Offer the Greatest Gift

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christmas teaWhat makes Christmas significant? Makes it fulfilling? The Christmas season offers hope to many that perhaps ultimate peace can be found. The problem is that our world’s secularized focus wants the fruit without the root.

We think that if we just find right person to love, find right setting and just rest in a peaceful environment or moment. Followers of Jesus come to learn that the key is His presence. Once we experience him, trust our lives to Him, we can have that kind of peace and fulfillment no matter what season it is.

How can we enjoy Christmas while minimizing its dangers? Embrace the heart of Christmas with a readiness to invite others to come and see Jesus for themselves. Let me break it down for you.

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#ChristmasWithout Regret

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readyforchristmas promoHow ready are you for the Christmas season? What is your favorite part? What do you dread the most? Many of you are about to start Christmas stressing, I mean shopping. The world’s approach to Christmas builds up for a letdown. The immediate crowds out the significant.  The flashy blocks the timeless. The pricey hijacks the priceless. This leaves us with the emptiness and disappointment of regret when we realize what we have done. I don’t think this is what God had in mind. In the next three posts, I hope to help you embrace a Christmas without regret. For today we are going to look at how to avoid the financial hangover.

First, Don’t Give in to Pressure to Overspend.

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A Foundational Strategy for Life’s Battles

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praying togetherEphesians 6:18-19 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…

Whenever we get to the edge of something spiritually significant, the verge of a breakthrough, something crazy happens. Some threat, worry, person or situation rises up to derail, delay or distract you from moving forward. The challenge is discerning what is happening and how best to move forward.

This final entry of how to stand firm in the face of life’s battles deals with critical communication. Everything is worse when communication goes down. It leaves us isolated and unaware. It is easier to misstep when we no longer hear needed insight or direction. This is where the final strategy comes into play.

Stand Firm through a Deepening Prayer Relationship with Jesus for His Family & His Mission.

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Spiritual Weapon Training

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bible study with penEph. 6:11-17 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Is 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

At the outset, I have to warn you that this post’s issue is a core passion for me. I believe it is critical to the growth and health of every follower of Christ. Yet it is among the most common struggles and regrets I hear other talk about.

I want to teach you something that can’t be fully learned in a simple post. The best I can hope for is point a direction, introduce a process and motivate you to embrace this path for yourself.

This is the martial arts of following Jesus. Anyone who follows Jesus can begin. It takes time to master and there are always more advanced levels. For it to work in your life, ongoing training will be required.

How do we stand firm AND take ground in the face of life’s spiritual battles? We must grow strong in God’s Word… the Bible.

It Matters Because Satan Seeks to Disrupt our Communication with God.

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Drawing Strength from Salvation

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colored crossEphesians 6:10-11, 17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… And take the helmet of salvation 

What has your salvation meant to you this week? How often do you think about it? I know seems like a weird question to ask. But is it really? What if it is the most important question of all?!

Salvation is so simple a child can receive it and yet it is so deep that you will never fully understand its depths. To an average person salvation could be an odd religious thing, deep emotional experience, place to run when life breaks down, or the overriding core of life.

For followers of Jesus it might be a moment in the past when they first trusted Jesus AND the promise of eternal life in the future. Both are true but it is even more. It is also the present life of Jesus working itself out in all who believe. It is meant to make a difference right now. It is your source of life and power now. If we forget this, we are left weak and disoriented to spiritual attacks.

Keeping our heads clear with the fullness of Jesus salvation is a key way to stand firm in life’s battles.

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Why Should We Care?

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messy heart1John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 

Gal 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Last week we got to experience something incredible. We slimmed down to one larger service on Sunday and spent the afternoon showing Jesus’ love to many in our community through practical care projects. Nearly 200 of us regathered and dispersed in 22+ teams for yardwork, deck building and variety of home projects to encourage others in our community. The celebration meal with family & guests overflowed with joy. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!!

Why would we do that? Before we went out we looked at some of God’s core principles for showing love to others. Here are the highlights. You can catch the full lesson at www.parkviewfamily.com.

REASON #1 Our Practical Love Helps Others see Jesus.

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Stand Firm In Your Faith

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umbrella in stormEphesians 6:10-11 & 16 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  …in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Faith can be a confusing cliché. Many people claim to have faith but what exactly do we mean by that? Faith is more than a wish or a hope that somehow the universe will work it all out for us. Some claim faith in Christ yet we don’t own it with life changing conviction. It caves when trouble, pressure or challenge comes.

How do you know if the faith we claim is any good? ANSWER: it must be tested. Now no one signs up for that on purpose, but there is no need to worry God’s enemy is happy to accommodate that need. Just like He did with Job in the Old Testament and Peter in the new, Satan continues to poke and press those who claim to follow Jesus to test the reality of our faith.

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