Author Archives: Michael Dennis

About Michael Dennis

I live in Austin, TX, married, two kids, and starting a new church

Drifting from the finished work of the cross

In Galatians 2:11-21 we see the Apostle Peter drift from the finished work of the cross, and if the Apostle Peter can drift then we can drift.

In the context of Galatians 2 the Apostle Peter is being persuaded by others to rely on OUTSIDE WORKS, and the Apostle presses in on Peter and asks, “Why are we, who admit we can’t keep the law, leading Gentiles to keep the law?

It is an easy passage to read and think, “What was Peter thinking?”  But, honestly, we are all able to drift from the finished work of the cross just as easy.  In the case of Peter in Galatians 2 he was doubting the righteousness of Christ that he had been freely given by grace, and he was looking to OUTSIDE WORKS so that he was showing partiality toward Gentile Christians.

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Matthew 6:26, “26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air.” Look at the Grackle. The boring looking, loud and annoying Grackle, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?

Were you not created in the image of God in Genesis 1? In Psalm 139 were you not knit together in the womb of your mother? Did Jesus not take on flesh and become your sin so that you might know the righteousness of God? If God cares for the birds of the air, how much more will your Heavenly Father care for you?

Back in verse 25 Jesus isn’t saying, “Stop worrying, or I am gonna give you a knuckle sandwich, see.” No! Jesus is saying, “Do not worry, because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is utterly, eternally and completely committed to you!”

In verse 26 when you see the phrase, “Look at the birds” Jesus is teaching you to move your thoughts off of your worries, and on to His truth revealed in His Word.  In fact, the word “Look” in the original language means “look intently” or “consider” so as to “ponder” and stop thinking about your worries, but more so, start thinking about His Word. So, lets talk about it practically:

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One Another

This year our church family is focusing on “Building up our relationships with one another.”  These last few weeks we have been teaching through Matthew 5, “Sermon on the Mount.”  In our passage on Sunday we were reminded of 6 practical areas of our relationships with one another while we are living in Jesus’ heavenly kingdom on earth, and below is a quick outline to help us apply those truths to our lives

Relational Area (Anger): How can I be proactive in seeking reconciliation?

Gospel: When we do this we this we are uprooting anger in our soul and replacing it with the gospel. We are not giving anger a foothold in our soul, or our church family. We are putting anger to death through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are walking by faith that we are created in the image of God and our relationships with one another are important.

Reflection: What if we didn’t reconcile? Can you imagine how awkward it would be in our church family if this never happens?

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All of Scripture is Important

Matthew 5:18, “18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

In verse 18 Jesus is making a strong statement because when Jesus says, “Smallest letter or stroke” He is talking about commas and hyphens, which means every word on every page is important and will be accomplished.

This means Jesus is really committed to all of Scripture, and this is why our church family is really committed to Scripture.  It is the prayer of our elder team that our conversations would be shaped by the Scripture.  It is our hope that husbands and wives would be setting aside time every week to read Scripture together.

To be clear: We’re not trying to read the Bible just to read the Bible. In verse 17 Jesus says, “He came to fulfill the Scriptures” which means the more you know the Scriptures the more you know Jesus.

Naturally we push back and say, “But I don’t understand what I am reading.” That’s okay!  Just keep reading.  When we ignore parts of the Scripture because they are confusing, boring, or uncomfortable, then we are ignoring HUGE parts of Jesus, because in verses 17-18 Jesus is saying, “All of Scripture is IMPORTANT and all of Scripture will be ACCOMPLISHED.

  • Read Scripture every day
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you shape your conversations around Scripture throughout the day.
  • Humble yourself to ask others for help.
  • Build relationships with other men and women who want to read, study and learn about Jesus through the Scriptures.




Blessed are the pure in heart

Our church family is teaching through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.  On Sunday we looked at verses 7-12, and I just wanted to quickly share our insights around verse 8.

Matthew 5:8, “8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

When you see the phrase, “pure in heart” it could sound like a challenge of moral perfection, so that if you change your morality, your mind, and motives then you could attain a pure heart and see God.

But, Scripture makes it really clear that humanity is unable to make our hearts pure. I know this might sound odd because we have grown up in the Age of the Enlightenment where better education should make us more civil, but Jeremiah 17 says our hearts area deceitful and wicked.

  • In Matthew 7 Jesus calls our hearts evil. He says, “If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father?”
  • The heart is what you are when nobody knows but God. It is why 1 Samuel 16 says, “Man looks at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
  • The heart is the invisible root matters of our soul. It is why Matthew 15 says, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.”

Therefore, in verse 8 when Jesus teaches “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” He isn’t talking about moral platitudes. God didn’t take on flesh and enter human history to improve our bad habits.  No, if we want to see God then we need new hearts!

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Jesus is the Light of the World

John 1:7, “7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.”

There are many luminaries in our world today, so when we see the “Light” referenced in verse 7 it doesn’t always jump off the page.  But, consider for more of human history humanity has lived in literal darkness.

Today we think of the dark as romantic or curious, but for most of human history you live in a hut or a cave trying to survive, and when the sun went down it was scary.  Yes, you had fire, but you couldn’t take fire to your bedside table.  It was just dark.

In fact, studies have shown that until the 1700’s  a days wage would get you about 10 minutes of light, so it was incredibly expensive and difficult to create. Then, whale oil was discovered, which got you up to an hour in the 1700’s, then kerosene in the 1800’s got you about 5 hours, and the in the 1900’s Thomas Edison changed everything, so that a days wage could produce 20,000 hours of light. It changed everything.

So in AD 90 when God is described as LIGHT in verse 7 it would have been incredibly significant. It would have been reminder of Genesis 1 when God spoke creation into existence and said, “Let there be light.”  It would have been a reminder of Israel being led by the light of a fire in Exodus. In Psalm 119, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  In Isaiah 60, “The Lord is our everlasting Light.”  Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Light and m Salvation.”

It is why Jesus Himself says, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12, 9:5)

Which means the world is in darkness, and Jesus has come to bring clarity into creation.  When you know Jesus you are living in advance of the great day that is to come.  You will see purpose in your pain. You will find comfort in your chaos. You will see wisdom in His ways.

Before Jesus there would be darkness, duress, confusion, chaos, but now in Jesus there is clarity.  Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Am I seeing the “LIGHT” of Jesus today?” Am I “witnessing” the glorious good news of Jesus today?

Do you see His goodness in your life today? Do you see His grace in your life today? Are you in awe of His creation today? Is He bringing healing into your soul today? Do you see the glory of the cross today? Are you believing in Jesus today?

Persecution in the local church

We are teaching through Acts in our church family and been breaking Acts into sections:

Acts 1-3:  The Church Begins

Acts 4-7:  The Church Persecuted

Acts 8-10:  The Church Scatters

Acts 11-17:  The Church Specific

In Acts 11-17 we see specific characteristics of the local church, and on Sunday we looked at Acts 12 to see Persecution is a specific characteristic of the local church.  We see persecution in Acts 4, Acts 7, and Acts 12.  But, we also see Christians being fed to lions and the Roman Emperor Nero dipping Christians in tar and lighting them on fire at his evening parties.

But, it didn’t stop there.  In the 500’s there were over 20,000 Christians killed for their faith in Yemen.  In 1500 people were imprisoned and burned alive for reading their bible in public.  In the 1700’s the French Revolution tried to remove Christianity from their culture by deporting clergy, destroying churches, and outlawing public worship.

Even today we see over 300 Christians killed every month, over 200 churches closed or destroyed every month, and over 700 violent crimes committed against Christians every month.

It is a constant reminder that persecution is a characteristic of the local church, and in Acts 12 we see no matter how bleak it might look the God of Scripture cannot be stopped.