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Why You Should Never Listen to Satan

Friday, January 27, 2017

TEXT: 1 Peter 4.1-6

Whose voice are you listening to? Jesus? Satan? Both are calling us. Both want us to go their way. Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, Matthew 11.28-30.  Your coming to Jesus can truly be a life changing experience if you will hear and heed His voice. But yet Satan is always there trying to outwit us, 2 Corinthians 2.11.

This Sunday, we will turn our attention to 1 Peter 4.1-6. As we examine the passage, we’ll address the devastating effect of sin.Following any voice other than Jesus’ is a really bad thing. Disregarding Satan’s voice is to become one of the major efforts of life. For the Christian, a very large part of life is avoiding sinning. In order to do so, we have to be on the alert. Watchful. Careful. Always looking ahead, anticipating what might come. We also have to be on guard in the present. We do not want to be duped by Satan, Romans 12.9; 13.14 

Finally, we also must look into the past. We need to recall times before where we and others gave into sin - heeded Satan’s voice - and remember the hurt & pain that resulted.That is what is going on in our Scripture reading. During our time together on Sunday we will:

  • Examine the context of 1 Peter 4.
  • Look at five reasons we need to consider sin as a terrible thing.

For Your Thought and Reflection

  • Why is it so easy for us to heed Satan’s voice, rather than Jesus?
  • What did sin do to Jesus?
  • What are some of the devastating effects of sin on Christians?
  • How does sinful behavior effect the world? What things are listed in 1 Peter 4.3?
  • How can we trust in the promise made in 1 Peter 4.6?

- Matthew Allen

Why I'm Taking a Hiatus From Political Posts

Monday, January 23, 2017

Our nation has just wrapped up a tumultuous and long political season, culminating with the inauguration of a new President last Friday. For me, it’s been a positive thing, since the candidate I preferred won the election and has now officially moved into governing. I burned too much time Friday watching television coverage of the transfer of power and since then have found myself checking in on the news more than I regularly do to see all the “firsts” our new President is having. I must not be alone. People on both sides of the aisle are also watching the news and reacting on social media with all sorts of opinions. There have been plenty of catchy memes circulating; I’ve even “liked” and “reposted” a few myself. With the things others have posted that I disagree with - I’ve been inclined to weigh in sharing my thoughts on that as well.

But in the long term, what good does all this do? Does what I post really change anyone’s mind? And, how do my posts come across to those who don’t know me? Am I encouraging others by what I’m saying, or am I forming bad impressions for those who disagree? These are challenging questions. And, if you're like me, you’ve resolved many times before that when it comes to posting on Facebook or Twitter that you’re going to do better than you have in the past. Then, before you know it, someone offers an opinion or shares a meme, and off you go. I had this happen to me just one week ago. Early on Monday morning I told myself that I was going to begin again in trying to be positive in my public posts. I wrote last week’s blog post and published it. I left the office by lunch time feeling good and feeling accomplished. It was a warm day (by Ohio standards for January) and I decided to go out and get some exercise on my bike. Ten miles in, I stopped for some water and checked my phone. There it was. Someone posted something that caught my attention. They made several sweeping generalizations that raised my blood pressure. And, I responded in frustration. I think I made it a complete 5 hours before I violated my own resolution. Later that night I scolded myself a little for not making it any longer than I did.

So here we are with a brand new work week. This week, I’m making a somewhat different resolution and I hope you’ll help me by holding me accountable. For the next few weeks, I’m going to take a hiatus from posting any comments or “liking” things that have to do with politics on social media. There are three reasons why:

First, I want to see how it improves my disposition. Taking in too much negativity will affect you. It generates cynicism. It causes you to see the worst in people, rather than the best. It can affect your health. I want to be a happy person who is pleasant to be around. We can do this when we choose to focus on our blessed relationship with Jesus, rather than entangling ourself in the cares of this world.

Second, I want to be known as a peacemaker, rather than a hardened political hack. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not warmongers, Matthew 10.13. As sons and daughters of God we have been called to work for wholeness and harmony rather than strife and discord. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all, Romans 12.18.

Lastly, I want to be a faithful steward of my time. The Psalmist said, So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90.12. We must live in light of eternity. Time is precious. There are some days that I wish I could have back because of all the time I’ve wasted trying to change someone’s opinion on something one of us has posted on Facebook. What if those energies had been placed somewhere else? One of the greatest dangers of unplanned time is that it seems to allow us to drift toward our weaknesses, rather than our strength. 

How long do you think I’ll make it with my self-imposed hiatus? I know it will be difficult, but I know it will be worth the sacrifice. 

Want to take the challenge with me? Let me know. If you do, I’d like to see how it changes your disposition on life.

- Matthew Allen

Eliminating Life's Distractions

Friday, January 20, 2017

TEXT: Psalm 90.1-12

In today’s world, Satan seems to be having his way with us in the matter of distractions and poor time management. So many feel their life is out of balance.So many are stressed and burned out. And it’s no wonder. So many of us have so many priorities in life to juggle: God. Work. School. Home. Recreation and hobbies. These all demand pieces of our time.

On Sunday, we’ll talk about how we can rearrange our priorities so that we can become more effective in the most important aspect of life - our relationship with God. We will:

  • Discuss how managing your time is not about doing more things.
  • Look at three important things to remember as we think about the life we’ve been given.
  • Learn about three principles we can use to eliminate distractions and be better managers of our time.

For Your Thought and Reflection

  • How often do you make time to think about the eternal as you go about your day?
  • Have you tried to incorporate multi-tasking in your life? Would you recommend as a practice to someone else? Why or why not?
  • Read Ecclesiastes 12.13-14. What matters right now?
  • What should be our first priority in planning out our day?
  • Do you find it difficult to say “no?” Why/why not?

The Great Promise of Matthew 5.8

Monday, January 16, 2017

Last Friday, my wife Becky and I enjoyed a “Netflix” night together and watched a movie from our childhood, E. T. This was, perhaps, the greatest movie of the 1980’s and held the record for gross amount of box-office revenue for over a decade.  It had been at least 25, maybe 30 years since I last watched it. While I remembered the main plot, there were many details from the movie I had forgotten. As I watched, I found myself moved with nostalgia. I remember watching the movie at the old RITZ theater in my hometown of Malvern, AR sometime in 1982 with my grandparents and mom and dad. (It’s the only time I remember Poppa and Doll going to the movies. They’re both gone now and I do miss them.)

E.T. was filmed in the fall of 1981 and it seems like a much simpler time. In the shots of Elliot’s room, I paid close attention. I had some of those same toys in my room. There was a complete absence of electronics in his room. There were no cellphones. Kids played outside and rode bikes around the neighborhood. Eliot’s older brother Mike and his teenage friends sat around a table on a Friday night playing board games. And as I watched, I kept thinking that if this movie were made in 2017, instead of 1981, the plot would not have had such a family-friendly theme. In our modern sophistication, a director would feel compelled to spice up the language with four-letter words, include a revealing love scene, bring in a gay character, pursue some item promoting the leftist social/political agenda, or have turned E. T. into a sick, twisted alien who has some kind of perverted behavior.

As I went to bed, I’m not sure if it was just the memories of my childhood or something else, but I found myself sorely missing simpler times and less provocative entertainment. (This is not to say that the 80’s were morally perfect, but we have drifted far, far away from where we were 35 years ago.) There’s a part of me that wishes we could, somehow, go back.

At the Kettering Church, we’ve recently been studying the beatitudes in Matthew 5. Jesus said, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, Matthew 5.8. I don’t know about you, but as I move forward in life, more and more I look forward to an eternity that is free from the cares of this life.  I long to be free from temptation and perversion. I long to be in a place completely free from sin.

Did you see the glorious promise at the end of verse 8? Those who are pure in heart will see God. So, how can I make sure I’m living with a pure heart? It begins with a commitment trust in God’s power to save. Titus 2.11-14 teaches that He has set us apart from sin so that we can live exclusively for Him. But there’s more. Purity in heart happens when we commit to resisting evil and serve God. I once read that holiness is both a state of existence and a commitment to action. I like that. It’s following through on the application of passages like 1 Peter 1.13-16. It’s living with a sense of profound reverence. Your sin has been paid for with Jesus’ precious blood, 1 Peter 1.18-19.

Keeping a pure heart does not happen by accident. It’s not always convenient, nor is it easy. It is a call to sacrifice and will not be pain or struggle free.

As much as we might like, we can’t get into a time machine and go back to the days of our childhood, the time when life seemed simpler. But we can, even in this day and age, live with a pure heart and total trust that one sweet day we’ll be free from every trapping this world offers.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name, Psalm 86.11

- Matthew Allen

How Do You Define Success?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Text: Matthew 19.23-30

In our text, we have teaching from Jesus that follows His exchange with the rich young ruler. The man had asked, what must I do to obtain eternal life? (19.16) It is an important question. Jesus said two things were necessary. First, the man needed to recognize his own sin. Second, he needed to give away everything he possessed and follow Jesus. He left sorrowful. it wasn’t that he did not understand that he needed salvation, it was just that the price was too high.

To this, Jesus says it will be very difficult for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God, 19.23. In fact, it’s impossible - just like it’s impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle. No person will ever be able to gain salvation on his/her own terms. The impossibility of salvation can really manifest itself in those who are rich. In Sunday’s lesson, we’ll look at three reasons why:

  • Material success provides a false sense of security.
  • Material success will bind a person to this world.
  • Material success will blind a person to the riches of poverty.

For Your Thought and Reflection

  • Why was the rich young ruler so sorrowful when he left Jesus?
  • How does the world define success?
  • What does Jesus mean when He uses the expression in 19.24?
  • How did the disciples respond to this teaching?
  • What do we gain in this life by following Jesus?

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