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Sweden

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. The word ‘immutable’ comes to mind.  Jesus hasn’t changed.  Just think of it.  We live in a world that is always changing–to and fro, back and forth, up and down.  We live our lives on a roller coaster.  It’s always something.  There’s always something.  Something is waiting around the next corner and who knows what it is.

And then, along comes Jesus.  He stretches out his hand and says, “Take hold,  I’ll help you,  I’ll stand you on the rock, give you an anchor.  Just believe me and take my hand.”  Such a beautiful invitation.  How could anyone turn it down?  Such a tender invitation.  Such a wonderful blessing.

Verse 9 is a cautionary verse.  It says, “Look out, there’s a bunch of strange stuff out there.”  Anyone who doesn’t believe that only has to look on the internet.  It’s filled with spiritual ideas from A to Z, Atheists to Zen.  The spiritual soup mix is confusing.  Watch out for the pied pipers out there.  They may have a pretty song to sing but, just remember that it’s a rat that’s leading the pack off into the unknown.  Rest in God’s grace.  Nothing is gained by chasing one doctrine after another.

Hebrews 13:10-11 refers back to the old days when the only way to communicate with God was through sacrifices brought to the high priest and burned outside the wall of the city.  Sacrifices were made outside the Temple complex because it (the Temple) was considered holy ground.

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate,” Hebrews 13:12.  The people he wanted to set apart (sanctify) includes all of the human race.  I saw a sign on a church billboard that said that the crucifixion is the only time that the good guy died for the bad guys.  That’s thought provoking.  He died for all.  Why?  To give people a way out.  Even with priests making sacrifices, things were getting out of whack.  People on this earth needed a redeemer.  And God loved us so much that he gave his only Son so that whoever believed on him would have everlasting life.

Don’t let the word sanctify go by unnoticed.  People who accept God’s gift should make a difference in this world.  Don’t live like Christians on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week.  Set apart means set apart 24/7.  It’s not an east task at first, but loving God is easy once a relationship is established with him.  Studying his word, praying, and being around others who share the same journey makes each step easier than the one before it.

Pastor Josh’s evening sermon contained a kind of chart to grow on.  He likened it to a target, but it can also be thought of as the rungs of a ladder to the top.  Verses 5, 6, and 7 of II Peter 1 are these building blocks.  Begin with faith and through effort add to your faith virtue (conduct and character), and to virtue knowledge.  That’s verse 5.  Verses 6 and 7 lists the rest of them.      

You can still visit us at our website swedenchurch.com.  Pastor Joshua Strong can  also be heard on our radio program which is on KKOZ 92.1 FM at 8:05 a.m. Sunday mornings.  Better yet, come and hear Brother Josh live.  Sunday morning service begins  at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service begins at 6 p.m.  We also have a Thursday evening Bible study at 7 p.m. except for the second Thursday which is our business meeting.  Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile.  Services are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays.

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