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The Fall of Man

Slide3[10]Our world is broken. Poverty. Violence. Injustice. Slavery. Hunger. Rage. Indulgence. Divorce. Loneliness. Separation. Fear. Hurts.

Where did it all begin?

The world God created was perfect. The perfect Garden of Eden. Adam & Eve lived there, and they had a perfect relationship with God and each other.

What happened?

Genesis 3:1-7
1 Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Questioning God. The serpent’s strategy was simple: begin by questioning God’s Word. He asked Eve something that caused her to question what God had said. You can hear the attitude in the question he asked her: “Did God really say…?” Anytime you find yourself questioning God’s Word, stop and pray. It is normal to have questions for God. Take those to him in prayer. But if you find yourself questioning the truth about something that is crystal clear in God’s Word, be careful. Satan may be tempting you in the same way that through the serpent he tempted Eve.

In the course of their brief conversation, the serpent misrepresented God’s Word. He made it appear that God was holding out on Adam and Eve. This was far from the truth. The reason that God had told them to avoid the tree was so that they would avoid the pain and consequences that would follow by eating of its fruit. God had given them an enormous, beautiful, perfect Garden to enjoy. He simply asked them to obey him by avoiding the fruit of one tree. They acted just like a child who is told, “Play with any toy in the room that you want. Just not that one toy.” Guess which toy the child will most likely choose? The one the child is told not to play with. Human nature draws him or her to question their parents just like the serpent tempted Eve to question God.

Falling to temptation. In just a few words, the Bible describes how Eve descended down the slippery slope of sin. Here is what she thought:

  • The fruit was good for food — lust of the flesh
  • The fruit was delightful to look at — lust of the eyes
  • The fruit would make her wise — pride of life

Eve had a choice in that moment. She was being tempted, but she did not have to give in to the temptation. She could have consulted with Adam. Adam could have stepped in and stopped her from eating the fruit. He was right there with her. Both of them could have called out to the Lord for help. But they did none of those things.

Eve ate of the fruit. And then Adam ate. And our world has been broken ever since.

Interestingly, the three ways in which Eve was tempted are paralleled by the ways Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. But the main difference is this: Jesus overcame each of the temptations of Satan. (See Matthew 4:1-11 and 1 John 2:15-17)

Dealing with consequences. There were real world consequences and spiritual consequences for Adam, Eve and the serpent (Satan). The serpent had spoken in half-truths when he convinced Eve to question God’s Word. Adam and Eve did not physically die on that day, but in a very real way their bodies began to die. The death that occurred that day was spiritual death because of sin. Adam and Eve were now spiritually separated from God. They did see a clear distinction between good and evil. They had thought they could determine good and evil. But they were wrong. They were embarrassed and ashamed. They made fig leaves to cover their nakedness. What had previously been a beautiful, close relationship with God was now full of fear and hiding.

In the midst of their brokenness, God spoke to them out of his love. God is sovereign. He is good. He is just. He is gracious. God called to them from their hiding and asked them where they were. God knew where they were the whole time. He wanted them to realize where they were.

The consequences were clear:

  • The woman would have pain in childbirth, and there would be tension and power struggle between her and her husband, and enmity between her and the serpent (Satan)
  • The man would experience thorns and thistles and pain for the first time as he worked the ground; work would be difficult now, much different than before
  • The serpent would forever have to crawl on its belly upon the earth; and most importantly in a prophecy concerning the Deliverer to come: the seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, but the seed of the woman would crush the head of the seed of the serpent. (See Genesis 3:15)

This last consequence is a prophecy indicating that Jesus (a descendant of Eve) would be crucified, and that Satan would think he (Satan) had won. But through the resurrection Jesus would demonstrate that he (Jesus) is the risen Savior, the One who died for the sin of all people, the Deliverer who offers salvation to all who will believe.

Covering for sin. Adam and Eve had tried to cover their sin physically with fig leaves. God sacrificed an animal to provide them with animal skins to cover them. This animal sacrifice showed them that without the shedding of blood their is no forgiveness of sins. The animal died in their place. They trusted in the Lord for forgiveness and eternal life.

God banished them from the Garden. He placed an angel at the entrance to keep them out. What seems like a cruel act of judgment is an act of grace. Had they remained in the Garden of Eden, they would have eaten from the Tree of Life and would have lived forever, but they would have been eternally dying. God is his grace removed them from the Garden, allowed them to live a long life on earth, and I believe he then welcomed them into his presence when they died.

Implications for us today. This story provides so many answers to the world in which we live today.

  • the origin of sin and brokenness in this world
  • the ways in which Satan tempts us, even to this day
  • the solution to the world’s problems, and our only hope for salvation — Jesus

What do you need to do in response to these truths from God’s Word?

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Story of Creation

Slide3[10]Genesis 1:1
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God is the Creator. The eternally existent One spoke time and space into existence and created everything that we can see and the unseen world that we cannot see. He created the laws that govern the universe and He created the universe the follows the laws.

Deuteronomy 6 affirms that there is only one God: “The Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Dt 6:4). Yet something interesting appears when you examine the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1. See, the Hebrew word for God is El. The plural form of the word is Elohim. In Genesis 1:1, the word Elohim is used to name the Creator. What does this mean? Let’s add two passages from the New Testament to make it clear.

John 1:1-4, 14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men…. 14 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:15-16
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.

When you combine all of these verses together (Gen 1:1, Dt 6:4, Jn 1:1-14, Col 1:15-16), it becomes crystal clear — our Three-in-One God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the Creator. You see this truth “hidden” in plain sight in Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible. God spoke and creation took place. Jesus is the Word of God. The Spirit of God was present at creation.

God’s creation is very good. God is the prime mover of everything. He got it all started. God is the master designer of the universe. It works with amazing precision. God is the supreme intelligence that thought up all things, visible and invisible. He holds all things together. What an amazing God we serve.

Even the order of creation demonstrates these qualities. Notice the pattern of two sets of three in the order of creation.

  • Day 1 = Light
  • Day 2 = Sky & Sea
  • Day 3 = Land & Plants
  • Day 4 = Sun, Moon and Stars (corresponds to Day 1)
  • Day 5 = Birds and Fish (corresponds to Day 2)
  • Day 6 = Land creatures and people (corresponds to Day 3)
  • Day 7 = Rest

God’s original creation was flawless. Perfect. In every way. He looked at His creation and declared that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31).

God’s creation is totally complete. The reason God rested was that His work in creating was done. He put the life systems and laws in motion that continue to this day. And despite the fact that we now live in a broken world (more on that in future posts), God’s creation is absolutely amazing.

I believe that the Bible is clear that God created the earth in six, literal 24-hour days. [More on that HERE.] And when God finished His creation, He rested. He rested not because He was tired but rather to give us an example to follow. We set aside one day each week to rest from our regular work and to devote the day to worshiping God.

God set Adam and Eve in the perfect Garden of Eden. It was truly paradise on earth. People were made in the image of God. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…. Male and female He created them” (Gen 1:26-27). Did you notice the “us” in that verse? Guess who God is talking to there? God the Father is speaking with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Elohim.

Let me state it clearly.

  • God is Creator.
  • Jesus is God.
  • Jesus is the Creator.

And He is the One who sustains all of creation, including you.

Worship Him. Put your trust in Him. Follow Him.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Greatest Story Jesus Ever Told

Slide3[10]On the day of the resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking the 8-mile road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were discouraged and distraught. Their teacher, friend and leader, Jesus, had been crucified just a few days before. His death had caused his disciples to become confused and afraid.

To add to their confusion, on this day some other followers of Jesus had made an amazing discovery. When they went to visit Jesus’ tomb, his body was not there. When these two disciples who were now walking to Emmaus heard that news, they didn’t know what to think. On the road to Emmaus, they were having a spirited discussion with each other about what all these things meant.

Suddenly, as they were walking down the road, another man joined them. It was Jesus himself, the Resurrected One. But for the time being, they were not able to recognize him. They were walking beside their risen Savior and they didn’t even know it.

He engaged them in conversation and asked them what they were discussing. They asked him if he was the only one who didn’t know about the recent events in Jerusalem: how Jesus had been arrested, tried, beaten and crucified. They told him how they had hoped Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. They told how it was the third day since the resurrection, and the report of the women and men who had gone to the tomb.

Then Jesus spoke up.

Luke 24:25-27
25 He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Jesus told them an amazing story on that day. Perhaps it was the greatest story Jesus ever told. Jesus walked through the Old Testament* with his friends, explaining to them all the references, prophecies, and foreshadowing of his coming throughout the Bible. It must have been an amazing story.

Later that evening, Jesus sat down for a meal with them. As he broke the bread and said a blessing over it, their eyes were opened to realize who was in their midst — Jesus, their risen Savior!

So, over the next series of posts, I want us to walk together through the Bible. We will cover passages in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We will see Jesus in every story. Let’s explore the greatest story that Jesus ever told.

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* The phrase “Moses and the Prophets” (v27) is a reference to the entire Old Testament, referencing the ways that the Old Testament scrolls were organized. The first five books were called the Torah, the five books written by Moses. They were rolled together in a set of scrolls. The other books were called the Nevi’im and the Kethuvim, referring to the Prophets and the Psalms/Writings. They were rolled together in a set of scrolls. Therefore, when the New Testament uses the phrase “Moses and the Prophets” or “Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets,” it is a reference to the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Story of the Angels

Slide3[10]Movies and television shows portray angels in a variety of ways. People around the world have varied beliefs about angels, demons and spirit-beings. How do we know what is true? Let’s look to the Bible, God’s Holy Word.

Angels are spirit beings created by God, and they worship Him. They are described by many names in the Bible: seraphim, cherubim, angels, spirits, hosts, host of heaven, heavenly beings, archangels, stars and morning stars. Some angels are even named, Michael and Gabriel being two.

You alone are Yahweh. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and the heavenly host worships You. (Nehemiah 9:6)

For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)

Angels are God’s servants. They do whatever God asks them to do. Sometimes they deliver messages for God (through dreams and in other supernatural ways). In the Bible, when they deliver a message the person clearly understands the message that God sends to them. Angels also serve God by ministering to God’s people in unseen ways.

Praise the LORD, all His angels of great strength, who do His word, obedient to His command. Praise the LORD, all His armies, His servants who do His will. (Psalm 103:20-21)

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

There are too many angels to count. We do not know exactly how many angels there are, but there are a lot. The Bible uses really big numbers to describe how many angels there are.

…to myriads of angels in festive gathering… (Hebrews 12:22)

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. (Revelation 5:11)

Angels are similar but very different than mankind. They are highly intelligent beings and very powerful, able to fulfill the mighty tasks that the Lord asks them to do (see Revelation for many examples). They are invisible, yet they can only be at one place at one time. They do not marry or reproduce (see Matthew 22:23-33). Angels do not die physically. Speaking of mankind, the Bible says:

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5, ESV)

Lucifer was the Anointed Cherub. The name Lucifer literally means “bright morning star” and is translated as such in some versions of the Bible. He was the anointed angel, blameless in all of his ways until wickedness was found in him. In future posts, we will discuss other names that the Bible uses to describe this once-honored spirit being.

Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. (Isaiah 14:12)

You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:14-15)

The angels watched creation. In the book of Job, we are witnesses of a conversation between the Lord and Job. Job had experienced much tragedy in his life and he considered it to be unfair. God reminded Job that He (the Lord) was the architect of creation, and that He was sovereignly in charge. Listen to God’s answer to Job, and notice that the “morning stars” and “sons of God” (both references to angels in this context) are witnesses to the creation of the world:

Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)

Points of application:

  1. Base your understanding of angels on the Bible — not on movies, television or world religions, nor on any person’s beliefs or experience.
  2. Do not worship angels. Worship God.
  3. Like the angels, we are to serve the Lord and worship Him.

For Further Reading: 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Who is God?

Slide3[10]God Is. He simply “is.” The Bible begins with a simple phrase asserting the existence of God. The Bible doesn’t need to prove that God exists because God is the ever-existent, designer, originator of all things, most powerful, most intelligent, all-sufficient God. God is. Believe in Him.
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  • In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1)
God is Eternal. No one created God. He never came into existence. He has eternally existed, and He will exist forever. He is the Eternal One. Call on Him as your Lord.
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  • Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God. (Psalm 90:2)
  • Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and there he called on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God. (Genesis 21:33)
God is Spirit. God is invisible. He is everywhere at all times. Worship Him, wherever you are.
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  • God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
God is the Great I AM. We need air to breathe, food and water to exist. God needs nothing. He is totally self-sufficient. And He is the One that meets all of our needs. Are you discouraged? He is your encourager. Are you afraid? He is your courage. Are you sick? He is your healer. Are you in need of direction? He is our guide. He is the Great I AM. Depend on Him.
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  • God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)
  • Yahweh, there is no one like You. You are great; Your name is great in power. (Jeremiah 10:6)
God is The Most High. The kings and rulers of earth sit on their thrones. God sits on His eternal throne in the heavens. He is above all nations of the earth, and high above creation. He sovereignly controls the events of the earth, and watches over all creation. He is the God Most High. Trust in Him.
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  • May they know that You alone— whose name is Yahweh— are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)
  • The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; He examines everyone. (Psalm 11:4)
God is The Only God. False gods are made by humans and worshiped in futility. False gods give no answers and they have no power in themselves. The demons and even Satan himself are no match for our God. The demons are not gods. God is high above them, and He is the one and only true God. Know Him.
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  • I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but Me. I will strengthen you, though you do not know Me (Isaiah 45:5)
  • “You are My witnesses”— this is the LORD’s declaration— “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. No god was formed before Me, and there will be none after Me. (Isaiah 43:10)
  • This is what the LORD, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the LORD of Hosts, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but Me. (Isaiah 44:6)

God is these things, and so much more. 

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The true grace of God

Grace = unmerited favor. God’s grace is when God generously gives you the good thing — salvation through Jesus — that you do not deserve, and all of the spiritual blessings that He gives you. None of us deserve God’s grace. But in Christ and through Christ we receive the true grace of God.

ALH Title[4]It has been said that GRACE is:

  • God’s
  • Riches
  • At
  • Christ’s
  • Expense

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

Peter writes about the true grace of God. He was writing to first-century followers of Jesus living in the region that is modern-day Turkey. His words as Holy Scripture apply to us today just like they did to them.

1 Peter 5:12-14
12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13  The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

The true grace of God changes your life. Peter’s life was changed by Jesus: from fisherman to disciple, from one who denied even knowing Jesus to becoming an unashamed proclaimer of the good news found only in Jesus. Peter also mentions others whose lives have been changed by Jesus: Silvanus, Mark, and the church in “Babylon” (most likely a code name for the church in Rome). The true grace of God changes your life.

The true grace of God changes you from darkness to light, from spiritual death to spiritual life, from being an enemy of God to being a child of God, from a person who is on your way to hell to a person who is guaranteed a home in heaven. The true grace of God gives you forgiveness of sin, new life, purpose and meaning, and much, much more. The true grace of God changes your life.

The true grace of God gives you a new family. Peter refers to Silvanus as his brother. He refers to his friend Mark as a son. He talks about showing familial affection — giving a kiss of love — toward one another. Whether or not you give holy kisses to your brothers and sisters in Christ is probably a cultural and personal decision, but the words of Peter remind us that as followers of Jesus we are part of God’s forever family. You do not abandon your biological family, rather your family has just expanded and grown. The true grace of God gives you a new family.

The true grace of God makes you strong. Peter writes his letter to encourage them. He encourages them to remain strong in their faith in Jesus. For these first-century followers of Jesus, they were in danger of verbal and physical persecution by the opponents of Christianity. And they faced enemies such as fear, guilt, greed, and the like that sought to hinder their work and witness for Christ. Peter encourages them to be strong in their faith, to be strong in Christ. Through prayer and spiritual strength, they could stand strong. The true grace of God makes you strong.

The true grace of God gives you peace. Peter writes a final statement: “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Knowing Christ gives you a peace that passes all understanding. Jesus is your peace. He calms the storms of your life and the storms that seek to overwhelm you. Trust in Him. Lean on Him. Know His peace. The true grace of God gives you peace.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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God cares about you

God is huge, brilliant, powerful, and supreme. He is so big that it is amazing that we can know Him. At the same time He is loving, caring, compassionate, and near. God cares about you.

1 Peter 5:5-11
     5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 
     8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
     10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.
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God cares about your attitude (vv5-6). Be humble, not prideful. When you clothe yourself with humility, you are displaying the attitude of Jesus. He was humble as He walked the earth. He was the most brilliant and talented person who ever lived, yet He approached each situation with humility. Resist the temptation to be prideful because pride will ultimately lead to destruction. God resists those who are proud but He gives grace to the humble.

God cares about your worries (v7). My friend always prays, “We thank you, Lord, because what concerns us concerns You.” God cares about the things you care about. He will carry your burdens. Cast your cares upon Him. He will lighten your load and carry you. Take your worries to the Lord in prayer.

God cares about your battles (vv8-9). Your enemy, the devil, fights against you, tempting you to sin and intimidating you like a roaring lion. Yet Jesus has already crushed Satan. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead have declared victory over sin and Satan for all who put their trust in Christ. The dominion belongs to Jesus forever. Trust in Him, arming yourself with the full armor of God. Jesus will give you victory over each of life’s battles.

God cares about your struggles (vv9-10). The followers of Jesus in the first century knew that they would most likely experience verbal or physical persecution because of their faith in Christ. Jesus promised to restore, establish, strengthen and support them (and us), even if there is suffering for a little while. God cares, and He will help you.

God cares about your eternal destiny (vv10-11). God cares so much about your eternal destiny that He sent Jesus. At Christmas we celebrate His birth. At Easter we celebrate His death and resurrection. God’s grace is displayed to us in Christ Jesus. By trusting in Him, our eternal destiny with God in heaven is secure. God cares about you.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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