Live Like a Champion – Week 46

“The Promise of Unity!”

John 17:11 (NAS95)
 
The last promise we are going to cover in this year-long series of messages called “Live Like a Champion: Victory Through the Promises of God” is the promise of unity.

 

Jesus prayed for unity of His disciples in John 17:11: “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.”

 

The key motive for our unity is the very essence of God! God is unity and we are to be like God!

 

The promise of unity is at the heart of God and how God has revealed Himself to us throughout the Bible and through His Son Jesus Christ because God within God’s self is a perfect unity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Listen to the ancients in the Athanasian Creed (approximately 450-600 AD) call us to a unity of faith in the unity of the Godhead:

 

[Our] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity [true foundational principle] to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by [our faith] to say; There are three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.[1]

 

I like the old creeds. Of course, all creeds are secondary to rightfully interpreting Scripture. The history of creeds and councils is focused on the unity of the faith and our fellowship. They sought to clarify through creeds what we believe about God. They sought to give the Church a consistent and reliable language for a great unity of faith and practice.

 

Paul was passionate about the unity of the Church, too! He opened his first letter to the Corinthians with a plea for unity in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17:

 

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

 

In their excellent book Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien explain about the situation Paul was communicating to the Church in Corinth:

We might ask ourselves what caused the divisions in Corinth. All we know is what Paul tells us: “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ’” (1 Cor 1:12). What likely goes without being said for us is that the church was divided either theologically or over devotion to different personalities. These are two common causes of church divisions in the West. We tend to fall out along doctrinal lines or because we are drawn to one charismatic pastor over another.

It is possible, though, that the divisions among the churches in Corinth were not theological. We may be failing to note ethnic markers that Paul sprinkled all over the text. Apollos was noted as an Alexandrian (Egyptian) Jew (Acts 18:24). They had their own reputation. Paul notes that Peter is called by his Aramaic name, Cephas, suggesting the group that followed him spoke Aramaic and were thus Palestinian Jews. Paul’s church had Diaspora Jews but also many ethnic Corinthians, who were quite proud of their status as residents of a Roman colony and who enjoyed using Latin. This may explain why Paul doesn’t address any theological differences. There weren’t any. The problem was ethnic division: Aramaic-speaking Jews, Greek-speaking Jews, Romans and Alexandrians.[2]

 

Built on this deep disunity, that still exists today, Paul said to the Church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, “So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”

 

I am joining with Paul in declaring 2,000 years later that we only have one unity, and it is the same unity that the Church has been declaring and defending through councils and creeds for thousands of years: Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again!

 

The unity of God’s people is intended, by God, according to Jesus’ prayer, to reflect the very unity of God Himself! This is our greatest gift and our hardest fruit—our unity which bears the character of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)! This is our mission; along these same lines, Paul said in multiple places such teaching as Galatians 3:26-29,

 

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

 

Based on this teaching on the promise of unity, I call you to three mindsets, which are action items for our congregation and for the Church through the world:

 

  1. Christian unity is in Christ alone! When we are disunified it means we have lost focus on Him and made it about us! Lord Jesus, you are the head of the Church, and we ask for your forgiveness when we forget who you are and who we are in you!
  2. Christian unity is on mission for God! When we are disunified it means we are off God’s mission and into our own agendas—social, political, religious, or personal! Lord, I ask that you don’t bless our plans, but that you bless us to be a part of your plans!
  3. Christian unity is for God’s glory alone! When we are disunified God is not glorified! Lord, there is only one name that needs to be remembered or glorified—Jesus Christ alone and it is in your name that all things have been reconciled to the Father.

 

With this rich understanding that our unity needs to rise above all human boundaries and distinctions, as well as all human fear and ambition, let us hear Jesus’ prayer for His Church from John 17:20-26:

 

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

 

We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
 

You can listen to the message here:

(This will appear here early in the week).
 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997). For a diagram that visualizes this creed see https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed.

[2] E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 66.

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 45

The Promise of the Father’s Discipline

Hebrews 12: 5-11

 

— Kids’ time: 

Do your parents ever tell you ‘no’?

What is something your parents have said NO to, or told you that you can’t do that you really want to do. Why do they do that? Don’t they want you to just be happy?

 

What would happen if you got everything you think you want?

Do they ever make you do something you don’t want to do?

What would happen if you never had to do something you didn’t want to do?

(Examples: What would go wrong if you never…. cleaned your room? went to school?)

 

SOMETIMES there are things we really, really want, something that seems so good and we think it would make us so happy, but it’s actually not good for us. And in fact, not only would it not make us happy, it would make us hurt or sad.

 

And SOMETIMES there are things that don’t seem appealing at all, things we really do NOT want to do or have, but they’re actually very important and we need them very much.

 

God gave us parents to help us know the difference, because right now you’re little and you need help making decisions. At some point, you’ll be big and your parents and the people who take care of you, they won’t tell you what to do anymore (well, not if your family is functional and healthy, although you might end up like Everybody Loves Raymond). But mostly, parents stop telling you what to do and at some point its YOUR job to take care of yourselves.

 

You know what though? They tell you no sometimes and make you do things sometimes because they love you very very much, and they want to help protect you and keep you safe so that you eventually make it to THIS big, and so you’ll know how to be a good, and kind, and wise person who has a healthy and meaningful life. That’s what they want. They want you to be ok and to be well.

 

And guess what guys- OBEDIENCE isn’t just something kids have to do. I know it might seem like someday you’ll grow up and then you’ll get to do whatever you want, and you’re going to eat all the candy you want. But there is still someone who knows better than we do, and who we have to trust to tell us what to do and that’s God. God is like a parent but even better because he is PERFECT. Right now you’re practicing learning how to trust and obey. God is your Father in Heaven and He knows so much better than we do, and he invites us to trust him and obey him, now when you’re young but also for the rest of your life. [PRAY].
 
(Dismiss kids.)

 

Read Hebrews 12: 5-11

Background:  This passage written by a preacher, who is not currently with his congregation. The preacher wants to encourage his people because they’re weary and at risk for simply giving up their pursuit of Jesus. They’re worn out. Hebrews is written to a group of Christians whose commitment (for some) is waning and attendance is lax. Perhaps the challenges of their lives had demoralized them, because they had hoped Christ’s return would have come sooner, and they are losing hope. So the preacher is encouraging them to not give up but keep going with Jesus.

 

The Christian life is hard. Following Jesus and having faithful and obeying God is hard. Sometimes it may feel like it’s not even worth it, and maybe it would be easier to just stop trying to have faith and obey God. The preacher reminds them that they aren’t alone, that their struggle is the great struggle of all Christians, in all times and all places. It’s not just you; this struggle is our common experience as brothers and sisters, here and globally, now and for hundreds of years. “True participation in the Christian faith always carries a price.” Life is hard for everyone- but for a Christian, in the midst of all the common challenges of being a human, faithfulness to Jesus is especially costly.

 

The preacher here is like a night nurse coming to the bedside of his hurting congregation to reassure them that the pain they feel is not a destructive anguish but a healing one. The suffering they are experiencing may seem like it is generated at random from the harsh forces in this world, but it is actually the expression of God’s parental discipline, which is a good thing.

 

How is God’s correction a good thing?

 

  1. Because it proves that god loves us. The only children who aren’t disciplined are those who are abandoned and unloved.
  2. Our parents disciplined us as kids, and at the time we grumbled or fought it, but as we got older we recognized it was actually for our best. “As children we were rarely enthusiastic about our parent’s control over us or their correction”, but looking back it was necessary and even good.
  3. The end result is worth the pain, because the end result is that we grow up to be like God our father, and to mature into his image and share in his holiness. Peaceful harvest of right living… peaceful= good. He wants peace and goodness and meaning and joy for us. He is not arbitrarily wounding us, but rather guiding us into the best possible way of life. Right living=a good life of virtue and value. Peaceful confidence that we have spent our life well.

 

To a child, something that is very appealing might actually not be good for them, and consequently something that is very unappealing may be exactly what is needed. So the rules, demands, correction, words of advice are not arbitrary at all, but full of purpose and meaning, like the guide wires on a young sapling, helping it have the best chance to grow tall and strong and healthy.

 

**The idea that all of human suffering is the result of God trying to teach us a lesson is untenable. This is not meant to be an absolute principle, but a pastoral encouragement, a way to make sense of the struggle to be faithful, and encouragement to not give up. He is not trying to explain all suffering. This passage is not meant to be interpreted as a broad theology for suffering. We may not find useful lessons in things like war and famine. God is not cruelly creating pain to teach us things. This is a pastor trying to encourage his congregation to see how God is at work in their challenges, because often those very circumstances make us stronger, wiser, more faithful and loving. That doesn’t mean we look back on our suffering and say, “sorrow has its lessons” but rather we look back and say “Thank you Jesus for being faithful to help me”. He is offering them a perspective on their struggles, that will encourage them and also help them to see what they are going through not as evidence of God’s anger and rejection, but a sign of his care and embrace.

 

Vs. 1-4 give us the example of the suffering of Jesus, as a MODEL, (not as a judgement), of how to endure struggles. It’s not that “what you’re going through is nothing compared to what Jesus went through”, but rather, “you can get through this if you keep your eyes on Jesus, who was victorious over every kind of struggle and can carry you through your own”.

 

Vs.12-13 concludes with an exhortation, to a group of people who were stumbling and faltering, to recover their strength and stay the course. Don’t fall down- don’t quit. Keep going. Renew your trust and commitment.

 

What is the big idea of this passage?

 

God disciplines us because he loves us and wants us to grow up to be like him.

 

Consider how God wants to teach and develop you through the difficult challenges of life. If you’re feeling weary and starting to give up, don’t. Don’t quit. Resolve to trust Jesus, look away to him, and endure what life is throwing at you. God is not abandoning you or being cruel to you- he is a good and caring father. He wants to make you more like himself so that your life will actually be full of joy and goodness and peace.

 

Read: Lamentations 3:19-33

God is not cruelly using our pain and suffering just to teach us some lessons!

 

Questions to ponder: 

Where in your life is God trying to discipline and shape you?

Are you resisting Him, or submitting to Him?

Can you trust that He knows what is truly best for your life?

 
 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
For a copy of the Handout Katie used, click on this link:  2021-11-07 Promises of Victory Wk 45 – Katie Kinnaird – Handout.
 
 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 44

The Promise of Provision

2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Also:  Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 37:25:  Philippians 4:6-9,19; Ephesians 6:6-8, 10-18

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-10

 

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”

 

Before I even begin this message, let me preempt it by this is not a message on tithing or giving. But rather, it is a message to show you who is the one blessing you and giving you all that you have so that you can be His vessel used to bless others.

 

Provision is defined as “an amount or thing supplied or provided; supplies of food, drink, or equipment, especially for a long journey.” It is all the things you need…not want, but need!  Tina and I use this concept of ‘want vs need’ to help keep our budget in check. Is this item we are looking to purchase a want or a need? Even if it is on sale or on clearance, does it fulfill a need in our lives?

 

The scriptural basis for the statement we have probably heard many times in church “Where God guides, He provides” is found in Isaiah 58:11:

 

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”

 

From the very beginning of time, God has provided for all of mankind’s needs…Adam and Eve in the garden; Noah with the plans for the ark to save his family and the animals; a wife for Isaac; blessing everything that Joseph put his hand to do, and the list goes on and on. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, wouldn’t you think that He is still doing those same things today?

 

Testimony of provision: My electrician (I had the money, but God provided a blessing)

 

I. Physical Provision

 

Testimony from David:       Psalm 37:25

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”

 

Protection and Guidance

 

Exodus 13:21-22

“ The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. 22 And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”

 

 

Acts 16:16-40

~It was providential that they would be there.

~They were released, but stayed to lead the jailer and his family to know Jesus

 

 
Water and Food
 

Exodus 15-16

~Fresh water from different sources (later it came from a rock)

~Daily bread (aka manna)

God provided and still they complained.

 

From Keith Green’s “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt”

Manna hotcakes, flaming manna soufflé, manna waffles, manna burgers, manna-cotti, bamanna bread.

They had water, a carb and a protein!

 

ILLUSTRATION: Sunday Meal at our house
 

Matthew 14:13-21

~Limited resources

~God gave the increase, they all ate as much as they wanted and had leftovers!

 

II. Spiritual Provision and Protection

 

 

Ephesians 6:10-18

~Full Armor…not pick and choose. Belt of truth, Breastplate of righteousness, Shoes of the gospel of peace, Shield of faith, Helmet of salvation, Sword of the Word.

*Special note….no back piece, because it is God who has our back!

~We have to be the ones to put it on. Then and only then will we be able to stand against the schemes of the devil!!!

 

Why do we need to do this?

 

Ephesians 6:12

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

 

I could easily get on a soapbox right now and talk about why I believe and feel convicted about not practicing certain holiday traditions, or read certain books or watch rated R or horror films. Then it becomes a thing of “that’s what you believe, or your religious upbringing.” So instead, I want to pose this question…

 

Is God being glorified in what you are doing/reading/watching?

 

The devil is doing all he can to desensitize us to the real ‘spiritual warfare’ that is going on around us. A friend pointed out that C.S. Lewis wrote of this in The Screwtape Letters, about how we get distracted and waste the most precious of our gifts…time!

 

“…you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say…’I now see that I spent most my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

We cannot be complacent to that which is going on and just write it off as a part of life. We as a church are called to be the game changers, not us changing to be like the world. We should be bringing God’s grace, truth and love into mix! We are called out to ‘not be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds’, getting rid of the stinking thinking like Jerry talked about last week. It is not about us and what we want, but rather what God wants.

 

Let me re-read a portion of the scripture passage for today from the ESV

 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”                                                                                                     

2 Corinthians 9:8-11

 

It is not just about the provision, but rather what that provision truly is…God’s grace! God’s grace is freely given to us and we are to freely give it to others. We cannot truly show God’s love if we are giving to meet a need, but looking down our noses at them. Remember, there but for the grace of God, go I! This is where the rubber meets the road on showing who we are truly serving.

 

Paul gives us the recipe for success, and Pastor Jerry shared it last week, but needs to be repeated.

 

Turn to Philippians 4:6-9

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

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.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

 

If we are doing this, then there is not time for idle talk, because we will be talking about what Jesus is doing in our lives. If we are filling our minds with the good things of God, then we won’t have space for the sinful thoughts to take up residency. For it is God’s peace that we need to experience and have as the protection and provision of our hearts and lives.

 

God loves us so much that He has given us the tools/provisions to be able to go through this life’s journey. If we are needing anything in our lives, we need to take it to Him in prayer and believe that He will provide just what we need.

 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 43

The Promise of Peace (Pt 3)

Ephesians 2:13-16 (NAS95)

 

We are in the third and final message of a three-week sermon to teach you how to live victoriously in God’s promise of peace. It is my desire that you will experience the power of the promise of peace in your everyday life, to the glory of God!

 

This promise is one of the most relevant promises we can manifest to our culture that is currently experiencing a national panic attack (or is it a temper tantrum?). We, the people of God, have the solution; so, let’s bring the peace of God (Jehovah Shalom!) that transcends all human understanding to the world (The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit), by first experiencing Him for ourselves and allowing His presence in us—God’s peace is Himself—to make us both holy and whole. We are called to pass the peace of God to others—the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to all followers of Jesus Christ!

 

Here is a very quick review that leads us into today’s teaching:

  • In the first week, I taught you about the promise of peace with God (vertical) from John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Peace with God is your salvation with God—it manifests as your holiness as you learn to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind!
  • Last week, I focused on the promise of peace within yourself (internal) from Philippians 4:6-7: “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.” Peace with yourself is your mental health or peace of mind—it manifests as your wholeness as you learn to love yourself as God first loved you (Ephesians 2:4-9) … through the grace which saved you and from which you draw all life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4).
  • Today, I conclude with the promise of peace with how we are called to pass the peace to others! Listen to our memory verse for this week: Ephesians 2:14. Paul says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”

 

Peace with God that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus means that the promise of peace is not just a vertical and internal reality, it is our greatest witness as it brings external peace between us and other people. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 2:13-16 as he gives the larger context of our memory verse for today:

 

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

 

This is the Church’s mission! This was radical thinking for the first century Jewish listeners. It is still radical today! In their minds, God loved His people, but the Gentiles were not His people (Hosea 2:23). Passages such as what I just read and John 3:16 were shocking to them because Jesus was challenging the idea that God loved Israel exclusively. Jesus was declaring the parts of their Scripture that the people had ignored: God would ransom the Gentiles through the seed of Abraham—Jesus Christ. This is what Paul was talking about in Galatians 3 and concludes his argument about the seed of Abraham being fulfilled in Jesus Christ in Galatians 3:26-29:

 

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

 

Experiencing the peace of God in both our holiness and wholeness allows us to give God’s love and grace towards others because we have received (faith) and internalized (baptism) it in our own lives—we are now children of God (1 John 3:1). By the Spirit we are to build bridges with people to unite them in Christ alone—our peace through His shed blood on the Cross of Calvary!

 

This is the gospel work of the church—to be peacemakers! As Jesus declared in Matthew 5:9,
 
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

 

Let’s be clear though: God’s peace means that we can have peace with God, we can have peace within, and we can act without hostility toward others. But it doesn’t mean we can avoid all conflict. It doesn’t mean that the battle of the flesh or the brokenness of the fall or the prevailing darkness of the prince of this world won’t be brought to us. As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

 

The gospel ministry of passing the peace is for every follower of Jesus because peacemakers are commanded to be ministers of reconciliation during this ancient conflict—we, the Church are a liberating force seeking to save that which has been bound up by evil and the fall! Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

 

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

 

The ability to pass the peace to others is only possible because you have a peaceful heart yourself. The holiness of God (Christ in you!) manifests as your ministry of loving your neighbor as you have learned to love yourself. That is why I keep pointing out to you that these three directions of God’s peace align to Jesus’ teaching on the Greatest Commandments. Jesus taught us this in Matthew 22:37-39: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

 

Furthermore, Paul emphasized in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The “us” in this passage is critical to our ability to pass the peace. It’s not a “me” thing—it’s an “us” thing!

 

Why are we commanded to love others and pass the peace of God? Because we recognize that God loved “us” (all of us!) first. Our love for ourselves (and for others) isn’t something that we “work up”, it’s a recognition and submission to His love for every man and woman. It’s a love that is transferred upon us through the righteousness of God—His love dwells in our hearts!

 

Listen to John teach us this in 1 John 4:17-21,

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

We are brought back into a relationship with God the Father through Jesus’ relationship with His Father. The holiness or righteousness of God flows into our lives from the Father through the way of the Son by means of the Holy Spirit. As we become whole through the progressive process of sanctification, we become the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-26:

 

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

 

The ministry of passing the peace that you first received is truly the work of the Holy Spirit! Allow me to pray for you and all of us, in agreement with Jesus’ promise of peace, that in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we walk as His people of peace. Let us pray … Amen!

 

You can listen to the message here:

 

You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 42

The Promise of Peace!” (Part 2)

Philippians 4:6-9 (NAS95)

 

Last week I started a three-week sermon to teach you how to live victoriously in God’s promise of peace. It is my desire that you will experience the power of the promise of peace in your everyday life, to the glory of God!

 

This promise is one of the most relevant promises we can manifest in our composure and speech to our culture that would be attractive and impactful in today’s world situation and our current national panic attack (or is it a temper tantrum?). We, the people of God, have the solution; so, let’s bring the peace of God that transcends all human understanding to the world, by first experiencing it for ourselves and allowing it to make us both holy and whole.

 

  • Last week, I taught you about the promise of peace with God (vertical) from John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
  • Today, I am focusing on the promise of peace within yourself (internal) from Philippians 4:6-7: “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.”
  • Next week, I will conclude with the promise of peace with how we are called to pass the peace to others Ephesians 2:14: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”

 

These three aspects of the promise of peace are a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12) for us to experience the joy of the Lord and to fulfill His Greatest Commandments for our lives. Listen to Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

 

There are three directions in the greatest commandment that perfectly align with the three-stranded cord that is the promise of peace:

 

  1. Peace with God is your salvation with God—it manifests as your holiness as you learn to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind!
  2. Peace with yourself is your mental health or peace of mind—it manifests as your wholeness as you learn to love yourself as God first loved you … through the grace which saved you and from which you draw all life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4).
  3. Peace with others is a peaceful heart—it manifests as your ministry of loving your neighbor as you have learned to love yourself remembering God’s love as taught by Paul in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” As we will learn next week, the “us” in this passage is critical to our ability to pass the peace. It’s not a “me” thing!

 

Paul practically teaches us about how to walk in this peace. Mental health comes from this internal peace of God, by which we learn to live in God’s grace—not an earning, but a receiving of acceptance by Jehovah Shalom, who sent His Son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to give us new life so that we may experience His holiness as our wholeness. This is our transformation through the renewal of our minds that Paul promises in Romans 12:1-2. This promise comes with practices that invite us to participate in God’s work of sanctification in us: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

 

Philippians 4:6-9 teaches how to participate in God’s work of transforming us through the renewing of our minds:

 

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.

 

The spiritual practices of peace are very similar to your dental hygiene habits: they require the discipline of habit making so that you no longer think about doing them, you just do it!

 

In the same way that you brush your teeth twice a day, morning and night, so I encourage you to practice 1 Peter 5:7 morning and night: “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Did you hear that? This is not a harsh command, but a loving invitation—BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU!  God is saying, “I love you and you can trust me … Come to Me …”!

 

This is the work of the Spirit through our times of Bible intake, prayer, silence and solitude, worship to Christian music … during our times of devotion. This is the example of Jesus throughout the Gospels as we see in Mark 1:35: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

 

When we intentionally attend our hearts and minds to the presence of God through daily and weekly rhythms of grace, then we are putting ourselves directly in the authorized way of experiencing the promise found in Philippians 4:6-8 because we are responding to the real anxiety of our day with practices of intentionally attending ourselves to God’s presence:

 

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.

 

Let’s straight talk for a minute—mental illness is real! For some, their fight is like that with cancer (clinical depression or a personality disorder), for others like that of seasonal allergies (seasonal depression), and for others it is an acute trauma that requires immediate care and follow up therapy. Mental health comes with real illnesses and life issues that shouldn’t be minimized. Please go see your primary care physician if you think that you need the assistance of medical science to help you in this conversation. I am advocating for you to remain faithful in the habits of grace that will wash over your heart and mind so that you are not taken hostage by your medical situation. In many ways, these are the same principles I tell people going through any medical crisis. Each crisis comes with its own challenges, but all are opportunities for you to grow in God’s grace and mercy—to be closer to Him; hence, experiencing rest for your soul and peace in your heart and mind, even when these temporary dwelling places (our bodies which includes our brains) are experiencing the brokenness of the fall.

 

With that understanding, Paul commands in 2 Corinthians 10:5b, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” In the same way that we must remain positive and hopeful in our treatment plans for other medical issues, we cannot surrender ourselves to the anchor of anxiety or the grip of fear or the paralysis of paranoia. We are invited to be vigilant to capture our thoughts, shatter the old broken tapes, stop the stinking thinking, and cease the catastrophic thinking to give ourselves the best chance possible of experiencing God’s freedom in this fight!

 

We are invited by God to walk in the ancient paths of Joshua 1:8-9:

 

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 

This ancient practice of biblical meditation is the foundation of Psalm 119’s promises:

 

  • “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (9).
  • “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (11).
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (105).

 

Brothers and sisters, this is biblical maturity, it is the discipline of good mental hygiene, just like good dental hygiene. You brush, you floss, you gurgle because you don’t want stinky breath, nor do you want tooth rot or gum infection. We are invited to care for our souls and our bodies, our hearts and our minds! All of this belongs to God, and we are but stewards of it!

 

In the same way, you take in God’s Word, you meditate upon it and memorize it, pray God’s Word, and apply it to your life so that at the right time you can seize the moment. No one wants to be face-to-face with you if you have either stinky breath or a stinky attitude. A mature Christian is characterized by their wholeness, which flows from their holiness.

 

Setting apart times with God that bookend your day helps you experience being the person of peace. These inform and influence the discipline of walking in the ways of Jesus by learning to take on His yoke and learn from Him how to be gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:28-30).

This is the teaching of being a yokefellow that is so near and dear to my heart and ministry and is echoed here by Paul in Philippians 4:9,
 
“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.”

 

Learning how to walk in the promise of peace as daily mental health practices is a key spiritual discipline to our living out the Greatest Commandments. We represent Jesus the best—passing the peace—when we are both holy (peace with God!) and whole (sound mind!).

 

We need to realize that the Bible teaches us good mental hygiene practices that are fundamental to our well-being just as the many good dental hygiene habits are ingrained in most of our daily lives. As this becomes more normalized and less stigmatized in the church, then mental health practices and check-ups will be as common as dental health practices and check-ups. When there is an illness or acute crisis that occurs, we support the person and help them through it.

 

This promise of peace not only restores us back into right relationship with God, but because of the love of God working in us we can now have peace with ourselves, then with others. It is through this peace that we can ultimately put on display our holiness through our wholeness. The way this happens is by passing the peace through living out the Greatest Commandments.

 

We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—by the grace of God and the peace that He has bestowed upon us by the work of the Cross and empowered us to live in through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

 

This requires God’s peace to come from above, into us, and then flow through us to others. We are conduits of God’s love because His peace is a cord of three strands: vertical, internal, and then external. Next week, we will examine this last component—our ministry of passing the peace to others!
 
 
 
 

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You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 41

The Promise of Peace (Part 1)

John 14:27 (NAS95) 
 

Over the next three Sundays, I want to teach you about God’s promise of peace. I first introduced this promise to you at the church picnic on August 1 when we met at Memorial Park for our service in the park. I will now take the next three weeks to help you know about and experience the power of the promise of peace in your everyday life.

 

  • The promise of peace with God (vertical) from John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
  • The promise of peace with yourself (internal) from Philippians 4:6-7 “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.”
  • The promise of peace with others (external) from “The Promise of Peace!” (Part 3) Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”

 

There are three aspects to this peace that I will invite you to experience as the provision of God’s promise for you: (1) peace with God is your salvation—it manifests as your holiness; (2) peace with yourself is your mental health or peace of mind—it manifests as your wholeness; and (3) peace with others (a peaceful heart)—it manifests as your ministry. These three aspects of the promise of peace are a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12) for us to experience the joy of the Lord and to fulfill His Greatest Commandments for our lives (Matthew 22:37-40).

 

The memory verse for today is John 14:27:
 
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

 

This promise is part of a larger teaching of Jesus found in the revelatory passages of John 13-17, the night before the crucifixion. Listen to John 14:23-31,

 

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

 

Jesus is preparing the hearts and minds of His disciples for His death and promising the coming of the Holy Spirit, who can only fulfill the promise of peace in any person because of Jesus’ saving work on the cross, which is the only way to restore our peace with God!

 

Jesus defeated the power of death and the forces of evil to restore us back into right relationship with the Father; it is only “in Christ” that we can have “peace” or “access to” or relationship with God. When we talk about having peace with God, we must remember first and foremost that peace is the very essence of God—He is Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:34-34). Peace is God’s presence—His wholeness in a situation! That is what shalom means and this is God’s desire for His covenanted people (Isaiah 26:3, 12; 54:10; 66:12)—peace with Him!

Jesus is our “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Listen about God’s peace that Jesus promises us:

 

  • John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
  • Colossians 1:19-22 – “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”
  • Romans 5:1-10 – “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. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

 

Today, our focus has been on our holiness, that must flow from the Cross of Calvary and Jesus’ imputed righteousness. Next week we will focus on our wholeness, our peace of mind, and the mental health only God can give to us as we learn to walk in His ways and be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As we will learn our wholeness flows from our holiness.

 

Allow me to pray for you Paul’s words from Colossians 3:14-15,
 
“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

 

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 40

The Promise of Silence!

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

 

Jakob to read Psalm 46.

 

This week we are learning about “The Promise of Silence!” It comes from Psalm 46, which you just heard, with verse 10 being our memory verse:
 
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Today’s promise comes with hard practice and one that is counter-cultural, not just with the broader culture, but with most church cultures. The practice is to be still—to cease and intend your attentions to the Lord’s presence! This is often called the practice of silence and solitude but allow me to be clear in the Christian faith it is silence and solitude with a focus.

 

Personally, I have had seasons of glory walking in this promise, but I have also had many seasons of drought because of my struggle to use my set aside times and places of silence and solitude for the intent of attending to the presence of God.

 

Ultimately, as you may relate, I find it difficult to do the things I know I should do. There is an enemy of our soul who has animated our culture to be against times of experiencing our union with the eternal godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Silence and solitude sound like torture to our souls, not the promised liberation of our souls that God promises them to be!

 

Here is the hard truth of this promise in today’s frenetic 24/7 culture: The promise of silence requires of us to disconnect from the feeds and all else that has captured our attentions and intentions to experience the rhythm of being still by intending our attention to the presence of God during times of silence and solitude!

 

We are hyper-connected, yet many of us are lonely; we are over-committed, yet many of us are bored. We love our activism (religious, political, economic, entertainment, etc.), yet our souls languish from the drought and exhaustion of not being still before the Lord. We are too focused on our own important plans and activities to prioritize and protect intentional times of tending to our souls through the promise of being still and knowing that He is God, and that He will be exalted among the nations. We are too busy exalting ourselves and our opinions to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His own, so we end up tired and burned out (Luke 10:38-42).

 

Be still = cease striving = practice living in the unforced rhythms of grace found in the easy yoke of Jesus Christ! Listen again to what Pastor Ken reminded us of last week when he taught us the promise of waiting: Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 (this time from the Message):

 

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

 

Is there a greater sanctifying opportunity for a productive people than to wait upon the Lord?

 

The purpose of the promise of stillness is to remember that God’s will cannot be thwarted—“I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10b).

 

As Habakkuk 2:20 commands us:
 
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

 

God makes Himself known in places of silence and solitude because it is in these times and places that God reveals to us the truth about ourselves and how worried and bothered we are by so many things that we cannot simply rest in His loving embrace and be accepted for who we are and not have to consume or produce, perform or prod, control or manipulate.

 

Because most of us are in the full time of job of making life work out for ourselves based on our own desires, here is a great experiment: sit in silence for twenty minutes and see what happens to you and where your mind goes. No radio or TV, no background noise, no active study or message, no scheming or planning, just you intending your attention on the presence of God.

 

Again, I want you to listen to Psalm 46:10, this time from the Message:
 
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

 

Step out of the social media, network news, and talk show “traffic” and stop being seduced by the unceasing discontentment—these are the birth pangs of the Lord’s return so stay focused while there is still time; the Day of His return is imminent so please stop wasting time on lesser things that will fade away with the next news feed or next political agenda item!

 

Practicing the promise of stillness disciplines your worship of the Sovereign God!

 

Zephaniah 1:7 commands us to
 
“Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near, For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.”

 

With this promise and its practice set before us in our current historical context, I want to help you by inviting you to take times to be still, just like Jesus did. When you look at the bookends of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus intended His attention on the presence of God: Jesus prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21) and then immediately went off for a prolonged forty days of silence and solitude in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2). Jesus gave Himself to the Cross after a time of being still before the Lord, as was His custom, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Listen to Luke 22:39-42,

 

And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

 

Here are 4 practical steps to putting into action the promise of silence so that you, too, can pray with Jesus and mean it, “not my will, but Yours be done”:

 

  • PRACTICE INTENTIONAL STILLNESS AT THE BEGINNING AND END OF YOUR DAY!

 

Jesus modeled this for us in Mark 1:35,
 
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

 

I encourage you to start simple: two 5-20 minutes of focused time on a favorite passage or vision of God that you treasure about God and what He has done for you, whether it’s God’s omniscience or God’s promise to make all things new—intend to focus your attention on God, once in the morning when you wake up and once at night before you go to bed!

 

The practical invitation is for you to begin and end your day with an intentional time of silence and solitude—to be still and know that He is God. This will require of you to plan and protect, to fight against temptation with work, food, and entertainment, and to be wise with your goals for how much you can do in your days and nights, including protecting your sleep patterns.

 

  • PRIORITIZE BEING STILL BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY BIG DECISIONS BY PRACTICING WEEKLY DISCERNMENT!

 

In Luke 6:12, prior to making a big decision of who His twelve apostles would be, Jesus was still before the Lord so that He could listen for God’s will in this decision:
 
“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”

 

Praying, which, shockingly for some of us, includes listening for the Lord’s answer, is key to making godly decisions. Don’t ask God to bless your plans; rather, ask God to bless you to be a part of His plans. To discern God’s next steps for your life requires of you to be still before Him and wait upon His will and timeline (Romans 12:1-2).

 

I encourage you to prioritize a set apart time of silence and solitude once per week (sabbath day exercise) to ask God to reveal to you His good and acceptable and perfect plans for your life for the coming week. This disciplines your flesh to be able to do this at the exciting and scary moments of decision making, because you’ve already made discernment a weekly habit of grace.

 

  • BE STILL AFTER BIG EVENTS BY LEARNING TO RETREAT!

 

In Matthew 14:22-23, Jesus was still before the Lord after a great accomplishment—the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand:
 
“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone” (cf. Mark 6:46-47 and Luke 9:18).

 

The higher the experience, the more dangerous the fall! The insidious danger for most people is the pride that may unwittingly creep into a person’s heart after the excitement of being used by God to do something big, especially if it is a repeated event. I believe this is one of the reasons we see good and godly people making bad and unbiblical decisions and blowing up marriages, families, and churches. People are burning out on life and godliness; they forget the solution!

 

It is not enough to give lip service to humility; we must practice and cultivate it through the discipline of silence and solitude. When you believe you are so important or that your work is so important that you are unwilling to cease and be still before God, then the pride has already captured an enemy foothold in your heart and life. Create a rhythm of once per month or once per quarter where you take a day away to cease striving by taking a spiritual retreat day.

 

  • BE STILL WHEN YOU NEED GOD’S MINISTRY IN YOUR OWN LIFE BY CULTIVATING AN AWARENESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!

 

In Mark 6:31-32, Jesus responded to the news of the execution of John the Baptist:
 
“And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.”

 

While we know the importance of community and fellowship; let’s never forget that Jesus modeled for us the ministry of the Holy Spirit in comforting us in times of need. While people are wonderful instruments of God’s grace in our lives, they cannot and should never replace the direct ministry of the Holy Spirit, who is always available to us.

 

The final practice of silence and solitude is to cultivate your intention to attend to the Holy Spirit by learning to quiet the noise of your heart (emotions and desires) and mind (thoughts and ideas). This yokes with the promise of peace of God which promises to guard your heart and mind with the peace of God that transcends all understanding.

 

The good news is that I will be taking the next three weeks (October 10, 17, and 24) to teach you about the promise of peace and how to experience it as a follow-up to this message.

 

In conclusion, as you do these things, you will learn that the practice of silence and solitude helps you cultivate a greater awareness of the Lord’s presence and His peace that is yours through union with Him. Intentionally go to a secluded place and be alone with God and allow Him to heal your soul of loneliness and boredom!

 

Learn to rest in His presence and then bring His peace into every moment of your life. You will find solitude in a crowded room and silence in the cacophony of culture. You will find rest for your soul, not from the circumstances of your life, but as you walk with Jesus through the circumstances of your life (Isaiah 40:31).

 

 

 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message by clicking below:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 39

The Promise of Waiting

Isaiah 40:28-31

 

Testimony by Cindy Sheffer

 

Scripture reading:

 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

 

Let’s face it, being told to wait tends to automatically set us up for a negative attitude. We don’t like to wait in the drive thru line (which is happening a lot more lately). We don’t like to have to wait in the doctor’s office (don’t you find it funny they call us ‘patients’, especially since it tests our patience most of the time.) And we don’t like to have to wait on someone to show up when we said we were meeting at a certain time, and they are late…again!

 

In these cases, the wait (W A I T) becomes a weight (W E I G H T) that weighs us down, causing us to be more concerned about how we feel and missing out on what God has for us. (REPEAT) We all know that God wants only the best for us. So why are we settling for something good or better when we can have the best.

 

First, did you realize that God wants to prosper you while you wait?

 
Waiting on God is a wonderful thing, for while we are in the process of faithfully and patiently waiting on God, we find blessing. When you go to a restaurant, what do you call the person who comes to take your order and bring your drinks and food? Some places call them waiters, others call them servers, but they both are taking care of the needs of those at their station. They are expected to serve you promptly and make sure all your needs are met during your visit with them. Many times, that is how we tend to treat God, that He is our waiter/server and is there to meet our wants and needs immediately.

 

Don’t we have that backwards? We heard a few weeks ago that we are to serve one another in love; that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another in how we serve one another; and that we are to do everything for the glory of the One we serve …GOD! Rather than being impulsive in our actions, we need to learn to be mindful of what God is leading us to do. Love comes first in all of these. Don’t believe me? Look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…”

 

Love must be the center of all we do. We are to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind & strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We see in the above verses what love is and what love is not. And the first thing it says is that love is patient and kind. That means willing to wait.

 

Our memory verse tells us the benefit of those who wait, Isaiah 40:31:

         

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”                                                                        

 

When we do things under our own strength, we find we will ‘run out of gas’ sooner. In the previous verse, it reminds us that even the youth will grow tired (how many of us have seen a child play and wish we could bottle up some of that energy?) And the young adults will eventually fail. (For us “older folks”, we tell others to ‘enjoy it while you are still young’). But not so for those who wait on the Lord. Why? Because He is the everlasting God, Creator of all things and promises to provide all of our needs. Our God is the everlasting source! He never grows tired or weary. He gives power to those who are struggling and strength to the weak! And this is not just a one-time thing. Last week, we were reminded that we need to fully trust and fully obey. This includes when we are told to wait! In the waiting, He wants to prosper you, recharge you, rejuvenate you!

 

Waiting requires us to rest.

 
We cannot focus on recharging if we are constantly plugging in and unplugging from the power source.
Matthew 11:28-30:
 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”                                                                                 

 

Pastor Jerry preached a whole series on these verses. But how many of us truly listened and have put this into practice? That is why the Lord had me put this verse back in front of us. There is a benefit in waiting! Not only do you get to rest, but you also get to dump off the heavy load that is causing you to grow tired! It is wonderful when you have a friend or family member who helps you carry or move heavy items (many hands make a load light). But all too often, we are bull headed like me, thinking that we can get it done by myself. And that may have been true when we were younger, but not so much anymore. The body reminds us of just how much we have abused it, when we should have been asking for help all along.

 

My Life Lesson: Moving dirt

 

We need to wait upon God with an expectation.

 
Waiting on the Lord is the best thing we can do when faced with life’s uncertainties. It is not the same as waiting on man-made promises, because if we are honest, we have all been disappointed by those. Those promises can be taken back, leaving us disappointed and unfulfilled. God always does what He says He will do! We can wait upon God with expectancy!

 

          “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   Hebrews 11:1

 

When we choose to wait on God, we’re assured that what we are waiting for will surely come. Remember, hope is when we truly trust in God. While we may not be able to visibly see it, God is at work, working all things together for our good! Our faith in God is demonstrated as we cooperate and depend on Him, waiting for His timing, and letting Him do things according to His will. Too many times, we do something and then ask God to bless it. In reality, we need to ask God first what He would have us do, follow His lead and then see Him bless it. We will find that God will strengthen us in the waiting and make us grow according to His plans for us.

 

Yes, we may be waiting for an answer to prayer, or for renewed strength, or for spiritual healing, but the question is HOW are you waiting? Are you patiently waiting in His presence to hear His voice? Or are you growing impatient and trying to do things on your own, like a hungry person who is angry as well? We need to calm the hangry feelings and rest in the waiting. We are told to wait on the Lord! This includes tarrying in His presence AND serving our Lord and Savior.

 

Did you also realize that we, all Christians, are waiting for something? The Day of His return! He promised that He would return some day to take us all home to the place He has prepared for us. So, while we are waiting, how are we doing this? Are we spending daily time with God? When we come and gather together as a church, are we encouraging each other with our testimonies and our worship? Finally, are we giving God time to talk to us in response to the worship service, which includes the songs and the message?

 

I kept this message short today because I wanted to allow time for you to respond. I grew up in church and there was always a time to call people to the altar. There were always certain songs that were sung and the pastor would pray and the Holy Spirit revealed to him special needs. I remember hearing people say that someone must have told him or that the songs were just done to play with their emotions. But I always knew that it was God, calling and wanting His children to know that He loved us and He was waiting on us to spend some time with Him. That same God is here today and wants to spend some time with those He loves.

 

 

 

You can listen to Pastor Ken’s message by clicking below:

 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 

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Live Like a Champion – Week 38

“The Promise of Church Family!

Matthew 19:29 (NAS95)

 

The promise of the week is “The Promise of Church Family!”

 

The memory verse is Matthew 19:29,
 
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”

 

Let’s listen to it in its full context found in Matthew 19:27-30,

 

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”

 

Jesus is answering Peter’s question when He gives the promise of increase, which includes church family. But what motivated Peter to ask this question? To answer that question, we need to listen to how Jesus responded to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-26,

 

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

As we now see, it was Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler who was following the commandments of God that caused Peter to first ask, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus essentially says, “You can’t save yourself, but God can save you.”

 

Seemingly, Peter started feeling a little insecure and needed further clarification after hearing Jesus tell the rich young ruler that if he wanted to be perfect, he had to sell everything he had and give it to the poor.

 

Was this a bridge too far for Peter? Peter had recently left his business as a local fisherman to follow Jesus as Matthew 4:18-20 recorded:

 

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

 

In our scripture lesson for today (Matthew 19:27), Peter seems to be reminding Jesus of this: “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

 

Jesus then gave the promise of church family for all who do the same in 28-30:

 

“Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”

 

The best way for me to explain this teaching is through stories:

 

During the summer and into the fall of 2003, I resigned my commission as an officer in the US Army to enter seminary and full-time pastoral ministry. We left behind the security and support of being a part of the military community and received many times as much from our local church in family and support. We were blessed and loved and cared for those next 6 ½ years.  

 

While it was difficult and sad to leave that church family, the LORD’s promise was proven true again as He called us to leave that to answer His call again. As we entered the winter of 2009-10, we drove to New Castle, Indiana to begin my service as the Senior Pastor of this congregation. Again, the LORD provided through the promise of church family with an abundance of love and support as we moved 2,500 miles to a new home where we had no biological family or existing friend group but received many times as much.

 

Kimberly and I know the truth of the Lord’s promise as a pastor’s family and can tell you from experience that the practice of this truth is “TRUST and OBEY!” Trust that God’s calling is right and true! Trust that God will provide for you when you are obedient to the next step of faith!

 

This is such a challenge among our culture, even for Christ followers. The need for prosperity and control that governs our society creeps in to govern our minds and hearts and decisions. God calls us to something that is “more” in the sense of the Kingdom, but “less” in the eyes of the world. Jesus promised in verse 30, the “first will be last; and the last, first.”

 

Listen to some amazing truths about this principle:

 

  • Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
  • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

The next story is that of the Apostle Paul found in Acts 9:19b-31, the second part of his story:

 

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

 

When telling Paul’s story, we usually tell the first part of the story as that is the supernatural part of it, but it is in this second half and throughout the rest of Paul’s letters that we read about the promise of church family. Paul lost everything he had built in his old life when he followed the Way of Jesus Christ. That is why he wrote in Philippians 3:4b-7,

 

If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

 

Paul’s heritage, his station, his status, his reputation—none of those things were worth keeping if it meant forsaking Christ. These are not empty words, as Paul is referencing the much that he gave up! When Paul answered God’s call upon his life, God brought the promise of increase to his life through the Church and in the Kingdom of God, but from the eyes of the world he fell from his pedestal to lose everything he had built towards. But He no longer found them worthwhile because the first had become last and the last had become first!

 

This can be your testimony too because when you trust the promise of church family, you will trust God enough to be willing to listen and obey to what your next step of faith is to walk closely with Jesus.

 

As Jesus promised in Matthew 16:24-25,
 
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

 

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way. To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

 

 

 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message by clicking the link below:

 

You can watch the service by clicking HERE.

 
 

 


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Live Like a Champion – Week 37

The Promise of Gathering!

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NAS95)

 

My family has spent the last few weekends working on a big landscaping project to create a fire pit area to sit around and enjoy one another. Our investment is not in the landscaping itself, but in our family’s relationships. Kimberly and I are intentionally creating a set apart place to gather—to talk and share, to build memories, to have places our children want to join with us as they get older, and to have a place where they can invite their friends and bring our future family.

 

Think of the campfire as a metaphor—each of us are the coals of the fire and the more of us that gather the brighter the fire. When one of us is removed from the fire pit, it not only diminishes the overall warmth and brightness of the fire, but it puts that one individual coal in danger of losing its heat and light.

 

How does this apply to the Church of Jesus Christ and its individual members?

 

This week’s promise is, “The Promise of Gathering!” and it provides the answer.

 

The memory verse for the week is from Hebrews 10:24-25,
 
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

 

It is not surprising that the Scripture teaches us to, “not [forsake] our own assembling together” because the Church of Jesus Christ is not just a random gathering like a concert, but rather the assembly or the gathering of those who are called out of the world and into relationship with God through the call of Jesus Christ—the Head of the body.

 

Jesus is the One who gathers us—He calls us out by name! We gather in obedience to Jesus because it has always been and always will be His idea and not our own. We have corrupted the gathering of the Church as a personal preference and that has only diminished our witness. When we make something about us and forget who it is about, we destroy it by making it in our own image. We are designed to be in the image of God and to shine His light for His glory!

 

You are the Church and to forsake the assembly is to forsake your very identity as a member of the body of Christ. Without all the coals in the fire, we have no ability to be the very “light of the world” that Jesus calls us in Matthew 5:14-16:

 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

 

The concept of a city is significant here. A person wouldn’t call a single light in the distance a city. But the clustering of several lights in one space is often identifiable, even from outer space, as a city. There is strength and significance in numbers. This is why we gather!

 

When you don’t gather you are taking your coal out of the fire, and it goes from being bright to being dull. When you don’t gather you are taking your light from the city, and it goes from being visible to being invisible. God’s will for your life is for you to be the best version of you—burning true and bright for the world to see His love through you—and God designed that to happen in community! From the beginning, God intended you to be His Image Bearers. Jesus came to redeem you to this original purpose, so that the world may know of God’s love.

 

That’s why Jesus Christ said in John 13:34-35,
 
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The promise of gathering comes with a practice—the habit of prioritizing first things first!

 

We must put on our schedule first what eternally matters to God and stop forsaking the assembling on a consistent basis. Each of us is going to miss from time to time. I miss being at FBC four to six times per year, but it is my habit to prioritize assembling with you, my church family as an intentional spiritual discipline of my walk with Jesus.

 

It is like prioritizing prayer before meals or Bible intake before media exposure! It’s like protecting a day of rest once per week and reciting Psalm 23 before going to bed. These are the rhythms of grace that we are invited to live in so that we may experience the promises of God.

 

According to Hebrews 10:24, we gather “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” We are gathered to bring God glory and make God’s glory visibly brighter to the world!

 

Let’s be clear at this point that our gathering was never intended to be restricted to only Sunday morning worship services. In the New Testament Church, the people would gather daily. Listen to a powerful witness of the promise of gathering found in Acts 2:37-47:

 

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

The promise of gathering is a priority of you putting first things first, day by day! We find time for that which we prioritize. Is once per week truly enough to shine brightly and consistently?

 

Sometimes we come to the gathering with barely a light left in us, but when we are thrown back in the fire, we are fanned into flame by our brothers and sisters around us! I have found this true at every mid-week prayer service—I come in exhausted, but I leave refreshed by the Spirit’s work in our corporate gathering of prayer, worship, and Bible reading!

 

The promise of gathering invites each of us to have a participant mentality and not a spectator mentality! While athletes appreciate being cheered on and supported, it is the participants who memorize the play book, train themselves, listen for the Coach’s voice, and run the plays as a team. We are inspired and encouraged best by those who are on the playing field with us!

 

As we gather as gospel participants and not church spectators, we are transformed by the renewal of our minds through our Spirit-filled time of worship in song, prayer, and Bible teaching to bring thriving to the community for the glory of God. I encourage you to prioritize first things first and not just for the once per week gathering, but as a rhythm of life throughout your week—not just in this building, but throughout the community!

 

Why more frequently? Because Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us that we gather to “[encourage] one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” We need one another because it is so easy to become a critical spectator of the religious game rather than being an active player running the plays in need of huddle time to be reminded and encouraged by the other players.

 

We are participants, not spectators! We are the many coals in the fire pit that when together, they each burn brighter to become a bright and shining lights in the world. Listen to Paul describe how this happens in Philippians 2:14-16,

 

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

 

Did you hear the daily discipline of prioritizing first things first for the glory of God?

 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message by clicking the link below:

 

You can watch the service by clicking HERE.

 
 

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