Posts Tagged with "gospel"

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Greater Joy Awaits

Have you ever walked outside and saw the beauty of a sunrise in the morning? Or looked out your window to see the foothills and mountains and ask God, "How did you make everything?...

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Earthly Joy

At the announcement of Christ’s birth, we see that these angels share that this good news will result in great joy. But the shepherds will not initially feel great joy but rather great fear! Rather the angels explain that if they receive this good news, it will result in great joy. ...

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Experiencing More Joy

Do you ever wonder why Christmas sermons so often talk about joy? That’s because the birth of Christ is described as resulting in great joy, as the angel says, the joy of Jesus. But what about the times you just don’t feel it, even as a Christian?...

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Joy to the World

Have you ever thought about what creates happiness? Some people think that some people are born more happy than others....

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Good News of Christ the King

Have you ever been so excited to share some good news with a friend or family member that you can hardly wait? You know that this news is going to bring lots of joy!...

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Glory and Praise

Have you ever seen something so awesome you don’t know what else to do but to use the most amazing words to describe it? Like seeing the Grand Canyon or a shooting star or an early morning sunrise or evening sunset....

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Made Known the Saying

Have you ever been so excited about something you saw that you had to share about it? Maybe a favorite TV show, or a movie, or a joke? Maybe something funny that happened to you, something so interesting that you had to tell others?...

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What’s So Good about the Good News?

Have you ever been excited to give someone a gift? Or maybe you recall a time someone else was about to give you a gift, and the smile all over his or her face made you happy! Here in today’s verses we find the angels, a little jittery and giddy to share this good news about this long awaited gift from God, Jesus Christ the Lord!...

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God Loves the Ordinary People

God chooses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. The shepherds in today’s passage were out keeping watch over their flock. An angel suddenly appeared to them! This was an extraordinary event; the intensity of light was overwhelming. It was so amazing and supernatural that it scared them. ...

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God Chooses Shepherds to Show His Love and Grace

Have you ever seen a flock of sheep or a shepherd? Shepherding is a tough job. It’s not only dirty; it can be dangerous! As we look at this section of scripture, I think there are several important truths to understand about the good news of Christ’s birth coming first to the shepherds. ...

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God's Plans vs Our Plans

Many may wonder what was going through Mary's mind when she was approached by the angel who announced, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28) She was probably afraid and confused. Anyone would have been. ...

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God’s Promise about Bethlehem

Has anyone ever made a promise to you? Did you know that God made a promise that His son would be born in Bethlehem? In fact the exact details of Jesus' birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection have all been promised and have and will all be fulfilled because God is a promise maker and promise keeper!...

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Joseph Went Up

Have you ever hiked up a mountain? What’s the longest hike you ever did? One mile? Five? Ten? Joseph hiked about ninety miles! Since Bethlehem was at a higher elevation than his hometown in Nazareth, Joseph, along with Mary, would have made an uphill journey to be registered in the census. ...

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Bethlehem bound

What thought comes to mind when you think of Joseph? Is he just a minor figure in the whole Christmas story? Scripture tells us he was a righteous man from the bloodline of David, and he was betrothed to Mary....

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A Decree Went Out

Have you ever been told to do something? Maybe a boss or an overseer gave you an order? Maybe as a child you had a dad or mom who told you to do something, regardless whether you liked it or not? ...

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Nothing but God

Here we are at the last verse of I John. It seems like a a good place for a final summary or a statement of good wishes to John’s reader, and yet, he gives one more warning. It even seems to open a new topic. This is the first time John has mentioned idols. ...

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That You May Know

The Gospel of John was written for non-Christians and new Christians. Yet the letters and the Gospel have much the same purpose. John 20:31 says, “these [stories about Jesus] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Here in I John, he writes that he has written to give us confide...

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Sin: Will You or Won't You?

Some people are known for a trait or characteristic that is so consistent it's impossible to imagine him or her without it. You might have a friend you think of as “the funny one,” but do you think he's never been sad in his life? Do you think the person you think of as “the honest one” has never, ever lied?...

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Praying for others

Here's another passage Bible experts argue about. What is a “sin that leads to death”? It could be sin that leads to physical death; in other words, there's no point in praying for those who have already faced God's judgment. It could be a sin for which the sinner won't or can't repent; elsewhere, the New Testament says it's impossible to be forgiven for “blaspheming...

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Effective Prayer

If a co-worker or classmate volunteered to do part of a group project you hate, would you say no? If your kid begged to have broccoli for dessert, would you insist on candy? Of course not! When someone wants to do something that fits your plans and desires, you say yes. God is the same way. When we ask for something He already wants for us, He gives it to us....

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Believing God's Word

When you click a link to a news article, what tells you whether the reporting is accurate? If you think the organization that publishes the article is trustworthy, you will probably believe their news. In a similar way, if you read something you think is truth, it’s a point in favor of the author...

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Water and Blood

This might be a confusing passage to you. What did “coming by water and blood” mean to John? Even Bible experts disagree about what exactly John is talking about. This is an opportunity to “test the spirits,” as John instructed us earlier. As you think about these verses, remember that it must agree with what we believe about Jesus Christ...

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Rules and Regulations

The United States Code, the list of all the laws passed by the federal government, is 22 million words long. That doesn't include all of the state, county, and city laws that apply to you. You might also have professional standards, HOA regulations, and house or family rules to obey. Do you feel oppressed yet? That's a lot of rules! So many you couldn't possibly read them...

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Doers of the Word

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 1 John 5:1-2 Yesterday I wrote about what life can be like in a close, happy family. Not every family is like that, and to those with a pai...

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Family

Some of you visited family or friends last week for Thanksgiving. Maybe you met a new little baby who belongs to a loved one. Even if you had never met that baby before, you could probably say you loved him or her. How? The baby never did anything for you. You didn't know if you would get along with the child. But you love the parents, so you also love the child....

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Can’t let it go

I know a mother who, every year when her kids left for college, would give them a “mom talk,” reminding them to work hard, but more importantly to love God, love their churches, and obey God. Eventually her children started pre-empting her talk by giving themselves the “mom talk.” They knew it so well, they could recite it themselves....

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Love and Fear

Ultimately, John says love is what keeps us from fear. When we love God (shown by confessing Christ and obeying him) and love your neighbors, these are the signs that we abide in God and they give us confidence in our salvation....

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What are you afraid of?

Do you have lepidopterophobia? That’s fear of butterflies. Some people really are afraid of butterflies, but clearly butterflies aren’t objectively threatening or dangerous. For most people, fearing tiny colorful winged insects seems pretty ridiculous....

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Who we are and what we’ve seen

John summarizes the gospel here again in this verse. This time he emphasizes the idea of telling others - testifying. But who is “we”? John has previously referred to himself and the other apostles and disciples (the church leaders) as “we.” And that would makes sense here....

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What is Love?

You can use the word “love” for a lot of things. The way you feel about your family. Your tennis score. Your favorite food. An attraction to a crush. Even some harsh discipline might be “tough love.”...

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The Spirit of Truth

When a group of my old friends get together, we talk about things like “shimmy pops” and “the gator car.” Does that make any sense to you? I doubt it. We have our own shared language of inside jokes, phrases, and topics that remind us of the experiences we have had together. Maybe your friends or family have your own “secret language” that only makes sense to y...

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The Power of Children

We all know the saying “out of the mouths of babes”...

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The Gospel Standard, part 2

Yesterday we started to look at the standard John gives us for testing the spirits, that the Spirit of God “confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” The name Jesus Christ shows us that Jesus was both God and man. Now, what does it mean that He “has come in the flesh.”...

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The Gospel Standard, Part 1

Judges evaluate legal cases according to the law; editors evaluate writing according to a style book that sets out grammar and usage standards. These kinds of professionals have an objective standard to make sure they are making the right choices. They don’t have to depend on their own opinions or try to create their own rules....

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Test the Spirits

You hear about God every Sunday at church, but that’s not the only place you encounter teaching about spiritual things. You might hear a spiritual message from a friend or family member, or see an article posted on Facebook, or get a new book for devotions. Which ones are true? Can you tell?...

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Believing in Jesus and loving one another are two sides of the same coin. John can't stop writing about it! Think back to the beginning of the book. Everything John wrote about remembering the gospel is the “believing” half of the commandment. We can't believe in Jesus if we don't understand who He is, what He did, and how we can be saved....

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The Spirit, God’s Gift

When John writes about obeying God's commandment, it's easy to start to feel that salvation is earned through obedience. Like you'll only feel confident about your status with God if you can be “good enough.”...

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Love and Believe

John tells us the confidence we can have in our salvation comes from obeying God, and he specifically lists one commandment: to believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another....

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God Knows

As we saw yesterday, it’s easy...

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Confidence before God

Do you ever wonder if you are really a Christian? Or if you have really been forgiven? John’s readers wondered this too! As we have seen already, John sets the bar high for holiness. He has said that Christians must be as pure as God is (I John 3:3), that no one who knows God can keep on sinning (I John 3:6), and that we should lay down our lives for our fellow believers...

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Faith and Action

As believers who have been made righteous by Jesus’ death and resurrection, will we continue to sin before Jesus returns? The answer is clearly yes, as discussed back in chapter 1. ...

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Choosing Rebellion

John paints a clear picture that this particular kind of rebellion against God and knowing God is not a matter of degrees. It is not gray. One cannot rebel against God just a little. John stands firm on the fact that this is a black and white issue....

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Transformation Now and Later

In the beginning of chapter three, John introduces an eschatological perspective. Eschatology is the study of the end times. In the Christian scripture, the end times have a distinctly “already” but “not yet” paradox. That is, in Jesus, we already have access to the righteousness and eternal living that we will experience in heaven...

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Receiving the Gift

Have you ever felt very undeserving of a gift? Maybe you won a prize that you didn’t think you worked hard enough for. Maybe your sibling forgave you even though you probably didn’t deserve forgiveness. Maybe you missed the mark of perfection, but someone told you, “I love you anyway.”...

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Meeting God’s Standard

Have you ever heard the phrase “setting the bar high”? If you are trying to see who is the best basketball player in your group of friends, you might determine who makes the most points. ...

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Resting in the Truth

Do you ever feel like following God’s will is a bit confusing? It may even feel like you are wearing a blindfold sometimes, trying to maneuver the obstacles of life. And it sure doesn’t help when you have a crowd of voices yelling in your ear where to go. ...

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Stick with It

Have you ever played the game “Telephone”? It starts with one person whispering a phrase into a friend’s ear. And then that friend tries to whisper the same phrase into the next person’s ear. People keep passing on the phrase until the final player announces out loud what he or she heard. Sounds easy, right?...

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The Most Important Thing

What is the most important thing to put our faith in as Christians? The answer is a lot simpler than people often realize. The answer is one man: Jesus Christ. He is the key, the anchor, the most important piece of the Christian faith....

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Set Apart

Do you have a special spot for your favorite things? Maybe you put them on a shelf in your room or a secret box under your bed. Maybe you take them out to look at occasionally or like to show them to your friends....

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Separated from God’s people

Who is the antichrist? Have you ever heard this word before? Well, John’s original readers had. In Jewish writings, there was predicted to be a powerful figure called the antichrist who was against God, as well as several antichrists before this last one. Both the last powerful antichrist and all of the smaller antichrists before him had one goal: to deceive people about...

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Living on God

What are some things you need to survive? Do you need food, water, and shelter? What are some other things you desire for a healthy life? Maybe you desire friends, family, a good education, a car to get around? Is it wrong to desire these things? ...

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Dangerous Desires

What are some of your favorite things that God has created? Do you have a favorite mountain, type of animal, or even person? ...

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Opposites

Can you think of some of the most well known pairs of opposites in the world? For example, black and white, day and night, hot and cold. ...

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Growing in Truth

John desires to encourage ALL Christians by reminding them of these truths! They truly do know God because of the lessons of verses 12-14, which were taught by Jesus Christ himself. ...

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Certainty

Do you ever have times of uncertainty regarding your faith? Maybe you sometimes question if you will really go to heaven when you die. Maybe you get discouraged that God could really love and forgive you after all the times you have messed up....

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Love is of Light

Do you sometimes struggle to treat your brother, sister, or friend with love even though you really do love them? When are the times that are the most difficult to treat them with love? ...

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A God of Love

Yesterday we discussed the importance of obeying God’s commandments as revealed to us in Jesus Christ Himself, in order to really know who God is. In verses 7-11 John sheds light on one of the most significant ways we can show obedience to God. ...

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Commandments

In verses 3 through 6, John makes it pretty clear that “to know” God is related to keeping His commandments. What does this mean though? What does knowing God have to do with obeying His commandments?...

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Atoning Sacrifice

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I would take a bullet for you?” Have you ever had a friend or family member sacrifice something for you so that you would not be in danger? ...

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Advocate

Last week we discussed how God is so faithful and just to forgive our sins if we ask Him for this forgiveness. But once we realize this truth, a reasonable question to ask is, “Can I just keep sinning if God will forgive me anyway?” ...

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Grace Abounds

...the good news is that all we have to do is trust Jesus to forgive us and He will make us into a completely new creation! ...

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All People Sin

It is important to admit that we have all sinned and that our punishment for sinning is death. But the best news of all is that if we admit our need for help, then all we have to do is receive the medicine...

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Light is Truth

Have you ever heard the phrase, “She talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk”? This means that someone’s actions aren’t lining up with what she claims to believe. This is very similar to how John refers to the illustration of light in vs. 7. ...

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Fellowship in Light

Have you ever been “it” for the pool game Marco Polo? Isn’t it odd to be so separated from everyone else who can see when you are supposed to tag them with your eyes closed? It can easily feel discouraging, like you will never be able find anyone else to tag. ...

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God is Light

Have you ever noticed how different light and darkness are from each other? At night when you lie down in the darkness to fall asleep, even the smallest of nightlights can seem bright!...

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Joy

Can you remember a time you got to hold a newborn baby in your arms? Can you remember or imagine the moment you will get to hold your very own baby in your arms for the first time? It might make you wonder what that precious new child will be like when they grow up or what all they will get to do in their lives. ...

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Fellowship

Yesterday we talked about the importance of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. What is John’s reason for sharing the good news? In verse 3, John explains that it is “so that you too may have fellowship with us.”...

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Response

Are there moments in your life that are just too amazing to keep to yourself? Maybe you find sunsets to be the most beautiful sight in the world! Maybe you think nothing is more precious than a newborn baby’s laugh. Maybe roller coasters give you the biggest thrill ever! ...

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The Author’s Authority

Has a friend ever told you a story that was so outrageous you questioned whether it could be true? Maybe before you believed the story you needed to ask, “Did you really see this with your own eyes?” This is probably how people felt about the gospel, or the good news, of Jesus Christ, which we talked about yesterday. This good news sounds too good to be true!...

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Those Who Wander Away

God loves it when we care for others. Especially those who are stumbling in sin. As God’s people we are called to be aware of the needs of others. This is what it means to be selfless. We are constantly thinking about others....

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God Answers Prayer

Do you sometimes find it hard to believe that prayer really works? Does God actually respond to what we ask of him?...

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Power in Prayer

The kind of prayer that God loves to hear is the prayer of the righteousness. This does not mean that you have to be perfectly righteous in order to pray. If that was the case you’d never get started in prayer! ...

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The Prayer of Faith

When was the last time you were really sick? Do you remember? It’s never fun to be sick. Most adults hate to be sick. Our lives have to be put on hold. On the other hand, sometimes kids like to be sick because they get to stay home from school! What do you think about that?...

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An Awareness of His Presence

Do you ever feel like your parents are all always watching? They are aware of your every move? Maybe if you are younger this is case, but as you get older this should feel different as they help you learn what true independence as an adult is really like. One day, we all move out of our parent’s house (hopefully) and learn to live on our own....

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Yes and No

Have you ever had someone not believe what you were telling them? Did you ever try and convince them that you were telling the trust by saying something like, “I swear!” or, “I swear on my mother’s grave!” or, “I promise you that I am not lying!”...

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Steadfast = Blessing

Have you ever competed in a competition that was very physically taxing? Have you ever been pushed to the limit of your ability? Have you every been in a contest that made you want to quit, but you finally endured to the end? How did that make you feel when you finished?...

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Grumbling Makes it Worse

One of the things that usually accompanies the stress of suffering is a willingness to be short, cross, or biting with the people around us. You’d think that when we were suffering it would be in our best interest to help each other and encourage one another, but sadly, this is often not the case....

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Established Hearts

What do you think James means by “establish your hearts”? One way to consider this this phrase would be “strengthen your hearts”. Does that help your understanding of what James might be trying to communicate? He is calling his people press into right living in the midst of trial....

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Farmers and Fruit

We have already talked a bit about farmers in one of our devotionals from a few days ago, but James brings up the subject again in our verse for today. Farming is challenging work for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that it demands a high degree of patience. How do you feel about patience?...

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They Do Not Resist

Sometimes poor people have no one to defend them. They might not have many friends or if they do have friends those friend are poor too. Usually those who are poor don’t have anyone on their side who is powerful, with the exception of God. He is as powerful as it gets....

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Treasures on Earth

There was once a man who had everything. All of his needs were met and much more beyond. He has 12 cars. A house in Montana and Florida (who want to live in Montana in the winter?) and his very own private jet so that we could fly all over the world anytime he wanted to. He had jewelry so that everyone would see how wealthy he was by just looking at what hung around his ne...

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Corruption and Oppression

Oftentimes in our world today, people with money mistreat those who don’t have as much money. It’s really a sad reality. But it happens all the time. As we have already seen, money and corrupt us with pride. We can be tempted to think that we are better than someone else because of our wealth. This is pure sin that James and rest of the Bible speak quite often about....

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Rotted and Moth-Eaten

Do you know what a hearse is? A hearse is a special type of car that is used to carry a dead body that rests in a coffin. A hearse is usually used to transport a body from a funeral home to a place of burial, like a cemetery. Now how odd would you think it would be to see a UHaul trailer being filled with all the dead person’s stuff being pulled by a hearse? Wouldn’...

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A Day of Reckoning

In our devotions for this week are we going to look at a section in the book of James where he speaks some hard words. His audience is a bit hard-hearted so oftentimes hard-hearted people hard words are necessary (think Jesus vs. the Pharisees)....

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Do the Right Thing

There are two main ways to think about sin. One is to think about sin as things we do. These are called sins of commission. We talk about “committing” a sin. You can hear the connection here with the word “commission”. To commit a sin is to do a sin of commission. For example, if you smack someone you would be committing the sin of disrespect. If you steal from som...

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Boasting and Arrogance

Do you know what the word “arrogant” means? Imagine someone who says, “I am the greatest! There is no one like me. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. No one can stop me because I am so powerful.”...

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If the Lord Wills

This simple phrase is great reminder. It reminds us that we are not sovereign. It reminds us that we are not in control. It reminds us that if things don’t work out as we planned that it’s ok. God must have had different ideas for us for our good. It reminds us that God’s will should be our focus no matter what we are planning....

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A Mist

Does it ever feel like your life is moving very slowly? Maybe the school year creeps along too slowly. Maybe you are on a long road trip and you just can’t get to the destination fast enough. Maybe you daydream about when you are older and can do things that adults do but it seems like you’ll never be there. Ever feel that way?...

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“What Are We Going To Do Today?”

We all love to make plans. “What are we going to do today?” “Where should we go on our trip?” “Where should we spend the weekend?” These would all be common questions in a family. It’s not wrong to make plans but James wants us to think about it a bit differently....

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Don’t Judge

There are many different roles that people play in our lives. Our teachers teach. Our police officers try to keep us safe from harm. Our government officials make laws to help society run smoothly. There are many different roles for people in our world and for that we should be thankful....

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Submit, Resist, Draw Near, and Humble Yourself

Do you want to feel close to God? Oftentimes we can feel like God is far away from us. Maybe we feel that he is not listening or that he doesn’t care. We wonder if there is anyone out there or if maybe God has abandoned us....

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A Recipe for Chaos

Can you think of a scary opponent that you would not like to face off against in a competition? Would you like to play basketball against Lebron James? How about trying to tackle Adrian Peterson in football? Do you think you could hit a pitch from the best major league pitcher? How about trying to win a footrace against Usain Bolt?...

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Worldly Asking

Imagine you are a parent. You kids love to ask you for things. In fact, they come to you over and over again to ask you for things they want. It’s like they are little, never ending “ask” machines as constant requests are always at on the tips of their tongues....

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The Reason Why We Fight

Have you ever been in a fight with your brothers or sisters? (If you don’t have any brothers or sisters, just imagine for a second.) What was it about? What happened? How was is resolved? In any family conflict is normal. The key thing to remember when it comes to conflict is not if but why. If we can identify why it is we are in conflict with one another, we might be th...

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A Harvest

Do you know how a farm works? For a farmer who has a large plot of land, he usually grows some type of food plant, like corn, beans, or wheat. The farmer hopes that there is much sun and rain during the summer so his plants can grow tall and strong. Once his plant produces the food it will be harvested. In our verse for today James talks about a harvest as well. It’s a h...

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Wisdom from Above

Godly wisdom is not just words. It looks like something concrete. It is revealed in a certain type of character. Notice again that all the things that James lists here are not about intelligence but rather, fruits of the Spirit. This type of wisdom has a source, a location. It must be given....

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A Recipe for Chaos

Do you know what chaos is? Most likely, your bedroom is in a constant state of chaos from clean to utter disaster. Chaos means lack of order. Everything is out of place. Everything is random. Everything is unstructured....

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Wisdom for Demons

Do you think it is possible to have a completely different understand of wisdom than someone else? Maybe you think it is wise to save money and your friend thinks that what is more wise is to spend money as soon as you get it. People might not always agree on what is most wise....

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Intelligence vs. Wisdom

What do you think of when it comes to those in your life who are wise? What does wisdom look like? Many people think of an old man with a long beard who sits silently in the corner and will speak once in awhile. When he does it is always profound and his words are chalked full of deep insight. But is the ability to speak a message of profound insight into any number of si...

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Speaking to the Likeness of God

Imagine you had the opportunity to visit the president of the United States at the White House. Wouldn’t that be exciting? How do you think you would speak to him? Would you be loud and mouthy? Would you be cracking jokes? Would you ask him to hook you up with a souvenir from the oval office?...

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Blessing and Cursing

Sometimes politicians get a bad wrap. They have a tough job. They know that if they can make a certain number of people happy they will get elected. But that can be very hard to do. Because of this they can be accused of “talking out both sides of their mouth.” What this means is that they say one thing to make a certain group of voters happy and then to a different gr...

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Deadly Poison

What do you think is the most devastating power known to man? A flood? A tornado? A forest fire? A hurricane? An avalanche? ...

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Big Things in Small Packages

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Big things come in small packages”? Oftentimes, it is true. Have you ever been to a dog park? In a big group of dogs it’s not always the biggest dog who is the toughest. Sometimes it’s the small dog who runs the show. Small dog but big influence and control....

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A Warning About Words

Words are a huge part of human existence. Can you imagine how dramatically your life would change if you couldn’t talk or couldn’t hear? Through words we build relationships, we learn from teachers, we run businesses, and encourage one another. Think of how hard your life would be without being able to communicate in words. ...

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Fulfilling the Law

This section of scripture is a bit hard to understand because it seems to say that opposite of what we are all taught as Christians. We are taught to believe that we are made right with God (justified) by his sheer grace and mercy alone. Our works don’t do anything to contribute to our justification. So what is the meaning of verse 24? ...

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True Faith, True Action

If you want to prove that you are right about something what do you have to do? Oftentimes, you have to produce what is called, “proof” or “evidence”....

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“I Believe!”

Did you know that Satan and his demons know the truth about God? That might sound like a horrible statement, but according to our verse for today it is most certainly true. How does that work?...

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Real Compassion

Do you know anyone who is poor or has ever been poor? Have you ever seen a poor person on the street or been approached by someone in dire need? Maybe your own family or someone in your extended family is currently in a situation like this or has been in the past....

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Good Trees and Good Fruit

What would you think of someone who said they loved you but they constantly made fun of you in front of other people? What would you think of someone who said they were passionate about caring for orphans but never gave their time or a single dollar towards the needs of orphans in the real world? ...

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Mercy Begets Mercy

Imagine you disobeyed your parents in way that deserved a just punishment. Let’s say you were very disrespectful to them in front of your friends. But instead of getting what you deserved they decided to bless you instead. Wouldn’t that be amazing? ...

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True Liberty

Do you know what the word “liberty” means? How would you define it? Sometimes it’s helpful to understand a word by considering it’s opposite. The opposite of liberty would be confinement. If you are confined to your house you are not at liberty to go anywhere else. So to be liberated or at liberty means that you are set free....

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Pass/Fail

When you take a test at school, how is it usually graded? 60-70% is a D, 70-80% is a C, 80-90% is a B, and 90-100% is an A. Our American schools usually operate on this type of system or a variation thereof....

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Fulfilling the Law

Have you ever felt left out? Have you ever felt singled out as weird? Have you ever felt like someone that you cared about was giving you the cold shoulder for some silly reason? Have you ever felt like the last to find out something important? Have you felt mistreated in these ways?...

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Treating People with Equality

Have you ever felt like people were treating you different than others? Have you ever felt like you were mistreated because of a belief that you had, or for the clothes you were wearing, or because of something you said?...

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Keep Oneself Unstained

Have you ever had a hard time keeping track of something like your phone, your books, maybe a wallet or keys? It’s really important that we keep track of things that matter the most. James says that we need to “keep ourselves unstained from the world.” ...

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Visiting Orphans

Have you ever been visited when you were in a hospital? Or visited someone when they were sick? Sometimes that is one of the most important things you can do for someone who is sick or hurting. Just being near them tells them that you care. ...

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God the Father

Have you heard your dad ask the rest of the family to help out around the house or to assist someone who was sick?...

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Undefiled Before God

Have you ever got your clothes really dirty? The only way to get them clean is to wash them. Did you know that God washes our sin away, through His Son, Jesus Christ? T...

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Orphans and Widows

Who do you think are the most needy people in your city? Single moms? Drug addicts? The unemployed? The homeless? In the world of the New Testament, the most needy people were widows and orphans. ...

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Restraining the Tongue

What would you think of a person like this: They sit in the front row at church every week and take notes when the sermon is preached. They serve at the local homeless shelter once a week. They always attend their mid-week small group and they never fail to give sacrificially to the church. Oh, and one more thing, ...

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Put Away and Receive

Do you know what a contrast is? A contrast is putting two different things side by side and by seeing them together it becomes clear how different they are....

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Hearers vs. Doers

It’s easy to forget things sometimes. You lose your keys. You lose your phone. You lose you coat. You lose that book that you read a long time ago. It’s easy to forget. But what if your forgetting became more serious. Sometimes this is called amnesia. ...

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Quick!

Being quick is a great attribute to have, especially in sports. In football, basketball, and soccer having athletic quickness will give you a great advantage. Quickness can get you to the ball first, it can help you make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage, it can help you cut off an advancing player...

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Word of Truth

Did you know that each Sunday when you go to church, the Word of Truth is being taught in our main services and in our kids’ classes? The Word of Truth is the Bible. It’s the life-giving message of Jesus! ...

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Desires Lead to Sin and Sin to Death

Desires and temptation are not necessarily bad. It’s acting on those desires and temptations that are truly sinful. We live in a fallen world. One day, for those are in Christ, we won’t even have sinful desires or temptations, for we’ll have completely different bodies and minds. We long for that day when Jesus returns, makes all things right, and gives us a new home...

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Temptation

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (James 1:14). What do you desire? What do you truly want? What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about those questions?Our verse today says that our temptations reside in the area of our desires. There are things that we want and we want them badly. We feel like we have to have ...

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No Tempter

Sometimes in our lives our suffering is very great. It feels impossible to bear. We feel like we might explode or go crazy. In these times, for some people, we might want to blame God and accuse him of sending something into our lives to cause us to sin against him. ...

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God’s Promises

Do you know anyone who has ever backed out on a promise they made to you? How did that make you feel? What did you say to them? What happened in your relationship with them?...

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True Blessing

Oftentimes enduring a huge challenge provides a great reward. Consider a marathon runner. Finishing a 26.2 mile course in 4-5 hours is not easy....

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Firstfruits

Do you have a garden at your house? Or have you ever been to a farm? Gardeners and farmers often watch how their fruits and vegetables are growing in the middle of July. This is usually when the garden or farm plot begins to produce food to eat....

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Born Again

How did you become a Christian? Becoming a Christian involves hearing the truth of the Gospel, turning from sin, trusting in Jesus for salvation, and desired to follow him by faith. ...

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No Shifting Shadows

One of the greatest things about God is that he is immutable. That is a big, fancy bible word that means God never changes. His love for us will not change. His hatred of evil will not change. And his ability to control all things for our good will not change....

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Good Gifts That Don’t Always Feel Good

Have you ever been told to take your medicine? Cold medicine can taste really gross but you knew that it would help you feel much better. Sometimes people say “take your medicine!” as a way of saying that doing something hard now will help for things to be better in the future....

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Can’t Trust in Riches

Why do you think James would write that a lowly brother (meaning someone who is poor) is exalted and a rich brother is humiliated?...

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Stable and Unstable Faith

James says, that when we doubt God, we are unstable. The writer of Hebrews says that it’s impossible to please God if you doubt him. (Heb 11:6). This doesn’t mean that we can never ask questions or struggle with disbelief something in scripture. James is not asking us to check our brains at the door before we try to worship God, but rather he is telling us it’s we wi...

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Rock Tumblers and Results

James says.. “let steadfastness have it’s full effect” This is an exhortation to trust and submit to God’s work in through you. Our heavenly father, wants us to the see the full-effect of what these trials are producing....

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Strong and Stable

Do you know anyone who changes their mind all the time? They can never be nailed down on a decision. Maybe they are anxious because they fear the consequences of making the wrong choice. Do you ever feel that way?...

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North Valley Honey, Hot Wax and Holiness

James says holiness is a process. The phrase “testing of your faith” literally means a refinement process. It’s a rare phrase that is used only once in the NT (I Pet 1:7) and twice in the OT.(Ps 12:6, Prv 27:21). The idea is that holiness is a refinement process....

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A Wave of the Sea

Ever been on a boat? A big one or a small one? Have you even been in a boat when there was a strong wind or storm? Most people who spend significant time on the water know that when you are caught in a storm out at sea, it can be a very scary experience. The water is tossed around in violent crashes that can seem rather erratic and unstable. Does that sound fun to you?...

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Trials are Like the Potholes in Arkansas

James tells us to expect trials. He doesn’t tell us to go looking for them, but tells how to think and respond in the midst of them. The phrase “when you meet” literally can translated as “when you fall into trials.” ...

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Generous Wisdom

Do you love to give? Is giving gifts easy for you? Do you know anyone who you would consider a real giver? Someone who just loves to selflessly give of their time, talents, money, or resources?...

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Mountain Top Thinking of Joy

To “Count it all Joy” I think we must take this to mean we need perspective. We need to not simply see the present pain and trial, but we must see our circumstances from a supernatural perspective, and eternal perspective. ...

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God’s Goal for Us

Do you have goals for your life? What would some of those be? To get a good job when you grow up? Get good grades? Get really good at sports, music, or another hobby? Goals are great things to have because they help us focus on achievement in our lives. We should thank God for all that he enables us to do by his grace....

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Re-thinking Joy

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, - James 1:2, ESV When I first read this passage, I was perplexed. I was wondering how could I do this? I’ve discovered in my studies that If I understand joy simply as a feeling, I will not be able to find the joy that James speaks of; but James here in the text doesn’t command me to feel a certai...

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Joy in Suffering

Try to remember a time in your life that was really hard. Do you have something in mind? Ok, now reflect upon your emotions during that time. How did you feel? Angry, sad, grumpy, distraught, or, violent?...

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James: The Servant of Jesus

I can imagine that as James penned his letter, he recalled his transformation from being the family’s biggest Jesus-skeptic to a super strong Jesus-believing preacher! He had to laugh a laugh of humility!...

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What is Servant Leadership?

At North Valley we define servant leadership as “taking the initiative for the benefit of others.” It’s a style of leadership that takes into account others' needs and interests first and foremost....

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What Was The Dispersion?

One of the themes of the book of James is that his audience was suffering persecution, and we know this because of the word Dispersion. ...

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James: The Skeptical Brother of Jesus

James was the brother of Jesus and the author of the Book of James. Historically, he has been called James the Just. He was also the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. But for now, I will share about him as a little brother, a skeptical brother at that....

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Servant of Who?

We talked about James being a servant. When a person is a servant that means he or she is serving someone. Do you remember what the text for today says about the person that James was serving?...

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Identity = Servant

If you were to introduce yourself to someone for the first time, how would you describe yourself? Would you say something like, “Hi there! My name is ______ and I am in ___ grade!” Or, “Hi there! My name is ______ and I am from ______.”...

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The Brother of Jesus

Do you have brothers and/or sisters? What would you think if one of them told you that they were the one and only Son or Daughter of God? Would you believe them?...

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The Point of the Book of James

Have you ever heard someone say, “Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk.” If you haven’t, what do you think it might mean?...

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LET’S DO THIS - Introduction to a New Teaching Series

Introduction to a New Teaching Series LET’S DO THIS – is a verse by verse teaching series through the book of James designed to help cultivate a life of personal holiness that is Christ-centered in every regard! My hope is that in this teaching series to provide both quality audio and written resources that would aid your understanding of God’s word i...

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Giving to God

Merry Christmas! Last night we all gathered to hear God’s word, sing, and fellowship. My son Sam had been saving up his allowance so that he could give. No one asked him to do this, but he wanted to. He has been talking about it for the last two weeks. His gift was the lion’s share of all that he has....

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The Star of Joy

What is there to be joyful about on Christmas if your heart is overwhelmed with business? What is there to be joyful about if there is no family to share it? What is there to be joyful about if finances or health is failing? Steady yourself, Christian. ...

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Come to Worship Him

It might sound crazy to leave your home in search of a king, but the wise men studied the stars and scriptures and then made a decision. They would travel a great distance to come and worship a newborn King. Their honesty is strikingly bold. ...

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Asking Questions

The wise men had very little fear. They ask questions because they are learners and not afraid of looking dumb. We have a saying at North Valley: the leaders are the learners. Learners ask questions. ...

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Step of Faith

The wise men were counselors and advisors to political leaders within the Roman Empire. These men studied astrology, dreams, sacred prophetic scriptures, and the arts of magic. At the time of the writing, Jesus had been born in the town of Bethlehem, during the reign of Herod the King...

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Confidence in God

I have good news, which I think will build your confidence. We have looked at God’s Word over the last twenty days, and we've seen how prophecies made concerning the coming Messiah have been fulfilled. ...

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King Jesus Forever

The Prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah’s kingdom would bring in peace, a peace that would have no end. This prophecy is fulfilled; from the time of Christ’s coming, the peace of God can rest in the hearts of man. Jesus is the peace for even the greatest conflict between good and evil. He is the conquering king. His rule has no end....

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King Herod’s Fury

Do you get furious? Do you have an anger issue? God’s Word tells us that “human anger does not accomplish God's righteousness” (James 1:20 NET). Who are you angry at? Is your anger solving the problem? Why are you angry?...

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Caesar Augustus: the King of Peace?

Augustus made peace where historically it had been impossible. His leadership and ingenuity led to the development and reform of the taxation system, roadways, armies, guards, mail systems, and more....

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What's the right thing to do?

As a dad of three kids, I try my best, like most parents, to teach them to do what's right. My goal is to help them become independent of me and dependent upon God. ...

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The Decree from Caesar

In the time of Christ, a decree was an authoritative legal order. If you have ever been evicted from an apartment, it was worse than that. Failure to comply with a decree would result in imprisonment, death, or at the least heavy fining. Luke’s gospel records that Caesar issued a decree that every resident within the Roman Empire should return to their home town to regis...

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Yes, Lord

Nine months before our Savior’s birth, an angel appeared to a young Jewish girl, Mary, whom Scripture describes as a virgin, engaged to a man named Joseph. Prior to that angelic visit, Mary must have felt great excitement as she anticipated her marriage. ...

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The Last Words of Christ in Heaven

As David’s greater son the Lord Jesus ultimately fulfilled this model. God’s will was fully accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ when He took on human form and completely obeyed the Lord’s good pleasure, finally to die on the cross and to be resurrected....

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Messiah

The babe in Bethlehem, whom we celebrate at Christmas, is “Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and … his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32...

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Looking at the Big Picture and Finding Hope

Scripture: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4–5, NASB) Consider: That first Christmas, all eyes were on Augustus, the cynical Caesar who demanded a census so as to determine a...

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The Way

The Bible as a whole is a set of directives pointing the way to God...

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Fatherly

Unrecognized. Unseen. Undiscovered. Nobody knows. Nobody sees. Nobody cares. As long as there is plenty of food, lots of cheer, a plethora of tinsel, and a cornucopia of gifts, everyone’s happy. Jesus? ...

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A Minor Prophet with a Major Message

Imbedded in the memory of many of us who regularly celebrate Christmas is Matthew’s quotation of Micah 5:2. “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)....

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Given by God

The prophet Isaiah once said some 700 years before the birth of Christ, that all of this was for… us! The gift was for you and for me! ...

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His Shoulders

Isaiah describes the Messiah as a king so great that he would have final authority not only over Israel (Micah 5:2) but also over the whole world. Jesus would later tell his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been to him from above, thus claiming that he fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Matthew 28:18). The Apostle Paul also wrote that God made Jesus the ...

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Wise Counselor

Here Isaiah describes the Messiah’s character with four specific names, each revealing our Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:3 says “all treasures of wisdom and knowledge rest in Christ.” ...

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Everlasting Father

Jesus Christ is everlasting, he has no end nor beginning. While he was born, he was still eternal....

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Prince of Peace

We all long for peace, from major urban epicenters to rural run down villages peace is what we want. We want freedom from disturbance; we want quiet and tranquility. We want peace from war and violence. Today we shall find this in the person and work of Christ. As we look upon the forth descriptive name of the messiah in Isaiah 9:6. The Prince of Peace. This perhaps most c...

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Empire of Grace

The birth of Jesus would fulfill God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Jesus as the Messiah would establish a Kingdom like as an empire of God’s grace. A Kingdom where God’s justice and mercy would rule and reign. An empire is…an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, ...

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The Lamb: Slain from before the Creation of the World

Christmas begins within the triune God...

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What the Christian Life Should Really Look Like...

Have you ever wondered what the Christian life should really look like? Pastor Ryan Rice, Head Pastor of North Valley Community Church, addressed that important issue in his sermon this past Sunday. ...

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Be A Regular

Day 40 - 40 Days of Outreach. Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. ...

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Faith Comes From Hearing

Day 39 - 40 Days Of Outreach. Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ....

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Children Help You

Day 38 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ...

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The Weather is a Witness

Day 37 - 40 Days of Outreach. Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork....

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Concert of Creativity

Day 36 - 40 Days of Outreach. Psalm 148:7-10 Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word, Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!...

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Mountains of Manuscripts

Day 35 - 40 Days of Outreach. ‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,...

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The Crown For Outreach

Day 34 - 40 Days Of Outreach. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NIV For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy....

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Faith Flags

Day 33 - 40 Days of Outreach. Colossians 4:5-6 ESV Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person....

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Area Of Influence

Day 32 - 40 Days of Outreach. 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭15-16‬ ESV But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence....

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More Than Spectators

Day 31 - 40 Days of Outreach. James 1:22 ESV But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves....

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Listen

Day 30 - 40 Days of Outreach Proverbs 18:13 ESV If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. ...

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Tell Your Story

Day 29 - 40 Days of Outreach Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them....

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Three R’s of Engaging Neighbors - Redemptive

Day 28 - 40 Days of Outreach 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ...

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Three R’s of Engaging Neighbors - Relevant

Day 27 - 40 Days of Outreach 1 Peter 3:15 ESV but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect...

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Three R’s of Engaging Neighbors - Right

Day 26 - 40 Days of Outreach. John 8:31-32 ESV So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ...

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The Ordinary Become Extraordinary

Day 25 - 40 Days Of Outreach. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;...

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Depend on Him

Day 24 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 6:11 ESV Give us this day our daily bread,...

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Permission to Dream

Day 23 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 13:31-32 ESV He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches....

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Use Me

Day 22 - 40 Days of Outreach Matthew 6:10 KJV Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven....

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Eternal Rest

Day 21 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ...

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Crave Milk

Day 20 - 40 Days of Outreach. 1 Peter 2:2-3 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” ...

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am·bas·sa·dor - an authorized representative or messenger

Day 19 - 40 Days of Outreach. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ESV that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God....

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DISRUPTIONS

Day 18 - 40 Days of Outreach. Proverbs 16:9 ESV The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps....

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Feel Like Your Kindness Is Taken Advantage Of?

Day 17 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 25:37-40 ESV Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did...

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Gardening for Jesus

Day 16 - 40 Days of Outreach. 1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth....

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Hope That Overcomes Suffering

Day 15 - 40 Days of Outreach. Lamentations 3:21-22 ESV But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;...

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How Are You Spending Your Dash?

Day 14 - 40 Days of Outreach. 2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT The eyes of the lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” ...

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How Is Your “OLT” (Obedience Lag Time)?

Day 13 - 40 Days of Outreach. 1 John 4:18 NLT Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love....

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Prayer-Mental Not Judgmental

Day 12 - 40 Days of Outreach. John 8:7 NLT They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"...

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God Impressions

Day 11 - 40 Days of Outreach. Colossians 4:5-6 NLT Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Paul’s Final Instructions and Greetings ...

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What or Who Are You Recommending?

Day 9 - 40 Days of Outreach. 2 Timothy 4:2 NIV Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage...

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Trust In The Lord

Day 8 - 40 Days of Outreach. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ...

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Times of Trouble

Day 7 - 40 Days of Outreach. John 16:33 ESV I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”...

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Like A Lamb

Day 6 - 40 Days of Outreach. Luke 10:3 ESV Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves...

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Don't Be a “Tool Fool”

Day 5 - 40 Days of Outreach. 1 Corinthians 12:4 NASB Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit....

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Pray For Fire

Day 4 - 40 Days of Outreach. Philippians 1:6 NASB For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus....

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Believe In Others

Day 3 - 40 Days of Outreach. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. Christian Conduct...

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Align with Design

Day 2- 40 Days of Outreach. Ephesians 2:10 NASB. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them....

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Servant Leadership

Day 1 - 40 Days of Outreach. Matthew 20:28 ESV even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus Heals Two Blind Men ...

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