God Joins Us as Brothers Through Jesus

Our pastor, Mateen Elass, shared these verses today in his sermon. We are celebrating Pentacost one week last because of last weekend’s holiday. God joins all of us together, regardless of our background or ethnicity, through his Son, Jesus. Praise God for his grace!

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. (Ephesians 2:14-16 NLT)

God Never Abandons Us

These are our sermon verses today, which are important reminders about God’s faithfulness:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters…

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-29, 35-39 NLT)

Participating in God’s Divine Nature

I pray God would fill me with His Holy Spirit, as Peter described, to escape “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

God Created the Universe

I love the way the author of Hebrews explained how we understand God is the creator and author of the universe:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3 NIV)

And also in Colossians we read:

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

Narrated Sketchnote of Genesis 1:28 sermon by Jen Howat

These are my sketchnotes of a sermon on March 8, 2014, by Jen Howat at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma. Jen preached on Genesis 1:28:

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)

I created these sketchnotes on my iPad using the free app “Forge” by Adonit and the black pencil stylus by PaperFiftyThree. I imported the final image into the iPad app “Explain Everything” to create this 3 minute narrated sketchnote version.

For more information about sketchnoting check out my eBook single on “Visual Notetaking” as well as my public resource page on visual notetaking / sketchnoting on ShowWithMedia.com.

Ash Wednesday Sermon: Isaiah 58:1-12

This evening I had an opportunity to share the Ash Wednesday sermon at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma. The sermon text I chose was Isaiah 58:1-12.

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Here is an audio recording of the sermon, which ran just under 20 minutes. I recorded this with iTalk Recorder on my iPhone, which displays elapsed time, so I used this to make sure I didn’t run over the suggested 15-20 minute time limit for the meditation. After transferring the file to my laptop tonight, I uploaded it to Auphonic to normalize and compress it into a 32 kbps mp3 file.

The most powerful part of the service for me was participating with our three pastors in the “imputing of ashes.” As church attendees came forward to receive communion, we first marked a cross on their forehead with ashes from a small bowl. I have been very moved as a participant in this service in past years, but it was even more moving to help lead it. Young and old, people I knew and did not know, I said “From ashes you came, and from ashes you shall return.” A sobering but important reminder of our own mortality, and our universal need for God and the saving grace of his son, Jesus Christ.

Praise to God and thanks to God for his blessings, love, and grace. Praise and thanks to God for the opportunity to be a part of our church community of faith.

penance by Sarah Korf, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Sarah Korf 

God Identifies Us By Giving His Holy Spirit

A powerful & important reminder this morning via Don Boyd’s message at our Friday Morning Men’s Group:

13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭13‬ NLT)

Identity is so important and I’m thinking about it more as our kids get older. I want to define my identity in Christ. I need to seek guidance and direction from God and His Holy Spirit. Today especially, My eyes are open to the direction God wants me to go in my life.

I know sometimes God brings us into situations of great discomfort to shift our thinking and behavior into a new direction. I think sometimes we bring ourselves into those situations by our own poor choices, but God has mercy on us and lifts us up with His grace when we call upon His name.

Please pray for me to have faith in the promises and truth of God and His word.

It is dark in the valley, but there is light & help above in the heavens.

1 2 3 4 5 13