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June 19, 2016 - The Gideon Report

posted Jun 20, 2016, 7:34 AM by Grant Garber

June 12, 2016 - Yoked to Your Real Citizenship - Matthew 5:10-12

posted Jun 20, 2016, 7:30 AM by Grant Garber

  • We want our spirituality to get us out of trouble, not into trouble.
  • The early Christians were thought to be traitors.
  • The early Christians were thought to be unreasonable.
  • There are some who know what physical persecution is because they wear the name Christian.
  • Like all Christians who are serious about only calling Jesus, Lord, you will find that you are also persecuted for the high crime of treason, not because you’ll be thought to be a traitor to the nation, but because you’ll be a traitor to our prevailing culture.
  • Christianity claims there can only be one center to your life. Everything else has to find its place in relationship to this one center.
  • The tremendous irony is that Christianity spread through the Roman Empire during its time of persecution. Why was that? Because the Christians were free, and freedom is always compelling.
  • The church wanted these new Christians to be unafraid. So they got the dying over with. That’s what baptism means. Dying is now behind you.
  • There is no avoiding some form of persecution if you say Jesus alone is Lord. Blessed are you when you are clear about that singular identity.
  • You don’t have to go out in search of persecution to obtain this blessing.
  • Our society thinks that what freedom means is that you can do anything that you want. Freedom comes from knowing what your life is about, having the one center, being clear about your identity. The blessing is that, when you are persecuted, your reward will be great in heaven.
  • What the Beatitude means is that those who live under heaven have a compelling vision of life. They know where their true citizenship is.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:10-12

June 5, 2016 - The Sacred Embrace - Matthew 5:6-7

posted Jun 7, 2016, 10:46 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Jun 7, 2016, 10:48 AM ]

  • Hungry, we get. But what does it mean to hunger for righteousness?
  • The word means to be made right with God, to be made right in your relationships with others, and to be made right with yourself.
  • Everyone in the New Testament who thought he or she was righteous was denounced by Jesus. But those who know that they were not righteous and yet, hungered to be so; these are the ones who were made right simply by having the grace of Christ among them.
  • We engage in all of the spiritual disciplines, not to make ourselves right, but rather to open ourselves and to confront our hunger and thirst for God who then comes down to us.
  • Spirituality always descends. It does not ascend.
  • It comes back to the gifts of grace and mercy – which is always how we are made spiritual.
  • Mercy is very similar to love in that the more you give, the more you receive. And the only way you can lose it is to try to keep it.
  • What grace and mercy are describing is the love of God, a love that is clearly not deserved, but a love that is still given. This is a love that makes us right, simply by virtue of the embrace.
  • With Son and Spirit, with atonement and sanctification, we are brought back into the heart, the breast of the Father.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:6-7

May 29, 2016 - Yoked to an Idea - Matthew 5:8-9

posted Jun 7, 2016, 10:43 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Jun 7, 2016, 10:47 AM ]

  • Purity, in this context, means “singular in purpose”.
“Purity of heart means to will one thing.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
  • Blessed are those who believe that they are not necessary. The reason it’s a blessing is that it allows you to be loved.
  • One other thing about the blessing of willing one thing in life is when your heart is divided, this division permeates everything.
  • If we will the one thing that Jesus is Savior, then He is Savior of everyone and everything else, which are received by us as His gifts.
  • If you are going to share Christ’s identity, then you have to share Christ’s mission. And Christ’s mission wasn’t just to love peace, but to make peace.
  • If you are devoted to being a peacemaker you may have to give up always being right.
  • There is still a tremendous amount of trench warfare that goes on in our lives, trenches that divide us from them.
  • To be the children of God means our mission sooner or later is to climb out of our trench, to treat the person you are most worried about as brother and sister in Christ. I’m not saying that you should sacrifice your convictions about what’s right and what’s wrong. But at least one of our convictions has to be compassion. And face to face, it is easier to resolve conflicts over convictions and to make peace.
  • Serious peacemaking takes time. Peacemaking is a messy business.
  • The one thing that we are called for is to look for the truth and the salvation that Jesus alone can bring.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:8-9

May 22, 2016 - Yoked to a Savior - Matthew 5:4-5

posted May 26, 2016, 8:27 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Jun 7, 2016, 10:42 AM ]

  • When we are yoked to Christ as He invites us to be, we find His own gracious, easy character beginning to form within us.
  • Jesus wants you to be a spiritual person and we only become spiritual by confessing how poor we are at it.
  • Blessed are those who mourn their spiritual poverty.
  • The reason it is getting harder and harder to mourn sin is that our society is giving us more and more excuses for our sin.
  • There is no blessing for figuring out who to blame for what’s wrong in your life.
  • To maintain responsibility for your life means there are 1mes when you have to realize that it is your fault. You are the one who did this. And that leads us then to confession.
  • The Bible’s understanding of meekness makes it synonymous actually with gentleness.
  • Being forgiven as one who has confessed and is living out of their forgiveness makes you a somebody. That’s what makes you strong. That makes you a giant in the eyes of God, and that is what frees you to be gentle.
  • In order to be gentle with someone else, you have to first be gentle with yourself.
  • Gentleness comes as the byproduct of gratitude for the grace and the mercy we have received.
  • “To inherit the earth” means to have lived life well and to end life correctly. But how does one get to the right place? You inherit it.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:4-5

May 15, 2016 - A John 3:16 Believer

posted May 20, 2016, 1:31 PM by Grant Garber

John Dillman | Ephesians 1:15-23

May 8, 2016 - Powered to Serve - Ephesians 1:15-23

posted May 10, 2016, 7:37 PM by Grant Garber

Phyllis Goodyear | Ephesians 1:15-23

May 1, 2016 - Be Careful of Standing So Tall That You Are Outside the Light of Christ - Matthew 5:1-3

posted May 5, 2016, 12:37 PM by Grant Garber

  • To be yoked to Jesus means that His own character begins to develop within us as the Spirit binds us to the Savior.
  • The Beatitudes provide a fabulous description of what this new character is that Jesus is building in all of our lives.
  • The meaning of “blessing” for us in the Beatitudes has nothing to do with the promise that you can, through spirituality, transcend the cares of this world. It has everything to do with finding the right path by being yoked to Jesus.
“blessed are the poor in spirit” = “blessed are the spiritual destitute”
  • The right path home comes by confessing that you have lost your way.
  • Those who are poor in spirit never feel like saints. Everyone who feels like a saint, isn’t one.
  • No arrogance is worse than spiritual arrogance.
  • Jesus brings us, as His contemporary disciples, constantly to the moments when we have to encounter our spiritual poverty.
  • The point of this first Beatitude is not to say that you are unworthy. Your life is filled with worth. The point is to make clear how this worth is found. Our worth is found in the love of the Son who comes for us, who forgives us, who restores us. Our worth is found in the love of the Father who, like the father of the prodigal, runs down the road to embrace this one who was lost. Our worth comes from the love of the Spirit who amazingly adopts us into the triune family of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and you and me and all who receive the light of Christ.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 5:1-3

April 24, 2016 - You’re Yoked to Jesus - Matthew 11:28-30

posted May 5, 2016, 12:33 PM by Grant Garber

  • It seems to me that a lot of people are trudging along these days.
  • Doesn’t Jesus help with any of this? Yes. But maybe not the way we are thinking.
  • In trying to make our lives easier, we somehow always seem to make them harder.
“easy” = “crestos” = “good”, “kind”, “fitting”
  • When Jesus says His yoke is easy, it’s easy not because it's stress-free. It’s easy because it’s fitting. It’s the yoke we were designed to wear.
  • The salvation Jesus offers is not one that removes burdens, but one that gives us the right burden to bear – like the burdens of goodness and kindness.
  • Freedom is not found by doing less or by letting go of things, but by holding, bearing the right things, the things that are fitting – the things that make you good, kind, easy.
  • What Jesus is offering when He says, “Take my yoke upon you…” is the invitation to be bound up with Him.
  • If Jesus is the One leading us, then it’s not to break our backs. It is only to witness, to see, His work.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 11:28-30

April 17, 2016 - Life Isn’t Something You Fix On Your Own - II Kings 5:1-5, 9-14

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:32 PM by Grant Garber

  • It just doesn’t matter that you have been successful.  You are still as vulnerable as any other human being.
  • What are you going to do when the hurt finds you?
  • When you know that there is something very wrong in your life, and you lose all the little distractions of life like fame and success, you are willing to try anything.  You will even come here – to the place where the power of God is rumored to be found.
  • Again, we discover that it is the lowly servant who understands about real power.  Real power belongs to God.  It is always the servants in the story who are making a difference.  Maybe that’s because they don’t have so much success blocking their vision of God.
  • We are good at doing difficult things.  But nothing is more difficult than faith, which calls you to believe the message that salvation belongs to God.  All that we have is a message.
  • We are never more than ordinary. 
  • The more we come to terms with being ordinary, the more we learn to enjoy it.  It has something to do with now being able to enjoy how extraordinary God is.
  • The point of our brokenness is to remind us that we are not gods.  It is the only way to come to know and enjoy God.
  • All of our lives are spent somewhere between the first and seventh time of doing the right thing, the ordinary thing that the message of the Bible tells us.  
  • The point of the story is to see that life isn’t something that you fix on your own.  It was given to you by the grace of God, and it will be restored only by the grace of God.  Those who believe that will find joy in simply doing the ordinary things they know to be right.  And anyone who has found joy in being ordinary is already healed.
Pastor Jim Spon | II Kings 5:1-5, 9-14

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