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Extreme Danger, Extreme Sacrifice

A few days ago I was listening to the news out of Texas. In some major cities nearly 100% of people
lost power at the same time the state was receiving freezing temperatures. The domino effects of cold weather, loss of power, boil orders, and more have caused a crisis in the region. In spite of the difficulties, people have gone out of their way to help others. Families who still have power have invited other families into their homes. The news talked about the risks of this kind of arrangement because of Covid, but the citizens of Texas decided that the leaving neighbors to freeze was worth the risk.
 

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The Importance of Little Things

I’m not a hunter. I probably never will be. But my understanding of hunting is that you tend to have long
periods of time where not much happens, followed by brief moments of excitement. The deer finally comes
into view! Now is your chance! This is the moment you were waiting for!

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The Story of God

In our Sunday School class recently, we have been talking about how a person hears God’s voice. Sometimes, in the moment, it’s hard to see what God is doing. When we look at our past, however, sometimes the leading of God becomes clearer.

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The Lost Art of Listening

Most of us aren’t great at listening. When someone is talking, we are thinking of what we want to say next,
rather than seeking to understand them. This can cause challenges in our relationships with others. But have you
ever thought about how that affects your relationship with God?
 

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How to Get the Most Out of Online Worship

As we enter into another month of online worship, I wanted to share a few tips about how to get the most out of
worship during this time.
 
1. Remove Distractions – One of the challenges of online worship is that it is easy to get distracted.
Whether it’s by some app notification on your phone or that pile of bills that need to be paid, distractions
can steal your focus. Do your best to create an environment conducive to worship. Allowing yourself to
be fully present in worship will help you connect to God that much easier.

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Jesus And…

Today we are starting a new devo series on the book of Galatians. This book, along with Romans, contains
some of the clearest explanations of our justification by faith alone.
 
Paul begins by saying to the Galatians: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called
you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all,” (vv. 6-7). The
“different gospel” was a gospel of legalism. People in Galatia were saying that Jesus wasn’t enough, but we also
needed to do good works. Paul clearly says that, while we should live good lives as a response to our salvation,
the works don’t save us.

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The Ultimate King

In this divisive election season, it’s easy for Christians to get caught up in very un-Christ-like behavior.
As we enter into election day, here are two points for Christians to remember.
 
I. Christians are called to be good citizens – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to
be gentle toward everyone. (Titus 3:1-2) In the early days of the church, this meant simply obeying whatever the
emperor said (as long as it didn’t conflict with their obedience to God). In America, that gets a bit trickier,
because, at least in theory, we, the people, ARE the government. This means we should be involved in the
process. Learn about the candidates. Vote wisely. And, if you feel something needs changed, work to be that
agent of change within the bounds of the law. But in all things remember that your behavior reflects on Christ.
Act in a way that would bring Him honor.

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Luther

Halloween is also Reformation Day, which celebrates the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the
Wittenberg Church. This is usually seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. One of Luther’s biggest
complaints was against the selling of indulgences, which were documents that were supposed to cut years off of a
person’s time in purgatory. In doing so, Luther also indirectly attacked the role of the Pope and undermined the idea of
purgatory altogether.
 
Later, Luther stood trial for his writings. Tradition tells us he said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Luther stood for the
truth of the Scripture in a time where standing up for his faith could get him killed. He knew, like the apostles in the Book
of Acts, that it is better to obey God rather than men. If you face a conflict this week with the Word of God on one side,
and people in authority on the other side, we must always stand on the Word of God. We can do no other.


Anabaptists

As we continue to look at various Protestant Reformers, I want to introduce you to a group most people are
probably unfamiliar with. The Anabaptists were a group of reformers that rejected infant baptism and believed in full
immersion. Some Anabaptists were pacifists and others were fairly militant, but all stood for believer baptism.
 
The reason I bring them up is that the Independent Christian Church, of which we are a part, dated back to the
early 1800’s, but our understanding of baptism can be traced through the centuries all the way to very earliest days of the
Church. There has always been a remnant that has understood baptism as for believers, not infants, and to be done by full
immersion. In fact, every church document before about 250 AD describes baptism as being for believers and linked
strongly with salvation.
 
Our stance on baptism, while different than many other churches, has a strong history throughout the ages and
almost universally held in the earliest days of the Church. In fact, it dates at least to the Day of Pentecost, where Peter
said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


John Wycliffe

October 31, in addition to being Halloween, is also “Reformation Day”, which is the day Martin Luther nailed
the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Church and started the Protestant Reformation. Like almost all
non-Catholic churches, our church is Protestant, and so I felt it might be worthwhile to spend each week in
October talking about various reformers.

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