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  • Pastor Ryan 9:53 pm on September 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church   

    Does Church Energize You or Drain You? 

    Hopefully you went to church this morning to worship our great God and King.

    When you woke up this morning were you excited about going, or were you dreading it?

    If you were dreading it, ask yourself: “What do I go to church for?”

    There are many answers to this question:

    • to see friends
    • for the music
    • because I have to
    • my family makes me
    • ….
    • to worship God.

    If you feel drained by the thought of going to church, then it is likely that your answer to the question was not the last one on the list above.

    Set your mind on the Lord today. Begin thinking now and each day this week about worshiping the Lord with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ next week.

    Set your heart and mind on worshiping Jesus each day and at Church next week.

    Think of what you are doing as going to worship Jesus Christ, rather than going to church.

    Then see if you feel energized by the opportunity to worship the Lord rather than drained by the prospect of “going to church.”

     
  • Pastor Ryan 11:05 pm on March 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: atonement, Church, ,   

    Atonement is still needed… (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) 

    As I’ve been preparing a sermon on Deuteronomy 21:1-9 this week I’ve been reminded how deeply we still need atonement in our lives today.

    Christians often think of atonement for sin as an Old Testament concept that has little relevance in our daily lives today. The Hebrew word often used for atonement literally means “to cover over.”  Our English word “atonement” carries the meaning of reconciliation or “at-one-ment”.  Being at one with the Lord after having been separated from Him.

    In the passage I’ve been studying, the Lord provides details concerning how to deal with an unsolved murder in Israel.  Atonement must be made for the blood-guiltiness caused by the unsolved crime.  A punishment for the crime must be carried out by the Elders of the closest town to where the body was found.  And in this case, it must be carried out on an innocent animal.  The innocent animal must die in place of the person who committed the murder.  By doing so, vs. 8 says that “atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood.”

    So what’s the big deal?  Why is this atonement necessary?  Why did the town’s leadership have to go to so much trouble for a person found dead?

    The answer is the central theme throughout the Scripture.  It is God’s plan of redemption since the foundation of the world.

    The Bible tells us that the “wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

    We know from the creation account in Genesis that Adam and Eve were created by the Lord to have an intimate personal relationship with Him.  We know they were also given specific instructions concerning how to live and be.  When Adam & Eve sinned they were separated from the Lord and cast out of the garden.  The fig leaves Adam and Eve fashioned for clothing were not sufficient to cover their sin and nakedness.  Therefore the Lord provided and animal sacrifice and used its skin to clothe Adam and Eve.  Gen 3:21 – Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.  Since that first sin in the Garden God has required the shedding of blood to atone for sin.  From this first sin of man till this day man’s sin separates him from a right relationship with God.  Therefore atonement must be made to cover our sins to make that relationship right again.  Hebrews 9:22 According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  We see throughout the Scriptures that a blood sacrifice was required and offered of God’s people to make atonement.

    And Jesus provided the once for all sacrifice to make atonement for the sins of all who would trust in him.  Hebrews 9:26b-10:1 He (Jesus) has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  Joh 3:16-18 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    And so, the Lord has not left us to suffer his wrath and condemnation without an escape.  We have this blood guiltiness on our hands for sin, but there is a way to escape the wrath to come.

    What should be our response to this gift?  How can a person receive this gift of salvation, pardon and eternal life from the Lord?  The only way is by grace through faith.  By trusting in Jesus Christ alone you can be saved.  Act 16:30-31 – Philippian Jailer asked: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 Apostle Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.  It’s that simple for you and for me, but the cost was tremendous to the Lord Jesus.

    The atoning sacrifice has been provided.  Our response is to believe and be saved.  That we would put our faith in Christ alone for salvation.  For without faith it is impossible to please God.

    Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ?  If not, trust Him today.

    And let us look to and reflect on His death, burial, and resurrection this week as we celebrate Easter this coming week.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 9:32 pm on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, ,   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 6 

    We are walking through several benefits to the household approach to discipleship listed by Eric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home.”  My goal in these blog posts is to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 11: A household approach better prepares people for marriage. A household approach to ministry enables young people to evaluate the characteristics of a potential marriage partner in the confines of safe, real-life relationships. You best see the true character of a person in how they act in their home environment. You can see how a person practically lives out their faith in the way they interact with their family. My wife Katie and I experienced this growing up. We met when we were fourteen years old and saw first-hand how each of our families interacted with each other and what their priorities were. We knew the obstacles we were facing as we walked toward marriage and prayed together for the Lord to see us through them. He has blessed us with fifteen wonderful years of marriage and five beautiful children.

    Psalm 78:1-7 gives a beautiful picture of the results of home discipleship:

    “Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments”

    Amen

     
  • Pastor Ryan 11:03 pm on November 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, ,   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 5 

    Family WorshipWe are walking through several benefits to the household approach to discipleship listed by Eric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home.”  My goal in these blog posts is to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 9: A household approach spreads leadership out over households instead of relying on a small team of overworked people. In most churches, eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people. When Pastors work with household leaders who in turn work with the members of their own households, this spreads leadership out. Doing this helps us build relationships, which in turn helps us keep our focus on Christ as the source of growth rather than our own works.

    Benefit 10: A household approach allows more people to use their gifts in home settings where they can offer practical life guidance. There are many whose spiritual gifts don’t fit the programs and opportunities to serve that the church offers. A household approach provides the relationship basis for people to use their spiritual gifts for edification of the body outside the church’s schedule and programs.

    So brothers and sisters, let’s be busy discipling our families.  Let’s have hearts to reach out to our community by opening our homes to them and living the gospel before our neighbors and co-workers.  Always being ready to share the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:31 pm on October 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, ,   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 3 

    Family WorshipWe are walking through several benefits to the household approach to discipleship listed by Eric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home.”  My goal in these blog posts is to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 4: A household approach is well suited for listening to others and meeting their needs. When you practice hospitality you have the one-on-one time with others to get to know them and to most effectively minster to them. Relationships are essential to spiritual growth. Making the household the primary place of ministry enables families to build relationships and meet the needs of others in practical ways in day-to-day life, not only in the times when the church meets for its regular schedule and programs.

    Benefit 5: A household approach enables household members to grow together, to hold each other accountable, and to develop and live out a common vision. When households learn and serve together, members achieve a greater level of encouragement and accountability because they can more easily apply what they are learning to life situations. When households learn and serve together, God often develops ongoing household ministries through shared vision.

    Prayerfully consider how you and your family can reach out and show the love of Christ to those in your community and workplace.  Let’s reach out and share the living hope we have in Jesus Christ.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 5:31 pm on October 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, ,   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 2 

    Family Worship

    We are walking through several benefits to the household approach to discipleship listed by Eric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home.”  My goal in these blog posts is to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 2: A household approach offers a natural outreach into the community. As we practice discipleship in the home our discussion of spiritual things becomes more natural in our lives. As we reach out to our neighbors in love they will see the Word of God modeled in our family. As they see the love of Christ in our households extend to the community we have an excellent platform by which to share the gospel and begin to disciple our neighbors.

    Benefit 3: A household approach encourages hospitality as a means of serving one another in love. Hospitality involves seeing the daily activities of the home as expressions of God’s sovereign rule in our lives. Sharing meals, activities, and just visiting each other enables life to rub life and provides opportunities to share the love of Christ with others. Hospitality provides a practical way to live out loving our neighbor and a strong platform for sharing the gospel.

    Prayerfully consider how you and your family can reach out and show the love of Christ to those in your community and workplace.  Let’s reach out and share the living hope we have in Jesus Christ.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 11:00 pm on September 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, , , ,   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 1 

    Family WorshipEric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home” lists several benefits to the home discipleship model.  I will list and discuss these benefits over my next several blog posts to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 1: A household approach helps to heal the hurting, to clear up the confused, and to rebuild broken lives for victory. He states that by opening up our hearts, homes, and lives to others we provide a haven for healing. This benefit results when families are active in opening their homes to others in fellowship and discipleship.  We therefore live out what we are learn from God’s Word.

    Prayerfully consider how you and your family can reach out and show the love of Christ to those in your community and workplace.  Then take action and live the great commandments to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:25 pm on April 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Church, eternity, , heaven, , stand   

    Philippians 3:15-4:1 – Stand Firm in the Lord 

    Stand FirmWhen was the last time you took a stand for something?  I’m not talking about yelling at the TV when you see something you don’t agree with.  I’m talking about standing up for what was right even though you knew it was going to cost you something.  For some of us, it’s been a very long time since we’ve taken a stand for anything.

    Philippians 4:1 gives us a command to “stand firm in the Lord.”  No matter our circumstances, we must remain true to the gospel and not fall prey to those who would add to or take away from it.  Paul was teaching against the Judiazers who sought to add works to the gospel by teaching that believers must not only trust Christ for salvation, but also keep the law to be saved.  This is a heresy (false teaching) that Paul constantly rebukes in the New Testament and we must constantly beware of it and rebuke it when found in the church today.

    We see in 3:15-21 that we should stand firm in the Lord by striving for unity though humility for the sake of the gospel.  We must understand that our citizenship is in heaven and that we should eagerly wait for the Lord Jesus to come and take us there.  This world is not our home.  We are just pilgrims passing through, so don’t get so comfortable here that you don’t long for heaven.  Don’t be content with eating the pods thrown to the swine while the feast awaits you in the dining hall.

    So brothers and sisters, let us look to heaven and stand firm in the Lord while we still have time on this side of eternity.  Share the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Teach it to your children, proclaim it to your neighbors and co-workers.  Stand firm in it even in the midst of trial and persecution, the whole time keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus.  He is the prize that awaits us in our heavenly home.

    Blessings to you and your family,

    Pastor Ryan

     
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