God lives in us and we live in God

Based on: 1 John 4:13-21

Was there ever a relationship that you were unsure of? Perhaps you just offended a friend and you didn’t know if you were still friends or if that person even wanted to see you again? Now just imagine the relationship Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned.  It was the closest relationship possible – God lived in them and they lived in God.  God blessed them with everything they needed and more, and God was pleased with everything they did.  Pleased, that is, until they ate the fruit God told them not to eat.  This action was a revolt against the God who gave them every good thing they could imagine.  They realized they had ruined their perfect relationship with God, and they were afraid.  They had no hope of restoring this relationship on their own.  Yet, in love God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to restore this relationship.  Now as a believer in Jesus Christ we have this close personal relationship with God.  God lives in us, and we live in God.  We know this is true by God’s display of love and we can see this from our own display of love.

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Connected to the Vine

Based on: John 15:1-8

On Easter four weeks ago the front of our sanctuary was full of flowers.  Think about the beautiful symbolism.  On Easter we celebrate Christ taking back his life and the life he gives us.  It makes sense, doesn’t it, to fill the front of our sanctuary with living things.  When we decorate the front of the church with flowers, you know that sometimes we use potted plants and sometimes we have flowers that have been cut from the plant and then arranged with other flowers.  Both are wonderful and both are given as an offering to our Savior.  Now, let me use those flowers as part of an illustration.  You know better than I do that once you cut part of the plant off from the rest of the plant, that part is going to die.  The potted plants are still whole and since the rest of the plant is still connected to the roots, they will continue to live as long as they are taken care of.  They are still connected to the roots that provided the nourishment they needed to live. 

As Christians we are just like those flowers.  We need to be connected to the rest of the plant to survive.  And we are – we are connected to the vine.  We are connected to the vine as a branch and we are connected to the vine to bear fruit.

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Make Us Bold, Lord

Based on: Acts 4:22-32

Good morning Stanley, Dustin, Carlie, Andrew, Daniel, Mackenzie, and Mikyla!  You have finished two years of catechism instruction, two years learning about what Scripture says about God and how he has rescued us.  I must say that of all the classes that I have taken through two years of catechism instruction, yours is by far the best!  Let’s just not tell anyone that so far yours is the only class that I have taken through two years of catechism.

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Perform a Miracle

Based on: Acts 3:12-20

When you see someone sick or suffering have you ever thought, “If only I could put my hand on that person and say something like ‘In the name of Jesus may this sickness leave you’ and then the person would be whole again.  If only God would work a miracle through me!”  Have you ever thought something like that?  I have.

But it doesn’t work that way, does it.  I don’t have that gift.  I don’t think any of you have that gift.  If you are disappointed because of that, if you think you are missing out, then let me remind you that you have been given a much greater gift.  God has given you the privilege and even the command to perform a far greater miracle.  Through us God performs the miracle of faith.  He has given us the means to do it.

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The Resurrection Harvest

Based on: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Have you ever visited any of the famous grave sites of the world?  The Taj Mahal is the resting place of a Muslim ruler and his wife.  The Pyramids contained Kings of Egypt.  Westminster Abbey in London holds the bodies of English nobles. Mohammed’s tomb is visited often because of its stone coffin and the bones which it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is the honored resting place of many brave Americans.

But today we visit in spirit a grave site that is different than all these.  As we view the garden tomb we see a grave site that is famous, not because of the person who is buried there, but famous and important precisely because of the one who is NOT buried there.  This garden tomb is empty.

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Based on: John 14:15-21

Have you ever played peekaboo with a baby? They all seem to love that game.  But, do you realize what’s happening as you play that game? You are teaching them, as you hide your face, that there are times when you will go way and they will not be able to see you, but you are also teaching them, as you show your face to them, that you will come back.  You’re teaching them to not be afraid during the times you are gone because you will come back.

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Doubting Thomas Assures Us

Based on: John 20:19-31

Just a few days ago I received an e-mail from a woman in Africa.  I did not know her previously, but she said she needed my help.  Her husband had died recently while in the United States and had accumulated quite a bit of money, $11.6 million to be exact.  She said that she couldn’t get to it, but if I helped her to get this money transferred to her, she would share 30% of that money with me.  All I needed to do was to send my bank account information to the right person.

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What Wonderous Love – When Taking Back His Life

Based on: Matthew 28:1-10

Dear Fellow Recipients of God’s many blessings, made certain for us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Perhaps it has happened to you before. It was late at night or a holiday and there was something you needed—medicine or groceries or maybe your gas tank is close to empty.  You go from place to place hoping to find what you need but every store you go to, but they are closed.  Finally, you come to a store and the neon sign that says “OPEN” is lit up or maybe it is a plastic sign in the window – in either case you can finally get what you need.  That “OPEN” sign can bring joy or at least a feeling of relief.

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