Saturday, March 15, 2014

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Easter is coming soon!!!  It is on April 20th this year and it will be here before we know it!  This means a busy time of year around Sandy Ridge Wesleyan Church.  As you know, our church has a beautiful Cantata and Drama each year at Easter, and we need your help.  We will need help with set up, lighting, and you guessed it...actors to be in the Drama presentation.  Our first meeting/practice will be Sunday, March 23rd at 5:00 pm.  If you are interested or are willing to participate this year please see Katie, Gene, or Phyllis. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Christmas' Holy Night"

December 22, 2013
Christmas' Holy Night
Lamentations 3:20-26
Scott Howard

O Holy Night!  The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of Hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night devine, the night when Christ was born.

A day with Christ can change everything!

Three Truths that will give hope to you in your weary world:

1.  A new day with Christ brings exactly what you need. 
  • God is already in tomorrow and He has everything you need for tomorrow, whatever it may bring.
  • A new day with Christ always brings exactly what you need and what you need is the Presence of God.
2.  A new day with Christ brings us the hope to keep going.
  • "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."  --Hebrews 10:23
3.  A new day with Christ brings the help that you're seeking.
  • "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."  --Romans 13:11-12
"I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." --Lamentations 3:20-26

Hope has come!  Jesus Christ came and was born to a human, whom He created, to show His faithfulness and love, and to redeem us from our sins.  He is "God with Us" and when He rose from his cruel death and ascended to Heaven, He left His Holy Spirit to be with us until He returns to bring us home.  Praise God for His love, His faithfulness, His Hope!  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

God's Warning Light: Check Life Soon

November 10, 2013
"God's Warning Light: Check Life Soon"
Genesis 4:1-12
Scott Howard

"Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground.  When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.  Abel also brought a gift---the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift.  This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.  "Why are you so angry?" the Lord asked Cain.  "Why do you look so dejected?  You will be accepted if you do what is right.  But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you.  But you must subdue it and be its master."  --Genesis 4:2b-7
  • There is a difference between commands and warnings.  God's commands are clear rules.  His warnings come when we are getting close to breaking one of those rules.
  • God's warnings are Personal; they are Individual; they are also Timely.

God knew where Cain's anger was taking him, He knew the path Cain wanted to take.

When we are given these warnings from God, we are not given these warnings from an angry judge, but rather from a loving Father.

"The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for He had compassion on his people and His Temple."  --2 Chronicles 36:15

God's Blinking Warning Lights:
  • God will send you His Word at just the right time.  There is a supernatural power in the Bible that will bring the Word of God to your mind at times you really need it.
  • God gives us the examples of others who go before us. We are warned through the lives of others when we see where their decisions lead them.
  • God will use the words of someone in your life.  Your family and friends know you.  Your first reaction may be to get defensive, but maybe God put them in your life for a reason, and maybe He is using them to speak to you.
  • And maybe the very thing you're most defensive about is really the thing you need to pay the most attention to. 
  • A sample of future consequences.  Sometimes He will allow you to trip up and feel a small set of consequences before you mess up really big so you'll be wary of the big consequences.
  • The supernatural leading from God.  We may call this a coincidence, chance, or fate.  Maybe you are deterred from doing something altogether so that you would not have to make a poor decision.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Are You Amazed? Or Do You Really Have Faith?

November 3, 2013
"Are You Amazed? Or Do You Really Have Faith?"
Mark 6:45-52
Scott Howard

  • Ministry is to become your life
  • How does God shape faith in us so that, as we embrace Him by faith and we live by faith, we then become useful tools in His hands?
"Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  [after feeding the five thousand]  After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.  About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.  He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.  They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.  Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I.  Don't be afraid."  Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened."
--Mark 6:45-52
  • There is a significant difference between amazement and faith.  For example: you can be amazed at rollercoasters, airplanes, new inventions, but still not trust them or put your faith in them.
  • The disciples weren't just to be informed; they were to be transformed by His grace.
Devine Power + Devine Compassion = Everything You Need
  • There is a God of Awesome Power who, because of Devine Compassion, has invaded my life, and that means He will Deliver to me all things that I need. 
  • Jesus wanted the disciples in this seemingly impossible and dangerous moment. Mk 6:45.  It was part of His plan, He was not surprised by the storm.  He knew how self reliant we humans are, and wanted them to have faith in Him, not just be amazed by His works.
  • God will take us where we have not intended to go in order to produce in us what we could not achieve on our own.
               A theology of uncomfortable Grace: God's grace will come to you in uncomfortable times.
               The Grace of refinement: being loved, being changed, and being rescued.
  • in verse 48, Jesus went to them.  He could have just told the storm to stop, but he wanted them to know that He will take care of them through any storm. 
  • God is not so much after your situation as He is after you.
  • Amazement is a function of the brain.  Faith is an investment of the heart that changes the way you live.
  • The problem with many of us is we're all too easily satisfied.  It's possible to believe in Jesus and still have a hard heart; a heart resistant to the redemptive change that comes from faith in Jesus. Mk 6:52
  • I don't become a better me; I become, by grace, a radically different me.
It is definitely amazing what God can do, but it can be even more amazing what He can do through people who put their faith and trust in Him!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Deep Yearning

October 20, 2013
"A Deep Yearning"
Habakkuk 3:1-4
Scott Howard

"A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on shigionoth (musical term).  Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Oh Lord.  Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.  God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.  His glory covered the heavens, and his praise filled the earth.  His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden."  Habakkuk 3:1-4

There is a huge difference between being captivated BY someone and being captivated by what someone can DO.

As believers in Christ, the call is to do both: To be captivated by what our God can DO, but also to be captivated by WHO our God is.

Horizontal Theology - what God does: the blessings given to us, the people and relationships around us.

Vertical Theology - who God is: the very nature of God and why He chooses to bless us.

  • Yearning is birthed out of two places:
  1. The things God has spoken
  2. Getting caught up in the Goodness of God
The Church today is good at acknowledging the things God does, but not as good at marveling at Who He is.

Two bothersome things:
  1. Biblical illiteracy  (if we don't know His Word, how will we know His character?)
  2. This type of yearning for Jesus is just such a rare thing.  (When we see someone with this all-consuming yearning for Jesus, we almost label them "weird".)
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."  Proverbs 14:12

Why this lack of longing? Why this lack of desire? Why this lack of zeal?
Two primary reasons:

1.  Gospel-assaulting lies
  • We believe we're not good enough and can't come to Him.  But the truth is, we aren't good enough, but we can come to Him!
  • We believe we don't need Jesus.   The truth is, whether we have not yet come to Him, or we have, everyone needs Jesus.
2.  We don't understand the Cross fully
  • we just don't know what we're missing
Even if we've grown up in church and know the talk and know the game and can go through the motions, we may know about God and not know who He is. 

Do we really desire to have a deeper understanding of the all powerful, loving and merciful God who saved us?  Most of the time we know more about celebrities, movies, hunting, sports, crafts, etc. than we do about God.  It takes time to learn about things that interest us.  Truthfully, if we don't know much about God, it is because we just don't want to take the time to learn.  God wants us to want a relationship with Him.  May we start yearning, longing, desiring to learn more about God and to grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Be Motivated to a Future Hope of Glory

October 13, 2013
"Be Motivated to a Future Hope of Glory"
Romans 8:31-39
Scott Howard

What motivates God's people?

Five truths for God's people on their journey to Glory:

1.  Because God is our Sovereign Protector all of our enemies will fail!  Romans 8:28-30

We have three great enemies:
  • the world
  • our flesh
  • Satan and all of his demonic forces
So how do you determine if God is For you (on your side)?
  • Do you love God?
  • Is your life in alignment with the purposes of God, or is your life in rebellion to His purposes?
2.  Because God is our Supreme Provider, all of our needs will be met! Romans 8:32

As Christ followers, we are always compelled to look to the Cross.  God gave up His own Son for us all.  If we can trust Him for our salvation, then we can trust Him to bring into our lives only that which is good for us.

3.  Because of God's Ultimate Ruling, we will never be found guilty!  Romans 8:33

When we accept His gift of salvation through Christ's sacrifice, God removes our rebellion and imparts Christ's righteousness on us.

4.  Because of God's Saving Work in Christ for us, we will never be condemned!  Romans 8:34

The passage asks who is to condemn us.  The answer given in the passage is simply that Jesus Christ has completely saved His people.  Romans 8:1

5.  Because of God's Love in Christ for us, our hope of Glory is certain!  Romans 8:37-39

You see, it is not that we won't ever face hardships or bad times in our journey, but that we have God's protection, provision, saving grace and love through it all!  So we will have victory in the midst of our trials, along with the confidence of our future hope of Glory.

What great news we can (and ought to) share with others!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Purpose of the Cross in You / (Part #2)

October 6, 2013
The Purpose of the Cross in You / (Part #2)
1 Corinthians 9
Scott Howard

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the daily routine of living that we actually miss the ultimate reason for life.

If you are a follower of Jesus you have been saved for a Purpose: for the enjoyment of God and the spread of the Gospel from where you live to the ends of the earth.

Three Exhortations for Followers of Jesus Christ:

1.  Let's Relinquish our rights for the sake of the Gospel. 
(This was from Part #1 of this message, please see the previous sermon posting for details regarding this particular exhortation).

2.  Let's Rearrange our lives for the spread of the Gospel
  • Jesus saving you frees you to be a slave
  • We are freed by Jesus to be slaves of God
  • We are obligated to obey
In our text, Paul changes from language about rights to language about freedom starting in verse 19.  And he defines what he means by letting us know that all kinds of people around us need to be saved, so we should make adjustments to our lives in order to be a slave to that purpose of sharing the Good News to others.
  • Follower of Jesus, because you are owned by Christ, you owe Christ to the world.  (He purchased our debt on the Cross).
  • "God's gracious conversion of us creates a Gospel compulsion in us."  --David Platt
  • Salvation leads to mission
  • We are free to be slaves of others (v.22)
  • We willingly commit our lives, our families, and our church to this mission. (v.23)
  • We lay aside all of our comforts for the spread of the Gospel.  We should not seclude ourselves in a "Christian Cocoon", that would be hoarding Christ all to ourselves and would be directly opposite His mission.
  • We can't disconnect the two: being saved, and sharing salvation with others.
3.  Let's run this race together for the Glory of our God

Paul uses runners in a race as an example of our purpose.  Runners run for a purpose, for a prize.

The Requirements in this race:
  • Sacrificial Self-Denial -- a runner does not indulge himself in anything that would hinder his progress or his training. (v.25)
  • Stringent Self-Discipline -- a runner keeps control over his body (v.27)
  • Single-Minded Devotion --there is one goal, one prize (v.23)
The Rewards of this race:
  • Others will experience the eternal Joy of Salvation
  • We will fulfill the earthly purpose of salvation
It will then be we, together with as many as we can bring with us, sharing in the riches of God and Glorifying God for all eternity.

If you allow the things in your life to distract you from spreading the Gospel, you lose out and others lose out too.  Let's not lose the race because of distractions.

Be saved today for a purpose: for the enjoyment of God and the spread of the Gospel from where you live to the ends of the earth!