Celebrate Recovery

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Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-Centered Recovery Program that offers help for our hurts, habits and hang-ups. This is for any type of issue: worry, anxiety, anger, finances, eating issues, control issues, denial, people pleaser, workaholic, time management, codependency, alcohol, perfectionism, depression, fear, low self-esteem, relationship issues, drugs, pornography. ANY hurt, habit or hang-up!

A light meal will be provided at 6:00pm. Program will start at 6:30pm. Nursery and childcare available.

Schedule for the evening:

6:00-6:30pm – Light Meal *Free* (Soup, Sandwich, etc.)

6:30-7:15pm – Welcome, Worship, Recognition/Awards, Testimony/Teaching

7:30-8:15pm – Breakout to Small Groups

Everyone is welcome!! Bring a friend!

 

Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 30, 2016

Japheth Shall Dwell in the Tent of Shem

FOCUS VERSES

Genesis 9:27 May God extend Japheth’s territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,

There is a thread that runs so true throughout the Bible.  Our God, who sees the ‘end from the beginning’, has ordained it so.  Because of this, our Lord deals in strategies often playing out in hundreds of years.  Like a chess master, He can make a moves that will not impact the ‘game for centuries or even millennia.  As humans, we would miss it.  But the Lord of the Universe doesn’t miss a thing— and the vital importance of even a seemingly small ‘thing’ can make a monumental difference in the outworking of history.

Take, for example, the prophetic words uttered by Noah in the passage above.  To refresh our memory… the Flood is over and all of Noah’s family have disembarked.  Ham, Shem, Japheth— Noah’s three sons— and their wives are now tasked with the job of repopulating the earth.  These three genetic ‘seedbeds’ will provide the DNA codes for the ‘races’.  An incident (Genesis 9) involving Ham causes Noah to utter three specific prophecies on the future generations of his sons.   These prophecies may not seem like a big deal… but we understand the implications more fully when we come to the spread of the Gospel and the ‘direction’ of the book of Acts.

One more ‘refresher…  Shem is the ‘father’ of the Semitic peoples, which includes the Jews.  Japheth is the ‘father’ of the ‘white or Caucasian races, which includes the bulk of the peoples of the Roman Empire.  NOW, notice the final lines in Noah’s prophecy: ‘may Japheth live in the tents of Shem’.  What does that mean? Ahh… much!

The leaders of the Jews had rejected the Messiah Jesus.  Their Council had him put to death. Many, many Jews became disciples of Jesus, but the nation of Israel— to this very day— has refused to recognize or follow.  So who is that accepted, embraced, proclaimed and followed this son of Shem, this Jewish Messiah?  That’s right:  Japheth!!  Japheth is ‘living’ in the tents of ‘Shem’!

Most of the book of Acts focuses on Paul’s mission trips to ‘Japheth’.  The Romans, the Greeks, the Macedonian, perhaps even  Spain— those in provinces to the ‘west’.  And why? Because in the centuries to come, much of the ‘heavy lifting’ of the evangelizing the world has fallen on the shoulders of ‘Japheth’.  It’s not that the rest of the world was ‘neglected’… but history plainly shows the Good News of Jesus was carried to the ends of the Earth, by Japheth— just as Noah said.

 

Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 29, 2016

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

FOCUS VERSES

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ

Faith must be a very precious object.  One way we can know it’s value is to see how hard the Enemy works to separate us from our Faith.  And it is a fight… a hard fight… to hold on.  But you must!

Talking to a car salesman once, I ask him about the ‘tricks of the trade’.  In a moment of candor, he mentioned some of the ‘strategies.  One strategy he called the ‘puppy dog close’.  It goes like this— If you can get a potential customer to take a car home with them for a weekend, just like a puppy dog that finds it way into someone’s home,  it will be very hard for the potential customer to ‘let go’.  If all works as planned, someone just got separated from their money.

Faith is similar, in that the Enemy has ‘tried and tested’ means of separating us from our Faith.  Paul refers to some of these in the early chapters.   In 1 Timothy 1:19, 20 we learn of Hymenaeus and Alexander who have ’shipwrecked’ their faith (NIV).  In 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul warns us that deceiving spirits will attempt to get us to ‘abandon’ our faith. Chapter 5:8 challenges us to do the spiritual works required of a saint or we will have ‘denied’ the faith.  Lastly, if we substitute ‘religious chatter for truth we will begin to ‘wander’ from the faith.   The methods may be different but the danger is the same.

Shipwrecked’ speaks of a clash of values (happens a lot during college years) and if our faith is not strong, it will break and we are sunk.  ’Abandon’ is a term of seduction.  Leave one ’love’; and go to ’another lover’.  A temptress who promises a ’better time.  The seduction will surely come.  Is your love for Jesus strong enough to hold? ‘Deny’ is the work of hypocrisy.  Similar to  ‘if you like your insurance policy you can keep it’.  Say one thing, but mean another.  Whatever is convenient for the moment.  Is that your faith?  Strong when in church but totally different at work or school? ‘Wander’ is the sheep who nibbles his way out of the faithful pasture.  Do you know people who had faith but now live on past memories of faith long gone.

Strengthen your grip!  Above all, never ,never let go of faith in Jesus!

 

 

 

 

Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 28, 2016

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

FOCUS VERSES

Romans 8:28 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose

It happens every day.  A church is hit by a devastating tornado during a worship service.  An accident claims the life of a young child of Christian parents.  The biopsy comes back positive. A business fails.  An soldier dies on patrol  A person walks out on a marriage for a ‘new’ relationship.  Bad things DO happen to good people— even God’s people.  We often struggle for answers.  Sometimes the answers are ‘poor’, i.e. not grounded in solid Biblical truth.  Answers such as  ‘this is God’s punishment’…or ‘you didn’t have enough faith’.  Such answers have the appearance of being ‘spiritual’ but most often are just poor attempts to explain an outcome we did not expect. There are better, more honest and Biblically based answers.

Take a moment to look at some ‘better answers’ of why bad things happen.

  1. We live in a ‘broken world’. It’s true.  Our world is ‘broken’ because of sin.  The world was given to us by God in the beginning to rule over, but now, because of sin, it rules over us.  We are susceptible to accidents, disasters and tragedies.  The forces of this earth (gravity, inertia, collisions, etc.) affect both saints and sinners.  The natural laws of planet earth affect us.  Does God directly cause the hurricane or flood or volcano.  Usually not.  They are just part of this broken world we call planet Earth.  Someday, the world will be made ‘right’ (read Romans 8:20-22 for more insight into this).  Until then, we must live in the broken down world.
  1. We live among ‘broken people’ People are evil.  We are born with a sinful nature and a free will.  This is a dangerous combination.  As a race, we can do wicked things and cause great pain and harm to each other.  It is not God’s will for humans to kill the innocent person, but because of ‘broken people’ with free wills, it sometimes happens.
  2. There are ‘logical consequences’ to our actions Sometimes we reap what we sow.  For example, if a person has smoked for 40 years and then develops lung cancer or emphysema, should we be real surprised.  Or if we run up our credit cards to maximum levels and make bad financial decisions, we could reasonably figure that bankruptcy might be the outcome.
  1. God has a ‘greater plan’ and will use the ‘bad’ for good’ to His glory. Sometimes, we must pull out our spiritual binocular and focus long range. God uses the ’bad’ in our lives to change and bless us.  Some have experienced heart attacks… only to realize their need for Jesus and become saved.  Some have conquered drug addictions… and start powerful ministries. As our devotion verse says: ‘bad’ things may happen to us, but God can use even the bad to bring forth good and positive things.

 

Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 27, 2016

How the Bible New Testament Was Formed

FOCUS VERSES

2 Peter 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Every so often a magazine like National Geographic or an author such as Dan Brown (author of The Da Vinci Code) will make a ‘splash’ by discovering or uncovering a NEW book intentionally left out of the New Testament.  The purpose of course is two fold: to sell more copies of their book… and to try to discredit the New Testament.  Nothing ‘new’ here in their attempts, but it is important for Believers to know WHY they can trust these 27 books.

Some critics of the New Testament like to point out that there were many ‘gospels’ written and many ‘other’ letters circulated besides those included in the ‘canon’ or ‘authoritative record we now know as the New Testament.  And these critics would be ‘technically’ correct. The ’Gospel of Thomas’, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Mary and others are ’floating’ around in the literary world.  None, however fit the criteria of Scripture. You see, God has supernaturally communicated His Word, God has supernaturally preserved his Word and God has supernaturally ‘sealed’ his Word in the New Testament.

Three criteria are usually cited as requirements for a book to be considered as ‘Scripture’: 1. Apostolic authenticity, 2. consistency with already accepted ‘rule of faith’ and 3. usage by Early Church.  A  fourth may be does it bear the ‘witness of the Holy Spirit’, the ‘Thus Saith the Lord’ !   In the Focus Verses above, Peter is instructing the church about the writings of the Apostle Paul.  Notice what Peter says concerning Paul’s letters: “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures (vs 16).

Did you catch that?  Already, Paul’s writings are considered Scripture.  Even while these men were still alive, the church KNEW that God had ‘breathed His Word’ through these eyewitnesses.  In Revelation 22, The Apostle John closes or ’seals’ the writing of the New Testament with a threat: don’t let anyone ‘add’ to what has been written and don’t let anyone ‘take away’.  AMEN!

 

Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 26, 2016

Persecution:  Christianity’s ‘Normal’

FOCUS VERSES

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name

Persecution and Christianity are synonyms. We are not to ‘be surprised’ when ‘fiery ordeals’ come our way.  Instead, Christian, you should rejoice!  Not easy words to accept… yet for a majority of Christians in the Early Church and even today in many countries around the world, persecution is the NORM.

There are many reasons Christians are so despised and hatred throughout history.  For one, Christianity is a THREAT to the powerful.  Christianity liberates societies, which is a threat to the tyrants and dictators of the world.  Secondly, Christianity, in it’s truest form, is RADICAL.  In a world governed by the use of force and fear, the Cross and the Power of Love seemed ridiculous.  Lastly, in the words of Jesus, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that they hated me first’ (John 15:18).  Christians are persecuted because they represent Christ in a world CONTROLED BY SATAN.  The world’s hatred is often Satanically inspired.

To chronicle the persecutions Christians and the Church have endured would required volumes. (Foxes Book of Martyrs would be a good start in one is interested).  For us today— especially those of us in America who are only beginning to feel the persecution of a life in a post-Christian America—  the important point to realize is that persecution is a normal part of being a disciple of Jesus.  We must prepare ourselves for what may be to come.  We must strengthen our faith to be able to withstand the test.  And we will!  The same Jesus who stood with the saint of old in their moments of anguish will stand with us, giving comfort, grace, peace… and assurance of Heaven.

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Journey – Devotions With a Purpose – December 23, 2016

Cultural ‘Diversity’ and the Church

FOCUS VERSES

Acts 13:1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Only Jesus could unite such a diverse group.  In the decade after the Cross,  city of Antioch had become the ’center’ of the Christian church.  It was in Antioch that Believers were first called ’Christians’.  And it was from Antioch that the world’s greatest missionary, Paul, was called and commissioned. Persecution, often the greatest asset to Christianity, had forced most Believers from Jerusalem.  Antioch was now the center of the Christian world.

God was truly doing amazing things in the church at Antioch.  People were coming to Christ.  The church was taking care of the poor.  The Holy Spirit was pouring out revelation, prophecy and teaching that would shape the Christian world forever.  But perhaps most importantly, the church at Antioch had achieved a unique racial unity.

Cultural diversity is a hot topic today.  The world, however, can never mandate or legislate racial, national or socioeconomic respect.  It can only come from the Cross— that unique awareness experienced by Christians that we are all ‘sinners in need of a Savior’.  When I understand that, every vestige of personal pride falls to the ground.

Look at the worship service described above in the FOCUS Verses.  Note the people in attendance.

Barnabas: a kindhearted soul, a Jew from the island of Cyprus

Simeon called Niger: if not of African descent, he was notably dark (hence the name ‘Niger’). He may have been the man chosen to carry Jesus’ cross, although we can’t know for sure.

Lucius: Cyrene, a city in modern Libya, so Lucius was an African.

Manaen: to be  brought up in the home of Herod meant privilege, power, and access.  Manaen was a person of means.

Saul:  a Pharisee, a Jew in the strictest sense

This passage is a great example of what the Cross of Jesus can do.  It brings people from wildly different and adversarial backgrounds together.  In another setting, these men, in all likelihood would not have been friends.  But in the Church of Jesus, together as brothers!!