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This is the eight book in the OT, and eight is the number of new beginning.  The events in Ruth take place during the days of the Judges, but what a difference between these two book! Instead of violence and lawlessness, we see tenderness, love, and sacrifice.  It is good to know that there are still good people in bad days, and that God is at work in the "corners of the land" though violence may fill the news. (Wiersbe, W. W. 1993)

Direct download: Sermon_2-10-19.mp3
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There's been a transition in sports from social activism to social service since the apex of social protests in the sixties.  Today's athletes are discouraged from identifying with a progressive or unpopular cause, the way Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson did in the 1960's  when the civil rights movement was seen a destructive and disruptive.  Their activism helped to bread down barriers and increase pay and open doors for others, including those who hadn't protested. Still, we must not forget that they were strongly discouraged from their activism and harshly rebuked by the powers that be.  (Dyson, Michael Eric, Tears We Cannot Stop- A Sermon to White America, St. Martin Press, New York, NY (2017, Pp. 121, 122))

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To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communication with Him, always leaning on Him, resting Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our chief Fountain of life and strength, as our chief companion and best friend.  To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior. (J. C. Ryle)

Direct download: Sermon_1-27-19.mp3
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A transition is the in-between period of life development of a Christ follower. In a transition, individuals consolidate past learning, process issues of character, deepen convictions and values, and are prepared for the next phase of their development.  Transitions bring closure to the past in order to move forward to the next stage of personal development.  (Walling, Terry B.: Stuck! Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership, Church Smart Resources, (2008, p. 8)

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As you seek direction for your life, remember that true wisdom is in keeping with God's priorities, whether it comes from your inner voice or from those around you. (Burton, Valorie; What's Really Holding You Back, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO (2005, p. 153))

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Dr. Wayne Cordeiro tells a story in his book, Dream Releasers: Over the years I have closely watched several world-class tennis players, as well as many Olympic figure skaters. In nearly every case, I have seen a common practice: they always travel with a coach. ...A Dream Releaser is a kind of coach.  Coaches can make the difference between winning and losing.  Often, the greatest ideas, the most monumental thoughts and the most creative answers lay suffocating beneath the rubble of mistakes, character flaw, the fear of failure, a history of rejection, the fear of accountability or personality quirks.  These are dream killers. (2002, p. 98)

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Just as a distance runner won't win the race by starting off like a sprinter, you also must manage your spiritual, physical, and emotional energy deliberately and for the long haul.  As you break free of the restraints that have held you back, you will notice that the journey to complete freedom is a process.  Identifying energy drainers is crucial to developing the strength to persevere, the attitude to overcome,and the power to live fully every day. (Burton, Valorie; What's Really Holding You Back? Water Brook Press, Colorado Springs, CO (2005, P. 11))

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The last days have begun.  God, through his Son, has fully revealed his nature, and his purpose which stretches back through the prophets to creation. The Son has made it possible for sins to be purged away.  He has been exalted to God's right hand, and has been given a supreme title, higher than that of angels. (Ellingworth, P. 1993)

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The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity--hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory-- because at the Father's will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.  - J.I. Packer

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Direct download: Sermon_12-9-18.mp3
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