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A Rude Awakening

A Rude Awakening
Acts 9:1-30

 Introduction

  •      Change is Difficult.
  •      Saul Experienced a Revolutionary Change.

  I.   Saul Opposed the Gospel (1-2).

  •      Paul Actively Opposed the Gospel—Persecution
  •      Are You Opposing the Gospel?
    •      …By Not Obeying it?
    •      …By Not Living it?
    •      …By Not Advancing it?

II.  Saul Had an Encounter with Jesus (3-9).

  •      Direct—Face to Face Appearance
  •      How has God Indirectly Encountered You?

  III. Saul was Forever Changed by this Encounter (10-12, 15-19).

  •      Saul’ Experienced…
    •      An Intellectual Change.
    •      An Emotional Change.
    •      A Volitional Change.
    •      A Physical Change.
  •      How Have Your Encounters with Jesus Changed You?  (James 1:22-25; John 12:42-43)

  IV.  Saul’s Response was Revolutionary (15-16, 20-30).

  •      Saul Made a Complete 180 Degree Change.
    •      From Persecutor to Preacher.
    •      From Unbeliever to Unbelievable.
    •      From Tormentor to Tormented.
  •      Following Jesus is not for the Faint of Heart.
    What are You Willing to Give up for Him? (Galatians 2:20)

  Conclusion

  •      Saul’s Conversion Reveals the Unseen Working of God  (Acts 9:13-16).
  •      God is Also Working in Your Life  (Philippians 2:12-13).
  •      How will You Respond?

  Join us Sunday for this lesson on the conversion of Saul.

—Joey

By | 2023-02-04T19:44:20-07:00 February 4th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s Time For Your Spiritual Wellness Exam

It’s Time for Your Spiritual Wellness Exam

 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”  31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”     (Luke 5:29-32)

Twice in the Scripture Jesus calls himself a doctor.  Luke 5 is the most prominent.  These verses tell us several things: (1) We, or at least some of us, are sick; (2) Jesus equates this sickness with sin; (3) Jesus equates healing from this sickness with repentance; (4) Jesus declares Himself to be a Physician;  the Physician who can deal with this disease; and (5) Jesus claimed to confront humanity in its deepest malady and that He does so as the Great Physician.

The irony of this text is that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law would have viewed themselves as “healthy” and not “sick.” The witness of the Scripture as a whole is that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) in need of Jesus’ healing (Romans 6:23) and here I believe Jesus is either being ironic or at least acquiescing to their ignorance.

I believe my Dad was 84 when he first felt the pain in his side. Because of his age, he thought the windedness was just his growing older.  However the pain led him to make a doctor’s appointment and the diagnosis came back stage 4 lung cancer.  He was gone within two months.  Lung cancer runs in the family. Had he just had more regular check ups, we may have caught it earlier.

I had a dear friend who hated doctor appointments–especially when they included drawing blood; he would always pass out.  He appeared healthy, but then one day, without warning, he was not.  He suffered a mini-stroke and then, as he was recovering, a total shutdown of his kidneys and liver.  Had he only had more frequent check ups, maybe things would have been different.

When it comes to your physical health, ignorance is not bliss.  The same is true for your spiritual health.  Many of us go about in blissful ignorance of our spiritual health and never make an appointment with the Great Physician for a Spiritual Wellness Exam.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Sunday morning, using the metaphor of a Spiritual Wellness Exam, we’ll look at some things we need to check out with the Great Physician.  I hope you plan to join us!

—Joey

By | 2023-01-28T22:27:16-07:00 January 28th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

More Deadly Than COVID

More Deadly Than COVID

“In 2021, 3.5 million lives were lost worldwide to Covid-19. In response to the threat of Covid, the world virtually shut down to preserve life. But was Covid-19 the leading cause of death in 2021? Actually, no. Abortion was. In 2021, there were 42.6 million abortions worldwide. There were over 10 times as many deaths from abortion than Covid. Where was the mobilization to preserve these precious lives?” (Excerpt from the devotional reading last week in our “If We will, He will…” workbook). When I read that I was taken aback. The sheer numbers are staggering.

Sunday, January 22, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that recognized abortion as a constitutional right. For years churches, pro-life organizations, and political groups have fought to put restrictions on the practice or end it all together. I have to admit my first introduction to partisan politics (early 1980s) was heavily influenced by this issue and it has been an important factor in my voting habits ever since.

However, this summer (Friday, June 24, 2022) the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade returning the authority to regulate abortion “to the people and their elected representatives.” In the absence of federal legislation, it is now up to individual states and their legislatures to determine its legality. Many states, anticipating this, had trigger laws in effect immediately banning abortion. Idaho is one of those states; performing an abortion is a felony here except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Around 25 other states either have bans or severely restrict the practice, but some of these states are still tied up in court over it.

These events are a victory for those who support the pro-life cause. However, abortion access is still legal in roughly half the states—including two that border Idaho. There is little to stop those who wish to travel to a state where abortion is still legal. Some groups are even offering to pay the travel expenses for these women.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s decision has so enraged those who support abortion that it is only a matter of time until there is a successful effort to enact federal legislation that will codify abortion access for the entire country. There is also the eventuality of when the polarity of the court will again swing back to the liberal—it is the nature of politics. Roughly, 62% of the country favors abortion in most situations. That number has been steadily rising especially among young people and within the religiously unaffiliated (in an increasingly secular society). It has also been rising within many non-evangelical mainline churches. Do the math; the swinging of the pendulum is inevitable, barring divine intervention.

I’m glad Roe v. Wade was overturned. I rejoice that there will be far fewer unborn children sacrificed on the altar of “bodily autonomy” and personal choice, but I also recognize —as I have preached many times — that the solution to this issue lies not in the courts, but in the hearts of men and women. Until hearts are changed, there will always be people following the path of evil.

That is why reaching the world with the gospel is the answer. That is why a return to biblical morality in our preaching, teaching, and practice is essential. We cannot afford to be less vigilant because things are better; they are only better FOR NOW.

—Joey

By | 2023-01-22T00:38:18-07:00 January 22nd, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Do You Know Your Bible?

Do You Know Your Bible?

There was a time when we in the churches of Christ were known as a Bible toting, Bible quoting people. However, I fear that some of us  have followed many modern churches into the superficiality of popular culture and church growth consumerism.  I believe there are many factors that might explain this (the COVID lockdowns didn’t help). However, with declining Bible study participation at home and church, we are now (or soon will be) suffering a crisis of biblical incompetency and illiteracy. Below is a Bible literacy/competency quiz.  Give it a try!

Bible Literacy/Competency Quiz

Familiarity—Deuteronomy 6:6-9

  1. Can you name the books of the Bible in order?
  2. Is the book of Hezekiah in the Old or New Testament?
  3. Name the three Patriarchs?
  4. In which book of the New Testament is found this verse: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes …”
  5. “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.” In the Bible?    or    Not in the Bible?

Practicality—Romans 15:4

  1. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the creation of the world?
  2. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the resurrection of Jesus?
  3. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the songs of David and others?
  4. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the early missionary work of the church?
  5. Can you share with someone else how to respond to Jesus?  Bonus: Can you give Scripture and verse?

 Theology—2 Timothy 3:14 –17

  1. Can you tell the story of the Fall of Humanity?
  2. Can you describe the nature and characteristics of God?
  3. Can you explain who Jesus is and why he had to die?
  4. Can you describe what will happen when Jesus comes again?
  5. Can you describe the doctrine of the resurrection and why it matters?

Apology (defense of  the faith)—1 Peter 3:15

  1. If someone asked you why you believe God exists, what would you say?
  2. If someone asked you why you believe in creation over naturalistic evolution, what would you say?
  3. If someone asked you why God lets bad things happen (“the problem of evil”), what would you say?
  4. If someone asked you why you believe in the miracles in the Bible, what would you say?
  5. If someone asked you to prove Jesus was raised from the dead, would you say?

 Moral Philosophy (Ethics) —Hebrews 5:12-14

  1. “You have your truth and I have mine.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  2. “Right and wrong depend on the situation.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  3. “It’s Ok to sleep with someone before marriage, if you love them.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  4. “Same sex relationships are acceptable in monogamous, committed relationships” Can you give a Bible answer?
  5. “It’s Ok to ‘cancel’ someone if they are immoral, unrighteous, wrong or if they disagree with you.” Can you give a Bible answer?

We’ll go over this in my lesson Sunday.  How well did you do?

—Joey

By | 2023-01-15T00:05:24-07:00 January 15th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Lead Me To The Rock That Is Higher Than I

We are one week into our fifty days of prayer.  If you have not yet begun, there is still time for you to participate.  Pick up a copy of “If We Will… Then He Will” at the back of the auditorium.. You can also download a digital copy of the devotional guide at https://www.ifwewill.com/.  My  lesson today is taken from Psalm 61—a Psalm from today’s devotional guide.  Below is is the devotional from today’s reading printed by permission:

Reading 18: Psalms 60-63

Fill and Spill

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock
that is higher than I.   
Psalm 61:2 NKJV

When we hear the term “overwhelmed”, we can easily identify with it, can’t we? In our busy world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the things we have to do. But this verse is talking about an overwhelming of our hearts.

Our hearts can feel overwhelmed with anxiety, pain and disappointment. It is during these times of fear, uncertainty and heartache that David encourages us to ask the Lord to lead us to the rock that is higher than our circumstances. That rock, that stability, that firm foundation is found in Him alone.

David further instructs us to “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8 NKJV). David doesn’t just say trust God some of the time; David says all of the time. He encourages us to pour out our hearts before Him because He is a refuge for us.

What happens when we pour out our hearts to Him? We empty our hearts of our fears, our hurts, and our vain imaginings. An empty heart is a heart that He can then fill with His love, His peace and His comfort. Wouldn’t we rather walk around with hearts filled with His love, peace and comfort instead of our own fear, worries and pain?

The beauty of having our hearts filled by Him is that these blessings can then spill over into the hearts of those He brings across our path. We can be used by Him to pour His love, His peace, and His comfort into the lives of others. Fill and spill.

As we all open our hearts to His love, peace and comfort, we will discover with David that “Your unfailing love is better than life itself” (Psalm 63:3 NLT). Why? Because, in His lovingkindness, He died to purchase our salvation, so we can live together with Him for all eternity (I Thessalonians 5:10).

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide –
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide –
A shelter in the time of storm;

O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land
A shelter in the time of storm;

 —Joey

By | 2023-01-07T11:31:04-07:00 January 7th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The God Of Second Chances

The God of Second Chances

Can you believe 2023 is already here? It is amazing how quickly time flies!  Time has a way of getting away from us and many of the things we had planned and hoped become things we wished we would have done.  This is true with our relationship with God.  We may have started the year with such hope and enthusiasm only to find our resolutions broken and forsaken by the end of January.

You’ve messed up, admit it!  I know I have.  We’ve done and said things we wish we could take back.  We have let opportunity after opportunity pass us by.  “I’ll take care of that tomorrow,” we have said.  We all have been like Felix in Acts 24 and waited for when we find it “convenient,” but never gotten the chance again.

Our stories are the same when it comes to procrastination, but the specifics are very individual. Some of us know we needed to have given our lives to Christ, but we never did.  Some of us needed to repent of a specific sin that has given us trouble, but we have put it off.  Others of us wanted a closer relationship with God, but never got around to it.  There may be those among us who needed to make right a wrong done to another, initiate reconciliation in a relationship, or let go a grudge and forgive.  These and many others are all things we should have done, but haven’t.

That’s why new years are so good when they come around.  They are opportunities for us to try again.  I know it is arbitrary.  You’ll be the same person January 1 that you were on December 31, but you don’t have to be.  Any time is a good time to start over again!

Do you really think God would allow me to start over when I have messed up so many times?  Yes, I do.  He is the God of Second Chances.  Do you remember the story of Jonah?  Jonah had been given a command by God to preach repentance to the Ninevites, but he deliberately disobeyed, “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish” (Jonah 1:2-3).

God caught him and brought him back (it’s a whale of a story). God was angry and disappointed, but notice how chapter three begins,

     Jonah 3:1-2   Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”.

The word of the Lord came a second time! Jonah was given another chance and so are we.

I’ll say more in my lesson! Joey

By | 2022-12-31T15:08:57-07:00 December 31st, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

He Has Arrived!

He has Arrived

Jesus has come.  This is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Fear not! Do not be afraid!” The angel spoke these words to Zachariah, to Mary, to Joseph, and finally to a group of shepherds on a hillside near Bethlehem.

“Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Fear has a way of tying our stomachs up in knots, paralyzing our thinking, inducing panic. Fear, and its cousin worry, can capture our hearts when we see ourselves caught in a vortex of disasters beyond our control.

As we enter this Christmas Season, celebrate the birth of our Savior and prepare for a new year,  I pray and encourage everyone in our church to consider and think about the words that Jesus spoke as a man.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about tiny, defenseless sparrows in the context of fear and worry:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

In another place he reassures his followers:

“Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

A Savior comes to rescue people in danger, preserve those who are threatened by harm, and protect his people from the troubles that surround them. That’s what saviors do! That’s what Jesus came to do for us.

Do not be afraid because God has sent a Savior to us — Jesus Christ the Lord. He is the One who will:

  • Never leave us or forsake us.
  • Supply all our needs according to his riches in glory.
  • Add to us all the things we need as we seek him and his Kingdom.

The Real Christmas message is this: God has sent a Savior for you. To save you from your sins and to help you in this life — to lift your burden and ease your fears. That’s it! A Savior who is Christ the Lord — God himself!

The world is gripped by fear. But fear’s hold has been broken in those of us who believe the angel’s words:

“Fear not … for a Savior is born to you — Christ the Lord!”

By | 2022-12-22T13:06:17-07:00 December 22nd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prepare Him Room

Advent is a time to consider how the coming of our Savior will change your life. The most important BIRTHDAY in the history of humanity is the birthday of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The key to experiencing the overflowing, exuberant joy of Christmas depends on the time, energy, and effort that we expend in preparing for this day.

As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered. We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.” Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”

This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”

Making room for Jesus means we:

– Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.

– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.

– Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.

– Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus

– Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.

– Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.

– Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.

Prepare your heart. Make room for the King. He is coming.

(Part of this article is from Kelly Balarie “A Cheerleader of Faith”)

By | 2022-12-18T02:27:49-07:00 December 18th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Build A Life – Will Yours Pass Inspection?

How to Build a Life:
Will Yours Pass Inspection?

Does Everything Work?

  1. What about Your Relationships?
    Spouse? Coworkers? Others?  Are you bitter? Resentful?
  2. What about Your Relationship with God?
    Prayer Life? Personal Bible Study? Worship? Taking up Your Cross?
  3. How do you feel? Do you have Joy?  Are you Content? Successfully Living the Christian Life?  Do you have Purpose?

Is Everything Up to Code?

  1. Do I put God First?
  2. Am I Becoming Like Christ?
  3. Am I Giving God the Respect Due Him?
  4. Is Worship a Priority?
  5. Do I Respect Others?
  6. Do I Enrich Life?
  7. Is My Marriage Sacred?
  8. Am I Honest?
  9. Do I Tell the Truth?
  10. Are My Desires in Check?

Every Building Must Pass Inspection,
So Must Every Life

Choose Life
Deuteronomy 30:11-20

If We Will…Then He Will

A 50 State Prayer Project

Feeling a growing unsettledness? Concerned that our culture seems in moral freefall? Fearing an impending “seismic shift” in our world as we know it?

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. Ezekiel 22:30

Will you answer the call to “stand in the gap”?

If We Will…Then He Will is a grassroots prayer project calling intercessors from all 50 states to pray for 50 days over our nation. It was birthed from a desire to bring repentance and revival to the hearts of His people and our nation.

This is not motivated by politics or church affiliation. It is simply a call to His people to turn from our wicked ways and implore Him to heal our land.

BATTLE PLAN

December 1-31, 2022 – 31 Days of Preparation
New Year’s Day, 2023 – Time of Prayer and Fasting
January 2 – February 20, 2023 – 50 Days of Prayer

Join us in interceding for historic change in this historic moment, for His glory.

Download a digital copy of the devotional guide at https://www.ifwewill.com/ or you can pick up a printed copy for yourself in the back of the auditorium on the old communion table.

We have invited our community to participate with us.

By | 2022-12-10T12:03:40-07:00 December 10th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Build A Life – Be Content

How to Build a Life: Be Content

Commandment #10: Be Content (Exodus 20:17)

Coveting…

  1. Is “Enthusiastic Desire”.
  2. Is a Morally Neutral Term.
  3. Refers to Inappropriate Desires.
  4. Refers to Legitimate Desires that Lead to Wrong Actions.

Coveting is the Source of All Other Sin

  1. David Coveted Bathsheba (#10).
  2. He Stole Another Man’s Wife (#8).
  3. He Committed Adultery (#7).
  4. He Lied About his Affair (#9).
  5. He Profaned the Lord’s Name (#3).
  6. He Murdered Uriah, the Hittite (#6).
  7. He Put Himself, not God First (#1).

The Cause of Coveting: Resentment

  1. Resentment toward God (Cain)
  2. Resentment toward Life’s Unfairness (Older Brother)
  3. Resentment toward Others (Saul)

The Consequences of Coveting: Estrangement

  1. Coveting Comes Between Us and Others (James 4:1-3).
  2. Coveting Comes Between Us and God (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:1-2).

The Cure for Coveting: Contentment

  1. Detecting of the Disease
  2. What Do You Think About All the Time? (Colossians 3:1-2)
  3. How Good I am at Rejoicing with Others? (Romans 12:15)
  4. Defeating the Disease—We Must…
  5. Learn to be Content (1 Timothy 6:6-8; Philippians 4:11-13).
  6. Learn the Difference Between Wants and Needs.
  7. Learn the Difference Between Temporal and Eternal (Luke 12:13-15; 2 Corinthians 4:18).

Where are Your Eyes?

By | 2022-12-03T11:31:19-07:00 December 3rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments