Description This is the first of a two-part message Our Three-Fold Calling as illustrated by the life of Peter. In looking at the life of Peter, I see three distinct calls common to all of us as Christians.We are going to talk about the call to discipleship today. Most of us have a vocation or job, but what we do for a living often has little to do with what we are called by God to do with our lives.
We begin our walk with Jesus with the call to discipleship. This is the time in our lives when we abandon our religious ideas, forsake all, and follow Jesus on a day by day basis. Not everyone who has called upon the name of the Lord, or who have been saved, not all of these are walking as disciples.
Discipleship stripes away religion. Peter was content to let Jesus be part of his religious life, but with Jesus' instruction to him invaded a part of Peter's life that before was off limits to God. Peter's response was obedience. Realizing who Jesus was, he left everything to follow Jesus.
Jesus is calling you to a life of intimacy with Him, as a brother or sister, to be a temple of the living God, to be a royal priesthood, to be trees of life, to be light. He is calling you to discipleship. Are you willing to answer the call?
Our Three Fold Calling: A Call to the Impossible and to Service
Description This is the second part in the two-part series Our Three Fold Calling. Today the focus will be The Call to the Impossible and the Call to Service based on the life of Peter.
The Call to the Impossible. In the account of Jesus walking on the water, we see Peter had a desire to do the impossible also. But he got permission from Jesus, he didn't just rush ahead without asking. Walking on water was a miracle regardless if there were wind and waves. The wind and waves were just a distraction to cause Peter to take his eyes off Jesus. The same is true for us, circumstances will try to get us to take our eyes of Jesus. Keep your focus on Jesus.
The Call to Service. In the story of the lame man asking for money, Peter was able to looked beyond the surface and see the real need. To see the man the way Jesus saw him. Sometimes we look at the outward appearance of a person and don't want to help them. Look through the eyes of Jesus and see beyond the surface. Notice the man did not get what he asked for or expected. God gave the man what he needed. The man praised God, not Peter. He recognized God at work through the life of Peter. Let our lives and service point people to Jesus.
Description For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. What does this mean? How did we die? What part of our life is now hidden with Christ? Let's talk about it.
What is life? Our will, relationships, desires, memories, plans, dreams, ambitions, treasures, pride/dignity, justice/judgment, values, knowledge, wisdom, energy, awareness, money, power, emotions, trust in the world, pleasure, decision making, growth, movement, and drives to sin. All of this, and more, make up life. When we die to self, we die to this list of things that comprise life. This doesn't make us very happy. Who would do this?
How do we die to our life? Note, we are not to attempt to do the crucifying, God alone will do the crucifying. God will not crucify the old man unless we give Him permission and allow Him to do so. So we have to have the desire.
How does God put to death the old man and our self-will? He puts us in prison, so to speak. He denies our most fervent desires for a season. We learn obedience through suffering. In order to move forward in God we must be willing to let God crucify our will. There can be no holding back.
What does it mean to be dead? More importantly, what is the result of being dead to self? We gain our life back in vastly superior eternal form. We get what satisfies. Our life is redeemed. Our will becomes one with God's and we are totally fulfilled.
In conclusion - We understand how God crucifies our old life. We are not deprived of anything of any real value. We trade our thread-bare garments for royal robes. Ask yourself, and the Lord, who is in control of my life? Give God permission to crucify the aspect of your life that comes to mind. Remember the three rules for spiritual success: pray, pray, and pray some more.
Description Holiness is our calling. God has called us to be saints. Holiness has two components: the call to God's special purposes, and the call to purity.
Grace is the gift to be free from the slavery of sin. This gift leads to holiness. Holiness makes us eligible to reap, or receive, eternal life. Unholy behaviors bring us misery, corruption, and death.
God has called us out of the ranks of mankind. "Church" means called out ones. Holiness has to do with calling. We care called even before our behaviors are cleansed or changed. Holiness exists by degrees. So holiness is a separation to God and service to Him.
Holiness as moral purity. Holiness is our response to God, righteousness is our response to people. A holy personality can distinquigh between that which pleases God and that which displeases God. Some acts, like lying, are both unrighteous and unholy. The closer we draw to the Lord, the more holiness becomes an issue.
What if someone called to be a saint continues in unholy behavior? Consider Amos 3:2. Holiness is a sign of a circumsiced heart. The church is not about how many come on Sunday, it's about discipleship, cross-carrying obedience, and offering up our lives as a living sacrifice. In order to be true and faithful witnesses of God we must be growing in holiness each day.
Do we desire holiness? If the desire is not there, ask God for that desire and passion. As you are made aware of unholiness, confess it, renounce it, resist it, and ask God for strength and help.
Description "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It is time for our thinking to be changed.
Committed to God's Word
God's Word is truth Commitment requires agreeing in your mind. Paul appeals to our will - make a choice in the way you live for God. Believe the Word is truth and act on it.
God's Word is Life One thing that is constant - God's Word.
God's Word is Power Romans 10:14,15, Hebrews 4:12
Committed to God's Work
In You You are a work in progress. You are being changed into His image from glory to glory. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, it is our reasonable service." God's work in you is a spiritual work, but it begins in the mind. You can accept or refuse it.
In the Church Proverbs 3:9-10 First fruits refer to your tithe. Everything else is offering above and beyond the tithe.
In the World God is working in the world convicting people of their need for a Savior. God opens doors for you and empowers you.
Committed to God's Worth
Knowing that God is Merciful
Knowing that God is Just
Knowing that God's Will is Perfect
Are you committed to change? Are you commtted to God's Word, His Work, and His Worth? Take that first step.
Description Little Town God chooses to use small things to accomplish great purposes. The population of Bethlehem was about 150. The references to Bethlehem in the Bible are interesting. Jacob's wife, Rachel was buried there. She died giving birth to Jacob's youngest son, known as "son of my sorrow" and "son of my right hand", both terms used to describe Jesus. Then in the book of Ruth, this town was where Ruth was "redeemed" and married Boaz. In prophecy Micah 5 declares, "though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one hwo will be ruler over Israel." God's greatest gift came to a little town.
Big Light Jesus is the light of the world. As we look at the qualities of physical light, we see many similarities to the spiritual light Jesus brings to our life. Light brings sight and understanding. Light brings ilfe. Light cheers. Light gives security. Light removes stains and purifies. Light heals.Light brings hope. Jesus is the "Big Light" that will transform you, if you allow Him to.
Description Scripture refers to us as the clay and to God as the potter. A difference between actual clay and us is we have a will. We can choose to not allow the potter to mold us, make us, and use us.
What kind of clay is unusable:
Clay that is bone dry. Believers over a period of time who allow their spiritual life to dry up. They are backslidden, no longer affected by the things of truth. God can do absolutely nothing with this type of clay. To be useful again, it must be completely crushed, and the process of molding start over again.
Clay that lacks moisture. Clay that exists, but can't be used. Believers who have just enough relationship with God to know they are saved and forgiven. They believe, but never surrender their will to God. They refuse to allow the potter to mold them. Begin yielding your life to the Holy Spirit.
Clay with hidden air. Believers who look like they have it all together, but there are hidden pockets of sin. When God begins to turn up the fire the hidden things are revealed. If you have hidden sin, confess it and turn from it.
Description The first in our Christmas Series 4-Word Messages with Pastor Tim Wright. Today's 4-word message: Wait, Prepare, Reflect, Believe.
Waiting in the dark. Jesus was born into a world that was dark. Prior to Jesus' birth, there had been what many refer to as "400 Years of Silence" from God. The period of waiting was very long. What are we doing while we wait? Our actions in dark times reveal where our faith is. God's silence does not signify his absence.
How are we Preparing? Are we spending time with Jesus. It takes time and effort to grow deeper in our walk with the Lord.
Reflect God uses hardships to point us back to him. In the midst of darkness, the light of Christ is more obvious. In the text in Matthew 2 we see what happens with light breaks through. There are many comparisons between the light of Christ and physical light. Light can cause recoil, it is invasive, and it attracts.
Believe Christ continues to attract peopel today. True hope is found in Him alone. He is the giver of eternal life. You are the light of the world.
Will you wait for Him? Will you prepare for Him? Will you reflect Him? Will you believe Him?
Description Keep focus. Take care of the things God has called you to take care of right now. Don't let people drag you away from the task at hand.
Partnering When we feel that we're not alone, we get the work done. What might prevent partnering? Jealousy, pride, and slander. The benefits of partnering: friendships, protection, and strength. More is accomplished.
Persistent Dpn't give up. Look up: Ask God to help you. Look back: See how far He has brought you. Look around: You are not alone.
Description Scripture tells us that nothing can drive a wedge between us and God's love. Do you know who you are and whose you are? As God's children we have to lay hold of all God has done for us! Surrender all to Jesus daily.
Look towards the future - let go of the past. Jesus overcame and His love for us conquered all. We have been forgiven completely. Jesus sacrifice took care of the past once and for all. There is nothing God is not willing to do to help one of his children. We must be willing to put on what He has given us every day and walk in it.
Forgiveness offers freedom from condemnation. God's laws guide us towards His grace. All the blessings we enjoy freely today were made possible by Jesus' finished work on the cross. The One who died for us, who was raised to life for us, is in the presence of God this moment sticking up for us. Don't let your past keep you from your future.
God thinks of you the every same way He thinks of His son Jesus. Come on over to God's marvelous and miraculouse way of thinking! Learn to walk in God's blessings and realize that you are worthy of them all.
Description "The Lord will strengthen your frame." It's amazing how God created us. The human skeleton is the internal framework of the body. God wants to strengthen the framework of our spiritual lives. We aren't called to walk in our strength, we're called to walk in His strength.
Places where we need to be strong for the Lord: Character, faith, hope, prayer life, compassion, joy, patience, passion, wisdom and love.
Basic truths we see in Isaiah 58:11: The Lord wants to guide you. The Lord wants to satisfy your needs. The Lord wants to strengthen your frame. is your life like that of a well-watered garden?
Return to the basics. Let God guide my life. Allow God to be my provider. Let God strengthen my frame. Return to the basics of faith, prayer, Bible reading, giving, service and worship. He must increase - I must decrease. Allow the Lord to recharge and renew your spiritual life.
Do you go all out for what you believe in? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
Description The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most powerful event of all time. If it weren't for the resurrection, there would be no need to celebrate the birth of Jesus. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, our faith is futile.
What difference does Easter make?
Our Sins are Forgiven - Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins and accomplished what God had planned. "It is finished." There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Our Lives Have Purpose - Our faith is alive and vital to abundant life. God had a plan for our lives all along. We are His workmanship prepared for good works. We are God's masterpiece, a work of art. We are all different and that's okay. God's purpose is for us is to bring the "Good News" to those around us. How? Through the power of Jesus Christ in us. He gives us the power to change what we cannot.Through the promises of Christ. All the promises of God are yes and amen.
Our Future Is Secure - One day we are all going to die. Only a fool would go through life and not prepare for something we is going to happen. Sincerity, good works, giving up stuff, rituals, heritage, and comparison will not get us to heaven. It's only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There's only one way. It's not about what we know, it's about who we know.
Jesus is our Living Hope. Make it right. Give Him all. Let Him transform your life today.
Description The Hand of Herod
In the Scripture today we see that Herod the King stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. He had the power of the Roman army behind him. The Jewish religious leaders hated Herod since he was not a Jew. He used his power to destroy the church.
The Place of Help
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. The spirit of Herod lives on in attacks made against the church and against God's people. We respond in many ways when we find ourselves under attack:
We can retreat
We can hide
We can fight back with words or physical force
We can do what the early church did - pray
How did the early church pray? Without ceasing.
Where did they pray? Anywhere - there is power in corporate prayer.
What did they pray? Boldness to speak the word, power to heal, miracles to confirm the truth.
The Open Door
During the night a light shone in the prison, the Lord struck Peter on the side and raised him up, his chains fell off of his hands. Once Peter was free, he went where people were praying. They were praying people, but they were realists. They were praying, but they didn't know how God would answer.
On Memorial Day we mourn the loss, remember the lives, and are thankful for the sacrifice. As we prepare to remember those who died for our country, it is important to remember the One who died to set us free from our sins.Jesus fought the armies of Hell so that we might have liberty in His name.
So first, as we mourn the loss of Christ, we realize that we are the guilty ones. If there was only one sinner who was lost, He still would have died. His love is that great.
Next, we remember the lives. On the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, the disciples were remembering Jesus. Part of our emotional healing in the process of grief is to remember the lives of the loves ones who have passed. What must we remember about Jesus? He set an example of how to live and love. Our life should reflect that love.
Finally, we are thankful for the sacrifice. We take communion to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. His body was broken and his blood shed for each one of us. As Americans, we have the luxuries of this country because men and women gave their lives for it. Similarly, the price Jesus paid afforded us salvation. We have the promise of salvation and we did nothing to afford this luxury. For this we must be thankful.
Description Does anybody write anymore? What has happened to the art of writing? Here's some good advice for writing: Make it clear, make it brief, make it accurate, and make it simple. Let's write more! Writing can bless others if we let it. Let's not lose this art that God gave us. In today's passage, let's consider the different groups to whom John wrote and what he wrote.
I Write to You Children. I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (1 John 2:12) I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. (1 John 2:14) John is probably writing those who are young in the faith. New converts are more acutely aware of their forgivenss. New converts are aware that God is not only God, but also their Father.
I Write to You Young Men.I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13) I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14) John is talking about those who are strong in the faith. Trials can make us stronger in our faith. When the Word of God lives in us through reading, meditation, memorization, etc. we will overcome the evil one.
I Write to You Fathers. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:13) I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:14) Be a father of faith. This is the faith we need: To know Him and to know Him well!
Description There are many ways Satan keeps us enslaved, but God wants his people to be FREE!
Jesus tells how to be free of worry. "...do not worry about tomorrow..." "Each day has enough trouble of its own." The problem with borrowing from tomorrow is: You lose strength to deal with today's burdens, you fail to properly do your God-given responsibilities today, and helping others today becomes difficult.
Don't add troubles of tomorrow or yesterday. When you are full of worry and anxiety, PRAY. Change your thought patterns. If you can, resolve the burdens of yesterday. Forgive yourself.
Freedom from bondage. Without Christ you are under the bondage of sin. Jesus, the Son of God, paid the penalty for your sin. Jesus will free you from the bondage of sin and give you eternal life.
Description When Rudy Gulliani became mayor of New York City, he embraced a social theory called "Broken Windows" to fight crime and attempt to improve the overall living standard of the city. This theory holds that a seemingly minor matter like broken windows in abandoned buildings leads directly to more serious deterioration of neighborhoods. Basically stated, if one window is already broken, it is easier for a person to just go ahead and break another. The theory was developed in the 80's, but it's seems to be exactly what Paul was saying in the passage from Ephesians we will look at today.
The key verses are Ephesians 4:22-24 and 5:1-2. Put off your old self and put on your new self. Be imitators of God. Paul is speaking here to people who are aldready Christians. In other words, reject what destroys community and promote what builds community. Repair the "Broken Windows". The windowpanes that need fixing are our mouths, our hands, and our hearts.
Speak the truth. Lying is destructive behavior. Jesus Christ said, "I am the truth." As Christians we are to be the truth of Christ personified. Lying is sin.
Misuse and abuse of our mouths. Proverbs warns against gossip. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit. Get rid of gossip, backstabbing, foul language, and verbal abuse.
Let's use our mouths for righteous purposes. Build each other up with encouraging words. Be kind and compassionate. Forgive one another.
Contribute to the community. Use your hands for something useful to benefit those in need.
Laziness, procrastination, and consumer Christianity are all subtle sins.
Giving is a lifestyle.
Use your hands for holy and righteous purposes - for construction and not destruction.
Two Areas - Anger and Love
Anger - a self-centered emotion. It's a choice. Anger must not take up residence. Anger is not a sin as such, but can become a foothold for the devil. Do not hold on to your anger.
Love - the most challenging to repair. God says, "Be holy, becuase I am holy." Love following the example of Jesus. Jesus promised to be with us as we seek to reach that goal. The sacrifice of Jesus is pleasing to God because: Jesus was obedient and it restores people into relationship with Himself. Our response to this passage requires obedience.
Consider the "Broken Windows" in our lives. Seek God's help to make the repairs that need to be made.
Description Joshua summoned the Israelite soldiers and commended them for being faithful until the job was done. It had taken seven years. He only makes one request to them - remain faithful to God. There is peace and prosperity, and all is well. Then, one side did something that the other side misunderstood and they are about to fight each other. Most conflicts start with a misunderstanding. Let's look at what happened? There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this story.
Expect tension in your relationships at times. Good communication can alleviate much of that tension. Communicate (explain) intentions ahead of time. Leaders never like surprises. Don't startle people.
Express truth in love. Communicate facts with truth and grace. Avoid responding in anger. Making false accusations in anger is no way to resolve conflict. James 1:20 says, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Avoid wrong assumptions. Respond with respect and grace. If you are falsely accused, avoid a retaliatory attack - speak the truth in love.
Exalt the Lord together. Resolving conflict is not about who is right or wrong. It's about God getting the glory. It is better to "suffer wrong" than to bring disrepute to the cause of Christ. Christ died on the cross to bring reconciliation not only between us and God, but also between us and the other believers.
Description The church family James shows the importance of each one of us carrying our share of the workload in the Kingdom of God. Whenever there's a job to be done, a class to attend, or a meeting to attend, one name on the top of everyone's list: "Let Someone Else do it." Today I am here to say, "Someone Else is no longer with us." So it is up to each of us to pick up the slack and accomplish the work. There is no one to accomplish the work that God has called us to do.
Our actions provide concrete evidence of true faith. Faith must be visible in the way we live our lives. Genuine faith is always put into action. James is not advocating that salvation is based upon works. The works that James is writing about are done because of faith. James seems to imply that God is going to hold each of us accountable.
When it came to placing our trust fully in the Lord, it seemed only Someone Else was willing to do it. The area this is most evident - stewardship. This involves money, time and talents. True faith requires that we trust God completely. True faith always has a direct effect upon a believer's attitude and behavior. Two essential ingredients: commitment and right actions.
Almost every Christian will say they want the church to grow, but their actions say something different. When there is a need, God expects action. God will never look kindly on us if we keep passing our own responsibilities on to Someone Else. Empty words say we are concerned, but never do anything. Do something.
A living faith is always active and productive. A faith that moves mountains is always a working faith. Action is the proof of living faith. Display faith that is never concerned about receiving the credit, but wanting God to get the glory.
Faith will take us places where we have never been before!
Description When Foundations Crumble Spiritual earthquakes occur when life takes an unexpected and cruel twist that rocks our nicely built world. Loss is something every one of us has experienced. The power of God's grace and love are more than enough to help us survive. God cares, comforts, hears and delivers.
How Do We Rebuild Through Jesus Christ our Cornerstone. Our lives are to be built and based upon Jesus. He understands. Through other believers. Show love to others the way we want to be loved by being there and helping with reconciliation. Through creating a new normal. Life will never return back to normal. Resist the temptation to be bitter over the loss. Resist blaming others. Resist focusing on what's been lost and instead focus on what is left. Count our blessings. Let go of the "why" and start looking for those reasons to move forward.
Description My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...Have you ever been there? In Psalm 22, this is exactly where David found himself. After saying this, he goes on to say, "But You are holy, O You who are enthroned in the praises of Israel." He declares that his fathers trusted and God rescued them.They were not disappointed or ashamed. When we ask, "Lord, what can I do?" The answer is simple - Praise the Lord!
David tells how he feels and it wasn't good. You get the feeling he was almost at the point of giving up, but he did not. There are many biblical examples of praise. Psalm 150 gives us different reasons and ways to praise. Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing. When praise came first the victory was won.
God inhabits the praise of His people. Russ Taff wrote a powerful song titled "Praise the Lord" that speaks of our struggles and the urge to submit to earthly fears dropping powerless behind us when we praise the Lord. God is enthroned on the praise of His people!
As believers, God is always with us. When we praise God, we announce that presence of God to ourselves. When we praise it places God first in our lives.
What does God being enthroned on our praise really mean? When God is first in our lives...when we praise Him...when we announce His presence to ourselves...we have a closeness...an intimate relationship...that we cannot have when we are in opposition to the will of God.
Description Love God and love your neighbor...Jesus made it simple. Focus on what matters.
In this passage in Mark 1, look at who Jesus chose as his disciples. Jesus continues to choose people others would cast off. God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks. Everything we have - right thinking, right living, a clean slate, and a fresh start - comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.
Remember Who Did the Choosing Despite our unworthiness, Jesus added us to His team. It should fill our hearts with joy! He first loved us. It should fill our hearts with humbility! He chose us while we were sinners. Remember feelings are unreliable in matters of faith.
Chosen Leads to Choices We are chosesn disciples of Jesus. The #1 choice we must make is to obey. Disciples make decisions in spite of feelings - they simply obey. It's that simple, disciples obey. Our level of discipleship will be determined by the depth of our obedience. Weigh every choice in light of our choice to obey Jesus! Let Jesus become Master of our lives!
Description Two verses from the passage (The Message) I want to draw your attention to:
Don't allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.
Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest.
More thoughts from the passage:
Live creatively...looking for an opportunity to help or sow into people around you.
Don't pay attention to what others are doing.
Don't allow your will to limit God.
Everyone who know "the way" has seed to be planting or sharing.
It's God's responsbility to determine the harvest.
Be on the lookout, ready to respond.
What kind of seed can I plant today?
An Understanding About the Harvest:
You will always reap what you sow. Make up your mind what you will give. God loves it when we delight in giving. Sow with reckless abandon.
The harvest is a process. Don't get tired of doing what is good. Your harvest will take time. Harvest is a process of many phases. Spiritual growth happens through a process. Start expanding your expectation! When it comes time to reap, be ready!
Harvest is a season. Don't miss the miracle of the "right now moment." Listen to what God is telling you to do. Give Him the opportunity to prove His extravagance. Do everything as unto God!
Description Why is Encouragement so important? People get tired of the weight of responsibility. People feel taken for granted. People have self-doubts.
How to do it:
Be specific - "I appreciate you because_____" or "Thank you for __________." Big compliments can be great when they speak to the heart of who we are, but small compliments let us know people appreciate the little things we do.
Be sincere -
Look at Spiritual Things - Encouragement is rare, but encouragements about spiritual things is even rarer. What would this look life? Look for the spiritual heart beneath the action.
Description Spiritually speaking, there are too many Christians who are walking in circles. God will lead you to your destiny! Do you need victory today? God has requested that you be the one to move this time. You are worthy to have complete victory in your life. Jesus paid the price for your life and no one can take that from you.
From Jeremiah 29:11-13, understand you have great value to God! God has a masterpiece of a plan to provide you with a continual hope and a future. Have you ever tried to help God? It's time to step aside and let God start giving you all that He has for you.
Seek the truth and the truth will set you free. God knows all about us because He made us. We can do all things through him who gives us strength. We can make it through anything in the One who makes us who we are. In the story of Joseph we see that the Lord made all he did to prosper. God is not a respector of persons, God is a respector of faith! He rewards it.
It's time to move into the new. Be willing to step out of the box of mornalcy. There is no situation God cannot turn around. What do you want God to do in your life? Ask Him to reveal His plans for you. He who started a good work in you will be faithful until the day He completes it!