Choose Gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving 2017-

I love Thanksgiving. I love the tradition. And yes, I love turkey.

But honestly, I love family. We miss those of our family who are not with us.

I love my God. I am so thankful for a loving Father, a Risen Savior and the Greatest Counselor in the Holy Spirit.

I love this holiday because it is mainly a day where we can express thanks and choose to be grateful.

By His grace and for His glory!

So what are you grateful for today?

 

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Keys to a Powerful Prayer Life: Lessons from the Apostle Paul (part one)

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Prayer for most people is difficult and challenging.

Some say that…

  • I pray all the time…(yet their lives are marked with discouragement, depression, anxiety, bitterness and the like)
  • I do not pray at all… (belief in their autonomy and their self-sufficiency)
  • I do not know what or how to pray
  • Why even pray? God knows what He is going to do, and He is not going to change His mind.

Do you ever have these wrestling thoughts and questions about prayer? Or maybe you have some others doubts that hinder you from having a powerful prayer life

What is prayer?

Prayer is communication with God.

Why do we pray?

Prayer is my response to the character of God and the will of God.

To whom are we to pray?

We offer prayers to the Father, in the name of the Son the Lord Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

When are we to pray?

According to the Scriptures, we are to pray: Always, constantly, regularly. It says we are to pray anytime, day or night. We are to pray at mealtimes. And, we are to pray in times of need as well as in times of rejoicing. We are to pray without ceasing.

Are prayers really answered?

James 5:16b ESV

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Why Our Prayers Are Not Answered?

  1. Asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3)
  2. Idolatry (Ezekiel 14:3)
  3. Impatience (Heb. 11:6b)
  4. Indifference (Prov. 1:27-28)
  5. Not respecting one another (1 Peter 3:7)
  6. Not showing mercy (Prov. 21:13)
  7. Rebellion or Disobedience (Deut. 1:42-45)
  8. Stubbornness (Zech. 7:11-13)
  9. Turning away from God’s Word (Prov. 28:9) Unbelief (Heb. 11:6)
  10. Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18)
  11. Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25-26)

We Must Learn How to Pray

Luke 11:1 ESV

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Martin Luther said, “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”

We think exactly the opposite.

We say, “I have so much to do today, I can’t pray.”

Luther said, “I have so much to do today; I must pray.”

Another thing is that Luther tied prayer to study. “He that has prayed well has studied well.”

Is that you? Is that me?

John Wesley spent 2 hours per day with God in prayer.

The ability to prayer does not happen by accident. It takes diligent effort. Prayer is something we learn. It involves a process of growth. It will take time. It will take effort on your part. It takes learning to communicate freely, openly, unashamedly.

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Awe by Paul David Tripp

awe_book_image_revisedPaul David Tripp has written an excellent book entitled, Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Dothat pushed me to look deep within and examine my life. It challenged me to look at what controls me and what affects my decisions. I devoured this book.
Paul writes from a pastor’s heart. He is passionate and practical. He says that “Humans are hardwired for awe.”
A review of his book states that “Our hearts are always captured by something—that’s how God made us. But sin threatens to distract us from the glory of our Creator. All too often, we stand in awe of everything but God…Uncovering the lies we believe about all the earthly things that promise us peace, life, and contentment, Paul Tripp redirects our gaze to God’s awe-inducing glory—showing how such a vision has the potential to impact our every thought, word, and deed.”
Here are some of the key principles from the book.
  1. Awe is everyone’s lifelong pursuit
  2. God created an awesome world
  3. God created you with an awe capacity
  4. Where you look for awe will shape the direction of your life
  5. Awe stimulates the greatest joys and deepest sorrows in all of us
  6. Misplaced awe keeps us perennially dissatisfied
  7. Every created awe is meant to point you to the Creator
  8. Awesome stuff never satisfies
So what is our problem? Awe problem in action
  1. Your emotional life is always a window into what has captured your awe
  2. Awe amnesia always leads to awe replacement (You reject God, you replace Him)
  3. We replace the vertical awe with horizontal addiction
  4. We quickly replace the awe of God with the awe of self
  5. Only grace can give us back our awe of God again
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Elevate Marriage – Module # 5 – Actively Pursue Peace

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  • UPDATE: Our next section of ELEVATE will be on Sunday, June 25 at Hope Church in Sussex, NJ. 

Summary of the Lesson: Actively Pursue Peace (from our May 7 session)

  1. Study of Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers
  2. Discussion of the Commitment to Peacemaking and Reconciliation
  3. Evaluating Yourself: What is Personal Style of Conflict
  4. Biblical Change: Practical Help for Dealing with Conflict
  5. RESOLVE Principles
  6. Offering Constructive Advice
  7. Responding Non-Defensively
  8. Dealing with Difficult People and Situations
  9. 21 Guidelines for Resolving Conflicts

Homework Assignment:

  • Examine yourself and evaluate yourself. Do you actively pursue peace? Would you be described as a peacemaker? Are there principles taught in this lesson that you need to start applying in your life and relationships?

STOP principles

  • SIN -must be confessed and repented of
  • THINK BIBLICALLY – meditate on the gospel truths, apply those truths to your situation
  • OBEY – regardless of how you feel
    • “Obey right away, all the way, with a good attitude, every day”
  • PRAY, PRAISE, and PEOPLE
    • Pray to God for His wisdom and empowerment
    • Praise God for all He has done for you
    • People – remember the second great commandment – love others as we love ourself
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Our Living Hope

Stone rolled awayThe resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a pivotal point in human history.  It is essential that Jesus Christ rose from the dead for us to have salvation. One writer said, “A dead Savior is no Savior at all.”

The resurrection indicated that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was vindicated in the resurrection. The resurrection is our hope that we are forgiven and free. It proves that Christ conquered death. It shows that God can raise us from the dead to immortal life.

There are many proofs of the resurrection. In this message, we look at one of the proofs of the resurrection; the changed lives of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we learn about pre-resurrection Peter and the dramatic change that occurs, in his life, after the resurrection.

The title of this message is, “Our Living Hope.” The passage we will be considering is 1 Peter 1:3–9.

Click the following link to listen to the message http://thechapelnj.sermon.net/main/main/20910451.

Blessings.

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Justification By Faith

Do you struggle with guilt? Do you constantly feel condemned?

Justification by FaithI had the opportunity recently to share the following with a friend.

The beauty of justification is that you are declared not guilty. It’s the opposite of condemnation. It implies deliverance from the curse of God because the curse was placed in Christ. It means you are forgiven and free. It’s God’s free gift, the fruit of sovereign grace, and not in anyway the result of human “goodness” or “accomplishment.” A right understanding of justification will bring peace to the soul, a peace that passes all understanding. It fills the heart with such thanksgiving that it produces in the life of the believer a rich harvest of good works. Our only righteousness is imputed righteousness. Imputation is our only hope for our sinful soul. Because it is the one who knows the stain of their sin, who knows that he or she must have righteousness, that is not their own. God has given us an “alien” righteousness that comes only from God, only by faith, and only from Christ. Such a gift cannot be purchased, earned, or merited.

It is credited by grace. You were infinitely loved, totally accepted, and forever free. Live in that grace. Inhale that grace. Exhale that grace.

Following are some key principles of the doctrine of justification. Please, pause over each principle. Search and meditate on the Scripture passages. And pray to God and praise Him for all He has done to make you right with Him.

Our Problem:

  • Our Problem: Moral Corruption, Guilt, Condemnation and Alienation from God
  • Our Desperate Need: New Nature, Forgiveness, Acceptance and Reconciliation

( See Exodus 20:5–6; Galatians 6:7; Exodus 23:7; Nahum 1:3; Romans 1:18; 5:10; 8:7; Psalm 7:11; 5:5; James 2:10; Romans 3:9–18; Psalm 58:3; Ephesians 2:1, 3, 12; Ezra 9:6; John 8:34; Proverbs 17:15; 24:24)

God’s Solution: Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone

  1. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners (Romans 3:22–25; 4:5)
  2. In justification, God not only pardons all of a person’s sins but also accepts that person as righteous in His sight (2 Corinthians 5:19–21; Romans 3:22–28)
  3. Justification is not based on the character or conduct of the justified person but is strictly “according to His mercy” and based on Christ’s righteousness and “redemption through His blood” (Titus 3:5–7; Ephesians 1:7)
  4. In justification, the merit of Christ’s righteousness and obedience is “imputed” or credited to the account of the person who is justified, who receives this imputed righteousness as a free gift of God (Romans 5:17–19; 4:6–8; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  5. Christ fully and completely satisfied the Justice of God on behalf of those who are justified (Romans 5:8–10, 19; 1 Timothy 2:5–6; Hebrews 10:10; Matthew 28:20; Daniel 9:24–26; Isaiah 53:4–6; 10–12; Hebrews 7:22; Romans 8:32; 1 Peter 1:18–19)
  6. The only condition of justification is faith in Christ alone (Romans 3:24–25). Faith in Christ is itself a gift of God to the believer (Ephesians 2:8)
  7. Redemption and forgiveness are matters of God’s free grace. It is an unmerited gift of God’s love (Ephesians 1:7)

 

Our Response: Bringing It Home

  1. Justification is a legal declaration by God (NOT GUILTY!)
  1. God declares us to be just in His sight
    • We have no penalty to pay for any of our sins (past, present or future)
    • We are not merely neutral in His sight, but actually righteous in His sight
  1. God declares us righteous because He credits Christ’s righteousness to us
  1. Justification is ours solely because of the Grace of God, not because of any merit in us
  1. God justifies us through faith in Christ
  1. We must:
    • Renounce any trust in our “good works” as meriting anything with God
    • Rely entirely on the Person and Work of Christ

    Adapted from White, James, “The God Who Justifies” and Westminster Larger Catechism

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