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All I Want for Christmas

All I Want for Christmas Series Gfx_4x3 Title

Beginning this weekend, November 29/30, we begin a new series at Eastbrook entitled “All I Want for Christmas.” Christmas is a time when many of us begin to write down what we hope to acquire. Sometimes we write down simple lists of gift ideas, but other times we begin to write more serious lists of personal needs or world hopes. In the church year, Advent is a time of anticipation and expectation leading up to the Messiah’s arrival that focuses some of our strongest hopes and desires through the word of the prophets. So, what are you really waiting for this year?

November 29/30 [1st weekend of Advent] - “All I Want Is for God to Show Up”

December 6/7 [2nd weekend of Advent] – “All I Want is Some Good News”

December 13/14 [3rd weekend of Advent] – “All I Want is a New Beginning”

December 20/21 [4th weekend of Advent] – “All I Want is Someone to Believe In”

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

Giving thanks and showing gratitude to God is an act of worship. This is why we read in Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

But it is not just for the material goods or obvious blessings that we are to be thankful. In fact, the Apostle Paul, writing to a fledgling church in Philippi while he is imprisoned, urges the believers toward thanksgiving in the face of worry. He writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Even more strongly, in another letter, Paul calls Christians to give thanks as part of fulfilling the will of God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So, as part of your worship this Thanksgiving holiday, why not share some of the things you thankful for?

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Discipleship

 

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The Legacy of Faith (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Legacy of Faith,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the final message in our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who is someone you know who has held onto faith in God over the long haul of life? What did that look like?
  2. This weekend at Eastbrook, we conclude the “Faith Life” series by looking at the end of Abraham’s life in Genesis 25:1-11 and the New Testament reflection on his life in Hebrews 11:8-19. In preparation for this study ask God to speak to you through your study of the Scripture, and then read both Bible passages aloud.
  3. Over these last few months, we have journeyed with Abraham from His original calling by God in Genesis 12 through many ups and downs to the conclusion of his life here in Genesis 25. What has caught your attention most over the last few weeks concerning the life of faith?
  4. In Hebrews 11:8-12 and 11:17-19, the phrase “by faith” introduces several instances of Abraham’s life of faith. How would you summarize each of these “by faith” statements about Abraham?
  5. In the midst of discussing Abraham’s specific life of faith, the writer of Hebrews addresses a very unique aspect of faith in 11:13-16. What would you say the writer is addressing and how does this relate to Abraham?
  6. What do you think it means to live by faith in such a way that we “long for a better country” (Hebrews 11:16)? Is this part of your life of faith or not? What do you think it would look like for you to live in this way?
  7. From what you read in Hebrews 11:19, how would you characterize Abraham’s view of God? Why do you think Abraham’s faith was so strong?
  8. As you reflect on this study, what do you want your legacy of faith to be? If you are alone, write it down somewhere so you can think about it further this week. If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. Close in prayer.
 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Some Things Are Just Better Together

 

EvangelVision-Ad-600x600-2014It’s a privilege to be featured on the EvangelVision blog today. What follows is an excerpt, but you can read the full post here:

There are certain pairs of things that just seem to go together. You know some of them: peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, cookies and milk. I’m sure you could name some of your own. In fact, many of these actually seem better together than simply on their own.

Jesus talks about something like this in His earthly ministry. When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment of the Law was, He responded:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matt. 22:37-40)

This is the Greatest Commandment. It is an important summary teaching from Jesus, guiding who we are and the way we live with God and others. In this we are called to demonstrate love for God and others as followers of Jesus.

Later, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus speaks another important summary teaching to His disciples. Before returning to the glory of the Father, Jesus says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. (Matt. 28:18-20)

We often call this statement the Great Commission. It summarizes the outward actions of the Church in relation to others. Specifically, we are to proclaim the love of God in Jesus Christ to all peoples that they might also become followers of Jesus.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Evangelism

 

The Legacy of Faith

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 TitleMany times we ask what it looks like to leave a legacy behind when our life draws to a close. But as we concluded the “Faith Life” series this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I wanted us to think about what sort of faith legacy we will leave behind.

To conclude this series on the life of faith from Abraham’s journey in Genesis 11-25, we looked at Hebrews 11:8-19. There, the writer to the early church describes the ways in which Abraham left a legacy of faith through the way he lived his life.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Listening to God in Prayer

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke from Genesis 18:16-33 about the prayer of faith in a message entitled “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems.” One of the five types of prayer that I mentioned from that passage was the prayer of listening to God. One aspect of this passage from Abraham’s story in Genesis is that God reveals His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.

When we pray, we often voice our needs to God but one important aspect of faith-filled prayer is listening to God. Listening to God enables us to enter into agreement with God and His purposes.

But one question all of us ask is: how do we listen to God?

davidpicDavid Bryant, a leader in prayer movements and prolific author on the topic of prayer, speaks to this in his book With Concerts of Prayer. In that book, Bryant encourages us to listen to God in four specific ways (page 200). I shared these in my message this past weekend and wanted to post them here so people could return to them:

  1. Study the Scriptures – Familiarize yourself with the mind, heart, and character of God through His inspired word. This is the foundation stone and basis for our life of prayer. When we listen to God in Scripture, what we pray for, the way we pray, and our expectations of the answers to prayer are brought into alignment with God.
  2. Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life – All who come to Jesus Christ by faith are now temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and strengthens us for daily life with God. Because of this, we need to grow in awareness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives. As we listen to the Holy Spirit in us, we begin to grow in awareness of how God is at work, which inspires our prayers.
  3. Learn what God is doing in the world today – Some of the most powerful movements of God happening today, are happening off the radar and in unexpected ways. When we pay attention to what God is doing around the world, it shapes not only how we live, but also how we pray. It lifts us into a greater awareness of what God is doing and how we can talk to Him about it.
  4. Talk to others about what you want to say to God – It is common to pray with others, but it is important to also talk to others about what we want to talk to God about. When we share our approach and thoughts about prayer with others, we also enter into a listening relationship that leads us closer to the heart of God with others.

A necessary tool for the journey of faith is a prayer that agrees with God through listening to His plans for all situations.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Discipleship, prayers

 

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Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the seventh part of our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define ‘prayer’? Do you find it easy or hard to pray? Why?
  2. As we continue our “Faith Life” series on the life of Abraham this week, we will look at Genesis 18:16-33. Ask God to speak to you before your read this chapter of Genesis aloud.
  3. Earlier in Genesis 18, we find God meeting with Abraham and Sarah in the form of three travelers en route to Sodom and Gomorrah. Beginning in 18:16, two of the travelers continue on as God lingers to speak with Abraham. In verses 17-19, God reflects aloud to Himself about whether He should speak to Abraham about what is in store for Sodom and Gomorrah or not. What does God decide and why does He choose this?
  4. In verses 20 and 21, we find that an ‘outcry’ that has arisen against Sodom and Gomorrah to God. This outcry is likely the voices of the wronged rising up to God. What were the wrongs of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 13:13; 18:20-21; 19:1-14; Isaiah 1:10-17; 3:8-9; Jeremiah 23:13-14; Ezekiel 16:49-50)? What do you think it means that God hears this outcry?
  5. Abraham begins a bold conversation with God in verses 22-25 that almost seems like haggling or bargaining. Take note of the questions Abraham asks God in these verses. What is Abraham asking of God and how does that relate to God’s character?
  6. When have you entered into a time of prayer that felt like a sort of haggling of pleas with God? What happened?
  7. Through verses 25-32, it is interesting to note that Abraham is not merely pleading for Lot’s protection, but for entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. What does this teach us about the way we approach intercessory prayer?
  8. What is one way you could tangibly respond to what God is speaking to you about your own life of faith through this week’s study? If you are on your own, make a plan to put it into action. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.

[Next week we will look at God’s fulfillment of His promises with the birth of Isaac and its impact upon Ishmael in Genesis 21:1-21.Read that passage ahead of time to prepare for the study.]

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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