Description Pray, don't panic. Be anxious for nothing. Since time has begun the world has faced illness and disease, tragedies and catastrophies. We always want to be in control, but sometimes things get out of control.
What are the things we can not control? Crises, our country, our citizens, our critics, and our circumstances.
What are the things we can control? Our time in the Word and prayer, our thoughts, our tongue, our unrest, our time and our treasure. We can only control these with the power of the Holy Spirit active in our lives.
What are the things only Jesus can control? The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord. He controls it all. All things were made through Him and He is working on our behalf.
Three things to think about: Trouble, we can help others. Truth, not the media hype. Fear, if you have been panicked, repent and remember His Word. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer let your requests be known to God. Run to Jesus.
Description The Holy Spirit is a Person. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. He is omnipresent (everywhere). He is Omnipotent (all powerful). He is Omniscient (all knowing).The Holy Spirit is our Helper Advocate. He will do the same for us as Jesus did for His disciples. Jesus said that because He is going to the Father, we will be able to do greater things. (John 14:12)
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Executor The Holy Spirit is carrying out Jesus' wishes for our lives and the life of the church. Through time spent in God's Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit reveals God's will. The Holy Spirit dispenses the promises of God along with gifts and talents those who would be heirs of salvation. General promises of god become specific promises through the Holy Spirit's instructions. When our minds are perplexed, He gives answers; when we need an encouraging promise, He provides God's Word; when we are lost, He shows us the way. He is responsible to go out and find those whoare potential heirs. He bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Energizer God has infused us with His divine power. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God has given us the victory and the power to demolish all the attacks against us. If we are held by any sort of bondage - addiction, fear, depression, discouragement, etc. - the power of the Holy Spirit can blast apart those chains that bind us.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Equipper The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Holy Spirit reproduces within us the qualities of Christ's character. There are also different kinds of spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit decides which gift each person should have. And there are spiritual weapons: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood. Be strong in the Lord.
The Work of the Holy Spirit as Encourager The Father has given us a Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor-Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) to be with us forever.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He fills us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit by His divine power will provide us with everything we are going to need to make a difference and live effective lives for God's Kingdom.
Description Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me." Mark 8:34 NLT These words of Jesus demand our full commitment to Him. To really follow Jesus in ALL (words, deeds, actions), we need to put aside our selfish desires and give our lives to Him.
Nothing is more important than our eternal soul. Make the decision now. The Good News is Jesus paid the price for our sin. But when we accept Jesus as Lord, we can no longer live however we want. Ask God to empower us with the Holy Spirit to take up our cross.
Have you taken up your cross? It is only when we crucify self that we live in genuine repentance. Repentance is a change of mind. When we change our mind, we also change our attitude, then we are likely to change our actions.We we change our minds about sinful behavior, we make the promise to God to stop loving only self, we promise to consider the needs of others, and we promise to serve Him placing His will and purpose above our own. It's a change of mind and attitude evident in our actions. Not just outward behavior modification, but deep inward transformation of the heart.
There is a cost involved in following Jesus. True discipleship is demanding. Place Him first. Christ gave everything for our salvation. Are you willing to take up your cross for Him?
The Old Covenant It was a system of laws, codes, rituals, and observances. Every time the people failed to live by the standards, they had to offer a sacrifice to God. It was impossible to completely follow the rules. Everyone was guilty. The purpose was to show people that they were guilty before God and needed a Savior.
The New Covenant Jesus became the only sacrifice that could pay the price for our sin! It is finished! No other sacrifices were required. It is finished!
The New Covenant between God and you Forgiveness for our sins. Promise of eternal life. Assurance of heaven. It is finished. What is our part of the covenant? To believe and receive by faith what Jesus did for us! Then in His strength and power live for Him and tell others about Him.
Description There is a basic fact of life - we are going to be hurt by someone. There's nothing complicated about forgiveness. It's in the application that we find difficulty.
Why should we forgive?
Because God has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32
Resentment doesn't work. Resentment always hurts us more than the person we are resenting. Resentment is unreasonable, unhelpful, and is unhealthy. It never changes what has happened and is the single most destructive emotion we can have.
Because we need forgiveness. Forgiveness is a two-way street. What we sow is what we are going to reap.
Forgiveness does not and is not:
Minimize the offense. It doesn't pretend the offense never happened. It really did hurt.
Immediately restore trust. Trust is earned and therefore takes time.
Mean there won't be changes. Once harm has been done, things will never return to normal. Forgiveness is the starting point that will allow for a new beginning, a new normal.
Forgetting. It is choosing to no longery remember the offense against them. Forgivness is choosing to love.
How can we experience freedom that comes through offering forgiveness?
Recognize we are imperfect. We all have intentionally and unintentionally wronged people. Unforgiveness is a sin. When we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive.
Relinquish our right to get even. Offering forgiveness is an ongoing process. How many times should we forgive? An infinite amount of times until the job of forgiveness is done. When is that? When we reach the point that it doesn't eat our guts out every time we think about it. Release our right to get even and let God settle the score His way.
Respond to evil with good. Love, do good, bless, and pray for those who hurt us.
Refocus on God's plan. Refocus on God's purpose for your life. We become exactly like what we focus on. Put our hearts right with God. Reach out to God. Face life again. The Holy Spirit will empower us to be overcomers.
Forgiveness calls for a decision. We choose to forgive. When we forgive, we'll receive the fullness of God's forgiveness in our lives.
Description In a game of "Tag" it's interesting to see what happens when someone is tagged "It". First, they are prey, running away, hiding, whatever it takes to avoid being tagged. But once they are tagged, it is evident to all who is "it". They are now the predator. They act differently. Instead of running away, they're running after. The same happens when we become a Christian. Now instead of trying to avoid God and the truth of His Word, we embrace it and our lives change. It is evident to those around us. When we hear truth, we believe and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ. And by this act of faith, we receive the Holy Spirit as the seal and guarantee from God.
What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise?
To authenticate as genuine and true
Being sealed with the Holy Spirit is God's way of authenticating the fact that we are now His
It's the presence of the Holy Spirit in us activating His gifts and talents, producing within us the fruit of the Spirit - their presence confirms that we are indeed Christians.
To mark someone's property
The seal of the Holy Spirit is internal
We are His because He purchased us through the price of Jesus Christ paid when He died on the cross for our sins
To make secure
His guarantee of our ultimate salvation
How is the Holy Spirit our guarantee?
A "down payment" - secures the transaction with a promise that more will come
God gave the Holy Spirit as a "down payment"
This present life in the Spirit is God's promise of something more
What we have experienced of the Holy Spirit is only a foretast
Certain things we must avoid:
Quenching the Holy Spirit
Grieving the Holy Spirit
When we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit we lose the joy of our salvation and the fullness of the Spirit's blessing.
How can we get back to the fullness?
It begins with repentance
Accept God's gift of salvation
Invite the Holy Spirit to come in and fill you to overflowing
Description Our identity in Christ implies influence for Christ. "You ARE the salt of the earth...you ARE the light of the world." Christians must permeate society as agents of redemption.
We are the Salt of the Earth Christians delay decay. The purpose of salt is to fight deterioration, and therefore it must not itself deteriorate. "Loses its saltiness" reads literally "is defiled." Believers who fail to arrest corruption become worthless as agents of change and redemption.
We are the Light of the World Lights is visible. There is no excuse for secret discipleship. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid."
We must remain active preservative agents in calling the world to listen to God. How are we to be salt and light? We have the power of Christ to be an influence for Christ.
We have the power of prayer.
We have the power of truth.
We have the power of example.
We have the power of group.
We have a a part to play and the power to play it.
Description Who are you going to live your life trying to please? The "Fear of Man" is about our desire for approval and validation. Our consuming desire to please people can actually get in the way of our pleasing God. If you live for people's acceptance, you'll die from their rejection. Where the problem lies...we obey the one we fear.
When we live for people's approval...you will eventually do something stupid. God gave Saul specific instructions. If you are consumed with trying to please people eventually you have to choose God's way or man's way. Live for an audience of One.
Whe you live for people's approveal...you will eventually make God sad. Saul feared man more than he feared God. Saul's heart belonged more to his own self-interest than it did to the purposes of God.
When you live for people's approval...God's glory often becomes less important than yours. Pride is subtle. Pride separates us from an appropriate relationship with God.
When you live for people's approval...you are inviting unnecessary drama and frustration into your life. You are bound to eventually upset someone. Saul tried to please men so he only partially obeyed the Lord's instructions - partial obedience is disobedience. Make every effort to please God.
When you live for people's approval...you will end up redefining success to meet someone else's standards. God told Saul what was required for victory. He allowed the people around him to re-define success.
When you live for people's approval...you will eventually have a hard time recognizing truth. Saul was decieving himself. There's one voice you must be certain you hear, listen to, and follow.
When you life for people's approval...you will eventually become apathetic in your faith. Apathy: A lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Your heart is going to beat for something...and whatever it beats for...that's what will live. The Bible says God is searching the earth...looking for those whose hearts are completely devoted to Him.
When you live for people's approval...it will eventually cost you your destiny. We are not trying to please people, but God.
Who are you going to spend your life focused on pleasing?
Description One Encounter with Jesus Can Change Everything Two times in Scripture we are told Jesus was amazed. Faith was the focus of His amazement. Faith simply put, is trust. It's an action word. We place our faith or trust in Jesus. Our faith is based on God's character, God's track record, and God's Word.
The Story of the Roman Centurion Let's look at why Jesus was amazed. The Centurion was one of the most unlikely people you would ever expect to amaze Jesus. The Centurion's servant is sick and near death, but he can't heal him.The elders of the Jews try to convince Jesus that because of how good this man is...he deserves a miracle. The Centurion wanted Jesus to heal his slave...he just didn't want Jesus to come. This man has a clear understanding of who Jesus is. He recognizes that Jesus has authority in the spirit world to heal. Jesus was amazed at his faith. Then Jesus healed the servant without saying a word.
You Don't Need A Word Faith is all that is needed. By faith possess what God has already provided. John 19:30 says, "It is finished." According to Ephesians Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. He has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.
God Honors Simple Trust Faith honors God and God honors faith. You can pray here and miracles can happen there!
Description To fast or not to fast? That's the question. Let me begin by sharing with you three reasons not to fast. Be careful not to conclude that I am saying fasting is not a valid practice for today.
To be noticed by men.
To get whatever you want from your deep-pocketed God.
If you don't understand it.
Having covered the reasons not to fast, let me give you six reasons why you should fast.
Fasting is feasting on God.
You are giving yourself to prayer over an urgent matter.
Your food is to do the will of the Fasther.
You want to express sorrow for your sin.
You want to express a desire to share in Christ's suffering for men.
You want to express a desire for Christ to come back.
Now, to fast or not to fast. What will your answer be?
Description The Great Commission Today let's look at Matthew's account of what Jesus said before he ascends to heaven. The New Testament was originally written in Greek, which is very different from the English language. Because of the Greek words used in the Great Commission, I think it can be summed up by saying, "Go and Make".
The Greek word for "make." It's only used four times in the New Testament. It has a very specific focus on instructing and teaching a person. Each one of us is called to "go and make." We go, but I'm not sure we are doing a good job of making. Jesus recreated Himself in people. He was relational with His disciples. Jesus is our model.
Are you "going and making"? We are constantly going, but are we constantly making? Are we living a lifestyle where we are teaching others to following Christ. Jesus gave correction with those He taught. He could only do that because of relationship. There can be no discipleship without relationship. Where are you in your relationships? Plant seeds and show people the love of God that has been shown to you. Offer something that people will follow. Love people the way you are called to.
Let's love, relate, and disciple differently in the coming year. Let's GO and MAKE!
The Gift Exchange: Give God Your Grief and He'll Give You Joy
Description This side of eternity, grief is a reality. If you have not already, at some point you will experience grief. Our normal plan for dealing with our grief is to wait silently. We deny our losses. We delay our pain. We distract ourselves.
God's plan for our grief is to talk to Him about it. To acknowledge the reality of our pain. To tell Him about our pain and losses. And to hear from Him about His comfort.
When we give God our grief, He gives us His joy. God comforts us now by reminding us that He has walked through grief Himself. God comforts us later by removing every reason for grieving for all of eternity.
The Gift Exchange: Give God your hurts and He'll give you healing
Description First, let's look at five wrong ways we handle hurt:
Ignore it - Deny it, delay it, mimimize it. Ignoring hurt never heals it.
Run from it - Escape. Retreat. Run as fast as you can.
Hide it - Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. Everybody has a hurt.
Worry over it - Worry is playing the pain repeatedly in your life.
Become bitter about it - Bitterness never makes you better. Bitterness is self-destructive behavior
In 2 Corinthians 11 we read that Paul had many hurts in his life. How did he handle so many troubles? 2 Corinthians 1 tells us and presents us with two big challenges when we're overwhelmed with trouble.
When you give your problems to God, He will give you His comfort. He is the God of all comfort. Troubles is a general word for affiliction, annoyance, inconvenience. God has all comfort for all troubles.
When God gives you His comfort, you can give comfort to others. Look at the life and ministry of Jesus.
Write down your troubles and bring them to the altar. Let's pray for the God of all comfort to give us His healing!
The Gift Exchange: Give God Your Worry and He Will Give You Peace
Description Jesus addresses worry in the Sermon on the Mount. Worry is allowing our mind to dwell on potentially negative outcomes beyond our actual control. Jesus says several things about worry: It is unatural, unhelpful and unchristian.
How do we give God our worry and experience His peace?
Let Jesus be King. Make God's kingdom purpose your primary concern.
Live a day at a time.
Lean on the faithfulness of God. Talk to him about it.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 NLT
Two things Paul says to do with worry:
Tell God about it
Thank God for what He has done - Gratifude refocuses the mind
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 NLT
Dwell on God's promises, not your problems. Let Jesus be King, live a day at a time, and lean on God's faithfulness. He will guard your heart and your mind with peace.
Description Today we are going to look at one of the stories from the end of Paul's life. Who was Paul? He says he was a sinner who obtained mercy and was saved by Jesus Christ. And he takes the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In Acts 27 we read of a voyage Paul found himself on.He was a prisoner because of his faith in Jesus and under the watch of Julius. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall. Paul spoke up and said, "I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on." But the officer in charge listened more to the ship's captain than to Paul and the voyage continued. A huge storm came up and the ship was driven. They began throwing cargo overboard to lighten the ship because they were in fear of sinking. They lost all control and all hope was gone.
Shipwrecked: How this speaks to our lives today Like these men, maybe you feel your life is shipwrecked. You may feel dead in the water, out of control, overwhelmed, and hopeless. Where is the hope? This hope we have as an anchor for our souls: God's presence, God's promises, and God's power.
The strong anchor of God's Presence: Paul encouraged everyone on board to take heart, that no life would be lost only the ship. God's presense is a rock-solid anchor when we go through life's storms. He will never leave us. He is always with us.
The strong anchor of God's Promises: Paul was told, "Do not be afraid." He encouraged the others to believe God.God's promises are a strong anchor to hold onto when you go through storms. He has plans to give us a future and a hope. He has redeemed us, called us by name, and promised He would be with us.
The strong anchor of God's Power: The ship ran aground near an island and everyone jumped overboard to swim to shore. They all escaped safely to land. If God is powerful enough to create the universe, He is powerful enough to help you! With God nothing is impossible.
What kind of storm are you in right now? Does it feel out of control or hopeless? Cling to the strong anchors of God's presence, promises, and power! He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).
Description Are you a football fan? We are in the second half of NFL season right now. One of the marks of a successful football team is the ability to change their game plan as needed at half time. Life can be a lot like football. So, let's imagine for a moment that you are in the game of life. The clock is winding down in the second quarter and you are entering half time. It's time to reassess. Let's talk about how to refocus your life and finish strong.
The Old Testament Saul In 1 Samuel 10 King Saul was at the top of his game. Only a few minutes before hale time, everything was good. Until Samuel, their spiritual leader, was late for an appointment. God used Samuel's late arrival to test Saul's heart. Saul took matters into his own hands. King Saul lost focus and edged out God. When EGO takes over it leads to trouble. Pride comes before a fall. King Saul set himself up at the authority. As a result the second half of his life was vastly different than the first. He went into battle without God's blessing. Three of his four sons were killed. His decisions affected his family. In grief, he fell on his sword and committed suicide. It was a tragic end to a life that started out strong.
The New Testament Saul He did not start off right. He hated Christians and sought to persecute them. In Acts 9:4-5, God got his attention. This was half time - a defining moment for Saul. Your response to God's promptings will determine the direction of your life. In that moment, Saul chose wisely. As a result Saul was changed from the inside out. His name was changed to Paul. He entered the second half with a new game plan. Paul wrote letters that later became books of the Bible. Allow God to transform you.
Today is Half Time Which Saul do you want to become. New life starts with a decision. You will need to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to a new way of living. It's time to refocus. God wants you life - ALL OF YOU. Give yourself completely to god. It will be worth it. God wants you to take a spiritual step towards Him. Now is the time.
Description Today I want to challenge you with one simple idea. I want to plead with you to give your life to Christ. In today's passage we see the people in Jesus' day were pretty much like us, they struggled to find freedom from their culture and be different for Christ. It's a struggle to get past our love for this world and embrace the life to which we've been called. We are ambassadors for Christ.
What does that really mean? First, an ambassador is someone who represesents the interests of others. Second, an ambassador is someone who bears the message of the one who sent him.Offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice and say with me, "I'm an ambassdor for Christ." To be a better ambassador for Christ, there are several things that need to become a reality in our life.
Become convinced of the terror of God. If we are saved we'll stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account for what we did with Christ. In Christ we are safe and secure. Those who are lost will face the Great White Throne Judgment - that place where God condems everyone who refused His Son. Apart from Jesus we are the targets of the righteous terror of the Lord, in Christ, we've been delivered from it. God has placed people in your life - You may be the only voice they'll hear. Don't be content to let a child of God be far from the Lord and face Him with a wasted life. Vs 11 Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
Be gripped by the compelling love of Christ. Because of our sin everyone had to die, but Jesus died in our place. Those who choose to give their lives to Christ in salvation are raised to new life. While we were sinners Christ died for us. Spend time reflecting on the love He has for you. Does the love that Jesus Christ has for you compel you to love all people the way He did?
Come to terms with your new identity in Christ. Who are you living for? What's keeping you from representing Christ out there? Give you life to Christ and live for Him, He will open your eyes to see people the way He does. God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteous ness. You have the Spirit of the Living God residing inside you. Take a step of faith. Will you accept the higher calling of Christ? He has given you a ministry - reconciling people to God through the message of Jesus Christ.
We're here to be ambassadors - to represent the interests of our homeland(heaven) - in this land.
Description What is a dream? A condition or achievement that is longed for, an aspiration.
A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. ~John Maxwell.
Let Joseph's story speak to your heart. Joseph was a dreamer. Realize God has good plans for your life. If you've given up on dreams, it's time to dream again. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but where dreams come true, there is life and joy. Write down the dreams, hopes and desires you have in your heart. Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. God wants us to dream big dreams!
To dream extraordinary dreams, we must know the extraordinary love of God. Behold the manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1
Even if our dream is from the Lord, there will be opposition. Don't let someone else's disapproval or jealousy hinder you from dreaming! There are numerous examples of dreamers who overcame opposition to realize their dreams.
The rest of Joseph's story: He was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers. He ended up working for Potiphar and was falsely accused of raping his wife. He ended up in prision...but the Lord was with Joseph. Finally, he ended up working for Pharoah in the palace and his dream came true.
Take the dream test. Discover what your dream is, then do whatever it takes to have what you want!
Description Rebuild, Repair, Restore. For this to happen, we must learn to love one another.
Love One Another Love unconditionally. This is a sign that we are true disciples.1 Corinthians 13 describes agape love.
Accept One Another Accept each other as Jesus accepted us. Acceptance means acknowledging that other people are different than you, and not allowing that to stop you from loving them.
Forgive One Another Forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. And keep forgiving. Don't stop. How do we deal with offenses and hurts? Go only to that person. Do not talk to someone else about the hurt or offense. Pray first.
Description Nicodemus came to Jesus at night asking questions. He started with a bit of flattery, but Jesus knows what is in a man. Jesus knows Nicodemus is a man who seeks truth. So he comes at him head on with the truth - no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
Nicodemus asks, "How can this be?" Jesus seems to be messing with Nicodemus' head a bit. He is not only curious, but likely getting a little confused. And what Jesus is basically saying to him is: "you have read the scripture Nicodemus; this is not new stuff that I am telling you, remember the prophets?"
As Jesus continues to share scripture he goes on to tell Nicodemus not to try too hard to figure it all out because it's kind of like attempting to follow the wind. But Nicodemus continues to ask questions, "How can this be?" Then if he is not confused enough, he hears for probably the first time "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deed were evil. You must be born again.
So once again, the curious Nicodemus leaves as confused Nicodemus. It's not about what you have learned or what you did, it is considering what Jesus has done through the cross. It is by grace you have been saved through faith, it is a gift from God. Lift the name of Jesus high in your heart. Accept the full Gospel - the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It may be simple, but it is not easy - the hardest journey is from your head to your heart. If your actions are not for God they are evil - if you are not with God you are against Him. You must be born again.
It is only through the sacrifice of Christ that you can ever approach the throne of God. When you are born again, you become a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside and you can commune with God all the time.
If you truly have spiritual rebirth you will be motivated to do spiriual things: Prayer is a vital connection between your spirit and God's Spirit. Read the Bible. The Word of God will give you truth that can change your life. Focus on the Will of God rather than the will of self.
Description Changing the world requires consistent choices to follow Christ daily. Let's explore some ways we can do that.
Dream Big, Act Small Be kind, be tenderhearted, and forgive each other. Think about those people who have changed history. In the case where change was for the good, we see small steps and people who didn't act alone. The most powerful change is slow and steady. The church gives us support and accountability. Change in the world happens one person at a time.
Recognize Eternal True togetherness means a shared purpose. The real battle is a spiritual one. Ephesians encourages us to be strong in the Lord and His power putting on the armor of God and also to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests for all the Lord's people.
Stay Connected Hebrews exhorts us to meet together and encourage one another. Isolation kills. Even Jesus surrounded himself with a group of people. We need real connection and authentic relationships. Living as part of God's family matters. Together we find peace, experience love, grow stronger, and we can change the world!
Description There is Strength in Numbers Examples from nature: When the largest most powerful rivers start, they are mere drops of snowmelt finding their way downhill. Drops beconme trickles, trickles become channels, channels become streams, eventually streams become rivers. Animals naturally group together to survive. Our togetherness as believers is about strength for moving forward. Our differences are key! Unity is not the same as uniformity. More people means more - influence, creativity, ability, skill, compassion, relationship, love, and impact on the world around us. We are headed toward the fullness of Christ.
We are One Ephesians compares the church to a physical body. It tells us there is one body and one Spirit. Belonging is survival - when all the parts are working together as one, the body functions smoothly and correctly. We as the church are told to be one.
Growth Requires Change Actions shape our thoughts. Most change is not overnight - it is slow and takes work. To see growth we must choose to act in obedience to God. Trust God and do the next thing. Growth is a process.
The church will always be made up of imperfect people. Acknowledge it. Accept it. But don't use it as an excuse or settle for practices that fall short of God's best for us. Together we grow stronger.
Description Some things just go together. For instance: Salt and pepper, Peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin, Adam and Eve,
Hide and seek, Pros and cons. This demonstrates the power of things that have become so closely associated that they are insperable. Now, what do people think of when they hear the word church? You may have a word that comes to mind, but it's not likely the same for everyone. Depending on your experience, the association could be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. I want to challenge us as a church to consider what it would take to build an insperable link between church and love.
Together We Experience Love We are on this journey together. God's love is wider, longer, higher, and deeper - it is immeasurable. Love is relational. It is together that our ability to grasp God's love deepens. We find support, belonging, acceptance, encouragement and strength from others.
Love is God's Plan Being willing to humbly recognize our need for help, for forgiveness, for strength, for a deeper kind of life - then allows us to be known and to know God and others authentically. We're able to receive support and encouragement, and to offer acceptance and help to others. According to 1 John, God IS love. Everyone will know that we are His disciples if we love one another.
Love Binds Us Together As One Love can't be experienced alone. Love is something that is given and shared. God calls us to be TOGETHER.
How can we creat an insperable association between church and love?
CONNECTION: Where are you plugged in? Where would you like to be?
COMFORT: Be there for each other.
COLLABORATION: It is working together toward a purpose.
It is love that guides and unifies us and our efforts. It is Christ living in us that allows His love to grow in and flow through us. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Description Today we begin a 4-week Back To Church series entitled Together. The church is like Legos - a collection of invididuals of various sizes, shapes, and colors. When we come together the way God intended, we from the church. Together we are on this journey of transformation. Over the next four weeks we will discover Together - we find peace, we experience love, we grow stronger, and we can change the world. Join us on this journey.
This week's focus - Together We Find Peace
Peace in Unity The church is our place of belonging. All believers are of the same status - sinners in need of grace. Recognize that it is grace that has saved us. Grace brings us together in unity. Jesus broke down the deepest divisions of eternity between God and man and the deepest divisions of humanity between God's covenant people and others. Jesus brought peace.
Peace in God's Presence Christ Himself is our peace. We experience peace as a fruit of God's Spirit living in and through us. Peace is the presence of God in His people.
The Way of Peace Through Jesus death and resurrection, He made the way of peace available to us. When we surrender to His power and accept His life, we embrace the way of peace. Our peace goes beyond a circumstance or feeling. The Holy Spirit is our source of peace. We fit together to form the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills and enables us with the peace of Christ.
Description God is everything we will ever need, but do we believe it? That will determine our path. Realize God is our provider, no matter how things appear. Don't be anxious about anything. Stand firm with Jesus.
Description Stewardship of time, talent and money is thinking too small. Stewardship is about shared ministry. It involves the whole person. God wants us totally. God wants everything that makes us gloriously unique. Why? Because He is sovereign. The "I" and "me" fights against God.
All things are a gift from God. Happiness, love, joy, peace, security and significance all flow from our relationship with God. The focus and energy of our life, thoughts, time and talents are going to be where ever our treasure - our heart - is at.
What is it that I manage? Whatever God has placed in my hand. God can take the ordinary and make it extraoridinary when we see with spiritual eyes.
God has placed opportunity in our hand to evangelize, empathize, and energize. He has given us talents and abilities that He enables. He has given us power to demolish obstacles and to accomplish. There are natural and spiritual giftings. Natural giftings would include talents given before birth, personality, unique experiences or hurts. Spiritua gifts are given when we become a believer from the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has atleast one spiritual gift. The reason for gifts are to equip the saints for ministry, to build up the body of Christ, and to bring each other to maturity.
If everyone does not bring or exercise their gifts the body of Christ suffers, is not fully equipped, and lacks in maturity. To be a good steward, we must identify our gifts, understand and develop our gifts, excercise our gifting, encourage and assist others.
Description No one really likes to hear a sermon about money, but in Scripture there are more than 2,000 verses that deal with money or possessions. So based on that it is a subject that needs to be talked about. In 1 Timothy we read that the love of money, not money, is the root of all kinds of evil. We all realize money is needed to live, so money in itself is not evil.
What you do with your money shows what you value with your heart. According to Luke 12, where your money goes your heart goes. So money is an indicator of where your heart is at. So let's talk about a some things you should do in regards to money.
Make a budget. Proverbs says the plans of the diligent leads to profit. A budget is simply a written plan. Track your spending, see where your money goes, and establish a budget.
Save for the future This is what Proverbs has to say - He who gathers little by little makes it grow. The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends everything. Ask yourself, "Am I saving money?"
Avoid debt The rich rule over the poor and the slave to the lender. We are better off to avoid consumer debt.
Put God first in your finances Honor the Lord with you wealth and your first fruits. The generous never seem to go without and are characterized by an joyful, loving spirit. Tithe simply means 10%. Why should we tithe? Out of gratitude for the past, to keep priorities straight for today, and demonstrate faith for tomorrow.
Money will not make you happy Instead of looking to wealth for fulfillment, look to God. Make sure your heart treasures God!
Description Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12. The hardest thing to hand over to God is our time.
Walk Circumspectly To look round about on all hands; to be every way watchful, wary, and cautious, in order to avoid danger and discern enemies.Questions: Have I faithfully served God with the time He has given me? Have I shown God to those around me? The average Christian spends less than 15 minutes a week in prayer. Our day also should be invested in neighbors. We must prioritize our lives.
Redeeming the Time To buy up those moments others seem to throw away. Seizing opportunities to rescue or recover our time from waste. Let time be your chief commodity. Time is that on which eternity depends.
Relationships Require Our Time Time with people: We are not meant to be solitary creatures. We are to be social creatures. Godly relationships are important to our maturity as Christians. Having relationships requires time. Relationships are intentional. Time with God: We do not learn to walk with God in five minute devos. Devotions can't take the place of the Bible. The early church was continually devoted to the apostles' teaching and fellowship.
We all have 24 hours a day. Let us use our time wisely.
Description What is stewardship? Managing something that is entrusted to your care. An Old Testament steward held the highest position in a household and was in charge of it. In th New Testament stewards must be found trustworthy, exhorted to be faithful and wise--To whom much is given, much is required.
We are to be stewards of God. We don't own anything. Everything we have belongs to God and has been given to us to manage for God's glory. When we grasp this principle it changes how we perceive our use of God's resourses--time, energy, money, creativity, talents, spiritual gifts, and relationships. One day we will give an account of what God entrusted to us so we will know, and He will know, if He can entrust us with all things. We are called to be joint heirs with Jesus.
God has sown something in you and I. The good soil produces fruit from the seed God has placed in us, some 30, 60 or 100 fold. The amount of return matters not, what is important is that we use what He has placed in us.
What is God's expectation? That we bear fruit by doing the work of the ministry. The use of what God has given us yields fruit, and because of that fruit we are given more. The seed of Christ is planted in us. Will we allow it to mature in us.
The challenge: Live life in god, walking with Him. Be a minister. Grasp your calling. The God of the universe will take notice and reward you openly. Be a good steward of all that God has given you.