The blog contains daily devotions and notes from the weekly messages.  We encourage you to review the notes during the sermon or through the week!  Most of the posts will have an audio and/or video link at the end of the notes.  From time to time the pastors will share other insights and devotions here.

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Celebrating Jesus at Christmas (Week 2)

3 Wise Men and a Baby

 
The FBC Children’s Choir and guests present a musical  play about events surrounding the birth of Jesus. 
 

 

Cast

(In Order of Appearance)
 
FBC Children’s Choir & guests
 
Soloists:
Helen Estelle, Grace Logan, Kaitlyn Giddings, Bella Dailey, Lily Dailey, Nora Hamilton, Dylan Bunner, Jacob Hamilton, Aubrey Whitaker, Emma Durham, Jonah Kinnaird, Caleb Kinnaird, & Danny Hurst
 
Narrator : Haylee Brown
 
Ranger Shawn : Shawn Harter
Angel #1 : Grace Logan
Kid #1 & Kid #2 : Maxwell Richardson & Josiah Plumhoff
Inn Keeper : Caden Upchurch
Inn Keeper’s Wife : Kaitlyn Giddings
Joseph : Dylan Bunner
Mary : Nora Hamilton
Animals : Addy Durham, Brenna Evans, Lucy Kinnaird & Anna Plumhoff
Shepherd #1 : Jacob Hamilton
Shepherd #2 : Aubrey Whitaker
Shepherd #3 : Emma Durham
Multitude of Angels : Willow & Alana Ingalls, Helen Estelle, Bella & Lily Dailey
Gaspar : Jonah Kinnaird
Melchior : Caleb Kinnaird
Binky : Danny Hurst
 

You can listen to the production here:

 

You can watch the video version by clicking HERE.

 
 
 
 

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Celebrating Jesus at Christmas (Week 1)

“Jesus is Hope!”

Key Verse:  Luke 2:1-7, NASB

Christmas is the proclamation of the coming of the Living Word, God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, the divine herald of God’s Gospel, and the Eternal King of God’s Everlasting Kingdom. 2,019 years ago something happened that changed not only time as we know it, but shifted the hope of the nations for all time. What happened was that the most influential person in history was born and the Bible records it from first-hand witness accounts.

Allow me to read a selection of the Bible’s account of the Christmas Story. From Luke 2:1-7.

Does listening to this familiar story thrill you with the hope of the Christmas Story or weary you with the burden of the Christmas Season?

For the weary and the heavy-burdened, it is my privilege to teach you about the hope that Jesus Christ came to give the world. He did so in such a dramatic fashion that time itself started over at 0. All dates before this event are called B.C. (before Christ) and all dates after are called A.D. (anno domini, Latin for “in the year of our Lord”). We live in a season of Advent Celebration and Anticipation! Jesus has come and Jesus is coming! All time points back to and leads to these dual truths of Jesus’ 1st & 2nd comings. We celebrate His first coming as we hope for His return!
 

Why do I mention time? Because time is important and in fact I believe a right view of time is so important that a proper understanding of the Christmas story “in time” is essential to learning how to live with hope in our everyday “in real time” lives. I will teach you what I mean by this and then apply with 3 practical applications that will start helping you live with the hope God intends for you to live your everyday lives in light of the Christmas Story.

 

The key to understanding the hope of the Christmas story lies in the fact that it is a real story in real time. Listen to Luke 2:1-2, “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” This same key is highlighted in Matthew 1’s “Genealogy of Jesus” summarized in Matthew 1:17, “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”

 

What am I talking about and why is this important?  Both Luke’s and Matthew’s accounts of the Christmas story start with time markers. Luke’s from a Gentile historian’s perspective (the historical witness of rulers and their activities) and Matthew’s from Israel’s religious perspective (by genealogy). But both serve the same purpose: to put the Christmas story “in time”! This is important because the promise of God for the Christmas miracle, the coming of Jesus, was foretold many times over the course of hundreds of years by many prophets of God. God gave His people a promise so that they wouldn’t despair. Faith and Hope are intertwined in time!  

 

Listen for the key to living with hope in Isaiah 40:30-31: “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

 

I emphasize the words, “yet those who wait on for the Lord,” but this time hear those words from the NIV, as the key word shifts to illuminate the depth of the original Hebrew word that the Prophet Isaiah used to make the point: “But those who hope in the LORD…”. And from Young’s Literal Translation, “But those expecting Jehovah…” All these translations are correct, none more than another because the Hebrew word carries all of these meanings: to wait on; to hope in; and to expect.”[1] There is a deep truth about the biblical concept of hope (found in OT and NT) that I want you to understand. Listen to this definition of biblical hope:

 

In the Gospels, the theological concept of hope is expressed in terms of waiting (προσδέχομαι, prosdechomai) for the kingdom of God (Mark 15:43). In the Letters, hope is directly related to and grows out of faith in God. While faith takes God at his word, believing that he will do as he has promised, hope is the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises (Rom 4:18–21; Heb 6:11–18). Hope originates with God (Rom 15:13), is based on his calling (Eph 1:18; 4:4), and is facilitated by Scripture (Rom 15:4). Specific objects of hope include the future resurrection (Acts 23:6; Rom 8:20–24); the Parousia (Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:2–3); and eternal life (Titus 1:2; 3:7). Hope’s opposite is expressed in terms of unbelief (Heb 3:6–12), grief or despair (1 Thess 4:13), and shame or disappointment (Rom 5:5; Phil 1:20).[2]

 

Isaiah wrote 700 years before the Christmas miracle of the incarnation, the coming of Messiah, the great rescue of God for His people and all the people of all nations. He commanded God’s people to wait for it, to hope in it, to expect it! Isaiah pointed to the Messiah in more detail and with such exactness that his prophecies have been quoted by the Church throughout history to point to the fulfillment of God’s promises through Jesus Christ. The people of God knew these promises, they knew the prophecies of Messiah, but they still sought salvation from Egypt instead of trusting in God to rescue them. That led to their destruction and deportation.

 

Because of our perspective today (hind sight is 20/20), we see now what God’s people couldn’t seem to hang onto for 700 hundred years even though God had told them everything they needed to have hope—God had promised and their hope was to be in His promises and not in their own abilities to rescue and deliver themselves from their situations and circumstances.  When we don’t wait on the Lord and we take matters into our own hands, we more times than not make it worse and cause ourselves greater worry and anxiety. We are to wait on the Lord to keep His promise for rescue and deliverance; for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 40:30-31 give us direction on how we are to remain hopeful in our everyday situations:

  1. We WAIT on the Lord to keep His promises through hard times;
  2. We HOPE in the Lord to accomplish His good purposes even when evil seems to be having its way; and
  3. We EXPECT the Lord to act in and through us in our situations and circumstances. This is the way of hope in our everyday lives.

 

The Gospel story of Jesus Christ starts with a time marker of Jesus’ birth (for both Jewish and non-Jewish listeners) because God wants us to see the importance of how God works in real history with real people who have real faith. The key to all of those great stories of the Bible is that the people of faith waited on the Lord, not always perfectly, but they lived by faith and trusted in the Lord’s promises.

 

Christmas is a story found in real time! Can you empathize with how difficult it must have been for the Israelites to wait on God through their circumstances? Waiting is hard! Because it’s not a passive waiting; it is a faithful, trusting, expecting waiting. Hope requires faith! The problem for us is not that we have learned to read the Bible with eyes of faith, but that we have not yet learned to look at the events of our lives the same way we read the Bible stories. So, we have created a disconnect between the hope we read about and the hope we experience.

 

Just as God gave us the prophecies of Jesus from Isaiah 700 years before the promise was fulfilled and just like there were 400 years between Malachi and John the Baptizer (i.e. the intertestamental period), God’s people have a long history of having to wait on God’s promises and even at times, waiting through God’s silence to us in our situations. It’s what we do in the waiting that determines whether or not we will experience hope or despair in our circumstances.

 

Truthfully, it is not the events that bring despair or depression in our lives, it is our interpretation of the events. I invite us to look at our daily circumstances with biblical hope.

 

Here’s how to have hope, not only this Christmas season, but from this day forward:

 

  1. DEVELOP A FAITH PERSPECTIVE ON EVENTS:
    As Isaiah taught us, we WAIT on the Lord to keep His promises through hard times. To do this, we must know the promises and persevere in the promises. That means our faith must become personal and intimate. It must work its way into the very nuts and bolts of our everyday working and playing lives. So often, in the past, we have allowed world events, national politics, community gossip, church challenges, family situations, work circumstances, and health struggles to determine our perspective on life. That is backwards! Your faith in Jesus Christ and what He has promised is the shaper of our conversations and how we interpret life. Faith shapes perspective: This is the way to hope!

 

As Paul taught us in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

What shapes your daily conversations? How do you interpret your situations and circumstances? Is your faith in Jesus Christ worked into the very fabric of your whole life or is it compartmentalized into a Sunday morning religious observance?

 

  1. REMEMBER THAT THE PROMISES OF GOD ARE GREATER THAN OUR PROBLEMS!
    As Isaiah taught us, we HOPE in the Lord to accomplish His promises even when evil seems to be having its way and our problems seem bigger. Your faith in Jesus Christ brings hope by giving us God’s promises to hang onto when all the evidence of this life points away from an all-good, all-loving, and all-powerful God. Hope is not wishful thinking, like I hope it snows for Christmas. Hope is a certainty that faith in God and His promises is not displaced because He who promises is worthy of all trust!

 

God delivers on time, every time! Paul taught us the reality of how to live this way. He said in Philippians 4:6-9, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

We need a persevering faith that comforts us with not only the assurance of our salvation, but also the assurance of Jesus’ promise for the abundant life (John 10:10). There is no hope outside of the rest you gain from the assurances that God and His promises are right and true, every time and on time—in His time.

 

When you walk in the assurance that the PROMISES OF GOD are BIGGER THAN the PROBLEMS OF YOUR LIFE then you will experience the PEACE OF GOD.

 

But conversely, when you allow the PROBLEMS OF YOUR LIFE to LOOM LARGER THAN then PROMISES OF GOD then you will experience the ANXIETY OF THE MOMENT.

 

Every time you feel the emotion of anxiety, it’s an opportunity to turn it around and go to God with thanksgiving in your heart for who He is and His promises for your life! Don’t let anxiety condemn you, but allow the conviction you feel at the normal human emotion of anxiety to move you to God. Do you know the promises of God so that you can rest in Him? How do you work them into your heart and mind so that they can bring about the promised peace of God? What shapes your emotional well-being—your circumstances or His promises?

 

Your FAITH in Jesus Christ is the foundation of who you are (your identity!). The HOPE you have in the promises of God will shape your perspective and your perspective will shape your emotional well-being. What makes all this visible, is the LOVE of God put on display through your life during the hard and challenging times. That leads us to the final application:

 

  1. LIVE THE ABUNDANT LIFE OF LOVE!
    As Isaiah taught us, we EXPECT the Lord to act in and through real people in real situations and circumstances. I am here to tell you that you can be the solution to the situation. When all hope seems to be lost, be the hope by loving the people around you instead of reacting with anxiety and fear. Be the person that God uses to bless people by how you walk through your situations and circumstances. The world does not need any more doomsdayers, gossips, or troublemakers. Our nation has reached its quota on all of these and the church is called to be different than the culture, not co-opt it.

 

How can we be different? Biblical Hope! We hope in the promises of God! Just as we celebrate whole-heartedly the first coming of Christ every Christmas, we resolve to whole-heartedly hang on to the promises of God that Jesus will return; His second coming is imminent and the Kingdom of God can’t be thwarted by evil. We can love today because we know Love wins!

 

Our church is called to be the light of Jesus Christ to East-Central Indiana, not just a representative gathering of a growing minority of people called Christians who happen to live in East-Central Indiana. We are called to transform stories so that we will see thriving communities. That will only happen through LOVE! And the only way LOVE will happen in the hard times and difficult meetings and in controversial polarizing conversations is if each of us has our lives built on the foundation of the assurance of our faith in Jesus Christ, pillared by our hope in the persevering promises of God, and put on display by the Love that God first loved us!

 

As John, the Beloved of Jesus, taught us in 1 John 4:9-11, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 

Christmas is a wonderful time to practice loving people in practical ways. Many people are weary and heavy-burdened during Christmas because they have forgotten that Jesus is the reason for the season. Their hope has been displaced from the reason of the season to the hustle and bustle of the season.

 

Let us give the greatest gift of all—the Hope of Jesus Christ through practical and intentional acts of love. You will spend a lot of time and money on giving gifts this season, but why not invest a lot of time and money on becoming the gift of God to our communities.

 

It has been said, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

 

Christmas is the proclamation of the coming of Jesus Christ—the One who brought hope to the nations! Don’t go another second without the hope of Jesus Christ for yourself. Don’t let the weary and heavy-burdened of our community go another day apart from the real hope of Christmas. You are called to go from this place today and be the hope of Jesus Christ.
 

Listen to Pastor Jerry’s message here:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 
 

Footnotes:

 

[1] “קָוָה (qāwâ). vb. to wait, hope. In its basic sense, the term describes the act of waiting. It may indicate the act of expectation when a particular outcome is anticipated (often rendered “look for”) or the act of hoping when the expected outcome is desirable or beneficial” (Aaron C. Fenlason, “Hope,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series [Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014]).

 

[2] Aaron C. Fenlason, “Hope,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
 
 

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Grow: Mentor & Discipleship (Week 3)

Speaker:  Dan Buschow

#RIPPLESTARTER

 

II Timothy 2:2 These thing you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who are qualified to teach others.

I Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

 
 

 

We must be willing to fight for each generation!

 
I have stood before churches in each generation with a youth standing by my side and asked the question…
 
“Will you fight for this generation?”  
 
The whole world is fighting for this generation of youth!  Society, marketers, political parties! 
Will the church fight for this generation of Gen-Zers?  We can’t afford to slip any further away!  Today only 4% of Gen-Zers have a biblical world view.
 

Are You Ready?

 

Growth and Discipleship

  • Being Christ-Centered – Christ is in the middle of everything in your life – Spiritual Discipline
  • Being Christ-like – Having and Displaying to your qualities of Christ – Kindness – Forgiveness – Sincerity – Caring – Accepting

 

Great Commandments

  • Mark 12:30 –Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Are You?
  • Mark 12:31 – The second and greatest is this, Love your neighbor as yourself. Do You?

 

Great Commission

  • Mark 16:15 (TLB) Go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere.
  • 28:18-20 – Go and make disciples of every nation.

 

21 Day Challenge

  • Learn to have a daily quality quiet time.
  • Learn to share your story in world.
  • Learn to live a life of joy.
  • Learn to be accountable to someone so you can be accountable for some one.

 

Ignite Passion, Purpose, and Faith in someone in their world!

 

Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

 

Four PRACTICAL WAYS TO BE A #RIPPLESTARTER

 

1. Desire to make a Connection

  • Look Up
  • Look Around
  • Use Your Sling Shot

2. Discipline to have a Conversation

  • Make the phone call, Send a text/private message, Email
  • Set a time and place

3. Delight when you find Common Ground

  • Ask questions
  • Look for where you are connecting

REMEMBER – #Ripplestarters ignite passion, purpose, and faith!

4. Determination to be Consistent

  • Cup of Coffee
  • Season of Life
  • Life-long Relationships

 

Think About This…

You cannot have a life-long relationship until you have a cup of coffee!

 

Let’s Start some RiPPLES

Wake Up

Stand Up

Speak Up

Rise Up

 

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

 

Listen to Dan’s Message here:

 

 

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 

 

 


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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:

 

You can watch the video 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:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 
 

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Grow: Discovering Love (Week 3)

“Our Response to His Rescue: Loving God With All Our Hearts”

 
Testimony:
1) Caleb

2) Young Life [deficit, busiest time of year,  emotional stress of caring for so many kids and leaders] = STRESS

Story: Jonah and his retainer!

How does it feel when you do something for someone you love and they overlook it? How does it feel when YOU know what you’ve done, how you’ve taken care of them, and they don’t realize of acknowledge it, or even worse, believe that someone else or they themselves did the thing you actually did?

 
We often overlook and fail to acknowledge God’s care for us. He has loved us and taken care of us truly beyond what any of us could comprehend. As our Father who has done everything he can to care and provide for us, God
wants us to love him in return. He wants our full attention, our passion, our appreciation, our deepest love. He wants us to love him with all our hearts, all our minds and all our strength- with everything we have.
 
Matthew 22: 34-40  Jesus told us that the most important thing in life is for us to love God with all our hearts, souls and strength. Many of us have heard this “most important commandment” hundreds of times. But what
does it mean? What does it look like to love God like that, to that extent?
Today we are going to go back to the Old Testament, to the passage that Jesus quoted when he told the people what the most important commandment was. Let’s look at the context of “Love the Lord your God with all your ____” so we can better understand what exactly that means.  And then let’s look at a Jesus story that puts some real life application to this most important commandment.
 
The context of this chapter: where have they BEEN. (Deuteronomy 6:21-24)
 
Moses is talking to the Israelites while they are wandering in the desert for years. They had been slaves in Egypt, oppressed as a people group for years until God miraculously saved them and sent them out on a journey to
a new place, a land that He promised would become their new home.
 
Slavery had been terrible; but they’d wandered so long that the people were in danger of forgetting what they had left behind. God did not want them to forget what He had done, where they had come from. Their suffering is just about over, and God is about to bless them beyond what they’ve ever dreamed. And God is warning them- when everything you’ve hoped for comes, don’t forget! Don’t forget that you didn’t do anything to earn this; everything you will experience is a gift (v. 10-12).
 
– God is giving them the full extent of his laws and commands. The previous chapter is the 10 Commandments. The first thing the Lord says before he gives them his 10 Commandments is, “I am the LORD your
God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” The context for the commands he gives is that He is the one who rescued them, gave them the life they’re entering. It is the memory of what God has done for us that motivates us to obey and trust His commands.
– Are we motivated to obey God? When we think about what He has done for us, doesn’t it seem logical to TRUST that what he commands is best for us? When we think of his love and care for us, it should motivate us to listen to God and follow him wholeheartedly. We aren’t motivated by obligation, we’re inspired by our love for a God who has done EVERYTHING for us.
 
There is a critical theme in Deuteronomy 6 of REMEMBERING and not forgetting. This famous Scripture that Jesus quotes, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is called the Shema, Hebrew for “listen”. All throughout the chapter, Moses says, “listen”, “be careful”, “listen closely” “Remember what you were before” “be careful not to forget the Lord”
 
God knows how weak we are and how easily we get distracted. Raise your hand if you get distracted easily? The truth is we all do. We can all be out-of-sight-out-of-mind, especially when it comes to God because He is always out of our physical sight. We go through something hard, and God takes care of us. And then soon after, when things are fine again, we forget what happened, we forget what exactly God did. [**when is a time this has happened to me?]
 
We need to have a rhythm of remembering the things that we’ve gone through, so that we develop these “muscles” of trusting God. v. 6-9, 20-24. We need to talk about what God has done. Remind ourselves, remind our kids, remind each other. It should never be far from our minds. How long has it been since you’ve thought back and remembered what God has done in your life.  Reflect on how different your life would be if not for him rescuing you.
[**how would MY life be different? what has God done for ME?]
 
Summarize Deuteronomy 6, and the Shema.!
 
As I reflect on what it means to love God with all our hearts, soul and mind, there is a story about Jesus that I think gives us a clear picture of what it looks like to love God that much.
 
This woman hears where Jesus is, and she comes to the house uninvited.  This setting is probably important, well-to-do people; not her crowd at all. I get the image that she slips in, goes straight to Jesus. Imagine what she is
thinking. I don’t think she had a pushy attitude, I don’t think she was thinking “I’ll show them, I can be here just as much as they can”. No, I don’t think she was considering who else was there at all. I think her sole focus was getting to Jesus. He was the only one she saw.
 
This woman was causing a little bit of a scene. Imagine it! First of all, she is not dressed appropriately for this dinner; that’s how they knew who she was to begin with, knew she as an “immoral woman”, because of her
appearance. When this woman brought in the alabaster jar, and opened it up, the smell would have filled the room, drawing even more attention to what she was doing. Rabbis weren’t even supposed to talk to women in public, and they definitely weren’t supposed to touch a woman, let alone a prostitute. She slips in behind him, on the floor, low as she can get, and starts to pour the perfume out onto his feet. And as she does, she begins to weep.
 
Imagine what she’s thinking. Why is she crying? What is it about Jesus that causes her to have this kind of reaction? I imagine they’ve met before, or at the very least, she has seen how he treats “people like her” and she is overwhelmed with gratitude. His love and kindness have made her feel something she has probably never felt before. Worth. Value. Not like a failure or an outcast. And that has affected her so powerfully that she doesn’t even care about how proper it is, she just desperately wants to thank him. And love him back.
 
Jesus tells this story to illustrate what the woman is doing. And he says her sins, which there’s lots of them, have been forgiven. And since she has been forgiven of SO much, she loves Jesus so much. And he says he who is forgive little, loves little. You know, I think we could even say it this way. The person who understands how much they have been forgive of, is full of love. But the person who doesn’t understand how much they have been forgiven of, their love is weak.
 
When you have a debt canceled, it can change your life. Jesus has canceled all our of debts- and some of us are very aware of just how big of a deal that is. And some of us don’t consider it that much at all. This woman knew. She was aware that if not for Jesus’ acceptance and forgiveness, she was hopeless, both in the world’s eyes and practically she had nothing to live for. Jesus gave her something to live for and she couldn’t HELP herself from placing herself at his feet, trying to think of an extravagant way to thank him and show her love for him.
Because she was aware of her debt.
 
So what does it look like to love God with all our hearts? We have to remember where we’ve come from. We remember what we have been rescued from and what debt was canceled. And when we remember, when we think about that, love comes easily and naturally.
 
“I am the LORD your God who rescued you from your place of slavery.”
 
God has rescued us and he has cancelled our debt.
 
 
 

Listen to Katie’s Message here:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 

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Grow: Discovering Love (Week 2)

“Growing a Culture of Compassion”

 
This week two of our elders share with us:  Scott Underwood and Chris Logan. 
 

 

Scott Underwood

 
  • Intro and the muppets
    • Elders and trustee make up the officers, whose job it is to lead the church, in conjunction with all the ministry team leaders.
    • We meet once a month as officers and then again as elders
    • Despite our differences, Chris and I sit together most meetings and have earned a certain reputation.
    • Picture of the Muppets
  • The specific job of the Elders is lead the church in following Jesus, taking care of the flock and equipping them for acts of service
  • We take a couple times of year to share our hearts so you know more about us
  • Today we are going to talk about the second half of Ken’s sermon from last week and then share a little bit on where we think the church is today and is going
  • The title of today is Discovering Love – Growing a Culture of Compassion

 

The scripture for today is the fairly well know story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10: 25-37. 
 
 
Like many of Jesus’ stories, the story is important, but the reason for the story is also relevant.
 
If we back up a bit from the GS, we can learn a little more about the context of the story. 
 

 

As we see from the scripture, Jesus was prompted to tell the story by an expert in the law who is testing Him.  As a starting point, what does it imply when someone is testing someone else?  “I already know the answer, and I want to see if you do too.  I’m in a position of superiority because I have the right to test you.”

As a starting point, what is going on in the heart of the expert of the law?  How does that relate to what sometimes goes on in our heart?  How do we test God? 

 

I would say that every time we know we are supposed to do something and we don’t do it, we are testing God.  “I know that you have said that I am supposed to forgive this person, but I haven’t, and there don’t seem to be any consequences, so why should I obey?”  It sounds a little like Satan in the Garden.  “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

If we truly believed him, we would obey his commands, not look to test Him.

 

After Jesus answered him the first time, the expert dove in again, this time to “justify himself.”  Now, I thought I knew what the word “justify” meant, but I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure I did.  Here’s what I found . . .

  1. Secular definition – show or prove to be right or reasonable
  2. Theological definition – declare or make righteous in the sight of God.

 

Whether Luke meant either of the two definitions, both are convicting.  The first one implies an interaction with Jesus where the person administering the test wants to argue with the answer of Jesus.  The second one suggests the attempt of the expert to “check the boxes” of his own righteousness, apart from grace of Jesus or the obedience in his heart to Jesus’ teachings.

 

Before we even get to the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke has taught us lessons about humility and self-justification.

So now Jesus tells the story of the GS.  I have to believe when Jesus started into the story instead of giving a simple answer, the expert in the law started to get nervous.

 

After the sections about the Levite and the priest passing by the injured man, Jesus gets to the section about the Samaritan.  I know that Jerry covered this story before he left, but it certainly bears repeating, especially in our current political and economic climate.  As you may know, to make the hero of the story a Samaritan was offensive to all of the Jews that were listening.  It would be like going to a Trump rally and making a Democrat the hero of the story, or going to a Democratic rally and making President Trump the hero.  Not popular, and not a good start for Jesus.  The fact that he contrasted the Samaritan against people of their own “parties” was further insult.

 

But on he went with the story.  And as he told the story of the Samaritan’s encounter with the injured man, he said something that I think is the key to the whole story.  The second half of verse 33 said, “and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”  First, he saw him – really saw him.  Not as an impediment to the completion of his daily tasks or an obstacle to be avoided, but saw him in his injured condition.  The priest and the Levite saw the injured man too, but never really saw him in his true condition.

 

And then the Samaritan “took pity on him.”  Pity is a weird word in 2019.  It often has a negative connotation – “I don’t want your pity” or “Don’t pity me.”  Even worse, to be considered “pitiful”. 

But pity is simply another word for compassion.  And we find Jesus being compassionate on numerous occasions –

  • He had compassion on a large crowd and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14)
  • He had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him (Matthew 20:34)
  • He had compassion on the people at the feeding of the 5,000
  • He had compassion on the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless (pitiful), like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 and Mark 6:34)

 

And so the hero of the story is compassionate.  If we are going to be called Jesus followers, we have to do what he does, say what he says, and have a heart that is modeled after His.
 

As a side note, 2 Corinthians 1:3 praises the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.  Jesus is just simply doing the Father’s will by being compassionate.

 

Many of us are already compassionate, especially to those who close to us or like us.  But here’s a harder question – How we doing with those people who not close to us or not like us or maybe even enemies to us?  Dems vs Republicans, white vs black, liberals vs conservatives, illegal immigrants, LBGTBQ, pro life vs pro choice, criminals, etc.  Do we have compassion on these people, or do our politics or preferences come before the words and deeds of Jesus?

If we get the compassion right, we have a much better chance of getting the love and service right, even if we don’t do it perfectly.

If we get the compassion right, we have a much better chance of getting the love and service right, even if we don’t do it perfectly.  If we see thru the eyes of Jesus and our heart is with His heart, we have the Holy Spirit to help us get it right. When we look at this story, the man who was beaten had a variety of needs.  Hope, transportation, medical care, food and lodging among others.

 

As a brief commercial for next week’s Gary Chapman The Five Love Languages workshop, it’s interesting to note that the injured man’s needs loosely line up with the 5 love languages.  He needed

  • Words of affirmation (hope)
  • Physical touch – bandaged his wound, pouring on oil and wine
  • Receiving Gifts – paid for the inn and care
  • Quality time – he went with the man to the inn and took care of him
  • Acts of service – the whole thing

 

If you know anything about the concept of the love languages, they are based on the idea that you need to understand and care about the other person’s preferred love language and then adjust yourself to meet them where they are.  Buying and giving expensive gifts (because it’s easy for you to do) may do nothing to show your significant other love. You have to do what they want and value, even if it costs you everything. 

 

In the story, The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, we learn about a young couple, who like so many others, are struggling financially.  As they have been saving for Christmas presents for each other, they find that they have not been able to scrape together much more than a few cents.  They really only have two things of value – the husband’s inherited gold pocket watch and the wife’s beautiful long hair.  As the couple struggles to buy each other a treasured present, the husband sells the watch to buy the wife an ornate comb for her beautiful hair, and the wife sells her hair to a wig maker to buy her husband a chain for his treasured pocket watch.  Now, whether that was their love language or not, the thought behind giving up what you value to give someone else what they value is clearly evident.  It’s about the heart.

 

But let’s go back to the Good Samaritan – It’s also interesting that the story doesn’t involve our present day go-to maneuver, the “I’ll pray for you and walk away” maneuver.  I believe that many times we are put in that situation specifically to meet the presenting need.  If we don’t want to help, our prayer then becomes, “God please send someone who isn’t me to help this person.” 

 

A questions for all of us If we are able to meet the need – what or who are we praying for?  Someone who has the gift of service or more time or something else?

 

James 2: 14-17 (NLT) says, 14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

 

In our emphasis on prayer, I fear that we have erred too far on the “I’ll pray for you” end of the spectrum and missed our opportunities to meet the needs right then and there.

 

There are many reasons for not meeting the need, but if often comes back to one foundational problem – putting our own needs/wants over the needs of others, and often over the call and example of Jesus.  And now we are back to a question that would fit right in with our expert in the law from the Good Samaritan story. 

 

If there are no immediate, visible consequences from our disobedience, why not serve ourselves first?

 

Well, if you believe Jesus, there are consequences and promises –

 

Mark 8:35 (NLT) – If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.

 

Mark 10:28-31 (NLT)28Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.g

 

As elders, we are encouraging us all to live a life that follows Jesus.  Notice I didn’t say be a better Baptist or church member or even a Christian.  Many people can be a Baptist, Christian or church member without following Jesus on a daily basis.  Many can be those things with very few signs of the compassion of Jesus in their lives. 

 

So as we move toward to Christmas and 2020, we are going to be encouraging our body to have a culture of compassion and service to our community – to live and give generously to meet the needs of our neighbors.   When we look at our mission statement, we have to realize that the stories that need to be transformed are not just ours, but our neighbors, friends and enemies.  We have no hope of our communities thriving if we all are not transformed.
 
 
 
Chris Logan (begins at (16:57)
 
I thought about my own culture this week and came to some startling revelations…
  • I do what I want
  • I am competitive
Hebrews 13:8
1 Peter 5:2
Matthew 9:13
 
God desires mercy!  Forgiveness, grace, forbearance, etc.
 
We have one mission:  The Great Commission!
 
I find it hard to surrender, but we must.  Our community needs restoration.
 
Back to Culture…  Basically it is our Comfort Zone.
 
Matthew 5:45-48
 
Reconciliation is only through Jesus Christ!
 
Our culture (in the body of Christ) should revolve around the Promises of God.
 
Our culture (in the body of Christ) should revolve around the Promises of God.
 
They are all throughout the Bible.  If you don’t know where to look, Google them!  There are all kinds of lists of God’s wonderful promises.
 
Examples;
Isaiah 40:29
Isaiah 54:7
James 4:7  Submit to God, resist temptation and the devil will flee!
1 John 1:9   Confess your sins and He is faithful to forgive.  (Confession is acknowledging your sins to God.)
Psalm 34
2 Peter 1:3-10
 
(These Notes for Chris’ talk were made by the editor.  To see his notes click HERE.)
 

Listen to the Elders’ message here:

 

You can watch the video 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:        Native Tongue  by Switchfoot

 

 

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:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 

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Grow: Spiritual Growth with Joe Bruce (Week 5)

Joe’s Garage

From Joe’s Website:
From his rich background as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, senior pastor, professional artist, father of ten and husband of one, Joe is able to draw from a variety of ventriloquist characters and assortment of artistic mediums to communicate his message with a unique diversity.
 
 
It has been said that one of Joe’s most amazing gifts is his ability to appeal to all people regardless of age, educational background, or economic status. His presentation is very organic and natural. His quick wit and clever characters will be sure to communicate redemption and restoration – a message Joe feels is essential in our culture. 

 

He uses the theme of “Joe’s Garage” as a place where he and his ventriloquist characters work on subjects such as character issues and real-life, relevant concerns in light of God’s plan and His Word. In his presentations Joe may draw a caricature of a child from the audience in under 60 seconds, paint a 3ft. x 4ft. likeness of Christ, utilize three ventriloquist characters, or cause a portrait he’s drawn to come to life and speak to the audience.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Joe’s diverse repertoire of creative and artistic talents and more than 25 years of hands-on experience as children’s and family speaker, gives him the ability to tailor the presentation to your specific needs.
 
 
 
 
 

You Can Watch the Video 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:

 

You can watch the video HERE.

 
 
 

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