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Game Plan: Open Our Lives to People in Need

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[We're back!  I was wondering if anyone's reading this blog, now that we've got !  But today I was asked why it's gone silent and told that some people look forward to reading it.  On top of that, I noticed I get a lot more out of the sermon when I go over my notes by writing it out.  So let's try this again!]

Today Pastor Ed talked more about our 7 Habits for going Deeper & Wider, today looking at the habit:

Open Our Lives to People in Need.

He preached out of Amos 2:6-8; 5:18-24.  Based on Scripture, this topic is one of the top five or top two most important topics to God.

First, some background.  Amos was a shepherd-farmer preaching during the time of Jeroboam II, king of Israel.  The first half of Jeroboam's reign was a time of expansion and the second half a time of decay.  Amos was a country bumpkin from Judah speaking to the elite in power in Israel.

Amos denounced them for mistreating the poor and other things.  He was not alone in denouncing this.

Five points Amos wants to make sure we get:

1)  God will assess everyone's behavior.

He hated their religious festivals when they weren't doing right.  God will judge us.

2)  At least part of the standard for this assessment will be how we treated the poor.

In our case, the problem is mostly neglect.  See Matthew 21:31ff

3)  Hoping that God will intervene on our behalf when we don't intervene for the poor and needy is a false hope.

See Amos 5:18-20

4)  Hoping that our religion will help us when we don't care for the poor and needy is a false hope.

See Amos 5:21-22

5)  Our God is a God of justice and expects our lives to reflect his justice.

See Amos 5:23-24.  "You never break the laws of justice.  You just break yourself on them." -- Dorothy Sayers.  It determines our spiritual health.

Four Ideas for putting this into practice.  (We need to be intentional about it!)

1)  Make a plan to give away more this year than last year.

2)  Use a holiday time this year to serve the needy.

3)  Go on a short-term mission trip.

4)  If you're discouraged about your finances today, resist the temptation to fear.

We must be intentional about it.

The Jesus Movement converted the world by taking care of the poor and needy.

The Savior of the World - The Second Coming

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Today Associate Pastor Alex York preached, continuing in the Advent series "The Savior of the World."

Another part of Advent is readings about Jesus' second advent, the second coming -- such as Luke 21:25-28.  We tend to overlook those readings in the Advent season, just as we try not to think about the many injustices still existing in the world today and all the people who are longing for Jesus to come and put things right.

We looked at Three Suggestions from II Peter 3:2-14:

1)  Remember regularly.

vs. 2 -- He appeals to the prophets, to Jesus, and to the apostles.

The prophets talked about a coming day of the Lord when he would come and set things right.

Jesus himself said to keep watch and be ready.

The apostles also preached about the second coming.

Jesus is coming again!

2)  Wait patiently.

Verses 8-9 -- The Lord is giving everyone an opportunity to repent.  (Psalm 90:4; Galatians 4:4)

Like his first coming, his second coming will be at just the right time.

Ezekiel 8:23 -- He's giving us opportunities to turn and live.

Since the Lord is patient, we, too, should be patient.  It's active waiting, searching our own hearts, showing grace toward others.  Energetic waiting.

3)  Prepare eagerly.

Verses 11-14 -- "live holy and godly lives"; "look forward to the day of the Lord"; "speed its coming"; "make every effort."

We will get front row seats as Jesus makes everything right.

Don't draw our values from this world -- it's passing away.  Godly lives are aimed at bringing glory to God.

"Speed its coming" -- Join with God in his work.  In our motives and actions, strive to emulate Jesus.

Our world is full of people who are hungry for hope.

Remember:  The back end of the story is just as exciting.

We're in a season of opportunity!

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