Some encouragement for your second half!
**Credit and appreciation to Bill and Jean Webb for participating in this video!
11/8 Family at its Best series: Dealing Effectively with the Battles You Face 1 John 4:1-6
The question was asked Sunday, What are some of the battles you are facing? We all face them. Some are easily conquered, just a little inconvenience or disruption to the norm. Others are not so small. There are battles in relationships, finances and/or health, to name a few. Are you captive, caught within a battle of your own doing, an addiction, or sin in your life? Does the battle involve others leading to a dispute of some kind? Possibly you are a victim of life choices made and the effects thereof. These are all part of the Battlefield of Life. Sin entered our world way back when and all people have had to deal with the effects of sin in one way or another. Battles of who’s right and who’s wrong, I thought I could handle the enticement battle, or it’s not my fault battle of reasoning, name your battle, there are many. I’m in control of my life. Really? Then why do the battles rage on? This week we are going deeper into Dealing Effectively with the Battles You Face. It’s always a good practice to look into what scripture has to say to deal effectively in anything. The Bible passage this week is from 1 John 4: 1-6 titled Testing the Spirit. Within this passage we read that there are two spirits, the Spirit of truth (motivated by God) and the spirit of error (motivated by Satan) that speak to us. Verse 1 tells us “…do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The false prophets are the spirit of the antichrist who now is in the world already, also referred to in this passage. The Spirit of God we read of in verse 4 says “…you are from God and He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”, it’s the Spirit of truth living in us. Which spirit are you listening to, which has control of your life?
One of our studies viewed in Right Now Media this week is Fight by Craig Groeschel. He referenced Galatians 5: 16-17 that says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Sounds like a war going on to me. Our life is the battleground. Who are we fighting? It’s those giants, metaphorically speaking. Giants are problems in life like temptations or sin. Craig Groeschel went on to say, our spiritual enemy loves to make strong men weak, our God loves to make weak men strong. Godly strength, says Groeschel, shows a man reflecting the goodness of God the warrior. We fight in prayer, fight on our knees, giving it a spiritual punch. He referenced Exodus 15:3 “The Lord is a warrior. The Lord is his name.” Every warrior has a cause to fight for. A warrior without a cause to fight for will find the wrong thing to fight against. Pastor George says our feelings are not always a reason to act, be discerning, emotions cause you to fight the wrong battles. A warrior fights to win the battles that matter most. We as warriors call on the name of the Lord. In battle know the Lord is there. When your need meets your God, your God will meet your need. You are only as strong as you are honest, says Groeschel, God’s grace is there for you. Pastor George reminded us that your sense of purpose, God, family, self, relationships, …keep those before you, the renewing of your mind where we gain strength through faith.
In the session on Warrior Women by Bianca Juarez Olthoff in RNM she gives warrior this definition: an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. A child of God is all you need to be, she says. In Proverbs 3:26 it says, “for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” A great warrior knows great restraint from his God. Bianca shared that Satan knows your name, but he calls you by your sin – God knows your sin but calls you by your name, child of God. Our sin does not define us when we confess and turn from it. She said what you’re born into does not determine what is in you. God is bigger than our history and more concern with our destiny. Pastor George prayed for us Sunday to know the peace God offers from demons, from battles, from antichrists that want to lead us astray. He says to remember What’s your why? We will all have things seemingly to distract, derail us, to take away our why. Remember eternal love, for His love to not be distant from you but to respond and claim all that He has offered to us. In the Warrior Women series, we heard – Internally we trust God, willingly obey Him, externally taking steps forward, using the weapons God gave you. You will face battles on this battlefield of life but remember, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”, 1 John vs.4.
Family by any and all definitions work best when we keep God in our lives. Bianca said in her series Warrior Women, God uses multiple people. I can be a warrior through the power of God living in me. Its ordinary people used in extraordinary ways; she says. It’s being obedient to God, being used to the glory of God. Listen to His voice, hasn’t God told You????, never be people who ignore the voice of God. Listen, willingly allow the Holy Spirit to have full reign in your life. Our life in any and all family situations, to be used by the Spirit, regardless of our experiences so that God can move, and we can witness His power at work in us or through us. Letting go of our desires and letting God our warrior lead the battles we face will in His time give us victory over them.
Larry and Darlene
11/1 Series: Family at its Best…..The Mirror Image 1 John 3:1-24
This week’s message focus is titled The Mirror Image. Most of us use a mirror daily. It shows us what we cannot see. Shaving, fixing our hair, checking out the outfit we put on, to name a few reasons we look into a mirror, doing an examination of how others will see us today. We want to look our best. First impressions are important right? What also is important is what we exude from within, our image. We’ve all heard people say that so and so is the spitting image of their dad/mom. Which is meant to mean, looks like the dad or mom, which it does, but spitting image could also mean the aura, character, attribute of a parent. So, in thinking of The Mirror Image… how are others seeing us? What are we exuding? Are we our Father’s image? Are we living in the image of our Heavenly Father? Family at its Best is to represent the family well wherever our day takes us. Are we a good representation of the family we belong to, our physical family, sport or group families, church family, how about God’s family? Are we the mirror image that should be portrayed as a representative of His family?
Being a reflection, a reflection of Jesus, is how Pastor George put it to our young people. What people see, to hear them say I saw Jesus in you, is to be a reflection of Jesus. In the scripture for today from 1 John 3 the first line that we read in verse 1 is of the love the Father has given to us, ….that we should be called children of God; and so we are. We are in His family. In verses 2-10 it gives how we ought to be as a child of God, a representation of whose we are. Verse 10 ends by saying …whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. Then verse 11 begins titled as Love One Another. We know that Jesus is love, to reflect Jesus is to reflect love As Pastor George also says, its Christ’s love exuding in and through us, the Son reflected in us.
From the Right Now Media library, we viewed Reflecting the One Who Loves Us by Stuart Hodge, he states that we are never more like God than when we are loving others. It’s all about relationship. He says we are to be proactive about the way you are loving others. We are to have open hearts towards loving the unlovely. And to do this within the community of believers but also reaching out to the unbelieving world, reaching out, pushing beyond everyday relationships. Stuart suggested that we are to always be Living On Mission. He explained it this way: Living it’s what you enjoy doing, your passions, it’s what brings you joy, what’s fun for you, it’s who you are. We are to invest in other’s lives there, to pour out of your life, On Mission. Mission is in whom we believe and the reason why we believe, it’s this hope within us. Stuart referenced Colossians 3:15-17 from the MSG, “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ - the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives-words, actions, whatever- be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”, is Living On Mission. Or as Pastor George said, to allow your faith to come to the surface. The Mirror Image asks, how do you act in public? Or is it just a Sunday morning thing?
The Mirror Image, Pastor George says is for people to see God’s goodness in us and for others to want to know Him too. Being a reflection, an image through love. People crave love, bonding together. We should want to wake people up giving them hope and comfort. This same love the Father has given us when He stretched his arms out on the cross, see the depth and breadth of His love, we are to make known. The love of the cross is for you, ultimately reflected in you. What’s key, he also said, is following His commands, do what is pleasing in His sight.
From Why Jesus by David Nasser in Right Now Media, we heard reasons why. Our faith is a relationship with Jesus, it’s not a religion but grace. God is everywhere not just in little church buildings. Jesus is prophecy foretold. Jesus asks, Who do you say that I am? In Matthew 6:16 we read “You are the Christ, (the prophecy come true)The Messiah”. David Nasser referenced the many I AM statements Jesus made, claims to be God made flesh, the anointed one, as we can read in the Gospels. Everything He says is true makes Him Lord. Is He your Lord? David went on to say, if you have Him first in your life everything else will fall into place. Jesus meets our physical needs; Jesus meets the spiritual needs of our soul. Jesus brings validity through miracles as to who he really is. Living Jesus is God in me, for Him to do through me what He wants. Christ alive in me is the hope of glory! We are always to be working for God’s glory. We serve a risen Savior. Why Jesus? In the end Jesus has victory over all!
We are to be vessels of the truth of scripture that Jesus sought to communicate, the great love the Father has given us. Believe in Jesus and Love one another. The image of God in you and me in how we live and how we love one another is our goal, what are you seeing in the mirror?
Larry and Darlene
10/25 Series: Family at its Best Proponents or Adversaries 1 John 2:18-29
Proponents or Adversaries, are they for you or against you? Hopefully in whatever family setting you are in: the family you live with, church family, sport family, club, or organization, that they are for you. They want your best and the best for the ‘family’. They are proponents. On the other side are adversaries, those who are against you, wanting you to fail, fall short of the goal. Not only you but the team, family, group that you belong to. How do we know that they are wanting our best? Basically, it’s Doing the Right Thing that Pastor George talked about with our young people. To do for the group and each other what’s right, good, and true.
Jesus want’s that for his family, the family of God. This week’s Bible passage in 1 John 2:18-29 begins with the section of verses 18-27 giving a Warning Concerning Antichrist. That’s a 10-verse warning. The remaining 2, verses 28-29 are to us Children of God and what we are to do regarding the coming of the antichrist. I do believe that John wants to get our attention regarding times of the antichrist. We all agree that antichrists are the adversaries. As Pastor George said anti means against. They are against Christ. John is our proponent as we read from 1 John where he wrote in verse 28 “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” To have confidence even when the going is going to get tough, we are to abide in Christ. Pastor George told that we are to get to know Him, this Jesus in the Gospels. Is He growing stronger in you? Are you maturing in your faith? The more you know the more confidence you have to stand strong. The scripture says abide in him. Abiding, until the end of the age, until his coming again. Pastor George reminds us that the living God now living in you, in the temple, is in each of us. We are God’s temple. The living God, now living in you, living through you. We are to be light, living daily with the joy and happiness from abiding in him, to shine for our Lord, being a proponent of Christ makes family at its best.
In Right Now Media this week we listened to Doug Sherman at a conference where he talked on the subject of Trading Up. A Different Way to Do Life with God where he said, a life centered around Him daily; the relationships and the work we do, doing it for His glory and our joy is how we are to live. He made this statement, “The trajectory of your whole life is determined by one single thing, the image of God that you live your life by”. He says most have an image of a small God. That he only cares about spiritual things, that God is not interested outside the Church. Another RNM video this week addressed Talking with God by Adam Weber. Adam begins with saying that we’re all living in crazy town with more to do than what fits into the day, which we all can agree to. He then states prayer shouldn’t feel like a daily chore. That something changes when prayer is no longer just another thing in the day. Doug Sherman also addressed this thought in saying, you’re not too busy, your God is too small. Doug goes on to say, God is a real person, and he is always present. It’s no value to know God is always present if you don’t live God is always present. Adam Weber stated that the longer we talk with God the more we fall in love with him. When we talk with God, we find a friendship that God wants with us. Adam says God enjoys short, simple, honest, spur of the moment prayers. Say what you mean and mean what you say. A quick hello is better than nothing at all. There is no need to impress in our prayers, he just wants to be with the real us, he wants a relationship with us. How can we get to know God better? The Bible is a conversation starter where God speaks personally to us, says Sherman, we learn of him and where we learn to want to live our life knowing a passionate Holy Father. Jesus says, I invite you to see me clearly, I stand at the door and knock, hear my voice, know it, open the door and I will come in. This is Jesus’ desire.
Another video that is very worth your while in watching from this week is Daniel: Things to Come, by Tommy Nelson. He is referencing the book of Daniel, doing a study on living with the end in mind, finding our place in the journey, all the while living for today on purpose and in peace. Antichrist, the end times, the time when Christ will come again to make all things right with God, and what needs to occur before that happens, is a study that should interest everyone. It’s prophecy. Things foretold, future. Tommy says that prophecy is given for a moral reason, a life change. Prophecy of the end times is revealed knowledge given to John who wrote Revelation, and to Daniel as written in the Book of Daniel. He explains the antichrists, those adversaries, who are against Christ. To begin Tommy Nelson gives nine reasons on living the Christian life, on purpose and in peace even in knowing of this prophecy of the end times. What we already know is *Comfort* in death or in life, when the end times come, we will all see Jesus. Believers will be caught up (raptured) together with Him in the clouds *Reverence* a fear of the Lord. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ. We are not judged for our sins, but if we did good for God’s glory and pleasures or light doing for my glory and my pleasures *Privilege* we know where history is going, prophecy; our lives are for God, his glory, his purposes *Hope* the hope of the believer is the coming of Christ, always be looking for it. *Purity* we will be like Him, our moral code. *Preaching* there will be a judgement for all men. There is a heaven. There is a hell. We should be preaching this. *Purpose* we are fellow workers with Him, to be about His purposes. *Perseverance* Keep on keeping on. One day the bad guys are gonna show up, but we know the last word is God’s. Always remember a vision of the other side that radically affects us.
Claiming these purposes and living them out as proponents, so that when the antichrists come, the adversaries come, even in our daily living, we can stand firm, stand secure, stand on the promises we know are true. As Pastor George prayed, Life’s best for us is to pursue Him, love as he loved us, to live by that and share the same encouraging love with the others in our lives. To see clearly, to pursue what we know to be right, good, and true. We are to share the Good News throughout our ‘families’ that brought us together. To be a proponent of all He is, shown throughout our whole life.
Larry and Darlene
10/18 Series: Family at its Best – Living with the High Beams On 1 John 2:7-17
High Beams – on our vehicles it’s a bright light. Some flashlights or lamps or a dimmer switch on the wall give options for the brightness desired with high being the brightest. When we read Living with the High Beams on does this mean so that we can see where we are going, or so that we can see what’s around us? Is the High Beam for our benefit? In the scripture passage at the end of verse 8 it reads “…the true light is already shining.” Already shining, well then, I don’t need to turn it on. Pastor George referred to the book of John chapter 8 verse 12 “Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” It’s this light, Jesus, the light of the world, that we are to illuminate, with the high beams on. It’s this light that Pastor George referred to when he said, light casts away darkness, light brings hope, light makes fear run out the door, light comforts. I want this light, you want this light, everyone needs this light so as not to be in darkness, right? They can get it just as we did. How did you get this light of the world? Did the light draw you in? Did someone show you the light? Did love find the way to the light for you? How are those yet in darkness supposed to find this light of hope and comfort and so much more?
In our scripture passage in verse 7 we read of the old commandment (to love one another) that you had from the beginning. Jesus lived the expression of this commandment. He is love. Verse 9 and 10 reads, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” Love, where love abides there is light. Living with the High Beams On is turning up the love that comes out of us. Kind of like living inside out so that our heart of love shines brightly, unhindered, loving as Jesus loves us. Why? For one so that while in and from the darkness they can know light, and two my high beams shining so I don’t stumble while walking through the darkness. The world is darkness, and we are not to love the world. Our scripture passage in verses 15 and 16 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world”.
The Right Now Media options for this week took us into situations of the world. Patrick Kelly spoke at a conference that we viewed on Light in the Dark. He talked of a time he attended a rock concert where he experienced the smell of drugs and witnessed people who were living a different lifestyle than him. Two different cultures and values. He spoke of our co-existence. He said a believer can be effective without changing the culture at all. We are called to love people where they are, of reaching people in their culture with our influence. We should focus on the bigger issues of their life, the need for Jesus Christ, he said. Jesus had a heart to redeem people. We need that same heartache for those living in darkness.
Sarah took us to a different world experience. Her illustration in Right Now Media shared with us of being A Light at an Unethical Job. She thought she had the job of her dreams until she was asked to do what she knew was unethical. She struggled. She said everyday presented her an opportunity to be light. To do life in the circumstances that she found herself and still be a light for Christ in how she interacted with people. Her co-workers often questioned her about the happiness that she lived daily. I live Jesus, He gives me hope she told them. She prayed that she would honor God in her work, she prayed for the Holy Spirit to give her the strength needed to talk with the owner. Faith is foundational, says Sarah, we are just vessels that He is using. She said that she could not compromise what she knows to be right and true. She did talk with the owner and left her dream job.
Donnie Smith in his training video, Be Light in the Midst of Disappointment, talks of much the same disappointment that Sarah experienced. Life hits everybody. We’re not perfect and we do not live in a perfect world. People are watching us, said Donnie. He went on to say, our confidence in rough times proves our faith to friends, co-workers, or whomever may be in the middle of disappointment with us. He said we are to be careful about emotions getting expressed that aren’t Godly. We have a personal God, it’s through our rough circumstances we have the opportunity to glorify God. He said in faith we need to stand firm in that I’m not losing any confidence of God’s ability through this situation. To have the confidence that I know God is right there in the midst of disappointment with me.
Are you actively shining the light with high beams on in the culture of darkness? Are you using high beams from the light of the world-Jesus, in those unethical situations we encounter? Do you stand firm with high beams shining when you would rather cry out in the midst of disappointment? Pastor George asked us Sunday, how do you live your life that others are watching? It’s easy to forget that others are watching us. It is within our work family, school family, sports family, church family that we are being watched. Are we radiating a good example of the love we know? To radiate His Love, His ways, His life so that others will want to know Him who we know. Pastor George encouraged us to let your light shine, let others see your good works, see your actions and reactions so that our response to all things might glorify God. He assured us that Jesus helps us to see things better and those around you find it easier to walk when they have light showing the way . It happens best when we are living with the High Beams On!
Larry and Darlene
10/11 Series: Family at its Best - Who Stands Up For You 1 John 2: 1-6
Pastor George asked our young people, Who are people that protect you? While first to be mentioned is family, he asked about friends? Of course, we hope that a friend would come to our rescue when a need arises. Pastor George then referenced Proverbs 18:24 that says... “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”, which he said is referencing God. God our friend to our rescue. We all can be one of those friends too, said Pastor George.
Our scripture passage for this week is from 1 John 2: 1-6. titled Christ Our Advocate. Verse 1 says, “…but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” In sin we are guilty without just payment to a holy God. In the passage we have the assurance of an advocate. An advocate is one that pleads the cause of another as before a judicial court, someone to plead in favor of. Jesus is our advocate. Through Him our sin is forgiven, making us right and sinless before God. This we know, Who Stands Up for You? Jesus our advocate. Sure, is wonderful being in the family of God knowing we have our advocate to save and redeem us back to being worthy, in the presence of a Holy God, our friend. This passage ends in verse 6 with “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
To be an advocate and a friend, who walls in the ways of Jesus, is the kind of human being I would want to stand up for me in my time of need. Pastor George outlined for us on what this means and just How did Jesus walk? 1. He awoke early to pray. 2. He walks slowly through the crowds. He touched them in love and fellowship. 3. He showed compassion, as sheep without a shepherd. 4. He spoke in lovingly truthful ways. 5. He celebrated with others, he came to serve and not to be served. To walk in the same way in which he walked we pray, Give us the strength Lord to do as you, walk through other’s lives, Amen.
This week we viewed two videos in Right Now Media each addressing being one with God and one with another Christian brother/sister. First viewed is titled ONE-Why True Biblical Unity is Essential by Tom Kraeuter. This series focused on the prayer of Jesus in John 17:11 “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” ONE goes to the very nature of God, say Tom Kraeuter, Perfect Love, Perfect Community, Perfect Unity. He goes on to say, part of believing in Christ is believing in His church and His body. There is no such thing as Christianity without community. There is the need for connection, need for fellowship, we need each other. We learned that He gathers us together because of our differences, we need everyone in the Body of Christ. Kraeuter spoke of Biblical Community. It’s not easy, a church has flaws. 1 Peter 4:8 says “…above all keep loving one another earnestly, deeply, love covers a multitude of sin.” Listening through this video we learned that the Spirit of God builds unity. We are the Body of Christ right now. We are the containers, the expression of Him here on earth. What should the Body of Christ look like? One, working together the way God wants us to, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, doing life with others in unity and diversity.
A second video watch is titled The One-Another by Tony Evans. Here is what he says about Biblical Unity: first is our relationship with the Lord that is crucial in Biblical Unity. The gospel is about love, God – Us – One Another. We are about making His name great. Our unity is a sign to the world that Jesus is our Savior. From Biblical Unity comes Biblical Community, the one-another. Tony Evans states that God wants to see more of you with others because that is what the church is about. The one-another experiencing God together. Tony goes on to say, the thing that should mark God’s people is not what they do for themselves but what they do in the family of God connected to others. It’s that horizontal love, Biblical Love. The law of Christ is the law of love says Tony. He goes on to say, everyone should be an encourager or an encourage-e, to support them or be supported in faith.
Pastor George talked of this love on Sunday. To love God is to love others. Truly the love of God is made complete by your actions. He says to ask ourselves, does this show the love of God? The love of neighbor? If no, then don’t do it. We as the Body of Christ is to care for them, walk slowly, listen, what do they need? It’s showing love, grace, compassion.
Tony Evans gave Biblical Love this definition: a decision to compassionately and righteously seek the well-being of another, a decision whether or not it’s accompanied by an emotion. Tom Kraeuter says we are to put on the shoes of the intercessor Jesus Christ, and cry out for another in prayer, surround them with love, to care richly for one-another. The I’ll stand up for you in times when you find it hard to stand, kind of love. Tony Evans also says as Christians we are to comfort one another. God has a ministry in your pain. We go through our affliction so that I can comfort you in your affliction. It’s our ministry to others and God’s ministry to us. Whatever you want God to do for you, do for someone else. Be a comfort in your comforting says Tony. But in all, Tony states, do it in the spirit of gentleness, giving the truth in love. To care for the person through the least amount of pain possible.
Christian Unity begins with Biblical Unity under the Lordship of Jesus, which flows into Biblical Community with one-another through Biblical Love, keeping us strong in our faith in the good times and the not so good times. In Christian Unity the mission field is working. We at times need another to stand up for us before the Lord in prayer, to stand up to us in our sin, to guide us back, to stop looking at the pain but to keep the eyes on Jesus, to stand with us through the good time and not so good, so that we do not lose faith but instead so that our faith can be strengthened. It’s brothers and sisters keeping you pointed towards Jesus. Being family at its best, is a relationship with others, with a common goal, and desire to not lose any of its members along the way, doing what it takes, even when it means to stand up when a need arises.
Larry and Darlene
10/4 Series: Family at its Best…..Full Exposure 1 John 1: 5-10
This week’s message is titled Full Exposure. When I think of sunlight passing through a prism, it gives full exposure of the many bands of color characteristic of a rainbow. Prism’s differ in their angles of glass that make up the prism. It’s the angle by which a beam of light is bent, when it enters glass, that exposes differences from one color to the next. The light, sunlight, is a white light that is refracted or separated into its different colors as it shines through the prism. Complicated in its process but simple in that it’s letting the light shine through the different bents, angels, size of the glass, to display bands of color characteristic of a rainbow. It’s Full Exposure. We can liken that same theory to our lives. It’s taking our bents of sinful ways, our angles of experiences in our life, our glass of individualism, and letting the Light shine through us as we display His beauty to the world around us. Let’s take a look at what we can do to beautifully expose our life’s prism.
Each person is born with their individual bent or sin nature. It’s what we do with our bent(s) that characterizes us. The scripture reminds us in 1 John 1 vs. 8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”. So, there it is we all have sin. No need to hide the fact. We all have sinned and fallen short. We know sin is darkness. We know God is light. We should know that one cannot live in sin’s darkness if we want to be in God’s light. This we read also in verses 5 and 6 of our scripture passage. It’s confessing our sin, asking for God’s forgiveness that sets us free from the darkness. Verse 7 says “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Walking in the light, His Light, in us, he removes the darkness. It says we have fellowship with one another, that’s a Partnership with a Purpose, right? To be right with God and to let his light shine through us.
When we are willing to live in full exposure, we become willing to let our bents be exposed to others. Max Lucado in his discussion series on God Uses Broken People says no matter what someone has done, God can still us them for His glory and to help others find forgiveness. God uses brokenness, say Max. We need to ‘come clean’ with God and to believe that He has forgiven us and that He still wants to use us, to change His world.
It can only happen through Jesus, says Joni Ortlund in her conversation on The Power of Forgiveness, also in the Right Now Media tool. All forgiveness she says, requires coming through the offenses with love. The Essential Elements says Joni is 1. Go to Christ, our suffering is important to him. Leave our pain and hurt with the Lord. 2. Go to the Word. Study what God says about forgiveness. Never avenge yourself says Joni, leave that to God. We need to find peace and forgiveness with the Lord first, for reconciliation. Ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is powerful. It’s living in and by grace. Joni also said that if the cycle continues where we fall back into bitterness, anger towards another, then maybe one needs to question who God really is to them.
Pastor George outlined for us Sunday that 1. Remember Who You Are. We are part of the family of God, related by the blood of Christ. He paid it all, his life for ours. 2. Reflect The One Who Rescued You. We have already received His love. Pastor George reminded us that whoever keeps His Word, for others to see too, then the love of God is complete in us. We have this fellowship with one another and with God. 3. Recognize Problems and Solutions. In life, reveal ourselves and be honest with God. He is quick to love, to rescue us, to forgive, but we have to identify with the issue, says Pastor George. He also shared, don’t expect God to cover what you are not willing to uncover. Recognize the problem you are having and take it to God. It’s then that we hear gentle whispers of God…course corrections….into our lives.
Max Lucado in God Uses Broken People encouraged us to 1. Confession. Stop trying to hide guilt. God in his grace, will move you out from of the hold of sin and bitterness, to a new place of healing. He uses failures to teach us about himself. 2. Believe. Believe that he has forgiven us and wants us to change His world. Max says we are to surrender and trust.
In reading an article this week, it referenced Miss Manners. Mercy and Forgiveness – Miss Manners reminds us, are core elements of etiquette, of ‘correct behavior’. We learn that from our heavenly Father. Daily we receive His mercies, daily he showers us with His grace, daily we are forgiven of our bents. How do we respond to such acts of love? With correct behavior, with allowing the Son light to shine through our prism, with willingly opening ourselves to Full Exposure so that others can be helped through our experiences from sin to forgiveness. We are never more Christlike than when we forgive, when we live in His mercy and grace towards each other. There should be no more hiding, no more shame, no more guilt. It’s bringing all our hurts and pains into full exposure before the Lord, for Him to love on us, that’s Family at its Best. God family’s and our families, teams, groups, people loving the people where we belong. Let your prism shine beautifully in the Light!
Larry and Darlene
9/27 Series: Family at its Best – “A Partnership with a Purpose” 1 John 1:1-4
This Sunday begins a new study series titled Family at its Best. Family, those that belong to you. Family, those that you belong to. As we begin to study in this series we are taking that thought, widening it to say family also is a group of people, not related, but supporting of each other, could include but not limited to work family, school family, or a sports family, and church family too. Our focus begins “A Partnership with a Purpose” 1 John 1: 1-4.
Pastor George shared that within these groups there is an atmosphere, a feeling of family. Family isn’t a physical place although there could be a homestead, a town, a place that we call home where our family is, that connects us. Family is relationship. Family is partnership. When people come together, they are family in the sense of the word. Family should be the first to defend, the I got your back kind of thing, says Pastor George, it’s that support, encouragement that we value in family. We crave time together, it’s where we are loved and cared for. The question was asked Sunday, how do we as a body have that same attribute? As a body of believers, as New Life Church, and also of the greater church universal, can we have that same attributes of togetherness, support, love, same atmosphere, feeling of family? What calls us into this family relationship?
A Right Now Media video we watched this week from Chuck Swindoll, is titled God’s Family. God’s family is the church of the living God. Dare we say that God is the patriarch of this family? The Divine God, the one with no limits, an absolute, He who is our all in all. We share in the fellowship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. This week we viewed Session 1 on Fellowship, in the series 1 John: A Call to Authentic Faith & Sacrificial Community. In this Women’s Bible Study, they discussed this God. He is, from the beginning he was – He is, in flesh and blood he came to Earth, just as we are flesh and blood. This God, he is flesh and blood and also Divine, God/Man. In our scripture passage for this week 1 John 1:1 reads “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands…” John has passed on the message, a message based on a relationship, one that he says he had seen, felt, touched, heard, this Jesus. He was an advocate, being a voice, an influencer, a physical advocacy for another, for a real Jesus Christ, one he touched, heard, felt, had seen. He’s telling us Jesus isn’t an ideal, Jesus is a person. One that we as Christ followers’ partner with, in family. He who is our common cause, our purpose. Giving our support, the I got your back kind of defending, the encouragement towards this greater purpose. We heard on Sunday that anyone who does the will of God is my brother and my sister, we are heirs. This is what makes us family. We are brothers and sisters striving to do the will of God as he leads and guides us.
Verse 3 in this passage of 1 John 1 reads “…so that you too may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus.” John wants all believers into this fellowship with him, and the Father. Pastor George said that fellowship means partnership. To have fellowship with each other we partner together. To have A Partnership with a Purpose, our partnership is not only with each other, but a fellowship/partnership with the heavenly Father. Phil Vischer, in his kid’s video Jellyfish on 1 John from Right Now Media shared that the fellowship we share is with God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We find joy through fellowship with God, he says. It’s doing life together. Phil explained that it’s a hug kind of happy- to be the best kind of happy together. In the Fellowship series the ladies discussed to be the gospel in the flesh, that’s our purpose, and to make it a priority with your relationships. To be like John, an advocate, to model who Jesus is, having a heart to love the way God does. You know the Truth, be the light for one another. Pastor George says it’s taking the message of the cross, His love for us, making it a bigger and greater part of our lives, reach out into the world we live, work and play, with this joy that makes life complete. Our joy brings Him joy! It’s a partnership with a purpose. The partnership we know as members of God’s family that is for all who believe in Him. Living that love out within our physical family, our church family, and the other family groups that we are part of, for the sake of the group, for the sake of family.
Andy Stanley in his series Future Family, shared that in family there is what’s real and what’s ideal. Jesus points towards an ideal, but He did not condemn when people fell short of the ideal. Real life family at times loses site of the ideal. Andy calls it the complexity of family life. One bit of advice that he gave comes from Ephesians 5:21 “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This calls us to be a servant to the people around us, says Andy. What makes for happy great families is a willingness to leverage all of oneself for an us. A what can I do for you mentality. Andy says that your life is to be a message, you were created to care. Christ’s love compels us to. Our great God to whom you are accountable, our relationships, are they grace filled? He extends grace to us daily. Are those relationships loved and cared for, in the ideal but also when life gets real? It’s who we are when we are partnering with others, with a purpose, in this Partnership with a Purpose it’s family at its best knowing Truth, fully loved, fully forgiven, fully redeemed, this is Family at it’s Best!
Larry and Darlene
9/20 Love Does series.....Follow Me: Love vs. Self-Centeredness Matthew 16:24-28
There is this invisible tug-of-war we all can relate too, love vs. self-centeredness. A constant emotion tugging at our hearts and lives. We desire to be all that we can be to ourselves and to others. Can we ever get complete satisfaction in who we are and what we do? I must look after me, right? If I don’t who will? I just need a little time…a little money…a little space….whatever that little bit of might be, then once I feel like I’m getting it all together, then I will have it/time/?? to give to you. In the meantime, again, there’s a need out there, a call for help, something else that needs me... ugh...again? Can you call a different friend? Can’t you handle this yourself? Why do you need me again? I’m thinking somebody else just needs to get involved right? Lord, help me!
This is the final message in the Love Does series on what Love Does when we want to love like Jesus. We’ve learned that our actions of love are a way that we say to Jesus thank you for what you did for me. I’m forgiven and redeemed because of your love for me. We now know it is in our failures we learn our most important life lessons. I failed, but I’m not a failure. Learn from it and move on. Then there are those times we make God’s love visible to others. It comes out of us naturally, this joy, a peace, a happiness that explodes because I’m loving what I do. Yet we also learned that we are to love in those not so peaceful, not so happy times too. When our fears take over, it is because we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus. You and I are no longer who we used to be. Now standing on the promises of God we can shout it out “I am in Christ”. Jesus takes our shame and anxiety and fears and helps us to overcome them. We are His, we now live in His love for us alone. In the series this week Jesus is saying, Follow Me. Sounds easy until we realize just where he wants us to follow sometimes. From the Love Does video this week, “Jesus says let’s go and do stuff and we’ll find out Who I Am, and who you are along the way”. What a journey that could be. Love Does says, take the next step, do something audacious, anywhere the hurting are is the place to jump in. Do something with my love, says Jesus. Bob Goff adds that God wants to blow our minds with how good He is! So, what holds you back? Could it be you? Could it be that it doesn’t fit into your timing right now? Could it be that it just seems so big what difference could I make anyway? John 3:30 says “He must increase, I must decrease”. Who or what is first in your life? Going from selfishness to humility? Lord help me!
During Children’s time this week Pastor George talked on Following Jesus and how we can take our selfishness and turn it into giving, serving, loving, in the lives of others, just like Jesus. The Scripture passage in Matthew 16:24 says “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”” To deny oneself is wrestling with a feeling of self-centeredness, says Pastor George. He stated that to deny yourself and Follow Me….in this we will discover our full potential, following in the footsteps of Jesus. He also read Philippians 2:3 “…but in humility count others more significant than yourself.” It’s our decrease, doing for Him in love, we humble ourselves, we lift them up, we esteem them. We sang that old hymn, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. To do so is to create a change in us when willingly we follow, in faith, says Pastor George. Once decided to be all in for Jesus we affirm there is no turning back and we follow His ways, His teachings, His love, we are to be all in, because of His grace and mercy.
Lee Parrott in his series in Right Now Media titled Love Like That says to truly love at the highest level, is to love like Jesus. In his series he discussed barriers we carry. He says to be mindful of your own agenda. We have an agenda about everything that keeps us focused on ourselves. To love like Jesus, you gotta see what others don’t. It’s right there before your eyes. To see from His eyes and not mine. We need to be approachable. To love like Him you can’t be exclusive. Lee says, you can’t limit your love to who deserves it and who doesn’t. Instead of judgementalism consider an unconditional positive regard for people you meet. Quit tearing down others to build oneself up. Receive God’s grace so that you can give it to others. In Love Like That we learned about not living behind a mask for acceptance, but boldly speak truth in love. Spiritual maturity is an inside job, mature and firm in faith. In boldness give authentic love, as He does. Our self-giving requires something deep down in our nature, the maturity, the capacity to empty ourselves for someone else, is self-giving love. To go the extra mile, to walk in someone else’s shoes and feel the hurt and step in, that’s when you really begin to love like Jesus.
Another series this week was Becoming a Women whose God is Enough by Cynthia Heald. She is an author on Women’s Bible studies, but the content is for all. We heard again of idols, those things that are more important than God. Pride, that keeps us full of ourselves. And when we are full of ourselves, we cannot be full of the Spirit says Cynthia. She affirms that we can never really be sure of the paths he will lead us to, but wherever, we are to follow, there He will be. We go in faith. Much of her studies include quotes from notable people. She shared this from Mike Mason, “To have faith is to have trust in the faithfulness of God knowing that faithfulness is first and foremost not a human but a divine attribute. Our God is faithful, do we trust Him, in all things, that’s our faith in our God who is faithful.” And another she shared from Oswald Chambers, “If you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you.” When we say “I” will take – then God cannot say I will give, says Cynthia. We are to always be in the center of His will. We are to Follow. From Andrew Murray she shared “Joy is the sign that God is everything to you.” To love like Jesus is to love God. God is enough. In Divine Fellowship Cynthia shares this, “I am at your command, what do you want your servant to do?” It’s a bowing of the heart and a bending of the will to His will for our lives, there we are to live.
So how are we to let go and let God? How do we exercise this kind of love? Both Lee Parrott and Cynthia Heald said that the Holy Spirit was sent to empower us to love like Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit work through you, loving like Jesus is an internal quest says Lee Parrott. It’s not a doing and done kind of thing, but a being – love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to live through us. In John 16: 12-15 we read that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide you. A friend in us – be an extension of Christ.
Lord help us. May we find that complete satisfaction that we long for in you. May our actions of love reflect yours. In our failures and fears we know that you are there. Keep our eyes fixed on you as we follow you. Holy Spirit come dwell within each of us as you guide and empower us to love, Amen.
Larry and Darlene