Together in partnership. That can be through a work relationship, a friendship, a marriage, a family, endless possibilities for partnering with another.
During Sunday’s sermon we heard that we’re stronger when partnering. Working together in such a way that the team wins. Putting aside our egos, thinking beyond ourselves. The beautiful partnership between people and relationships.
Cheryl Bacelder in her video of The Design of a Leader, suggests that we are to make helping others our personal ambition. To view the workplace, or wherever we find ourselves a place to serve other people. It’s our opportunity to influence. First it begins at home. Pouring into those closest to us. Helping someone to grow in their values, find their strengths. To cast a vision for the people they could become. She has a definition of Our Design that reads, He designed you for a particular set of roles, with particular talents and skills, aimed at a particular goal. Each of us is unique We have people in our lives who help shape us into who we are and continue to offer guidance & encouragement, and we should do the same to others.
So, if we are to pour into another, in remembering last week’s study, who is pouring into you? Who are you following? Who are listening to? Who are you partnering with?
In this week’s message from John 3:1-17, is an account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus to ask questions of him.
Nicodemus wants to partner with Jesus. Why would Nicodemus a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin Council, come to Jesus to find answers to his questions? We heard in the sermon that we are to be willing to learn from the unexpected, to be open, get curious. Perhaps that’s why Nicodemus approached Jesus.
Who is Jesus? In the video The Real Jesus, four men shared on different aspects of Jesus, in who he is. First know that without him Christianity wouldn’t exist. Mike Andrus, shared on the attributes of God, in Jesus is God. He states that Colossians 2: 9 is the strongest claim “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”. Jeff Louie spoke on the Trinity and worship. In Ephesians 3, Paul the Preacher to the Gentiles, writes of the Spirit of God, the wisdom of God, and the eternal purpose of Christ, that in him and through him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. It’s there that the three persons of God are mentioned, the Doctrine of the Trinity. Erwin Lutzer gave evidence of Jesus as the God Man. God became flesh, the Incarnation. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Thabiti Anyabwide shared that what happened on the cross, to pay the penalty for sinners, to take our place and make reparations with God, was Jesus, the Son of Man. A spirit could not have been nailed to the cross, nor shed blood. You have to become like that of what you want to redeem. We are washed clean. We are free of sins hold on us. Jesus is Alive! Father God accepted Jesus’ death on the cross, God raised him from the dead , what Jesus did satisfied the Father. The triumph of Jesus over death, over our sin and one in which we get to participate, for someday our body will be like his. He gives us the right to be called children of God.
In response to this week message on The Ultimate Partnership, we went deeper in Face to Face with Jesus by R.C. Sproul. There were twelve different experiences of real people with real experiences of coming Face to Face with Jesus.
These are people who either were authority figures, people living life in the trenches, people who were confused with the things of life, people who wanted to do the right thing, who wanted healing, who wanted to know this Jesus deeper. Much like you and me. Wanting to meet this Jesus who ultimately will turn our lives upside down. So how can we today come face to face with Jesus, into The Ultimate Partnership?
R.C. Sproul concluded his series Face to Face with Jesus by sharing that we do this:
1. By reading Scripture. Mouth to Word, verbal communication. Not to just read as an external Bible experience, reading its stories much like a good book. But to instead taking it internal, after all it is the Good Book. A cognitive understanding, the heart and soul awaken – but not without the aide of the illumination by the Holy Spirit.
2. A proper Worship and understanding of the Sacraments, coming face to face visibly. A close fellowship of intimacy. Christ promises to meet us in that experience through Communion, a Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Divine nature of God, we are meeting Him in His whole nature. Where He bridges the gap of heaven and earth. Communion is a unique opportunity to have a taste of heaven. In Matthew 26:29 “I tell you; I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Everyone is going to have a Face to Face with Jesus. Just as it is appointed for man to die once, there upon we will stand before the judgement seat of Christ – to see Him as He is, the vision of Christ in His Glory.
This is the Ultimate Partnership, one with the Triune God. The Father God who redeemed us to himself, the Jesus who became man, who reconciled us, the Spirit of God who illuminates our understanding. It’s this partnership that Nicodemus was searching for, asked questions of, and chose to follow. How about you?
Larry & Darlene
Based on John 2:1-12 The Wedding at Cana: Water Turned into Wine
So how is life going for you lately? Most replies are “It’s good”. Yes, there are things in life that could be better as well as could be a lot worse. But what if we truly believe that God’s Best is Yet to Come? What would need to be transformed in our thinking that would cause us to hold fast to that statement?
We heard during Sunday’s sermon that Jesus wants us to experience life with Joy. He promises to walk with us, something better is yet to come. Together with God, you can make it. We are a joyful people because of what He has done for us. (see Gifted for Joy, from 12/21 blog post)
In the RNM series from Andy Stanley, The Beginner’s Guide to Predicting Your Future, we heard about “building your life on something that will last”. If you are not following Jesus you are following something or someone, Andy says. He goes on to say, “Direction determines Destination”.
Erwin McManus in his series titled, Your Actions Today Will Determine Your Future, uses the same thinking along the lines of “Cause and Effect” He refers the word cause to our present, and the word effect to our future. So, who are you following and where will that lead you? What ideals are you living out and what effect will that have not only on you but on those who you live life with?
In our reading Sunday we heard the story of The Wedding at Cana: Water Turned into Wine. This act was Jesus’ first miracle that he performed. Taking the ordinary water and turning it into the best wine served at the wedding. Other than a warm fuzzy story about saving the family from embarrassment during a wedding celebration, what is this really saying? Andy Stanley stated that “Everyone of Jesus’ miracles were a sign that pointed to something.” “The work of God is for us to believe in the One he sent to save us.” God invites us into something with purpose and meaning. So, if Jesus changed water into the best something, is it to that he can take us ordinary folk, like water, and change us? God’s Best is Yet to Come, for us?
The Bible, the infallible Word of God, is full of principles to live by. Principles are not rules to follow, in that one doesn’t choose to apply them; they choose to apply to us. It’s not a law you can break. Principles are the path, the pathway of life. Pay attention to where you are headed! If needed, change direction and things will eventually change. In Andy’s series we learned that it’s not enough to have good intentions, that counts for nothing. Satisfaction is a result of arriving where you intended to be. Also, in Erwin’s series we heard that we are to stay faithful in the little things. Persevere through the obstacles, gaining wisdom along the way, awaiting that which is yet to come. In James 2:5 we read “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask for it from God, who gives to all without reservation and not reproaching, and it will be given to him.”
In Nancy Guthrie’s video the ladies discussed the issue of contentment. Finding contentment, no matter what’s going on outside of us. (see How to Live a Life without Regrets from 2/8 blog) The Apostle Paul stated in his letter to the Philippians, that one can learn to be content. When we choose to live in Christ, to bear the Fruit of the Spirit, we find contentment. This series discussed how Contentment is rooted in a past sacrifice (the cross) and a future hope (eternity).
In Andy Stanley series titled “Future Family” he tells us that we are to live as Christ’s Ambassadors. It’s His message through us. Our entire life is to be a message to the world. It’s characterized through the way we live with people. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says “For the love of Christ controls us ….those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.” Andy teaches us to continue to live as One with God, even when things don’t seem to be in our favor. Doing the right thing – having that kind of Faith. One God to whom you are accountable.
Speaking of family… one of our questions for this week asked: Why do you think Jesus chose this event for his first miracle? This was a gathering of family. Mary, Jesus mother asked him to do something in regard to being out of wine. Could it be that God spoke through Mary to Jesus to say: my son, Jesus, it’s time – time to begin your ministry. Mary knew Jesus was God’s beloved son. She knew what he was capable of. A parent’s action, a parent’s words, in this case initiated the start of Jesus ministry. What are your words, your actions, saying to your family? The imprint of your life in their mind very well impacts the decisions they make. Because our present actions, our life story, and the influence it has not only now, but the impact it will have on our family, on future generations, extending to our children’s children.
As we heard in prayer Sunday, of Transformation not only in water vessels but inside each of us, for God’s Best is Yet to Come!
Ephesians 3: 20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever, Amen.
Larry & Darlene
How different would the lives of those around us be, if we got serious about Discipleship?
In the RNM Series “Making Disciples is for Everyone”, Robby Gallaty asks: “What is the goal of equipping believers?” Equipping for what, Discipling? Are new believer’s immediately a Disciple of Christ? Or are we made into one? When you get some good news, who is the first person you want to share it with? Probably those whom you love the most.
Robby also says, “Get involved in the church – you can’t do it (getting equipped) on your own. Discipleship happens in the context of the local church. Don’t be a lone ranger Christian.” But he also emphasizes that the First Church is our Home. When mom and dad love Jesus, their children will learn to as well. Slow down and be intentional about discipling your children and those closest to you. We are to model and show. Equipping them is helping others get what they need as they seek to learn. Helping them grow in the faith. Pastor George shared in Sunday’s message that when we do, it’s amazing what we can take in, when we bring people along side us and pour into them, build them up. Robby Gallaty stated that “Ministry is the Pathway to Maturity: You Grow Through Making Disciples.” So not only are we growing the faith of those we love but in doing so we too mature in our faith. It’s how to be transformed and transform others! It’s mandated to us in Matthew 28:19,20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.
Are we all called into this ministry of a Disciple maker? Robby Gallaty addressees 3 myths: The mentor myth…that only trained professionals can do ministry. The ministry myth…that we are not equipped enough to do ministry. And the maturity myth…we are not mature enough, having not been a Christian long enough to Disciple others. Did you catch that, they are all myths! In Matthew’s verse above it tells to GO! In other words, do it!
David Platt in the RNM Video “Every Disciple making Disciples”, shares that every Christian has the Spirit of God within them for leading others to Christ. By Sharing, we are reaching out, it’s the joy of sharing the Gospel, the Good News. Going outward to share is a responsibility, to share what we know; Baptizing, being a member of the Body of Christ, belonging to a Community of Believers to grow through community (not a lone ranger Christian); and Teaching, being the example, as we are commanded to share the Good News, with the power of the Spirit within us! The results: multiplying churches, where the people are the church, fishers of men. We heard it said, Empower the People. If you seek to build a church, you rarely get disciples. If you seek to build disciples, you always get the church, says David.
So, who’s to seek after these disciples? What does scripture say? Ephesians 4:11 reads “ And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. This role is for each of us, to Disciple others. We can’t expect from others that which we are not willing to do ourselves. As we prayed Sunday, “use us to invite others into that relationship with you”.
So, who are you most like when it comes to following and telling of Jesus: Andrew and Philip, ready, going, spreading the news; Or Peter, are you a new creation, at the starting line? How about like Nathanael, moving from doubt to strong believer? Whichever stage you find yourself in, it’s there that you too can be a disciple. Investing in the lives of others. Remember, as they grow so shall you!
Henry Cloud in the RNM Series “Personal Development for Leaders” says; that we are to be Servant Leaders. Developing people so that they can perform. He relates developing people to the parable of the fig tree, just because it doesn’t bear fruit don’t cut it down. Instead we can show grace where needed to help them grow. We need to wait, be patient with people. To dig around, help them to grow, to learn, to seek His Truth’s. Giving it time. It’s in God’s timing anyway, not ours. We are just commanded to Go and make Disciples of all nations. But paying close attention to those right in our own back yard, because that is where God has placed us to be his servant. Our Discipleship mission starts right where we are, right now. And through the process we all will be transformed to a deeper love and relationship with Him.
Larry and Darlene
Thinking back over the past 5-6 days, any regrets? Yes, of course we all have them. We tend to beat ourselves up over our regrets. Living without regrets takes being intentional about the choices that are made, regardless of the situation. We regret not staying on a diet, not exercising, not staying on budget, not taking the time for a daily devotional, not saying prayers that are very much needed, not holding the tongue….this list can go on and on and on, can’t it? Everyone has a weakness! It’s not just you or me.
Regrets are those things that make us feel uncomfortable inside. Because we want to change. To be better, to act better, to speak better, to do better. To be more disciplined, more of doing the right things. So, how do we? How do we live life without regrets?
To find help, we need to turn to Jesus. Say to yourself, I’m turning with confidence to the throne of Grace. Chuck Swindoll shared in his video “Resisting Temptation”, “Claim the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ. Human strength is not enough.”
Jesus as God/Man experienced temptations. He spent 40 days in the wilderness, preparing for the start of his ministry. Being tempted by the devil. In Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 1 vs. 12, it also reads that “the angels were ministering to him”. He wasn’t going it alone. We heard during Sunday’s message, the top three regrets most people experience fall into these categories: Food – Power - Popularity. The Devil’s first attempt was food. Turn these stones into bread. Jesus replied, “Man will not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Food). Then the Devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and said, “I can give you all this domain….”, to which Jesus answered…”You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him” (Power). And the third time the Devil tested Jesus saying …..standing on the highest point of the temple, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ”He will command His angels concerning you, to protect you, and on their hands they will lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (in other words, Popularity). To which Jesus replied, “You are not to put to the test the Lord your God”. Jesus had the strength to reject Satan’s temptations. It’s His strength that we need to claim when we are tempted by the Devil, to resist our temptations, to not have regrets.
It’s the strength we see in the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:17 “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it”.
So, what do we do when we are tempted? We are to flee. Divert our eyes, our ears, our tendencies toward sin that tempts us. Chuck Swindoll says, “They turn to sin when, *they have not claimed God’s Supernatural strength; *they determined in their hearts not to resist; *they did not flee. In Corinthians 10:13 we read that God provides a way out so that we can endure. He is always with us, even in our temptations.
Andy Stanley addresses power and popularity in his series “The Comparison Trap”. He says that envy and jealously are the root of all comparisons. Comparison drives wedges in relationships. There is no win in comparison. James 3:16 says “For where you have envy and selfish ambition there you find disorder and every evil practice.” The Comparison Trap is just that, a trap! Comparison diminishes your uniqueness and your unique potential. Instead we are to celebrate what God has given us, recognize what God has entrusted to us. I have a plan for YOU, declares the Lord. It’s our uniqueness! Our Heavenly Father compares us to no one! He made us just as he wanted us to be. He didn’t shortchange any part of us. It’s us comparing what we have, who we are to others in what they have and who they are. There is no win in comparison. The win, says Andy, is to “bring God maximum glory and us (you & me) maximum satisfaction.” Walk in His glory, His love for you, in His perfect plan for you. No comparison…. No regrets! Be satisfied in who you are.
Don’t go it alone, claim the Supernatural strength of Jesus Christ. Be accountable if necessary, to a trusted companion. Make the turnaround, confess your inability to change by yourself, ask for help through the One who made us, to give us what we need to begin a life of living with no regrets.
How do we start living with no regrets? We need spiritual nourishment daily, be in His Word. God alone, all Powerful, seek His strength. It may not always be popular to live in His ways, yet we hear in Jesus words, “You are not to put to the test the Lord you God”, He commands us to be faithful so that others can see Him through how we live our lives.
Larry & Darlene
What is your definition of curiosity? Is it digging for answers, is it searching for the truth, is it seeking the right direction, the right path? Is it nosiness? Is it sticking your nose in other people’s business, where it doesn’t belong? It’s those voices in our heads making us curious.
We’ve learned this week that yes, indeed, be curious. Asking questions is good – better than not asking them. Better than being abdicated as we learned from watching Stay Curious by Gabe Lyons. He states that we learn more by asking questions, than if you are being told what to think.
Jesus, as a 12-year-old was searching for answers too in Sunday’s message based on Luke 2:41-52. Here Jesus, with his parents Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, and when his parents departed, unknown to them, Jesus stayed behind in the temple, with the teachers, asking questions of them. When his parents found him three days later, he said to them, “Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus sat, listened, then engaged in conversation, regarding the teachings of the Holy Bible.
With today’s advancement in science and technology, medicine and our ever-changing environment, sometimes it seems scary, but as Gabe Lyons states “It’s all part of God’s emerging world that we are to discover. Embrace it”, he says. Now more than ever before, we need to be aware of the importance of discernment in our age of information. At times we are frustrated, even angry with constant change. It’s our curiosity, or questions, that can be the best antidote to the issues at hand. If we only could trust and believe what others always tell us then we wouldn’t have to think, but are they as concerned with our wellbeing, our future? He said “We as Christian’s have to be showing up. Through our faith, it can speak to any topic, but first we need to understand Truth.”
In watching What Jesus Said about God – Is there a Higher Power? It addressed the misconception of many who in their personal beliefs of God have varying answers. Some are Agnostic, can’t know, hopeless pursuit; others believe in Relevant Truth, it’s what you want to believe as true; or Naturalist, can’t see it, can’t touch it, or experience it from the five senses, then must not be; Atheists, there is no God; and Theist, who believe that God does exist, plus many more viewpoints of what some people believe. That’s why it’s very much important to know what you believe and why you believe what you do. As you engage in this world through its changes, through conversation with others, we can stand for Truth as we engage in the learning process, to draw wisdom through our questions asked. So that we can apply our own best judgement.
In the series Jesus the Ultimate Gift, Missionaries in New Guinea studied the Sawi language by living among the natives. The missionaries learned their belief was that to betray, and then kill a friend was an honorable trait. They honored Judas for killing Jesus, Hero worship. Also, that warring parties would offer a child to the other tribe as a peace offering, a peace child, that future bloodshed would be averted. This dialogue, learning from each other, digging deeper, drawing wisdom, enabled the missionaries to evoke change in the belief system of the Sawi people. Today 2/3 of the Sawi people put their faith in Jesus the Christ, the Ultimate Peace Child.
There’s an old saying – Curiosity Killed the Cat – because the cat was foolish, blinded, a happy-go-lucky kind of animal. Curiosity does not kill – Curiosity builds – Curiosity draws thinking minds towards wisdom – Curiosity opens doors for multiple opportunities to share God’s Truth, God’s love for all his creation, and for us to be Christians Soldiers, peacemakers. So, don’t be timid in your engaging, silent in your stand for Truth, but ask questions, learn, be involved and supportive of change, while sharpening your discernment skills to speak while standing for what and who we believe in.
Larry & Darlene