The Gospel Change

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The Bible teaches that believers in Christ are actually an altogether new creation.  That is what the bible says.   2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  That means those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and have been justified (declared righteous) by faith in Him are living in a new sphere of life.  Old things have passed away; all things have become new because of this new position in Christ.

Let me say it this way.  There was a time in each and every one of our lives we lived in the womb of our mother.  That was the sphere of our life.  It was a very necessary sphere, but it was limited and narrow.  But now, things have changed.  We are no longer in the womb but are now living in this world.  Our natural birth has brought about an enormous change in our lifestyle.  In fact, we have changed so much, none of us even remember that way of life.  It is foreign to us now.

In the same manner, those that are in Christ have been born again.  There has been this spiritual rebirth and our spiritual rebirth has changed our lives completely and absolutely; once and for all.  Things will never be the same.  We have been made new and, at the same time, are being made new.  We are in Christ.  He covers us and consumes us; so now we live, and move and have our being in Christ.  He eclipses everything this world has to offer.  We have seen His glory and we are now changed.  He has made us new and our lives reflect that transformation.

However, this is where we must be careful.  We must recognize what happens when pledging our faith in Christ.  When embracing faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ changes us.  Therefore, we begin to do different, because we are different.  Our spiritual birth has awakened us to a brand new way of life.  Yet, sometimes it comes off as this religious pressure to perform, when in reality our responsibility in living a Christ centered life has everything to do with the awareness that Christ is changing us.

In essence, our dreams and desires change.  Our passions and priorities change.  Our wants and our wishes change.  We are motivated to do different and to be different because we are different.  We are made new and are being made new.  So then, we are not transitioning in life by implementing change, we are transforming in life evidenced by the change.  Therefore, our doing is not some mechanical prescription to do better, our doing is God’s supernatural power that is making us new.  This is the gospel change and it changes everything about us.

Does it Matter What You Do with Your Life?

reActionSIntroduction

Saul was a chosen vessel.  On the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, Christ confronted Saul and revealed Himself.  It was this authentic revelation of Jesus in Saul’s life that caused an immediate revolution in Saul’s heart.  Saul saw the light.  He was forever changed.  The old things had instantly passed away, and everything became new.  Saul was delivered and God had determined to use this man to be the instrument that would, in effect, change the world.

Saul’s previous life had prepared him for this moment.  He was born into a Roman family and thereby a citizen of the most powerful nation of its time.  The Roman Empire was noted for its commerce and trade over land and sea, it provided the best schools and learning institutions of its day and the privileges of society were unmatched and only offered to its citizens.

Specifically, Saul was born into a Jewish family of the Diaspora.  In other words, as a Jew, Paul was familiar and in touch with secular society.  He knew the Greek language, identified Greek logic and understood the influence of Greek culture upon the lives of men.  Saul had a clear perspective of the world.

Being a Jew, Saul had a number of insights into the lifestyle of God’s people.  Saul was brought up in the synagogue.  He had a working knowledge of the Scriptures.  For as long as Saul could remember, he had been taught the traditions of old.  Even though he had a Greek intellect, he had the training of a rabbi and was inducted into the elite Jewish ruling counsel known as the Sanhedrin.

Now everything was different.  Everything was new.  Yet God would use all of these personal experiences of Saul to fulfill His sovereign plan.  Clearly, Saul was chosen by God to do an extraordinary work of ministry.

Much could be said about this man Saul.  I could identify his character and his conduct in order to learn from his example.  Excluding Christ, one could argue that there has been no better man to ever walk this earth than Saul.  Saul has an amazing story; Saul the murderer of the faithful becomes a miracle of faith.  This man that purposely persecuted the church prior to his conversion eventually would proclaim the hope of Christ in like passion.  God ultimately elevated Saul well beyond his own comprehension to a place of legendary status within church history.  Humanly speaking, Saul would author half the New Testament writings.  Therefore, it can be said that no man would make any greater contribution, have any greater influence or be of any greater value to the world than this man Saul.

Clearly Saul was someone special which had something special, but what about the rest of us?  Those of us that will never be center on the world’s stage, do we have anything substantive to offer?  Does it really matter what we do with our life?

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The Church: Making a Difference in Butler County

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This past weekend, an article ran in our local paper regarding the results of the reorganization efforts of Butler County’s Children Services.  The committed personnel and dedicated social workers are working hard to mitigate the difficult circumstances that confront many children in our county.  Of course, these are they that diligently give of themselves everyday and are clearly doing the lion share of the work.  However, I am also grateful for the opportunities that the faith community have been given to invest in the lives of children who are at risk.

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Multiply

MultiplyIntroduction

Truth is under attack for it is no longer considered to be absolute within our postmodern society. George Barna reported that only 33 percent of Americans accept the idea of absolute moral truth.[1] Barna’s poll also found that even Christians struggle to accept moral truth as absolute. According to Barna, only 49 percent of those born again believe in absolute moral truth.[2] Postmodernism is stripping away the traditional ideas of truth. Therefore the modern Christian believer is required to accurately understand God’s mission through the study of missiology in order to competently relate God’s message by implementing specific evangelistic methods.

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Do You Believe in Christmas?

BC“T’was the night before Christmas…” When we hear that expression (the night before Christmas), we usually begin to swell with anticipation of Christmas morning. These are the words that have been uttered for nearly 200 years in the eager expectation of a Christmas celebration. Clement Clarke Moore wrote that seemingly immortal poem on Christmas Eve in 1822. The following December, the poem was published and it ultimately swept across our nation. Today, when we hear those words, the night before Christmas, we are caught up in that suspenseful tale of Christmas Eve where “no creatures were stirring, not even a mouse.”

However, Clarkes Christmas story which depicts a household waiting for Christmas to arrive has a notable point of view. Clarke writes as one that had already experienced Christmas before. There is an anticipation of a wonderful celebration because this family already had known that the first Christmas had come. Christmas had come, so a day had been calendared to celebrate. Christmas had come, so an event was anticipated. Christmas had come, so hope and joy had settled upon all the house (including the mouse).

Well, when we talk about the “night before Christmas,” I want us to consider the night before the first Christmas. In other words, I want us to reflect on what it was like before Christ.

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We are Free, We are Family, We are Forever His

Jerome kearns slide This morning the director of Butler County Job and Family Services presented in our morning worship the critical need his agency has regarding the number of families needed in providing care for children at risk.  Mr. Kearns spoke for several minutes outlining several ways the faith community could help in mitigating the harsh realities of families right here in Butler County.  The statistics are more than telling, they are alarming and completely overwhelming. Unicef reports that there are 153,000,000 orphans worldwide. There are 20,000,000 orphans in Africa alone due to HIV. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in their Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System, there are over 101,000 orphans/children waiting to be adopted here in the states. In our back yard, Butler County has nearly 100 children waiting to be adopted.

Typically, they are waiting for years. If a child waits 3 years, he could move 3 or more times changing schools 5 times. If a child waits 15 years, he could move 12 times. For many cases, the waiting never ends. Children grow into adolescence which gives way as they become adults. Many children time out of the system with no family to go home to.

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Heroic Men

Heroic logpThere is a lot of noise in the world today. There is a continuous barrage of racket that constantly clamors for our time and attention. We are inoculated with a consistent stream of information. We are inundated with breaking news, status updates, commercials, advertisements, billboards and junk mail. The incessant use of Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram and YouTube keep the volume blaring. As a result, we struggle with silence. The once coveted quiet moment is no longer appreciated. In our modern culture, when stillness comes and silence settles in, we get restless. We get uncomfortable. We prefer the noise.

Perhaps, this is why we struggle to hear. We are listening to so many things that we are struggling to really hear what must be heard. All the noise distracts us. The sights of pop culture deter us. The sounds of this world dissuade us and we are never unplugged. We awake every morning and turn on the TV or radio while running through our favorite social media. That morning program is not just a part of our routine, it’s the noise we need to get us going. Like the necessary morning coffee, it grabs our attention and takes hold of our focus.

Think about it, as we prepare for our daily deadlines and responsibilities, how much time in our day is spent in quiet solitude? When was the last time you had such a moment? How many have the discipline to rid themselves of the noise which lingers, to quiet their restless spirit and resolve themselves to purposely pursue the things of God?

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