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Category: General News (Page 1 of 3)

Memorial Weekend: “Detour in the Desert” – Pastor Braaten

“Detour in the Desert” – Luke 7:1-10 – Pastor John Braaten (Guest Speaker)

A detour in the desert of Paul’s life was needed.

Detours are universally experienced and require change.

Detours are not sent by God but can be used by God to benefit us.

Detours can be valuable when, guided by the Holy Spirit, the change glorifies God.

 

Study Questions:

1. What makes us think that the path we’ve chosen–be it a road when we’re traveling or a career or course of study–is necessarily the best one for us?

2. Why do we think of detours with negative connotations?  Are detours necessarily negative?

3. What does it take for us to enjoy the scenery on any road we travel?  How much of our enjoyment is due to our attitude?

“We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. . . I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.  And so it is with you. . . we are in charge of our attitudes.” – C. Swindoll

Now I See!: “Paul’s Conversion” 5.22.16 – Pastor Lerum

CtV – Now I See!: “Paul's Conversion” 5.22.16 – Pastor Bruce Lerum from Victory Lutheran Church Mesa AZ on Vimeo.

“Paul’s Conversion” – Acts 9:1-19 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

Saul is “Christian Enemy # 1.”

Any enemy of Christians is a friend of Satan.

Acts 8:3 “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”

As Saul’s conversion commenced, his persecutions of Jesus followers had continued.

Saul met Jesus kicking and screaming. Sound familiar sometimes?

Acts 9:1 “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”

As Saul’s eyes were opened, something like scales fell from not just his eyes, but from his heart, also.

In baptism, our hearts are opened to the Holy Spirit and our sight is renewed. WOW!

Acts 9:18 “ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.”

 

Study Questions:

1. Saul ate, slept, and breathed his attempt to destroy God’s people. How do you think he justified his actions?

2. As what we would call a “Type A” personality, Saul even approached the high priest for credentials to imprison followers of Jesus. In light of that, why do you suppose God chose someone of Saul’s disposition?

3. Jesus went to extraordinary lengths to get Saul’s attention. What does God sometimes do to get our attention…and keep it?

4. There are many sources in our world trying to destroy Christianity…the church. Name some instances in your personal life where you can see that happening. Name some in local, national or world news.

5. Do we have “scales” over our hearts that hinder our spiritual sight?

6. Miracles happen every day and the more scales we lose, the better we see them. How does a stronger relationship with God and welcoming of the Holy Spirit into our lives increase our spiritual eyesight?

Now I See!: “Peter Witnesses” 5.8.16 – Pastor Lerum

“Peter Witnesses” – Acts 2:36-41 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

Today we have sights on the present and on the rear view mirror.

God’s speaks to us where we are…today.

Acts 2:36 – God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

The people Peter was preaching to were convicted of crucifying Jesus.

Our own sin convicts us of being equally as guilty in Jesus death.

Acts 2:37 – When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

They heard the simple message and believed.

We have the same message. Simply believe.

Acts 2:38 – Peter replied, “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.

 

Study Questions:

1. Peter spoke in terms of a history (see Acts 2:16-35) with which the people were already familiar. How does the past help us relate to God’s Word?

2. We are blessed with retrospect as to Peter’s speech. How did the people respond to what they heard?

3. Like the Jews to whom Peter spoke, our sin convicts us. What did Peter say to the Jews in verse 36 that convicted them then and us today?

4. This story happens immediately after the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Talk about the role of the Holy Spirit in repentance and conversion.

5. The presence and work of the Holy Spirit are miraculous. What are the implications of repentance and forgiveness in your life?

6. In baptism we are blessed with the increased presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What has your faith through the Holy Spirit meant in your life? At specific times in your life?

Love Life – Live Lent: “Tripped Up by Temptation” 02.14.16 – Pastor Lerum

CtV – Love Life Live Lent: “Tripped Up by Temptation” 02.14.16 – Pastor Bruce Lerum from Victory Lutheran Church Mesa AZ on Vimeo.

“Tripped Up by Temptation” – Luke 15:11-13 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

If you think you are exempt from temptation in any given situation, you are probably mistaken (nice language for “You are wrong.”)

Temptations don’t discriminate between gender, race, age or economic status.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” – Luke 15:13

We often know when the opportunities to sin will present themselves.

Much of withstanding temptation is avoiding situations in which you know you could be tempted.

“And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.” – Genesis 39:10

In all temptations, God gives us a way out if we are willing to accept it.

God always has our back!

“But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13b

 

Study Questions:

1. The younger son in the Luke 15 story saw his inheritance as a way to a better, glamorous life. What was wrong with the “glasses” he was wearing?

2. He was tempted by what he imagined and when he tripped, ended up in a pig sty. Where does temptation often lead?

3. When we follow temptation, who is leading us? How can we overcome that urge?

4. What does it take to actually avoid a situation in which you know you will be tempted? (Try thinking in terms of past experience, learning from history)

5. How will God give us/you a way out?

CtV – “Temple Talk” 02.14.16 – Carol Jeffers from Victory Lutheran Church Mesa AZ on Vimeo.

Life’s Key Questions: “Why should I read the Bible?” 01.10.16 – Pastor Lerum

Life’s Key Questions: “Why should I read the Bible?” – 2 Timothy 3:16 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

The Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Believing this should transform the way in which we live our lives.

“All Scripture is God-breathed, that is, inspired by God” – 2 Timothy 3:16 (paraphrase)

Martin Luther: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me.”

The Bible is a mirror for how we live our lives.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” – Deuteronomy 6:6

God invites you to read the loveletter He wrote for you.

He invites you into a loving relationship with Him…TODAY!

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” – Romans 10:17

 

Study Questions:

1. The Bible is a perennial #1 best-seller. What would you see as the reason for that?

2. That being the case, why does our culture fight so vehemently to rid itself of any Christian influence?

3. The Bible has unique power. Do you see that power in your life?

4. If you read the Bible regularly, does reading the Bible change your life from day-to-day?

5. When reading a novel, we will typically favor a certain character. How do you find yourself being affected by reading the Bible? Has the character of Jesus changed your life?

Just Tending to “Business” – 12.27.15 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

Just Tending to “Business” – Luke 2:41-52 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

We want to do the right thing.

Doing the right thing can come from the expectations of others.

“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.” – Luke 2: 41 

Sometimes we are distracted and other times we’re right on task.

Distractions can be the best teachers.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” – Luke 2:49

It can be helpful to remember lessons from the past.

Growth comes from experience and understanding.

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” – Luke 2:51

 

Study Questions:

1. Jesus and his family went to Jerusalem for the Passover. What was the Passover about? Why did they celebrate it?

2. Apparently Joseph was deliberate about his family’s observance of Jewish customs. What distractions might get in the way of your observance of Christian custom; from Sunday worship to festival services like Christmas and Easter?

3. Have there been times in your life when your observance was because of the expectations of others?

4. At times the proverbial lightbulb goes on and that observance goes from an obligation/expectation, to being compelled by our relationship with God. What might you expect to happen with your relationship with God when you feel compelled in these circumstances?

5. Read Luke 2:19 and 51. How would you see these as impacting Mary, Jesus mother, as she sat at the foot of the cross watching her son die for the sins of all humankind? What new understanding would you see?

“GIVE THANKS for the Seasons of Faith” – 11.22.15 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

[Note: Video not available for this sermon.]

 

“Give Thanks for the Seasons of Faith” – Luke 15:17-24 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

The seasons of the year are not unlike the seasons of life.

Each season of life offers a new perspective on giving thanks.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Life’s seasons change no matter what our age.

One’s age – younger or older – does not rule out numerous seasons.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.'” – Luke 15:21-22

Thanks is usually given in retrospect.

Giving thanks for the “now” often requires stronger faith.

“Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.” – Luke 15:23 

 

Study Questions:

1. The story of the prodigal son is really the story of three people – father and two sons – in different seasons of life. With which do you identify the most today?

2. Are there other times in your life when you would identify with one or both of the other two?

3. What season of faith or “level” of faith would you say you are in? Is it a time of thankfulness?

4. Most often we give thanks in retrospect, after the event has passed in time. What would it be like to give thanks in advance? How would you word it?

5. How do you make that a genuine word of thanksgiving?

“GIVE THANKS for Stretching our Faith” 11.15.15 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

 

“Give Thanks for Stretching our Faith” – Matthew 10:37-42 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

Before you exercise, you stretch to ready your muscles for growth.

Our faith grows best when it is exercised.

[Jesus said] “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” – Matthew 10:40

God gives you opportunities to stretch your faith.

Recognizing those opportunities sometimes requires our full attention and sometimes God hits us over the head.

Then I would still have this consolation—my joy in unrelenting pain—that I had not denied the words of the Holy One. – Job 6:10 

Giving thanks for our opportunities can be difficult at first.

Giving thanks requires exercise and intentionality.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Study Questions:

1. What does it mean for you to have your faith stretched?

2. For some, giving thanks for stretching our faith is like telling a surgeon “Thank you for not putting me under during major surgery.” In light of the experience of having faith stretched, is there a way to prepare for it?

3. What kind of shape would you say your faith has to be in to endure stretching?

4. Does the act of having faith stretched involve discomfort? Joy?

5. Have you had your faith stretched/tested? Describe the circumstance. What was your life like immediately afterward?

DARE TO: Take the Initiative – October 4, 2015 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

DARE TO: Take the Initiative – John 6:5-13 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

“What are you pretending God isn’t telling you to do?” Rick Warren

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. – 1 John 5:3 

Obey God completely.

Obey God gladly.

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. – Psalm 119:60 

An active faith means to:

  • Join a church
  • Start tithing
  • Join a LYFE group
  • Get involved in ministry

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 

 

Study Questions:

1. How would you rate yourself when it comes to obeying God immediately, without delay, argument or excuse?

2. How would you rate yourself when it comes to obeying God completely, not picking and choosing the parts you like?

3. How would you rate yourself when it comes to obeying God joyfully, with a pleasant attitude?

4. How would you rate yourself when it comes to obeying God continually, not on and off or only when you feel like it?

5. Could there be an area of your life where you are waiting for God to do something and it’s really a matter of God waiting for you to do something that is the issue?

6. Where/how might you be pretending that God isn’t telling you what He’d like you to do?

“Seeing the Big Picture” – May 3 – Pastor Bruce Lerum

 

 

Seeing the Big Picture – Acts 7:55-56

The sovereignty of God is such that we are on a “need to know” basis.

If we need to know, God will see to it that we are informed.

Acts 7:3 – Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.

God can’t steer a parked car.

God will steer you once you put yourself in motion.

Luke 23:42  – Then [the thief] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Stephen surrendered without anger…only forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit gives us strength to be transformed so that we can be instrumental in transforming others.

Matthew 5:44 – [Jesus said], But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

 

Study Questions:

1. What practical steps help you to remember and focus on God’s bigger picture?Are there any beyond the normal spiritual disciples (such as exercising, talking to a friend, writing, drawing, etc.)?

2. When have you been able to deal with hardship because you had a view of something greater?

3. Is there any area of your life where you need to stand for truth? What if you risked negative consequences? What about death?

4. Who do you need to forgive? How might that open the door to recognizing God’s greater work in your life?

5. Read and discuss the following versus. Isaiah 55:8-9, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 8:28, 1 Corinthians 13:12, James 1:12. What do they tell you about God’s bigger story in the world and in your life?

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