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
9/12 Love Does Series “Bursting the Bubble of Shame & Anxiety” Matthew 14: 22-33
Bursting the Bubble of Shame & Anxiety, don’t we all wish it would just take a pin? Well guess what? This situation takes more than a pin – it takes a nail! Read on…….
What shall I do with shame? What shall I do with anxiety? Those questions were posed to us during Sunday’s message. Pastor George went on the say that shame keeps us from living a life of love. It’s like an anchor that keeps pulling us under, he said. In the Love Does series this week we viewed Session 4 on Be Not Afraid. Fear keeps you locked up inside, says Bob Goff. It’s that anxiety that keeps you from acting and chasing after what Jesus is calling you to do. We learned in this series that fears, their hiddenness, fuels all sorts of shame and humiliation in our lives and drives us to make bad decisions because we are afraid.
Sunday’s scripture passage in Matthew gives the account of when Jesus walks on water. Jesus sent the disciples away by boat, by evening the wind had picked up causing the boat to be beaten by the waves. As they were a ways out on the sea, Jesus came to them walking on the water. Thinking they were seeing a ghost they cried out in fear! In vs. 27 we read “But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, “Take heart it is I. Do not be afraid.” When we do a search in the Bible on the words afraid, anxious, fear, there are many passages to read and learn from, to handle our emotions when we get caught up in those snares, and the comfort in knowing that Jesus is always with us, helping us out. Pastor George gave us a lesson using Peter’s doubt. In verse 28 Peter said, “If it’s you Lord command me to come to you on the water” Jesus invited Peter to “Come”. Peter got out of the boat during a raging storm, and keeping his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water. When Peter’s eyes diverted off of Jesus, focusing instead on the storm going on he started to sink and cried out “Lord Save Me”. Jesus took hold of Peter saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus bad things happened.
In our Right Now Media study this week From the Garden to the Savior by Robert Cheong, he states that all humanity has faced trials throughout life. No one remains unstained by the effects of suffering. But God has reconciled us to a hope that transcends our present struggles. Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciles us to God and frees us from the burden of our struggles. It takes the nails of Jesus Christ, that’s where we can find our freedom.
Unashamed by Christine Caine is another series we watched in Right Now Media this week. Christine states that Shame has no place in our destiny God has for us. God sees you as having infinite value. The enemy uses shame to keep us away. God runs towards us with unconditional love, grace, and acceptance. Nothing can separate that. Shame steels your joy. The lie that keeps you shackled. We’re not designed to live in slavery – but in freedom, she says. Our freedom is found in Christ and what he has done for us. Christine knows firsthand just how hard it is to break free from the hurt and pain she too lived through. It isn’t easy she says, to let go of yesterday’s memories, what if’s, to move past your past. It takes courage, it’s a decision you make, it isn’t easy, but liberating. Christine says this, the degree to which you are willing to embrace the pain of recovery is the degree to which you will recover. She teaches that God wants you to move forward but it will take true faith, forgiveness, and a love that only God can give. Robert Cheong, in From the Garden to the Savior, said that when we set our eyes on Him, we fix our hope on a savior who exists beyond our circumstances. He says to grow in your trust that Jesus is sufficient hope for your struggles, grow mature in your faith, and allow someone to walk with you through the process. Live in the promises of scripture.
Pastor George gave three keys to bursting the bubble of shame & anxiety: 1. We SPEAK it – tell others about it. There is a release within by letting it out. Tell a trusted person who will listen. 2. WRITE about it, journaling, put it into words what’s causing you pain, shame, rejection. 3. PRAY it, cry out to God, Jesus says come – come to me.
God will give you the strength. Christine Caine referenced the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:7 “…this all surpassing power is from God” and not us. We as clay pots are easily broken, God will take our brokenness, our pieces, and put them back together again, in time, with our faith and trust in Him to do it. She says we are to declare out loud that YOU ARE IN CHRIST! You are not who you used to be. She gives these declarations we are to hold to:
Declarations in Christ
FORGIVEN – God has removed my debt
JUSTIFIED – God has changed my state
REGENERATED – God has transformed my heart
RECONCILED – God has become my friend
ADOPTED – God has changed my family
REDEEMED – God has changed my ownership
SANCTIFIED – God has changed my behavior
God is our hero. His grace – in Jesus name – in this your greatest days are ahead.
Sunday’s lesson is that like Peter, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, don’t let doubt nor diverting eyes cause you to start to sink again. Jesus is our focus, what you focus on – you will achieve, says Pastor George. It takes the nails of Jesus Christ to burst the bubble that traps us.
Larry and Darlene
9/6 Series: Love Does…...Loving What You Do John 13: 31-35
Regardless of age, gender, abilities, when we see someone really doing what they love, be it in their work, play, for someone or some purpose, there is a joy within them, a peace in their heart, they are smiling, because what they are doing isn’t a struggle at all, they love doing it! Pastor George says that Loving What You Do comes naturally out of you and your skills, gifts, abilities that drive you. Well then how come I’m stuck in a job I don’t like, a relationship that hurts, a battle that’s taking its toll on me? I’m trying my best in all of it. Maybe it’s times like those that we need to rethink Loving what you do. In that, whatever it is that you do, there is love. In both, the loving what you do times and those not so loving times, it is God’s love for us that keeps us doing. Pastor George reminded us that it’s not what is happening around me or you, but what Jesus has done and is doing within me and you. We do whatever because we are loved. In the scripture passage from John 13:34 we read, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Our motivation, says Pastor George, is Love because I have already been loved.
This week’s study in Right Now Media was Love-First by Don McLaughlin. It addresses that very subject of God’s Love. A verse that we all can memorize and one that we need to impress upon our heart is from 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us”. Don McLaughlin challenged our thinking in that: are we loving the idea of God? The one who created, the one who provides, the one who saves, on and on the attributes of God can be listed, instead of loving God. To emphasize our love for God in the right way, as a husband/wife or parent/child kind of love relationship. It’s how in the Bible where Jesus talks about how much He loves His bride – a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself. We learn that God’s love is unconditional. There is no condition of our life that God would stop loving us. He is Love. Are we connecting with the loving God, asks Don, and do we live seriously the conditions of God’s love? He is referencing Matthew Chapter 12 where Jesus says, “First, love God with all your heart, mind, and strength.” It’s the first and greatest command, the command on which every other command is based upon.
McLaughlin states that the Creeds share the gospel, but in each creed, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, something was missing, the word love was not mentioned once. He shared that God’s love is assumed through these creeds. We as believers live by what these Creeds say, as our Statement of Faith. In the Creed does it start with Love God and Love Your Neighbor, or is that assumed? Don McLaughlin’s First-Love is on a mission, driving for a personal revolution to love God first, for all believers to be living affectionately for God.
This is his Love-First Creed (that comes right out of scripture)
I BELIEVE – that God is Love. (1 John 4 vs. 7-8)
I BELIEVE – that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. (John 3:16)
I BELIEVE – that God loved me when I was an enemy, I was sinful, I was ungodly. (Romans 5 vs. 6-11)
I BELIEVE – that the first and greatest commandment is that I would love God with all I am and
I BELIEVE – that the second commandment is liken to it, that I would love my neighbor as myself
I BELIEVE – that I must love my enemies and the ungrateful, and the wicked (Matthew 5 and Luke 6)
I BELIEVE – that if I claim to love God but do not love others, I am a liar and the truth is not in me (1 John 4)
I BELIEVE – that when I see my brothers and sisters in need, I must help them with my material possessions, or the love of God is not in me. (1 John 3)
Love-First teaches that you don’t just think about love, you are called into the conditions of love. Living effectively is living with the Father, and with fellow man. It’s ending hate say McLaughlin before it’s too late. He referenced 1 Corinthians 13:13 “… without love you gain nothing, and you are nothing.” He shared that we need something above the world to face what is in the world, to face the problems of the world. Love is not the first thing, love is the only thing, and we know love from God.
This is week three in our Love Does series where we are looking at Audacious Love. Bob Goff teaches that it’s something beautiful when you are so caught up in it. It’s expressing what’s going on inside of you. That joy, the peace, a happiness that explodes. It’s a kind of love that God has. The God of the universe is in love with you, he keeps coming back over and over again into our lives with his love for us. Bob asks, how does our love for one another make God visible? In loving another is it unconditional, continuous, active, it’s a new way of thinking about love, says Bob. It’s courage to act in spite of fear, to act creatively for and with God, to get involved in bringing heaven to earth. It’s our life being a presence in another’s as it continues to weave itself into the tapestry of every great story. It’s Loving What You Do regardless of how menial the task, said Pastor George. It’s a contagious enthusiasm, that’s the way love rolls – it multiplies!
As we heard in this week’s sermon message, we are God’s ambassadors. Pastor George stated a quote from Bob Goff’s book Love Does, “I was once afraid to fail at the things that really matter to me, now I’m afraid to succeed at things that don’t really matter at all.” What really matters in life? That’s a call to step outside of yourself, says Pastor George, to respond with the strength God gives to go and do, in love for others. We also heard that God’s love is a choice to make, an attitude, a behavior, a joy on the inside that is expressed on the outside as we Love One Another. This will bring God joy! Every relationship in love blesses us, says Don McLaughlin. He shared that Love IS patient, and Love IS kind, these position you with the power to do good. Our love position needs to model His love, put it into the center of all your relationships, God moved into the neighborhood through us, says Don.
Wherever you find yourself as you read this, Loving What You Do, or questioning how life is right now, Don McLaughlin offered these insights in closing out his series on Love-First: Love always trusts, trust that God can still work, that He is still engaged; Love always hopes, God’s glory is worth it, people are worth it, the planet is worth it, we’re not going to give up. Love always perseveres, God’s vision for the church is God’s love living in and through His church, the people of God, to transform the world. What in the world are we doing in the world? Loving What You Do, loving in what you do! Be the hands and feet and listening ear with God. Loving What You Do, Love-First, Love Does….it’s a choice that we make. How is your tapestry looking? We really won’t know until the other side of heaven. Keep threading love through the lives of others because you are not finished threading your life with others, the tapestry is still a work in progress.
Larry and Darlene
8/30 Love Does series: How to Fail Forward John 18: 15-18; 25-27
Fail – that is a word that no one every wants to hear or admit to. Webster defines it as: to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved. We all have failed. At least, once right? Okay a few more times than one. And every time we were left feeling … well as a failure. So how is it that “How to Fail Forward” is a lesson in our current series of Love Does? Pastor George talked with the young people of Turning Failure into Something Good. And that takes love.
Everyone fails, it doesn’t escape any of us. It’s how we react to our own failure and also the failure of another. This week’s scripture passage from John is the account of Simon Peter’s failure of not admitting that he was a disciple of Jesus, not only once, but three times. Jesus predicted to Peter that he would do such an act before the rooster crowed. Peter earlier had said to Jesus in John 13:37 “… I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” We read in John 18:27 “Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.” Peter right there and then knew that he failed Jesus. Imagine the emotion going through Peter, we’ve probably felt a similar pain and hurt of letting a loved one, a friend, a person or purpose we care about, and Jesus too, down.
For certain we will fail again. It’s being human. So how can we learn to fail forward? Pastor George encouraged us by saying , ‘Don’t stop after failure’. We may have failed in an attempt, but we are not a failure, there is a big difference. He says we should ask ourselves two things: 1.What went well? There is something good in the fail, look for the positive. 2.What could be improved? Mistakes happen. Don’t ignore it, learn from it. If our mistake causes us to sin, we know our sin is covered, claim forgiveness that Christ offers. Jesus has hopes and dreams for us that are good and not evil. Pastor George also said, it’s who we are in Christ, forgiven, loved, given a plan to live out, because we are the Lords. Trust Jesus and try again.
In this week’s Right Now Media we watched a training video Learning from Failure by Cheryl Bachelder where she says that we learn very little from our successes. Our failures drive us, keep them going. Say what? Yes, we learn our most important life lessons from failure if we don’t let them define who we are. Cheryl goes on to say, failure leaves us feeling hopeless, yet they teach us the best lessons for our future. Regard success as service and failure as opportunity. In failures our lives begin to shift into a fertile ground for spiritual development and growth, she says. Bob Goff in the Love Does series suggests that God fashions the people he loves the most, as if he leads them into failure so that we understand our absolute need for Him. He says, we are not defined by our successes but on our need for Christ. We are no longer defined by our failures. We are defined by Christ. Bob goes on to explain that it’s God telling us I don’t see you for your failure, but who you are becoming. Bob Goff says our failures teaches us 1. Of our character and who we want to be. 2. Jesus and who he wants us to be, to see whose we are becoming. In life a thing or two is going to go wrong, we are not dejected by God but defined by God. Another training video we watched was The Courage to Risk Failure by Wil Haughey. He too says, consider failure and the good that comes from it. God is in control of the outcome, trusting God for whatever outcome he desires. God is sovereign, take risks, fight for it. We’re in the business of taking risks. Fight to make yourself available to God’s call on your life and trust Him with the outcomes. Wil says, bear the mark of Christ as we go about our work. Whether the risk is in our jobs, our church work, or in life itself, show the love and compassion of Christ in serving other people, take the risk, we are free to fail. In Strategies for Handling Adversity by Workmasters in Right Now Media, we heard Donnie Smith tell us to ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’. In wherever God is leading you he will use that to teach us things. He referenced Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Donnie added that God uses that obedience to train, to give us skills. That obedience gives us courage to go on in other instances also. It was in this series that Cheryl Backelder also shared that almost all of our learning comes from some version of trial, tribulation, or outright failure. She says to be very intentional about learning from our mistakes. Use a difficult learning experience from failure to be a better version of yourself in the next opportunity.
Jesus, after his death and before his Ascension into heaven, appeared to seven Disciples. Reading in part from John 21, just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore of the sea, preparing breakfast for them. After they were finished eating Jesus questions Peter three times saying, do you love me? Peter’s final answer, he said, ‘Lord, you know all; you know that I love you.’ Through this encounter, Peter has restoration with Jesus, Jesus takes Peter back as a disciple. Peter is not a failure. Peter is the name he had been given by Jesus. In Matthew 16 :18 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter has work to do for Jesus. His new nickname, Peter, was not based on who he used to be but on who he was becoming. What makes a good “Jesus nickname” for you? It’s when we begin turning failure into something good. When we learn from our mistakes, and take the step to fail forward, that we grow into becoming who we are born to be. Christ Follower, Chosen, are a couple great nicknames to name a few.
Pastor George asked us to repeat this saying: I have failed. I am not a failure. There is a big difference.
The big difference is that we are loved. Loved by Jesus. Loved by God who wants to do a good work through his followers. Loved by God who wants us to become who he created us to be.
Start today, to look at failure through the Master’s eyes!
Larry and Darlene
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