December 30, 2007


5 reasons why I believe it is the main thing the Holy Spirit is doing in His church in these days; and why it should be the main or most important thing we give ourselves to in these days
A. Fufills the whole law like nothing else
– ROM. 13:8-10 “…for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. … Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
– GALATIANS 5:14 “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
– JAMES 2:8 “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.” Continue reading Loving into the New Year

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December 19, 2007

I woke up this morning with three heroes on my mind – thinking about cities – and how we are going to overcome the overwhelming problems most of our cities are facing today. No these heroes will not be found on NBC’s hit show “Heroes”. Each of them lived thousands of years ago in cities and nations that faced all kinds of enemies within and without. Their names are: Joseph, Esther and Daniel. And while they were all Jewish, none of them served and made their amazing contributions to society in Jewish communities. In fact they lived and served in cities and empires where the Jewish God and faith were not known or respected.

Joseph was the youngest of 12 brothers, and was known and despised by his brothers as a dreamer. Not the kind of dreamer that day dreamed in class while the teacher was instructing. But Joseph received dreams from God, and later on was able to interpret dreams from God that others received. He landed in Egypt at an early age because his older brothers out of envy and spite sold him to a group of Midianite traders, who later sold him to Potiphar – Pharoah’s officer and the captain of the bodyguard. Joseph was not only ripped away from his family, but also after a time of faithful service, falsely accused of attempted rape of Pharoah’s officer’s wife, and unjustly imprisoned for two years. His divine ability to interpret dreams (a gift that I believe is still given and needed today) eventually was his ticket to get out of prison since no one else could interpret the dream God gave to Pharoah but Joseph. In the dream God communicated that seven good fruitful years were coming, but after that seven years of famine. It was a warning dream sent by a merciful God of the need to prepare for the coming hard times. Joseph by this time was marked by his wisdom and discernment. Pharoah saw it and promoted him to be his right hand man – next in command only to him. Joseph then led Egypt – a pagan nation- to prepare for this seven year famine. And because of his favor with Pharoah, he was able to eventually bring his family there so they (and their descendants) might be preserved through this famine as well.

In my last blog, I talked about how God, (who is infinite in wisdom by the way), invites cities to look to Him for that wisdom to solve the myriad problems they are facing. One of the ways He avails that wisdom to cities is through individuals like Joseph. I would submit today that one of the great needs of our cities is wise men and women. There is no challenge or obstacle or crisis that wisdom cannot help us overcome or get through. So what can we learn from Joseph’s example? Well let me suggest four things.

First, by the time Joseph was exalted to his position with Pharoah – he was a humble man. Prov. 11:12 says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” Joseph had a pride problem in the beginning with his brothers that led to their ridding themselves of him. But by the time he had been thrown in a pit by them, sold as a slave by them, and unjustly been thrown in prison by the Egyptians, he had a much more humble view of himself. Life was no longer about him. He realized now that the gifts he had were just that – gifts (e.g. receiving and interpreting dreams from God).

Second, Joseph was a forgiving man. Here is a man who had been thrown in a pit and sold to Midianite (non Jewish) slave traders by his own brothers. Then he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of attempting to rape her. Then he was unjustly thrown in prison because of that. And while in prison, he helped two fellow prisoners understand their dreams and destiny, who once out of prison failed to keep their commitment to speak a good word of him to Pharoah. Prov. 9:10 says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Part of fearing the Lord is obeying what he says. And one of the things he is adamant about is that we forgive every one of every offense against us. One cannot effectively lead in today’s society who hasn’t learned to forgive. It is almost a daily necessity for those who work with people.

Third, Joseph was a focused and disciplined man. He knew that if he pursued wisdom he would be able to walk in it. But if he was sloppy and gave into his passions and the pleasures of the world, he would possibly lose everything precious to him. We are told in the account of his life and service in Egypt in the book of Genesis (39:1-18) that he had free access and reign over Potiphar’s house. Potiphar’s wife quickly began to lust after him and entice him, and this went on for quite some time. Because Joseph had developed a lifestyle of pursuing wisdom and seeking God’s favor and blessing, he had the inner strength to resist her advances. Prov. 7:4,5 says, “Say to wisdom, You are my sister,” And call understanding your intimate friend; That they may keep you from an adulteress, from the foreigner who flatters with her words.” How many public servants (and priests and pastors) initially brought a great gift to their cities, but then lost it all because they could not control their passions. Cities need men and women who can stay focused on the task at hand, and not be side-railed because their passions are out of control.

Fourth, Joseph though a young man, had the favor and blessing of God on him. (see Gen. 39:2 & 23). We often tend to think that wisdom lies only in older men or women. But Job 32:9 says, “the abundant in years may not be wise, Nor may elders understand justice.” Age should be an advantage in our service in our cities, but it is not necessarily so. A young man (or woman) with the favor and blessing of God on him because of the qualities mentioned above is of far more value to a city or a leadership team, than a man or woman with years under their belt, but little to no wisdom.

Parents, school teachers and administrators, therapists, coaches, priests and pastors – – if we are going to overcome the daunting challenges our cities are facing, we are going to have to devote more of our energies to developing this kind of character in our young people, and when they step forward we need to get out of the way and let them lead. I don’t know about your city, but mine is in dire need of some heroes right now like Joseph.

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November 27, 2007

I asked the basic question in my first blog, “Does God care about cities; and even if he does, can he and will he do anything about the deteriorating state of many of our cities in America?” I believe he does care, and one of the many reasons I believe that is because of the example of how God dealt with ancient Nineveh.

Remember the story of Jonah in the Old Testament? God gave him an assignment one day that was the one assignment he hoped he would never receive. Jonah knew better than anyone that Nineveh was one of the most violent and wicked cities on the face of the earth at that time. As far as Jonah was concerned they deserved the judgment of God, and the sooner the better. The last thing he wanted to do was help them escape that. So he tried to escape from God. That of course didn’t work, and eventually reeking like fish guts, he agreed to be God’s mouthpiece to this troubled city.

The good news is Jonah agreed to obey God. The bad news is he never felt about them the way God did. And when they to his utter surprise and dismay responded to his message, he grew very bitter and sullen. At the end of the book God is found still trying to help Jonah see them the way God does, and this is what God says to him, “And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

The fact is God had great compassion on one of the most wicked cities ever to dot earth’s landscape. It doesn’t mean he ignored their wickedness. But his judgment was overridden by his mercy for a time at least.

What I have concluded from this and many other passages is that God loves and has compassion on the people of the world’s cities. And that he is more than willing to help them with their overwhelming problems and challenges.

One of my favorite books in the Old Testament is the book of Proverbs. Someone has said that whereas in the book of Psalms (which comes right before the book of Proverbs) you find man on his knees or in public worship with God’s people; in the Proverbs you find man in the marketplace. Proverbs is full of extremely practical stuff on how to succeed in your marriage, family, business, community, nation, etc.

I’ve read Proverbs for many years, but it was only in the last few that I have begun to notice how many times God invites the leaders of cities to look to Him for the wisdom they need to lead their cities forward. Let me share a few of them with you with some comments interspersed:
“Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; (for many of us in the church we have foolishly believed the only place God speaks in a church meeting)
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city (my emphasis), she utters her sayings: (Wisdom is personified as a person in many of these writings, but a thorough reading of the book makes it clear that God is the giver of wisdom, and He isn’t stingy with it). Prov. 1:20,21

“Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice? On top of the heights beside the way. Where the paths meet, she takes her stand; Beside the gates, at the opening to the city (my emphasis), At the entrance of the doors, she cries out: To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men. (“men” is often used in a generic way in the scriptures – the context of the passage is usually the key to know if it is just speaking of the male gender or not). O naïve ones, discern prudence; And, o fools, discern wisdom.”
Prov. 8:1-5 (see also Prov. 9:1-6, and Micah 6:9 “the voice of the Lord will call to the city..”).

A crucial question at this point is how can we hear the voice of God or how can we recognize and receive this wisdom? I will grapple with that in a subsequent blog. For now I want to say to the leaders of our cities – whether you have an official title or not –
Get a hold of a contemporary version of the Bible if you do not have one, and get familiar with the Proverbs. They were written for you and your cities.

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Nov. 12, 2007

Cities…. I’ve lived in a number of them over the years. For the last almost 14 years I’ve lived in one called Los Osos. At one point we were a fairly tight little community of 14,000 or so. But then some years ago the pressure and strain of a County mandated sewer began to test our unity and maturity, and in many ways we have not handled the test very well.

Is our community doomed to ongoing fracture, “economic cleansing” and even destruction as some are predicting? I don’t think so. To the contrary I believe our town is some day going to be a place known for its unity, tranquility, and maturity. But it is going to require some significant changes of attitude, some significant sacrifice for those willing to roll up their sleeves, and some significant mercy, favor and blessing from God. Continue reading Cities & Scorning

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October 28, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Last week as we finished up our series on the Beatitudes – at one point I tried to sum up in a sentence or two each – what they all meant, and how they fit together. I wonder if any of you listening to that felt a little bit overwhelmed at trying to develop all of those kingdom characteristics?? For sure, all of those characteristics are characteristics that we have to pursue and strive to grow in. They do not just naturally develop.

Well in one sense that is not true of our next paragraph = vs. 13-16. Let’s read it together, and then I will explain what I mean. Continue reading Implications of Being Salt & Light – Matthew 5:13-16

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October 21, 2007
There are many things that distinguish and set apart the Lord Jesus Christ from all of the other renowned religious leaders that have walked this earth. For instance:

Jesus Christ only led His effort for 3 & ½ years. For the first 30 years of His life, He basically hid; He did not give a speech, form an organization, write an essay or letter to the editor, or develop a leadership team in those years – even though He knew His time on the earth was short. Muhammed, Ghandi and the rest gave most of their adult years to their efforts.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead, appeared on the earth for 40 days after that to over 500 different credible, known people, and then ascended in front of many of them to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Muhammed, Ghandi and the rest are still in the dirt – what’s left of them. Continue reading “Blessed are the Persecuted” – Matthew 5:10-12

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September 23, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Suppose a certain father in Los Osos has two sons and two daughters. One of the sons and one of the daughters have determined that they do not need a father to tell them what they can do, and cannot do, nor do they need the hassle of having to share bedrooms, bathrooms and possessions with siblings. So as soon as they were able – the son at age 17, the daughter at age 18 – they flew the coop, and moved out with people they enjoyed hanging out with. This was very grievous to the father; but there was little he could do about it.

His other two children – a 19 year old son and a 15 year old daughter – loved their father, loved their family, and couldn’t understand why their brother and sister would not feel the same. Every Friday night when the father made reservations at the local steakhouse for dinner for his family – his 19 yr. old son and 15 yr. old daughter sat on the front porch waiting for their dad to come out and throw them all in the family van. Every Saturday morning, when the Father finished up his project list, the 19 yr. old son & 15 yr. old daughter were there waiting for their instructions.

Now the father loved his four children equally. He parented each of them with the same principles and values. And he longed to enjoy their fellowship equally. But which children do you think were actually able to experience the warmth of his fellowship and love? Continue reading Producing Peacemakers II – Matt. 5:9

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September 16, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Everything negative and destructive in our society can be traced back to a lack of the knowledge of God. It is the lack of a true knowledge of the one true God that is at the root of every societal ill we face today.

If there is any aspect or attribute of God that we need to know in our day in this town, in this region, in this state, in this fractured nation, and indeed in our world it is that God is a God of peace. Five times in the New Testament He is proclaimed as the God of peace, such as in Rom. 15:33, where the apostle Paul encourages the church in Rome with this blessing, “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Jesus Christ is referred to in scripture as the Prince of Peace and as the Lord of Peace.

When in chapter 14 of the book of Romans, Paul describes what the kingdom of God is like – when and wherever it is manifested on the earth, that is – whenever and wherever His kingship and Lordship is recognized and submitted to – he states that it will be characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Continue reading Producing Peacemakers – Matt. 5:9

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“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

INTRODUCTION – Last week we began our discussion of this verse by first of all admitting that most of us are greatly sobered by just reading it. Then I read a couple of quotes from two of my favorite commentators on the Sermon on the Mount, both of whom admitted they too felt this emotion upon first glance at this kingdom principle.

We then spent the rest of our time talking about two things. First, how desperate our need is to see God. And second, what happens when we do see God – – noting that nothing we will ever see or experience in this life will impact us like seeing God does.

Perhaps one of the loudest megaphone messages we get from the scriptures is that much of our pain, torment, fear, anger, bitterness, confusion, and paralysis of faith comes from the lack or neglect of seeing God. One of these days I am going to do a search with my concordance of how many times God rebukes His people for not seeing or hearing Him when He came or spoke. One of those is found in Isa. 50:2 where God says to His complaining, blaming, and thus downtrodden people, “Why was there no man when I came? When I called why was there none to answer?” Continue reading Seeing God – Part II – Matthew 5:8

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August 2007?

INTRODUCTION – If, when you read this verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), your shoulders kind of sag, and your spirit grieves a bit, then your response is pretty normal.

Here are a couple of rather sobering comments from two of my favorite commentators on this passage:

“Here, then, we are face to face with one of themes magnificent, and yet one of the most solemnizing and searching statements, which can be found anywhere in Scripture.” Martyn Lloyd Jones p. 108 “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” Continue reading Seeing God – Part I – Matthew 5:8

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August 5, 2007

Def. of Mercy – Webster – compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power. Mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it.

Vines says of merciful of Matt. 5:7 – (eleemon) – not simply possessed of pity, but actively compassionate – is used of Christ as our High Priest & of those who are like God as in Matt. 5:7 Continue reading Blessed are the Merciful – Matt. 5:7

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July 22, 2007

INTRODUCTION – One of the things I love about the Holy Spirit is that He doesn’t just stop at convicting us of sin, and leaving us to grovel in our failure and misery. No, once He truly convicts and convinces us of our sin, He then cleanses us of that sin; and then conforms us to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Any true work of the Holy Spirit will always result in our becoming more like our Savior.

Two of the conforming works He is doing in these days are: 1. producing true happiness and joy in His people – the kind of joy that our Savior walked in and continues to walk in; and the kind of joy that gives us inner strength to endure hardship and suffering for His sake. 2. pouring out passion and zeal on His people that is ever increasing, and not just a result of a mountain top experience. The people of God were never meant to operate without those two things. Continue reading Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness – Matt. 5:6

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July 1, 2007

INTRODUCTION – A few weeks ago – in our ongoing series through the gospel of Matthew – we started chapter 5, which opens with the Sermon on the Mount. We learned on that day that Jesus Christ at this point was beginning to pave the way for the culture of His kingdom to be established upon the earth through His disciples. And that that culture was to be founded on the very life and character of Christ. We learned that His will for His disciples is that we walk in a lifestyle of blessedness, or joy or happiness, though not as the world defines happiness. This blessedness is a state of mind and heart that is from the inside out, and cannot be altered or snuffed out by adverse circumstances. It comes as a result – not of any set of favorable circumstances; but rather because of Christ like character that we have allowed the Holy Spirit to form in us.

The first of those characteristics we looked at last time was that of being “poor in spirit”. This characteristic in fact is the one that opens the door to all the rest of them. To be poor in spirit we learned is to be in constant awareness of how spiritually needy we always are. It is similar to being humble or broken, and it is the opposite of pride or self reliance or self sufficiency.

Today as we prepare to come to the Lord’s table and partake of communion with Him, I want to quickly touch on the next one in line, which we find in vs. 4 of Matthew ch. 5. “Blessed, happy, joyful are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Happy are those who mourn??? You gotta be kidding! How can a person mourn and be happy or joyful at the same time? Continue reading The Blessedness of Mourning – Communion Meditation Matthew 5:4

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July 8, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Review of the Big Picture of the Sermon on the Mount; summary of first two beatitudes or kingdom characteristics.

I. Understanding the term “meek” or “gentle” – Matthew 5:5
A. Various Translations
K.J. = Meek
NKJ = meek
ESV = meek
NIV = meek
LB = meek and lowly
NASV= gentle
UNASV= gentle
So why did the NASV depart from all the others? Possibly because “meek” doesn’t communicate well in our society today, and gentle or humble does and is fairly synonymous. How often do you hear of someone spoken of as meek? Continue reading Only the Meek Inherit – Matthew 5:5

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June 3, 2007

INTRODUCTION – In our Quest to know and follow Jesus Christ, and to experience more of His heavenly kingdom – here on earth in this community – in this day– we have been working our way through the gospel of Matthew. This morning we are ready to jump into chapter five, which introduces us to one of the most famous portions of all of scripture – commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. I think it is safe to say that no sermon that has ever been given by man has impacted more people than this one.

It is within this long sermon that spans 3 chapters in the gospel of Matthew that we find well known passages like the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and the golden rule, which exhorts us to treat people the same way we would want to be treated.

I’m excited about what God is going to do in our midst as we live in these pages together. But I am concerned that we not lose the forest for the trees. There are some very important questions that we need to answer before we jump into the specifics of this sermon. The four I want to tackle today are: Why did Jesus stop His quickly growing ministry to give such a long teaching? Who was He targeting? What did He hope to accomplish? And why did He start it the way He started? Continue reading The Sermon on the Mount – Part I – Matthew 5:1-3

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May 29, 2007

1. Acts 2:37-41 – Peter ministering to the Jews
What is it they heard? Vs. 37
How did they respond? Vs. 37
What is the first thing Peter commanded them to do? Vs. 38
2nd thing? Vs. 38
What is Peter’s promise if they respond appropriately? Vs. 38
Note also his ongoing exhortation? Vs. 40
Who were the ones who got baptized according to vs. 41?
What was the setting of this event?
As far as we know from this passage, what is true of every person who was baptized? Continue reading Accounts of Baptism in the New Testament Post Christ’s Ascension

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March 18, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Our theme this year is ?? “Ruling and Reigning with Christ”

How that came about – New Years day – meditating on Gen. ch. 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, etc.” vs. 28 “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky..etc.”

Why I now realize the Lord wanted this to be our theme – – because He has called us to be an army of overcomers. When the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that Jesus Christ intends to present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” – – one of the ways He intends for His church to shine and stand apart from the world is that she will be rid of blaming, complaining, and victimization. In other words, this people called the church will be a people who have learned to overcome adversity, trying circumstances, setbacks, parental neglect and abuse, offense, failure, financial lack, former bondages, injustice, and every other thing the enemy has used to convince us that we have a right to say and to think that it will always be this way, this is just the way I am, this is just the way my husband is, this is just the way teenagers are, and thus I cannot do what God has called me to do – or be what God has called me to be. I can’t change things. I just need to accept my lot. Continue reading Resisting the Devil III – Matt. 4:8-11

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February 25, 2007 –

INTRODUCTION – Review of Jan. 28th sermon

I John 2:13,14

If you and I are going to be overcomers of all the fiery darts thrown at us by Satan and his demons
I. We must never test God concerning the fulfillment of His promises. Vs. 5-7
A. The Setting of the Temptation – vs. 5
1. Somehow the devil physically took Jesus from the wilderness into Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. Because Satan cannot make Jesus do anything, we have to assume Jesus willingly went there with him.

As to the significance of taking Jesus to this place before he tempted him, Dr. Stan Touisaint has some helpful insight. P. 76 – “Satan had a very evident purpose in placing the Lord at this scene for this temptation. According to a rabbinic tradition, the coming of the Messiah to mark the deliverance of Israel would be indicated by His appearance on the temple roof. Edersheim quotes a rabbi as saying, “Our Rabbis give this traditions: in the hour when King Messiah cometh, He standeth upon the roof of the Sanctuary.” For Jesus to leap unhurt from the place the Messiah was to appear would certainly identify Him as the King of Israel. John 6:30 shows the Jews anticipated the Messiah would manifest Himself with such a sign as this.” Continue reading Resisting the Devil II – Matt. 4:5-7

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January 28, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Bad news & good news
Bad news: You have an enemy – who hates your guts and wants to destroy or at least de-mobilize you; and he has thousands of demons at his command; thousands of years of experience; and lots of power to pull of his intentions.

Good news: Jesus Christ resisted him to perfection as a man; has destroyed His works as both man and God; He is continuing to destroy them primarily through His church; and He has left us an example to follow – with the full expectation that we will overcome and resist the devil like He did.

All of the New Testament writers spoke of our enemy. All of them had this expectation that we would successfully resist him. Continue reading Resisting the Devil & Temptation – Matthew 4:3-11

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January 14, 2007

INTRODUCTION – Last week we began a discussion about how our Lord and Master prepared for His short but intense three and a half years of ministry. We learned that He did not rush right into it unprepared. Rather He laid a wise foundation that His ministry could stand on. We learned that to become like Him and to minister in power like Him, we need to be three things.
1. Be a righteousness pursuer
2. Be anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit
3. Be secure in the father’s love and approval.

This morning I want to discuss with you further this idea of preparing adequately for the complete fulfillment of God’s destiny and call on your life. Many prophetic folk are prophesying that this is going to be a year of significant breakthrough and release of power through God’s people. I’ve had a couple of non prophetic pastor types say a similar thing to me in recent days. We as a church want to be poised and ready for every opportunity to reflect Him, proclaim Him, and obey Him as He sends us out to minister to a broken world – whether there is a unusual move of God or not. Continue reading Preparing to Serve the King II – Triumphing over Temptation – Matt. 4:1,2

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January 7, 2007

INTRODUCTION – One of the things that thrilled me as I read and prayed over your prayer sheets Thursday afternoon for the first time was how many of you wanted to be more like Christ and wanted to be used of Him in a greater way.

Well we have come to the point in our series in the gospel of Matthew where we can begin to learn from our Master’s example. Turn with me in Matthew’s gospel to chapter 3 vs. 13. In this short passage we are going to find three things that each of us needs to do or experience to be able to become more like our Savior, and be used by Him in His kingdom work.

As we begin to wade through this gospel we are going to witness the amazing life and ministry of Jesus Christ. What He accomplished in 3 and a half short years is astounding.
And now that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, He wants to continue to live His astounding life and do His astounding work through us. Continue reading Preparing to Serve the King – Matt. 3:13-17

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