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Grace Brethren’s Task Now
Ephesians 4.11-16
Matthew Raley (9-18-11)

One Sunday morning in a California suburb, the faithful of Christ Community Church gather.  The church has been active for two decades, and has converted a business complex into an auditorium, offices, and classrooms.  On this typical morning in June, 2005, the church’s attendance was about two hundred with a diversity of ages and ethnicities as well as  a full schedule of programs. Six months later, after the founding pastor resigned to join a seminary faculty, services were cancelled, the congregation dispersed, and the property was put up for sale.

Sadly, this story is repeating itself in churches all over America and represents a silent calamity that has been unfolding in our nation for decades. The destruction of the family, the degradation of our culture, the spiritual darkness in America may all be traced to this one disaster. The question now is, what is Grace Brethren Church going to do about it? The answer is simple: We are going to be a community that makes disciples.

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Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  

All Prayer for All the Saints, part 2

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.18
Matthew Raley (9-11-11)

Last week, we saw that prayer is a practical way of yielding to God’s purposes and priorities. That is why Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, almost can’t stop praying.  By the time he composes 6.18, he is emphatic: “Pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers, for all the saints!”

In today’s message, we will learn more about how Paul prayed, and why. We’re going to discuss in depth the idea we introduced last week:  adding a purpose clause to your prayers.

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  

All Prayer for All the Saints

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.18
Matthew Raley (9-4-11)

In our previous two sermons we discovered the importance of  “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit” for the Christian life.  The scripture tells us to grasp them, and the question naturally arises:  how do we grasp them? Today’s sermon text contains the answer: “Grasp the helmet and the sword through all prayer and entreaty praying.” In other words, if you want salvation in your life so that you can stand and resist temptation, you must pray.  If you want the Scriptures applied to your life, you must pray.  Yet the subject of prayer raises many more problems and questions. For instance, if God has already determined the future, why pray? Or, does Jesus really mean it when he promises that we’ll receive whatever we ask in his name? Or, are there things we should not ask for in prayer?  Join us as we dig down to the root of these problems and learn what prayer is really all about.

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sayings of Christ

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.17
Matthew Raley (8-28-11)

American Evangelicals  have lost much ground in recent decades as a result of mediocrity.  They have been paying lip service to the Bible. They generalize about God and make sweeping statements about the love and life of Jesus, but show little evidence of any direct knowledge of what the Bible actually says.  In the spiritual battle over our country, evangelicals are armed not with swords but with butter knives. They are getting cut to pieces because they would rather listen to politicians, social scientists, celebrities, and inspirational speakers than to God. Even worse, in spite of their ignorance of what God has said in writing for the whole world, they imagine that God is speaking to them personally.

In today’s sermon we learn from Paul how we should “grasp…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Readiness and Faith

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.15-16
Matthew Raley (8-21-11)

The state of your conscience determines the state of your relationships. If you are not at peace with your conscience, then you cannot be at peace with God or with others.  Yet, the conscience does not get much attention in preaching on the Christian life today. Christians are often unsure about what the conscience is, how the Holy Spirit relates to it, and whether it can be relied upon.  In today’s sermon we will answer these questions and learn how to put on like shoes “the readiness given by the gospel of peace”.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The Righteousness and Salvation of Christ

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.14,17
Matthew Raley (8-14-11)

In our study of Ephesians 6 we are learning how Christ’s armor is applied to us and how his characteristics become our own.  To dramatize how we can be strong in Christ’s resurrection power, Paul uses imagery drawn from the Old Testament. In today’s sermon we visit Isaiah 59 to learn about the “breastplate of righteousness” and the “helmet of salvation”.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 4:18 am  Leave a Comment  

The Truth of Christ

Where the Spiritual Becomes Practical
Ephesians 6.14
Matthew Raley (8-7-11)

If you spend enough time with a person, you will often find yourself adopting their mannerisms and habits, their words and tone.  This is true of powerful teachers and their students as well as of parents and their children. In today’s sermon we will learn, through the Apostle Paul’s use of the Old Testament, that we need just this kind of transfer of the personal qualities of  Jesus Christ to us in order to win the battle against our lusts.

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment