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Matt: 13:52 (NLT) Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.” 53 When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. 54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” 58 And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

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Matt. 13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth

We are fishers of men, but sometimes we get bad fish. 

His own ministry illustrated this point: many who followed him for a time did not truly believe in him  (John 2:23-24), and one of his own disciples was in fact an agent of Satan who betrayed him (John 13:2, 27). 

The kingdom of God is exclusive

Luke 17:20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” 22 Then He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.

The kingdom of heaven is inclusive

Matt. 13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind

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Open Doors for You

Part One, Preparing Your Heart and Life for Increase

Revelation 3 “The Faithful Church

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:[c] 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

 Jesus spoke a parable describing the conditions of the people’s hearts in relation to God’s word, or the seed. How you handle the seed of God’s is the most important thing that you handle.

1. The Sower and the Soils (13:1-9) - The Power of Conditions 

2. The Tares (13:24-30)  - The Power of Challenge
3. The Mustard Seed (13:31-32) - The Power of Potential
4. The Leaven (13:33) - The Power of Mystery
5. The Hidden Treasure (13:44) The Power of Value
6. The Costly Pearl (13:45-46) The Power of Priority
7. The Dragnet (13:47-50) - The Power of Judgment
8. The Householder (13:52) - The Power of Balance

Matthew 13:1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

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Free Indeed. Free Forever.

Key Scriptures 

 

John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

~ Isaac Newton

 

We are free indeed and free forever. (Say it)

 

Freedom is a treasure and a legacy. It is a treasure because is it valuable. It is a legacy because we did not create it, we only inherited freedom. Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. We have the responsibility to live a certain way and we have the responsibility to share it.

 

When Jesus says he makes us “free indeed” he is talking about freedom in the total sense, at every level.

 

The word "indeed" means:  Truly, in reality, in point of fact, as opposed to what is pretended, fictitious, false, conjectural

 

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”  Rev. Dr. KIng

 

Dr. King possession the spiritual and intellection capacity to be prophetic and proactive. He and the ministers who led the movement were closer to God and ten times smarter than the oppressors.  

 

Psalms 119:98, Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.

 

Here in the 21st-century many people are not living in the freedom they have already been provided because they've not experienced freedom indeed through Christ. 

 

We are free indeed and free forever. But here's the hook, with freedom comes responsibility. It is our actions that determine if we live in what God has provided or if we continue to miss the best that God has for us.

 

Looking again at our text: John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

 

Some of Jesus’ own people thought that they already possessed all the freedom they needed. We don’t want to make that same mistake in only leaning on religion or what our society defines and freedom. 

 

To be “free indeed” requires a Savior

 

We Are Free Indeed and Free Forever. That’s we are empowered and can empower others.

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Open Doors for You in 2018,

Revelation 3:8 “ know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? the Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 

The Lord is the Creator of everything, even of the people and things that do not serve His purpose. The Vision for 2018 is this: There are open doors for you, doors of opportunity, doors a new and renewed relationships, doors leading to growth in increase, and most of all, doors into the presence of God.

Key words for 2018: “It is Finished. A New Beginning. Total Victory. Go In.”

Every good place you want to enter has purpose, standards or a price of entry. The doors of higher education require higher academic standards and more money than high school. I though I was going to simply slide from my undergraduate degree into a masters degree program, but the school I wanted to attend required something called a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The people on the other side of that door figured out a long time ago what it takes to success at that level. If you can’t pass the GRE, you will most likely not succeed in their master’s program. I first scoffed at taking that test and did not want to take because as it turned out, the test was scheduled three days after my mother died.

If I did not take the GRE at that time, I would have had to delay started grad school which is something I know my mother wanted me to do since she was aware of my plan. So I continued studied while duing arrangements for my mother’s homegoing service. What I learned then is that at every door of opportunity lies grace, blessing, and strength from God. I took the exam and it was difficult, and scored very well on it. 

The graduate program in Instructional Systems Technology was indeed very challenging.

The prerequisite for entering the doors into God’s presence: 

Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Look at the prediction of what happens on the other side of entering the doors of God’s presence:

Psalms 24:6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? the Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.

THE KING OF GLORY COMES IN! That’s like the Calvary coming to rescue you in battle, or the Brinks truck coming to bring you a lot of money, or a team of highly skilled people coming to assist you! ...and more!

Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.

The bible Greek word for door is unremarkable (“thyra” pronounced “thoo-rah”): used of any opening like a door, an entrance, way or passage into

A door has two meanings: 1) it is a physical entrance 2) It is spiritual access and opportunity 

Doors are seen and unseen. Everything happens a designated door. Science fiction talks a lot about wormholes which are doors and shortcuts through space-time to a whole other dimension. That’s all just fiction, but God’s doors are very real!

We go through doors opened by God and others. We become doors. We open doors for others.  It is essential to find and enter the doors God has destined for you. 

It is no strain to find and enter God’s doors for your life. Jesus made the way when He said, “It is  finished!”

During my devotional time on December 27, watching at God’s gates and waiting at his doors, I had an encounter with the Lord.  

A song written by Darlene Zschech, former Hillsong worship leader illuminated this Scripture from as Jesus hung on the cross,

John 19:28-30  Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus said, “It is finished!”

Question: What was finished or done? Answer: Everything related His mission and your victory! He opened the door!

Jesus stated His mission: "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38).

He stated His position: ”Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6). Jesus is the door

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Teach Us to Number our Days." Psalms 90:12, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Introduction to Vision for 2018 on Sunday, January 7, 2018
www.NewCovenant.org
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Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

Leviticus 2:12 As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to the Lord, but they shall not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma. 13 And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.

There are many ways to think about covenant. One of the most impactful and personal ways to understand covenant Is from the perspective of influence. Influence is defined as: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

We’ve all benefited from being influenced by others. Write down now the names of the 3-5 people who have influenced you, who had an effect on your character, development, and behavior. There’re a lot of people who want something from you, but there are fewer people who want to put something in you. 

The measure of influence is not what people get you to do for them, but what they do for you. I’m not talking about how people make us feel, but what they actually do. Jesus said, “I came to serve not to be served.”

Our life is shaped by God and people who have served us. That service towards us has resulted in a shape and a lifestyle that honors God, reflects the fruit of God’s grace within us. Your S.H.A.P.E. is:

Spiritual gifts (What God put inside of you) 

Heart (Motivation and passion)

Abilities (Skills you have learned and gained)

Personality (Your personal style)

Experiences (Key moments and events in life)

If we prioritized that list of those who have influenced us, God and His resources, including His church, is at the top of the list for believers in Christ.

Influence does not happen in a void or a vacuum. Influence happens in God ordained moments and encounters.  Cooking ingredients left alone do not become anything. But ingredients in the hands of a chef become a wonderful meal or dessert.

Based on Scripture and historical context, salt represents “influence.” Salt influences what it touches. Salt is influential in its effect. When you see the word salt, think about influence or an influencing agent.

The spirit of the instruction in Leviticus: “You shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.”.

The idea is: Be sure that the offerings your make and your life do not lack God’s influence.

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The proper and best basis of all relationships is covenant. Our culture routinely disregards the understanding and practice of covenants. Our culture has a “live-in-the-moment” “what-have –done-for-me-lately” mentality. Convenience is our main concern.  

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

2CH 23:1, In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds...And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. 3] Then all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, "Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David

Covenant is the basis of our strength, favor, and advancement. 

Look at the response of people when they understand they are covenanted with the Lord to be His people

2CH 23:16, Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the Lord's people. 17] And all the people went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They broke in pieces its altars and images...

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Hebrews 8:6, But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 

8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 

9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[b] I will remember no more.”

The New Covenant is God’s very best for you and me.

It is the best because it is the thing that Jesus suffered and died to provide. 

We have a special place in our hearts for God and for people who have sacrificed to provide for us. We celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans Day for the same reasons.

We celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries of loved ones because the life of others has empowered our lives––indeed has given us the gift of life itself. As a pastor one of the most heartbreaking realities I see is when children do not honor and neglect their parents. When my mother I ministered together at nursing homes, I saw this all the time: People forgotten and discarded like a worn out or undesirable pair of shoes or clothes. A nursing home may be the best option, but people who bring people into the world and have cared for them should never be neglected, ignored, or disrespected.

At the heart of God’s best for you, me, and everyone is what the Bible calls the “New Covenant.” It is called “new” because of something called an “old” covenant.

Covenants, or agreements are the basis of how people connect, work together, live together, or even die together--as in the case of military service.

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Romans 12:1, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship [reasonable service]. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The “secret” to transformation is 1) the grace of God, and 2) renewing your mindset which breaks old “patterns.”

Barclay translation of Rom. 12:1-2 

Brothers, I call upon you, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies to him, a living, consecrated sacrifice, well-pleasing to God--for that is the only kind of worship which is truly spiritual. And do not shape your lives to meet the fleeting fashions of this world; but be transformed from it, by the renewal of your mind, until the very essence of your being is altered, so that, in your own life, you may prove that the will of God is good and well pleasing and perfect.

 

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