My sermon this Sunday is called, “Covenant Love: Mercy that Brings Transformation” from Matthew 9:9-13 and Hosea 6:1-6. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus quotes a passage from Hosea 6:6, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'” Jesus tells the disciples to go figure this scripture out, because understanding it is a key to knowing how to serve God and help people effectively.

The Hebrew word translated mercy in Hosea 6:6 is hesed, which is used over two hundred times in the Old Testament and is translated variously as love, loving-kindness, unfailing love, faithfulness, or mercy. Hesed is the powerful, unchanging, transforming, covenant love of God.

This is a spiritual priority I wish I had understood many years ago. Over the years I have made a lot of sacrifices trying to serve God and help people which, in hindsight, did not bear much fruit. We are in a world with many needs and we have a limited amount of time and energy. My hope is that this message will enable us to understand the mercy that brings lasting transformation, so that we maximize our fruitfulness and minimize ministry burnout.

Rain is falling outside my office as I write this message to you. Arizona has had a big need for rain to break our drought. We prayed for our state during our services last Sunday. God is doing his part by pouring an abundance of rain upon us. Yet every big storm (as with many blessings) leaves a mess behind. Our daughter-in-law and two grandsons have been staying with us this week. They are a blessing, but the extra toys, clothes and dishes make our house look like a storm has hit inside as well. Kristina and I will be cleaning up our yard and our house later this week, with thankful hearts.

My sermon this Sunday is “Our Authority over Sin,” from Matthew 9:1-8 and John 20:23. This is the story of a paralyzed man being brought to Jesus by his friends. Jesus saw the faith of these men and said, “Your sins are forgiven.” As all hell started to break loose, Jesus healed the man to demonstrate his authority over sin. The effects of sin create huge messes. Sin paralyzes personalities, afflicts bodies and destroys relationships. Jesus gives us authority to forgive sins so that we can clean us these messes. If we grasp these truths and put them into practice, healing and reconciliation can set many people free.

Let’s continue to pray for our nation, our state and for the people who will gather to worship and hear the word of God this weekend at Living Streams.

My sermon this Sunday is called “Meditation that Leads to Prosperity” from Psalm 1, Joshua 1:8 and Proverbs 1:1-7. I want to talk to you this week about meditation as a spiritual discipline that unlocks truths which can transform our lives. If you read the Bible like you read a newspaper or a novel, the chances are that you won’t get too much out if it. If you take the time to read slowly and meditate on the passages that catch your attention, the truths in those passages start to come alive. As the wisdom of Scripture becomes clear and we incorporate it into our lives, the Lord says we will prosper and be successful.

  • Earthquake Relief. Living Streams, Streams Church and Pure Heart Church will be jointly giving to help with the relief efforts in Haiti. Dwight Vogt is one of our elders and the COO of Food for the Hungry. Their ministry has been operating in Jesus’ name in Haiti for years and our money will be used to provide food, water and medicine. You are welcome to add your gift to ours to help with these needs.
  • Reminder: Marathon. This Sunday is also PF Chang’s Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. For those of you running in the race or who have difficulty getting out of your neighborhood on Sunday morning, I want to encourage you to attend the 5:30 Saturday night service. David Stockton will be preaching on Breaking the Cycle of Depravity from Judges 4&5.

I have been working on three new messages that have been inspired by my reading in the One Year Bible in the last few days. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you in the days to come.

This Sunday is my 60th birthday. I’m planning to start the day worshiping the Lord at Living Streams with the congregation I love. I’m looking forward to hearing the message that David Stockton is going to bring which he describes below.

We are blessed to have several wonderful teachers and preachers at Living Streams. It is healthy for me and it helps our church grow in grace and truth when we make room for them to share their gifts.

My sermon this Sunday is called “Dealing with the Devil” from 1 Peter 5:5-11. This scripture teaches that the devil is the enemy of us all. It doesn’t matter how nice we are, this powerful spiritual being looks for an opportunity to destroy us. The devil is not omnipotent or omnipresent. We do not need to fear him, but we do have to resist him. The reality of this spiritual battle causes all believers to suffer at times. However, this sober passage concludes with a wonderful promise that God will restore us and make us steadfast, firm and strong. It is better to suffer in battles that establish the Kingdom of God, than to suffer from the consequences of giving in to evil.
Many of us are starting to read the One Year Bible on January 1. I found that this was a great discipline that gave me new insights in 2009. I am looking forward to reading through the entire bible again in 2010. We will provide you one on Sunday for $13, or order one for you if we run out. You can also get a free list of all the scriptures for the daily readings fromĀ  http://www.oneyearbibleonline. Every Wednesday night at 7:00 – 8:00 PM throughout the year, Lance and Kurt will alternate teaching a bible study and answering questions based on the scriptures we study each week.
May this new year be a fruitful and prosperous one for you.