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Field Notes

Thoughts, musings and directions for shepherds of FFC

“The Gift of Pastors” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, February 4, 2018

Opening Scripture:
Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-12  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

It is a great day to present these gifts to you.

Proving their calling by:
– training
– studying
– serving
– listening

Proverbs 18:16  A man’s gift makes room for him. And brings him before great men.

Qualities:
– members of Freedom for 10 years
– heard God’s call to full-time ministry
– pursued a process of education, mentoring, and proving

All this culminates with the elders of Freedom Fellowship and the congregation recognizing and confirming their calling.
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What a Pastor Is:

Ephesians 4:8   Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.”

These gifts are people on assignment.

Apostles – those who build the church, missionaries
Prophets – those who herald the word of the Lord, true preachers of righteousness
Evangelists – those who stir up the church to save the lost
Pastors & Teachers – the word for pastor in Greek means “shepherd,” the job description of a pastor is to shepherd God’s flock
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Many consider the four descriptors of:
– Elder
– Overseer
– Steward
– Pastor/Teacher
To be the same.

The elders and pastors here disagree. These four titles share many of the same jobs, but that does not make them all the same.
Just like joints in the body share many of the same functions, they cannot be interchanged.

This is a unique calling that is shepherd and pastor of the church of Jesus Christ.

3 Attributes of a Pastor:

1. A pastor is not a something but a somebody. A pastor needs to get his identity from God and not from others.

Isaiah 40:11  Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

The descriptive title of “Pastor” is a part of the love language of God.

2. A pastor must see his role as “last in line.”

John 13:13-15  You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

3. A pastor knows their sheep, seeks lost sheep, and sacrifices joyfully for the flock.

These three descriptions Jesus, the chief shepherd, gave for Himself.
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2 Qualities a Pastor Must Have:

1. If the pastor is to define himself as a servant, the people must define him as God’s uniquely gifted leader among them.

Hebrews 13:17  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

2. If the pastor must see his role as last in line, the people must see him as called by the Lord.

– These are a gift to us.
– These couples are not only called but chosen for this ministry of shepherding God’s people.
– Their gifts have made room for themselves among us.

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“How the Walls Come Down” by Pastor James Gallaher, January 28, 2018

I hadn’t been married long, but it was long enough for me to know I was really good at it. I also knew that if our marriage was going to continue to get better “she” was going to have to change. The issue was the front door. It sounds foolish to say but this had become a major stronghold against our marriage. She wanted the front door locked all the time and I didn’t.

Joshua was in a similar place. Jericho stood between him and the rest of the Promised Land. The problem was that Jericho was impenetrable. After 40 years, Israel was ready to move but immediately faced an impossible fortress.

Opening Scripture:
Joshua 6:1-5  Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”

What is your Jericho in 2018? Are there strongholds in your life that the enemy has built all sorts of defenses around?

Kelly was discouraged, and I was determined. What I didn’t realize was that every act of determination I would inflict upon her was only making the stronghold stronger.

Jericho was standing between us and the promises God had given to us about our marriage. Something was going to have to change and I would soon find out that something was me.

Joshua 6:1-2  Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.

You may still be hoping for a victory. You have begun to question the promise. You’re overwhelmed by the stronghold; you’re at the point of accepting defeat.

At this point, we need to agree, that with the Lord, victory is not our hope it is His promise. It’s not “if” He will move but “when.” It’s not “can” He overcome but “how” will He overcome. You may be discouraged believing that you are losing the battle, but the battle is already won.

Jesus did not die on the cross to change your perspective, He died to change your position.

Romans 8:28-31  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

There is a difference when we fight from a position of victory rather than just for the victory.

You are waiting on a word, but you are still consumed with worry. The story of Jericho didn’t start with a word, it started with a worry.

Joshua 5:13  Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”

Now this might not seem like much, but ask yourself, Why was the commander of the armies of Israel alone by Jericho? Joshua was trying to figure it out. What was going to be the best plan of attack? Did the walls have a weakness?

The problem was that Joshua was trying to gain a spiritual promise through physical means, but he got a gut check instead.

Joshua 5:13-15  Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

I had become convinced that this struggle in my marriage could be fixed by physical changes. The problem was nothing was changing. Then one night, as I was going to bed, the Lord spoke and told me to lock the door. I battled against this but eventually locked the door.

Faith was about to require something of me that would make me uncomfortable, and that was obedience to His plan.

You can imagine the confusion when Joshua shared the plan with Israel. How could this possibly work?

I remember telling the Lord that if I lock this door, she wins. What I struggled to see in that moment was how this wasn’t a physical battle but a spiritual one. One that faith would have to remove. For Kelly, this was about her need for security. By locking the door, I was saying that I would keep her safe.

Hebrews 11:30  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

Transformation most often happens, not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart.

For Joshua that meant moving from a physical posture to a spiritual one. For me it meant letting go of any solutions and taking a hold of Him.

What is standing between you and the promises of God today?
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Questions:

1. What is the Jericho in your life today?
2. What needs to be allowed to fall apart so something new can begin in your life?

“New Creations” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, January 21, 2017

Opening Scripture:
2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

– That person is an entirely new creature.
– The old things such as guilt, depression, fear, and loneliness pass away.
– New things have come; everything is fresh and new.

This is not just a change of scenery, but a creation that will alter and direct your new life in Christ.
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The goal of transformation:
– The benefit is personal, a new life free of the garbage that I lived in before.

2 Corinthians 5:18 & 20  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
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The church has slipped into a “settled” mold, a place that becomes more about self-focus than mission.

The same thing happened after Israel left Egypt. They became a new creation, no longer slaves.

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses reminds the Jews of their history.
– The first 2-3 years of wilderness travel
– Sending spies across the Jordan to see the Promised Land
– The bad report brought back
– The challenge and promise that God would go before them
– The refusal and outright rebellion of the people against God

Then in the last verse, Deuteronomy 1:46, “So you remained in Kadesh many days, the days that you spent there.”

They settled short of the promises of God. They settled just like so many have done after God’s “new creation” work has been born and created the first fruits of transformation.
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Don’t believe me?
– We have a generation of Christians more concerned about a style of music than worshipping God with a joyful sound.
– A generation of Christians more settled into the local bar scene than Bible study and fellowship.
– A generation that considers the same drugs that so damaged my generation as a legitimate form of adult recreation.
– A church that has forsaken the admonitions to: “come away and be separate,” “love not the world or the things in the world.”

Our Kadesh has become the comfortable lifestyle of the wilderness, prosperity instead of the lifestyle of the Promise Land pioneers.
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The devil will always offer you a nice little condo in the wilderness where you can live out your days short of the promises of God.
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3 Movements of Grace

1.  Grace came when Jesus made His appearance on this earth.

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.

2.  Grace instructs.

Titus 2:12  Instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.

Grace is a schoolmaster that teaches to deny ungodliness and live righteously.

Grace is actively transforming us from selfish living to a mature Kingdom of God adults.

3.  Looking for the blessed hope, the appearing of Christ Jesus.

Titus 2:13  Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (Passion) Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.

Do you want a new life? Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit will give it to you.

Do you need to leave the wilderness and cross into the Promised Land? The same Holy Spirit will empower you to walk out of sin and into powerful living.

Take His hand and follow!

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Questions:

1. In what areas of your life do you need to leave the wilderness for the Promised Land?
2. What does it look like to live in the Promised Land in your life?

“An Amalekite in the Midst” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, January 7, 2017

Opening Scripture:
2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

John 8:12  Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

There is always a contrast between light and dark.

The first act of creation was the separation of light and dark.

Genesis 1:3-5  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

3 Creation Facts:
1. Light was the creation of God.
2.  It was the beginning, the Genesis of creation.
2.  The light was good.

Light was also contrasted with darkness in these Bible examples:
– Adam and Eve contrasted with satan
– Cain and Abel
– Abraham and Lot
– Sarah and Hagar
– Isaac and Ishmael
– Jacob and Essau

In the story of Jacob and Essau, we have twin brothers who couldn’t be more different. Jacob, though born second, becomes the son who would foster Abraham’s linage to the stable in Bethlehem.

One son represents the coming light of the Gospel, while Essau, is filled with darkness.

Genesis 36:1-3  Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth.

One of these sons, Eliphaz, took a concubine by the name of Timna bore a son named Amelek, who would be the symbol of evil for all of Israel.

vs. 12  Timna was a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These are the sons of Esau’s wife Adah.
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Among ancient Jewish Rabbi’s, Amelek was considered:
– The symbol of evil.
– It was written that “He came before all to make war with Israel.”
– Amelek was “an eternally irreconcilable enemy.”

He is the Old Testament portrait of what Paul spoke of as “the old man.”

Romans 6:6  Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.

Colossians 3:9-10  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.

Amelek is the flesh, the old man, which is the enemy of spiritual maturity and Christ living formed in your life.
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Read Exodus 17

Exodus isn’t just about getting God’s people out of Egypt, but it’s about getting Egypt out of God’s people.

vs. 8  Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.

The greatest most common battle is not against others, but against that old man that wants to rise up in us.
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Hundreds of years go by and finally it is time. Saul is named king, and the prophet Samuel, is sent to give him instructions.

Samuel 15:2-3  Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

But Saul doesn’t obey.

vs. 8-9  He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

vs. 14-15  But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

If you don’t deal with the flesh, with sin, the flesh will win the day.

vs. 22-23  Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”

Don’t toy with the independent spirit of this world. Do not think that God changes the standards from one generation to another.
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Saul doesn’t repent. His heart is to save face and look good in the eyes of the people. Because of this, David is anointed the next king, and the story of light and darkness begins another chapter.

In the end, we find Saul seated at the feet of a witch calling out to Samuel beyond the veil of death.

1 Samuel 28:18  As you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

As the battle ensues, the Philistines rally and Israel is near defeat. Saul and his son, Jonathan, are slain, while David is in exile awaiting news of the battle. Then a man comes to David with news.

2 Samuel 1:5  So David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

vs. 6-10  The young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely. When he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I said, ‘Here I am.’ He said to me, ‘Who are you?’ And I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ Then he said to me, ‘Please stand beside me and kill me, for agony has seized me because my life still lingers in me.’ So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

The Amalekite, the flesh, will show no mercy to the people of God.
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The cold rationality which makes us question everything we do or experience, is…
– Be careful how much you commit.
– Don’t buy in all the way.

But God’s call is to surrender all and follow.

Will you commit to that in 2018?
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Questions:

1. In what areas of your life is the “old man” in control?
2. What steps can we take to surrender these areas in the new year?

“Transitions & Transformation” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, December 31, 2017

Transitions:

Transitions either mean trouble or transformation. The deciding factor is your willingness to move.

Trouble comes in 3 ways:
1.  Sin – theirs or your own
2.  Life – “It happens.” This is not heaven.
3.  God – He prunes, purifies, or progresses us from one degree of glory to the next.

All of these begin with trouble – it is your decision to stay put or allow for transformation to take place.
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The children of Israel, during the wilderness years, are a mirror for many born again believers today. Right out of Egypt, they began to commit themselves to depression and unbelief..

Opening Scripture:
Numbers 14:2-3   All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Even though the way was marked with blessings, the people refused to transform.
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Moses sent spies into Canaan, the Promised Land, and when they returned the spies planted three lies in the hearts of God’s people.

John 8:44   You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Lies originate with Satan.
– There is no truth in him.
– It is natural for him to lie.
– He is the father of lies.

These three lies will keep you in the wilderness of trouble and not allow you to cross to the Promised Land of transformation. These lies are still keeping God’s people from God’s promises today.

How do you begin to move on, defeat the lies, and believe God’s promises?

2 Corinthians 5:17   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

If you are enfolded into Christ, you are an entirely new creation.
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Transformation:

Romans 12:2   And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

We change our character by becoming conformed to the character of Christ and by the renewing of our minds by believing this Word.
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Ephesians 4:22-24   That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Three Life Changing Steps:
1.  Lay aside the old self
2.  Be renewed in the spirit of your mind
– Read the Word
– Memorize the Word
– Live out the Word daily in your life
– Allow God’s Word to transform your thinking
3. “Put on” the new self

This is not an external but an internal transformation
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The lies of the devil are powerful! The trials and temptations are too overwhelming! You are too weak to resist! But God’s Word is for you!
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Questions:

1. In what areas of your life do you need God to transform you?
2. What steps can we take to make transformation part of our new year?

“When Jesus Returns” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, December 3, 2017

Advent or “arrival” means to prepare for a noble person’s arrival.
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The story of the return of King Jesus to reign begins in the Garden of Eden. There the immortal words of the triune God are recorded. “Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness.” Then sin wreaks death and destruction until God, the Creator, returns as God the Savior, the Servant, and the Sacrifice.

On the first Resurrection Day, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb and finds it empty. She runs and gets John and Peter, and finally, she is left alone outside the tomb.

Opening Scripture:
John 20:14-15  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

His first encounter with lost mankind was the very same as His final encounter with sinless Adam and Eve. He is found in a garden where life and mankind’s destiny start over.
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For two thousand years, we have lived in the in-between, the time of the Second Coming of Jesus.

3 Truths About The Second Coming of Christ:

1) When Jesus returns, the dead will be resurrected.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18   But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

There is nothing more amazing than the dead coming back to life.

Matthew 27:52-53   The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

When Jesus returns in glory, the fact is that those who have died in Christ will again come out of their graves.
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2) When Jesus returns, creation will be restarted.

Romans 8:17-23  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

God’s plan is to redeem creation, not start over.

Revelation 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

It doesn’t suggest a new creation but a divine redemption of what sin has corrupted.

Isaiah 55:12  For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Psalms 66:4  All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You; they will sing praises to Your name.

Psalms 19:1  The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

The new creation will have California weather, Colorado mountains, and people who act like Texans!
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3) When Jesus returns, it will mean judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15   Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

His first appearing was to deal with sin. His second appearing will not be a warning of coming judgment, but a promise fulfilled for those who serve Him.

Hebrews 9:28  So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? Will you greet Him with joy or shrink back in fear?

Until Jesus returns, we are to live simple and holy lives:
– renouncing sin.
– living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
– practicing what Jesus taught when He came the first time.
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Questions:

1. How does looking for Jesus’ second coming change how we live our lives each day?
2. How can we make Christmas more about Christ’s return?

“Forgive Thy Neighbor” by Tyler Ferguson, November 26, 2017

We have all had someone close to us that hurt us.

Opening Scripture:
2 Timothy 4:16-18  At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul was facing a criminal trial, and at the time the defense called for friends to speak on his behalf, no one came to stand by him.

We go through life seeming constantly being hurt by people. We would long to have the same response Paul did.

2 Timothy 4:16b  “…may it not be counted against them.”

When it would have made sense to hold a grudge, he made the decision to forgive.

The key to Paul being able to so quickly forgive lies in his maintaining an eternal perspective.

Three Aspects of an Eternal Perspective of Forgiveness:

1) We must have a proper perspective of our past.

2 Timothy 4:17a   “…but the Lord stood by me and strengthened me”

Paul had a choice to make.
– He recognized that he served a God who would never let him down because He had always stood by Him.
– Choosing to follow Jesus means that, you no longer have to define yourself based on what has been done to you.
– When you accepted Jesus, you became a new creation.
– When you chose to follow Jesus, you gave up your identity as a victim of those around you and traded it in for your new identity as a victor under the cross.

Not only did Paul understand that the Lord has stood with Him and rescued Him, but He also acknowledged that he had been given an incredible gift.

Greek for “strengthened” means “having given power.” Paul knew that the Lord had given him the power to not just forgive but to press on in the face of everything that would have come his way by the Holy Spirit.

Just as He poured power into Paul, so He pours power into us.

Acts 1:4  “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…”

Acts 1:4-5, 8  Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

That same power is available to us. When the Holy Spirit falls on a life, we receive the same power that raised Jesus from the grave and catapulted the church into existence.

Paul was so focused on what God had done for Him that he hardly had time to dwell on what others had done to him.
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2) We must have a proper perspective of our present mission.

2 Timothy 4:17b  “…so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed to the Gentiles.”

Paul had an eternal perspective of what he had been charged within the present.

Unforgiveness will suck all of our energy from us, leaving us ineffective at doing what God has commanded us to do. We are commanded to go into the highways and byways to compel the lost into the kingdom

Nehemiah 6:3  “ So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

Your calling is too important to let anything, including unforgiveness, get you off the wall.
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3) We must have a proper perspective of our future.

2 Timothy 4:18  “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom.”

The promise he rested on was not that the trials on earth would end, but that one day he would spend eternity with Jesus.

Jesus is coming soon, and that’s the best news we could ever hear!

Paul was able to push through everything that others had to throw at him because his perspective of this life didn’t center on what he was experiencing at the moment. He knew that the sufferings of this present time were not even worth comparing to the glory that was awaiting him.

Forgiveness is all about our perspective. Are we focused on the here and now, burdened down by what is happening to us, or are we concentrated on the One who has never failed us nor will He ever fail us?
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Questions:

1. When was a time that you extended forgiveness when it seemed impossible?
2. What barriers keep you from extended forgiveness at times?
3. Who in your life do you need to forgive ?

“The Light Burden” by Pastor James Gallaher, November 19, 2017

Do the holidays stress you out?

Opening Scripture:
Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Jews were overwhelmed with the 10 Commandments that became the 613 ceremonial laws. Rivers of blood from the sacrifices for sin flowed from the temple serving as a constant reminder of their failure. Even though Jesus spoke of rest, the Jews were surrounded by laws. Rest was earned after they prepared for it; it was a symbol of holiness rather than a relief from stress.

They were confused when Jesus talked about getting rest with no one earning it, worthy of it, or deserving of a gift given by the Savior.

Genesis 2:1-3  Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Creation was complete, everything God had done was perfect, and there was no need to improve on it. But sin came and everything changed. Man became a slave to the law. But Jesus says there is a redemptive rest, a rest where we cease from the works of the law and trust in the One who redeemed us.

Hebrews 4:9-10  So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

How To Receive This Rest:

1) Come

Matthew 11:28   Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Too often people are unwilling to come because they are concerned about their ability to do for themselves. Instead, they invite Jesus to come and join them rather than them joining Jesus. We ask Him to bless what we are doing assuming He is already for it. And yet, it is He who calls us.

We can do all the right things, say the right stuff, and nothing changes because we are in the wrong place.

We must first be connected to Him.

The call is for the humble of heart, those aware of their need of a Savior.

James 4:6  But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
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2) Take

Matthew 11:29-30  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

We must choose to exchange our burden for His. Christ never said you wouldn’t have a burden, only that it won’t weigh the same.

John 16:33  “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

James 1:2-4  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The promise is not for lack of struggle; the promise is for support and direction through it.
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3) Learn

Matthew 11:29  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Learning involves ridding myself of preconceived notions about what I am to be taught. We ask for help but already have the solution in mind. We want Jesus to solve our problems, but we want Him to do it our way and in our time.

Matthew 11:25  “…that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

How we approach Him matters.
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Questions:

1.  When was a time that you prayed for your own solution instead of praying for God’s solution?
2.  What are some false definitions of rest that the world uses?
3.  What in your life is causing you to be weary or heavy-laden?

“The Covenant Promises of God” by Pastor Dennis J. Gallaher, November 12, 2017

The Spiritual Lesson Jan and I Learned:
Jan had a stem cell transplant 8 years ago as a final hope to kill insidious cancer that had been apart of our lives for nearly 20 years.

First, chemotherapy is given to kill the bone marrow. Before the chemo, the donor’s blood is taken and the stem cells are harvested. For a week, the chemo is carefully given and takes the person to the door of death, because if nothing is done within a few weeks the person will die without the ability to make new blood.

On January 19, 2010, a nurse came into Jan’s room with a baggy of stem cells. As these stem cells entered her body, the nurses brought in balloons and sang “Happy Birthday;” this was the day Jan was born again. This bone marrow brought new life and a slow retreat from death’s door.
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Every person is born with a fatal flaw called original sin that came from the first sin in the Garden.

Opening Scripture:
Ephesians 2: 3  Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The chemo of sin begins its march to destroy the one part of creation that was formed in the very image of the Godhead.

But, there is a divine Donor in the Masterplan of God. When we stop trying to heal ourselves and instead humble ourselves and say, “This sin cancer has beaten me. I can’t live a good life on my own strength. My choice is death or to receive the great gift of life from the Divine Donor, Jesus Christ.”

When you choose Jesus, you are born again. Your life is now Jesus Christ in you; your DNA is Jesus’ DNA. As long as you are following the Great Physicians instructions, the Jesus-nature will overcome the old sin nature.

Luke 22:17-20  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

This New Covenant, new life is given to us through the life-changing blood of Jesus. God fulfills His covenant to give us a new heart.

Jeremiah 24:7  I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Ezekiel 36:26  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Many believers are convinced wrongly that their Christian life is to be a continual uphill battle against sin, and that they will never feel that they are free.

Paul says in Romans 7 this is a kind of bondage.
– A person does what he hates.
– Spiritual freedom has been hammered in by condemnation.
– No escape.
– Feeling that they are not good enough to really serve God
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Jesus Christ saved me. He did not save me to leave me. He knew I would need all of His power to live this life. It is the power of the New Covenant. We must understand the truths of what happens when we ask Jesus into our lives.

The Two Covenants

1) The New Covenant

Hebrew 8:8-13  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 10:16-17  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”

Because we are included in Abraham’s lineage, the New Covenant is God’s pledge of overcoming strength to be “more than conquerors” in any situation.

– The Father’s purpose in the Covenant: Psalm 89:19
– Jesus’ response: Psalm 40:7-8
– The fulfillment of the Covenant began at the Last Supper: John 17:1-4
– The Glory: Psalm 89:26-36

Without this Covenant, the battle against sin and the devil must be fought by me.

But, with this Covenant, the battle against sin and the devil means that all of heaven’s power and authority is aligned with me. It is not me fighting the battle, but the covenant promises of God working through me.

2) The Old Covenant

This Covenant is based on our works, our efforts, our strength.

Exodus 19:5-6  “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Jeremiah 7:23  But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’

The Commandments of God are given and the Old Covenant requires we obey the Law perfectly.

God commanded a law no one could keep to drive us to Himself, so we could come to the end of ourselves.

When you realize how useless our efforts are on our own, how powerless we are to overcome sin, that is when the Old Covenant has had its full effects.

Paul cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?”

Philippians 2:13  God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to accomplish the good things you desire to do. (Passion)

The promises:
Freedom from the control of sin
A new heart that desires to follow God
The companionship, power, counsel, and friendship of the Holy Spirit that will never leave you and never forsake you.
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Questions:

1. Which group are you living as: those who have accepted but are still living under the Old Covenant or those who believe and have submitted their lives to Him?
2. What are some things that make it difficult for you to embrace life under the New Covenant?

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