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Tag Archive | "Grace Evangelical Free Church"

So no one can boast


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8,9.

I have read those two verses hundreds of times. They are go-to verses when it comes to describing how someone is saved. They tell us that our rescue comes by grace and is applied through our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is usually my understanding of these verses, but recently I read them and was struck by the last phrase of verse 9, “so that no one can boast.” The process that God chose to use to save us was used for a reason, and that reason is so that no one can boast. In other words, the gospel and the process by which we are saved is such as it is because it is designed to eradicate something from our life, and that something is boasting. 

Boasting is defined as “to speak with exaggeration and excessive pride, especially about oneself.” I believe this is one of the greatest temptations that we face as Christians today. We want others to think well of us. We want others to know about our greatest accomplishments. We want others to take notice of all the great things in our life. If we are not careful we can easily find our lips filled with conversation about ourselves, and not the One who made our lips to speak of His greatness. The gospel at its core reminds us that we have nothing to boast about except to boast about the Lord. We have not been saved by anything other than an act of scandalous love called grace; it’s not something we deserve and our only contribution was a simple act of faith, therefore we have no reason to boast, except to boast in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:28-31).  

The world we live in doesn’t need to see or hear more about our gifting or our accomplishments, they need to see and hear more about the One who came to rescue them. As redeemed children of the Most High, our conversation should be filled with less about us and more about Him. And when we do happen to get recognized by the world for something we have done, we should be quick to not boast in ourselves, but instead use the opportunity as a chance to boast about our Savior!  After all, He alone holds the power to save!  

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A Timely Word


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

At this moment we are facing a battle that is leaving our community more divided than possibly ever before. It’s not long into a conversation before the question comes up, “Have you heard about what’s going on with the school board and the superintendent?” It is not my calling as a Church leader to comment on either side of this issue, especially here in a neutral public forum, but I do feel very strongly that some perspective may be needed, especially for those on both sides of the issue who call themselves “sons and daughters of God.”  

Conflict in life is inevitable. It’s a reality that we deal with everyday. The issue for God’s children when it comes to conflict is, “how do we navigate through conflict in a manner that is worthy of the gospel?” (Phil. 1:27.)  This is a topic that cannot be exhaustively dealt with here in such a short space, but I offer one verse that should be considered before we respond to others.  “…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39b).  

God is love and He calls His children to follow suit (1 John 4:7-21).  Loving others comes from a gospel mindset that declares every life has value because it has been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 139). The call for followers of Jesus to love others is rooted in this foundational belief. Regardless of how people are acting, how they are treating me, or whether I believe them to be right or wrong, it is my duty and my privilege to respond in the way of love because when I do this I reveal the image of the Divine in a way that causes others to take notice. As Children of God, our greatest desire must be for others to see through our actions, a God who can change their life, a God who can give life and give life to the fullest (John 10:10). This is the mandate for all “believers,” as we are God’s ambassadors in a world that desperately needs Him. I urge all the believers to consider this as we engage in this conflict or any conflict for that matter. After all, without love, we are nothing! (1 Cor. 13:1-8.)  

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Arrival of Jesus


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

The advent season is upon us. Advent by definition means “arrival.” It is the period of time in our Church calendar filled with expectancy as we await the celebration of the arrival of Jesus. It’s a time meant to be filled with reflection and gratitude as we ponder the arrival of the “Word become flesh.”  Unfortunately this time ends up being hijacked by the hustle and bustle of the consumer-driven Christmas season. We spend time preparing for our family celebrations most commonly marked by the giving and receiving of gifts. Far too often I find myself failing to reflect on just exactly what it means to receive the greatest gift ever given. The perfect, eternal, all-powerful Son of God taking on the flesh He created in order to humbly, meekly, and selflessly stand, or, more accurately, be crucified in our place; the giver and sustainer of all life willingly enduring our death so we could freely accept and embrace his life. 

This is a gift for all mankind simply to receive. Let us not get so caught up in the celebrations revolving around the giving and receiving of material and temporal gifts, and risk missing the preciousness of receiving the priceless gift—God giving himself in the greatest act of love this world has ever or will ever witness. 

Let us find ourselves filling this advent season with time spent in worship of the One who gave himself once and for all for the joy, peace and life of all who humbly and simply receive the greatest gift ever given. As we await the celebration of our King’s arrival, may we find ourselves longing for His return where he will once and for all make all things new.  

#advent  #comeLordJesus  #He’scomingback!  #receive

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Finding rest 


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).

All you who are weary and burdened…” I am not sure about you, but that phrase tends to describe me quite often. Weary and burdened, translation = tired and weighed down. It’s in these moments when I begin to become overwhelmed with the burdens and pressures of life that I often think, “I just need a day off.”  Wouldn’t that be nice? A whole day to myself to do whatever I want. No responsibilities of dropping kids off somewhere or picking them up from somewhere else only to transport them to the next thing. No phone calls, e-mails, or texts from work. No honey-do list or chores to take care of.  Just me, a TV, a book and my couch.  I often find myself thinking that if I could just have a day like that, then everything would be better. I wouldn’t be so tired. I wouldn’t be so weighed down. Instead I would be rejuvenated and re-energized. “Yes, if I could just get a day off, then everything would be restored back to order and life wouldn’t be so weary and burdensome.” That is the lie.

The reality is that no matter how much rest or relaxation we may get, it doesn’t take long being back in our normal routine of life where we end up finding ourselves “weary and burdened.” The solution isn’t how much time we can find to rest but rather where we go to find our rest. While our couch, or the TV, or our favorite book may sound like a welcomed destination for relaxation, they will never provide the rest that our souls crave. Jesus knew this and that›s why when He was around the weary and burdened he didn’t tell them to take a day off, or find an afternoon where they could only do what they wanted to do. Instead, he welcomed the weary and burden to the only place where they could find rest for their souls—in His presence.

The invitation is simple; come. In other words, leave behind all that is weighing you down and simply come be with me, come sit with me, come dwell with me, and you WILL find rest for your souls. Are you weary and burdened down by the struggles and trials of life? The invitation is open to all. Come to Jesus. Sit in His presence. Let him carry the load and walk with you side by side . Stop trying to do it on your own, and stop trying to find what only Jesus can give in anything or anyone else. Come to Him, and you WILL find rest for your souls! It’s really that simple, the decision is up to you.

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Don’t give up


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV).  

The very existence of this verse speaks to the fact that sometimes doing good can be a draining experience. This makes sense because anytime we as Christians set our mind to doing something good in this world that will result in God’s glory, the devil instantly wants to destroy it. And what is the easiest way to destroy it? By making the work hard so that the laborers give up.

Striving to show love in a world full of hate is hard work; raising godly children in a society that tries at every turn to deny the existence of God is hard work; putting Christ first in your marriage and serving your spouse when it would be easier to give up is hard work; being part of a community of believers that isn’t always perfect but is committed to work through the struggles with love and forgiveness is hard work; remaining pure in a morally filthy world is hard work. I am sure by now that you get my point. Anything worth doing in the kingdom of God is hard work because the devil wants to make it hard.

Odds are that right now there is a good work in your life that you are thinking about giving up on. Before you do that, would you consider the second part of this verse? The reason we are called to not grow weary of doing good is because if we persist, there is a promised harvest and this harvest is promised to come at the “proper time.” No matter how hard the good work you are doing is, the joy and satisfaction of the harvest is worth every ounce of pain and struggle to not give up. I promise you! God has promised that the harvest would come and He never makes a promise he doesn’t fulfill.

The unfortunate thing is that far too many of God’s children give up and move on to something easier before the reward of the harvest comes in. So today when the good work gets hard, instead of being tempted to give up, let us take it as an opportunity to push forward. Take a moment and pray that God would give you the strength to keep pushing until the harvest comes in. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

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Dependence on God in Prayer


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

Psalm 86:5-7: “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.”

What a blessing to know that we have a God who actually listens to our prayers.  That no matter where we are or what’s going on in our life, we can cry out to God in prayer and He will hear and answer us. But most Christians I know struggle with prayer, especially when it comes to truly depending on God in prayer. The typical sermon on prayer just tells us how to do it better and to do it more often like Jesus did, but that never seems to have much lasting impact in our lives, so we continue believing the lie that we will always struggle with prayer. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

What if being dependent on God in prayer had less to do with what we are praying about, how often we are praying, or even what we are saying in prayer, and more to do with the mindset behind why we approach Him? If we want to be people who are dependent on God in prayer, it begins with an honest evaluation of our condition apart from God (Ps. 86:1,13). We are poor and needy. We are lost, desperate, and in need of deliverance. We can’t remedy anything on our own; that is our condition apart from Him. Combine that with an accurate understanding of who God is and what He is capable of (Ps. 86:5-10) and that will lead us to complete trust in His ability to answer our prayers (Ps. 86:4,7, 11-17).

When we stop coming to God because we are supposed to, and we start coming to Him because we understand that He alone has the power and ability do something about the burdens and struggles on our hearts, everything changes! It is no longer a chore to pray, it becomes the first place we turn because we understand who we are, who God is, and that dependence on God in prayer is absolutely critical to the vibrancy of our spiritual life. Dependency on God then becomes a way of life, and not simply something that we are supposed to do. And when that happens, everything changes!

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Unexpected Gratitude


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The dictionary defines “thankful” as “feeling or expressing gratitude; being appreciative.” Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica that it is God’s will for us to give thanks in all circumstances. I am not sure about you, but I don’t find it that hard to be thankful when everything in life is going good, but I really struggle when life is hard to find reasons to be thankful. I believe, though, that in these tough seasons of life, that our “unexpected gratitude” is what God is really seeking, because in our thankfulness even when life is hard, God is most glorified. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the season of Thanksgiving is upon us. My thoughts have been directed to three very distinct realities that all of God’s children can be thankful for regardless of the circumstances we are facing in our lives.

1. Our Salvation Provided through Jesus Christ. God has taken care of our greatest need. At one point we were all separated from God because of our sin and there was nothing we could do to remedy the situation. So, God stepped in and sacrificed His Son in our place so that we could have his life! No matter what is going on in our lives, this reality is secured once and for all for all those who put their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2. The Indwelling of God’s Spirit. God didn’t just come to this earth, remedy our situation, and then leave us on our own. He has promised that all those who put their faith in Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit as the seal of our salvation and the power through which we can live the life of a disciple. No matter what circumstances we are facing in life, we are promised to have the very presence of God dwelling in us to comfort us and guide us.

3. The Gift of God’s Word in our Language. There have been many attempts over the years by various enemies of the cross to destroy the Bible, but God has sovereignly overseen the preservation and protection of His Word.  As a result, we are able to have the very words of God in our language that we can run to at any time. In this Holy Book, we find everything we need pertaining to life and godliness, we find everything we need to know about God and His character, and how He lovingly cares for us.  This truly is a gift that no trial on this earth can take away from us!

As we journey through the ups and downs of this holiday season, let us not forget that regardless of what we’re going through, we have so much to be thankful for!  I pray that we will find ourselves being able to express gratitude even when life is hard because after all, it is God’s will for His children.

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From the Pulpit: Pastor Kevin Reed


 

Three questions for healthier relationships   

Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing to of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

Relationships are a struggle. Don’t get me wrong; when they are good, they are great! But when they are bad, it seems to affect every area of our lives. We have all had relationships that we struggled in, and the odds are that if you have been in a relationship for any length of time you have experienced the good and the bad. My desire in my relationships is to experience more of the good and less of the bad. Philippians chapter 2 verses 3 and 4 provide three questions that I believe will change our relationships for the good if we would ask them of ourselves when things are getting tough.

1.   “What is my motive?”  

Whether we like to admit it or not, many times in relationships we have agendas, and those agendas are usually self-serving. Most relational struggles come when I am driven in a relationship by selfish ambition or vain conceit. In other words, when I am only concerned about myself and furthering my desires. My motive in a relationship should be mutual encouragement and benefit and my selfishness tends to ruin that. Checking my motive helps me to get rid of my selfishness and realign my relationships to a place of mutual benefit.  

2.   What is their value?

Often times when my relationships are struggling, it’s because I am looking at the other person as someone who is less valuable than I am. I feel that it is their job to serve me because I am the one who is important. When I stop and think about their value in God’s eyes it helps me to maintain the proper perspective. The reality is that the other person you are in a relationship with is made in the image of God, has infinite value and worth to Him, and He proved it by allowing His Son to die on the cross for them. They are important to God, and they should be important to you.

3.   What is my focus?

This one’s simple—am I thinking more about myself and my desires, or am I putting the other person’s needs and desires first?  Most relationships struggle because one or both parties are only thinking about themselves. God wants us to put others before ourselves. After all, that’s what He did in order to purchase our redemption, and that is what He has called us to do as we live out His mission on this earth.

If you ask yourself these 3 questions when it comes to your relationships with your spouse, your kids, your parents, and even your friends, I guarantee it will promote healthier relationships in your life. May each of us have the same mindset as Christ Jesus as we walk in relationship with others.

Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

www.gracerockford.com

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Don’t be afraid 


Grace-ChurchPastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

www.gracerockford.com

 

by Kevin Reed

No matter how many times it happens to me, I am still taken by surprise when it happens. How many times do we open our Bibles to read the word of God that was written years ago, and have a specific verse jump off the page like it was the very word that God was speaking to us today! Isaiah 41:10 is one of those verses for me. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Let’s face it, there is a lot to be scared about.  We live in a world  where violence seems to be the order of the day and common sense seems to no longer be so common.  For the 21st century Christian it is very easy to become bogged down with fear. As a matter of fact many of the ways I see some Believers responding to and interacting with the world today is purely a result of fear. But it should not be this way!

Fear actually has no place in the life of the believer. We may not know the outcome of tomorrow but we know the One who does.  We may not have the strength to make it through the day, but we have a promise from the One who does. For the Christian there is absolutely nothing in this world to fear because we have been promised the presence of the Almighty to be with us through whatever this world throws our way. And the last time I checked, when He speaks all of creation listens!

So, do not fear, the God who holds all things in His hands is with  you, and He has promised to be right by your side giving you everything that you need!

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Speak Life


Grace-ChurchPastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” Proverbs 18:21 (NIV).

God has given us an amazing gift in the ability to communicate. As people created in His image, we have a unique privilege and responsibility that none of His other creation has. We have the ability to communicate in a way that none of His other creation can. We have been given the power of life and death, and we hold that power in our tongues. The old adage goes like this, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The bruises that come from sticks and stones may stay for a while, but they quickly fade and heal. But the wounds that are caused in our life by others, who use their tongues to speak death into our lives, end up affecting us and hurting us for years after they are spoken.

There is nothing neutral about our tongues. Either death or life, those are the only two possible outcomes from the use of our tongues. Every conversation that we have, every word uttered under our breath, and every word yelled in anger or frustration is either bringing life or death. From our bosses to our co-workers; from our spouses to our kids; from the gas station attendant to the checkout clerk at the grocery store—every time we open our mouths, either life comes out or death comes out. There is no such thing as a neutral word.

As God’s children, created in His image, we should strive to speak life. We should strive to not tear down others with our tongues but instead build them up. We should not be caught up in grumbling, complaining or criticizing, but instead we should strive to encourage, uplift and edify with every word that comes out of our mouth. God gives the power to us but the choice is up to you.

Are we using the gift that God gave us to bring death or life? Are we looking for ways to speak life into a world that is hurting all around us? Or are we caught in the great hypocrisy—a mouth that on Sunday praises our God but then throughout the rest of the week curses and drags down those who are made in His image and His likeness (James 3:9-10)? The choice is up to you; will it be death or life? The power is in your tongue. Speak wisely!

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