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.