Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount

Want to know how to live and love as Jesus did?  He gives us a concise description of foundational truths and principles in Matthew 5, shared here in the Amplified version.

3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

7 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.

9 “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.

10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Leadership Lessons From Dabo

I believe Alabama has built one of the premier football dynasties of all time, but I have to admit I was pulling for Clemson in the National Championship Game Monday night.   If for no other reason, I was pulling for them because of what I’ve heard from and seen in Dabo Swinney over the past few years.

Following Clemson’s incredible win in the National Championship on Monday night, I found an number of leadership lessons in the unrehearsed words that flowed from Coach Swinney in his post-game comments.

This is not a direct quote, but he said when you get a group of young people together who believe – who love each other – who sacrifice and are committed to a singular purpose – great things can happen and that’s what you saw tonight.

That’s an amazing axiom for any team; especially those of us who serve on a church team.   When a group of people (young & old) will come together and believe in the mission/vision of the church and each other – when they’ll love each other in spite of mistakes – when they’ll sacrifice for the mission and one another – and are committed to a singular purpose (the purpose of Christ) – great things can (and will) happen.

Players and coaches are going to miss assignments and calls; mistakes will take place.  However, when we can love as Christ did and face those mistakes with grace, encouragement and accountability and keep our focus on our purpose, amazing things take place.   When I know my teammates love me and will sacrifice for me and for the mission, great things take place.   When we are committed to the singular purpose of Christ and His kingdom and not our own individual kingdoms, great things take place.

If you’re part of a team – or want to be – evaluate your attitude based on these axioms.  Be a part of developing this kind of attitude in your own heart and team, and great things will take place.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE

I hope and pray you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

LIGHT, our Christmas services at Grace, were an awesome time of celebrating the purpose of Christmas.   If you missed it and want to watch, go to gf.church/watch.

As you think about Christmas on this Christmas Eve here are a few verses that might be good to share with your family, or for you to reflect upon.

Approximately 700 years before Jesus was born, God chose the Prophet Isaiah to write the words of this prophecy.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.   Isaiah 7:14 NLT

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.   Isaiah 9:2 NLT

 This Light was to be the promised Messiah, and Isaiah said of Him:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us…And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”     Isaiah 9:6 NLT

Jesus who is all these things and more, was born with a purpose.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:20-21 NIV

The traditional Christmas story is found in Luke 2.

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.         Luke 2:1-20 NLT

John who was an eyewitness of the life & death, the burial and resurrection of Jesus wrote several of the documents preserved for us in the New Testament.

In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5 NIV

Saul who hated the name of Jesus and violently persecuted Christians became a Christian when he had a personal encounter with Jesus after Jesus was raised from the dead. Saul became a new person with a new name, Paul, and wrote much of the New Testament including the letter to the Romans.

We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.    Romans 3:22 NLT   

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 6:23 NLT

Sin brought about physical and spiritual death, but spiritual death is the result of rejecting the gift of life through Jesus Christ.   I believe Romans 6:23 is speaking about the 2nd death (spiritual death) for those who refuse to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  The 2nd death is referenced in several places in Revelation – chapters 2, 20 and 21.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Revelation 20:14 NIV

The best news about Christmas is this…

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.   Romans 10:9-10 NLT

Yet to all who did receive him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:12 NIV

Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

Merry Christmas – I hope you experience Jesus the LIGHT of the World this Christmas.

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Dec 23 – 21 Days of Prayer PLUS ONE

Thank you so much for praying for LIGHT (our Christmas services at Grace) over the past couple of weeks.   I’m asking you to pray again today as we have three services at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30am.    In my time alone with God on Saturday, I read:

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.   1 John 5:13-15

During our 21 Days of Prayer, 1 Timothy 2, was included as a passage to read. Check it out again.

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.This is good and pleases God our Savior.  God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth.There is only one God, and there is only one way that people can reach God. That way is through Christ Jesus, who as a man gave himself to pay for everyone to be free. This is the message that was given to us at just the right time.   1 Timothy 2:1-6

Please continue to pray for people to embrace the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to surrender their lives to Him by believing in Him and receiving Him as Lord and Savior.  He’s the only way to God.

Christmas Fun, Jokes and Trivia

Knock Knock.

Who’s There?

Oakham

Oakham who?

Oakham all ye faithful.

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Dec. 22 – 21 Days of Prayer

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

Please pray for me as I make final preparations to speak about the LIGHT of the world Jesus Christ tonight and tomorrow.  Pray that I’ll be able to fearlessly make known the truth of the gospel of Christ. Pray for people who attend LIGHT to respond and trust Christ as Lord and Savior.

Thank you for praying for LIGHT over the past 21 days. I hope you’ll make it your habit to pray for people in our communities who don’t know Jesus (the Light of the World), for Grace & other churches in our communities & for me & our staff as we strive to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thank you & Merry Christmas,

Pastor BJ

“This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us.”

‭‭1 JOHN‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭AMP‬‬

 

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

One night a Viking named Rudolph the Red was looking out at the sky and said: “It’s going to rain.”   His wife asked, “How do you know?”   He said: “Because Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

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Dec. 21 – 21 Days of Prayer

We pray that the Lord will make your love grow. We pray that he will give you more and more love for each other and for all people. We pray that you will love everyone in the same way we love you. This will strengthen your desire to do what is right, and you will be holy and without fault before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy people.  1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 ERV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

In 1 Thessalonians 3 Paul encourages these Christ followers to grow in faith, hope and love.  His primary focus of prayer here is that they’d grow in love for each other and ALL PEOPLE, and that they should love as he loved them.   Paul loved them when they were far from God and didn’t know Christ. It was his love for Christ that compelled him to share the truth about Jesus with the Jews and Gentiles in Thessalonica.

Jesus said all the commandments and teachings of the prophets can be summed up in this: that we love God with all our heart, soul and mind; and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).  Jesus also said there’s no greater love than to lay down your life for someone else (John 15:13).  Are you willing to love like this?  Are you willing to love others like Paul did?

Today, I’m praying for you in the same way Paul prayed for the Christians in Thessalonica.  As you pray for LIGHT, I ask that you pray for people to experience the love of Christ in all its fulness.  I also ask that you pray for our church family to love one another and love ALL PEOPLE as Jesus did.

 

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

From Yesterday:  In what decade did NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) start tracking Santa on Christmas Eve?

 

Answer:   The 1950’s     1955 to be exact

 

 

 

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Dec. 20 – 21 Days of Prayer

“And they were all amazed at the greatness of God…”     Luke 9:43 NIV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

In Luke 9:43 the people were amazed at the greatness of God because Jesus healed a boy who was possessed by a demon.  Seeing God heal someone of a physical issue creates awe in me!  I’m even more amazed and in awe of God’s power when He brings about spiritual healing in someone when they choose to trust and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

As you pray for LIGHT, ask God to reveal the greatness of His power to those who attend, to our church family and to individuals as lives are changed by the power of God when people choose to trust and follow Jesus.  For me, there is no greater miracle than to see someone’s life transformed and made new by Christ!  2 Corinthians 5:17 Amp says: Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].

 

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

In what decade did NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) start tracking Santa on Christmas Eve?     Answer Tomorrow

 

 

 

 

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Dec. 19 – 21 Days of Prayer

But before people can pray to the Lord for help, they must believe in him. And before they can believe in the Lord, they must hear about him. And for anyone to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them.   Romans 10:14 ERV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

You and I have the privilege of knowing we have direct access to God in prayer at any time because of our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.  Some of the people who will attend LIGHT,don’t have that assurance or knowledge because they’ve never put their faith in Christ.  Pray for people who attend LIGHT to open their hearts and choose by faith to believe in and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Pray that people will respond to the invitations we make to attend LIGHT.  Pray for our staff as we prepare to make the truth of Jesus clear during LIGHT.

Now take a moment to thank God for the privilege of prayer that’s yours because of Christ.

 

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Yule.
Yule who?
Yule know when you answer the door.

 

 

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Dec. 18 – 21 Days of Prayer

I pray that God will open your minds to see his truth. Then you will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. You will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.  And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. It is the same as the mighty power he used to raise Christ from death and put him at his right side in the heavenly places.   Ephesians 1:18-20 ERV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

 As you pray for LIGHT, ask God to help open your mind to His truth. Ask Him to help you understand the fullness of hope He has for you and to realize the incredible power that’s available to those of us who believe in Jesus Christ.  Ask Him to help you realize nothing’s impossible with God and He can give you the power to accomplish what He desires – no matter what that might be.  Ask Him to help you grasp the power of this truth; that no one is exempt from prayer. In the power of prayer, ask God to pack our services this weekend with people who need to know God.  Ask Him to fill every aspect of our services with the power of His Spirit and draw people to Himself.   Ask Him to help me speak clearly and powerfully about the Light of the World – Jesus Christ.   Ask Him for 100’s to take their next step with Christ; whatever that step may be – salvation, commitment or interest.

 

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Noah.
Noah who?
Noah good joke about Christmas?

More Christmas Fun…

Below is a Starbucks Card and Code.  Have the barista scan the code to have a cup of coffee on us todayuntil the card balance runs out.    You might want to ask them to check and make sure of balance before you get your cup of coffee!

 

 

 

 

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Dec. 17 – 21 Days of Prayer

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV

Please refer to Dec. 2-7 for an explanation of ACTS in Prayer if you need it and spend a few moments doing each of these as you begin today…

A = Adoration

C = Confession

T = Thanksgiving

S = Supplication

Would you take a moment to read the passage above again – slowly.  Reflect upon it and what it means.   It’s clear we need to pray in several ways, but what do verses 3-4 encourage us to do?   I believe this reveals the heart of God; He desires for all people to be saved even though some will choose to reject Him.

As we pray for LIGHT, pray for people to be saved.   Pray for them to admit their sin and agree with God that the way they’ve been living is wrong.  Pray for them to believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and in their belief to make the statement in their heart, or out loud, that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead which proves He is Lord and God. Pray for them to believe in and receive Jesus into their hearts as their Lord and Savior.

Added Notes:  God wants all people to be SAVED.  Saved from what?  Saved from the penalty for their sin (choosing to live their way instead of God’s way) which is death (eternal separation from God).     Romans 6:23 NIV says: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.    The death talked about here isn’t just physical death (which is the result of original sin) but relates to the 2nd death talked about in Revelation 2, 20 and 21.   Revelation 20:14 NIV  says: Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.    

When people are SAVED by putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their eternal destiny is changed from the 2nd death/eternal death to eternal life.

Christmas Fun, Jokes, Trivia

From Yesterday:  Who created the first electric light Christmas display?

Thomas Edison   In 1880 he put up the first Christmas display made from electric lights to advertise his light bulbs. A few years later an inventor named Edward Johnson, a colleague of Thomas Edison, created the first string of Christmas lights.

Below is a Starbucks Card and Code.  Have the barista scan the code to have a cup of coffee on us todayuntil the card balance runs out.    You might want to ask them to check and make sure of balance before you get your cup of coffee!

 

 

 

 

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