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Sermons from Christian Life Center

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Grace Expectations

The Christmas story is perhaps one of the most familiar scripture texts for both believers and potential believers. While to many it is the “same old story” to be read on Christmas Eve along with our other traditional practices, the story from Luke’s Gospel never fails to touch the hearts of those who listen to the Spirit that breathes life into the written word. As we seek new insight into this age-old truth, God never fails to bring His redeeming love and life-saving truth to light. As we consider God’s grace-filled gifts this Christmas, we find that God has designed our lives to be lived with “grace expectations”. We find several examples of those who experienced grace-filled encounters as God interrupted their everyday routine with a dramatic message and an opportunity to participate in His divine work. For each one, the divine visitation began with a message to “fear not” and ended in a great blessing for them and for all of us!

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Gifts of Grace

The Advent Season has the fingerprints of God’s grace on it everywhere we look. As we examine the Advent history in the Gospel of Luke, we find God’s grace expressed to an aging priest, Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. A devout couple without children was blessed with a child, John, the Baptist, who would lead the way for the coming ministry of Jesus Christ. For a young girl named Mary, a visit from an angel was just the beginning of the “favor” (Luke 1:30) that Mary would experience in bearing God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The gift of God’s grace was experienced by Anna and Simeon in their Temple ministry, and grace was even extended to the Magi from the East who were seeking the Truth concerning God’s King. This same grace that we see in the First Advent is really what we celebrate today. God’s grace (His unmerited favor) is the gift that we receive everyday in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and it is that same gift that we are to give away this Season and in all seasons. Peter encourages us to recognize the gift of grace we have received (v. 10) and then compels us to share that gift with others. Let each one of us become capable administrators of the “variegated grace of God”.

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Gifts Given...Gifts Received

When we think of the celebration of the Advent of Jesus Christ, we immediately think of the giving and receiving of gifts. Our text highlights the giving of the gift of grace (v. 10) and identifies the changes that the gift of grace has brought about in our lives (vv. 2, 6). The challenge that Peter lays at our feet is the responsibility to be “a good steward” of God’s grace in its various forms. In other words, each one of us has “received a gift (grace)” and we are called upon to “administer” the gift of grace that we have been entrusted with. One translation renders verse 10 this way: “faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. We have had gifts given to us both in the natural sense and also supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and we are to be faithful stewards of those gifts. There is a long standing misconception in church practice that limits ministry to one or two people (pastors) in the local church. One of the main biblical principles in our text today is the fact that all believers have received gifts from God and that all believers are to administer those gifts.

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Jesus > The Old Man

In Colossians 2:18-23 Paul was addressing issues of Asceticism within the church at Colossae. Asceticism is this idea that we as Christians can obtain a high(er) spiritual standing by abstaining from certain actions or by participating in some certain action. I have quoted verse 23 above because Paul comes to the conclusion there that asceticism looks good to neighbors, and row mates at church, and friends at work but God sees through the façade and to him its still puffed up prideful flesh. Why? Because when WE produce righteousness it leads to pride. So what now? That is the question Paul seeks to answer today as he gives us three keys to sanctification in Colossians 3:1-10.

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A Ministry Model

Because of the ministry of Jesus Christ we now have access to God and can approach His Throne without fear. We will consider the ministry of Jesus Christ and the ministry of Noah as a model for the ministry of every believer. We live in a world that is much like the world of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39) and from the example of Jesus Christ and Noah we find what we are called to be, “preachers of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5).

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