Access to Glory

Scripture: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth “John 1:14.

1. Jesus gave us access to His glory.

We don’t deserve access to God’s glory and we can’t earn access to God’s glory. Access to God and His glory is a gift that comes through a relationship with Jesus.

2. Jesus is our only hope.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The Gospel is the good news that Jesus came to save us, heal us and set us free. Our sin separated us from God and His glory but through a relationship with Jesus we have access to God and His glory.

3. Jesus did not take any shortcuts.

Jesus came full of grace and truth. Jesus did not ignore our sins but paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross so that we could be saved and set free.

Scripture tells us that “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

If you have never prayed to receive Jesus Christ then you can pray today to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You can pray a prayer similar to the one below from your heart to God.

PRAYER: God, I confess that I have sinned and I need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is your Son and He died for me so that I could be forgiven and have a relationship with you. I confess that I can’t do anything to earn this gift of salvation. I put my hope fully in Jesus and his death and resurrection on the Cross and receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name, Amen.

If you prayed this prayer or a prayer similar to this one today then God saved you today! You are forever saved and nothing can separate you from God and His great love for you!

The Shepherd’s and God’s Glory

Scripture Passage: Luke 2:8-14

The good news of Jesus’ birth was first announced to Jewish shepherds. This is significant because shepherds in Jesus’ day were regarded as social outcasts and were among the most scorned individuals.

And yet, God chose ordinary shepherds, not priests or kings, to be the first to hear the news of His Son’s birth. Common shepherds would be the first to welcome Jesus — the Lamb of God.

The shepherds’ night watch was dramatically interrupted by the sudden appearance of an angel of the Lord. When the angel appeared to the shepherds “the glory of the Lord” shone around them, supernaturally lighting up the night. God’s glory is the side of God humans can see and to which they can respond in confession, worship, and praise (see Isa. 60:1-3).

1. God’s Glory Reveals an Unseen Reality | There is more going on in the world than we can see (read 2 Kings 6:15-17).

How would a glimpse of God’s glory change the way in which you look at your current trials, tribulations, or challenges?

2. God’s Glory Shines in Unexpected Places | The values of God’s kingdom are not the same as the values of the world. Jesus’ birth announcement was not made in the halls of power but rather in a shepherd’s field.


How and in what unexpected place can God use you to shine His glory?

3. God’s Glory Brings an Unshakeable Peace | God’s peace arrived in a humble manger, not through Rome’s military might. God’s peace is more than the cessation of fighting or the cessation of work. His peace is not dependent on circumstances.


In what ways do you need for God to settle your soul today?

The Healing Power of Prayer

Scripture Passage: James 5:13-18

The book of James concludes with practical instruction about prayer. Prayer is a powerful force! Christian pastor and writer Andrew Murray (1828−1917) said, “In relation to his people, God works only in answer to their prayer.”

The Apostle Paul said, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). This exhortation is to the church. God has invited us (collectively) to pray for each other, for our neighbors, and for His will to be done. Evangelist R.A. Torrey (1856−1928) said, “Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.”

Key Attributes of Prayer

1. Integrity (James 5:16)

James admonishes us to confess our sins to one another. Confession of sin and answered prayer go hand in hand. Sin always hinders fervent prayer.

• Read Psalm 66:18. Take a moment to confess your sin.



2. Community (James 5:14)

James instructs us to call for the elders, or leaders, of the church. There is power in praying together and in having others pray for us. James also affirmed the value of anointing with oil, a symbol of our dependence on the Holy Spirit.

• This week, set aside time to pray with your family or friends.

3. Anticipation (James 5:16)

We should pray expectantly. James said, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” The keyword is “working.” In Colossians 4:2 Paul admonished that we should stay alert in prayer.



• Read Psalm 5:3. Determine to have this attitude of the psalmist when you pray — pray expectantly and eagerly watch.

The Secrets of Good Planning

Scripture Passage: James 4:13-17

Someone wisely noted that to fail to plan is to plan to fail. There is much to be said about being intentional when it comes to making plans. The Scriptures offer great advice on how to plan.

1. Careful Planning



How would you describe your plans? Do your plans take into consideration the purposes of God and how He can use you to advance the interests of His kingdom?

Isaiah 32:8 notes, “But a noble person plans noble things; he stands up for noble causes.”



2. Flexible Planning



Are you flexible and available for whatever door of opportunity God opens for you?

Scripture talks much about doors of opportunity. A door represents opportunity and challenges us to decide whether we will accept or reject that opportunity.

Revelation 3:8 notes, “I know your works. Look, I have placed before you an open door that no one can close because you have but little power; yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”



3. Dependent Planning



Is God factored into your plans? Is He an afterthought? Do your plans show that you are dependent on Him?


Deuteronomy 8:11 cautions against forgetting the Lord: “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today.

The Truth about Adoption

Truth Book of James

James 1:27-2:1: “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world. My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this passage, James is saying that part of believing and embracing the love of Jesus is that we are automatically going to have a desire to extend that love to others.

3 Aspects of Adoption 

  1. Adoption’s History
    It is important to understand that the people who first read the words of James lived on a different continent, spoke a different language, and had different norms and practices from us.
  1. Adoption’s Significance
  • Adoption is one of those incredible pictures God has given us in family life that helps us understand what He has done for us and how He sees us.
  • God doesn’t just save us, but He takes us into His family as children and heirs (J.I. Packer)
  • If you have placed your faith in Jesus, God has not only said that you are forgiven. He has also said, “I love you. You are my child, and I want you to share in my inheritance.”
  1. Adoption’s Response
  • Respond by extending love to those who feel disconnected from the love of God
  • Respond in a direct way by literally caring for orphans
  • Respond by really embracing the adoption that we have received in Jesus Christ

Be encouraged today that we are co-heirs with Christ and our position as adopted sons and daughters of the living God of heaven is unshakable and irrevocable.

Discussion Questions

  1. Even though we have faith in Jesus, why do we sometimes show favoritism?
  2. How do you know that God loves you?
  3. Why do we struggle to believe and accept God’s love for us?
  4. How do we extend love to those who feel disconnected from the love of God?
  5. How is God calling you to have a role in adoption?

Politics and the Christian

Scripture Passage: Mark 12:13-17

Mark tells the story of an occasion when the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to get Jesus to align with a political system. Rather than giving them the answer they wanted, Jesus challenged them to render to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

As Christians we should keep in mind three things when considering the political landscape and how to engage with those with whom we disagree. As we engage with others when should demonstrate humility and listen to others.

Three Rules for Political Activity as a Christian

1. Acknowledge the complexity of political issues.
We cannot pledge allegiance to a political party.
There are often many issues we all care deeply about.
We must listen to other people and their perspective.

2. Don’t worship the government.
The government is not responsible to uphold our faith.
There is no perfect political candidate.

3. Remember your King.
Jesus is King, not a political candidate.
Our greatest need is not an external need, it is internal and only solvable by our King.

Think About It
• Have you ever thought about the complexity of political issues? How can you better grow in understanding of those complexities?

• Have you ever found yourself indirectly worshiping the government or a political candidate as the solution to problems?

• Which kingdom keeps you awake at night and do you talk most about?

• How well do you listen to other Christ followers with different views? How can you better respect and love those who may see differently on political issues?

Jesus and the End Times

Scripture Passage: Matthew 24

According to the Scriptures, Christ will return. Prophecy is an often talked about topic and often looked at incorrectly.

When is the return of Christ? This is a question we all would like to have answered.

When will He return?  Scripture doesn’t tell us the day but it does give us some signs that point us to the return of Christ.

The Bible points of signs that indicate the season of Christ’s return.

  1. Cults | There have always been cults that easily deceive people and turn them away from Christ. The explosion of cults has taken place in the 20th Century.
  2. World Politics | Wars and Rumors of wars. Kingdom against Kingdom. During the 20th Century over 100 million people have died in wars.
  3. Natural Disasters | The Bible says there will be earthquakes, famine, floods, plaques. These have happened for years but the intensity has increased year after year.
  4. Christian Persecution | over 200,000 people annually suffer for their faith in Christ. Persecution of Christians is rampant around the world.
  5. Apostasy | The church is declining around the world. Never would we have thought that churches would accept homosexual ministers, same sex marriages.
  6. Breakdown of Society | America has become the moral polluter of the world. For example the movie “Gone with the Wind” was held up because the movie had a curse word in it. Recently a movie from Hollywood, “The Wolf of Wall Street” has one particular curse word 506 Times!
  7. Proclamation of the Gospel | Finally some good news. In all the horrific signs of His coming there will be the proclamation of the Gospel. Never before has the Gospel been proclaimed to so many people. Over 90% of all the people in the world have access to the Bible in their language.

He is coming again!  Are you ready?

The Blessing and The Curse

Scripture Passage: James 3: 9-12: 9

The Nature of a Curse
The word for “curse” is literally “wishing evil.” Sometimes we think of cursing as synonymous with cussing, but it’s more than that. It might be done with eloquent words, but the curse drowns out even the good things said. Also, the absence of a blessing is a curse.

Table Talk: Share with others how you might have suffered by someone “wishing evil” upon you through words spoken. How did that make you feel? Will that help you to speak blessings instead of cursing?

The Power of a Blessing
To give a blessing is to give honor by intentionally ascribing God’s promise to another.

This definition talks about intentionality. It doesn’t happen by accident. We must be intentional with our blessing. Remember though that the blessing of people flows from our blessing the Lord.

Two important conclusions:
• Every one of us needs to receive by faith the blessing God has for us. He made you to love you. And he saved you to bless you.
• You were made to bless others. You were given the power to bless.

Table Talk:
• Share how God blesses you. Can you speak of His love?
• Who would God want you to bless today? Talk about your habit, or lack of a habit to bless those around you.
• Talk about the correlation between loving God and loving people. (See Matthew 22: 36-40)

The Truth About Mercy

Truth Book of James

Scripture Passage: James 2:8-12

We each receive an invitation from God to have a personal relationship with Him. Pastor Ryan spoke from James 2:8-12 about some reasons people don’t accept this invitation.

1. “I don’t trust the source.” – Is the Bible true? The reliability of the Bible is proven true over and over. We are encouraged to do some homework on our own to understand how we know it is true.

2. “I don’t need a Savior.” – People often think they are “good enough” on their own. Verse 10 and I John 3:4 make it clear that even one sin is enough to separate us from a holy God. So what is sin?

  • Breaking God’s Law
  • Not Doing What You Should Be Doing (Omission)
  • Not Living By Faith
  • Our Lack of Belief

3. “I’m not worried about God’s judgement” – All sin requires punishment. God IS a loving God and He offers mercy to everyone, but we must choose to accept it.

4. “I’m not worthy of God’s love.” – Verse 13 tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. God loves us no matter what we’ve done.

Salvation and freedom from sin are free gifts God offers each of us. Have you accepted his grace, mercy and forgiveness?

Discussion:

  • Share your salvation story.
  • Can you think of any other reasons people might turn away from God?

The Truth About Temptation

Scripture Passage: James 1:12-15

“Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

The Components of Compromise

Anonymity – When you are emboldened to sin because you know that no one is watching.

Availability – When you are emboldened to sin because of the things available at your disposal.

Appetite – We all have hungers and desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:17-21)

The Defense Strategy for Victory over Temptation

• The Defense for Anonymity is Access

Conversation: Around your table today share who has access to your heart, home, personal time, and tech devices. Or, who might God direct you to give access to these areas? If you’ve not done so already then be intentional about making your personal life open to a close and trusted Christian relative or friend.

• The Defense for Availability is to create Boundaries

Conversation: Share with your group what boundaries you have in place that keeps you from crossing the line? Or, discuss what boundaries you might create for your stage of life. The goal is to have a plan!

• The Defense for Appetite is Contentment

Conversation: Be open with your group, or special friend, about the level of confidence and contentment in your life, relationships, and marriage. What changes do you feel you might need to make? Is your confidence on your relationship with Jesus Christ, or in your abilities, education, status, finances, etc.? The LORD is calling you to look to HIM.

How we look at a problem makes a difference in how serious we are about dealing with it. Open conversation about these temptation defenses is the first step in managing these temptations that we all face in our life. While your group is together spend a few minutes in prayer asking the LORD to give each of you wisdom in defending yourself against temptation.