Author: Brian Agovino

Isn’t it annoying all the advice that’s out there in regards to your money? I frequently see ads about how quickly you can pay off your mortgage, or how to retire early, or which stocks to purchase to get rich quick. I always write them all off as scams.

When it comes to our finances, most of us are skeptical of free advice or get rich quick schemes. Are you also skeptical when it comes to the advice and direction that scripture gives in regards to finances?

Let me encourage you, that if there is any place to look for direction and instruction regarding money it should be the Bible. Why should we trust scripture in regards to our finances?

1. The Bible has a healthy view of money.
It’s doesn’t teach that money is bad and it doesn’t teach that money is everything (1 Timothy 6:6-10). The Bible has a very healthy perspective about how we should use money but not be consumed by it.

2. The Bible offers principles and promises about giving.
When people make promises that you will be rich if you give, you should be skeptical. The Bible doesn’t do that. Rather it offers principles that are helpful in regards to how you should use and view money.

3. The Bible is more interested in your heart than your wallet.
Matthew 6:21 declares, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I love this verse because scripture teaches us to focus on our hearts. The way to have the right perspective on money and giving is much more about our hearts than it is about what we do.

This week, let’s ask God to help us trust His word more in regards to our finances.

As we come to the end of our series on miracles I have been struck by how easy it is to miss God’s power at work in my day to day life.  God is at work in so many ways, and the more I am aware of how He is at work, the more it helps my relationship with Him.

What are some ways we can be more aware of God’s miracles in our lives?

  1. Process out Loud

I don’t always notice in the moment when God is displaying His power, but when I talk to people, when I engage with the staff at church, people in our community group, or the elders, and we ask each other where do you see God’s miraculous power, I start to notice where He is at work.  It’s when I process out loud that I see His work.

  1. Process on Paper

Writing also has a way of helping me to notice God’s miraculous power in my life.  Taking a moment to journal can be a great discipline to becoming more aware of God’s miraculous work in our lives.

  1. Process in Prayer

Have you ever just asked God, ‘God, where are you displaying your miraculous power in my life?’  God wants us to sense His presence and to be aware of His work.  He is not trying to hide Himself from us, so sometimes it helps just to ask.

Let’s continue to become a people who is more aware of the miraculous power of God in our lives so we can help others become aware of God’s presence.

 

 

How often has change happened quickly in your life? Circumstances can produce quick change – marriage, birth of a child, a death, a sickness. But what about when it comes to you as a person? When have you seen a change in your character or personal life happen quickly? I would venture say that for most of us the times we have seen a quick change in our character is fairly seldom.

In Galatians Paul uses botanical language to talk about growth, But the fruit of the Spirit is…’ (Gal. 5:22). This is a simple reminder that gospel change takes time. Why do you think this is? I can think of a couple reasons:

Slow growth doesn’t hurt ‘as much’

I remember when I was a teenager growing from 5’1” to 6’3”. It happened quickly and it was not pretty. I remember hurting at night when my bones were growing and wishing the pain would just go away. God doesn’t simply just change us over night, and because of that He is sparing us intense pain. Now, I get it, some of us would rather the pain just happen so we could be done with it. But I think God shows us grace by changing us slowly, overtime.

Slow growth points to internal change, not external conforming

God’s design for our change is not for us all to look the same. Slow botanical growth allows for the Holy Spirit to produce in us the character and person that God designed us to be. There is an aspect of development in that growth. Any kind of quick change usually is external and not lasting, while internal change takes time but is more permanent.

In which area(s) are you experiencing gospel change today? Take a moment to thank God that He is taking His time with you, as a masterpiece, through the power of the Holy Spirit transforming you from the inside out.

Walking In Step With The Gospel: Galatians 2:11-16

Do you know how to change? I mean really change. Not just start a new routine, or phase something out of your life — real heart driven, anchor deep, lasting change.  Do you know how to experience that kind of change?

Paul makes it crystal clear throughout the book of Galatians that the gospel of Jesus – the news that He lived a perfect life, He died a substitutionary death for our sins, and He rose again – can bring lasting change.  And it brings change in two ways:

  1. Lasting Change Part 1: Salvation

The first way a person can experience a ‘dynamite-like’ change in his life is to put his faith in Jesus. In Jesus’ own words, He calls this “being born-again” (John 3:3). The Apostle Paul described this as “becoming a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The language in scripture is so strong about the change because it is the most radical change someone can experience in his life. A person is awakened to the reality that he was not made for himself, but rather to know God, and the only way he can experience God is through believing that Jesus came into this world to redeem him. When that awakening happens it is life-altering, life-changing.

  1. Lasting Change Part 2: Sanctification

The process of being sanctified is simply defined as the process of being made holy. Once a person puts his faith in Jesus, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins the work of moving in that life to make him into the person he was designed to be.

Usually we start to think, “I need to make that change. I need to stop doing this and start doing that.”  But that is not how change occurs — at least not life-altering change. You see, scripture teaches us that real change comes when we bring every area of our life in step with the gospel (Gal. 2:14). Anytime there is sin in my life it is because there is something in my life that is not in step with the gospel.

So, how do I recognize when I am not in step with the gospel and re-align myself?

Great question…

Which leads me to the topic of this blog for the next 12 weeks.  Each of us on staff will be sharing how the gospel has changed us in both ways.  That is, how the gospel brought salvation and how the gospel is bringing sanctification to each of us.

My invitation to you is to come back each week and take the journey with us as we share how putting our lives in step with the gospel of Jesus Christ is bringing the life-altering, anchor deep, life-long, lasting change to us, and that you can experience and walk with us in this ongoing process.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 1:18

G.K. Chesterton, a famous Christian author, wrote, ‘Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator’.  When we talk about courage in the realm of Christmas we often talk about Mary.  Mary was with child because of the Holy Spirit, she was carrying the savior of the world, or she gave birth in a stable.

But I am often struck by the idea that Jesus was the courageous one.  Jesus was the one who left a perfect relationship, who left glory, who left the riches of heaven, to become a crying baby.  The pictures of the birth of Jesus and the songs we sing sometimes give us a very sanitized version of the world Jesus came into.

However, scripture reminds us that he was born in a manner not worthy of king, into a world that was threatened by his appearing.  Jesus, came into our world, courageously on His first night, and that courage remained until His last!

Today:

What area of your life do you need courage?  Take a moment thanking God that He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit to live out gospel courage.

If you have children:

Ask them what courage is.  Ask them to consider how Jesus displayed courage.  Take a moment and pray with them and thank Jesus for His courage.

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

Have you ever asked yourself in a situation, ‘What would Jesus do?’  I’ve often struggled with that phrase.  Jesus was God.  I am not.  So how am I going to be able to do what Jesus did.  In fact, if you think about it, there is really only one person in all of history who lived the Christian life the way it was supposed to be lived…   Jesus.

So, if Jesus is the only one who ever did it, is it even possible for us to live that life?

Paul, in his letter to the church in Colosse answers that question with an emphatic ‘Yes!’  You see Jesus breathes life into us by giving us Himself.  The hope for us overcoming sin, living the Christian life, isn’t in our own efforts, it’s in having the Spirit of Christ reside in us and live the Christian life through us.

This Christmas season and as we prepare for the New Year, let’s stop trying to be better Christians and thank God for the hope for us living the Christian life has been given to us by His Spirit.

Today:

Thanks God for the Holy Spirit that lives in you.  Ask God to give you the wisdom and knowledge the let the Spirit live the Christian life through you.

If you have Children:

Ask your child how a light bulb works.  What makes it be bright?  Electricity.  If the light bulb doesn’t let the electricity do its work, how useful is the light bulb?  Encourage them with the idea that the Holy Spirit lives in us to produce light and help them be the person God created them to be.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

What is the best gift that you have ever received?  I remember when I was in 7th grade and so excited about the Nintendo game system that I received for Christmas.  There wasn’t anything special that I did to receive the gift, I just asked for it and unwrapped it and then spent the next couple of years enjoying it.

When Jesus departed this world He left His disciples with a gift that was unlike any other, Himself.  He left each one of them with the Holy Spirit and the beauty is that for every person who puts their faith in Jesus He offers that same gift, the Holy Spirit.

Today:

Take a moment to thank Jesus for the Holy Spirit who lives in you.  Thanks Jesus for the great gift that He has provided.

If You Have Children:

Ask them what was the greatest gift they have received or could receive in the future.  Encourage them with the truth that God gives gifts too, and one of those gifts is the Holy Spirit.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

In the season of Advent we anticipate and look forward to the second coming or arrival of Jesus.  The question become then, what, as a follower of Jesus are we called to do until He returns?  In the gospel of John Jesus declares, ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ (John 20:21).

The wonder of Advent reminds us what we are sent to declare, that Jesus the messiah has come, and this is what we are sent to do, to declare that message with our actions and our words.

Today:

Take moment to worship Jesus for His coming into our world, for when we are moved by the first advent of Jesus it will inspire us to speak more of it.

If you have children:

Ask them who is someone that they know that needs to know that Jesus the messiah was sent into our world.  Take a moment and pray for that person.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

Advent means arrival.  For the church we celebrate the season of Advent for two reasons, we celebrate the first arrival of Jesus and anticipate the second arrival of Jesus.  Over the next three days I want to focus on three things that Jesus encouraged His disciples with as he departed from them.

The first thing He offered them was peace.  The peace that Jesus offers is not a peace that is absent from trouble or problems, the disciples were about to have plenty of those.  The peace that Jesus gives and offers is a peace that transcends circumstances.  It’s an experiential peace that comes from being in the presence of God.

Today:

Take a moment and ask God to give you His peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

If you have children:

Are your kids to describe peace.  Ask them where they would like there to be peace in their lives.  Pray with that God would give them peace.

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:19-21

Have you ever considered why Jesus was born of a virgin?  Why ‘that which [was] conceived in her [was] from the Holy Spirit’?  One of the most significant reasons is mentioned by the angel of the Lord in verse 21, ‘for he will save his people from their sins’.

There is a difference between us and Jesus in our births.  When we are born, we are born with a sin nature.  There is nothing we can do about it.  Every baby born since Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son, was born with a sin nature… except one.  Jesus was born without this nature, because he was not born of man, but born of the Holy Spirit.

That is significant because it is the only way that Jesus could be without a sin nature, and therefore save his people from their sins by taking on the penalty of their sins.

Today:

What emotion does this stir in you?  Thankfulness, curiosity, wonder?  Take a moment to worship Jesus for His advent into our world.

If you have children:

Ask them to describe how Jesus is like us (i.e. he laughs, dreams, eats).  Ask them to describe how Jesus is not like us (i.e. did not sin, mediate between us and God).

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