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Happy Mother’s Day, what a beautiful day. To start us off today, let’s watch a short video entitled “Mother’s Day Prayer.” In preparing for this message, I did some research on the origins of Mother’s Day. I was surprised to learn that Mother’s Day got it’s start in the US just in this century. Anna Jarvis was born to Ann Marie Jarvis in 1864 in Webster, West Virginia, the 9th of 11 children. Anna’s mother taught Sunday School. One day Anna was in class listening to her mother teach a lesson on the “Mothers of the Bible.” At the end of the lesson Anna’s mother prayed that someone, sometime would found a memorial mother’s day honoring mothers.

Anna never forgot that prayer. When her mother passed away on May 9, 1905 Anna made a vow to establish a Mother’s Day by the grace of God. At each anniversary of her mother’s death, Anna held a local memorial service for her. She passed out a carnation (her mother’s favorite flower) to each person who attended. Anna wrote hundreds of letter and spoke at many functions promoting the idea of a Mother’s Day. She wanted to let our mothers “know that we appreciate them, though we do not show it as often as we ought” Within the next few years, the idea of a day to honor mothers gained popularity, and Mother’s Day was observed in a number of large cities in the U.S.

On May 9, 1914, by an act of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. He established the day as a time for “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” I think it was a good idea. I think that the dream Anna had was from God. He helped that dream become a reality that we enjoy today.

Everyone here has a mother, no exceptions. We are grateful for our mother’s love. A mother’s job is immense. In many homes she is the primary caregiver, spending the most time with the children. She cares for physical needs, feeding, changing diapers, giving baths, washing clothes, buying groceries and cooking. She prays for her children, sings and reads to them. She teaches them about life, about family and about God. Raising children is a huge job of great significance.

Sometimes a mother may feel alone in her mothering. The task may seem overwhelming. Sometimes problems happen, where do you turn? Some mothers are alone, some are single, divorced or widowed. Others have husbands who for one reason or another aren’t able to help much. Even if your husband is great at helping, sometimes you may still feel alone. In those times God is there.

Today, we’re going to look at the story of a mother who felt all alone and see how God responded to her. My message today is entitled: God’s Promises for Mothers The mother we’re going to be talking about was named Hagar. Let me tell you Hagar’s story which is found in Genesis 21.

Abraham was married to Sarah, but they were childless. Rather than wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled, Sarah followed the customs of the society and gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband to have children. Hagar bore a child who was named Ishmael. 

When Ishmael was 14, Sarah finally became pregnant and had a son Isaac. When Isaac is weaned, Abraham and Isaac hold a great feast. In the midst of the feast, Sarah notices Ishmael mocking. It is more than she can take and she tells Abraham to get rid of Hagar and her son Ishmael. Abraham was distressed over this turn of affairs and asked God what to do. God told him to send Hagar and Ishmael away and He would care for them.

So Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael off with provisions for the journey. So under these unusual circumstances, Hagar becomes a single mother. She wanders away into the desert with her son. Their provision of food and water was soon exhausted and she put her son under a bush to shade him from the sun. Her situation seemed hopeless, she was alone and afraid. What could she do? Today, we’re going to look at three promises from God for mothers that Hagar learned.

 Have you ever wanted something to change in your life, but didn’t know how to bring it about? I’m sure that we have all wanted various things in our lives to change. This is true of both believers and unbelievers. Why do we as human beings always want things to change? No matter what we have, we tend to want more of it or something different. This desire for change is part of being created in the image of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV2011) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Let’s focus on the phrase “God has set eternity in the human heart.” What is this eternity that God has put into every human heart? Eternity is the desire to live forever, the desire to have a relationship with God, the desire to live in a perfect world. It is all these things and much more, but eternity has to do with God.

Someone has said that God has placed a vacuum in every human heart that can only be filled with God. So, we seek to satisfy the longing for eternity, the longing for God by seeking change in our lives. Yet, only God can satisfy this longing for eternity in our hearts. Only God can bring us into eternity with Him where we will be completely satisfied.

Today, we’re going to look at how we can fill the void in our hearts in this life. Today’s message is entitled “Change Begins with Repentance.” Change in our lives doesn’t happen automatically. Change doesn’t always happen just because we pray for it to happen. Change begins with repentance, both for the unbeliever and the believer.

What is repentance? What does it mean to repent? To repent is to have a change of heart towards sin in our lives. Repentance is taking a 180 degree turn away from sin and towards God. So, repentance is running away from sin and running to God. That’s how a person is born again and receives eternal life, it begins with repentance.

Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) … Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus was saying that God’s got a wonderful kingdom that He wants you to be part of. Your first step in entering that Kingdom is to repent of your sin, turn away from it and believe in the gospel of Jesus. The message was the same for the early church in the book of Acts.

Acts 2:38 (ESV)  And Peter said to them, “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.

First step is exactly the same, repent of your sin. This initial repentance and belief brings you into God’s Kingdom, you are born again. But repentance is not just for unbelievers. Repentance is for people who sin, and we all sin in one way or another.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This verse was not written to unbelievers, but to believers. We also are to daily confess our sins, which is another way of repent. When we do that God forgives our sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness, that’s change.

How does repentance happen in the life of a believer? As we read and listen to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to bring conviction of sin into our hearts. When we realize our sin, we repent and God works in our hearts bringing about change, so we sin less and less. Repentance in our lives leads to spiritual growth, becoming more and more like Jesus. Change begins with repentance. Let’s begin today’s study of the prophet Jeremiah by seeking to understand why believers stray into sin.

As a child, I remember playing with a small flashlight. It wasn’t much fun in the daylight because you could hardly tell it was on. But in a dark room or especially at night, it was amazing to me how it lit things up. As a child, darkness was scary, you never knew what lurked there. But just a little flashlight could dispel that darkness.

As we grow up, we learn that we live in a dark world that is filled with evil. A dark world that needs light to drive the darkness away. Today, we begin a new message series called “Shine in a Dark World.” Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed with the increasing darkness around us. Yet, the darker our world, the greater the impact our light will have.

Philippians 2:15 (ESV) … be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

We live in a crooked and twisted generation that is characterized by the darkness of sin. As we follow Jesus, His light shines through us as lights in the world. These lights do two things. They repel those who want nothing to do with Jesus and they attract those who are ready to repent of their sin. We are tempted to hide our lights so that we don’t stand out in a dark world. But that’s exactly what we’re not supposed to do.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The only hope for our world is for believer to let the light of Jesus shine through them, lighting up the dark night of the world. In our new series “Shine in a Dark World” we’re going to look at the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah began his ministry to Judah under the godly king Josiah. Yet, there was no major repentance in Judah and things got darker and darker. Few listened to Jeremiah’s message, yet he was faithful to God’s call.

I believe that the example of Jeremiah will encourage us to let your lights shine in the dark world of our time. Today, our message is entitled “Find Direction from God.” God calls each of us and gives us direction on how to let our lights shine in a dark world. So, let’s have open ears to hear what the Spirit desires to speak to us this morning.

Today we conclude with our message series from 1 Corinthians called “Spirit Empowered Living.” Our message today is entitled “Blessing of Spiritual Gifts.” What are spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts are supernatural expression of the Holy Spirit working through individual believers. These spiritual gifts are God’s way of blessing people through His church.

In Old Testament times, only certain select people operated in some of the spiritual gifts. For example, some prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha had the spiritual gift of working miracles. Other prophets, had the gift of prophesying, that is speaking for God to others. In New Testament times, in which we are now living, everything changed regarding spiritual gifts. Peter, preaching on the day of Pentecost quotes the prophet Joel to explain what was now happening.

Acts 2:17a (ESV)  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy …

In the last days, which began at Christ’s resurrection and continue until He returns, the Holy Spirit makes spiritual gifts available to all believers. In order to receive the power to minister in spiritual gifts, Jesus taught that a believer must be baptized in the Holy Spirit, something that did not happen in the Old Testament. 

Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)  And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Spirit baptism, available to all believers, is God’s gateway to moving in spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts have two main uses: first of all, they can be used to build up and minister to believers in the church. Secondly, they can be used to provide the power of the Holy Spirit for witnessing to unbelievers.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus here tells us that the Spirit’s power enables believers to be bold Spirit-empowered witnesses to those who do not know Jesus. As we go through the book of Acts, we learn that God desires for every believer to be baptized in water and baptized in the Holy Spirit. The evidence that a person has received Spirit baptism and the power behind Spirit baptism is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.

Tongues are simply communicating with God in a language that you have never learned. The power of tongues is that it allows a believer to pray a perfect prayer in keeping with God’s will that will always be answered. That is an incredible blessing that God has made available to us today. This morning, we’re going to look at 1 Corinthians 14 to learn more about the blessing of spiritual gifts, particularly within the church. Spiritual gifts are given to …

Today we continue with our message series from 1 Corinthians called “Spirit Empowered Living.” Our message today is entitled “Build a Godly Marriage.” Marriage is a hot topic in our culture today, for all the wrong reasons. Rather than begin with those misconceptions, we going to start today with the biblical definition of marriage.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

This verse is taken from the very first chapter in the Bible about God’s creation of the universe. We see first of all, that humans were created in the image of God. That means that they possessed a moral likeness, they were created as sinless and holy. They were created with a natural likeness to God, having a spirit, mind, emotions and the power of choice. Finally, they were created in such as way that they could enjoy a personal relationship with their Creator.

God created humans as two and only two genders, male and female. We now know scientifically that gender is determined by the DNA of a person which never changes throughout their lives. Every male has XY chromosomes and every female has XX chromosomes.

Genesis 1:28 (ESV) And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion … over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Men and women were not created to live separate lives, but together to multiple and fill the earth with their children. The Bible speaks of this union or marriage in the second chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 2:24 (ESV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The foundation of human society is the family, consisting of a husband and his wife, who in a mystery become one flesh. Together they reflect the image of God to the world and actually represent the loving relationship of Christ and the church. In every age, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s design for marriage. Romans 1 speaks of how because of sin, men have perverted sexual relations with men and women with women. Not only is this sin in and of itself, it also destroys the biblical concept of marriage and eliminates the blessing of children.

The good news is that any sin, including sins of homosexuality and gender confusion can be forgiven and healed through the cross of Christ. Today, we’re going to see what God’s Word has to say about building godly marriages and promoting godly marriages in a culture that is headed the other direction. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about …