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Swing Away Merrill... Swing Away!

Lynn and I caught the tail end of “Signs” the other night, and as I watched Mel Gibson’s faithless ex-priest literally have his faith whip lashed back into place with the simple phrase, “Swing away, Merrill!,” it occurred to me that life doesn’t just “happen.” God is in control, He loves me, and he never makes mistakes! His purposes and power are behind everything. When we have a lackadaisical faith or, Heaven forbid, a real irritation with God that actually says He’s not who He says He is, we essentially nail Jesus back on the cross. That fact should cut each of us to the heart. I say this because this is exactly where I am in my walk right now….questioning God, frustrated with the fact that He won’t align with MY plans, unsure of what the future holds…you get the picture. Today’s passage says the people were “cut to the heart” when they heard Peter preach with conviction that this Jesus that they had murdered is both Christ and Lord. They quickly followed it up with the question, “What should we do?” If you’re where I am in your walk, you may feel like asking the same question. My prayer today is that as we study God’s Word together, it would cut us to the heart…and that we wouldn’t be the same as a result.

“Cut to the heart”….Hebrews 4:12-13 Jesus is the Word, and the Word is a double-edged sword:
• “Living” – If the Bible doesn’t seem alive to you, we can draw one of two conclusions: 1) the Word is dead, or 2) your heart is in trouble. Even Jesus says that hearing the Word is like a farmer sowing seed. When the seed of the Word of God goes into believer’s hearts, it comes alive. It takes on a life of its own.
• “Active” – It’s active, it grows, it affects, it moves us. We get our word “energy” from the Greek form of “active.” “News may inform us; novels may inspire us; poetry can enrapture us, but only the Word of God can transform us.”
• “Penetrates” – What’s the big deal about a double-edged sword? It cuts both ways. The reason why the Roman Empire was so powerful was because they created the double-edged sword – it was the atom bomb of its day (and it’s what Peter used to cut off the ear of the soldier). No surgical technique can change bad attitudes, lust, hypocrisy, greed, hatred, and an unforgiving spirit. Only the Word of God can change the hearts of people.
• “Judges” – “judge” here doesn’t mean “condemn” – it means “assess.” Remember, every time someone met Jesus their heart was revealed to Him – and to them (e.g. the woman at the well). The Word discerns the intentions and motives of the heart – and reveals them to us by conviction.
• “Lays Bare” – this is a sacrificial term – the phrase they used to describe an animal whose neck is being bent back before their throat is slit….there’s a nice visual for you, but that’s actually us.

Acts 2:42-47

A Place to Belong: Why do we need to be heavily involved in Sunday School?
A. Sunday School moves us out of self-centered isolation - 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
B. Sunday School helps us develop spiritual muscle - Ephesians 4:14-16
C. Sunday School will help keep us from backsliding - Hebrews 3:12-13
Q: Are you an attender, or a member? Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get
involved in ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors. Attenders want
the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility. They’re like couples who want to
to live together without committing to a marriage. We can’t be devoted to the Head, who is
Christ, and at the same time cut ourselves off from the body, His church.

Your Personal Goal: Doing your part through commitment
Gut Check – Do each of us exemplify the following traits?
A. honesty (avoiding superficiality) Proverbs 24:26
B. humility (destroying pride) 1 Peter 5:5
C. courtesy (showing patience) Romans 12:13
D. confidentiality (avoiding gossip) Proverbs 16:28
E. faithful attendance (establishing relationships) Acts 2:44-47
Phillipians 2:1-11