Moving Past The Hurt
Welcome to a fascinating exploration of the incredible power of forgiveness! We would love to invite you to join us on a transformative journey where forgiveness takes center stage, fortifying relationships and unlocking a world of possibilities. Let's dive into the profound impact forgiveness can have on our lives and connections.
Relationships are undoubtedly complex, with their fair share of ups and downs. Yet, forgiveness emerges as the secret ingredient that fuels stronger and more resilient bonds. It's the game-changer that propels relationships to new heights and breathes life into our connections.
Of course, forgiveness is easier said than done, right? Waiting for an apology or harboring grudges can keep us stuck in the past. But why carry the weight of bitterness when we have the power to set ourselves free? By choosing forgiveness, we liberate ourselves from the burden of resentment and open the door to personal growth and happiness.
What makes forgiveness even more remarkable is that it's an ongoing journey, not a one-time event. It requires courage, patience, and a touch of divine intervention. As we navigate this path, we discover the depths of our character and the transformative nature of forgiveness. With each step, we unearth our resilience and find solace in the presence of a higher power guiding our way.
Embracing forgiveness is a testament to our capacity for compassion. It radiates positivity and creates a ripple effect, touching the lives of those around us. By practicing forgiveness, we become architects of understanding, fostering a world where empathy thrives and bridges are built.
So, are you ready to embark on this extraordinary journey? Arm yourself with grace, wield the sword of compassion, and let forgiveness be your guiding star. Together, let's rise to new heights, transforming lives and shaping a brighter future—one act of forgiveness at a time.
"Let us show kindness to one another, with tender hearts, forgiving one another, just as God forgave us." - Ephesians 4:32
Join us on this remarkable path of forgiveness, where relationships flourish and hearts find peace.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on June 4, 2023.
The wise, the rash, & the fool
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, let us take a moment to reflect on the story of Abigail and Nabal from the Old Testament. Nabal, whose name literally means "fool," was a wealthy man who owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. He was married to Abigail, a sensible and beautiful woman, who was unfortunately married to a mean and foolish man.
David, who had just spared King Saul’s life, was on the run with 600 soldiers who were loyal to him. They had been staying in the vicinity of Nabal’s pastures, and David's men had protected Nabal’s flocks from Philistine raiding parties. As a result, David asked Nabal to share some of his surplus with him and his men, a reasonable request given their protection of Nabal's property.
However, Nabal responded rudely and refused to share any of his possessions with David and his men. David, who had just resisted the urge to kill King Saul, was now about to fail a little test. He was tired and weary, and Nabal had just touched on some of his biggest insecurities.
David instructed 400 of his men to get their swords and go teach "this fool" a lesson. But Abigail, being the wise woman that she was, heard about the situation and acted quickly. She gathered 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes and went to meet David and his men.
Abigail humbly apologized for her husband's behavior and begged David to spare Nabal's life. David was moved by Abigail's wisdom and spared Nabal's life.
This story teaches us that life is about so much more than just stuff. It also reminds us of the importance of honoring and respecting our mothers, especially on Mother's Day. Abigail was a wise and sensible woman who saved her family from destruction, and we can learn a lot from her example.
Let us take this Mother's Day as an opportunity to honor and thank our mothers for all that they have done for us. They are a blessing from God, and we should cherish and treasure them always.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on Mother's Day 2023.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where another believer has sinned against you? Perhaps they said something hurtful, or they did something that caused you to feel wronged or offended. It's a tough spot to be in, but it's not God's will for us to live in broken relationships with one another. He wants to see the relationships in our life restored. He wants us to be peacemakers, not fight pickers.
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus tells us what to do in this situation. He says, "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back." Notice that Jesus doesn't say to pick a fight or to argue your point until you win. The goal is to win the person back, not just to win.
This idea of fighting to win back, not just to win, is so important. It's not just applicable in our relationships with other believers, but in all relationships. How often do we find ourselves fighting to be right, to get our way, to defend ourselves, or to justify our bad behavior? All of that is fighting to win, not to win back.
So how do we fight to win back? It starts with step one of fighting fair, which is to fight to get your heart right. Most of the things we choose to fight about are so trivial and petty that they should be fought quietly in our minds and hearts, not with other people. We need to fight with that old, selfish, sinful part of ourselves to make sure that the problem we have is actually between us and the other person and not just our own pride and sinful heart.
Just like Jacob wrestled with God before he went to make peace with his brother Esau in Genesis 32, we also need to wrestle with the Holy Spirit inside of us to make sure our heart is in the right place before approaching someone else. We need to ask ourselves if this issue is really worth fighting over, if we've really been sinned against, or if we're just not getting our way. We need to consider if we're doing this to benefit the relationship or just ourselves, and if we're doing this to advance Jesus' kingdom or our own.
Sometimes, the person who has wronged us isn't actually sinning against us. That cashier who is taking forever to check us out isn't sinning against us, they're just slow. That person who cut us off in traffic isn't sinning against us, they just didn't see us there. Our adult children who couldn't come home for Thanksgiving aren't sinning against us, they're just broke newlyweds trying to navigate the holidays with two different families. Our co-worker who got the promotion isn't sinning against us, they're just better at networking. Our boss who had to let people go isn't sinning against us, they're just trying to keep the company afloat.
When we find ourselves in these situations, we need to make an intentional decision to overlook the wrong. We need to resist the urge to talk about it, to dwell on it, or to let it influence our actions and attitude. Instead, we need to spend time with Jesus, reflecting on why whatever it was was so triggering. What is Jesus trying to show us about ourselves through this feeling? Are we too tired, too busy, too stressed, or too selfish? How can we look more like Jesus next time?
Fighting fair isn't easy, but it's worth it. When we fight fair and strive for restoration instead of just trying to win, we honor God and show His love to others. So let's all take a step back and focus on fighting to get our hearts right, so that we can build stronger, healthier relationships with those around us!
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on May, 2023.
Aim higher than happy
Selfishness and envy can produce confusion, evil, and division in every aspect of our lives, including our families, marriages, friendships, workplaces, and even in the church. When jealousy and selfish ambition arise in our relationships, happiness that might have been there disappears in an instant, like a balloon popping on a stand. The key to preventing such situations is to aim for contentment, which is durable and dynamic.
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul pleads with the church at Philippi to aim higher than happiness and, instead, to aim for contentment which is durable and dynamic. He explains that harmony promotes contentment, and relational unity brings joy and peace. When we are getting along in our relationships, deep satisfaction and contentedness follow.
Selfishness and pride, working together as a wicked duo, always bring confusion and disunity into relationships. It is looking out for oneself and one's interests, demanding to watch what one wants to watch, insisting on eating what one wants to eat, expecting others to speak glowingly of oneself, and insisting on getting one's way. Such behaviors will pop the balloon of happiness every time.
To aim higher than happiness, we must focus on being tender and compassionate toward others, agreeing and working wholeheartedly with others, and being of one mind and one purpose with one another. The greatest example of contentment is Jesus Christ, who taught us how to love one another, enjoy fellowship in the church family, and remain tender and compassionate toward one another.
The key to avoiding trouble and disorder in our relationships is to learn the secret of contentment. We can't be fine with pointless quarrels in our marriages, with our children, with our grandchildren, our friends and co-workers, or even with our neighbors and acquaintances. Instead, let us aim for contentment in our families, friendships, workplaces, and church family.
“Happy is now in the moment; content is durable and it’s potent.” - Pastor Jeff Ellis
- Adapted from sermons across our 3 campuses on April 30, 2023.
Are you tired of searching for the right person? Do you find yourself constantly looking for someone who meets your expectations and needs, but never seem to find them? If so, you might want to hear what our pastors had to say about relationships this weekend.
In the latest sermon, we learned that: "We will never find the right person until we start becoming the person the person we're looking for is looking for." Becoming "the one" is more important than finding "the one".
According to God's Word, becoming "the one" puts the pressure on us to change and improve ourselves. Instead of focusing on finding someone who meets our standards, we should focus on becoming the person that our ideal partner is looking for.
So what areas should we focus on to become the right person? The Bible gives us a clear guide on what love should look like. When we read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, we discover 15 characteristics of biblical love that will help us focus on becoming "the one".
It's important to note that these qualities are not just feelings or emotions, but actions that produce them. As followers of Jesus, we should strive to live out these qualities in our relationships, and not just expect others to do so.
It's easy to get caught up in looking for the right person, but maybe it's time to shift our focus on becoming the right person. It might not be easy or comfortable, but the sacrifice and work to grow and mature will be worth it in the end.
Let's become the one the one we're looking for is looking for.
- Adapted from sermons across our 3 campuses on April 23, 2023.
Relationship Red Flags
Relationships are a fundamental aspect of our lives, and we all desire to have healthy and positive connections with the people around us. Unfortunately, some relationships can be detrimental to our well-being, leading to pain, hurt, and scars. In the 'Love Hurts Series,' we explore the warning signs and red flags to look out for in relationships to avoid getting hurt. Our foundational verse is Proverbs 13:20, which advises us to walk with the wise and avoid associating with fools.
In Ephesians 4:26-5:8, we find a section of God's Word that talks bluntly about the warning signs of people who behave like fools and bring unwanted trouble into our lives. We examine four points that serve as red flags to avoid unhelpful relationships.
RED FLAG #1 - ANGRY PEOPLE
The first warning is "don't hang with angry people." In a world filled with anger, it is easy to get upset and angry about something. However, we should not let anger control us. Ephesians 4:26 advises us not to sin by letting anger control us and not to let the sun go down while we are still angry. Anger gives the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27). We need to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander (Ephesians 4:31). If we let anger fester and get infected, it will catch our whole house on fire, and the devil will maximize the damage.
RED FLAG #2 - DISHONEST PEOPLE
The second warning is "don't hang with dishonest people." Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Honesty is vital in any relationship, and we should avoid people who lie, deceive, or manipulate us. Dishonest people destroy trust and create chaos, and we should be careful about becoming too close with with them.
RED FLAG #3 - SELFISH PEOPLE
The third warning is "don't hang with selfish people." Ephesians 5:2 says, "Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Love is selfless and sacrificial, and we should avoid people who are selfish, self-centered, and only care about their interests. Selfish people drain us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and we should be discernin in our relationships with them.
RED FLAG #4 - UNGODLY PEOPLE
The fourth warning is "don't hang with ungodly people." Ephesians 5:3-7 warns us not to associate with people who engage in sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking, and idolatry. These behaviors are contrary to God's Word and will harm us spiritually and emotionally. We should be wise in hoe we relate with people who indulge in such behaviors and encourage us to do the same. Our goal is to point them to Jesus, not let them point us to the world.
In conclusion, God's Word warns us about the red flags to look out for in relationships. We should avoid hanging out with angry, dishonest, selfish, and ungodly people. These behaviors will bring unwanted trouble and pain into our lives and lead us away from God's plan for our lives. Let us walk with the wise and become wise, as we seek to build healthy and positive relationships that honor God.
A Case For The Resurrection
Death is an inevitable part of life, and it is a topic that most people tend to avoid. However, the Bible speaks openly, directly, and clearly about the subject of death. On Easter Sunday, we examined a section of the Bible that gives many answers and solutions to the subject of death.
Here are three essential facts from the Bible that, if believed and received, will fully prepare us for ending well - dying with purpose - which will, in turn, prepare us for living well - living with purpose.
Key Fact #1: Jesus Christ Died for Our Sins
In 1 Corinthians 15:3, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died for our sins. The reality is that we are all sinners and deserve to die. However, Jesus took our place on the cross and died for our sins so that we could have eternal life. This is the good news of the gospel, and it is the foundation of our faith. By believing in Jesus and accepting Him as our Savior, we can have the assurance of eternal life.
Key Fact #2: Jesus Christ Rose from the Dead
In 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. It is the ultimate proof that Jesus is who He claimed to be - the Son of God. By rising from the dead, Jesus conquered sin and death, and He offers us the same victory.
Key Fact #3: We Will Be Resurrected
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, the Bible tells us that we will be resurrected. Just as Jesus rose from the dead, we too will rise from the dead. This is the hope of the Christian faith. We will have new bodies that are free from sin and death, and we will be with the Lord forever. This is the ultimate victory over death, and it gives us the courage to face death with hope.
In conclusion, the subject of death is not something that we should ignore or avoid. Instead, we should face it head-on and find the answers and solutions that the Bible offers. By believing in Jesus and accepting Him as our Savior, we can have the assurance of eternal life. By understanding that Jesus rose from the dead, we can have the victory over sin and death. And by knowing that we will be resurrected, we can face death with hope and courage. Let us live our lives with purpose and end well by embracing these essential facts of the Christian faith.
- Adapted from sermons across our 3 campuses on April 9, 2023.
The offense of the Cross
For over two thousand years, the cross of Christ has been recognized worldwide as the symbol of Christianity. The crucifixion, as brutal and agonizing as it was, is the most cruel means of execution ever devised. The purpose of crucifixion was to degrade, humiliate, and eventually kill the victim.
During the Roman era, the cross was reserved for the most hated and dangerous enemies of the state, and Roman citizens who were sentenced to death were exempt from it because of its unusual cruelty and prolonged pain.
However, today, we tend to look at the cross in sentimental terms. We cover it in gold and wear it around our necks like a fashion statement. But can you imagine how a first-century citizen would feel seeing crosses embossed in gold and hanging on chains around our necks? It would be like seeing someone wearing a silver electric chair or a golden gas chamber on a chain around their necks.
It's not wrong to wear a cross today, but we need to remember the real meaning of the cross and not allow it to become a mere fashion statement. In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul wrote, "so when we preach that Christ was Crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense." We need to remember that the unsaved world has never been pleased to hear the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.
In the book of Acts 5, when Peter and the apostles are dragged before the Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, notice their reaction to the cross of Christ.
There are three possible reasons why Paul says he was writing with such large letters as he picks up his pen. Firstly, his handwriting looked large and sloppy next to the impeccable handwriting of his stenographer. Secondly, he is writing with emphasis, so he writes in all capitals and presses hard on the pen so his readers can see he meant what was being written down. Thirdly, Paul's 'thorn in the flesh,' poor eyesight, is why he makes such large letters as he writes because he cannot see well.
Next, Paul returns to the central theme of his letter, which is the cancer of false teaching that is beginning to infect the churches in Galatia. This cancer has replaced the grace of Christ with the law of Moses. These false teachers were attempting to twist Christianity and make it fit with Judaism, and Paul calls them boasters.
It is crucial to remember that the cross represents the ultimate symbol of rejection and shame, and we should never forget its significance. Let us always honor and remember the true meaning of the cross of Christ.
- Adapted from sermons across our 3 campuses on April 2, 2023.
Welcome to the pastors' blog!
These are powerful posts adapted from our pastors' weekly sermons.