Posts by Brian and Kathy Emmet

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On Earth, Part II

Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals o...

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On Earth

I looked, and there was a great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb crying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9-10). What a beautiful scene: that great multitude, as "diverse" as we could possibly imagine, gathered to worship, cente...

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It Matters

They chose Nicholas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism (Acts 6:5). We've been looking at how the first Christians responded to a significant challenge and problem, a disparity in treatment between the Hebraic and Grecian widows. Usually, when we hear a sermon on this passage, we're looking at the beginning of the "office of deacon" and think the major take-away has to do...

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From Mixed to Fixed

the Grecian Jews complained against Hebraic Jews (Acts 6:1). Everything human has problems. This does not mean that every single thing humans do is bad. Just that it is mixed, a mixture of some of our best impulses and some of our worst, of mistaken certainties and honest questions, of motives base and noble, of God's Spirit and our sinfulness. This "mixture principle" ...

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The View from the Same Side

A priest, when he saw the man, passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite saw himand passed by on the other side. But when a Samaritan came to where the man was he went to him (Luke 10:31-34). What we do is heavily dependent on what we see what we are willing to see. The priest and Levite in this parable see a danger, a not-my-problem situation. We don't know what ...

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Overheard

Luke 10:25-37 "Whwhwhat happened? Where am I?" "You're at the Jericho Palms Motel, pal. I run the place." "What am I doing here? How did I get here? Ouch! What's the story with all these bandages?" "You don't know what happened to you?" "Let's see I had some business in Jerusalem, and was heading home, and oh, my: I remember now! It was terrible what they did to me ...

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Subversive Stories

In reply, Jesus said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho " (Luke 10:30). We're continuing our new Race, Power and Healing series by listening to one of Jesus' most familiar and beloved parables. "Good Samaritan" has entered our language and even our legal system despite many people no longer knowing where the phrase originated. This sermon series began with ...

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Rhetorical Questions?

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?""I don't know," he replied, "am I my brother's keeper?"" (Genesis 4:9). Well, that was unexpected: on top of a pandemic, lock-downs, re-openings, hygiene and masksa brutal, appalling killing of an unarmed, handcuffed African- American man by a white police officer (while three other officers stood by) and rightful ...

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Decluttered

The LORD appeared to Abram so he built an altar to the LORD who had appeared to him. From there, he went on and pitched his tent there he built an altar to the LORD (Genesis 12:7-8). Marie Kondo has made a name for herself and a small fortune by teaching us how to declutter. We could have learned all that and more from Abram. Abram pitched his tent, but he built his ...

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Leave and Go--Together

"Leave your country, your people, and your father's house and go " (Genesis 12:1). Abram left everything, but he didn't leave alone. We had one of the most significant "leave and go" moments of our lives about two years ago. Our pastoral assignment in Massachusetts was drawing to a close. And we were experiencing those hard-to- capture but also hard-to-ignore nudges and ...

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On the Road...Again?

Genesis 12:1-9 Why did Abram have to go? Why couldn't God have blessed him, made him into a great nation, even blessed the whole world through him right where he was? Because something necessary happens on the way. As we head into this new week of our Into the Unknown series, we pick up this ancient story of an incredible journey. Journey-stories are among our most an...

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I Do Not Deserve

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.But just say the word and my servant will be healed" (Matthew 8:8). It's been said that justice means getting what we deserve; mercy means not getting what we deserve; and that grace means getting what we could never deserve. In the face of uncertainty, the centurion is motivated by compassion ...

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Certainty? Overrated!

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him,asking for help (Matthew 8:5). Into the Unknown How do we find our way in the face of great uncertainty? Uncertainty certainly feels uncomfortable, threatening, exhausting. Is seeking certainty the right response to uncertainty? Maybe not as much as we think. Of our four Gospels, Matthew is the most Jewish in tone a...

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My Way!

But Naaman went away angry he turned and went off in a rage "Go in peace," Elisha said (2 Kings 5:11-12, 19). Naaman knew how things worked and how to get things done. He was capable, decisive and successful. A military man, he knew about orders, obeying them and giving them. As a well-established, well-regarded commander, maybe more these days about giving orders. Na...

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Outside Voices

Namaan was a commander of the army a great man in the eyes of his masterhighly regarded a valiant soldier but he had leprosy (2 Kings 5:1). Leprosy, like corona virus, is no respecter of persons. This week's passage is about paying attention to "outside" voices, those that come from outside the normal channels, our preferred sources, the "proper authorities." Namaan's...

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Comfortable?

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased (Matthew 14:32). WARNING: I am going to call into question a cherished phrase of Christianese. GOOD NEWS: you get to decide if I'm right or wrong! Or somewhere in between. The phrase is "get out of your comfort zone." Maybe it's because I've heard it too often. Maybe it's because I am too comfortable. But at the same time, I ...

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Entering VUCAville?

"It's a ghost!" they said and cried out in fear Jesus said, "Take courage, it is I.Don't be afraid" Peter said, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water" "Come," Jesus said Peter got out of the boat (Matthew 14:26-29). VUCA is apparently a new acronym for our times: life is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Volatile: changing rapidly, constan...

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Cheers for Thomas?

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were,and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it (John 20:25). "Doubting" Thomas, that wet blanket on the resurrection party. Talk about being in a confined space: "Unless I stick my hand into the spear wound in his side, I won't believe it." Poor Thomas has become the go-to illustration...

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Powerful Peace

Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you Peace be with you Peace be with you!" (John 20:19, 21, 26) Elijah wanted to die. Nebuchadnezzar wanted the three rebellious Jews to die. Paul and Silas didn't die in Philippi, but a severe beating and imprisonment in a first-century jail probably got them pretty close. As we come this week to the fourth and ...

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Staying Put

The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joybecause he had come to believe in Godhe and his whole family (Acts 16:34). Everyone in this passage is in a tight space. Paul and Silas, in prison, of course; they're the heroes of the story. But also: a slave girl, economically exploited and demonically oppressed. Some prominent Phi...

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In Bad Trouble for Good Reason

Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment, the spirit left her (Acts 16:18). What got Paul and Silas into the tight space of a jail in Philippi? We're more familiar with how they got out, or rather how God got them outmore on that during this third week of ou...

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Unbound

They saw the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; theirrobes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them (Daniel 3:27).Refuse to bow in worship? Into the fire you go. The king orders the furnace heated "seven times hotter than usual" and orders his strongest soldiers to bind them tightly and toss them in. The heat is so i...

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Antibodies Needed!

There are some Jews who neither serve your godsnor worship the image of gold you have set up" (Daniel 3:12). Exile to Babylon was, for the Jews of Daniel's time, the ultimate discipline from the Lord. But God's judgments are righteous and redemptive; their goal is not punishment, but recovery of identity, restoration of true health, reclamation of mission, and-- God ext...

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Furnace Friends

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3: 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 22, 26, 28-30). The most famous story in the Book of Daniel doesn't even have Daniel in it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: every single time they appear in Scripture, they appear together and "in order," always Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Each and every time, standing as one, speaking as one. They appe...

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Upright

Daniel 3the whole chapter, please! As we relearn each and every Easter, God does his finest work in the tightest spaces. Please keep that empty tomb in mind as we work our way through this Shelter series. Easter is not a once-and-done date on a calendar; death-and-resurrection is how God always goes about his work Be on the lookout for ways in which each of our Shelter ...

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Running to Our Lives

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life (1 Kings 19:3) Where did Elijah think he was going? What was he hoping to find once he got there? He runs because the powerful king and queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel, have sworn to kill him. He flees, first, all the way to Beersheba, the southernmost city in the Promised Land. From there, a day's journey into the desert. Find...

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Hamster Wheels, Ears that Hear, Eyes that See

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD,for the LORD is about to pass by" (1 Kings 19:11) What if God would like to have a different kind of conversation with us, with you? And what if God is present, is with us, in our current circumstancesin our current tight spacesto that end? There are all kinds of tight spaces. Some are shelters...

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Sheltering Places, Confined Spaces

Elijah traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.There he went into a cave and spent the night (1 Kings 19:8-9). God does some of his best work in confined spaces. Jonah inside a great fish. Paul writing much of our New Testament from prison, and John, the Book of Revelation from a penal island in the Aegean Sea. Bunyan's Pilgrim's P...

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Sit-With Saturday

So Joseph brought some linen cloth, took the body down,wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb (Mark 15:46). What is today, this day that you are reading these words? Well, it's Saturday, April 11, 2020 a weekend day, Day Number Whatever in our virus-changed world maybe your birthday, or anniversary just another day the day after Good Friday, the day before E...

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New Normal to New Creation

Mark 16:1-8 Take time with the story; take time in it. Notice: Mark tells the story of the Resurrection through the lens of three women. They have been "minor characters," not even mentioned by Mark until the very end of chapter 15: these women witness the crucifixion and watch as Jesus' body is entombed nearby (15:40, 47). It has been just a week since what seemed to b...

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Did You Notice?

Mark 16:1-8 As you work your way through Mark 11-15 and arrive at this week's passage, Mark 16:1-8, the sermon text for Easter Sunday, here are some things to notice. First, notice Mark's very strange ending. The final word in Mark's Gospel is afraid! You'll probably have some footnotes in your Bible that explain that we're not sure if this is how Mark intended to conclu...

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What Happens on the Way

When the Sabbath was over very early on the first day of the week,just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb (Mark 16:1-2) We'll be reading this week's Connect Devotionals in the days immediately after Palm Sunday. However, they focus on the sermon text for next Sunday, Easter Sunday. So we're doing a bit of time-bending here, providing tomorrow's news (or n...

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Not My Feet?

"No, said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet" (John 13:8). Oh, Peter: you got it partly right. It is of course inappropriate that the one you call "Lord" should be washing your feet! (We note that Peter is happy to advise Jesus, but not leap to his feet and switch places with him.) (And, noting how this story unfolds, Jesus would not have let Peter switch places.) It...

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This is The Week

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The Old Way and the New Normal

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16). A tiny virus we can't see is bringing our world to its knees. We're hearing the phrase "new normal" a lotand it seems like we're getting a new new normal every day. This can be confusing, scary, wearying, but it looks like...

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The Way of Life and Love

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). You might be familiar with this "old Maine" joke: a tourist stops to ask an old Mainer for directions: "How do I get to Millinocket?" The old-timer rubs his chin, looks one way, ...

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The Jesus Way

live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself upas a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). Many of us are familiar with this Scripture: "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life '" (John 14:6). Before Jesus is the truth and the life, he is the way. Jesus calls us to follow him. Follow his lead. Follow his example. Follow his c...

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Construction in the Age of COVID-19, Part Two

In him you too are being built together to become a dwellingwhere God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). The Jesus way is the only way God goes about God's business. We're looking at God's new-Temple building project, as Paul unpacks it in this week's passage (Ephesians 2:11-22). And very suddenly and unexpectedly, we're thinking about this in the face of a pandemic. ...

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Construction in the Age of COVID-19

In him you too are being built together to become a dwellingwhere God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Ephesians 2:19-22 describes an active construction zone: building materials (people!) are gathered, cornerstone (Jesus!) installed, foundation laid, an entirely new kind of "building" is risinga building that actually is not a physical structure but a new kind of ...

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A New Temple, in Three Acts

Ephesians 2:11-22 Your Connect Devotional scribes hope our readers are reading the whole of the week's Scripture passage before diving into our brief attempts to comment on one or two aspects of it each morning. Please get a sense for the forest before reading our observations on one or two trees! We're currently exploring a wonderful, beautiful, un-boundaried "forest"...

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Performance Review

When you were dead in your sins God made you alive with Christ (Colossians 2:15). We're a pretty "performance oriented" country. We love high-performance cars, get performance reviews at work, experience "performance anxiety" of all kinds and in lots of situations, and know that "past performance is no guarantee of future results"! We're only as good as our last perfor...

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Painting with the Full Palette

God made you alive forgave all our sins cancelled the written code that was against us disarmed the principalities and powers, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). We all have favorite colors, right? As a child, when you got that box of new markers or colored pencils or paints or the Crayola 128-crayon mega-box, you had some colors you used more than ...

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The Ministry of Reconciliation

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our sins against us.And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). The message of reconciliationthat great good news that through the cross, God has reconciled us to Godis hard to say and harder to hear in our current context. The general idea of reconciliation is highly regar...

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Reconciled to God

All this is from God, who reconciled himself through Christand gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). Reconciled is a wonderful word about a bad situation. Reconciliation is needed when a relationship has broken down, gone bad, been destroyed by evil, injustice, anger, rejection, bitterness, unforgiveness. Reconciliation involves hard and difficult ...

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What Happened on the Cross

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) At the heart and center of the Christian faith and life hangs a crucified man. And around that terrible image some weighty and wonder-filled words have gathered: atonement, reconciliation, ransom, forgiveness, redemption, restoration, substitution, sacrifice, blood, victory, along with many others. We w...

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Now That's a Prayer!

Then Jehoshaphat stood up and said "O LORD God we have no power to face this mighty army. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you" (2 Chronicles 20:5, 12). Ever feel at a loss for words when it comes to prayer? The Bible is chock full of prayers: every Psalm is a kind of prayer, so there's 150 of them. The Lord's Prayer. The prayers that Paul prayed for the ...

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The Most Human Thing We Do

Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Israel fell down in worship before the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:19). What's the most human thing we do? Better yet, what's the most humanizing thing we dowhat is it that makes us most distinctively and most fully human? Worship. Every human being is a worshipper of something. Christ calls us to be wo...

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Stand...Stand...Stand...Stand!

Ephesians 6:10-17 There it is, four times, in this classic Pauline passage on "spiritual warfare": stand. Take your stand stand your ground after you have done everything, stand stand firm. Not stand around doing nothing. Not stand still, unable or unwilling to move. Not stand in a safe spot. Stand in the battle. Keep your position. Follow the "standing orders" of Ki...

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Armor Looks Good on You!

"Put on the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:13). If you ran into someone, let's say at a crowded checkout line, dressed in a full suit of Roman armorhelmet, breastplate, shield, sword, the whole worksyou might be puzzled, bemused, or maybe annoyed: no wonder the line's moving so slowly! If, however, you encountered someone whose life was characterized by truth, righteous...

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We Wrestle...Not?

"Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). The King James renders Ephesians 6:12 like this: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood." Many Christians have mis-heard and mis-read these words as saying "we don't have to wrestle." But if you are a Christ follower, you are already in a wr...

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Our Eyes are Connected to Our Ears

2 Kings 6:8-23 Wouldn't it be terrific to know what your enemies were saying and planning? Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to see, as Elisha could, God's armies of fire, surrounding and protecting you? Surely, if we studied Elisha's life and story deeply enough, we could discover some spiritual tips and techniques to provide ourselves with that kind of hearing, that k...

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Learning to See

2 Kings 6:8-23 It's a funny story: an ancient warlord who finds himself being spied upon by God; he imagines he has surrounded his enemy, Elijah the prophet, only to find he has been surrounded by the armies of God; he and his army are struck blind, then led like sheep straight to their opponent and to certain death ("Shall I kill them, my father; shall I kill them?" ve...

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What's Really Going On?

[Elisha's servant said], "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" The prophet answered,"Those who are with us are more than are with them" (2 Kings 6:15-16). We're beginning a new series, "Eyes Wide Open." Let's set the scene for this week's Scripture passage: It's been about 200 years since King David, and around 850 years before Jesus. God's people Israel, originally unit...

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From Blessing to Building

From Blessing to Building Brian and Kathy Emmet Blessed are the poor in spirit Everyone who hears these words of mine and putsthem into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock (Matthew 5:3, 7:24). Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with blessing. Who doesn't like to be blessed? Jesus ends the Sermon with a story about two builders and two bui...

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Not Everyone

Not Everyone Brian and Kathy Emmet Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). "Jesus is Lord!" is the core Christian confession. The apostle Paul wrote that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we ...

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Two Ways, Two Trees, Two Buildings

Two Ways, Two Trees, Two Buildings Brian and Kathy Emmet Matthew 7:13-29 Fred Rogers ("Mister Rogers"), who appears to have known Jesus pretty well and modeled some pretty right-side up living in our upside-down world, said, "Life is deep and simple, and what our world gives us is shallow and complicated." Jesus makes things simple, which is not the same as making th...

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Hope for the Overwhelmed, Part Two

Sermon on the mount...

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"I Don't Need This!"

Sermon on the mount...

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Hope for the Overwhelmed

Sermon on the mount...

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When You Pray...Forgive

Sermon on the Mount...

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When You Give, Pray, Fast

When you give, pray, fast....

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That You Might Be Children of Your Father In Heaven

Sermon on the Mount...

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This Can't Be Right!

Sermon on the Mount...

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But I Tell You

Sermon on the mount...

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Salt Gone Wrong, Light Gone Bad

Salt and light...

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The Salty and the Shining

Salty...

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The Salt and Light of the Kingdom

Kingdom salt and light...

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Blessed Are the Persecuted

Jesus says it’s hard to live this kind of blessed life. There is resistance and opposition, both internally and externally, to living a blessed life characterized by poverty of spirit, meekness, mourning, purity of heart and all the rest that Jesus lists in his nine blessings. Resistance and opposition means persecution....

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Happy New Year - Blessed Are

Here’s the good news: God begins the righting of the upside-down world, not by commanding or rebuking or punishing, but by coming in person and speaking words of blessing. Blessing gets life going -- true, real, and abundant life!...

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