We all go through trying times when it doesn’t seem that God is near, or that he is not answering our prayers. More often than not, we find in hindsight that God was there all along - comforting us, guiding us and protecting us. We were just unable to see it because of the circumstances we were in. But are there times when God is actually not answering us? Times when our relationship with God is so broken that we are not communicating? Sadly, yes. Today, we are going to look at two portions of Scripture where we are told that God is not answering us, and the reasons why. The good news is this is not a death sentence! God desires a reconciled relationship with us when our actions have damaged that relationship, and He has provided a way back.
The love God poured out for his creation when He sent his Son, Jesus, was for an abundance of purposes all stemming from His love for us. (1 John 1:9) Jesus didn't just come as a teacher, a prophet, or a good example of how to live, although He was all of those things. No, Jesus came to SAVE us. God’s ultimate purpose in sending Jesus to walk with his creation was for him to die on our behalf for our sins. Those who believe in Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for them are the happy recipients of His love eternally. Peace on the earth, good will to men, From heaven's all gracious King!
In this 2nd Chapter of Malachi, God, through his prophet, turns his attention to the priests of of the temple. God rebukes them for not being careful with how they represent him before the people - particularly with their teaching. Further, Malachi focuses on one devastating result of the priests not leading the people properly: casual and frequent divorce and re-marriage to pagans. God pronounces judgement on the people and their descendants who violate their marriage covenant. How did things deteriorate so miserably? And more important, how do we guard against going down the same path?
In our text today, John uses courtroom terminologies as he summarizes his case that Jesus is God. Using words like testimony and witness further prove to his readers that what John is stating is fact beyond any doubt. Today we will explore these truths and understand why it is so important to have a right understanding of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished on our behalf.
Christians are to live counter-culturally. This does not mean that Christians are to be weird, or practice strange rituals - but Christians are to live a life of generosity, continuously looking for ways to help others. With Christ as our example, how do we set aside our own needs and desires and work first for the betterment of our brothers and sisters in Christ? While John does not give us a magic formula, he does let us know how Christians should discipline ourselves to act, and the power of the Holy Spirit in helping us know if we’re heading in the right direction.
Before he dies, Jacob calls his sons to him and blesses his sons.
Joseph finally confronts his brothers with his true identity. What will he do? He has the power to take their lives should he want to. But Joseph sees the bigger picture. How did he come to this? Today we will recount briefly Joseph’s life and how it has led to this confrontation with his brothers. We will see God’s hand through his life that has trained him for this very moment. We will also consider our own lives and how God might be using our story as training for His goals and plans for our lives.
In our text today, Jacob is confronted with the reality of what awaits him when he meets his brother Esau again for the first time in twenty years. However, unlike the Jacob we have read about previously, he seems to be understanding the tough lessons of his life and learning dependence upon the Lord. Today, we want to look at what dependence upon God looks like, and how we might apply this same level of dependence upon Him in our lives today.
Religious practices are good and appropriate when they are practiced for the right reasons. Today, we will study a strange story of deceit and revenge, coupled with Jacob’s strange attempt to manipulate the natural order of events. We will look at his actions and try to understand if we sometimes do similar things in trying to manage life’s outcomes.
While on the run, Jacob meets Rachel and strikes a deal with her father to marry her. But Laban deceives Jacob and this deceit cost Jacob 7 years of hard labor. Jacob, the deceiver, is deceived. And we can be left asking, where was God in all of this? Answering this question and preaching for us this week is Bill Sullivan, elder in training at Journey Church.