Countdown To Christmas Challenge

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Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 24

"Preparing Our Hearts For Him" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

When believers that Jesus is alive, it made a tremendous difference in their lives.  We have spent this past few weeks seeing the gift of God that came to us, taught, healed, saved, and died for us.  This all colminates in the most meaning act He does by conquering death, hell, and the grave.  Our greatest gift is one we accept, we love, but also one that never stays broken and continues to bless.  

For Perplexed Hearts: He Opens the Tomb (v1-12)  Jesus didn't open the tomb to get out, but to let others in.  

For Discouraged Hearts: He Opens their Eyes (v13-35).  For two men on a road Jesus listened, broke bread to open their eyes to their discouraged souls.

For Troubled Hearts: He Opened their Minds (36-46).  He shared spiritual and phyisical food with them to release their troubled minds about his death.

For Joyful Hearts: He Opens Their Lips (v47-53).  Jesus sent his disciples out with the message to reach others to let them know that He is alive.  

What a blessing to read thru Luke and go from not just the cradle to the cross, but to not only end up at his ressurection but his reassurance of Him living.  I pray that you have this reassurance.  With reassurance you will live depressed, deflated, and defeated lives.  Knowing this same baby to was born to save the world was the greatest blessing that could save Himself from death, and save us from ours. Gifts that were received from under the Christmas tree cannot compare to His gift that was received from off Calvary's tree.  And now lives.  Merry Christmas!!!


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 23

"Condemed & Crucified" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

This lonely path of suffering had many people on it.  While spiritually He faced the cross alone, many surrounded Christ to lead Him to it and thru it.  Each one is why He hanged and died there.  We could fix our thoughts on those who brought us to the place of our pain, or like Jesus we can still pray for them because in their violence towards us they show their need for forgiveness.

Jesus faced Pilate.  Here Pilate affirmed (v1-5), deffered (6-12), bargained (v13-23), and yielded (v24-25) the case of Jesus to others to crucify Him.

Jesus faced Simon (v25). The forced participant who helped carry the cross of Jesus for a short while.

Jesus faced hurting women (v27-31) who wepted openly and used it while on the cross to teach a valueable lesson of His commitment to following God.

Jesus faced the malefactors (v32-43) who contrasted the response of Jesus on the cross.  These two men showed how men and women today respond to Jesus' sacrafice for us.

Jesus faced His Father (v44-49).  He prayed to God who heard His prayers till God Himself had to no longer look upon His Son who took upon all our sin.

Jesus faced Joseph of Armithea (v50-56).  Jesus at His death needed help from a faithful follower (like today) who was needing aid to care and carry him in a borrowed tomb.


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 22 (Continued)

"The Lonely Trail To Trial"  Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Many things in life we feel we face alone.  That feeling of abandonment is the worst feeling because with it comes the loss of self worth, isolation, betrayal, failure, etc ... Notice, I said "feel".  Only Jesus faced the hours of His life alone without followers, family, Apostles, and even God Himself.  In Chapter 22, He faced the in what should be a peaceful Garden ... The Costly Cup of God's Wrath (v40-46), Hypocritical Kiss of Betrayal (v47-48), Useless Sword of Defence (v49-53), and later, the Cock's Crow of Denial (v34-35).  & The Blindfolded lashes of Mockery (v63-65). 

In all of this, Jesus kept his vision of the throne in Heaven all the while facing Hell on Earth.  He did this not for Himself because at any moment He could have stopped the violence and cruelity against Him.  He did this for only one reason ... our salvation.  Thank you Jesus!

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 22

"The Upper Room & Higher Calling" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Jesus combined the Passover and the Lord's Supper here with His disciples.  This was to explain to them that He was the Pascal Lamb meaning the offered lamb that would soon be sacraficed for them.  They still didn't see it but the events in the upper room were to reveal His higher calling.

Before the Supper there was a preparation (v1-13).  outside the room for a crime and inside they prepared the ceremony.  Not much has changed with the lost and saved today it seems.  

During the Supper there was a revelation (v14-16 & 21-38) inside Jesus revealed His love (v14-16).  Outside they revealed their plans (v21-23).  This also revealed the disciple's worldliness (v24-20), and Peter's denial (v31-38).

After the Supper there was a commemoration (v17-20).  three looks take place during the Supper: A look back - to Jesus' sacrafice, a look ahead - to jesus' return, and a look within - to examine ourselves of our heart to take it properly.

May we all have an "Upper Room" experience that collminates in us drawning close to what Jesus is, does, and will do at his return.


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 21

"Future In Focus" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

In the scheme of things how much does our life impact the future.  Much like the widow's mite, mighty can be the weight of the eternal difference it can give or produce.  Jesus works off the message of the widow's mite to show forth a future of getting to serve forever with God and showing us signs to when that would take place.

Jesus preaches here on the "First, Middle, Half, & End" of the tribulation as a way of showing believers they have great hope and the lost have great harm coming.  This sermon and teaching of the last days marks the begining of the end for Jesus and his Earthly ministry.  

May we not shy away from telling the truth in love to people about end coming.  It is never to bring fear, but warning as it is a sure plan for mankind.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 20

"Issues & Answers For Life" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Jesus is approached with how to respond to other leadership during His ministry.  We might also be presented with the same question as we serve the true and living King Jesus.  May we put respect to leadership before and during our walk with God, but always put God at the top.

First Jesus was questioned about John the Baptist (v1-19).  The authority of his baptism and work and how it works into Christ's leadership.  Second, there a question of Ceasar's leadership (v20-26). Ceasar's spies asked him how God's people should follow Ceasar.  Just held up a coin with Ceasar's picture on it saying this is what we tribute to Ceasar.  Our life is God's.  Third, is a question of Moses (v27-40).  Saddeeses asked if Jesus defied the teaching of Moses about marriage.  Jesus stated we not be married in heaven.  Last, Jesus is questioned regarding King David (v41-44).  Jesus was questioned about geneology and authority and answered that he is a decendent of David and in line to be King. 

May we realize how to give and answer to every man of the hope that lies with in us.  May we use Godly wisdom to be light in the midst of dark questions that seek to undermine of legitimacy to be God's authority to be His witness to the world.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 19

"Three Fold Ministry Of Jesus" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Alot of us can over emphasize one area of service.  Jesus had a three ministries in one.  He is the Savior seeks the lost (v1-10).  With Zaccheus, we see Jesus is willing to seek out those who others would never attempt to witness to.  Second, He is the Master who rewards the faithful (v11-27).  Jesus shows in a parable how he rewards both faithful to Him and those faithful to themselves.  Last, we see the King who offers peace (v23-48). Jesus came into town offering peace, but having to set worship right to do it.

May we all seek to put into perspective that all three ministries are ours also.  Witness, Work, and Worship are all parts of what we do for God.  May we be found going likewise in each area God uses us.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 18

"Learning Lessons From Others" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

We don't have a long enough life to learn all the lesson ourselves.  Wisdom says that we need to learn the lessons of life from others.  That would save us a lot of scares, shame, and setbacks.  Jesus talks to us from the chapter about several people we can learn life lessons from.

The Demanding Widow (v1-8)  Even if we are weak and have nothing, if we are persistant God will supply our needs.  

The Deluded Pharisee (v9-17) learning to be humble in life will get us forgiven and filled by God.  

The Dishonest Youth (v18-34) Doing good things is never a replacement for trust in the great one.

The Determined Beggar (v35-43) Sometimes we must stretch ourselves past our limitations to gain healing the Lord can provide.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 17

"What Really Matters"  Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

After talking to the Pharisees about the sin of loving wealth he shares with them the true things to hold on to.  The things that will matter well past their years in their lives and others.  He gives 4 pillars of priorities for their purpose.  

First, Forgiveness (v1-6) we need to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.  Second, Faithfulness (v7-10) we must remain faithful in the duties we have of caring for others in our life.  Third, Thankfulness (v11-19) Jesus asks the question regarding the nine lepers that didn't thank him for healing them as a way of exposing ungratfulness.  Finally, Preparedness (v20-37) He shares for the first time His thoughts on the Rapture and how we should be prepared for the coming of the Lord.  

May we all establish these 4 pillars in our lives for Christ and be ready, willing, and able to serve the Lord till he comes again.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 16

"Good & Bad Riches" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Money is the biggest non spiritual topic in the Bible ... Why?  We attach alot of our own value, virtue, and vision in the wake of it.  Most of us say when can or cannot do something by how much of it we have.  Wealth is a tool for sure to get some things done, but it personally can be a vice in the wrong hands.

Jesus exposed both the right use (v1-13), and the wrong (v14-31) of wealth in this chapter.  He calls it stewardship.  A steward doesn't own, but manages things for the master.  That's putting wealth in the right hands.  

Honestly, riches are good or bad ... it's what you do with it, and the attitude you have because of it.  Jesus, was one who had no home or real possessions talked about true commitment and how being overwhelmed with stuff can block your service to God.  May learn to let go of temporary to embrace the eternal.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 15

"Salvation's Joy" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

In this chapter we see three words that pop out at us.  They are, "Lost, Found, & Rejoice"  Jesus used the story of the Lost Sheep, Silver, and Son's to further teach Jewish leaders that there is joy when people come to know Jesus no matter who, where, and how they are.  They all need him.  We can be like the prodigal or the proidical son.  One was lost then found.  The other chose to stay bitter even when his brother came home again because he was not totally sold on the idea of having his inheritance with his father.

This is our life with Jesus.  He saved us in spite of ourselves and we need to be excited when the Lord continues to save others that look like we did to God when we got saved.  Let's get excited about salvations ... even of our eniemes.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 14

"Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

We get to see what people are made of under pressure and in pleasure.  Jesus had the opportunity to go this man's house that used hospitality to spy on Jesus to see what he was all about.  Jesus didn't disappoint... acutually, He never does.

Jesus exposed falsehoods that night ... The Pharisees: False Pieity (v1-6), The Guests: False Popularity (v7-11), The Host: False Hospitality (v12-14), The Jews: False Security (v15-24), and the multitude: False Expectantcy (v25-35).  Each one in Jesus just being Himself ... Our Lord & King.

What things does Jesus expose in us when he is invited into our home and hearts?  May he find His truth, tenderness, and trust.  

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 13

"Jesus Answers Questions" Aaron bryan, Associate Pastor

You can learn a lot about a person by how they answer questions, but you can learn them by what they do in the things you question about life.  Jesus is transparent His way of being unashamed in His way of giving hope and helping others.  May we learn this trait and treasure the life of Christ's walk.

First, Jesus answers a political question about justice (v1-9) ... Second, Jesus answers a Legal question about the Sabbath (v10-21) ... Third, Jesus answers a theological question about salvation (v22-30) ... Finally, Jesus answers a personal question about danger (v31-35) 

What questions are people asking of you?  Maybe not directly, but indirectly through how they interact with you and have issues in their life.  Jesus took every opportunity answer the questions others had of Him by living it out in his life.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 12

"Bewared Believers" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

We often talk about all the blessings we receive in knowing Christ.  We also should mention all the ways we need to be aware as believers.  It's never just about blessings, it's also about being aware of what could take the blessings away.  Jesus spends some time sharing this insight.

Beware of Hypocrisy (v1-12) Jesus shares our motivations to be living a double life and reasons to avoid.  Beware of Coveting (v13-21) Jesus shows that our provision needs to be in Him.  Beware of Worry (v22-34) Not only our provision, but protection is based on Him and his power.  Beware of Carelessness (v35-53) Opposite of worry is to be absent of care for our life and letting our lights burn.  Beware of Spiritual Dullness (v54-59) Jesus wants us to be aware of the times we live in to be ready for changes that may come.  

May we take heed to the wealth of warning He provides in teaching us how to navigate this life towards our needs He provides.  May you not worry over being wise in Christ.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 11

"Our Greatest Resource" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

When you think of resources you usually think of the raw materials that something is made.  These things are nessessary for other things to happen.  Our greatest resource for life is prayer because in it, like phyisical resources it makes things happen.

Jesus teaches in the chapter about modeling a prayer he outlines and how it shapes our life in him.  It allows to see clearly his will, safety from the Devil, and supply for daily living.  He also uses it to give us a warning to not fall into the traps of religious duty like the Pharisees.  

He clearly demonstrates and declares the importance of prayer to first change us, before changing our circumstances.  Let us use our greatest resource to its fullest potential and that is to stay close to Jesus.


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 10

"What Do Christians Do?"  Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Have you ever had a job and not know what it is you actually do?  It can be frustrating to say the least.  Jesus made sure with His teaching and reaching to explain what the Christian life is all about.  

As Ambassadors Jesus leads us to represent Him (v1-24), As Neighbors, Jesus leads us to Imitate Him (v25-37), & as worshippers Jesus leads us to listen to Him (v38-42).  

Jesus used real life examples on how to be all these things.  With the story of the good Samaritan we see how to be a good neighbor, in His commission of his disciples he shows what an ambassador is, and with Mary & Martha, he demonstrates that worship is not in being busy but to focus on being present with the Lord.  May we see these examples as how to live the Christian life through Christ.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 9

"Compassion Will Keep Us Busy" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

We live in a busy world for sure, but are we busy about the right things?  Things that change lives starting with our own?  Jesus was in the business to change lives and now was branching out to have others join him.  We call this ministry.  Jesus' ministry of compassion is revealed here in four ways.

First, a "Sending" ministry ... His discipled we being commissed to the world.  Second, a "Feeding" ministry ... His followers needed their basic needs met.  Third, a "Teaching" ministry ... His close followers get a deeper knowledge. Lastly, an "Enduring" ministry ... Putting feet to their faith in message, ministry, & miracles. Whatever our way of expressing compassion, it will come through ministry.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 8

"Functional Faith"  Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Two major ways our faith flourshes ... Teaching & Testing.  Jesus is excellent at give instruction through illustrations about most everything, but it all starts with faith.  Life to a seed, light that shines, and a lunatic needing saving, all our instructions on how Jesus both instilled and inspired doing likewise.  

First, Jesus uses teaching to bring faith alive to his followers.  From soils to souls, Jesus makes it clear that we must do what it takes for goodness in both.  He is the source of that goodness through grace.  Hearing the word is key.

Second, Jesus uses testing to bring faith alive to his followers. Jesus utilizes Dangerous waters, Daughters welfare, and even a death warrant for another daughter.  All to showcase our lack of power to Jesus' love to provide.  Not to just heal, but to really reveal.  Not to just make peace but to have reach into lives.


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 7

"Compassion In Action"  Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

It's one thing to say you should be compassionate, its another to live it out.  Jesus had the opportunity to share compassion into 3 different people's lives.  We have the same opportunity today.

First to the Centurian's servant in response to his faith.  He was able to show great compassion to his servant even at a distance.  Second, to the widow he responded to despair by raising her son.  Third, to John the Baptist in response to Doubt Jesus reassured John servants to watch him and to give report back to John.  He did this without a lecture, just love.  Lastly, to the sinful woman he responded with love.  As she washed his feet with expensive perfume, the fragrance to her faith was even more appealing to Jesus.  In all of these, we see that Jesus responded with patience, compassion, love, and ultimately strength.  Not super power strength but power of forgiveness.  This is what our world needs... like then and always.  

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 6

"The New View" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Often we get stuck doing the same old thing.  Jesus came along and took all that away by being the fulfillment of the law of the Old Testament.  We no longer are bound and bored by the things that never change or challenge us.  We now have relationships that are the central theme of our service to God.  Those are always changing.

Jesus gives us a new Sabbath to worship him.  Under the law the sabbath was strictly adhered to by the Jews and yet mistreated at the same time. Jesus being the new and living way showed that it didn't matter and yet set the first day as his holy day.  

Jesus declares a new nation.  He takes his promises to just be strictly jewish with the jews to be lights of the world and gives citizenship and responsability to all who believe.  Spending all night in prayer to call his 12 was a great task to be the founders of this new nation as Himself as the head of it.  It would be a house not of jews but of Jesus.

Jesus Delivers a new blessing.  He takes away the law on stone to place on us a love of surrender to him.  He captivates, commands, and commissions his followers to be blessed by loving others better than themselves.  He also shares that love would be the avenue of how he blesses from now on.  

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 5

"The Difference Jesus Makes" Aaron Bryan, Associate Pastor

Jesus makes all the difference in this chapter.  As Jesus starts his ministry we can see that his power is not just in his words, but his works.  May we feel and know his marvelous power that he displays in lives that come to him.

First, Failure to success in regards to catching fish for the disciples.  Second, from sickness to health for the leper. Third, we see Jesus change guilt to forgiveness to the paralyized man.  Finally, the old to new in regards to his fulfilment of the Old Testament.  In every case, Jesus is the game changer.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 4

 Jesus' Mission is taking shape in Luke 4:18.  In shaping it, he must face certain conflict.  Every Testimony has a testimony and every message has a mess.  Jesus faced his head on as the Devil, Doctrine, & Demons put him to the test.  Same with us when we decide to be on mission with God, temptation, truth, and trusts get put to the test.

First, Jesus faced the Devil head on.  Hungry and alone, Satan knew when best to hit Jesus even though it couldn't work.  He knows to hit us the same tempting our lust and pride.

Second, Jesus used his tempting to show truth of Doctrine.  We also need to utilize our knowledge of the word as our two edge sworded weapon to give us hope from the harm of temptation.  Failing to speak God's word to our temptation is a plan to fail.

Lastly, we see Jesus having triumph of demons.  Having won Satan with scripture, there is an unfinished part of our service.  We cannot call ourselves Christians by just being successful at resisting the devil, but also declaring freedom from his influence and aiding the conquering of that influence in other's lives.  We like Jesus have a wonderful opportunity and obligation to resist, relay, and rescue others from unseen forces with the power of God's word, will, and working in our lives.


Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 3

"Ministry Of Jesus Begins" Aaron Bryan, Assoc. Pastor

Origins of Jesus' birth were established in the first two chapters.  Now, Luke points us from followers welcoming him, to faithful working of him.  All good work needs to be backed up by others who are faithful in their work also.  Jesus was no exception to this.

The Forerunner Of The Savior:  John the Baptist came on the scene as the last prophet of the Old Testament resembling Elijah in his manner and message.  He was given the authority to baptize and to proclaim the enterance of Jesus to ministry.

The Father & The Spirit: Jesus presented himself for baptized to fulfill all rigtheousness for us to follow.  Even Jesus saw it nessessary to follow the example of being baptized.  This pleased God so much that he sent his spirit in the form of a dove to decend on him to declare how pleased he is with his son.

Today, it is important to have both of these influences in our life for our service to God.  May we have proper authority in begining our work for Jesus.  This comes in the picture here that Jesus portrayed in his baptism traveling great distance to be baptized of John.  May we prove our commitment to go the distance to follow the right authority in baptism to begin our service for Christ.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke 2

"How People See The Good News" Aaron Bryan, Assoc. Pastor

In this chapter we see three pictures of Jesus.  We see Jesus as a newborn baby, Child, and as a youth.  All of which others saw him differently in each of those times.  Our question today is how do we see Jesus?  

As a newborn baby Jesus drew .... Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem ... angels from heaven & shepherds from the fields.

As a child, Jesus had dealings with ... Moses & Old Testament Commands, Simeon & Trusted Consulations  & Anna & Tender Celebration

As a Youth, Jesus developed in ... Wisdom, Stature, and Favor with God. 

We need to ask ourselves today ... When we see Jesus, how does it draw, deal, and develop us into true followers of faith.  May our faith be based on our knowledge, experience, and obedience to faith's sight it give us to follow him.

Countdown 2 Christmas: Luke Chapter One

"How People Hear Good News" Aaron Bryan, Assoc. Pastor

In this chapter, we see several responses to the good news of a Redeemer coming.  From Zacherius, Mary, and Elizabeth we know responses vary on how people process and even hear the "Good News" of the coming redeemer.  None of those in this story were wrong or misleading, but just had different backgrounds, barriers, and burdens they had to overcome to believe.

Zacherius had Unbelief at first.  Being the "Uncle" of Jesus, he had trouble processing that he would be father to the greatest man who ever lived, as Jesus put it ... John.  Mary responded with faith as a young handmaid with her whole world in turmoil having now found out she is pregnant responded with faith.  Elizabeth responded with praise.  Even John the Baptist even leaped in her upon the news of the comming Messiah.  Lots of expression here in the chapter that was eased by the Angel Gabriel that verified and made the words of God make sense.

Today, we respond with our thoughts, emotions, and action to the "good news" of the Gospel in similar ways.  We also have the words of God in the Bible that get varified by the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts.  May we always be effected by the power of the Gospel in our lives, and how much God wants to send His Son to redeem us not only as baby years ago, but as a blessing to our lives today.  Our problem is not a gift in a manger, but God's son as Messiah.  Make Him King ... not a just a baby.

Countdown To Christmas Challenge!!!