More Than By-standers John 21:15-17
Living life is being anything but a by-stander. Seems like there is always something that needs tending too. Errands to run, kids to get somewhere, meals to prepare, work to finish, work to start, laundry, on and on this list can go.
From Sunday’s message and this week’s RNM we focused on what is means to be More Th>n By-Standers. Pastor George described a by-stander as having apathy as an attitude, in other words an indifference or unconcerned. A By-Stander just watches things go by, not really encouraging or supporting anything or anyone. The scripture he referred to from John 21:15-17 reads the account of Jesus restoring Peter to his discipleship focus. Three times Jesus asked, “Peter do you love me”? To which Peter replied: “yes Lord you know that I love you”. Then Jesus replied with “Feed my lambs; Shepherd my sheep; Feed my sheep”. Be more than a By-Stander Peter! Invest yourself into the little one. Invest yourself into those who never heard of Me. Buildup, encourage, lead, teach, shepherd the people. Pour into all those who believe, the children of God, feed them what I fed you Peter. Give them what they need, the hope of Scripture. Do this now, don’t be a by-stander, do this before it’s too late and they go back to the old way, to what they knew.
The video this week titled Never Too Late by Rob Rienow was a focus on the family. Today so many mid-teens to 30 something and beyond have checked out from the church they once were a part of. Why, how could this happen? Rob said that in a world of delegation training, (meaning delegating to something or someone else the parental duties in relation to their children’s learning and understanding and investment into their lives). In a world of delegation training, even in our faith, we’ve delegated that responsibility to another. There’s been a decline of family worship and talking about spiritual things. In the family, Rob says, spiritual training cannot be delegated to anyone else. Deuteronomy 6:7 says “…. Press them on you children, talk about these things when you sit at home”. You, parents, grandparents, family members, you have the keys to their hearts like no other. This series went on to explain that family is the most powerful small group. Discipleship, spiritual formation, family worship is needed to spread the gospel. To feed the lambs, to shepherd the sheep, to feed the sheep.
We also studied in this series that It is Never too Late for God to use you – to set your heart and mind back to the goal of bringing others back to Christ. To be right with God, Loving God with all their heart, fully trusting Jesus for their present and their future, and arriving safely home (in heaven) together. God can use the influences of your life to bless others even for future generations to come. The power of righteousness is boundless. The devil wants to take our heart out of it all – God, Family, Church, World. He wants you to be a shell of a Christian – a hollow person. Where are our hearts now? What’s most important to us, Money? Stuff? Fun? Worldly things? In John 15: 19 Jesus says….”but I chose you out of the world”. There is only temporal satisfaction from worldly things. To find real satisfaction we claim hold of the love Jesus has for us. The hurting asks, who will love me? Jesus says, I will.
When we claim hold of all that Jesus is and has done in our lives, it’s with that passion and eagerness that we go! No longer be by-standers, be a “ more than”. Because of the love we know, we must share what we know. Share the Good News! Take the risk! The power of sharing your faith with another is not in and of yourself, but it’s in the power of the Gospel!
The power of salvation to all who believe is worth the risk to share with others. Look for opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our adult children, with others that cross our life’s journey. Admit your fear to talking to them about spiritual things, talk openly. Invite them to be honest to talk with you about spiritual things. Thank them for talking with you openly. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Let them talk, you listen. Ask them, do you feel I understand you? They are sharing with you their heart.
Each of us has a testimony to share, a reason for the hope we have within us. We have a story to tell, a story other people need to hear. Jesus is inviting us to feed his sheep. Find ways to bring Him up, letting others know the difference Jesus makes in our life. Be Jesus with skin on to somebody. We are to love all people, to help to take care of their need. Their need is not only physical. Just as important, even more so, it is their spiritual need they have to hear of, the personal relationship Jesus wants with them. How are they going to hear unless we are More Th>n By-standers?
Larry & Darlene
It’s Resurrection Sunday, Christ is Risen, Indeed!
He conquered sin and death – Up from the grave He arose!
HE LIVES! HAPPY EASTER!
Easter, we’ve come to know Easter as Christ’s Resurrection, the third day from Good Friday where he suffered to the point of death. He conquered death. Believing in Jesus Christ we too conquer death. One day we will be absent from the body present with the Lord to eternally live forever with Him and with all believers in Christ, and we sing Hallelujah!!
More Th>n Conquerors! Our work isn’t finished in just claiming what Christ did for us. It isn’t conquered in the sense that we have nothing else to accomplish. Our belief in Jesus, our faith walk is a journey happening now in this life as we live it out. We are the more, we are active, we are involved in this victory. We are conquerors, overcomers, because our sin is washed away in the blood of Jesus. We are conquerors, the victory is ours because of Christ’s love for us he conquered death’s sting.
We’ve been studying in the book of James and have learned these past weeks that Easter People….
*Find Joy in the Midst of Trials – Joy is a good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit as Christ lives in us.
*Focus on Building others up – we pour into another’s life as God pours into ours.
*Have a Missional Identity in Jesus – we are His ambassadors, a people for God’s own possession.
*Are Good Listeners – to what God is saying to us and listening more intentionally to others.
*Are both Doers and Hearers – taking our head knowledge to heart, putting our faith into practice.
*Don’t have to tell others they are Christians – they’ll know we are Christians by our love, for all God’s people.
And now *Easter People are More Th>n Conquerors- we celebrate in the Risen Christ, the reason for our faith.
Christ is alive, He lives in each one of us! This is the ultimate partnership. WE are on a mission with Christ so that the world may know him. And this we do ‘til our dying day.
Easter Sunday’s sermon we heard about Living Hope! Our recent trials through this Covid-19 virus can lead us to anxiety-despair-denial-a feeling of being out of touch with reality. We want to assume the worst. Sometimes we make incorrect assumptions. We heard that we are to be aware of how we are responding to our fears. Sunday’s scripture reminds us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good”; Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us”? vs 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword”? Pastor George said when we are feeling those anxious emotions, we should ask ourselves two questions during whatever trial we are going through. 1. What good is going to come out of this? 2. What good is God going to bring out?
This week we’ve viewed the RNM video on “Overcoming Life’s Challenges” by Steve Baird. This series took us through the book of James also. We learned to Seek God First. Pursue Jesus, he is priority. We learned that trials will always be with us. We are to surrender ourselves to God’s Power, give our trials over to Him, but also to look at the trial from God’s perspective. Trials, Baird says, God uses to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith and to develop us into the maturity of Jesus Christ, Christlikeness. He says, and we know, to take our trials to God in prayer. We can trust Him; we can know that He loves us. Baird referred to Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Baird says to claim, to think on our position with Jesus our Savior, we sit with our Father. His love for us, the good that he wants for us, the work that he does in our hearts and minds and lives is all for our good. We only see part, but God sees the whole of our lives. He in us and we in Him...our task through these trials are to mature in our faith, to put His words into practice so that we become more Christ-like.
More Th>n Conquerors. The last passage from Sunday’s message in Romans 8: 37-38 reads “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can Overcome Life’s Challenges because we have more than we need to conquer them through the love of Jesus. Remember whose you are!
Steve Baird spoke of the Crown of Life that is for those who love Christ. It’s for us who pass the test of trials, showing maturity of our faith. James 1:12 reads “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trials, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” In Revelation 2:10 Jesus said….”Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”. We are more, we can deal with life challenges, we can be faithful unto death. We want to be awarded the Crown of Life when we come face-to-face with our Lord. Let’s live life through the promise of Easter and be More Th>n in faith.
Larry & Darlene
4/5/2020 Easter People…Don’t Have to Tell Others They Are Christians James 2:1-13
This date marks Palm Sunday this year. Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. During Children’s Time we heard of “A Victor’s Parade”. The people lining the road into the city were shouting Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
That’s how Jesus would like the reception of his church, we the people who make up the church, to be announced. Blessed are you…you remind me of Jesus. Pastor George said that a vital key of a church is the love for others, it’s a sign of spiritual maturity. Verse 8 of today’s reading is where we read of the Royal Law “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
We’ve been studying in the Book of James for the past several weeks. It’s a short book being able to read it through in about 20 minutes or so. Written by the oldest of Jesus’ younger brothers, James wrote to the church at large, to Jewish Christians, to God’s people scattered everywhere. Those who teach on it say it’s a short course on Christian’s world view, the Christian response to the world. How we as Christians should be conducting ourselves. A Christian isn’t as much known by what he/she says as by what he/she does, our lifestyle.
RNM has a couple of series on the Book of James. First, we viewed The Book of James by Francis Chan regarding James 2: 1-13 . He referred to it as sin of favoritism. Chan went on to say, “don’t count partiality as a small sin”, “act everyday as if you are going to be judged” “evaluate your life as sinners, God loves you anyway”. Robert Emmett in his RNM series on The Book of James, refers to this scripture passage as Discrimination. He says it’s a pre-judged set of rules on somebody’s set of standards. It’s no difference if it’s judgement by evil motives, evil thoughts, or favoritism of one over another. In Sunday’s message we heard that we are to judge yes, but don’t judge with evil thoughts. Pastor George said God’s message is for ALL who trust in Him, we are to get beyond our partiality, to treat everyone with equal respect.
The passage goes on to talk about Mercy. Robert Emmett stressed that a sin is a sin. The sin of adultery or the sin of murder isn’t any more of a sin than the sin of discrimination or favoritism. Each soul will have their day before God. You will be judged by the Law that sets you free, that face-to-face meeting with the Lord. Robert went on to say that when we have mercy towards others, we get mercy from others. God will be merciful when he judges us. Rewards in heaven are different. Like saying, you will reap what you show. No mercy receives no mercy; have mercy, get mercy. To have mercy is to live with kindness, forgiveness, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, isn’t that what we say through the prayer Jesus taught us to pray?
Sunday’s sermon ended with encouraging us to pray to be the Easter People that Jesus empowers us to be. What He did to make us Easter People, Resurrection People, people of love. They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they will know we are Christians by our love! May God help us to love all people in a way that’s appropriate for their need.
Maundy Thursday’s reading in the Book of John Chapter 17, vs 23, "The Prayer of Jesus", from the New Living Translation, reads in red print….”I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
Easter People, it’s your faith, live it out – that’s faith in action – that’s love in action. Make clear what you believe.
Larry & Darlene
Easter People….Are BOTH-AND People James 1:22-27
The scripture passage from Sunday’s message begins in James 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only”………... then verse 27 ends with …”and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. During the Children’s Time message Pastor George shared with the young people and us older people listening, that it’s not just enough to know what we need to do, it’s to do it – be a doer. To do what you know you need to do. How do we know? It’s an instinct, an inner prompting, a conviction of the mind telling us to, it’s hearing of a need, it’s seeing that need out there, and so many other just knowing promptings. To be a doer of the word, we must know what the word says. Quoting from D.L. Moody “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” Anonymously someone said that “All the good maxims have been written; it remains to put them into practice”. Being hearers, we know what the word says, being a doer, we are then putting into practice what the word says. Taking it the 12 inches from our head knowledge to our heart knowledge.
The scripture passage also ends with “to keep oneself unstained from the world”. Unstained is not stained or spotted, unsoiled, without moral blemish…. from the world. With the current news of today our emotion, our thoughts, our lives are very much in the world. These are anxious times. I’d go on to say that our minds are stained by the current happening in the world. This pandemic that has taken over has placed anxiety into the lives of everyone. As we heard Sunday, if you’re a human being and you’re not anxious – there’s something wrong with you. Anxiety is like sand in the gear of a perfectly working system. RC Sproul in his RNM series of “Dealing with Difficult Problems”, said anxiety refers to a spirit of worry or apprehension of something that lies in the future. Intense and paralyzing, anxiety can arise to the status of a phobia that paralyzes us in one way or another. RC went on to say, we may worry about the consequences of yesterday, but our focal point of anxiety is always about the future. Pastor George has given good counsel when he shared that when we feel anxious, don’t be, when it strikes, listen to it but don’t let it take residence, don’t live there, but turn to God. As mentioned, to do what you know you need to do. The greatest simple cure is that we need to immerse ourselves in the word of God. RC Sproul reminded us of God promises, God’s presence and his grace to sustain us in our most difficult times. God says trust me for your entire life, for the future. Sometimes our faith doesn’t get us past the anxiety of what will happen. We’re afraid God will not do what he promises.
Listening to Sunday’s sermon we heard Pastor George say that Anxiety and Faith are incompatible. The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. Jesus comes from the outside into the situation when we ask him in. Finding that place of inner calm, that place of inner peace, from there you can lead during anxious times. Anxiety causes restlessness. Our hearts are restless, our lives are out-of-whack if we are estranged from God versus welcoming His presence, a calmness of spirit that comes when you are in relationship with God, receiving His peace. We are to listen to God like your life depends on it, because it does.
We as Easter People should be living in His presence daily. How many times did Jesus said do not worry, do not be afraid, fear not. Reading the Book of James, we are reminded whose we are, we are adopted, we are loved, we are a new creation, we are secure, we are the Lord’s. To know this is a three phase process: 1. Hearing, getting into that deeper relationship with our creator and redeemer; 2. Receiving the Life, accepting the invitation into the family of God and all that it means for us; 3. Doing it, living by Faith, in Trust, being used by Him.
RNM came out with a new series this week titled: Overcoming Anxiety during Covid-19 by Jonathan Pokluda. He addressed 4 key areas of anxiety we are facing right now.
Anxiety About the Uncontrollable
We cannot control our current situation. He posed the question What is the source of the majority of the content you are taking in? Fear and Faith, whatever you feed grows. Feast on God’s word and your faith will grow. God has always been in control and we can trust him.
Anxiety About the Economy
Is life only all about storing up wealth here on earth? He suggested that we take attention off ourselves, and trust in God who provides for us. Trust and Believe. We are to be rich towards God and his purposes, rich towards good deeds.
Anxiety About Isolation
As followers of Christ we can turn our worries into prayers. In Philippians 4: 6-7 it says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. What this is saying is pray, pray, pray – the God of peace will be there with you.
Anxiety When a Church Can’t Meet
We are to encourage one another to BE the church now more than ever. Find ways to connect, to encourage, to bring the love of God to others. The enemy wants to move to a church that’s ineffective. As we read in Hebrews 10:25 …”encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. We are the church, Christ in us, let his light and love shine through you. As Easter People…. We are doers and hearers, Amen!
Larry & Darlene