Grace: The Partnerships with Grace by Cory Blackwell - 4/2/17


Isaiah 39:1-8
  • This community, and the world we live in, needs a message of grace. Grace has had an identity theft.
  • If you can’t understand what grace is really about, then you can’t fully understand the power of God to change. You won’t have a hope that comes from the grace of Christ at the Cross.
  • You can’t have grace without the Cross.
  • Grace is free; given to us by the love of God.

(Romans 5:8)

    • While we were hurt and in sin, God looked at us and gave us a gift that we didn’t earn.
    • Jesus gave his life that the world would be changed.


  • Cory personal fitness goal update: 279!


Q: What are you doing with your grace?

  • Grace is always coupled with something; whether it be the Cross, or living righteously, the grace given to us isn’t “GRACE ALONE.”
  • God saves us with a purpose in mind.
  • If you understand grace, then you live under grace.

Isaiah 38:1-8

  • Hezekiah comes from the lineage of David. His father, Ahaz, was an evil king. Despite this Hezekiah became one of the few good kings of Israel, taking over his reign around 25 years old. (2 Kings 16-21, 2 Chronicles 28-32)
  • There is no gift that doesn’t have a price. Grace was given to us for free, but was definitely paid for by Christ.

Q: What made king Hezekiah great?

  • He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.


1) Grace provides restoration

  • As infants we’re still in a right relationship with God. He always intended for us to have a special relationship with Him.

2 Chronicles 29:3-7,18-19,28-30

  • One of the first things Hezekiah did was to restore the place of the Lord.
  • Hezekiah grew up seeing the house of the Lord in ruins, and no one doing anything about it.

2 Chronicles 30:1-3,13-16

  • The Passover in Egypt was a prelude to the ultimate sacrifice. (Exodus 11-12)
  • These people were no longer observing the grace that had been given to them.
  • Often we forget the grace that has been extended to us by not remembering the Cross.
  • Though Israel was frequently conquered, one thing the ruling nation did was continue to allow the Israelites to worship. There was no reason that they weren’t able to remember the Passover.

Q: How do we get restoration?

  • At this time the “man of Moses” was the Word of God.
  • We can bring about restoration if we use the Word of God in our individual lives.

(Luke 8:11)

(1 Peter 1:22-23)

2) Grace is a partner to prayer

2 Kings 19:1-7,14-19

  • God then delivers them from the Assyrian army, but he sends one angel down.
  • The prayer of Hezekiah, coupled with His grace, brought about a victory.
  • Right after this great victory, Hezekiah gets sick. But through his prayer he was restored to health.
  • Our grace coupled with our prayer can change things ,but prayer outside of grace does not.

James 5:16-18

1 John 3:22-23

  • The answering of your prayers is contingent on the grace of God.

3) Grace and Pride cannot coexist

  • Hezekiah starts out as a young man, graced by the strength of God, to bring about the restoration of the people of Israel to God. But when they defeat the Assyrian army, Hezekiah begins to glory in his riches, and what he had done as a young king.
  • Grace is so often forgotten when things are going well.

Isaiah 39:1-8

  • We’ve all got to be careful not to fall prey to pride when God gives us grace

(Prov 16:18)

(Rom 12:3)

  • We’re all given a measure of grace to do something with.
  • We’ve been given grace to restore your salvation, and the salvation of others.
  • We do all that we do because we’re restoring God’s holy temple to the world. But in order for that to take place our grace must be coupled with righteous prayer.
  • Our grace cannot be overtaken by pride.

Q: Do you need to be restored today? Do you need prayer? Do you need to lay aside pride?

Super Faith by Cory Blackwell - 2/5/17
  • Right now people are petitioning for Super Bowl Sunday to become a national holiday. People spend close to 15.1 billion dollars on food, decorations, and apparel each year.
  • The price of a ticket to the Super Bowl is between $2,150 and $6,150.
  • We have truly super sized the Super Bowl.

Q: Wouldn’t it be nice if we as Christians had the same vigor to have super faith?

-There are three different kinds of faith that matter most to us:
1) Dead Faith
  • Those with this type of faith know exactly what to say and what scripture to use at any time. But their flaw is that their walk does not measure up to their talk.
  • This faith is intellectual, found only in the mind.
  • They haven’t really submitted to the lordship of Jesus in every area of their life.
  • They say “I believe”, but they have no faith to share with others. Not just inviting people to church, but witnessing to those around them the things Christ has done in their life.
  • They say “I believe” but won’t challenge others to repent. Their faith is in the relationship and not in the power of God.
  • “I feel faithful, so I’m faithful.” This is not the true faith.
  • This dead faith scoffs when sacrifice is called for.
Q: Can this kind of faith save?
  • No. James emphasizes that this kind of faith cannot save three times in this passage.
  • A declaration of faith without a changed life is dead, counterfeit, and deceitful to those around you.
Q: How do we know if we have this faith?
  • If your works don’t match your words.
  • Real faith makes a difference, it’s living.
  • Faith acts, even when you don’t feel faithful!
  • Some of us are missing the opportunity to see our faith because we’re shrinking back at the first sign of a challenge.
2) Demonic Faith
  • James reminds us that even demons have a kind of faith, and it’s not dead.
  • Demons believe in the deity of Christ (Mark 3:11)
  • Demons believed in a place of condemnation (Luke 8:31)
  • Demons believe Jesus will be the judge (Matthew 8:29)
  • Those with a dead faith are touched only in their mind, the demonic faith is touched in “emotions”.
  • Many believe and get emotional. This is what we see the demons doing in James. This is only a step up above a dead faith.
  • True saving faith involves something more. It requires a changed life.
  • This is not a faith determined or defined by the world’s standards
  • The works of God have always taken precedent.
  • “I’d rather see and example than hear about one.”
Q: How do we know if we have this faith?
  • You have a demonic faith if you only feel and believe the right things and your faith does not extend beyond beliefs and feelings.
  • A saving faith is more than our experiences and feelings.
  • “I feel it”, is not enough
3) Super Faith
  • Abraham was called God’s friend not because he simply believe in God, but because he OBEYED God.
  • You cannot claim the power of God and walk in darkness. You cannot say you’re a saint while you build the building blocks of hell.
  • This passage, when used, makes it clear that you cannot say “I believe”, and be done with it.
  • A super faith is based on the word of God (Romans 10:17)
  • A super faith involves the whole person (Luke 14:33)
  • Super faith includes the mind, emotions, and the will.
  • Mind understands truth.
  • Heart delights in the truth.
  • Will reacts and ACTS on the truth.
  • Will is what leads to the obedience and the good works that God has set before us.
  • Abraham and Rahab could not be more different, but they were both credited as having super faith. They both put their faith into action.
  • It’s important that we, as professing Christians, examine our hearts and our lives.
Ask yourselves these questions:
Q: Has there been a time that you realized that you are a sinner, and admitted that to yourself and to God? 
Q: Have you shared this saving faith that you now have with someone else? Is this my desire, or a mandated task?
Q: Has their been a time that your response to your sin moved you to repent?
Q:Do you truly understand the gospel; that Jesus died for your sins and as he rose you too can rise again to a new life?
Q: Do I enjoy the fellowship and delight in his worship?
Q: Have I been baptized?
Q:Am I ready for the Lord’s return?
  • We’re not perfect individuals, but we have a saving faith. And we use every inch of it to live and have victory!
  • Don’t let your faith be dead, don’t be fooled in to a demonic one. Have a super faith! Give your heart, mind, and soul to the one that can save.
The Need for God's Vision by Cory Blackwell - 1/22/17


  • When hard times hit you can ask the question “why”, but the question that really matters is “who”.
  • You are a child of God, and you need to surrender to the will of God.
  • We face challenges in our lives when we want things that are different from what God wants for us.

Q: What is it that God wants for us?

  • God wants the same thing for us as far as purpose of life. He wants all men to be saved. Everything else is classified as “personal goals”.
  • You can’t take a square block and make a circular block fit in it. You can do your best to shape it, but it will never fit perfectly. As humans we can only do so much.
  • The fulfillment of life is the FILLING of God.
  • Attempting to put the square in the circle is what causes the frustration in life.
  • If you’re hearing this then God wants you to hear this message.
Ephesians 2:1-10
  • Men are DEAD.

Q: Are you joyful and grateful to be alive in Christ?

  • People say they’re “bored with Christ”. Stop experimenting with your life and saying “let me see what makes me happy.”
  • God has laid out a life for each one of us, but we are trying to have a life different from the one He’s called us to. OR taking the personal and allowing it to supersede the spiritual
  • It is GREAT to be GREAT….in Christ
  • Our church is in need because everyone has a different vision from the one Christ has for the church.

Q: Are you asking God “what’s your assignment for me”?

  • Christ didn’t die for us to attain THINGS
  • Your bible doesn’t promise you anyTHING other than grace. And because of this false expectation we can’t properly receive the gifts that God has given us that we could not possibly have gotten on our own.
  • You are healed by His grace, you are saved by His stripes(the cross).
  • When you understand this your vision will change.
  • We NEED to have God vision.
  • As long as we shoot for personal ones we’re working against ourselves putting square pegs in a circle hole.
  • “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

Proverbs 29:18 KJV: “Without vision the people perish”

  • We’ve taken on a huge vision as the Chicago International Christian Church

Vision is:

1) The ability to see things that are visible

2) Discernment

(Hebrews 11:1)

  • Spiritual vision is the art of seeing things that are invisible.
  • Building any institution requires men and women with vision.
  • As a congregation we need much larger goals to go along with our vision!
  • The goal of the CHURCH is to EXPAND. We were never meant to congregate together ALONE
  • This inadequate vision is why we’re fearful in the task that we have together.
  • If you trust in God and His vision then you know that His vision comes with His provision and resources, we have nothing to fear.
  • Jesus’ vision is to save souls.
  • When I buy into what God wants then God buys in to me.
Matthew 9:36-38
  • If the vision you have right now doesn’t require God to interact then your VISION is too SMALL
  • When you remove God you’re making goals that you’re sure YOU can attain

Q: Do you have compassion and see that our goals are necessary because people are harassed and helpless?

  • When we dim down our vision we begin to see that world as more successful than it is and in turn begin to desire what the world has.
  • Don’t get it wrong, God wants Christians to do well.
  • God wants us to shine like the sun…but this is not what our vision is to be.
  • If God says He stoops down to make you great then YOU SHOULD BE GREAT
  • But Jesus did not die to make you great but saved. Everything else is simply a part of his package.
  • Too often we buy into the “vision” that the harvest isn’t plentiful
John 4:35
  • Here Jesus is calling you to look at YOUR field, quit looking at distant fields.
  • Too often you see a lot of open people but because it’s hard work you don’t want to see them.
  • The harvest is plentiful but our vision is blurred.
  • We have got to become harvesters.
  • We lose God’s vision when we falsely guard our hearts.
  • I’ve never found an empty Christian that is truly walking with God, accepting His assignment, and doing everything he can to live it out
  • Balance=equal
  • When we attempt to “balance” our goals with God’s vision we bring God down to our vision..and then we become empty because we are no longer keeping God as number one.
  • You can achieve greatness with God not as number one, but you’ll still be unfulfilled
  • We need visions that are worthy of the King of Kings
  • Don’t reduce God to the physical
  • “Let me leave a legacy of my name”, can often be enough for us. But God wants us to live a legacy of His name. -What we’ve done will eventually end, but what God has done will live to eternity
  • Inadequate visions can come from being too general, or from not wanting to put in the work to make it happen
  • God’s vision is hard work, but it’s a simple plan

Challenge: Don’t have a blurred vision. Put on the eyeglasses of truth, wear the contacts of hard-work in the Lord, get your laser eye surgery in servanthood. Be focused

  • We need to saturate ourselves with the Word of God to clarify our vision.

Q: What does winning the city mean?

  • Giving all the opportunity to be saved
  • Everything has a voice now and they want the Christian to accept it, but we’re afraid to voice God’s voice
  • We need to be “narrow-minded” where it comes to God’s word.
  • I’m narrow minded so I can fit on that narrow road, you be as broad as you want.
  • Get a vision for your relationship with God, the work He’s called you to do, and to be great according to His grace not your own might.

Q: Is God’s vision pleasing to you or are you willing to settle for your square pegged vision?

  • Today needs to be a memorable day, a historic day, where everyone here decides to live out God’s vision no matter what!