James Part 3 - There is a desire in each one of us to live free. To do what we were created to do. To fulfill our passions and dreams. Society tells us that the best way live free is to remove restrictions and rules. To write our own code. Unfortunately, that path doesnt lead to freedom, but chaos. God has a different path for us. He says, "To live free, obey me." Today we discovered that the perfect law sets us free. How? Because Jesus, our perfect law keeper, is our substitute.
James Part 2 - In any area of temptation, the tempting is coming from in us. Could you agree that we are all tempted? And that our normal response to temptation is to blame what/who is around us? Could you imagine how amazing it would be if we could say this powerful word "NO!" to temptation when it comes. How free would you be? How different would you be? James, the younger brother of Jesus, believed it was possible, and he wrote about it! He makes a case that the reason why we give in to temptation is because we forget: How BAD we are; How GOOD God is!
James Part 1 - Everyone of us has trouble. We all experience pain, trials, and heartache. The trouble with trouble is that it's usually unexpected. While we can't develop action plans specific to our trouble, we believe we can address one thing that is usually the same, our response! In the book of James, we discover a new point of view on how to think about our troubles and how we can consider responding with joy during these times.
We can easily convince ourselves that because we are really bad, we can't know God. Or, because we are really good, we don't need God. Jesus told a story to demonstrate that all people need the Father to graciously act to bring us into a close relationship with Him. The only way we are brought close to God, is by Jesus losing everything. He is the older brother that we all need.
- Reflect: Do you identify more with the younger son, or the older son in Jesus’ story?
- Write: Evaluate your daily rhythms. Write down your tasks. Why do you do what you do? We don’t just repent of our wrong actions, but also the reasons why we do good things, if the motive is to gain gifts from God.
- Read: Luke 15:11-32. One son was really, really bad. The other was really, really good. Both needed the father’s grace to bring them in.
- Do: Genuine love is costly. It cost Jesus everything in order for you to know God. This week, give up something for someone else. Show them real love.
- Pray: Adore God for sending Jesus to this world to bring you into His kingdom. Admit that it is easy to look at other people and label them as younger sons, in order to feel better about yourself. Aspire to live humbly, thankful for the saving grace of God.
The night before Jesus was crucified, he prayed for everyone who would ever believe in him. His prayer was that all believers would be united together. The purpose, He said, was "So that the world would believe in Him." The proof of Jesus' love is seen in Christian unity. The only way that we are united together, is because Jesus has given us his glory!
Brand New Part 5. All of us are searching for hope. The problem is, everything around us has an expiration date. The hope of the Gospel is this: "There's more for me, beyond what I see." God in his great mercy has made a new birth available to all people. We receive a brand new inheritance that will never expire!
- Reflect: Are you currently satisfied by what you have, or are you longing for something more?
- Write: What are you hoping for? What thing or experience do you need in order to feel satisfied?
- Read: Luke 12:13-21. In this story, Jesus reminds of the reality of expiration dates.
- Do: Encourage someone who is going through a challenging moment. Share with them the good news of an eternal inheritance that is found in Jesus!
- Pray: Adore God for making a brand new inheritance available to you by his great mercy! Admit that the expiring inheritances around you tend to capture your heart way too often. Aspire to remember the hope that you have in Jesus when trials inevitably come.
Brand New Part 4 - Betterness leads to bitterness. Each of us has a tendency to prove why we are better than other people. This will ultimately shrink our circle of friends. Even more dangerous, we could assume that we have somehow earned God's love. Peter needed God to take a sledgehammer to his wall of betterness. He was made brand new!
Brand New Part 3 - Have you ever questioned why you react the way you do when things don't go as planned? Why do people seem to be in the way all the time? The truth is, that when we live for our own name, people will always be in our way. But there is a brand new Name that we have been invited to live for: Jesus! He brings a new nature that enables us to love those around us. Everyone has the ability to live for the name of Jesus.
Brand New Part 2 - God has declared amazing things about those who know His Son Jesus. These beliefs shape who we are. The beauty of God's declarations is that anyone can be defined by them. Who we are is secure because it is based on who Jesus is and what He's done. Discover the brand new beliefs that Peter knew!
Brand New Part 1 - No one has a problem loving themselves. We struggle with loving other people. The problem is, if we conitnue loving ourselves so much, we will end up destroying everything around us. Only Jesus can make us brand new, and empower us to love other people. The key isn't in doing more, it's in knowing more - knowing more of how much God loves us.