Matthew begins his gospel by listing the genealogy of Jesus, and he includes people in that list who did some very evil things. Why would Matthew want to highlight the dirt instead of sweeping it under the rug? Because he wanted us to know that the forgiveness Christ came to bring is available to everyone, regardless of their past. Have you ever brought your past to Jesus, or are you still carrying it all by yourself?
Most people have only heard the Sunday School version of Esther, where she is described in almost perfect, fairy tale terms. But Esther’s life was far from perfect. Like all of us, she started out struggling, learning and growing in her faith. In time, God took that imperfect young girl and used her in great ways. And in that story, we all find the story of our own lives, and we can thank God that He still uses imperfect people like us!
The most powerful argument for the truth of Christianity is not the argument of theology. It is the argument of a transformed life. God has given us the privilege of being His representatives to the world around us. Are people drawn to the beauty of the Gospel by the way we live our lives each day? Do they want to know Him because of what they see in us?
Jesus told the most religious people in Jerusalem that even though they diligently studied the Scriptures, they still did not have the very life of which the Scriptures spoke. How is that possible? It’s possible because we can read the Bible, go to church and do all kinds of religious things, yet still completely miss Jesus! You may be religious, but have you ever come to Jesus to find the life, forgiveness and hope that only He provides?
Surely no one would ever walk up to a sick person and ask if he really wanted to get well; unless the one asking the question knew that this person had deeper issues that first needed to be dealt with. Even as Christians, we can get stuck in ruts of sin or excuses that keep us immobilized, and sometimes we prefer to just stay there. Are there any ruts in your life that you need to get out of?
As we face the struggles and uncertainties of life that often come our way, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, alone and afraid. In those times, we can find great encouragement by remembering the things that are already true of us in Christ. If you are facing difficult times, let these truths from God’s Word be the encouragement you need to find renewed hope and strength for the future.
If a prisoner served his time and was set free, it would be unthinkable for him to go back and live in his prison cell. Yet many Christians who have been set free by Jesus continue to live as prisoners to their past. Jesus said if we know the truth, it would set us free, and we would be truly free. Are you saved, but still living under a cloud of guilt and fear because of your past sin? Jesus invites you to be set free today!
When we consider what part we are supposed to play in the Great Commission, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The vastness of the mission compared to our limited resources and abilities can leave us feeling overwhelmed and immobilized. But God never asks us to do more than we can. All He asks is that we do what we can and allow Him to take our little and use it for something great. Be encouraged to know that however small your role may seem, what you do for Christ matters!
The world puts all kinds of labels on us to define who we are: smart or dumb, pretty or ugly, popular or unpopular, successful or failure. The truth is, all of those labels are lies! We are not defined by any of those things. Jesus met many people whose lives were shaped and limited by the negative labels society had placed on them, but His transforming power set them free from those lies and gave them a brand new identity in Him. Don’t allow other people to define you. Find your identity in Christ alone!
In moments of raw honesty, it is startling to discover the negative words people often use to describe how they see themselves: ugly, fat, unloveable, stupid, worthless. Still others use words like depressed, lonely, unwanted, fearful, addict, hopeless, etc. And the sad reality is, these are actual terms used, not just by unsaved people to describe themselves, but by Christians! It’s time for the church to expose the lies Satan is telling us and discover the truth about who the Bible says we really are in Christ!
“If God has forgiven me, why don’t I feel forgiven?” Have you ever asked that question? As Christians, we know that God has forgiven all our sin and He has promised to never remember it again. Why, then, do we so often still feel haunted and condemned by things in our past? If you’ve ever wrestled with this issue, today’s sermon will help you understand why that happens and how you can move beyond your past into the future God has for you! (Audio problems at the beginning will clear up within the first few minutes)
An encounter with the risen Savior changes everything. After Jesus rose from the dead, he purposefully and intentionally met with certain people to strengthen and encourage them in some way. Each one, having met their risen Savior, walked away from the encounter, forever changed. Have you encountered the risen Son of God? Have you been forever changed?