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Flesh vs. Spirit – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

I love coming back from vacation. In fact, coming home might be the best part. You can get back into your routine, you are energized and you are excited to see those you haven’t seen in a while.

While I was in Colorado I prayed a lot about what it means to live in the Spirit as opposed to living in the flesh. Paul says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

What is the difference between living according to the Spirit and according to the flesh? Take food—you need to eat so you need food. God wants us to eat and it is good to eat. But here’s the problem with food…it’s temporary. It doesn’t last. Eating today won’t make you feel good tomorrow. You must keep eating and eating. And even if you eat well every single day for your entire life, you will still die. Food cannot save you. Food cannot give you eternal life. Food ultimately does not satisfy in a meaningful long-term way. Food is fleeting, but it sometimes feels like it’s the most important thing.

Satan used food against Jesus. He asked Jesus, “Why don’t you make these stones into bread?” Jesus retorted, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Satan knew that Jesus was hungry and if Jesus broke his fast, Jesus would be saying that food was more important than God’s word. That is the difference between living according to the flesh and according to the Spirit. The flesh says, “I’m hungry and the most important thing is food.” The Spirit says, “regardless of my hunger or pain, God’s word is the most important.”

Food is just one example of what we use to replace God’s word; it could also be relationships, money, alcohol or anything else. Unfortunately, I believe that many Christians today are more concerned with what they feel/think than what God’s word says. A way to challenge ourselves is to ask two questions. In what way(s) am I tempted to live in the flesh? What would it look like to live in the Spirit?

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By My Spirit – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

For 70 years the Jewish people were held captive in a foreign land. When they were free to return home, they arrived at a pile of rubble that used to be the city of Jerusalem. What was even worse, the temple of God was completely destroyed. God then called upon their ruler Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple as they rebuilt the city.

The people, along with Zerubbabel, were so consumed with survival that they lost interest and even forgot to rebuild God’s temple. We read in the book of Zechariah that an angel gave the prophet—from which the book was named—a vision. In the vision, Zechariah saw a lamp with 7 wicks. The lamp had a large reservoir of oil to feed the wicks. There were also two olive trees: one on the right and one on the left with the lamp in the middle.

Zechariah asked the angel the meaning of the vision. And the angle responded, “not by might, not by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”. In other words, the oil, from which the 7 wicks spring, is the Holy Spirit, and it is the true source for the flame and is never exhaustible. The olive trees make the point that there will be an unending supply of oil to feed the lamp.

What does Zerubbabel and the people need to rebuild the temple? Many things I would say. They would need money and power and the strength, to name a few. But God tells Zechariah no, these things will not accomplish the task. What will accomplish the task? God’s Spirit.

When I think of Immanuel church, we want to build a strong and healthy church. We want to be influential and love our neighbors. The question is, what do we need to accomplish these things? Many things I would say. We need money and programming and a great church experience, to name a few. But God tells us, in the same way he tells Zechariah, no! These things will not accomplish the task. What will accomplish the task? God’s Spirit.

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Who is Jesus? – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Jun 28, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Who is Jesus? Whether or not you are a religious person, you have to ask this question. Why? The first reason is because of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. There is no one like him in history. No one has had more impact on our world than Jesus. From a historical perspective, we shouldn’t remember Jesus the way we do. Jesus was not a king, had no army, held no power and had no wealth; yet, Jesus is studied more, referenced more and his name invoked more than anyone else on the planet.

The second reason we have to ask this question, has to do with what Jesus thought of himself. So if Jesus truly were a unique individual, it would be important to know who he thought he was. In the book of Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples who they thought he was, Peter said, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus told Peter he was right. That title—Son of the living God—is no throwaway title. It has significant meaning. It means that Jesus is King and perfectly obedient to God. It also means that Jesus and God know each other intimately and they are both essentially one. In other words, God and Jesus are the same being. If someone looks at Jesus they look at God. If someone follows Jesus they follow God.

You might reject this idea that Jesus is God. But it is difficult to reject that there is something special about Jesus. It’s difficult to say he was just a nice man who said some good things. There are plenty of nice men in history who have said some good things. That doesn’t count for the immense impact that Jesus has had on our world.

Have you considered that Jesus is who he says he is?

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Hands & Feet Ministry

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Blog, Posts | 0 comments

Visitation Ministry for Immanuel Church

Contact the church office for details on how to schedule a visit.

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Black and White – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Jun 19, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

One of the dangers of being a Christian is becoming self-righteous. What does it mean to be self-righteous? It means that you think you have earned your way into God’s love and other people aren’t as good as you.

Being a Christian and self-righteous is particularly damaging to the name of Jesus Christ and to one’s soul. So what does self-righteousness look like?

One of the ways a Christian can be self-righteous is if they see everything in-terms of black and white. This is what the Pharisees did. They could see that Jesus’ disciples were not prepared for the Sabbath and therefore they should not eat. They caught the woman in adultery and were ready to kill her. Jesus told them, “you without sin cast the first stone.” Of course no one is innocent and no one cast a stone.

The problem with viewing our faith in terms of black and white gives no room for mercy, compassion, grace and love. If God dealt with us only in terms of black and white we would all be in lots of trouble. But the Bible is painfully clear about what God gives us. He gives us love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and ultimately his Son on the cross.

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Out of the Bushes – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they hid from God. The question is why? Did God do something that caused them to fear him? No. Did God react to their sin in a way that caused them to fear him? No. Did God change in any discernable way after they sinned? No. God went looking for them in the cool of the day like he normally did.

What, then, was different? Adam and Eve. They gained the knowledge of good and evil. They saw for the first time that they were vulnerable because of their nakedness. They also knew, from their actions, that people can be duplicitous. In other words, not everyone is entirely trustworthy (according to them)…including God.

I believe the main reason people don’t believe in Jesus Christ is not because they don’t have enough evidence. I believe they struggle trusting him. Jesus says, “no one comes to the Father (God) except through me.” Philip then says to Jesus, “Show us the father, and we’ll believe.” Philip couldn’t take Jesus at his word, even after all Jesus had done to show was trustworthy. Philip is hiding in the bushes like Adam and Eve.

Are we hiding in the bushes too? What would it be like if we believed what Jesus said? Well, define belief? Belief is more than just something you agree to intellectually, it’s how you live. If you want to see what a person believes, watch how they live. Believing in Jesus makes us vulnerable (not hiding in the bushes) to what Jesus says. What does Jesus say? What is written in the Bible?

Adam and Eve didn’t trust God—not because of anything God did—but because of what they did. God didn’t hide or leave. In actuality God has never left, he’s waiting for them and us to come out of the bushes.

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