First Presbyterian Church of Conrad, IA

God's Vision for You

Isaiah 61:1-4

          (1) The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
          (2) God sent me to announce the year of His grace - a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies - and to comfort all who mourn, (3) to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion.
Give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness" planted by God to display His glory.
          (4) They'll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They'll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.

Prayer for Illumination

1. A Word to the Weary

a) Tired of the Fight
          - Ever find yourself in the "fight of  your life"? (short/intense; long/drawn out)
          - Vigorous defense at first
          - Enemy just keeps coming, run out of strength, weary of battle

b) God: "I feel your pain."
          - I "know" pain (Jesus, cross)
          - I will never leave, forsake you (Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5)

c) Difficulties test our faith
          - The real battle is not found in the skirmishes, but in the "big picture conflict"
          - God "allows" difficult times to grow our faith and its roots

2. Signs of New Life

a) Surrender leads to "rebirth"
          - Trade old identity for new one in Christ
          - Rebirth into new identity - see yourself from God's perspective

b) New name - new identity
          - Abram to Abraham
          - Simon to Peter
          - Saul to Paul

c) Faith grows deep roots
          - The battle is for control of the soul
          - Faith in God or no faith in God
          - Learning to trust God in difficult moments brings deeper faith in Him
          - Confidence comes from repeated experience of God's presence, power in your life

3. Rebuilding God's Presence

a) New structures on old foundations
          - Confidence on "where we are in Christ" allows us to focus on others (mission)
          - Temple "reconstruction" in Jerusalem (size changed, built on original foundation)

b) Reconnect relationships, religion
          - In the new 21st century Church of Jesus Christ, the structure will change to meet the times we are living in
          - They will be built on the solid foundation of the Church of the past and present
          - Fake or false choice between relationship and religion
          - Christian faith IS about relationships (with God through Christ, with one another)

c) Portraying God's Strength
          - Living illustrations of the presence, power, plan of God
          - God's reputation is on the line - how we live lets others see God
          - What a glorious mission - you "Oaks of Righteousness!"
          - Find your strength in His strong presence in you and then let Him flow through you to the world

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