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The Gospel Transforms the Real Lives of Real People

In Western culture, we tend to be compartmentalists, which explains why we take our religion and put it in a box all week and take it out only when we engage in some kind of ritual such as attending church weekly, or maybe annually. We live on the mistaken assumption that the gospel is all about an event that happened a couple thousand years ago to a man named Jesus who is somewhat irrelevant to our modern technological age. The gospel revealed in the Bible, however, is a …

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The Gospel Changes Everything

The word "gospel" has lost a bit of its meaning in our modern culture. We say that things are "the gospel truth" that really aren't the gospel truth. We use the word to describe styles of music. And Christians sometimes talk about taking a stand for the gospel in reference to various political and social justice issues. But the word has a rather rich and very specific meaning. The "gospel" is literally good news. Good news about what? Or rather, about whom? The gospel is …

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True Love Pursues Truth and Justice

"It's not always loving to agree with someone." - Rick Warren It was love that compelled Jesus to tell the woman taken in adultery that her sins were forgiven. It was also love that moved Him to challenge her to go and sin no more. Love is always right, but it isn't always nice, at least not according to our cultural standards. Sometimes love compels us to confront, to correct, and to challenge others in ways that are uncomfortable. This is because true love "does not …

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True Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

True love - God's kind of love - is both possible and impossible at the same time. It's possible to love people the way God does when we're living under His truth and grace and in His power. We know this because He commands us to love and defines it for us in explicit terms, and He never commands us to do that which He will not also enable us to do. Then again, there are aspects of love that seem so far beyond reach. In particular, real love includes the ability to truly, …

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God, Help Us to Grow Deeper Roots!

I'm overwhelmed with anticipation about what God is going to do in the life of Grace Hills Church in the next nine weeks. This coming Sunday, we're starting a new series of messages called ROOTS: It's Time to Grow Deeper. It's based on the New Testament book of Colossians, and as I waded into the study of this ancient text, I was pretty moved by the similarities between the church at Colosse and our own church family. Paul writes the letter, but he didn't plant or pastor …

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True Love Is Selfless

"Me first!!" Who hasn't heard a toddler say that? And every year on Black Friday, millions of adults prove that this is not merely a toddler problem. From birth, we fight to be first. Selflessness is a learned behavior. And selflessness is at the root of what real love is all about - God's kind of love. "Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way." So wrote Paul in his definition of what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. When …

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True Love Is Kind

Love hurts, right? Well, sort of. It hurts to love someone who doesn't return our love and God knows this all too well, but when the Bible says that "Love is kind" in 1 Corinthians 13:4, God is letting us know that love, as He defines it, doesn't seek to harm people. Remember that love is more than an uncontrollable feeling. Love is a choice and love is action. And real love chooses to act toward others in ways that are kind rather than in ways that are harmful. When …

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True Love Waits With and For People

"Love is patient." So declares Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4, a passage that serves as God's defining statement about love. True love is patient, but what does patient love look like? I think it includes two ideas, both of which are more difficult than what we are accustomed to living out naturally. First, true love waits with people. That is, we love people by staying by their side during times of unrest and uncertainty. Love compels us to wait for dreams to come true for …

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Real Love Always Honors God’s Standards

God is love. God defines love. When you're looking for real love in life, always remember that real love always honors God's standards. We humans who have universally broken God's standards have an especially hard time understanding this principle, but God is clear. The Bible says, "Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body... You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a …

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A Slave No More

We are chained to a law we can't keep, enslaved by a code of conduct we are bound to break. That is, until we receive the good news that Jesus died to set us free. Once we receive Him and the price He paid for our freedom, we are free indeed, never to be treated as slaves again. This great thought about our freedom from slavery prompted Paul to write, "Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child." (Galatians 4:7 NLT) Think about that for a second. Slaves are …

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