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OUT WITH THE OLD

By Pastor Shane Guldi
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 8:7-13
 
“… I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.” Hebrews 8:10 (NIV)
 
Out with the old and in with the new. That is the saying that comes to my mind as I think about today. Out with the old covenant that God had given to Moses and the people of the Old Testament. A covenant that bound people with laws and rules and animal sacrifices.        Communication with God was only done with select people. Worship was done in a tabernacle. God’s spirit dwelled in an inner room, open only to the high priest once a year. A curtain in the inner room separated God’s presence from His people.
 
When Jesus came, He brought a new covenant. He brought with Him a newfound freedom for those who followed. We were no longer bound by burdensome laws, but we were bound by our love for Christ and for one another. The curtain was torn in the tabernacle and now we worship God in our hearts because His Spirit lives within us. Hebrews 8:11 says, “For everyone from the least to the greatest will know me already.”  Sins are forgiven and forgotten because of the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:12).
 
As we prepare our hearts for tomorrow, I hope we will reflect upon the new life, new mercies, and new hope that Christ gave us when He forever got rid of the “old”. God said, “I will be their God and they will be my people.” Praise God for sending His Son to bring in the “new.”


A BLOB

By Pastor Liz Robinson
Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:2
 
“The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.”  (Genesis 1:2)
 
What image does this conjure up for you? Does it remind you of anything? Anyone? It reminds me of myself, before believing in Jesus: empty, formless mass, cloaked in darkness. 
 
Confession: having been a “pretty good kid,” a rule follower, in my younger years, I’m not sure that accepting Jesus made a big difference in my life. Years later, my eyes were opened to all the possibilities in my heart. I came back to Jesus with a much greater awareness of my need. 
 
I began to understand the truth in Isaiah’s statement that our righteousness is like “filthy rags.” When the Spirit of Jesus Christ is    behind your “good behavior,” every act of kindness and obedience takes on new depth. It goes from being robotic life to abundant life. From black and white to color. From one dimensional to multi dimensional.
 
What made this happen? Look back at Genesis 1:2. Here is hope: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.”  While I went about my small, exact, lazy life, God’s Spirit was hovering around me. He made sure that my counterfeit spirituality did not satisfy. He kept calling,  guiding and protecting. When the time was right (“at just the right time,”) I found Him. Hallelujah!
 
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6


VISIBLE IMAGE

By Pastor Matt Carter
Scripture Reading: John 14:8-11
 
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the  Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.” John 14:9b-11
 
If given the choice between the Holy Spirit inside us or Jesus here beside us, I believe most of us would choose to have Jesus here in the flesh. If we put ourselves in Philip’s situation, we would probably wonder if Jesus truly was the Son of God. Philip was still wanting to see more—the Father. I believe we often are in the same situation.
 
We settle for the Holy Spirit, but what we really want is Jesus here. Show us Jesus, and that will be enough for us. However, Scripture tells us in Colossians 1:27 that it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” Jesus does live in us through the power of his Holy Spirit. Furthermore, this is why we are called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
 
Jesus told Philip that anyone who sees Him has seen the Father. Paul says it best when he says in Colossians 1:15, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” Christ shows us the Father, and we as the body of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, show others Jesus by loving them.


MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

By Pastor Cole Maxwell
Scripture Reading: Mark 4:35-41
 
“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ The disciples were absolutely terrified. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked each other. ‘Even the wind and waves obey him!’” Mark 4:39-41
 
There are probably many times when you have said to yourself, “This is more than I can handle right now.” And to be honest, it probably is more than you can handle by yourself.
 
I think God allows us to go through certain trials, or allows us to leave our comfort zones, like the disciples in today’s Scripture passage, so that we can learn to rely on Him more than we rely on ourselves.
 
Are you relying on your own strength today or God’s?


WHO IS YOUR GOD?

By Pastor S. Zurcher
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:15
 
“But what about you,” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
 
I have given and been given many nicknames. I gave these nicknames to strangers, that became acquaintances, that became close friends.
 
God says His name is Yahweh, translated to “I Am” or “I Am who I Am.” He allows us the joy of discovering who He is. The Bible includes a long list of nicknames man has given to God. They weren’t given because of reading or others’ stories but because of a close relationship.
 
Names include Strength and Song (Moses); Shepherd and Stone of Israel (Jacob); Creator, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, and Light to the nations (Isaiah); Deliverer, Rock, Fortress, and Shield (David); Author and Perfecter of faith, Father of mercies, and Holy Servant (Paul); King of the nations (Jeremiah); Rabbi and Good Teacher (disciples); Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (Peter); and Lawgiver and Judge (James). And we’ve hardly begun.
 
Each Gospel, four stories about Jesus by four different men, describes Jesus perfectly yet differently. This is not because God changes; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It’s because a relationship builds special bonds between two people. A strong father to one can also be a loving husband or a trusted friend to another.
 
Likewise, our nickname for God is determined by our close relationship with Him. To me God is Healer. Maybe it’s a good time to evaluate your relationship. Who is your God?


OUR GOD SAVES

By Pastor Trevor Young
Scripture Reading: John 12:12-16
 
“They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” John 12:13 (NIV)
 
Hosanna was not always an exclamation of praise. It started as a cry for help, essentially meaning “save me!” What made the difference was the faithfulness of the God who saves. As God showed His faithfulness time and time again, it changed from a cry for help to an expression of faith, not “save me,” but rather, “God saves!”
 
But sometimes, God doesn’t come to save the day the way we  expect. The disciples were confused by everything that was going on when Jesus returned to Jerusalem. People were giving him a royal welcome, believing their long-awaited king had come to start a political revolution and overthrow Rome and its cronies. Yet Jesus wasn’t acting like a king, at least not like the one everyone expected. He came as a king greater than any they could imagine, to bring  freedom from a far more powerful and deadly enemy than Rome. But they couldn’t see it, because His kingdom didn’t make sense to them. They wanted a savior, and God came as their savior, just not the way they expected. But His plan was far greater than anything they could have imagined.


WHAT DO YOU WANT?

By Pastor Shane Guldi
Scripture Reading: Mark 10:32-34; 46-52
 
“My Rabbi, ” the blind man said, “I want to see!”  Mark 10:51b (NLT)
 
At 48 years old, I find myself wearing progressive bifocals. This year’s prescription is a little stronger than last year’s. I walk around always trying to find the “sweet spot” as I try to focus on things near and far. However, I am glad that I have this struggle as opposed to the struggle that Bartimaeus had in Mark. He was completely blind. 
 
Blindness is spoken of in a couple of different ways in the Bible. One is physical and the other is spiritual. However, the Bible makes it crystal “clear” that spiritual blindness is much worse. Strange thing is – a person is usually unaware of spiritual blindness. And while many times physical blindness can be corrected, there is nothing that humans can do about spiritual blindness. Only God can cure such a condition.  
 
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked Bartimaeus. Now let’s stop there. Bartimaeus was not only blind, but also poor, a beggar, hungry, mocked, and humiliated, along with other things. Among all the things he could have asked for, he asked to receive his sight. Because of Bartimaeus’ faith, he received both physical and spiritual sight.
 
Let’s not lie to ourselves. Today, all of us are at some level of blindness. No one has perfect spiritual vision. Today Jesus is asking us, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  So the question is, “What do we want Him to do for us?”


THE PLAN FOR YOU AND ME

By Pastor Cole Maxwell
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27-31
 
“Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.” Mark 8:31 (NLT)
 
Do you believe God had and continues to have a plan for his people? All throughout Scriptures we see the plan of God unfolding. Jesus dying on the cross was the peak of that plan.
 
We see time and time again in the Old Testament the people of God giving sacrifice after sacrifice to be in right standing with God Almighty. Jesus’s sacrifice was the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be in that right standing.
 
The beautiful thing is that was the plan all along. God loves us so much that He sent his son to be the ultimate reconciliation. God loves you so much that He had and continues to have a plan for you.


UNTIL MY LAST BREATH

By Pastor Matt Carter
Scripture Reading: Psalm 104:31-34
 
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath! May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104:33-34
 
The Bible is not written about you or me. It is not a story about creation or humanity, or about marriage or romantic love. While all these themes can be found in the Bible, and you and I can find application to our lives, the Bible is a story about God. It’s a story about God’s glory. It’s a story about God’s goodness. It’s a story about God’s agape love. For even though He is holy, set apart, and there is no one like Him, He is good to us. God’s agape love is not a romantic love, but a love that involves faithfulness, commitment, and action.
 
As we read, in Psalm 104, the earth trembles at His glance, and the mountains smoke at His touch. He is a God outside of our understanding and our limitations. He is a God that is outside of our control, and He is not limited to our ability to understand Him. He makes no apologies for who He is, for He is always good, always loving, and always faithful.
 
Whether we realize it or not, this understanding of who God is should produce in us an overwhelming amount of praise — a praise that comes with each breath we take. According to Genesis 2:7, it was God who breathed His life and Spirit in us. Whether we realize it or not, each breath we take is a gift from His eternal life, and the most logical thing we could ever do is praise Him for it. It’s the whole reason we exist, and without His breath, we wouldn’t.


ON PATROL

By Pastor Liz Robinson
Scripture Reading: Psalm 131
 
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131:1-3 (NIV)
 
I have a mentor who coined the phrase “cosmic policewoman badge.” I may or may not have been inspirational in the crafting of that phrase. “How would you use it?” you ask. Here is an example: “I am going to hang up my cosmic policewoman badge.” Meaning, it’s not my job to dissect/monitor/judge/sentence everyone’s decisions, comments and life choices. 
 
In this day of social media, that’s a hard pill to swallow. How much of my time is spent trying to unravel situations that can’t possibly have human solutions? How much time does my brain spend running frantic circles in my skull, ordering everyone else’s life around?  Could this time be better spent?
 
According to the Psalmist, yes. My time could be better spent. I could calm and quiet myself before God, “as a weaned child with its     mother.” This means I would simply be with God, contentedly, not making any demands. And I will put my hope in Him, both now and forevermore.
 
I do not understand how this works. But it is so much better than being on constant patrol.