7/19/20 What’s Your Story? Summer series Unaware Luke 24:13-40
Voices, they are sometimes identifiable, sometimes sounding familiar but not quite sure, but it can also be unknown to us, unaware, not knowing the voice. We all have a voice that identifies us. A familiar voice if you know the person who’s talking, then we are more attentive to what they are saying because we know the voice. If you don’t know the person nor the voice talking, we may listen, we may not. We don’t recognize the voice. We are unaware of the person. Why am I listening to this voice and does it have anything to do with me? I am unaware of this voice, unacquainted, so should I be listening to this voice?
It's fun to watch a baby as they recognize a voice, it brings a smile, brings comfort, it’s love shared by voice. We have voices in our heads. We hear voices of loved ones now gone. We hear voices as we recall memories. We hear a voice speaking to our minds. Then there are times that we hear a voice speaking but are unaware of who it is. Could it be the Holy Spirit? Or worse is the devil playing tricks with my mind. We are unaware of whom we are hearing this voice from. Can I know, can I tell, can I listen, or should I avoid it all together?
In Sunday’s scripture from Luke 24: 13-40 we read of the time just after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus that two men were walking and Jesus joined them but they were kept from recognizing him, they were unaware of the voice of Jesus. As they came close to the village, Jesus continued on as if he were going further. The men urged him strongly to stay with them, which Jesus did. Verse 30 reads, “when he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them”, then verse 31, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him”. Another passage that Pastor George referred to Sunday was Revelation 3:20 “…look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.” In both of these passages there was a welcoming of Jesus. Jesus waits for the invitation to come in. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit once we say yes to Jesus and allow him to come in. Pastor George explained it’s God in your head – becoming a living presence in your heart. He’s waiting for the invitation.
That’s faith! Believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for us, for our sins, for the joy set before him he endured the pain. It is the joy of our belief in him. That’s the joy that kept him on the cross. It tells of his love for us.
So how can we know this Jesus, to go from unaware, to being aware of his voice and presence? Pastor George gave us the answer. He shared that Jesus speaks, nudges, prompts us to his ways by reading the scripture, through which we read and know his ways – his voice. That’s how we get to know anyone really, isn’t it? By spending time together, intentionally. Two points Pastor George offered Sunday states #1. Slow down occasionally. Create some moments that you can simply slow down and be with the Lord, spend these moments of awareness. #2. Becoming familiar with the source. Going back to the source, the scriptures. Read and learn of God’s love and God’s grace. Chuck Swindoll from his Insight for Living Ministries Broadcast on Thursday the 23rd shared that we have a scriptural injunction/command to read from the scripture. This the Apostle Paul makes clear to Timothy when he sets forth the directives for the church that there would be reading of the scriptures. You don’t forsake the reading of the Word of God. It becomes so familiar to all of us that we forget that we are reading the Word of God. THE WORD OF GOD The only inspired literature that you will ever read in all of your life that has been breathed out by God – is from the BIBLE. So, when we read it, we’re reading what God would say if Christ were here among us speaking. Pastor George reiterated, to open the love letters of scripture. Getting to know God and of his deep love, his grace, and his mercy. Breathe them in. To get to know his voice speaking.
The Spirit of God is our helper. It’s him who talks with us, influences us, encourages us. According to Pete Brisco in Sharing Life we are to be attentive to the Spirit in our evangelism for Christ. Pete says we should be depending upon the Spirit as he leads, guides, enables, prompts, empowers us, as he steps into our mind – we are to do. We are to be open to the Spirits promptings to the people in our live who need to hear the Gospel. As we share life with them, sharing Life with them is imperative. The lowercase l being our lives, the capital L being the Life of Christ. Get into conversation and try to lead them into spiritual conversations. Takia, in Sharing Your Faith with Friends testified that the reason we don’t share our faith, is we fear rejection from friends. Is this saying that we value our friends more?
Pete Brisco shared that in the early church evangelism was a natural thing. Now evangelism sounds like selling Jesus. The good news is evangelism is not selling Jesus, it’s sharing life! One way we can do this is by Sharing Your Story.
In the Sharing Life series in Right Now Media (RNM), Pete went on the say that stories are powerful things. More powerful than statistics, more interesting that facts, more exciting than presentations, easier to remember and recount than an outlined speech. Because they go to the heart and impact us and move us. Story is a remarkable thing.
As you spend time in God’s Word you will become more familiar with all the stories that Jesus tells. He uses stories to teach, to give insight to his ways, to make an impact in our memory, because it goes to the heart and moves us. Stories are powerful things…………
We viewed Sharing the Gospel on Your Mission Trip by Todd Philips this week also. Now don’t give me the excuse that you’re not going on a mission trip. Anytime that you walk out the door of your home, you, my friend are on a mission trip. So be attentive to the Spirit’s nudging’s - you just never know. So, what are we to share? Todd also says that, #1 Tell your story about God’s redemption in your own life. #2 Listen to their story. What is it that you can connect with in hearing their story? #3 Sharing Very Clearly about what the Bible says. The Gospel message of salvation, but also those stories learned by reading the Bible that could help someone go from being unaware, to loved by God.
Pete Brisco says that when we find ourselves in these conversations that we are to rely upon the Holy Spirits help. God will take over if we let him. We just need to say to the Spirit, Okay, Holy Spirit you know this guy better than me, what’s the best next thing that I should do? I really don’t know what to say, but I know he’s hurting. Listen to how the spirit leads, you are no longer unaware of the voice. With the idea in your mind, assume it’s the Spirit telling you what to do. Sounds loving? Guaranteed it’s the Spirit talking – do it! Go and be Christ to people.
Larry and Darlene
7/12 What’s Your Story series: Where does God’s Forgiveness fit into Your Story?
Genesis 33: 1-20
Do Over! How many times have we said or thought that? I want a do over. In other words, I’m really not satisfied with the outcome here, I want to do it over. How about those situations where it was you that was hurt by words or actions from another where you feel the pain, emotionally hurting, wanting for what once was between you and them. It’s like the example Pastor George used with our young people, we want that white board, to use the eraser and wipe it away. A do over in a sense so as not to hurt or be hurt in our relationship with another.
What about your story… where does God’s forgiveness fit into it? How is God’s forgiveness a part of it? We know that we are to ask for forgiveness, to confess our wrong and God will forgive us, it’s no more, he wipes it away. Well that seems pretty easy to do, all I need to do is confess it to God and I know he will forgive me. God’s forgiveness given to me is easy. But take a moment and give some thought to just how easy it actually was for God, Christ crucified, the pain and suffering he endured so our sins are forgiven. We can’t imagine that kind of pain. And then how easy it should be for us to show that same kind of forgiveness between us and another that we have wronged or who has wronged us, but it really isn’t. The pain of forgiveness. It really isn’t that easy. What would your story tell?
This week we are looking at forgiveness. The scripture in Genesis 33:1-20 is an account of Jacob wanting to reconcile the relationship with his brother Esau. To seek forgiveness, to find favor with his brother. When Jacob saw his brother running towards him his first reaction was trouble ahead. Instead he experienced forgiveness before he could even ask his brother Esau to forgive him. Verse 4 reads “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Esau wept because of the love for his brother, Jacob wept too because of the love for his brother, but also, he is relieved because he deserved judgement in steeling the birthright so many years ago. Verse 10 reads “Jacob said, ‘No, please, if I have found favor in your sight (experiencing Esau’s forgiveness), then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” As Pastor George said, when we receive forgiveness, it’s something beautiful! When you experience forgiveness, you see God’s face. Imagine what the interaction in heaven will be like between us and God from receiving his forgiveness.
This week we dug deeper into what true forgiveness means. Looking at The Power of Forgiveness by Joni Ortlund she listed some essential elements. 1. Go to Christ. Take your pain, your suffering to him. Because he suffered, our suffering is important to him. Jesus still bears the marks of his suffering.
2. Go to The Word. God’s word says in Romans 12:19 “Never avenge yourself but leave room for God. It is mine to avenge, I will repay says the Lord.” My response is to forgive and give it to Jesus – don’t be the judge. Every time a person forgives the gospel spreads a little further, says Joni. She shares that being defensive we go on the offense of protecting “me”. We are to remember that God’s love for us continually covers our own sins. We experience His Grace and Forgiveness every day.
Chuck Swindoll in his illustration on Forgiveness & Bitterness said that these two cannot co-exist. Without the first you’ll live through life in the second. Bitterness is a dangerous germ in our memory bank. Bitterness is anger turned inward. Like we heard Sunday, anger, frustration, and resentment will build up like lava. Sooner or later that volcano of emotions at some point is going to erupt.
Chuck Swindoll referenced the parable in Matthew 18. A man had a debt. The Master forgave the man of his debt. It continues on to read how a servant owed this man money. The man demanded payment, but the servant could not pay, so the man had him put in prison until his debt was paid to him. When the Master heard what this man had done, continuing in verse 34 it reads “… in anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.” This is how it is explained. The man was forgiven by the Master, his debt was paid, but the man shows no mercy to the servant who owed him money. The Master then had the man put into a prison so to speak. In un-forgiveness we are held hostage. As long as we chose not to forgive, we are held in prison, held hostage. Our freedom is in Christ. It’s doing as Christ has done for us that we find freedom. In love, we forgive from the heart. Instead, in our unwillingness to forgive someone from our heart, we are continually held hostage, in a sense tortured for our stubbornness to not forgive.
Fred Zaspel presented Forgiving as Forgiven at a conference that we viewed in RNM this week too. He also used the passage in Matthew 18 from which he offered 3 points. #1 Goal of Forgiveness – Reconciliation. In Christ, God has reconciled us to himself. Making peace with God, with friends. In reconciling fellowship, you gained your brother. We are to do as Christ does for us, …iniquities I will remember no more. #2 Cost of Forgiveness – forgiveness demands substitutional payment of the debt. Each of us stands before God with an unpayable debt. God and Grace pays the debit. To forgive we have to absorb the loss and pay the debt ourselves, forgiveness from the heart. #3 The Demand of Forgiveness – forgiveness demands yet more forgiveness. There is to be no limit on forgiveness to our brother. Where would we be if God limits on forgiveness? Fred went on to say, compared to the immeasurable debt we have been forgiven, how small are our brothers’ sins against us? Our Lord is not asking us to renounce a right, the Kingdom is about mercy, this is the demand!
Fred used a mind picture of a wooden bridge over the great chasm that divides us from God. And that bridge being Christ who laid down his life so that we can live and know God. Pastor George referenced Romans 5:1 …declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God. One great incentive to continued fellowship with one another is that in Ephesians 4:32 which Pastor George also referenced Sunday says …forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. This says that sin cannot enter God’s realm. He will not have unforgiving servants in his kingdom. Each time we chose not to forgive, it’s like removing a wooden plank in the bridge that we must cross. Fred Zaspel said, don’t ruin the bridge over which you must pass. Forgiveness, we must deal with it in our hearts. So Where does God’s Forgiveness fit into your story? Have you experienced the face of God through forgiveness?
Larry and Darlene
7/5 Our Journey to Freedom, My Journey with Jesus
Sunday’s message by Matt Busekrus in the Summer Series – When Caring is Sharing
The weekend encompassed a celebration of our freedom we have by living in these United States of America. As Matt stated Sunday, “As Americans we love our freedom and we love to celebrate our freedom. We enjoy living, working, playing as we chose or are able to do. Matt talked with the young people about the best choices we make, with the freedom we have. He shared that God tells us that we are free to make choices every day. That’s why faith in God is a choice that we make. It’s not forced on us. It’s not a duty, nor a necessary step to adulthood, but a choice that we make individually.
Matt shared his story of his faith journey with us. His faith was a learned faith as he was introduced into it by a friend and enriched through a pastor friend and personal study. We each have our own faith story. And we are each at different stages in our faith story. Sunday being the day after the 4th of July Matt talked of his freedom because of his journey with Jesus. He shared that 1. God loves us and adopts us into his family 2. Jesus has purchased our freedoms through his death on the cross and 3. We are called to use our freedom to serve other’s in love.
In our going deeper study through RNM we viewed and examined ourselves and our thinking on this freedom in Christ. We indeed are free in Christ, but then why are we sometimes burdened with shame, remorse, hypocrisy, depression, despair, and this list can go on and on and on. Chuck Swindoll in his illustration of The Thrill of Freedom stated the Christians still battle with the entangling effects of sin. We are sinful creatures by nature and will continue to be throughout all of life. When we are trapped by sin, we are held back from real life. Chuck says, we have this thrill of freedom, the excitement of freedom, in Christ.
Steps to Freedom in Christ by Steve Goss and Neil Anderson, says it’s about getting past the stuff that is holding you back. Those personal and spiritual conflicts, by placing trust in Jesus, believing in your heart, and confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Got Freedom by Michael Youssef is a study in the Book of Galatians. In his series he talks also about the Freedom in Christ alone, freedom not to sin. Dr. Youssef says that only Jesus can give you that power to spend every waking moment in obedience to Him.
It’s a choice that we make for ourselves. A choice to accept God’s offer into his family. In Steps to Freedom in Christ we heard of who we are in Jesus. Of how he meets our needs, we are children of God, our identity is in him. We are accepted, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven of all our sins, free from condemnation, we cannot be separated from the love of God – I am a citizen of heaven. The evil one cannot touch me. I am a temple of God. God’s workmanship created for good works, by the grace of God, I am who I am.
Matt during his message Sunday shared that, we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and rather than trying harder or giving up, the answer was in God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. When we place our trust in him, he frees us from the penalty of sin and death because we would never be able to achieve life over sin on our own. We cannot live the perfect life. We cannot bridge the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness on our own. That’s why we believe in death of Jesus on the cross. The only way to God. As he shared Our Journey to Freedom is only fully received in Journeying with Jesus.
Freedom by Donna Lamothe shared that we are forgiven and freed by this unconditional love that Jesus has for us. We just need to give Him our brokenness. Come to repentance in those bad choices we made. Both in Freedom and in Steps to Freedom in Christ they talked about Curses versus Blessings.
It’s the choices we make. Those moments of decisions that can be the fruit of release for us. When we renounce the sin, truly repent from it, confess our faith, these three are our part. It’s by the blood of Jesus that we are bought, it’s through Jesus that we are forgiven. Be at peace, there is freedom in release. Those choices that we make, it’s not about status, homes, money, cars, me pleasing, or people pleasing. Those choices that we make are God’s truths for us with the power of the Holy Spirit to help us, to live His ways, to say enough is enough. I renounce, repent, confess it, and I will now live in the freedom I have in Christ Jesus, my faith is in Him. Remember your relationship with Christ, legally he paid the price for you, he wants you to have a relationship with him personally, remember the Covenant of Grace. We have access to God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. His Grace is that he doesn’t give us what we deserve, His Mercy is that He gives us what we don’t deserve. We live daily by his Grace and Mercy given to us.
Chuck Swindoll summed it all up by saying, internally (in our mind, in our thinking, in our actions) we are free, eternally we are secure. Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever! What are some things you do to regularly experience the freedom in Christ?
Larry & Darlene
6/28 When Caring is Sharing Acts 8:26-40
We have all been told or have told another to share. Share your toys, share your food, share words of encouragement, share some of what you have with another who doesn’t have. And we know about caring. We care for our families, parents, siblings, children, spouses. We care for friends and neighbors. We care for people who mean something to us. We started a summer series called What’s your Story, with this Sunday’s focus being on “When Caring is Sharing” Everyone has a story to share. There’s nothing better than a family gathering and hearing stories shared, both old and new. It’s how we learn about our families, how we can connect with our families, how we can help our families. This isn’t only true in families, but in any relationship with people. It’s building friendships, trusts, sharing a part of you and them sharing a part of their lives with you, When Caring is Sharing……...
In those conversations are we open to share our faith? Or is there an unspoked agreement that says, but let’s not talk about religion? You can believe what you want to believe, and I will do the same. Is that where this conversation stops. Some will agree, I don’t want to talk about religion, but I would like to talk about Jesus and what he has done for me, but I’m afraid to bring it up. I wouldn’t want to offend someone, after all I like them, I care for them. Do you? Probably so, but how then should I bring up talking about Jesus? Sharing the Gospel is telling someone about God’s love for them. It is something that should come easy, but it really doesn’t. It takes us out of my comfort zone. We might even say, I don’t really care, I’d would rather leave it for those who have the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism.
How committed are you to your faith? How obedient are you when we are told to go and share the Good News?
This week we viewed several videos in RNM. To get good answers as to why we believe what we do, take time to view and gain a deeper understanding in Quick Answers with Sean McDowell: Volume 1 – Starters Guide to Sharing your Faith. This series gives answers in under 5 minutes to over 15 questions on Does God Exist? The Moral Argument? Do all roads lead to God? What is the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead? And so many more. These are quick answers to questions we all have had. Answers written with supporting documents and evidences. This series is a great learning tool to confirm why we believe the things of the Bible. It’s solid. It’s true. It’s all there for everyone to know.
Tom Davis’ illustration in Sharing from Scripture in a Post-Modern World talked on the importance of reading scripture for ourselves. As Christians, he says, we need to embrace absolute truth and be able to defend it. He refers to Philippians 1:9-11 where Paul writes, “This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will do many good things with the help of Christ to bring glory and praise to God.” Paul writes that we are to love, grow in faith, allow Christ to work through us to bring God glory. From Sunday’s message we heard about learning, growing in faith, claiming it as true, a real without a doubt kind of faith. RNM has messages to help us learn, grow, deepen our faith so that we will want to share it. But it is each of us taking that step forward in our faith. Okay, so when do we know it’s the right time to share our faith?
Pete Briscoe has a great series on evangelism titled Sharing Life. He shares that we all need a heart change. Hearts change when they break. We will never grow in evangelism until our hearts are broken for the lost. Evangelism, he said, is God’s way of preventing eternal death and presenting eternal life. In Matthew 10:28, “don’t be afraid of people, who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. The only one you should fear is the one who can destroy the soul and the body in hell,” (the devil). Pray for it, Christ longs for us to have a heart for the lost, break my heart for what breaks yours.
In Session 2, Pete talks on sharing life. Evangelism is sharing life; it’s not about selling Jesus. To share life (little L) with another is to care for them. A deep abiding love for another, like a nursing mother who cares for her children. To share Life (capital L) with another is the Life of Christ flowing from us with the people we are sharing life with. Pete says we are to be open to the Spirits leading. Sunday scripture from Acts 8:26 begins ‘’An angel of the Lord said to Philip”…vs. 27 “so Philip got ready and went” vs 29 “The Spirit said to Philip” vs. 30 “so Philip ran towards the chariot” vs. 35 “Philip began to speak…about Jesus”. The Ethiopian eunuch was ready to hear about Jesus, Philip just responded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.” Philip was open to the Spirits leading.
Session 3 was on What’s the best ‘next thing’. Pete refreshed our study, so far, we’ve learned that first we are to Develop relationships, build a friendship; then Discover their story, where are they coming from, give them empathy in their hurts and pains. Then we are to Discern the best next thing, by depending on the Spirit. Ask the Spirit for the best ‘next thing’ for this person, this situation. Holy Spirit you know this person better than me. A person needs to be receptive to hearing the GOSPEL, but until then we are just to share life with them. In John 6:44 Jesus is speaking, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws them.” You never know when the Spirit will be drawing them. Now, or not yet, or maybe it’s for someone else to share the GOSPEL with them. The Spirit might empower us to speak, (Mark 13:11), the Spirit might prevent us from speaking (Acts 16:6), we are to allow the Spirit to work through us. To be available to help a person in whatever they need. Ask the Holy Spirit, what the best ‘next thing’? What comes to your mind? If it’s not contra-biblical, do it! It’s the Spirit talking to you.
Session 4 of Pete Briscoe series on Sharing Life, is Share the Story, tell your story, listen to their story. Let people know you care, let them know that I believe in you. What is the ultimate goal of evangelism? Pete’s answer is to have a life transformed, a story changed, to experience Christ for real!
And in closing Session 5, Here I am, Send Me. In taking our faith seriously, When Caring is Sharing, do we still want to say, I just don’t have it? What is “it”? training, knowledge, communication skills, experience, the spiritual gift of evangelism. “It” isn’t any of these things. “It” is necessary, “it” is available to all of us. The primary work of “it” is done through the Spirit, one thing we bring to “it” is a foundation attitude, a decision we make to live everyday with a biblical attitude. We are to be on call 24/7 to the Spirit’s nudging. We never know when God will move someone’s heart. It could possibly be a long-term relationship, or it could be a simple as a side comment we make that will change someone. Regardless, Pete says, we all need vision – see to it that no one misses the Grace of God.
So, as we begin this summer series: What’s your story? Are you ready to share how God has made a difference in your
life? Start with a story anytime because we now know the difference it can make, When Caring is Sharing………...
Larry and Darlene