Grow: Mentor & Discipleship (Week 2)

Ephesians 5:1-2; I John 3: 23-24; 1 Peter 3:8

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

English cleric Charles Caleb Colton said: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. And behavioral science has proven that children learn through imitation. This is normally a song played on Father’s Day, but this should be one to serve as a reminder for all of us.

 

VIDEO CLIP:  Phillips Craig & Dean – I Want To Be Just Like You

 

The word ‘imitate’ according to dictionary.com is a verb meaning:          

to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example; to make a copy of; reproduce closely; to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.”

 

God does not want flattery from us. Rather, He wants us to truly be one of His children, reflecting all of His character, especially His love. It is important to realize that this is not just Paul’s message, but a cascading message from all the writers of the New Testament…from the disciples and their first-hand experiences with Jesus to James, the little brother of Jesus. Let’s stand for the reading of God’s word as we hear from three of them:

 

The Apostle Paul:  Ephesians 5:1-2

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God..”

 

John, the beloved:  1 John 3:23-24

“And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.”

 

Simon Peter:  1 Peter 3:8

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with    each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted and keep a humble attitude.”

 

Let’s break down what each of these writers were saying and look at the common theme.

 

I. Ephesians 5:1-2: Be Imitators of God

 

ILLUSTRATION:  Blind Auditions on “The Voice”   (Darius Rucker cover)

 

A. Adopting His behavior in everything you do
  • Talk the Talk
  • Walk the Walk

 

Acts 19:13-16:

 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their      incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”  Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this.  But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit      replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?”  Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.”

 

B. Live a life filled with love
  • No longer living a life filled with fear
      • No more “What if….”
  • The world calls it finding your center 
      • (Actually putting God on the throne of your heart!)
  • Profound sense of connection

 

C. Follow His example as He offered Himself as a sacrifice
  • Willing to make yourself available
  • Willing to allow yourself to be transparent/vulnerable

 

II. 1 John 3:23-24: Prove that you know Him

 

A. Believe in Jesus and Love for one another go together
  • More than a head knowledge
    • believing that His name contains power
    • demonstrates trust in the One by which we are saved
    • more than a moral or spiritual guide, but God’s Son
  • A heart knowledge of relationship
    • God delights to hear and answer His children’s requests
    • The more we are in relationship w/ Him, our wants & desires align w/His desire for the very best for us.

 

Psalms 37:3-5

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.”

 

B.  Obey God’s commands
  • The person who is obedient lives in God, and God in him.
  • This is the expression of our spiritual life.
    • The Spirit of God lives in us, helping us, guiding us
    • Will we mess us? YES, but the Spirit is there to adjust or straighten us up.

 

C.  Remain in fellowship with Him
  • This is a conscious and spiritual decision
  • Daily we decide if we will follow the flesh or the Spirit
    • As you spend more time, you become more like Him

 

III. 1 Peter 3:8: Be of One Mind (Unity)

 

The word “finally” does not mean the last thing that you do. Rather it was his “in conclusion” statement, summarizing all that he had been telling them to do as a true follower of Christ.

 

Barclay Study Bible: 

“The New Testament never treats this agreeing in Christ as an unnecessary though highly desirable spiritual luxury, but something essential to the true being of the Church…Such unity will only come when Christian are humble and bold enough to lay hold on the unity already given in Christ and to take it more seriously than their own self-importance and sin,… to make it an incentive for a more earnest seeking in fellowship together to hear and obey the voice of Christ.”

                       

This Unity/Harmony can only be accomplished by these things:

                       

A.  Sympathize with each other
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
    • Roman 12:15
  • Not feel sorry for, but putting ourselves in their place
    • 1 Corinthians 12:26 (one hurts/all hurt)
  • It is only when we die to self that we can live to others.
  • Having the empathy of God, knowing that God knows how they feel, even if we have never experienced what they are going through.

 

B.  Love each other as family
  • Begins in the church and extends out to the world.
  • Even family can be mean and hurt us, but we are to love them as God first loved us.
  • But reflect on how many times we have hurt the heart of our Father in heaven, yet He still loves us.

 

C.  Be tenderhearted
  • eusplagchnos’ (pronounced: use plock nos) gut feeling
  • It is the kind of emotion that is from the very depths of our being.
  • Cannot be cold, calloused or cynical
  • ties into sympathy and compassion

 

D.  Have the right attitude (humble in spirit)
  • Humility is arguably the most essential, all-encompassing virtue of the Christian life

 

Philippians 2:3

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

 

Conclusion:

As we share our lives in discipleship, the invitation should be this:  Follow me as I follow Christ and He will be the one that will transform us into His image. Living life together is what helps us see the reality of God’s love. Yes, it can be messy. Yes, sometimes we may get hurt or fall down. But when we are walking together, we know there is someone there to help pick us up. And Jesus is not asking us to do anything that He was not willing to do for us.

 

1 John 3:16:             

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

 

He left heaven, to come to earth for us, humbling Himself in every way, even putting His own will aside. He spent three years, investing in those disciples. He mentored and trained them in the ways of God’s love, teaching them to look past what the world sees, and see them with the eyes of God.

 

He called them out, lovingly rebuking them to focus their attention to where their hearts were. He demonstrated His love when He washed their feet. He took on the sins of the world and paid a debt that was not His. He could have said, “Father, I just can’t do this!” But His love for us is what drove Him and held Him on the cross for you and me!

 

And when He rose again, He spent 40 days with His followers reminding them of all He had taught and urging them to take the gospel message into all the world so that they might experience God’s love, making sure to disciple them so they could carry the message on for generations to come.

 

And it doesn’t stop there. We are given the task to carry on with this process. We have a message of love, grace and hope that we are to share, no matter how old we are! I wish that the more mature Christians had the same zeal and excitement that many young Christians have. There is a fire in their hearts that is consuming them. But all to often, we let that fire burn down to where it is just keeping us warm and secure and not burning bright to draw others in. It’s time to stoke the fire, fan the flame and ask God to revive and use us for His glory.

 
Listen to Pastor Ken’s message here:

 


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Grow: Mentor & Discipleship (Week 1)

Titus 2:1-8

Introduction:

‘Mentor’ is defined as: “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.”  It is a word that is become more and more prevalent in our society. Even what used to be called Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Henry County is now called “Believe and Achieve Mentoring”, encouraging adults in our community to invest in the lives of young people who need positive role models.

Businesses and churches are bringing in interns to help train or mentor them and let them see if this is the job or ministry they want to go into as a career.

The word ‘disciple’ when defined as a noun is:  “any follower of Christ; a person who is a pupil or adherent of the doctrines of another; a follower.” And as a verb is: “to teach; train”.  

The relationship between Paul and Titus is a great example of what it means to disciple someone. Much like Timothy, Paul called Titus “my true son in our common faith.” (Titus 1:4). He was a Gentile, saved under the ministry of Paul with the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith alone. He traveled with Paul and was trained, mentored, discipled by him. Paul was investing in his life, so that he would be able to go and do the same thing with others. 

In fact, in the scriptures we are reading today, we find Titus on special assignment to the churches in Crete. Some commentators refer to him as Paul’s secretary of state, being able to go in and carry Paul’s message of order and direction.  And in chapter two, Paul is very specific to everyone about what they ALL are to do in order to make sure the Gospel message and the Word of God is not defiled.  So let’s stand for the reading of God’s Word as we hear what those assignments are for us.

“As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.  Teach the older men to exercise self- control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

 Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.  Instead, they should teach others what is good.  These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children,  to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.          Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

  In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.  And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.  Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.”    

 Titus 2:1-8

My Barclay’s Study Bible calls this section “The Christian Character”.  It describes our Christian moral or ethical qualities that must be taught, because they do not come naturally to us. Let’s look at the area of responsibilities for each group.

 

I. Titus’s job

 

“As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.” 

Titus 2:1

A. This was a reminder for all who read this letter: Live what you preach!
  • He was sent to appoint the church leaders (Titus 1:5-15)
  • Given specific instructions on who could and could not be called to serve the church.
 
B. He was not asking them to do anything he was not doing himself.
 

“And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.”

Titus 2:7-8

Just like Timothy, he was sent to live it out in front of people so that they will follow by his example and not just his words.

 

II. Older Men

 

Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be   filled with love and patience.”

Titus 2:2

Who are considered “older men”?  (over the age of 40)
 
A. Self-controlled (Sober, temperate) by the Holy Spirit
  • Not just referring to wine/alcohol/strong drink
  • Level-headed, processing things from life experiences
  • Willing to share past failures and successes
  • Self-indulgence in any area costs far more than what they are worth.

 

B. Worthy of Respect (serious, dignified)
  • Not because of age, but because of character
  • Not because of title, but because of integrity
  • Not a gloomy killjoy, but lives life in light of eternity

 

C. Live Wisely (prudent, consistent)
  • No inconsistencies in his life, but the guy you see in church is the guy you see in the community.
  • Not claiming to be perfect or have all the answers, but is striving to be like Christ in all areas of his life

 

D. Needs to be healthy in these three great qualities:
  • Have sound Faith biblically grounded, consistent walk
  • Filled with Love; always to be our first response
  • With Patience/Steadfastness/Endurance/Fortitude;  understanding that things take time and willing to serve to  see it through

 

Paul first mentioned these in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and then again in 1 Corinthians 13

 

III. Older Women

 

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.  Instead, they should teach others what is good.”                

Titus 2:4

Illustration:  According to Barclay’s Study Bible, this was the most honored and responsible positions in the church, for they were natural advisors of the young of both sexes. Their years have brought serenity, sympathy and understanding. When we realize we are active in sacred things every moment of our lives, the embitterment, argumentativeness, touchiness, and intolerance will vanish overnight.

 
A. Live to honor God
  • Everything we do, brings glory to You, God!
  • Same as older men…self-controlled by Holy Spirit
  • A woman of integrity and good reputation

 

B. Not slanderers/gossips
  • The hiss of gossip should tell us it comes from the snake and not the Savior
  • Human nature would rather repeat gossip than a story giving credit to someone or to God.
  • Christian responsibility to use experiences to guide and encourage, not tear down and discourage.

 

This is not just for the ladies…but for all of us!

        

C. Not heavy drinkers/enslaved to wine
  • over-indulgence in any area can cause us to lose focus
  • we want the world to see a difference in us.

 

IV. Younger Women

 

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
Titus 2:4-5

History behind this from Barclay’s Study Bible:

In the Greek world, the home was the only place for respectable women. No trade or profession was open to her; and if she tried to earn a living, she was driven to prostitution. If the women of the ancient Church had suddenly burst every barrier and limitation which the centuries had imposed upon them, the only result would have been to bring discredit on the church and to cause people to say that Christianity corrupted womanhood…in that sense, this passage is temporary.

BUT there is also a sense in which it is permanent. There is no greater task, responsibility and privilege in this world than to make a home…It has been said that consecration is that which makes drudgery divine; and there is no place where consecration can be more necessarily and beautifully shown that within the four walls of the place we call home.”

 

The Communicator’s Commentary  goes on to say:

“I don’t believe the principles of the importance of being a good wife and mother ever change. BUT, the application, of necessity, must change from time to time and from place to place…Contemporary women are fortunate indeed to have more options than Paul or Titus could have imagined.””

                       

 
A. Devoted to their family,
  • Self controlled by the Holy Spirit
  • by being the hands and feet of Jesus to her family first
 
B. Pure, a woman of integrity, Managing the home
  • Your reputation precedes you
  • Katie made reference to this last week, packing for the trip, having a pen in her purse, etc.

 

I always joked that I wanted to go on “Let’s Make A Deal” with my mom, because she would have in her purse any item Monty Hall might ask for…aka her suitcase!

 

C. Kind to others. The children will learn by your actions.

 

D. Submissive/honoring their husbands
  • In word and in deed
  • Works both ways.
  • This principle must always be viewed in the context of mutual submission to each other, growing out of their mutual submission to Christ that Paul laid:

 

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.”

Ephesians 5:21-21

Why? So that evil could not be spoken about the Word of God.

 

V. Young Men

 

“In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.”

Titus 2:6

You were recognized as a man in this culture when you reach age 30

 

Question:  How many times have you heard that men have a one-track mind?  Some might even say this…

Illustration:  You had one job!

 
 
A. Self-controlled
 
“Can’t serve others until self is in its proper place!”

 

 “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”

Proverbs 16:32

  • Time of youth is a time of DANGER! It tends to be more reckless
  • Temptations are stronger, blood runs hotter and passions speak more commandingly
  • False confidence from lack of experience
  • More energy = more opportunities for going wrong
  • Most were not married yet, so no home/family obligations
 
B. If he is listening to the older men, he will learn a lot more.
  • While we can’t keep them from making the same mistakes
  • we can share and hope they learn from them

 

Conclusion:

 

Christianity is always a liberation movement!  The Power of Christ broke the power of slavery, the oppression of women, the oppression of people groups (Jews/Gentiles), and now the oppression of a “Me-First” society. We cannot be in unity unless we are putting Christ first in our lives and then putting others ahead of our wants and desires.

We should all know by now that we are commanded to “…go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19). This is a command to every one of us who call Jesus our Lord and Savior. But how can we go out to others when we haven’t finished doing that right here in our own home and church. One group is not more important than the other. They are all to be built up so they can train the next group. And how will they know unless we tell them?

 

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:26-28

 
It is something that starts with us…who do you have speaking into your life? And who’s life are you speaking into as an encourager, teacher, mentor, or friend?   
 
Listen to Ken’s message here:
 

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Grow: Discovering Love (Week 1)

Discovering how Love is our ‘Miracle Grow’.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Introduction: 
The New Testament quotes Deuteronomy more often than almost any other Old Testament book. Twenty-one of the 27 New Testament books allude to Deuteronomy; some scholars count 90 different citations.  Jesus himself drew from it during his temptation.

 

As we delve into these words from Moses, it is vital that we realize he was taking to heart the importance of what he was about to teach them. There is a sense of urgency that can be seen even in the previous chapters. He was speaking to the group that had wandered around in the desert for 40 years, many of whom had never really had encounters with other nations or the enticements that those civilizations would have to tempt them to abandon all they had known and just join in to the culture.

 

He was telling them that THEY had to set the tone, following after God in all areas of their lives…heart, soul, mind and strength (Might). They had to determine in their hearts Who they would follow and what guidelines would lead their lives. They had to prepare their hearts (the soil) and keep focused (proper feeding of their hearts) in order for God to bless them and help them grow as His children.

 

The same is true today. We have to be reminded that we must keep God first in all that we do. If we truly love someone, we desire to listen and obey, to cherish and serve and to demonstrate our love in all that we do.

 

Illustration:  Planting a garden.

  • Prepare the soil (remove grass, weeds, rocks)
  • Plant the seed
  • Continue to feed and water (Miracle Grow)
  • Continue to remove grass & weeds
  • Then you will see the fruit (not overnight)

 

Just like the garden, we have to prepare our hearts…we have to choose to obey…we have to maintain the soil of our hearts in order to grow. All this happens when we open up our ears to hear the truths of God’s Word. And all of these truths are based on what is known as the GREATEST COMMANDMENT.

                       

The Greatest Commandment:  Deuteronomy 6:1-9

 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the decrees —that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

Moses broke it down into these three areas:

  • I have to teach them to you;
  • You have to hear and apply to your life; and then
  • You have to teach them to the next generation.

 

I. I have to teach them to you. (vs 1-3)

 

  • This command sets the tone for all rules and statutes.
  • God told me I had to teach you!
  • Everything hinges on what I am about to tell you.

 

A. Fear the Lord

 

As defined by Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

 “Fear of God – a designation of true piety*. It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather a filial** reverence.”

  *piety:           Reverence or dutiful respect

**filial:          of, relating to, or befitting a son or daughter

 

This is what God, your Father is commanding/asking you to do – You and generations to come

 

“…you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I commanded you,…”                                                                                                                                          Deut. 6:2

 

Keeping ALL! This means not just knowing them, but doing them.

 

For how long?

 

            “…all the days of your life,…”                                         Deut. 6:2

 

 B. God will bless and prosper you.

 

“and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”                            Deut 6:2-3

 

…multiply you greatly 

  • This promise is not just for the people of Israel
  • From the beginning of creation, it has been God’s desire for us to be fruitful and multiply. He loves to bless His children. But we have to follow Him and His commands.

 

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”                                

Matthew 6:33

 

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”                                               

Acts 2:46-47

 

 

 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”

1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Illustration:  Mission & Vision Statements (Show slides)

 

…the land will be blessed and thrive. 

Same promise for us today!

 

 “ And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

 

II. Hear what I teach you. (vs 4-6)

 

A.  Lord God is our Lord, and Him alone.
  • He is Number 1!!!
  • nothing comes before Him

 

Rhetorical question in Miriam’s Song:

 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

 Exodus 15:11

 You are the one who places Him there, no one can do it for you.

 

B. Love with everything you have

  •  not the first time they heard this charge.
 
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Deut. 4:29

  • heart, soul, might (mind & strength) – with every fiber of our being.
  •  keep these words in your heart

 

 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

 Psalms 119:11

  • It has to become our native language.

 

VIDEO SONG:        Love Is Our Native Tongue.

 

 

III. Now that you have heard, it is YOUR responsibility to teach

 

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:7-9

 

A.  To your children – DILIGENTLY
  •  Memorizing scripture
  • Surround them with music, stories, & videos that have strong Christian values

 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:8

 B. Carry them with you

 “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Proverbs 7:1-3

  • Our values bracelets are a form of this
  • Christian jewelry is another form

 

C) Mark your home*

 

Show Slide:            Deuteronomy 11:18

 

*Moses started his talk with this and shared it again because it was so important.

 

Illustration:          Will & Christy Ragle’s Home.

  •  Intended to encourage family members
  • Became a witness to Comcast guy

 

Conclusion:

As I told you two weeks ago, people are watching everything you do and say. This is especially true at home with our children. And like it or not, once you have heard the truth of God’s Word, you can no longer say, “I didn’t know.”

 

That is why Moses emphasized “HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING…” Maybe I should have started this message out the same way. So here is a reminder of the things I just told you…

 

  1. I just taught you the greatest commandment;
  2. You were told to hear what I was teaching you, to love God with all you got and the benefits of doing so; and
  3. It is your responsibility to teach your children.

 

We are here to help you, but you spend a lot more time with them than we can. You create the atmosphere in your home and car in which your child and those who are with you or visit you will either flourish or wither away.

 

We are here to help you with tools to help keep the soil healthy. And the first priority is follow the greatest commandment.

For loving God with all you have…

He will fill you with His love so that…

you can in turn love others as He first loved you!

 
Listen to the message here:

 


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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth (Week 4)

Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:14-16 & Psalms 116:17-19

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.  Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”     

                                                                1 Timothy 4:14-16

INTRODUCTION:

Over the last month, you have been reminded of the words given by a very wise man of God (Paul) to his young disciple (Timothy), reminding him of the importance of staying in God’s Word. It is through the Word that he will be able to grow in the ministry to which he was called.

Sermon #1:        Need for daily nourishment, daily spiritual exercise and living a life of integrity.

Sermon #2:        We are to command and teach the Word, set an example on both the outside and inside of our lives, and devote ourselves to the Scripture, to exhortation (encouraging others), and teaching how to live it out.

Sermon #3:        Proper food for growth, Knowing that our food source is God’s Word as milk, bread, meat & honey (dessert), and the Evidence will be good fruit.

                       

This week, Paul continues to encourage spiritual growth in these five areas:

1) Focus

2) Mediate

3) Dedicate

4) Integrity

5) Stay true

I want to invite you to follow these same practical steps. It is something that I am still working on every day of my life. I am not asking you to follow me, but rather join me as I follow Christ. It is my desire to show you through God’s Word how we can each be successful in doing this. Not merely present you with a sermon full of platitudes that is someone else’s trite or stale remarks, for while God’s Word has been around for a long time, it is never stale or trite. Just as He provided fresh manna every morning for Israel in the desert, His Word provides fresh food for our lives every moment of every day! And here is a fresh serving for you today!

 

I. FOCUS

               

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…” (v.14a)

 

QUOTE:               “The office of ministry is a gift, it is the gift of Christ.

                                …Do not neglect the ministry gift given to you.

Matthew Henry Commentary

 

 
A. Timothy’s gift was recognized and affirmed by the ministry leaders. It was a gift given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the entire body.
 

 

  • Ministry gifts will wither if neglected.
  • Spiritual ATROPHY (Not apathy, even though it can cause it)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
B. Paul did not want Timothy to ever feel like he had “arrived” and could sit back and cruise until Jesus returned.

 

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” 

Ephesians 4:11-13

 

II. MEDITATE

“Give your complete attention to these matters” (v.15a)

 
A. Need time for preparation of the message.
 
  • average pastor spends 13-18 hours for one message
  • In the book of Acts, the apostles called the 7 deacons to serve the needs of the church so they could spend time in prayer and the study of God’s Word. (Acts 6)

 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”                  

Philippians 4:8

B. When we think on these things, we don’t have space for any other thing!

 

  • Kevin said last week “G.I.G.O” when talking about food
  • Same is true in our thought life.
  • This is why we need to fast and pray (clear our head)

 

QUOTE:  Brooke Obie, Guidepost Magazine, says the benefits of fasting are:
1) Soul Cleansing,

2) New Desire for God,

3) A Deeper Praise,

4) A Sensitivity to God’s Voice, and

5) A New Satisfaction. A small price to pay for what you have gained.

 
 
  • Like love, meditation must be both an inward & outward journey

 

III. DEDICATE

“…Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.”  (v.15b)

 

[Blind Side Video Clip]

 

A. You have to be all in!

 

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

 

  • Just like in a physical workout, you have to put the effort into your spiritual workout.

 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:12-13

B. Give yourself wholly so you can be holy!

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to     present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to         this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2

  • The only problem with a living sacrifice is it keeps getting up off the altar!
  • You have to be the one to place yourself there, which requires dedication and commitment!

 

IV. INTEGRITY

 

Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching.” (v.16a)

 
A. Living a life worthy of the calling!

 

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a   life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

  • We are all called to live this way, not just those in leadership.
  • You are a living example of Jesus that those around you will see!

 

 

B. Continue to grow (keep it fresh)

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””                                      

  Lamentation 3:22-24

                               

  • Just like every day is a fresh new day with God, we have to be open to learning more from His Word as the Holy Spirit will reveal something new from the same scriptures we may have read before!
  • We have to keep growing so we can offer fresh food to those God brings into our lives…and show them how they, too, can find this source of Life!

 

V. STAY TRUE

 

Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” (v.16b)

 

A. Your own salvation.
 
  • Self care in our spiritual life is important, for if we are not healthy, how can we correctly lead others.

 

                “ and on his law he meditates day and night.”     Psalms 1:2

 

                “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a   thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2

 

[ILLUS: Sabbatical season]

 
B. Other’s salvation.

 

Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the    most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”               
Colossians 4:5-6

 

  • While we can’t make the decision for them, it is natural for people to look for an example to follow.
  • Kids imitate parents; young athletes imitate pros.
  • Like it or not, people are watching our lives. We need to reflect Jesus in everything we do.

 

QUOTE:  John Maxwell:  “The more you walk, the less you have to talk.  Live the Life in front of those you seek to influence.    Our leadership is more caught than taught. People would rather see a sermon than hear one.”

 

CONCLUSION:

 

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. All of these simple truths are from God’s Word. They are here for us as believers to follow, not pick and choose what we want or don’t want to do. As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow His commands. I have challenged you every week with this proclamation:

 

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…”                                                                                                          

Ps. 116:17-19

 

You have to be the one to make the choice.

You are the one that chooses to listen and obey or ignore and turn away.

What will you do today?

 
Listen to Ken’s message here:

 


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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth. (Week 2)

Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:11-13; Psalms 116:17-19

 
Command and teach these things.  Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”                 
– 1 Tim. 4:11-13 (ESV)  
 
Introduction:
 
Paul was continuing his message to Timothy on how to be a good servant of Christ. In last week’s message, he first instructed him on how he had to continue to grow in the Lord with proper nourishment (daily time in the word, with meditation and prayer); second, proper spiritual exercise, which included not wasting time with arguing about or with the godless and old wives’ tales stuff; and third, to live a life worthy of the calling by working hard and striving to live a life of integrity.
 
Today’s study focuses on an urgent appeal. In the same way that we have to teach the common courtesies of please and thank you or in school we teach multiplication tables, these are things that you MUST KNOW in order to grow.  
 

I. “Command and teach these things.” (v 11)

 
(NLT) “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them”
 
Timothy was serving the church of Ephesus, appointed by Paul, as their spiritual ‘personal trainer’ or evangelist.  
 
A) COMMAND defined:

 

“to direct with specific authority or prerogative; order, to require authoritatively; demand”  
 
“Command them to exercise themselves into godliness, teach them the profit of it, and if they serve God, they serve one who will be sure to bear them out.”
– Matthew Henry Commentary  
 
Nowhere in this scripture to I see the word ‘option’.  These are the things we MUST DO and KNOW to grow!
 
Not intended to be a “Because I said so” type of command.  
 
B) TEACH defined:
 
“to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in or to.”
 
We have become lazy in our approach in a lot of areas in our lives.  We used to have to do physical research, reading actual physical books and going to the library to cross reference and search out materials needed.
 
Now, we Google, ask Siri or ask Alexa to find the info for us, and it gives you what their search engines find as their top results, which can be skewed by their programmers.
 
O.T.   Deut. 6:1-9; Prov. 22:6
N.T.   Matt. 28:19-20
 
Training a plant Repetition is what helps you remember and grow stronger!  Memory recall or muscle growth.  
 

II. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

 

A) Separation of Authority from Seniority.

 

Timothy had been mentored by Paul for over 10 years.  He is now in his mid to late 30’s, men in Bible times were still called ‘youth’ until age 40.
 
His teachings were not to be discounted because of his age because he was walking in the authority of God’s word, which was evident in how he lived his life.
 
B) He set the example…both on the outside and the inside.
 
This is how his authority is grounded.
 
Outsidespeech and conduct
 
He lived the same way he talked:  *No “do as I say, not as I do”
Not a double standard, but rather a voluntary commitment to live exemplary lives.
 
Since we are not perfect, we have to strive for the kind of integrity and quality in life that reflects Christ’s presence and love.  The world has to see that there is something different in how we live our lives because we have Christ living in us.
 
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”    
Roman 12:2
 
Inside: faith and purity
 
These are our inner beliefs not just about morals, but rather a mind set on seeking and doing God’s will.
 
This fine-tunes our hearts to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding our lives (NO STATIC)
 
Inside and outside:  tied together with LOVE
 
“Love stands in the middle of this pentad, for it is the bond that ties the outer and inner life together. Love always involves the whole of life. Outward expressions of love that are not rooted in Inner love quickly withers and die as insincerities. Inner love that is not expressed by open giving and caring turns to self-adulation and decay. The love of Christ is intensely personal. It is also intensely public. It simply does not exist one way without the other.”
Gary W. Demarest in The Communicator’s Commentary
 
They will know that you care when you show that you care! That is love demonstrated/lived out!  
 

III. “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

 
These are instructions on how to lead a worship service.  
 
A) Reading the scriptures to the church.

 

They did not have their own personal copy.  The more it was read to them, the greater the possibility of them putting it to memory.
 
(Reference again Deut. 6:1-9)
 
Excited about new Bible Study Group on the Public Reading of Scripture!
 
B) Exhorting & Teaching the church
 
Encouraging, giving urgent advice or recommendations   Teaching the doctrines grown out of Scriptures    “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Hebrews 2:12-13
 
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
2 Timothy 4:2  
 
This is God’s word telling us what to do, not just my opinion. Sometimes the message is hard, but it’s just like going to the doctor for a check up and him saying “You need to change your diet or it’s gonna kill you.” We don’t want to hear it, but it is for our own good.
 
Again, these simple truths are here for us as believers to follow, not pick and choose what we want to do. As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow his commands. I challenged you last week with this proclamation:
 
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…” 
Ps. 116:17-19
 
The challenge has been made. You have to make the choice, because no one can do it for you! It may be tough at first, but we will be a better church body because of putting these things into practice in our lives! I echo the words of Paul when he wrote to the Ephesians…
 
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Ephesians 4:15-16
Listen to this message here:
 
 

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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth. (Week 1)

Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:6-10; Psalms 116:17-19

 

If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be doing your duty as a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward both in this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it. 10 We work hard and strive in order that people will believe the truth, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and particularly of all those who believe.                                            

      1 Timothy 4:6-10

 
Introduction: As we begin this new series on “GROW”, it’s important to remember the reason why we are to keep “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life.” We are to never stop growing not matter our physical age. And we need to be aware of where we have planted ourselves. Is it providing what you need to grow in the fullness of God, or is it limiting you?
 
Illustrations:     Shark in a fish tank quote
Tomatoes in containers vs in a garden
Planting a fruit tree (got to take root before it can bear fruit!)
 
Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to be a “worthy servant of Christ Jesus” (4:6a). In fact, he said it was his duty! (yes, I said duty) Duty is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “conduct due to parents and superiors (respect); obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one’s position (responsibility).”  There is a clear call for the church to live out in tangible ways the ethical implications of the Gospel. This week, we are going to study the disciplines needed to fulfill our duty and grow in Christ.
 

I. “…one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed.” (1 Timothy 4:6b)

 
A. What does fed by or nourished mean here?
1. Message of Faith (Scriptures)
We believe that the Bible is the inspired,  God-breathed Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16)
The faith or trust that we exhibit here is that we have anchored our hope in the living God.
 
  1. Good (true) teaching you have followed

The importance of learning from others’ examples. Putting into practice the things we have learned.

Illustration:       Common courtesy vs self-centered focus

B. How are we to be nourished?
  1. Nourishment in this context can be defined as the DAILY study of Scriptures with time for reflection and meditation
  1. We cannot exist on “Jack in the Box” or “McDonalds” fast food style of spiritual nourishment.
It is not a substitute. May feel full, but it’s just not healthy.
 
C. Don’t waste your time on the godless stuff.
1. Even before His first miracle, while He was still a child, Jesus was showing us what we should be doing.

 

“…Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”   Luke 2:49    “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”              Ephesians 5:15-17
 
2. The Pharisees tried arguing with Jesus
 
“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.”                         Mark 8:11-12
 
There are those who just want to argue for the sake of arguing!  Don’t waste your breath! We have to understand that the devil is just using this to waste our time. If we are living our lives on purpose to be the child of God that we are called to be, then our actions are speaking a lot louder than words.
 
 

II. “…Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. 8 Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward both in this life and the next. .” (I Timothy 4:7b-8)

 
A. Time and energy as a commodity.
1. Making time with God a priority, because you set your schedule by what you deem as most important
Biblical examples: Abraham, David, Daniel, Jesus
Early church fathers: Wesley(both), Spurgeon, Bounds.
2. Takes discipline to set priorities.
 
B. Physical exercise vs Spiritual exercise.
  Illustration:       2009 Biggest Thriver Contest in Henry County.
 
1. C.T. Studd poem “Only one life ,twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
2. We can’t put our growth off on others. We have to practice the disciplines we have set.
 
 

III. “This is true, and everyone should accept it. We work hard and strive in order that people will believe the truth…” (I Timothy 4:9-10a)

 
QUOTE:   “If one knows one’s calling, one’s Gospel, one’s self, and one’s mission, all of life and ministry can be lived with love, joy and peace.” Gary W. Demarest in “The Communicators Commentary
 
A. It is ALL of our responsibility to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and to make disciples!
1. Some of may do it as a profession (pastor, missionary)
2. Others may do it as undercover missionaries
 
B. How we live our lives the other 10,000 minutes a week speaks a whole lot louder than how we live our lives for the 80 minutes we are together on Sunday Morning

 

Conclusion:

When we confessed our sins and surrendered our lives to Jesus, we made a commitment to do whatever He asked us to do.

When we stepped into the baptismal water, we made a public confession that we had confessed our sins, had made Jesus Lord of our lives, and that we would strive to do our best to follow Him in all areas of our lives.

Then why is it that we struggle to grow in our faith and go share with others about our wonderful Savior?  Too often, the answer is we have not being doing our spiritual exercises, so we are soft and flabby, rather than strong and courageous.

We can improve our spiritual health by daily reading God’s Word, surrounding ourselves with positive, encouraging music and teachings, and by living exemplary lives, which will then clearly point others to Jesus! I challenge you to make the same proclamation that the Psalmist David did…

“ I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people— in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!”   

                                               Psalms 116:17-19

 

Fulfill your vows! Encourage and hold your brothers and sisters accountable to their promises…not to programs or activities, but to serving one another in love and sharing this message of hope to a world that needs it!

 
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Love: It’s Who I Am! (Week 2)

“The Reflective Love”

I John 4:19-21; Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-6; Romans 8:35-37; John 13:34-35

 

Just a little over 14 years ago, on Easter Sunday, the first dramatic musical that we presented to this community was called “What Love Is.”, written by Christy Ragle and using the secular song from the group Foreigner “I Want to Know What Love Is”. It seems only fitting that we are covering this topic once again when our community, our church, our nation, our world is in need of this message of hope.

 

 Take a look at these images:

            1) The Durham Boys

            2) The Kalisch Clan

            3) The Clark Boys

 

Do you see the similarities in each of these families? They reflect the image of their parents because of DNA. I hope you can also see the love that they have for one another. Sure , there might be some sibling rivalry at times, but their love for each other wins over all.

 

 In Genesis 1:26, it is written:

“ Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

From the very beginning, it was God’ desire for us to reflect him. But sin separated us from Him, so He made a way for us to come back into relationship with Him.

 

We find written in 1 John 4:9-10,19-21:

.”God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our

We love each other because he loved us first.  If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”

 

A recent article on Reflecting God’s Love, stated: ”Love for God compels love for others; love for others reflects love for God. The two ideas can neither be separated nor compartmentalized.” We cannot say that we are in relationship with God if we cannot show love to those around us.

 

God’s Word gives a prime example of someone who thought he was doing what he was suppose to in order to get people to honor God’s law. He was enforcing law and not love. The guy’s name was Saul of Tarsus.

 

 Acts:8:1-3 

“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.  (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)  But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.”

 

Saul was a Roman citizen and a Pharisee who took it upon himself to show his zeal for God in making sure that the followers of Jesus were silenced since they were not following the Jewish laws and customs…all 613! Saul had been raised and taught that it was in following the laws that kept you in relationship with God. He could not have been more wrong. So Jesus got his attention…

 

Acts 9:1-6

“Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest.  He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 

He had a personal encounter with Jesus! He knocked him off his donkey, he fell to the ground and the Lord talked to him. It wasn’t a long talk, but he was struck blind and had three days to think about it!  Even Ananias, the guy God spoke to about bringing the message of healing and hope to Saul, was fearful to go see him. But in those three days of fasting and prayer, God changed Saul’s heart! He was baptized and began preaching in the synagogue, which did not make the Jewish leaders happy. So they plotted to kill him (does this story sound familiar?) So some of the believers snuck him out of the city in a basket through an opening in the city wall.  Saul returned to Tarsus and spent 3 years in Arabia (See Galatians 1:15-18) During that time, he spent time with the Lord and sharing the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. His name change from Saul to Paul was not part of the protective services plan, but rather Saul was his Roman citizenship name, and Paul was his Greek name, and the Gentiles would have been more familiar with it. I find it interesting that the name PAUL mean “small or humble”, and the Apostle Paul was not one to build himself up, but rather humble himself and make himself small so that God would be shown as his strength and power.  (2 Cor. 12:10)

 

All throughout Paul’s life, he reflected the love of Christ, even to those who persecuted him, stoned him, flogged him, threw him in jail, and he went places with this message, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Like Jesus, it was in Jerusalem that he was arrested. Like Jesus, he was taken before the Roman authorities. And like Jesus, he had false witnesses tell lies about him, but he never stopped sharing the message of love that God had given him to share.

 

In his message to the Romans, we find words of hope and encouragement for us when it comes to God’s love:

Romans 8:35-37

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

 

This past Easter, almost 300 of our brothers and sisters in Christ were killed in Sri Lanka. This past Sunday, an Assembly of God pastor, his two sons and three others in the church were killed in Burkina Faso. Does it mean they were not loved by God because this happened? NO! Then what does it mean? It means the devil is going all out to silence the voices of those who are proclaiming God’s love in areas that are in desperate need of this message. Does this that the devil is victorious here? NO! The news showed interviews of some of the surviving members praying for those who were behind the attacks. Could you do that? We are called to pray for those who spitefully use us…to pray for our enemies! We challenge you each week to pray for the names in our prayer guide, but we also need to add to that the names of those who have hurt you, used you, or have treated you wrongly. For love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8)! This is where we will find the victory, even if it is not on this side of glory!

 

Therefore, we are to have an outward reflection of an inward reality. If we are to truly reflect the love of Christ in our lives, we have to live it out, demonstrated in EVERYTHING we do. Are we going to always get it right? No…but through God’s grace, we will get better and better at it. Then we will fulfill the words of Jesus that John the beloved wrote in John 13:34-35:

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 

 

Let’s go out and show to the world that we love not only each other, but those who are lost and dying in our neighborhoods, our community, our nation, our world…. wherever the Lord calls you…so that they can find that hope, grace, mercy and love that we have received in our lives.
 
Love Week 2:  Listen to it here.
 
 

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Supernatural (Week 3) A Musical

“Supernatural: A Preparation for Advent Story”

Angel stories adapted from Luke 1-2, & Matthew 1
 
NARRATOR: (Kevin Stonerock)
From the beginning of time as you know it, God’s plan was to be in communion with His creation. But He did not want it to be a forced relationship, but rather one of choice. He loved the man and woman that He created and wanted them to choose to love Him in return.
 
But they made the choice to want to be like God, which was the same thing that caused Lucifer (Satan) and a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven. Rather than being in love with Him and being thankful for what He had given them, they listened to Satan speaking through the snake and threw it all away for a lie.
 
God’s desire to be in communion was still there, even though they chose separation. So He began a plan of restoration, keeping the lines of communication open. He wove what many call ‘a scarlet thread’ throughout the tapestry of the history of the world. God kept reaching out, speaking through the prophets and sending angels to let them know He still loved them and would be sending a Messiah, IMMANUEL, which means “God with us”. While Satan tried to derail this plan, God kept showing mankind that He was working all things together for their good. They cried out for a Deliverer, someone to help end their suffering. But God showed them that what they really needed was a Savior, One whom could restore the relationship between God and man. And God’s plan would not be delivered in the way that many expected.
 
 
ANGEL 1 (Kenton Durham) There was a priest name Zacharias serving in Judea under Herod, the Great, king of Judea. He was married to Elizabeth, who was a direct descendant of Aaron, the first high priest of Israel. Both were found righteous in the eyes of God, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and requirements. But sadly, they were childless because Elizabeth was barren and they were both past the age of having children.
 
One day while he was serving in the temple, he was chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar…
 
 
SONG:  “The Father’s Plan” Duet with Zach & Angel  (by Matt Hurst)
 
ANGEL 1 (Kenton) When he went out and was unable to speak, by the signs he was making, the crowd realized he must have seen a vision. He returned home after his duties were fulfilled, and Elizabeth became pregnant. She secluded herself for 5 months, saying…
 
 
ELIZABETH (Tina Durham) How kind and gracious the Lord is! He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) Meanwhile, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visited a young woman by the name of Mary who was engaged to Joseph the carpenter in the village of Nazareth in Galilee
 
 
GABRIEL (Jared Evans) Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you! (pause for Mary’s reaction) Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!
 
 
MARY (Emily Hurst) How can this be, since I am a virgin?
 
 
GABRIEL (Jared) The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth is pregnant with a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.
 
MARY (Emily) I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) A few days later, Mary went off to the hill country of Judea to visit Elizabeth. When she entered the house, at the sound of her greeting, the baby leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…
 
ELIZABETH (Tina) Mary…..God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, my baby boy jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then returned home. But while she was away, the angel visited Joseph in a dream (Joseph played by Matt H.)
 
GABRIEL (Jared) Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin) When he awoke, he did as the angel told him and took Mary to be his wife.
 
 
SONG: “MARY DID YOU KNOW” (sung by Jared)
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) Just before the child was born, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken, which required everyone to return to their ancestral towns to register. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea. He and Mary traveled there from Nazareth. There was not a room to be found in the town, but they found shelter in a stable, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. In the fields nearby, there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them with the radiance of God’s glory surrounding them, and they were terrified…
 
(Shepherds played by Brandon Atwood, Kevin King and Elijah Abrams)
 
ANGEL 2 (Kolby Durham) Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And you will recognize him by this sign; You will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth and lying in a manger
 
 
SONG: “Agnus Dei” (Sung by Kolby)
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) The shepherds knew that they must go and see what the Lord had told them about. They rushed to the village and found Mary and Joseph with the baby lying in the manger, just as they were told.
 
 
SONG: “Noel” (sung by Kenton)   NARRATOR (Kevin S) Thankfully, the story does not stop here, but rather marks the change in history where God came down in a supernatural way in the form of human baby that was fully God and fully man. His Son grew up, in favor with God and man, and began His ministry by calling 12 men to follow Him, promising that He would make them ‘fishers of people’. He performed miracles, signs and wonders, and ultimately gave His life up as a ransom for many. But He rose again, showing himself to his followers and charging them with the task of taking the message of grace, hope and love to a world that needs to restore their communion with God on a personal level. God poured out His love on us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The Lamb of God, taking all of our sins to the cross, became the ultimate sacrifice, something that no ordinary man could ever do. Just like on that first Christmas night, we are all invited to come to the Messiah, and recognize our need for the Savior.
 
 
SONG: ‘Is He Worthy’ with O Come Let Us Adore Him (Lead by Brandon Atwood, sang by entire cast)
 
Watch the Video here.
 

List of Characters:

  • Narrator: Kevin Stonerock
  • Angel 1: Kenton Durham
  • Zachariah: Ken Durham
  • Elizabeth: Tina Durham
  • Gabriel: Jared Evans
  • Mary: Emily Hurst
  • Joseph: Matt Hurst (non speaking)
  • Baby Jesus:  Eliza Hurst
  • Angel 2: Kolby Durham
Shepherds (non speaking; could also be part of crowd):
  • Shepherd Kevin King
  • Shepherd Elijah Abrams
  • Shepherd Brandon Atwood
Angel Costumes made by Betty McQueen and Marcia Ireland
Tech Crew:  David Maddy, Cheryl Gideon, Michael Dabrowski, Max Harter, Caleb & Staisha West
 

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Follow (Week 4): The Love Language of Jesus

 
SAVE THE DATE:  Saturday, October 19, 2019: 5 Love Languages Conference with Gary Chapman here at FBC.
 
 
 
 

In case you are not familiar with the 5 love languages that are described in Chapman’s book, they are

  1. Gifts
  2. Quality Time;
  3. Words of Affirmation
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch.
 
The first book focuses on the marriage relationship, but he has done follow up books to help us understand how to talk with our teens and children.
 
So from where did he draw his examples? The Bible. And who was his greatest example? JESUS! Think about it. Here is just a few examples” He gave the gift of healing to the blind man (John 9:1-12); He gave quality time to the disciples (John 3:22); He gave words of affirmation to the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26); He served the disciples by washing their feet (Matthew 26:14-39); and He wanted people to know He was approachable by telling the disciples to let the children come to Him to hold them and bless them (Luke 18:15-17).
 
Over the last three weeks, we have heard that we are not to follow a “brand” or denomination, but we are to follow Christ!
 
We are to know that we can’t do this on our own, but need to listen to and live our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.
 

We are to be people of prayer and in communication with our Heavenly Father so that He can reveal to us what His will is for our lives. We even heard Jesus’ own words in John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”

 

Reading Mark 1:17-18Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  And they left their nets at once and followed him.

 

They didn’t hem and haw…at once they left! He didn’t hand them a manual to tell them what His plans were, they followed in faith.   Reading 1 John 2:5-6:  “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”

John had walked with Jesus, followed Him and His teachings, and knew what it meant to remain in his faith in Christ, even during the tough times.
 

So what love language of Jesus stands out the most to me? READ: John 13:4-15

 

Jesus put into action exactly what He had been teaching, showing, living out in front of the disciples as the final exclamation point before He would give His life on the cross! He had even given them a heads up about this after they had heard His parable about the workers in the vineyard. James & John’s mother came to talk with Jesus. They thought He was going to establish His kingdom here on earth by removing the Roman regime, and she wanted to make sure that her boys held good positions when Jesus took over. But He set them straight very quickly.

 

Matthew 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   His kingdom is a kingdom of love and He showed us how we are to live.   You have heard it said that actions speak louder than words…that the world will know that you care when you show that you care.  The Bible even says  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”   (John 13:35)

 

But it can’t be one without the other.  It is BOTH AND…in word and in deed.

 

READ Colossians 3:12-17 We are all different, not just in skin color, or gender, but in upbringing and personalities.  I am thankful for that diversity! The body of Christ would be boring if we were all the same! But the one thing that brings us together so we can live in unity is the love of Jesus. God loved us so much that He sent His greatest gift, His Son, to the world, for each and every one of us. He desires for us to spend quality time with Him in our prayer and bible study time. He uses the written words of the Bible and the Holy Spirit to speak words of affirmation into our lives. He asks us to be His hands and feet to carry out the acts of service and be the physical presence to give a hand up or a hug when someone needs it.

 
We are not to be selfish in living our lives for what we want, but we are to surrender our lives to God and be selfless as we strive to be more like Jesus in our daily lives.
 
Paul writes it best in Galatians 5:13-14

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Please understand that these are God’s words to us today! If we say that we are a follower of Jesus Christ, then we have to show it in everything that we do. There are many rich people who do good things, but many times, it is not truly costing them anything. We are called to “put some skin into the game”, and to live life with one another while reaching out to a world that is lost and dying without hope.

 
Follow Week 4:  Listen to it here
 
 

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