addictions. We’ve tried to change over and over again, but we don’t have the needed power to escape. Jesus came to give us that power.
  • Jesus came to recover us. We all long to recover parts of our lives that have been lost. Without Christ, we long to recover our strength, our confidence, our reputations, our innocence, and our relationship with God. Only Jesus can do that.
  • Jesus came to reconnect us. Many people think that God will scold them if they come back to him. But God isn’t mad at you. He’s mad about you. Jesus came to Earth on the first Christmas to reconcile us to God, to give us harmony with him again.

Jesus came to Earth to give us the gift of himself. Too many of us celebrate his birthday without accepting this free gift of salvation. It goes unwrapped year after year after year. That’s not smart. You were made by God and for God. Until you understand that, life will never make sense.

 

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You Have to Believe it Before You Can See It

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).

Faith is visualizing the future. It’s believing before you see it. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

How will you see 2018 through eyes of faith?

A lot of people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” God says the exact opposite is true: “You will see it when you first believe it.” There are many things in life that have to be believed before they can be seen.

In 1961, the Soviet Union sent the first cosmonaut into space. When the cosmonaut returned to Earth, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev declared they’d been to space and didn’t see any god there.

About 10 months later, the United States sent John Glenn into space. He circled the earth three times on his Mercury mission, came back down, and told the world, “I saw God everywhere! I saw his glory in the galaxy. I saw his splendor in the universe. I saw his majesty in the stars.”

Which one was right? They both were. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NLT). Before there is spiritual transformation in your life, you’re too narrow-minded to see the possibility of what God wants to do in your life.

Wernher von Braun, the leading scientist in the early stages of the U.S. space program, said, “There has never been any great accomplishment in history without faith.”

It is faith that causes the scientist to believe that we can put a man on the moon. It is faith that causes an architect to design a building because, first, she believes it can be done. It is faith that causes an Olympic athlete to practice and go to the Olympic trials because she believes she can achieve. It is faith that causes a sculptor or an artist to believe that he can paint a picture or attempt the sculpture. Someone has to believe it before you see it. It is a universal principle of life.

 

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