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Opening Our Lives to People in Need

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Last Sunday, April 23, Pastor Ed Allen started up again preaching about the 7 habits we as a church want to cultivate.  Now he's speaking about the habit "Opening our lives to people in need."

The Scripture we looked at is Isaiah 1:10-17.  Isaiah was speaking to God's people, but begins by offending them.

"When you come before me, who asked this of you?"  But they thought God did!

Americans are deeply religious and we think we know what religion is.

Isaiah is addressing people who were supposedly doing the right religious things and believing the right religious things.  God said He will not listen to their prayers. 

This is a big one.  Why?

They need to seek justice.

More than voting, Jesus would care for the poor himself.

Matthew 23:23-24 - The Pharisees were fiercely concerned about their own personal morality, but more important is justice, mercy and faithfulness.

This is tied with a healthy habit:  Open our lives to people in need.

We should treat this like a discipline.  It's something we pursue, not a passive activity.

We're not constantly passing need, so it's easy to ignore it.

But God requires us to work at this.  He wants us to actually help.

We need this.  We need our hearts to be expanded by the needs of others.

God has blessed us so that we would be a blessing to others.

We may not need Isaiah's rebuke, but we do need the reminder.

Kinetic: He Is Risen!

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Today, on Resurrection Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached a message from John 20:24-29, where Jesus appears to Thomas.

Why did John feature this scene as the focus of his story of Jesus' life?  Why is this the most important interaction in the whole book of John?

There's an important way Thomas is not like us at all:

Thomas is one of the apostles.

Thomas didn't need to see the resurrected Jesus in order to believe.  In a real sense, he already did believe, because he was still showing up; he was there.  Why did Jesus show up again for Thomas?

Thomas and the other apostles were specifically chosen to be eyewitnesses to the Resurrection.

The apostles had all actually seen the resurrected Jesus.

John is emphasizing:  This stuff actually happened!  We saw it with our own eyes!

When John saw the empty tomb, he believed.  Some of us are more like Thomas.

But there are two ways Thomas is like us:

1)  Many of us are just like Thomas in the way our faith is assaulted by doubt.

Doubt is common.  It is not the opposite of faith, which is apathy.

You can only doubt what you partly believe.

Trying to force doubt away doesn't work.  Trying to ignore it will lead you to apathy.

For some, your doubt is in danger of metastasizing into apathy.  Inactivity is how that happens.  Don't put your doubts on the shelf.

Thomas still showed up the next week.  Keep showing up.

Doubt your doubts! 

We are blessed here -- We have not seen, but we have believed.

2)  Thomas is like us in his faith.

He here makes the clearest declaration of faith in the entire Bible:  "My Lord and my God!"

This statement of faith is on what John's entire message is focused.

Thomas makes the ultimate faith declaration.  He proclaims the heart of the Gospel.

If Jesus' teaching was the point, if it were all about a code of conduct, Thomas wouldn't have needed this encounter.

Our faith rests on a historical event, which changes life as we know it.

It's about Jesus, not about us.

The point is the power of the resurrected Christ!

We touch on that when we can say with our whole hearts, "My Lord and my God!"

Reliance on the great teacher Jesus is about you.  We don't need a teacher; we need a Savior.

Jesus consistently claimed to be God.  No one in their right mind would follow a teacher who made those claims - unless they were true.

We don't need more information; we need a Savior.

John was saying, "You can believe us!  We barely believed it ourselves:  Check out Thomas!"

What now?

1)  Pay attention to the teaching of the Apostles.

Hear it from the eyewitnesses.  Read the book yourself.  (Start with John!)

2)  Take the next right step.

3)  Remember your own experiences.  Don't surrender ground to doubt unnecessarily.

4)  Look at his wounds.

We need a God who bleeds.

My Lord and my God!

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We finished up sharing Communion together, and after the service, the children had an Easter Egg Hunt.

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