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Nathan’s Notes- 10/14/2018

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     In March of 1993, eastern Kentucky experienced a “storm of the century”.  Large amounts of snow were dumped on the town of Corbin, where I lived. Once we were able to get out of our house, we had a lot of fun with it. We built snow sculptures and snow forts. We had snowball fights and stayed out of school for many days.
     My older brother, Clay, spent much of the time with his friend, Scott. Being the younger sibling, I tried following them everywhere, which proved difficult due to the deep snow and my short legs. At one point, Clay and Scott ran around behind our house. I slowly followed only to find Scott standing by a large pile of snow with a sad look on his face. He informed me that my brother had slipped and fallen off the steps behind our house and died and that he had buried him there. I was skeptical at first, but as I approached the mound of snow, the possibility began to sink in.
     Most of you could guess what came next. As I approached the mound of snow that housed my now deceased brother, it began to move. Terror gripped me as Clay sprung forth from the snow screaming wildly. I ran as fast as my short legs could carry me through the snow, yelling all the way.
     Sometimes the meanest people are the ones closest to us. Sometimes our own families are the most critical and skeptical. Today we will study an important relationship between two brothers in the Bible and what the grace of God did for them.

Rick’s Reflections- 10/7/2018

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Today we see how the grace of God affected two very good people. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were by all accounts people we would want to be around. They were decent folks who wanted to be right with God. They tried hard to do the right thing for the right reasons. But they had one flaw that was prevalent in their day, as well as it is today. They thought religion was the answer to all their problems. But to them, religion was more about a list of what we do and don’t do. It had not become clear to them yet that what God wants for us is a personal relationship with Him.

Jesus opposed those who loved their religion more than their Lord.

Max Lucado writes: “Joseph and Nicodemus were tired of it. They had seen it for themselves. They had seen the list of rules and regulations. They had watched the people tremble with unbearable burdens. They had heard the hours of senseless wrangling over legalistic details. They had worn their robes and sat at the places of honor and seen the word of God made void. They had seen religion become the crutch that cripples, and they wanted out.” Our text shows Joe & Nic being transformed form reluctant to radical followers of Christ.

Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We need to ask ourselves if your relationship with God is about following the rules, or about faith expressing itself in love.

By becoming aware of God’s amazing grace to all of us, by understanding the significance of sending Christ to redeem us, Nicodemus and Joseph broke past the rules that never led to fulfillment in their souls and served their Lord from the depths of their faith and love. We could stand to learn from them.

Blessings,

Rick

Nathan’s Notes- 9/30/2018

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       Without question, we are entering my favorite time of the year. When the weather snaps from sweltering hot to pleasantly cool, you will find me doing something I would never willingly do in the middle of summer: spending long periods of time outside. In Summer I hide indoors next to the air conditioning vent. I dread the walk from my front door to my car in the mornings. But in Autumn I’m a completely different person. I lay in the hammock outside just because the weather is pleasant, I make lists of outdoor chores that need to be done, I’m quick to take my kids out to play. It’s as if I am pulled outside by a deep-seated desire and I’m driven to relish in it while I’m there.

       As we continue studying this great topic of grace, we must look closely at it’s effects on the heart, on the very core of our being. When it enters the picture, hearts change. The grace of God has a powerful magnetic pull on us, calling us to the feet of our Lord Jesus. Much like the beautiful Autumn weather draws me out of my house, God has created us to need His grace and search for Him. Once we are pulled to Jesus, grace begins to work in our hearts and push us to do things we would never normally do. Today we will be studying the great example of a wee little man who saw this effect of grace.