Jesus

Living Hope

By Ty Haguewood

I hate feeling hopeless. I hate seeing other people feel hopeless.

I recently went on a personal journey to try and understand hope on a deeper level. I wanted to figure out what hope was so I would know where to look. I stumbled upon this passage of scripture and it changed my life. I want to share with you four key lessons that I learned about hope from 1 Peter 1:3-4.

1. Hope comes from God. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  (verse 3) 

The hope we have now is a result of God’s mercy on us. We as believers need to understand the power of our hope. God caused us to be born again to this living hope because He chose mercy. Our hope was a very costly hope. Our hope was bought because God showed mercy on us by taking the payment for our sin on His Son, Jesus. It was through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we have access to this living hope.

Let me put it this way: we do not possess an accidental hope. We have a hope that God designed for us; our hope is Jesus.

As believers, we must first see His mercy if we want to walk in His hope. We must first see that our hope comes from God.

2. Hope is alive.

“…born again to a living hope” (verse 3) The resurrection of Jesus is the reason for our hope. We hope in the One whom death could not hold. We believe in the One who stripped death of its power. We believe the One who could not be bound to the grave. We believe in Jesus; our living Savior.

You may feel broken.

You may feel hurting.

You may feel lost.

You may feel lonely.

You may feel discouraged.

You may feel heartbroken.

You may feel dead.

We may be surrounded by death but we are secured by the Author of Life This is why our hope is so powerful! Our hope is powerful because our hope is in Jesus. Our hope is living because our God is living.

3. Hope is eternal. 

“…who by God’s power are being guarded through faith” (verse 4) Our hope is alive and guess what? It will always be alive!

Our hope is eternal. The God who purchased our hope is the God who secures our hope for eternity. We never have to worry about losing our hope or going a day without hope. Our God is the faithful guardian of our soul and He promises us hope through Christ Jesus. He promises us a living hope.

We have a hope that generations upon generations have trusted; a hope that has no expiration date.

4. We do not design hope for ourselves.

Can I confess something to you? I struggle with clinging to the hope God has for us. I struggle because I would rather take things into my own hands usually. I see a problem and I try to solve it myself. I feel hopeless so I try to fix it with temporary solutions. Have you ever been there?

Maybe if I try to be more positive.

Maybe if I ignore the bad stuff.

Maybe if I just try harder.

Maybe if I am more motivated.

Maybe if I achieve that goal.

Maybe If I dream bigger.

I always resort to these “Maybe if’s.” They are my sorry attempt to design hope for myself. We exhaust ourselves trying to design hope for ourselves when God never ended for us to do so.

God doesn’t call us to design hope for ourselves; He calls us to discover hope through Him. He designs and we discover!

What does that mean for our lives? It means that we can take a step back and finally breathe. We must simply press into God and allow Him to press hope onto us. We must simply trust and follow.

I pray that you would set your eyes on Jesus, our living hope.

You Are Welcome

By Karen Polich

Dr. Trey Sullins continued The Parables of Jesus sermon series with thoughts on where we are regarding God’s great invitation. Listen to the podcast here. Are we full of excuses?

The Scripture finds Jesus sharing a meal on the Sabbath with the Pharisees. Remember, they don’t see heaven as a place for the outcast or anyone else “beneath” them. In fact, they were not spending time with Jesus to learn from Him, they were spending time with Him because they were out to get Him. Jesus told them in Luke 14:11, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus then shared the parable of the great banquet to illustrate just how off track they were when it came to who He had come to save. The idea of saving “everyone” was not a comfortable thought to the Pharisees. Read Luke 14:1-24.

We find the story full of people with excuses. Would you blow off a party invite from someone you greatly admire? Jesus was talking about THE party. He illustrated how everyone should be invited and nothing should be a bigger priority. The “banquet” represents heaven. Everyone is welcome. God has a place for each of us. While the Pharisees would exclude, Jesus was teaching that everyone is included in the invitation.

The catch is accepting the invitation. Excuses won’t work. Excuses are worthless. Anything given greater priority than God is misplaced, sinful and disobedient. Anything that comes between you and a “yes” will cost you.

What is your eternal perspective? Let’s not wait. If you haven’t accepted Christ’s invitation to the table, choose Him today. Make Him the Savior of your life and watch your life change in a mighty way. If you have accepted His invitation, be an active pursuer of Him. Grow. Don’t sit and watch others miss the banquet. Make sure they know they have an invitation.

Ultimately, nothing else matters. Be obedient to God’s call in your life. Rejoice in His love for everyone and share the joy with those around you.

 

Hide and Seek

By Karen Polich

Are you a seeker or a hider? Jesus’ teaching, using parables, will help us understand where we are and how to make a choice about our obedience.

Parables are meant to point us in one direction, towards God. Dr. Trey Sullins continued, The Parables of Jesus, with Hide and Seek. Stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin take us to the core of what Jesus is asking us to decide. (Luke 15:1-10, Matthew 18:12-16) Listen to the podcast here. Will we hide, not choosing to follow Jesus? When we know Him, will we seek Him and the lost?

Jesus has a heart for the outcast. He calls the righteous to go out and find the lost. When they are found – rejoice! Just as He teaches in the parables, the love of God is huge. He will always seek us out when we are lost. When we know Him, He equips us to seek after the lost for His name’s sake.

Who are the lost? The lost are those who are without a relationship with Christ, a follower who has wandered off or a follower hiding from God. The righteous know God but aren’t doing anything about it or are doing good deeds but missing something related to doing the right things.

“You are either lost and need to be found or found and need to go find the lost.” – Dr. Trey Sullins

God’s Word tells us to go and do, so we need to get up and get going. We can choose to be found; we can choose to seek the lost. Anything less is disobedience. Seek God’s will in your life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We don’t have to rest on our understanding. When we seek God’s will in our lives, He will direct us. Trust Him. Today, make a choice. Make the decision to follow Christ and to do what He has called you to do.

 

 

Living Water – Part 2

By Gerry Wakeland

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

“The Church is not about you. In fact, the Church may be the only institution in the world for non-members.”   -Dr. James Draper

Listen to the podcast here.

This is the supposition that Dr. James Draper placed before the fellowship of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in his message. The church is not a club you join, where you pay membership dues and anticipate benefits in return. Yet, in today’s benefit driven society, that’s what many expect.

“What’s in it for me?”, is a common question in our world today. Based on the words of Jesus found in John 7, Dr. Draper presented two answers.

Provision is offered. Jesus calls out to the thirsty and says “come.” He is offering to satisfy the needs of heart and life. There is no requirement. The offer is made to anyone, anytime and for any need.

What we must recognize is that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the need. Is your need pleasure; He can fill it. (Psalm 16:11). Do you lack wisdom? Jesus will give it. (James 1:5) If you need salvation, He’s waiting to provide it. (Romans 1:16) There is nothing you need that Jesus is not ready, willing and able to provide.

Promise is given. Jesus promises water. Not just any water, but living water. Thirst is the most driving passion in our lives and sometimes we are not even aware that we are thirsty. Dr. Draper reminds us that the water is there, right in front of us, but we must drink to be satisfied. When we drink of the water we experience the gift of salvation.

But wait, salvation is not the end, it’s the start.  When we get saved it’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about what He has called us to do, share the living water.

If you were to go to Israel today, you would find two bodies of water. The Sea of Galilee in the north is a beautiful, flourishing body of water, fed by underground springs. It is Israel’s largest and most important source of drinking water. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives life through its water.

111 miles south lies the Dead Sea. At approximately 1292 feet below sea level the Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea because of its mineral content.

The Church is designed to be rivers of living water. As both the body of Christ and individuals, we are called to share the living water of Jesus Christ with all who thirst. We are called to be distributors, giving away what we have received.

If indeed the greatest need in our world today is water – living water, then the only question is, will you be the Sea of Galilee? Or are you the Dead Sea. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foundations, the Wise Man & the Foolish Man

By Karen Polich

Building a firm foundation is not cheap or easy. It takes time. It requires an investment. We must seek God, spend time with Him and follow what He says. A strong foundation readies us for life’s storms. It prepares us for whatever lies ahead, grounding us in His truth and grace. If we wait until the storm is raging, it’s too late to lay a foundation that will last.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:25-27

Sunday Dr. Trey Sullins began teaching on Jesus’ parables. What can we learn to live a life built on the Rock? Listen to the podcast here.

Are you prepared? Have you put your faith and trust in God? Jesus taught not everyone who hears these words will listen. There is a simple difference between the wise man and the foolish man. The wise man hears the words and puts them into practice. The foolish man hears the words and does nothing.

What a difference our choices can make!

In order to have a firm foundation, Jesus must be the center, the cornerstone of life. If He is not, we will fail. – Trey Sullins

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:47-49

The wise man heard and did what Jesus said, building his foundation on God and His promises. He is not easily swayed by circumstances. The foolish man heard, did not listen and act on Jesus’ words, putting his trust in people, gathering things on earth.

There is a warning in this story; not if a storm is coming but when storms come. Our foundation is everything. If you don’t have Jesus as your foundation, wait no longer.

Today’s challenge: Firm up your foundation. Hear the words of Jesus and live like the wise builder. Invest in God’s Word, focus on His journey for your life and keep Him at the center.

 

 

 

Dare to Be a Disciple

By Karen Polich

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Pastor Kevin’s final sermon in the Making Disciples, sermon series looked at supervision and reproduction. Listen to the complete series via podcast here.

Supervision. Jesus kept watch over His followers. He taught the disciples the importance of rest. He led them into maturity as believers and He was always showing them His way and His provision. (Luke 10:18- 23, John 3:16)

“When was the last time you felt satisfied with God’s provision?” – Kevin Linthicum

We should take our role as disciples seriously and stop being satisfied with a low standard. Are we seeking and giving the best we have to offer?

Reproduction. The disciples needed to be able to produce more disciples. We should be in a place where we can produce more disciples. We should be interested in a person’s relationship with Christ. To look for a connection between going to church and salvation is wrong. It’s about knowing and choosing Jesus. Disciples produce fruit in their lives. (Matthew 28:19, Matthew 9:37)

“A person full of the spirit cannot help but to communicate the gospel to others. Your life is called for a purpose – to bring glory and honor to God.” – Kevin Linthicum

We should be seeking His will. Do we have what it takes to do what God has asked us to do? No, but HE DOES and He will equip each of us.

Every believer should be in the process of discipling or being discipled. The decision is yours.

Looking for a Great Gift? How About Discipleship?

By Tom Neal

I am truly a lucky man. For most of my adult life I have had all the things that people believe make a man feel happy and fulfilled: a great wife of twenty-five years, two awesome kids, a stable job, a handful of good friends, and enough stuff.  However, I was never consistently happy or content and always knew there was something missing in my life. In the back of my mind I knew that it was the lack of a connection with God. I would identify myself as a Christian, but I did not know Christ. I was lost.

This changed for me when I met Pastor Kevin Linthicum while working on the old First Baptist Church building in downtown Albuquerque. We were having a casual conversation waiting for some folks to show up for a tour of the building.  Kevin told me about his mission work in Malawi which fascinated me. Here was a man living his faith and traveling 10,000 miles away to share that faith. Our conversation eventually led to Kevin sharing the Gospel with me and asking me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior.

This is probably where the story of discipleship should begin. Unfortunately, I told Kevin that I was not ready to accept Christ.

Kevin had touched a nerve and I could not get our conversation out of my mind.  He continued to reach out to me; I continued to resist. After many months, my heart changed and I began attending Sunday service and a small group. Kevin’s continued guidance led me to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior in October 2015 followed by my baptism in March 2016.  The transformation from lost to saved is the most powerful feeling that I have experienced in my entire life. The Holy Spirit working in me has created a deep desire for a closer relationship with Christ.

As a new follower of Christ, I was hungry for more and wasn’t quite sure what to do. I contacted Kevin and he told me that he would teach me as much as I wanted. This is the point that our discipleship relationship truly began. For the past eighteen-months we have been meeting every Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. with a few other men. The focus of our sessions is always the Bible. Over time it has evolved from deep dives into various books of the Old and New Testaments, to study related to the understanding the attributes and mind of Christ, to sharing the Gospel effectively with others.

Discipleship is a very personal process. It’s a journey. Having someone in your life that is committed and dedicated to your spiritual well-being is an amazing feeling. There are so many ways to stumble in this world and push God aside. For me, having a teacher has firmly planted me on a path moving towards Christ and obtaining the spiritual tools to resist those things which might cause me to stumble. Although I have a long road ahead, discipleship has moved me beyond those rocky first steps. I am now steadfast in my faith.

More importantly, I have been given this miraculous gift that I want to share with others so that they will also experience the joy and peace that comes with a life in Christ.

Discipleship is giving me tools and a deeper understanding of Scripture that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to spread the Good News of Christ, our Lord. I encourage everyone to embrace discipleship to grow spiritually and honor Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. I can’t think of a better gift.

Making Disciples – Demonstration and Delegation

By Karen Polich

“People are looking for a demonstration not an explanation.” – Kevin Linthicum

Is your life teaching others how to live? Jesus demonstrated what life as a follower should look like. He showed the disciples how to live. Jesus demonstrated compassion, taught the practice of prayer and laid a clear path of discipleship through action.

Jesus never forced the disciples to pray, instead He showed them the practice of prayer, praying until they asked Him how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 lays out the clear direction of prayer and the need for communication with God.

“This, then, is how you should pray:”
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”

A life lived following Jesus produces disciples who can teach others what it means to be genuine and authentic as a follower.

Jesus gave the disciples things to do. He delegated tasks that required action on the part of the follower. (Matthew 10) He was clear that we should produce fruit. We are called to disciple and be discipled.

Afraid to share the Gospel? Matthew 10:20 says, “for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Our focus should be on obedience, giving our trust to the One who has called us.

Are you willing to invest years, full of determination to see things through when it comes to discipleship?

Listen to Pastor Kevin Linthicum’s sermon series, Making Disciples, via podcast here.

Making Disciples – Consecration and Impartation

By Karen Polich

Pastor Kevin Linthicum continued his sermon series, Making Disciples, with the next two steps in true discipleship. Listen to the sermon series via podcast here. Consecration and impartation were added to selection and association.

Consecration. Jesus required obedience. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Those who chose to follow him, trusted him and believed in him. They went the way of the cross.

“Is Jesus satisfying you right now?” – Kevin Linthicum

There is a price to discipleship. It costs something to be all in. We must let go of worldly pursuits and acknowledge Jesus above all things. Few choose to pay the price. We need to recognize and embrace the truth that spiritual apathy is at an all-time high. We shouldn’t be satisfied with where we are, but should be answering the call of the great commission. Are we willing to pay the price?

“You don’t find Jesus by running after those who have run away.” – Kevin Linthicum

Impartation. Jesus was the perfect example of what it means to be a servant. He gave Himself away. A follower of Christ who is a disciple will be a fruit producer. Disciples are compelled to share the gospel. When we are yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit, we will see the people around us who need to hear that message.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

You can’t give something away you’ve never had. God will overcome the world with or without you. Will you choose to be a disciple?

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Discipleship

By Kristi Sullins

“Go therefore and make disciples”. It is a straight forward command Christ gave to the new church in Matthew 28:19. He did not give the followers a five-point plan or a “how-to” list. It was a straight forward command of action.

For most Christ followers that statement is translated as go and lead people to a saving faith in Christ. There is a clear call to evangelize in that statement, but it does not stop with belief. Christ called the church to do more than accumulate converts. He wanted those whom He had invested in to pass on the investment by making learning, lifetime believers. Believers who grew deep enough to disciple others.

What does this discipleship look like? The book of Acts gives us a beautiful picture of how the early church obeyed Christ’s command. They shared their lives.

It was that simple. Those who had seen and heard from Christ shared that knowledge. They ate together, learned together, shared their struggles and victories and the realities of their lives. Acts 2:42 gives us a picture of those first disciples.

Could you do that?  Do you have struggles, victories and failures you would be willing to share?    Would you open your table to someone who wants to spend time with you?  Would you be willing to learn alongside someone who also wants to know more about the life God has called us to live? Do you have room in your life for a brother or sister in Christ?  Would you love to know that there is someone praying for you and someone who trusts you to pray for them?  Then you should be discipling.

If your answer was no then there are bigger issues. For EVERYONE who says they are a follower of Christ then you do not have the right to refuse to disciple. It was a mandate given by Christ to all those who would choose to follow Him. He was not speaking to those who would be church leaders or missionaries. It was to the church, period. He was calling those who make up the church to remain in Him, obey and bear fruit. Discipling others is a fruit-bearing step of obedience we do not have the right to reject.

Neil Cole, author of the Organic Church, goes a step further when he compares the success of a church to the success of discipling. He says, “Ultimately each church will be evaluated by one thing, its disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, reaching, programs or property are. If your disciples are passive, needy, consumerist, not moving in the direction of obedience, your church in not good.”

Are you ready to step out in obedience and disciple?  The first thing to do is pray that God would show you who He would have you journey with. Then start actively looking. You don’t get to just sit and pray about it. Then make the commitment to find the time. The reality is that we all have the same amount of time, and we find time for what we consider important. When you accept that discipling others was a mandate to all believers you will find time for it. Surprisingly, when you make that commitment you will find that time of your week to be your very favorite, and most fulfilling.

That is a truth I can testify to. I am a working mother of three teenagers with a husband who has gone back to school. Time is something precious, but more precious to me is the time I spend each week with a young woman that God blessed me by putting in my life. Those couple of hours of sharing, studying, and praying are priceless to me. Sometimes we are deep in the Word and other times our weeks have been so rough that we are talking through life lessons. There has been much laughter, frequent tears, deep discussions, and learning on both sides. She is my family, my friend, and my constant reminder that no matter the ups and downs of my journey in this life, God can use it.

Discipling, living life together with the goal of becoming more like Christ. It is time for you to start.

 

 

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