Encouragement from the Psalms for YOU Today

Beloved – whatever you’re going through today, I pray that the words of this Psalm would encourage your heart…

Psalm 32 7

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7, NKJV).

Here is the entire Psalm, in the New Living Translation:

1 A psalm of David. Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 3 When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude

6 Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. 7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude 8 The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” 10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. 11 So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! ” (Psalm 32).

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The Ragamuffin Gospel – 25 Years of Walking with Jesus – #Sermon of the Week

THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL: 25 YEARS OF WALKING WITH JESUS

(August 2014 – Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)

To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.

INTRO TO SPEAKER: This month, I am celebrating 25 years of walking with Jesus! It was August 1989, in a farmhouse outside of Lacombe, Alberta, where I first met Jesus… This message shares one of the most powerful, profound truths I have learned about God – His amazing grace and unconditional love.

OPENING TEXT:

“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying…” (Luke 15:1-3, NKJV).

THE DRAMATIZED STORY OF THE PRODIGAL SON: (Based on Luke 15:11-32).

Cast: The Father, The Son Jimmy, The Son Johnny, Three Cool Friends

illustrated sermon

It was a beautiful summer day! The Father was sitting around the dinner table with his sons, Jimmy, and Johnny. The Father said, “My sons!”

Jimmy said, “Yes, Father?”

Johnny ignored his dad. Johnny said, “I’m not listening!”

The Father said, “I want to give you some very important advice. If you want a happy life, don’t waste it partying or drinking whiskey, and most importantly, never eat bacon!”

Jimmy nodded and smiled, “Okay, Father!”

Johnny said, “No way! Father, I want my share of your money now, instead of waiting until you die.”

The Father was shocked, but sadly, he agreed to divide his money between his two sons. A few days later, Johnny packed all his stuff, but before he left the house:

The Father said, “Son, no matter where you go or what you do, I will always love you.”

And so, Johnny ran far away from home, where he wasted all of his money on wild living. He made three cool new friends. The four of them partied. They danced. They drank whiskey. And they ate bacon! However, Johnny’s money soon ran out, and when it did, his three cool new friends run out, too, skipping merrily away, saying, “See you later dude!”

So Johnny was broke: he had no money, no friends, and his Daddy was far away. Then Johnny became really hungry. He asked a farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. Think about it! Johnny wasn’t even supposed to eat bacon, and now he was taking care of pigs. Johnny was so hungry that even the food he was feeding the pigs looked good to him, but no one gave him anything.

When he finally smartened up, he said to himself, “At home even the servants have lots of food, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my Father and say, Father, I have been a really bad boy. Please take me on as a servant.”

So he returned home to The Father. And while Johnny was still a long distance away, The Father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, The Father ran to his son, hugged him, and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have been a really bad sinner! I partied, I drank whiskey… I even ate bacon!”

But The Father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the best clothes in the house and put them on him. And kill the fat old cow so we can have a BBQ. We must celebrate, for my son was dead and has returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” So the party began.

MY TESTIMONY:

  • Got saved, went to Surrey, BC to attend Bible College at Christ for the Nations.
  • Talk about experience in the first church I attended while there: You couldn’t be real there. If you struggled with sin, you kept it to yourself.

LIFE-CHANGING BOOK:

  • The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (and All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon).
  • Revolutionized my understanding of Christianity!

QUOTES FROM THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL:

Ragamuffin“(The Ragamuffin Gospel) is not for legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus… (it) was written for the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out. It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other. It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace. It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker…

“It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents. It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet on clay. It is for the bent and bruised to feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God. It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags. (It is) for anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the way.”

  • Since I first read this book in 1996, I have read this book over ten times. If I find a really good book, I will sometimes read it a second time. This book is powerful!

POWER QUOTE #1: (Morton Kelsey).

“The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.”

  • This quote was revolutionary for me!
  • Church is not a place where we come to dress up and pretend our lives are perfect!
  • It’s a place to admit we struggle with sin, and love, accept and forgive one another.

POWER QUOTE #2: (Thomas Merton).

“A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

MORE QUOTES FROM THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL:

“Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace…

“Often I have been asked, “Brennan, how is it possible that you became an alcoholic after you got saved?” It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure, because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden and took my eyes off Jesus. Because the Christ-encounter did not transform me into an angel…

“This is the God of the gospel of grace. A god, who out of love for us, sent the only Son he ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for his milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all.”

BIBLE TEXT: The basis for the teaching in The Ragamuffin Gospel.

“9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:9-13, NLT).

CLOSING PRAYER:

Encouragement that no matter what you have done, you are loved by God!

Beausejour Community Church Website: www.beausejourchurch.ca

Pastor Chris Jordan’s Blog: http://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/

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The Weekend Funnies – Favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips on Sin, Grace and Love

This month, August 2014, marks 25 years since I first started following Jesus. Tomorrow morning at church, I am going to be sharing a message entitled, “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” sharing some of the things that I have learned about the unconditional love of God during that time period. And so, to commemorate, I am sharing with you some of my favourite Calvin and Hobbes strips about love and grace. It’s amazing how much inspirational and sometimes even theological truth you can learn from Bill Waterson’s comics!

Calvin & Hobbes Love

Calvin & Hobbes - God & Plea Bargain

Calvin & Hobbes - love the sinner

Calvin & Hobbes - sin nature

As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples. When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:9-13).

Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2014 Bill Waterson.

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Costa Rica 2014 – Mission Trip Video

Check out this great overview of our 2014 Costa Rica Mission Trip, a video of our trip complied by our host missionary, Pastor John Overholt:

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The Weekend Funnies – Outside Summer Fun

When I was a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s (no old jokes, please!), we used to go to this place called ‘outside’ to have fun. If we wanted to play with a friend, we would have to walk all the way over to their house and knock on the door and ask if they could come out and play. Nowadays it seems like children and teens have forgotten how to have fun! Their days are spent in front of the computer screen, watching TV, or plugged into their iPods, iPads or other tablet type devices.

Next week, we are hosting a Vacation Bible School at our church for children from Kindergarten through Grade 6. All week long the kids – along with their teen crew leaders and adult station leaders – are going to unplug from social media, and plug into fun times together with singing, games, crafts (science experiments!), dramatized Bible stories and more. Pray for us! Pray for the children to have a life-changing experience with the love of Jesus, and that any children who don’t know Him yet would be saved. And, that they would remember how to have fun… that’s not an app or a game on their iPod!

And so today’s Calvin and Hobbes comic strips celebrate the joy of having fun… outside!

Calvin & Hobbes - have fun outside not TV

Calvin & Hobbes - have fun outside 2

Calvin & Hobbes - have fun outside 3

Calvin and Hobbes (c) 2014 Bill Waterson.

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Prioritizing Church Attendance – A Must-Read for “Summer Saints”

keep-calm-and-go-to-churchIs Church Attendance a Priority to YOU?

I came across this article on Gospel Centered Discipleship today, and thought it was a very timely article. It’s amazing to me how many Christians think that church attendance is an optional thing – especially during the summer months. Take a read, and may you be challenged by the thoughts written here. And – I hope to see YOU at church this Sunday!

Prioritizing Church Attendance

by Matt Manry

Let’s just face the facts. Today, many Christians do not think attending church is that important. In the past, Christians believed that actively being a part of a church body was absolutely necessary to one’s faith. There used to be an understanding in Christian families that unless one was deathly ill or there was a family emergency, you just never ever missed church. So what has changed and caused so many people to view the church as a disposable good instead of as an intricate part of one’s spiritual life?

Why We Don’t Attend Church: A 40-Hour a week job, but no time for God

Pastor Kevin DeYoung is right. Our lives really are “crazy busy.” There is no doubt about it. Whether you are a college student, a newly-wed couple, or have a family of seven, we live in a day and age where the mentality is simply: go, go, go! This is one of the main reasons why church attendance is viewed as optional. Most people work 40-hour a week jobs in the United States, and so once the weekend hits the mindset of rest and recovery sets in. Trust me, I get it. Everybody wants some downtime. But why do we think that rest and recovery should take place outside of the confines of the house of God?

Recently, Trevin Wax wrote an article titled: “Are You A Part-Time Church Goer? You May Be Surprised.” Wax explains various reasons why people miss church in today’s society. There are 52 Sundays a year. If you only attend 25-30 Sunday services, you are a part-time church goer. Congratulations!

Do you recognize what is clearly wrong with this? Our jobs, which of course we must have to be able to support ourselves and our families, are seen as absolute necessities, while church attendance is simply seen as a dispensable activity. Brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. Of course, the mindset of just attending church, getting your church attendance ticket punched, is absolutely wrong as well. Pastors and church leaders should preach against this mentality as well. However, think about this for a second. Just like you gather with your biological family, shouldn’t you also desire to gather with your spiritual family?

Why We Need The Church: A Biblical Case

I know the arguments that are going to be raised about what I have said thus far. People are going to say: “Does he really believe that attending a local church, going to its building, and doing this once or twice a week is what the Bible is suggesting?” Well yes and no. Kevin DeYoung explains, “I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25.” I couldn’t agree more.

Fellowship with your spiritual family is a sign of maturing in the faith as a disciple. Hebrews 10:25 says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Have we really become so “new-agey” in our thought that we now think that we have matured past the need to attend church? Lord, let it not be so.

Gospel-Motivated Church Attendance

There is no doubt that what we need to recover in the life of Christians today is a gospel-motivated church attendance. What might this look like? Well, in my opinion its demonstrating the fact that when the church gathers on the Lord’s day, she proclaims the gospel, meditates on the gospel, and rehearses the gospel. By doing this, lives will begin to fundamentally change. It really is just that simple.

When the gospel is at the center our focus shifts. We no longer view church attendance as something we just need to check off, but as an intricate part of our spiritual lives. Instead of serving the god of individuality, we will be serving the God of Scripture. The gospel changes everything. However, we must first let the gospel change our low views of the church, and recognize that the house of the Lord is absolutely vital to the Christian life—to the life of a mature disciple. Should not the good news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins motivate us enough to enter into God’s house on Sundays? I would say so.

We are all at different points in our spiritual walks with the Lord. No matter what point you are at on your journey, I hope that you will come to see the importance of attending church. Do not be so narcissistic and self-consumed to think that you do not need the body of Christ. That is simply a sign of spiritual immaturity and a straight-up lie from the Devil.

I am not trying to guilt anyone into attending church regularly either. However, I am issuing a challenge to those who consider themselves Christians. If you consider yourself to be a part of the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-9, 21:2), tell me why would you separate yourself from the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:17)? Logically, that makes no sense at all.

So Christians, live in light of the fact that you have been redeemed and do not have to earn your acceptance before God through your church attendance. The community of Christ needs you because it cannot function without all of its body parts. This is not condemnation, but rather an exhortation. Attending church is a blessing that should not be taken for granted.

Matt Manry is the Director of Discipleship at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. He also works on the editorial team for Credo Magazine and Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He blogs regularly at gospelglory.net.

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Heroes of Faith – Illustrated #Sermon of the Week: Know God and Be Strong!

HEROES OF FAITH: KNOW GOD, BE STRONG, HAVE GREAT ADVENTURES

(Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)

To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.

Heroes of Faith drama

KEY TEXT: “But the people who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32b).

INTRO TO THE BIBLE STORY:

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.” (Daniel 1:1-7).

  • These four young men were strangers in a foreign land. They were being indoctrinated in a secular university, forced to learn their ways of talking and thinking.
  • This world system was trying to squeeze them into its mold!

THE BIG IDEA: The Bible says that the people who know God will be strong and have great adventures. Daniel and his three friends’ lives are an example for us to follow.

BIBLE ILLUSTRATION: Dramatize the story. (Daniel 3:1-30).

  • The story of three young boys who knew God, were strong, and had great adventures.
  • Start out by talking about three heroes who got in trouble for doing what was right:
  • Cast: Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael. Two astrologers. Angry king. Three soldiers to tie them up. Statue. Fire. Musicians.

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then he sent messages to the (people) to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3 When all these officials had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, 4 a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the (musical) instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

7 So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the (people)… bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Neb had set up. 8 But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews. 9 They said to King Neb, “Long live the king! 10 You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the musical instruments. 11 That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They have defied Your Majesty by refusing to serve your gods or to worship the gold statue you have set up.”

  • Notice that these three boys didn’t compromise even though everyone else did.
  • What a great example they are to us! We live in a world that wants us to compromise.

13 Then Neb flew into a rage and ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Neb said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments, all will be well. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Neb, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

19 Neb was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully clothed. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames leaped out and killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in! 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell down into the roaring flames. 24 But suddenly, as he was watching, Neb jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes,” they said, “we did indeed, Your Majesty.” 25 “Look!” Neb shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!”

  • When we refuse to compromise, God is with us in the fire. He comes to our defense!

26 Then Neb came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So (they) stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the (people) crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! 28 Then Neb said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” … 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.

APPLICATION:

WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS WE LEARN FROM THIS STORY?

  1. The world will always try to get us to compromise and worship things other than God.
  2. It’s easier to be strong in your faith and stand up for God with friends.
  3. Sometimes God doesn’t deliver us from the fire, but instead is with us in the fire.

CLOSING CHALLENGE:

HOW CAN WE BECOME HEROES OF FAITH?

  • It’s not just about saying no to sin and compromise, but also about saying yes to God!
  1. Show love to people: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13, NKJV).
  2. Forgive people: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32).
  3. Do good to people: “31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:31-40).

Beausejour Community Church Website:  www.beausejourchurch.ca

Pastor Chris Jordan’s Blog:  http://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/

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