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City of Refuge Fellowship
Building Bridges Through Prayer
Category: Christianity
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by Abie Kulynych
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December 26, 2017 08:54 AM PST

Text: Isaiah 7:14

Description: This past Sunday we celebrated Christmas Eve together by concentrating on the themes of two Christmas carols. After singing the first hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, Abie shared about the theme of the hymn, Israel’s longing for the Messiah and then we had a time of intercession, praying for that longing to return to Israel, that God’s people would long for His Son. We then sang “O Holy Night” and Abie shared the reality that at the birth of Christ hope literally exploded to the world. And we closed by praying together for the “thrill of hope” found in the birth of Christ to be realized “to the Jew first” and to every nation and heart on the earth.

December 26, 2017 08:52 AM PST

Text: Isaiah 7:14

Description: This past Sunday we celebrated Christmas Eve together by concentrating on the themes of two Christmas carols. After singing the first hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, Abie shared about the theme of the hymn, Israel’s longing for the Messiah and then we had a time of intercession, praying for that longing to return to Israel, that God’s people would long for His Son. We then sang “O Holy Night” and Abie shared the reality that at the birth of Christ hope literally exploded to the world. And we closed by praying together for the “thrill of hope” found in the birth of Christ to be realized “to the Jew first” and to every nation and heart on the earth.

December 26, 2017 08:49 AM PST

Text: Romans 12:1-2

Description: This past Sunday we had the pleasure of having Kevin Flowers, from Refuge Ministries, as our guest speaker. We pray that your hearts would be open to surrendering to his challenge of making an enemy a friend as he shares with us that we are meant to illuminate the rooms God places us in because God is shaping and molding us so that we can affect the people around us.

December 26, 2017 08:47 AM PST

Text: Genesis 2:1-7

Description: This past Sunday we had the pleasure of having Paul Zazzo as our guest speaker. We pray that his sermon would open up your hearts to see God both as the powerful, awesome God who spoke all of creation into existence (Elohim) and the close and personal God (Yahweh) who is a loving Father that put His hands into the dirt to create man.

December 26, 2017 08:46 AM PST

Text: John 5:31-47

Description: Ten years ago, when Lebron James was making his first trip to the NBA finals, Nike launched a new advertising slogan that simply said, “We are all witnesses”. The point was that we were all watching something historic, something that was important to see because it would, at some point, be important to tell. That’s what a witness is, it’s not just someone who observes but it’s someone who watches closely so that what they have seen can be reported to those who have not been able to see it for themselves. The thing I’ve always wondered about Nike’s campaign was if they knew that they had stolen it from the first sermon ever preached in the church era. In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit filled the first 120 members of the church, Peter stood up to preach and as he neared the end of his sermon, in verse 32 he said, “God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of it.” Peter in that first sermon reminded us of something that God had been teaching from the very beginning, there is power and importance in our witness. In John 5, Jesus was being judged by the religious leaders of the Jews. He had healed a disabled man on the Sabbath and then, in their minds, caused that man to sin by telling him to pick up his bed and walk. They persecuted Him for that but then, when He answered their questions, judgment and persecution by saying “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” they moved from judgment to condemnation, they were ready to kill Him. While it was not in a courtroom and it was not formal, it helps us to understand this passage if we realize that Jesus was on trial. Jesus, in all His kindness, patience and humility offered grace to those that are judging Him. He didn’t lash out, fight back or even defend Himself, rather, He worked to reveal the character of the Father and His own identity as their Redeemer. In today’s text Jesus points to the witnesses of His identity, rather than defending Himself, He calls on the witnesses of John the Baptist, the works the Father called and empowered Him to do, the voice of God and the Word of God. Jesus is not anxious or angry about being judged, He’s content to know that the Father has provided the witnesses for His defense. This morning I hope that we can see that God always has a witness, I pray that we will search our lives, backward and forward and allow the Holy Spirit to point out all the times when we thought we were alone but God had a witness to testify to His presence, when we thought that we had blown it, lost it all or been out of God’s will, but the Father made sure there was a witness of His restoring power, when we went our own way only to remember our Father’s house and be led back to the One who doesn’t change His character even when we succumb to our calamity. I have been praying that we would see the witnesses in our lives but also, that we would realize that we have now become the witnesses in the lives of those who live around us. God has not just called us to be witnesses, He has created us to needed witnesses. May the Spirit and the Scriptures reveal to us today the power of our witness.

November 27, 2017 09:31 AM PST

Text: John 5:19-30

Description: Nobody likes to be judged. We defend ourselves, protect ourselves, make excuses and explanations for ourselves. We quote Jesus out of context saying, “Judge not that you be not judged” or make ridiculous statements such as “Only God can judge me.” We bristle against the idea of being judged. In John 5, the Pharisees have judged Jesus. If you recall, Jesus healed a man that had been disabled for 38 years and then told him to pick up his bed and walk. The problem was that Jesus did all this on the Sabbath, He used His power to heal and then He commanded the man to carry his bed, in the minds of the religious Jews He broke the Sabbath himself and then He caused someone else to break it. The good news of the miracle got lost in the need to pass judgment. We read the passage and are excited about the miracle, the Pharisees heard about it and were angered at what they saw as Jesus’ blatant disregard for God’s law and their self-appointed job to make sure the law was followed as they believed it should be. Jesus, in His kindness and generosity didn’t disregard the objections and judgment of the Pharisees, but instead He answered them saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Jesus was graciously trying to show them that they didn’t rightly understand the law because they didn’t fully know the Father. He was pointing out that the Law didn’t belong to them, so they weren’t the ones who could control it. He was showing them that the only way to keep the Law was to know the Judge. He was working to take them from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. He was, as we talk about so often, trying to change their perspective by offending their senses. Jesus healed on the Sabbath on purpose, He told the man to carry his bed on purpose, He was creating an opportunity for the religious Jews to judge Him so that He could show them the power of His mercy in the midst of their judgment. This is what God does, He breaks the walls of the boxes that we place Him in, He enlarges our small ways of thinking, He expands our very limited understanding so that He can teach us that when the Judge loves you, His judgments are all covered in mercy. This passage of Scripture takes us from Jesus being judged to revealing that He Himself is the Judge. It doesn’t just call us to life it reveals that we are in fact dead and it teaches us that in the heart and character of God judgement leads to mercy. I pray today that we will embrace the judgment of God in our lives so that we can live from the mercy we have received rather than living like the Pharisees, in fear of the judgement that could come.

November 27, 2017 09:29 AM PST

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Description: As we talk about often, the Bible is God’s gift to reveal His character, not to give our instructions. It is the written Word that reveals the Living Word. When we approach any Scripture and every Scripture it must be to see who God is. We tend to look at this parable, the parable of the sheep and the goats, for conviction of what we haven’t done or motivation for what we need to do, today I want us to look at it for revelation, to allow it to give us yet another view of who God is.

November 27, 2017 09:26 AM PST

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Description: The old saying is, “What you don’t know, won’t hurt you”. The idea is that ignorance can shield us from responsibility and accountability, that we can’t be judged for what we don’t know. Sadly, this is the coward’s way of thinking because it turns our attention from others to ourselves, it changes our line of sight from outward to inward, it reduces the world to our interests and causes us to see others as either the reason for or solution to our problems rather than seeing ourselves as partners with God in the needs of others. In Matthew 25 Jesus told three parables about awareness. The first two, the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents were directed toward Israel and their lack of awareness of the coming of the Messiah. These parables have applications that we can and often make for ourselves, about the return of Christ, but their initial application was to those Jesus was actively speaking to desiring to open their hearts and their minds, to make them aware that the Messiah they were waiting for was standing in their midst. The third parable, what is often referred to as the parable of the sheep and the goats, was a parable of dual awareness. The Messiah who came to save us will return to judge us and His judgement will be based upon our transformation, did we surrender our lives to Him so that He could remake us into His image? Did we serve Him by becoming like Him? We talk a lot about Jesus’ love, Jesus’ humility, His patience and forgiveness, today we will talk about the fact that these characteristics of Jesus flow from His awareness. Jesus didn’t just know the hearts of men by His divinity He was also aware of the hearts, hurts and hopes of men in their humanity. He looked at the rich young ruler and loved him, He felt virtue leave his body when the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of his garment, He had compassion on the hungry crowd that had followed Him without eating for three days, He knew the rejection of the woman at the well when He asked her for water. Jesus shows His love by being aware of our condition and our circumstances, we show Jesus’ love to the church we are a part of and the world we live in the same way, by first being aware. My prayer today is that we will allow the parable of the sheep and the goats to challenge our awareness, that we will see those around us with the same concern and conviction with which Jesus has seen us and that we will represent and replicate the heart and character of our King by loving Him through loving others, obeying Him by serving others and glorifying Him so that He can redeem others, by being aware of the vast needs that surround us and the great provision that has already been entrusted to us.

November 27, 2017 09:25 AM PST

Text: Multiple Passages

Description: During our service today, we watched a brief part of the story of Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor from Romania, who was imprisoned and often tortured for 14 years for his faith in Christ. After he was ransomed out of Romania, he wrote the story of his imprisonment, which is entitled “Tortured for Christ” and later founded the organization known as Voice of the Martyrs. While Pastor Wurmbrand’s story took place over 60 years ago it is a reality that continues to take place, all over the world, today. Right now, there are Christians being imprisoned, tortured and killed for no reason other than their faith. Because we are blessed, and make no mistake about it, we are blessed to live in a country where we are free to worship as we see fit, we tend to believe that our life is the norm and the persecution we occasionally read or hear about is real but rare. We have it completely backwards. According to Christianity Today 64% of the world’s population live in countries where the government highly restricts religion while 74% of the world’s population live in countries where social hostilities involving religion are high, meaning Christians may not be imprisoned but they often lose jobs, family, friends and any sort of part in the community. Because we are free many of us don’t even realize that we live in a world where freedom is rare rather than the rule. Today, I want us to understand that we are not talking about or praying for some small minority that are being persecuted, we are actually the minority, blessed with freedom so that we can intercede, pray for and join ourselves to the majority that are living and serving in places that are not free and are often less than safe. My prayer, as I have shared before, is that we will learn how to fulfill Hebrews 13:3 and “remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

November 27, 2017 09:24 AM PST

Text: John 5:16-23

Description: Most of us have heard the saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back”, or its reduced form “the last straw”. It’s an idiom that describes how something seemingly minor can create a large or sudden reaction because of the cumulative effect of many small issues or actions. In our text today, the religious Jews went from trying to discredit Jesus for doing miracles on the Sabbath to planning to kill Him because He referred to God as “My Father”. What was it about those words, about hearing Jesus say, “My Father” in reference to God, that made them move from slander to murder? It seems small to us, we call God Father so much that it seems irrelevant or irrational, like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Israel knew that God was their Father, in that they originated from Him, but no one before Jesus had dared to call God, “My Father”. No one had claimed an intimate relationship, as a nation they had settled for a formal one because intimacy requires equality. Not equality as we define it in our culture, all having the same ability, the same opportunity, the same rank and the same role, but equality in having the same devotion to the relationship, the same desire for each other, the same choices of heart, character and commitment. An intimate relationship is not made up of two people who do the same things with and for each other but two people who fit together, each meeting needs, fulfilling desires, making sacrifices and thinking more highly of the other than they think of themselves. An intimate relationship is made up of people who are equal yet distinguished, the same in worth and submitted to each other in function. Intimacy requires equality, when Jesus used an intimate term to refer to God as “My Father”, the Jews understood that if He belonged to God in an intimate relationship then God had also given Himself to Jesus. That was not a picture of God they were willing to accept. He was to be bowed to in fear, not embraced in reverence; approached with trembling not anticipation; spoken of with formality not joyful intimacy. The part that the Jews missed was that Jesus was not holding God for Himself, “My Father” from Jesus’ lips would soon become “our Father” and even “your Father”. He was not just teaching the relationship that He had with God. He was using His relationship with God to teach what God desired for a relationship with each of them, even with each of us. Today we are going to discuss that being equal with God does not mean that we have God’s power, it means we are secure in God’s love and we have been invited to take part in God’s work. It means we are His children, we are not like God, but we are of God, we are from God and we were made in God’s image. This morning I pray that we will let Jesus lead us from using names for God that make us comfortable with who we are and who we want God to be, to calling Him “My Father”, even though that name requires more surrender from us and will provide more mercy from Him. I pray that we will join Jesus and see ourselves as equal with God.

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