8/23 Love Does The Actions of Love Hebrews 13:5
This new series that we are beginning- Love Does, stems from a book written by Bob Goff with that title. Our current focus is The Actions of Love. The ultimate action of love that we know of is Jesus willingly dying a sinner’s death on the cross for us, because he loves us. As Pastor George stated Sunday, intrinsically we want to live in such a way to thank him. Jesus in a way says to us, live your life in such a way so that I know it was worth saving.
Actions of Love is this week’s study, our focus is trying to wrap our thinking around just what those words speak of. Actions is a verb, it’s active, current, moving, it’s plural, more than one, multiple, again and again. This means continuous, it’s not a one and done kind of thing. Just as Jesus continues to speak into our lives, to love us continually, we are to do also. The Bible passage from Hebrews 13: 5 says “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. We are reminded again from Sunday’s sermon that God is with us every step of the way. His name, Immanuel – means God with us! We are never alone. Once we accept Jesus into our heart and life, he is there forever! As the spirit lives in us, God is with us. When we personally accept what Jesus has done for us, dying on the cross, our sins are forgiven, and he now lives in us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, daytime, nighttime, God is with us, a trusted friend, our helper, our savior. How do we respond to such actions of love? Pastor George told us on Sunday, Be Jesus with skin on. What he has done for us inspires us to action – to the love He poured into us. Jesus invites us to follow his ways, to rely on his grace, his power, as we are with others, he is with us.
As we are with others? Or are we living our life amongst others? One is active, the other is passive. Love Does – with presence, “with you” is active. In the first series in Love Does this week in Right Now Media, Bob Goff focuses on the first video in this series: I’m with you. He tells of his friend Randy and their story together. Bob learn valuable life lessons through Randy’s presence with Bob during an adventure that Bob thought was best for him to go on. It was Randy’s presence that spoke love into Bob. Randy wanted to be there for Bob. He didn’t just wish Bob well and said good luck let me know how it goes. Instead, Randy dropped what he was doing so to speak, and took off with Bob. It wasn’t about the adventure. Rather it was knowing that being with somebody doesn’t make the adventure quite as scary. That is true in any uncertainty of life that we go through or that we know another may be going through. Knowing someone else is there, then whatever it is …. we are not alone, someone else cares.
Yes, I know that God is with me and that should be all that matters. But God knows that we need someone else to be Jesus with skin on for us. Bob Goff said that, I’m the guy being asked (by God to be Jesus with skin on), and the last thing that I want to do is miss an opportunity or make God mad, so I just keep saying yes. When we get those nudges from God, say yes says Bob, or ignore it, then tell God why he has the wrong person. God gives us opportunities for Actions of Love, lean in toward what is unfolding and say yes, it is our invitation to come and see what God wants to do through you.
Okay, the next time I’ll say yes, then I’ve done my duty, my share. In this kind of thinking are you treating someone as a project or treating them as a friend? Would you like to be considered a project, or considered a friend of someone? We also learned from this study that being engaged isn’t just an event, being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living life and loving the people you meet along life’s paths. Bob asked the question, are we too busy doing stuff that we miss opportunities that God is bringing to us? He suggested that we quit the wrong thing – just don’t quit Him. It’s suggesting that we refocus our life and energy on what is most important. We learned that God usually choses ordinary people like us to get things done. Bob says, get to the “do” part of faith, love DOES!
Another series that we watched this week was Love Works by Joel Manby. Manby’s focus is on leading with love, practicing his faith in the marketplace through the essence of what God is. Referring to 1 Corinthians 13 as the Words of Love. It’s living out Agape Love, unconditional, in how you treat people regardless of how you feel about them. He briefly talked on 7 words of Love in every circumstance. Patient, Kind, Trusting, Unselfish, Truthful, Forgiving and Dedicated. Patient with people, praising in public, admonish in private, but praise more than admonish and always remember where the learning focus is.; Kind is not being nice all the time rather be an encourager to make people better. We have an impact to make their day better or worse.; Trusting is to put confidence in someone, clarifying the decision making and stick to it.; Unselfish is to think about yourself less. We need to be unselfish with our time, treasure, and talent. Use our time investing in other people, helping them to grow; Treasure is what we’ve been blessed with. Are we giving it? Talent, volunteer your talent in other organizations and charities. Joel said that everybody has something going on, giving support verbally or through assistance or through outreach programs available to them is love in action.; Truthful, corporately, and individually be truthful about the individual. Be open to hearing of our own individual shortcomings. Be helpful to others, help them forward by being present for them. The I am with you kind of support we all need.; Forgiving, release the grip of the grudge. Have a forgiving spirit. Joel uses the acronym MAMO, Minimize and Move On, it’s second chances. Mistakes happen, move forward with a serving of I can be there to help attitude. Dedicated, Joel Manby says that he focuses on these principles to be content. I can control these, he says. We all can do the same. Living out these seven Words of Love are what we as leaders at work, at home, and in our volunteering need to engrain on our hearts. He went on to say Jesus’ number 1 commandment is Love God and Love others, then we are doing what God commanded on this earth. It’s caring, having an impact on those around us. These are timeless principles that are taught in the Bible and work everywhere.
Pastor George teaches us to remember that God came to be with us and for us, receive it and follow me, Jesus says. Just live it out. Love does something by simply being with them, people for whom we can be present. Can you now say, “I am with you”, it’s a Christ follower phrase we now learned. As Christ followers we look for extraordinary ways to live life in an ordinary world. Answer those nudges, actively involved in Actions of Love, Always in service, Jesus with skin on. What a difference we can make in someone’s life.
Larry and Darlene
8/16 What’s Your Story? Living Out Your Story Romans 1:16-17 1 Peter 3: 13-17
How is your story reading? It’s not finished yet if you are reading this, cause you’re still living. So how is it going? That answer can change at any given time, just like living life does! Truth be told there are things that we really don’t want anyone to read about. Life gets hard sometimes. On the other hand, there were and still are those times that I could go on and on telling you about. Life is fun! Let’s call this the ups and downs of life, or as Pastor George called it Sunday the excitement and challenges, we all face. It’s those times that move us out of our comfort zone, or as we age or our children age there’s a transition taking place. Nothing stays the same way forever. And that’s a good thing. Life has so many factors to it. We learn as we go and grow. Not by the seat of our pants as the saying goes, instead go to the source from whom all things flow, to navigate the life we’ve been given. Living out our life, our story, with our creator. God created us to be with him. Pastor George says, it’s his (God’s) calling on our life to reflect his love and his grace and his mercy. That’s Living Out Your Story!
Landon shared his testimony with us on Sunday giving his GOSPEL presentation. Our Cross-Training students use this acronym G.O.S.P.E.L affirming their faith. Promises to themselves of faith, belief, and commitment. These six truths are the essence of the Bible that Pastor George promotes and teaches. It’s a relationship with God; realizing that our sins push God away and we can do all the good that we want to make it right with God, but it’s never enough. Jesus died on the cross, he is our substitute, he did what we cannot do, covering our sin with his shed blood, making us sinless in the presence of God. It is placing our faith in Jesus alone. This faith gives us eternal life. As Pastor George said, everyone who crossed that line of faith, who trusts in Him alone, now has a new life and an eternal life that started the moment you place your trust in Jesus. It’s this new life, this relationship with Jesus that we are living and walking in right now that continues eternally forever. But it’s not ours to hoard, to keep. We are to share it and to pass it on. That’s evangelism, that’s sharing your story, that’s living out your story.
We had more good teachings from Right Now Media this week. The Power of Knowing God by Tony Evans teaches why we should pursue the person of God. It is a passion you gotta want, says Tony. Call it a relationship, an intimacy with God. A closeness, a fire for the relationship, a joy. Another was Knowing God Discussion Group Series by a group called Explore God. These discussions cause us to stop and think and then discuss how we experience God. We also viewed Sharing Life by Pete Briscoe. Pete talks about us having a heart change for God. He says that we are to bring a foundational attitude, a decision we make to live every day with a biblical attitude. We are sharing a person says Pete, not a program or process. We have no reason to be ashamed of our faith, says Pastor George. We heard from our scripture passage Sunday in Romans, verse 16 that begins “For I am not ashamed of the gospel...” and ends in verse 17 “as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.” What do we have faith in? Where have you placed your faith? Hopefully not in a God specialist, or a God professional, a secondhand faith, rather our faith as we’ve read above is in Jesus alone, no other. So, living by faith, is living by the ways of Jesus. The other passage from Sunday in 1 Peter 3:15 says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” As opportunities arise, share your story. As Pastor George encouraged us on Sunday, don’t force it, but don’t hide it. And when you do share it, share it with gentleness and respect.
Pastor George posed the question Sunday, how do we articulate what we believe? We live it. Meaning that our whole life is God centered. We learned in our Discussion Group Series this week that God has made us for contact with Him through Scripture, Prayer and Community. Let’s look briefly at these for explanation and understanding of what that means as we learned through this series on What’s Your Story.
God – God is the ultimate standard of goodness. We are to follow His moral goodness. He is our greatest blessing. He is in control. His justice is rooted in His Holiness. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us see God more clearly; to experience Him more intimately; to tune into the mind of God so we get to know God in the realities of life, says Tony Evans.
Prayer – Prayer is talking with God. Speak to him as it really is. There is no formality to follow. God walks with us throughout the day, so just talk to Him. Look for God in everything. That’s where the opportunity to get to know God in a deeper way is. Ask God for wisdom in our crisis, in the challenges of the world, the flesh, or the devil, that come at us. Ask God for discernment for living in a complex age. Prayer is praising him, seeking him, thanking him for his many blessings.
Scripture – It’s not a textbook. The heart of scripture is finding the person, the Triune God. The Bible is an influential book that introduces us to Jesus and speaks into our life. We get to know the character of God through the Bible. We are to have a firsthand knowledge of him. We learn of him through reading our Bible, studying the Bible, listening to Bible teachers, so many ways we can get the word of God into us.
Community – We grow around people. We learn, we experience, we gain spiritual growth when our lives connect with others. Looking for people who have a natural love for what we long to know of, be it scripture knowledge, deeper prayer life, serving others, or whatever tugs at your heart, can be found within communities where we live, work, and play.
Church – God has placed us in families and in church families. Church matters. We have opportunities for small groups to grow and guide us, helping our studies of the Bible. It is singing songs of praise and worship that too help us learn and grow. It’s taking and being Jesus in a hurting world. Representing Him in the world. Through our willingness we take the Good News beyond the church walls so beautifully displayed – it gives people an encounter of what it feels like to be loved by Jesus.
To Live Out Your Story is many facets. It’s not about doing this by yourself, it’s doing this for yourself. Sharing is Caring; We have Freedom in Christ that we want to tell of, as sinners we are forgiven; it’s to tell of His Grace and Mercy; as we know Him we know His voice and obey; this new life we live – we put behind us our old ways; with the power that comes from inviting Jesus into our life we are changed, our identity is in his love for us; our behaviors and habits are now God focused, doing what’s expected of me I will receive my reward, if not in this life, in eternal life through being faithful, I will receive the Crown of Life.
Sunday, we sang. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave – the same power that commanded the dead to raise – lives in us. We are no longer dead in our sins, but alive in Jesus. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, live life more abundant and free, living in the light of His Glory and Grace.
May we as Christians, little Christ’s, continue to Live Out our story of redemption, to share our story and not be ashamed of what He’s done in our lives. But to have a testimony, a reason for the hope we have, and ready to share it with gentleness and respect. In the Knowing God series this week they wrapped it up this way: Look Up & Taste – meaning a sense of something beyond our world
Look Within – to learn, to live, to grow
Look Outward – telling others about these things
May God Bless us as we do. Amen
Larry and Darlene
8/9 What’s Your Story?.......Expectations & Rewards Luke 19: 1-10
Expectations – they can wear on a person with the demands to meet them. Expectations – they can power us up, get us excited, for what’s in it for us or others involved. Expectations – can be our own, can be what another wants of us. In the end it’s kinda like getting your grade. A how well did I do kind of feeling. We’ve been in this series for seven weeks now of What’s Your Story? What are we learning? Are we expected to be doing something? Okay, I get it, I’m to share my story but I’m still not comfortable in doing that. Jesus conversations scare me. Regardless if I know the person or not. I’m scared of rejection, especially of me since I’m the one talking, and I sure don’t want to be the reason they reject Jesus. I’m scared of speaking in error to the Truth, to be challenged by what I’m saying. And I really don’t want to be labeled as a ‘Jesus’ freak. So now I’m struggling inside. I’ve been listening and learning these past weeks from Pastor George speaking on What’s Your Story?, sharing my story, there it is, that expectation, but do I really need to, want to, or feel obligated to? Can you relate? We may never be an evangelist like Billy Graham or a Mother Teresa. Great people, one who spoke to the masses on Salvation, and the other who ministered in action to the masses. How about just sharing your story with the person(s) who cross your path. Your life experiences, telling of what you know of from first-hand experience. We are all sinners, we all need a savior, we should want to share what’s going on in our lives, the change in us for knowing Jesus. That should be an expectation that we all can achieve easily. As Pastor George said to tell of our rescue story. God has interacted with our story, let’s share it.
We learned from the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 about expectations and rewards. Zacchaeus went looking for Jesus, Jesus said to Zacchaeus, I must stay at your house today. The towns people knew Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, the worst of the worst, a sinner. Being in the presence of Jesus Zacchaeus changed from within. He stood in the Lord’s presence and declared I willingly give half of what I have to the poor, I’m willingly returning to those who I defrauded quadrupled of what I’ve taken. He wanted to exceed what was expected of him. To show his sincerity to change he took immediate action. The story ends by saying that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And that’s just what happened for Zacchaeus. He was a sinner, but no more for Jesus also said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Well just what does that mean? A Son of Abraham means those who are of faith are Sons of Abraham. In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. God’s promise to Abraham, that “all people on earth will be blessed through you.” One way this prophecy is fulfilled is through the salvation that God grants to us, by grace through faith. That is our reward, our blessing. As we prayed Sunday: God, thank you from whom all blessings flow. You are my testimony – you are my rescue story!
Hunter shared with us on Sunday his testimony giving the GOSPEL presentation: G God created everyone to be with Him. O Our sins separate us from God. S Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. P Paying the price for our sins, Jesus died and rose again. E Everyone who trusts in Jesus alone has eternal life. L Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. This acronym Pastor George uses as an easy way to share our testimony of faith of what we believe and why we believe in Jesus. This is something that we can use in our Jesus conversations. Jesus Conversations is a series that we watched this week in Right Now Media by Dave Sterrett. In this series we learned of ways to become courageous in engaging conversations, telling our story. We must evangelize says Dave. An evangelist, he says, is a faithful servant bringing Good News in the circumstances right where God has placed you. It’s having courage to speak up, take a risk and it starts with a hi, says Sterrett. In his series he also gave examples that we can become familiar with to use. Some use the bridge visual. Using John 5:24, The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s the visual of the cross making The Way from our sin nature mountain, to God’s holy mountain. He also gave us the acronym SALT S-start a conversation A-ask a question, get to know them, L-listen to their story, T-tell your story, your testimony. Whichever you chose, however you feel confident to open up about your faith, is what matters. Allow God to use you, by the power of the Holy Spirit you too can share your story. Imagine the reward in that!
Another good series that we watched this week was Second Hand Jesus by Glenn Packiam. He addresses our behaviors and habits of our God relationship. We all begin relying on the God Professionals or the God Experts, or the God Specialist that he likes to call them. He referred it to us saying something like, I myself don’t need contact with God, I just need you (the experts) to tell me what I need to know, as long as I make it to heaven. Glenn calls this a second-hand knowledge, a substitute for our own relationship with God. Which this can then lead us to thinking of God as a ‘lucky charm’, or thinking my God is a God of second chances, I can get a another chance to get it right or to work harder to please God. With the God professionals telling me what I need to know it frees me up for other things that are more important to me right now. Um, like my other idols, those things that push God back. This seems to work out fine until a crisis hits our lives, Glenn calls it a what-the-heck moment where life seems to be pulled apart at the seams. Instead, Glenn taught us that what we need is a first-hand faith. Ask yourself, Do I know Jesus more this year than I did the year before? What is happening with me and Jesus? Is Christ in our house?
With Jesus our lives change. In the series Face to Face with Jesus by RC Sproul in RNM, there are twelve accounts of people throughout the Bible that had face-to-face encounters with Jesus. We all will one day says RC. Face-to-Face is reading scripture, biblical accounts, personal accounts where the heart and soul are awakened. Just like Zacchaeus had when he was face-to-face with Jesus. As Pastor George said, He changes us, the Jesus that never gives up on us, that’s our reward.
Sunday’s sermon points are that in Expectations 1. Jesus calls for a response. It’s our continual rescue story, day by day by day by day. The Rewards 2. Jesus offers salvation. This Jesus who repairs where we’re broken, a restoration to what’s good, right, and true. He has bridged the gap for us to God. Our behavior and habits are rescued with God’s help. We now have a new lifestyle of love, grace, and hope. It’s this that we reflect. As we sang, This is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all the day long. As we’ve been learning in the series What’s Your Story? a changed life – changes lives. Share your story, it begins with a hi.
Larry and Darlene
8/2 What’s Your Story? The Power of an Invited Guest. Luke 9: 1-10
This story from Luke is about a man named Zacchaeus and his desire to “see” the man called Jesus who was passing through Jericho. His desire was so great that he willingly climbed a tree just to get a look. Reading from verse 5 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’” Zacchaeus wanted to see, he was looking for Jesus, but it gets even better for Zacchaeus for Jesus said I must stay at your house today! Zacchaeus received him joyfully. As Pastor George stated Sunday, when we look for Jesus, we often find him. In a sense Jesus says to us, come down, I want to go to your house. I’m knocking at your door, will you answer? I want to be in your life, allow me to come in. Is Jesus our invited guest?
We all have had guests in our homes. Family members who come to visit wanting to reconnect. Neighbors visiting so that we can get to know them better. Inviting guests for a purpose or cause that’s important to us to share conversation with them. Within each one of these there is a power, a purpose, a love for, that connects each to the other. These are interacting in-person events that are real. So much can be said for The Power of an Invited Guest. Invites. We all like to receive them. Some more than others like to offer them. One of the most popular invites in our day and age is an invite through Facebook. An invite to friend someone. Once the invite is accepted, you have been welcomed into that person’s life so to speak with Facebook posts that you can read, possibly along with pictures to see of them, of what’s happening in their life. You can then click the like button on what they’ve posted and comment on it if you want. We’ve turned into people who keep constant watch on our phones and devices to see who is liking us today and ultimately how many likes we get when we post something. It gives us a good feeling to see that. If we don’t get the response we’re looking and hoping for that puts us into a different mindset with a feeling of unacceptance. Has Facebook taken control of how we are to feel about ourselves based on the number of friends that we have, based on the number of likes we get on a post, of delivering multiple opinions from multiple people, to have taken control of our social lives, of our time. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that depends on the power of an invited guest, even on Facebook.
This week we viewed the Right Now Media study on the effects of Facebook led by Craig Groeschel entitled Liking Jesus. So how about it, if Jesus sent you a friend request on Facebook would you accept the offer? And to turn it around, if you sent a friend request to Jesus would he accept your offer? We don’t need Facebook to have a relationship with Jesus. But we do need Jesus to help and guide us through the effects of Facebook. This series discussed multiple downfalls of Facebook. Craig Groeschel shared topics of Recovering Contentment; Restoring Intimacy; Revealing Authenticity; Resurrecting Compassion; and Replenishing Rest. What do all these topics have to do with Facebook, well let’s take a look.
Craig says that the use of Facebook has pitted people against each other. In a sense a kind of resentment of God’s goodness in others. We lose a sense of acceptance of who we are, we have an unspoken kind of jealousy. To break this cycle we fill our minds and hearts of Jesus’ love for us, who we are in Him, and draw our strength from him as it reads in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. To recover contentment, we develop a relationship with Jesus.
The word friend is evolving. Facebook has given it a new term. One can have 328 friends on Facebook, but only 2 or even fewer close friends on average, says Craig. And Facebook gives you the power to do friendship on your own terms, to accept or not to accept. No longer are we face-to-face, engaging with another by spending time with them. Now it’s through technology, machine driven, alone, a limited personal intimacy. This cycle needs restoring to personal involvement, active, being what the word friend really means. Craig reminded us that how much love you showed is what will matter at the end of your life. Knowing Jesus’ love and letting his love work in and through us will make a difference not only in our lives but in the lives of others.
Our phone means that we always have a camera with us to catch those selfie moments to share on Facebook. Craig says that we’ve become a selfie obsessed culture, with added filters. We can and do make ourselves look quite impressive. We hide our flaws by polishing up our look. We are less authentic than we are. What’s really going on? What are we wanting to hide? We connect with people through our weaknesses. Jesus walks with us through our struggles and weaknesses so that we can be a blessing to other’s through theirs. 2 Corinthians 3:16 says “…but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” It’s not what other people think of me – it’s about what He thinks of me. With unveiled faces – our identity is in His love. It’s time to reveal, to get back to authenticity, loving you as you are, created just as God wanted you to be.
Craig shared that we have become a self-centered society. We are caring less of other people. With the rise in social media we’ve become desensitized to the suffering around us. Caring is more than clicking/liking a Facebook post. Caring is acting. To know Jesus is to know a Jesus with compassion. Compassion changes lives. The Bible is filled with accounts of Jesus changing a person’s life. God will use you to show His love. A love through which lives will be changed, other peoples and yours.
#struggles, we all have them. We all get weighed down by them. They keep us awake at night which affects our rest. It’s the inability to shut down on the inside says Craig. We keep looking to our phones for answers. Hoping to see a post that means something, one that we for sure don’t want to miss. It evens keeps us up at night. Or for sure to keep the phone nearby so that if a ping or bells rings of a new post we’ll be sure to know it immediately. Jesus is closer than your phone if you’ll let him and he will give you rest. He says, come to me and I will give you rest. We all need replenishing rest that Jesus gives.
Craig said that we have a power beyond this world. Christ is all you need! We have a purpose to share our story, telling of all Jesus has and is doing for us. Telling of a love that is available to anyone who invites Him into their lives. To know The Power of an Invited Guest, you need to get to know the guest.
The second series that we watched this week in RNM was Your Quiet Time Should Change You by Jen Wilkin. Jen is a Bible study teacher and author. She advises us to regard our quiet time as a time to grow in the foundational knowledge of God’s Word. To love God with our hearts and minds. The heart, she says, cannot love what the mind does not know. She says to find your preference in studying your Bible. Use a Topical Study diving into passages on the chosen topic. Or go the Foundational approach diving into a book of the Bible. Either way this is an investment towards a future payoff. All scripture is useful at some point. 10 years or 15 years from now God could bring to mind, out of the storehouse, to speak to us of something that we’ve learned prior. Quiet time, she says is an accumulated effort, spend the time learning. Jen shared that a disciple is a learner – a person who engages the minds.
As Pastor George spoke of on Sunday, Who is this Jesus, that you consider inviting into your life? He gave us these points 1. Jesus is PASSING through your life in song, in devotion, in worship. Those triggers of awareness. 2. Jesus COMES to you. It’s an intimate thing, the sharing. 3. Jesus FORGIVES you. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Cling on – invite Him in. Don’t let Jesus pass by without inviting Him in. Get to know him. He’s the one guest we all need to invite into our lives. To know him is to know THE POWER of an Invited Guest! It’s a relationship to begin now and one that will last throughout all eternity. May you too have the desire to see Jesus.
Larry and Darlene
7/26 Part 5 – What’s Your Story? Summer series – today’s title “How to Begin a New Chapter in Your Life” John 8: 8-11
The focus of the Bible passage from John 8:11 is “…And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’”
First of all we are relieved to know that Jesus doesn’t condemn us for our sins. What he wants from us is to go, go on with life. And as we do, he tells us, from now on sin no more. That is a new start. Like a new chapter in your life! We start a new chapter with excitement, anticipation of leaving that sin behind, and pressing on to what lies ahead. A new chapter that will draw us deeper into the story, not to toss the story aside, but to grab hold of it with a new desire, with a purpose, to something we hold claim to.
Pastor George gave these points during his message. He said it is that what lies within us, is most important. #1. Claim forgiveness from the past. #2 Forget what lies behind. #3 Now, what lies ahead, press forward, the good that lies ahead is our new focus. The new chapter begins with joy in our footsteps inviting the Holy Spirit to help. We claim hold to the grace that is greater than all our sins. To quote from the song My Story; “Oh to tell you my story – is to tell of Him.” You would hear victory, freedom, a life overcome from sin, justice served, the kindness of Jesus, mercy wins, that’s what draws me in.
Just like a roller coaster, life will continue its highs and lows. We all have sinned, missed the mark and fallen short of the glory of God. We all make mistakes. As Vince Miller stated in the RNM series on Defeating Repetitive Sin, sin baits us in, hooks us, we get caught in its repetitive nature. Vince goes on to say that we rationalize it, getting our minds to make those bad choices which leads to shame by hiding it, and to blame by pointing to others and ultimately to God. God takes care of that for us just as he took care of it for Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:21 we read “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them.” Vince says that, just as God made garments of skin and clothed them, this covers over the sin and shame of the first man and woman, Jesus came, shed blood, to cover our sin and shame because He loves us just as God loved Adam and Eve. He loves us all the same. He also stated that there is a loving God walking with us. God sees our sin as an opportunity to love you and me.
In Defeating Repetitive Sin, we learned that it is a war within, between the flesh and the mindset. Vince Miller gave 4 statements regarding our sin nature. To summarize all that he said: 1. We construct belief systems - we make judgements, develop concepts, a cluster of things in our minds. 2. We are controlled by our belief system – we allow those beliefs to control us in the most unfortunate way. 3. We have corrupt belief system – every intention of the heart is only evil intentionality, a repetitive belief system that becomes comfortable for us. 4. God must reveal the belief system – it requires a leap of faith to thinking differently, aligned with truth, a grace-based living. It’s unraveling things in our lives to put us back together to become a person of God. Vince goes on to say that it’s The Remaking of the Mind as quoted from a French philosopher named Pierre Chardin ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ C.S. Lewis stated that ‘How we think about ourselves is how we live our lives’. In Romans 12: 1-3 it says be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Who we are and who God is. Renewing our mindset, grounded in God’s Word. Minds are powerful tools, always renew this mindset of what God says in His Word, says Vince. Desires of the flesh…against the spirit = the war within. We learned in this series that God values accountability. At the end of time he will hold everyone accountable for what they’ve done. We must accept the fact that we make mistakes, change it, and make it right. It’s about willingness to accept accountability. Accountability drives results in life – embrace it says Vince.
What then about our spirit being having a human experience? In More to Your Story by Max Lucado, he says that our story indwells God’s story. From the mind of God, according to His plan, our story comes. Your life is a narrative written by God. God’s Story turns our story into a preface, says Lucado. Our story tells of sin, shame, blame, repentance, back to sin, shame, blame, the cycle continues in our human nature, it’s living in the darkness of this world that works hard to keep hold on us. Max shared that Jesus sighs with us here on Earth. A sign of sadness with a heavenly glance that it won’t be this way for long. See your challenges in the scope of God’s story. Our struggles in life will be lost in the splendor of Heaven. No more curse, no more sin, no longer at war with our flesh, we will be brand new. In More to Your Story we learned that God’s Story redeems our story. God’s story tells of the Word becoming flesh, he dwelt among us. He didn’t separate himself from his creation, no he came to live within it, for it, to redeem it back to himself. Max shared just as Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am?’, he asks of us. To this personal question from God, who do you say that I am? what have you witnessed?, how have you experienced this God on Earth?, how would you answer within your story? Max says we never travel alone, we have the commanders voice to guide us. No one can see God; God is here in love. He chooses to love you and me. We and others experience God in the love we both give and receive. It’s part of our story, it’s part of His-Story.
It’s living in and telling God’s Story within your story, that’s how to begin a new chapter in your life. Max asks the question of why we dress ourselves in our mistakes, don the robe of poor choices, our regrets and rebellion. Instead, he says, focus on Jesus and what he did on the cross. As Pastor George said, the Bible tells us how God’s Story redeems our story, what Christ has done for us. Jesus died a sinner’s death in our place, the sacrifice of Christ, laid on him was the iniquity of us all. Our righteousness is in the goodness of Christ, lose your old robe/vest, you’ll look better wearing His, say Lucado and Pastor George. Begin that new chapter, continue telling of your days here on earth, but now we stand with Paul on the promise of eternity, we add that to our story. As we too sigh of the struggles we go through, we can but quickly change our mindset, our glance towards the splendor of heaven, to begin a new chapter.
Larry and Darlene