A Moveable Feast

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A Moveable Feast

Luke 13:29 ESV – And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 

Food matters. Meals matter. Drinks matter. Our life at the table, no matter how mundane, is sacramental – a means in which we encounter the mystery of God.

Food and drink connects. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends.

3 times in scripture – it says “The Son of Man came…” 1. not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), 2. too seek and to save the lost…(Luke 19:10) 3. Has come eating and drinking…”(Luke 7:34)

•The first 2 statements are his purpose, the 3rd is his How.

•Jesus was called a glutton and drunkard and a friend of sinners

•Jesus’s mission strategy of evangelism and discipleship was around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.

Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating and drinking with people:

•Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi

•Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal

•Luke 9 Jesus feeds the 5000

•Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers the law at a meal

•Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals.

•Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus

•Luke 22 is the account of the Last Supper

•Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the 2 disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in jerusalem.

In Luke Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Why? It represents a shared life. These excessive meals were a type of God’s excess grace, mission, & friendship

(My memories of great meals – with family and friends, christmas, China, Paris, Mexico, Romania)

My title A Moveable Feast is best known as the memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his time in Paris in the 20’s. If you were a young aspiring writer Paris was the place to be.

But the term actually comes from the liturgical calendar. A moveable feast is a feast day without a fixed date, like Easter. In this sermon A Moveable Feast is about the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospels Jesus moves from meal to meal, feast to feast, announcing and enacting the kingdom of God.

Nearly 1/4 of the events of the Gospels occurs around a table. Everything Jesus talks about and enacts is the Kingdom of God. Healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching and teaching, forgiving sins, and the table practice of radical inclusiveness and hospitality.

•Eating and drinking with sinners was the most controversial things he did. Which was morally and ceremonially unclean, and found upon by the religious system and leaders of that day. •Holiness was defined and considered by what you ate and who you were with. Highly controversial.

•Jesus comes and blows that out of the water. Jesus comes on the scene as a movable feast.

Mark 2:15-17 ESV – 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

•Even the first Miracle of Jesus was turning the water into wine. Why? he didn’t want the feast, the wedding, the dinner to end. Keep it going.

The context of our scripture was that Jesus was asked a question about how many people would be saved. He didn’t give them a number or a percentage. He talked to them about their salvation. He said people would be surprised who.

Jesus was telling the Jews that because they couldn’t think of that as ethenicity, nationally and culturally, because they did.

Jesus described salvation as participation in the kingdom of God

Luke 13:23-30 ESV  And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

When we talk about the kingdom of God we have to use metaphors (Jesus did) – The kingdom of God is like… best understood as a Table.

The Church is not a kind of temple – The Church is a Table

•Temple is exclusive – lots of restrictions, heirarchy, status conscience, enforced purity codes, certain people are not allowed in (women, gentiles, sinners…)

•Table is inclusive – pull up a chair, affirming, family style, party, everyone is welcomed

In Jewish culture they had the feasts and they had a Tabernacle – But it was moveable. Israel wanted a temple (David,Solomon) But God didn’t want a temple. He was fine in a tent.

Jesus came on the scene and was doing temple stuff at the table 

•when a person sinned they were to purchase an animal at the temple and give it to the priest to sacrifice it then you are forgiven

•But now Jesus is having a meal with sinners at the table with people and simply said, “Your sins are forgiven”

During the week prior to his death, Jesus protested, cleansed the temple and reformed the table

•Why? Only one guy (the high priest) could go into the holy of holies

Who is Jesus? He’s the incarnation of God, (To wit God was in Christ…) – the holiest of All, the Mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace, Immanuel God with us, the son of God, Jesus is God sitting at the table.

•Who can eat with God? women, the lame, sinners, tax collectors, people shamed, misfits, imperfect, people with indiscretions  – the table is open to all, unlike the temple. 

He takes the passover feast and reforms it – the focus is now Good Friday. It’s no longer the sacrificed lamb in Egypt, its now Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thats the center of the salvation story at the table. It’s now Whosoever will! Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The table is now open to all! The table is no longer fenced. Through faith, baptism and obedience to Jesus

Luke 15:1-2 ESV – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Old Hymn“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”; You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time; He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”

I know there are several kinds of people that I will address. Some of you have never known what it means to be accepted by God, and perhaps even by anyone else. All your life you’ve been living in a performance trap, having to do this thing or that thing to gain someone’s acceptance.

Keith Hernandez was known as one of baseball’s top players. He carried a lifetime batting average of 300 and won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He won a batting championship for having the highest average, the Most Valuable Player award in his league, and even the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he missed out on something crucially important to him — his father’s acceptance and recognition that what he accomplished was valuable. Listen to what he had to say in a very candid interview about his relationship with his father: “One day Keith asked his father, ’Dad, I have a lifetime 300 batting average. What more do you want?’ His father replied, ’But someday you’re going to look back and say, “I could have done more.”’” 

Sadly, that’s the story of many people’s lives: maybe yours. Your grades weren’t good enough. Your job isn’t good enough. Your house or car or clothes aren’t good enough. You don’t play good enough. You’re too young, or maybe you’re too old. Maybe you made some mistakes and you were pushed away.

Some of you tried to respond to God’s leading by attending church, but you still weren’t good enough, didn’t wear the right clothes or just didn’t feel like the people wanted you around. Church people have been notoriously judgmental, critical and condescending.

Today Jesus pursues the Imperfect

Romans 3:23 ESV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Eugene Peterson said, “Every congregation is a congregation of sinners. As if that weren’t bad enough, they all have sinners for pastors.”

Luke 5:31-32 ESV And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

GraceTown needs to be about a Table, not a Temple. •••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!

Song of Solomon 2:4 NIV – Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.

Romans 5:8 ESV – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Because of GRACE, God is not holding anything against anyone and welcomes all to His Table!

2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

The Call of Salvation is not “Come and get right so God will love you and bless you” The Call of Salvation is Come! You Are Loved! God loves imperfect people, moral misfits, burned out believers, religious incompenants.

Conclusion

Today I want to urge you to place your trust in Christ.

In “The Whisper Test,” a lady by the name of Mary Ann Bird wrote something I want you to hear. She said,  I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored — Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy — a sparkling lady. Annually we had a hearing test. … Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back — things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”

Listen to me closely as we close today: God says to every one of us in this room who is deformed by sin, “You are my son” or “You are my daughter.” How do we know this to be true? Because over and over and over in the Bible God tells us as much. He loves you, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are.

“God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”

I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 

God won’t just take your sin away from you; He’ll put it so far away from you that you can’t find it anymore. That’s how forgiven you’ll be!

Confession of Sin

Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; We are truly sorry and we humbly depend. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen

Psalms 103:8-12 ESV – The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12 as far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Less Than 2%

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Less than 2% (Gideon’s Guide to Church Building) By Steve Light

Today we are going to take a look at an Old Testament story that has powerful and important lessons for us as church. We are going to examine the story of Gideon in the book of Judges and dive into how the Lord was able to use very few people, very few resources and very little faith to accomplish an amazing feat.

And why study this story? Because we live in a world where Christians define success by worldly measures – the size of church membership, the size of church programs, the size of the building and the size of the budget. In doing so, churches are at a high risk to not leave room for God’s blessings and provisions, His direction and most importantly room for the Holy Spirit.

This story also gives us a roadmap as a church on how to be faithful to the Lord and keep everything we do at the center of His will and His guidance.

 It requires us to be full of faith, active in prayer, driven to obedience and embracing humility.

 And if we listen and we learn from Gideon’s story, there is no doubt God will bless Gracetown. With less than 2% of what we think is needed to grow, I believe God will show us he can give us 500x more than we can imagine.

Let us pray….

Father, as we read your word, let us remember Proverbs 2:10-11…”For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you”. I ask that the Holy Spirit be present, to fill our hearts and mind that we would hear, learn and act as Your perfect will would guide us. Amen.

Midian Oppresses Israel (Judges 6:1-10)

Judges 6:1-2 (HSCB)“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in mountains and caves”.

  • Right away we learn that God’s people are being wicked and so there is accountability. God calls people to live a holy life. Salvation is the start but sanctification – a life long focus on living righteous – is required and when we don’t stay focused on this, God creates storms in our lives to get us back on track. He does this because he cares just like a parent correcting a child.
  • Who were the Midianites? Arabs from the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Why is the number seven showing up frequently through this story?

  • Seven is the number of completeness and perfection both physical and spiritual within Bible
  • It is used 735 times
  • The Israelites had suffered under the Midian’s for 7 years – God was driving them to repentance

And we see this is in Judges 6:6 – “So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian and the Israelites cried out to the Lord”.

Lesson #1 – They repented. They turned away from the world and focused on God.

The Lord Calls Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)

As we read the passages between Judges 6:11-24 we are going to learn a lot about Gideon and his faith in God.

I call this Gideon seeing his relationship with God in 3-D.

  • Doubt, Disobedience and Distance

We will see that when God shows in his everyday, ordinary life Gideon does two things. First he questions why the world is so upside down. He does not seek to learn from God the lesson of the situation, but instead merely wants relief. Second, and most importantly, he blames God for the tumultuous situation of Israel.

Here I am reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s spot on quote that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no thinks of changing himself”.

Gideon is called by the Angel of the Lord to lead the people against Midian and his first reaction is doubt in his ability to be successful. He goes on to argue with God, to be disobedient despite the command. He makes a veiled attempt at humility claiming he is from the weakest clan and he is the least of this clan. Finally, instead of taking a leap of faith towards God, he seeks to distance himself from God out of fear and doubt.

Scripture teaches us in these moments how to be faithful, courageous and strong to God’s call…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (HSCB)“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths”.

Ephesian 3:20 (HSCB)“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us”. The power is the Holy Spirit.

Gideon then runs to pull together a “gift” for the Angel of the Lord – which is a test. Is this real? Will he be there when I return? Gideon goes and gets a young goat, unleavened bread and broth. He brings it back to make a meal. But the Angel of the Lord gives him a sign. He takes the simple and ordinary – meager provisions from Gideon and supernaturally completes the meal – pulling fire from a rock.

The lesson here…Gideon brings basic effort and resources and God elevates it and glorifies it. This shows Gideon that God is truly in his presence and He worships God.

Let’s read Judges 6:11-23 and look for blame, the doubt, the disobedience and the distance away from God’s will and His blessing.

So Gideon is full of the Spirit of God and is ready to take on the Midianites now, right? No. It’s the first steps of the journey. He has to do hard things, say hard things. Things that will put him at odds with his family, with his community and with the world. Things that runs counter to culture. And where do we find him. Timid, afraid…but…at least taking the first steps in faith and obedience.

Gideon Tears Down the Baal Alter (Judges 6:25-32)

 Later that night, Gideon hears from God with crystal clear instructions…

Judges 6:25-26“Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the alter of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Build a well constructed alter to the Lord your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down”.

Baal and Asherah – male and female fertility gods of Canaanites

Gideon follows God’s command, but let’s see how he does this…

Judges 6:27“But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it all at night”.

Gideon lacked courage. He lacked integrity. He was more concerned with the opinions of the other people than God. He had a chance to be bold and he whimpered.

Galatians 1:10 teaches…“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

We cannot allow our fears of the world’s reaction to our call to diminish our sharing of the Gospel and engaging the world. We have to be bold. How did the men of the village react to the torn down altar? Now remember these are Israelites that are violating God’s law in being idolatrous. They are breaking the very first law – there shall be no other gods than Jehovah. These guys are outraged and want blood. They want death for Gideon. They are completely blinded by his call to repentance. His father steps in and wisely calls to let Baal defend himself. He tells everyone to wait for Baal to punish Gideon, essentially questioning if he is real and has any real power.

Joash – his father, also gives Gideon a new name – Jerubbal, which means “contender against Baal”.

The Sign of the Fleece (Judges 6:33-39)

Now we see that the Sprit of the Lord has descended upon Gideon. He starts to rally his clan and other tribes in the region. Yet we find he still doubts. He continues to move forward but has not yet full released his trust completely to God. But there is a critical lesson here…Gideon goes to God for confirmation and clarity. This principle is asking God to reveal with clarity His will. It is seeking out signs for confirmation that the direction is right. This often comes through discussions with others, circumstances around us – doors opening and doors closing. We have to be mindful and spirit filled to see and discern these things.

How does Gideon do this? He asks God to do some supernatural signs using some simple tools. And he doesn’t just ask once, but TWICE!. God is truly patient. Let’s read Judges 6:36-39 and look for how Gideon sought to get confirmation and clarity from the Lord.

God Selects Gideon’s Army

Notice here that the message is NOT Gideon selected his army, but the Lord did. Gideon, now full of faith and spirit, goes on the move. He has 135,000 Midianites camped in a valley north of him. He rallies 32,000 people. Not good odds. He has 1 Israelite for every 4 Midianites. VERY tough to complete the task with such limited resources. He needs volunteers but there are not enough.

 

What does God say to this? Does he bring more people, more money, and more resources? No. He tells Gideon that he has too much for the task at hand. He simplifies it. He demands faith and obedience and in that the Lord brings the necessary provisions.

Let’s look at Judges 7:2…“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: “I did this myself”.

God instructs Gideon with a test of wisdom. He tells Gideon to have each man drink from the water. Anyone who kneels to drink put in one group. Anyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog put into another group. Why this test? The men that lapped water like a dog where wise for battle – they got nourishment while being able to keep their eyes up and alert. But those that kneeled put their eyes down and were at risk of being blindsided.

What were the results? Judges 6:6 tells us “the number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was 300 men. In verse 7 “The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and turn the Midianites over to you”.

300 men? To wage war against 135,000 Midianites that had been terrorizing the nation of Israel for 7 long, difficult, horrible years. Was God crazy? He was sending Gideon to battle with only 1.4% (see the tie in now to the less than 2%?) of the men he started with. 300 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites. How could he succeed?

Here’s the greatest truth of this story – Gideon could not on his own. Not by his human strength or intelligence. Not without making room for God. Not without trusting God. Not without having faith completely, without reservation, that God would provide EVERYTHING they needed with 300 men. And not without the Holy Spirit.

Gideon Spies on the Midianites Camp (Judges 7:9-14)

 Gideon, as you can imagine, is unsettled. He has built up his faith in the Lord only to return to fear now that he has 300 men assigned by God. God rouses Gideon from sleep and tells him to go the Midianites camp and “listen to what they say; and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp”.

God knew Gideon’s heart. He was full of doubt and fear. So God tells him in verse 10 – “if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant”.

God reminded Gideon to surround himself with someone he trusted. Someone that would be encouraging and knew him well. Someone that could lift him up.

  • God had a better opinion of Gideon that he did at himself at this point. God always sees us differently from the way we see ourselves.
  • When Gideon answered the call of God his life changed and his family and friend’s opinion of him changed. I am sure he felt isolated and alone. But, like Gideon, we are not alone. God’s promises never fail and he never gives up on us.
  • His family was living in the wrong way – witchcraft, idolatry – things that blocked the blessings of God. He needed to be around faithful people.
  • Gideon needed fellowship – he had a small group with Purah. Someone he could talk to, lean on and be built up by.

Our growth as Christians and as a church requires God to take us to uncomfortable places so God has the room to show us our true selves and to help us grow into a life that is joyful, peaceful and blessed.

Gideon and Purah go to the camp at night and heard a man speak of a dream that a “loaf of barley bread came tumbling into Midinite camp, struck a tent, and it fell.” His friend replied, ”This is nothing less the sword of Gideon…God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him”. (Judges 7:13-14).

It would be preposterous to think that a simple loaf of bread could roll over a tent. Yet with God nothing is impossible. If we listen for the small voice of God in the world around us, we get the confirmation and clarity of His guidance for us.

Isaiah 30:21 teaches…“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it”.

Direction from God should be clear and should give us peace.

Gideon finally, with the faith in the Lord, and the fellowship of Purah had his peace. It was time to do God’s work with less than 2% of what Gideon originally thought he needed.

Gideon Attack the Midianites (Judges 7:15-23)

 Following God’s instruction, Gideon and the 300 men took three things to battle. A sword, a shield and a helmet. Right? No. They took a bow, arrows and a spear. Right? No. They took a trumpet, an empty water pitcher and a torch. If they did it there way, they would have used weapons and attacked using their strength. And they would have lost. But letting God lead, they submitted to His wisdom. The split up into three groups and in the middle of the night surrounded the camp of Midianites. They began to blow the trumpets, smashed the pitchers and held up the torches shouting…”The sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. God’s Spirit created a confusion and madness that swept the camp. The Midianite warriors set their swords against each other. The result was the 120,000 warriors slaughtered one another. And the remaining 15,000 fled the camp. Gideon and his men pursued them with a larger force and routed the Midianites for good.

Gideon was living out Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” and Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”.

Gideon’s Legacy (Judges 8:22-28)

There are two final critical lessons for us in this story that we need understand and apply to our lives and to our church.

  1. We need to give God complete control
  2. We need to work constantly on living right as Christians – when we are at peace we are at risk to fall back into bad ways

The battle is over and naturally the men said to Gideon in Judges 8:22 – “rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for YOU delivered us from the power of Midian”.

Wow. All that work by God and these guys do not give God credit. Gideon is wise. He says ”I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23) Gideon rightly gave glory to God.

Lesson one – our faith and our mission it is not about any human leadership.  It is only about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Our hearts and minds need to focus on entirely making Him the King of our homes and our church.

Scripture tells us in Judges 8:28…”so Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful for 40 years during the days of Gideon”.

God answered their prayers. They repented and trusted in Him for guidance and provision using only 1.4% of what they thought they needed. He brought them salvation, peace and prosperity.

But….

Judges 8:33-34…”When Gideon died, the Israelites turned and prostituted themselves with the Baals and made Baal –berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them”.

Lesson two – when life is good, things are working well and there are no issues, we forget about God and tend to focus on ourselves, our desires and our wants.

The Israelites knew this lesson well, but ignored it. They knew that life came from God. That all resources came from God. That all blessings (and curses) came from God. His command was simple. Seek Him first, live holy, love and care for others and worship Him alone.

Let’s read from Deuteronomy 8 that was the law that the Israelites had in the Torah…

Deuteronomy 8:11-13…“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command – the ordinances and statues – I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your hers and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…”

“You may say to yourself, my power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me, but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth…”

So I stand here today asking all of us to answer a simple question as a church… Why type of Gideons do we want to be? Afraid, lacking faith, trying to do it ourselves? Or bold, trusting God and ready to build God’s kingdom on less than 2% of what the world tells us we need when we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, teaching us and caring for us?

Let’s pray together….Father, we give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good. Your faithful love endures forever. Remember us, Lord, when You show favor on Your people. Come to us with Your salvation so that we may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in being Your people and boast about Your heritage. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive the End of the World Part 3

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How To Survive the End of the World Part 3

Introduction: 

The world we currently live in has changed whether we like it or not. In JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel, the Elf queen says about the change happening in middle earth; “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost…

Yes the world has changed. We are living in an increasingly post christian culture. America was once a christian nation whose values were aligned with judeo christian values and ethics. Charles Dickens penned this opening statement in his classic, A Tale of Two Cities;

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

The World around us has drastically changed over the past 40 years or so. In our increasingly post christian culture, the influences and values shaping emerging generations are no longer aligned with Christianity.

Tolerance? Tolerance may be a virtue and buzz word in todays culture but its not extended to Christianity.

•we are driven from public life

•denied 1st amendment rights

•actively discriminated against for our beliefs

We live in a quickly changing world. You might feel safe in the church world you and I live in, but step outside into the real world and things aren’t quite the same anymore.

So How should we live in this world in the last days?  The Call is to Live Biblically. To live as Christ lived.

1 John 2:6 LB  “Anyone who says he’s a Christian should live as Christ did.”

I Peter 2:21 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”    WWJD?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway

  1. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved.
    1. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

I love Jesus, but sometimes “Christians” frustrate me. Why? They fight & argue about the dumbest things. Too judgmental, act holier than thou, incredibly condescending.

1. With Humility 

Humility – Modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. To lower oneself; lowly; abasing yourself, “down to earth”.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. . . . Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.” – Rick Warren

Humility – The discipline of putting others ahead of self -the choice to value others above self – its a matter of faith

“Humility is self-forgetfulness.” – C.S. Lewis

Matt. 5:3 NLT “God blesses those who realize their need for him…” 

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

James 4:10 NIV “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. 

People who are not humble think they know everything, no one can correct them, and they believe they have the answers to everything

Matt. 11:29 NIV “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

2. With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

Luke 12:15 NIV “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

•We have become slaves to our belongings – St Francis of Assisi insisted that true freedom lies in the abundance of life, not the abundance of possessions. Many times those possessions that we have acquired exercise power over us.

Matt. 16:26 NLT “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Living simply means that we carefully examine what it means to fully live. How? By focusing our efforts on things that are true, beautiful, and essential. Like Faith, Family, Healthy, Friends, and our Church, our Community

Psalms 131:1-2 Amp Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].

•’I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on 3 elements: noise, hurry, crowds… Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

•”The Value of our western culture demands us to be busy…”

Eccl. 7:29 – “God made man simple: man’s complex problems are of his own devising”

“To much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ” Remember – You NO to others will soon translate into a YES for God!

3. With Possibility (Faith)

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

Faith is… To have trust or assurance, confidence, conviction, belief, reliance in what God says. Trust that produces actions.

Matt. 19:26 NLT With God everything is possible.”

Mark 9:23 NIV “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

(Hebrews 11:1)  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and 

certain of what we do not see.” 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

(Hebrews 11:7 NLT)  “It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save 

his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about 

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

(Hebrews 11:27)  “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kingʼs 

anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.  Not through strength, but through persistence.”- Unknown

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

(Hebrews 11:39-40)  “They were all commended for their faith yet 

none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned 

something better…”

”Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe” –Augustine

•The law of faith is the greatest law in the Word of God. Believe and ye shall receive.

• “I can get more out of God by believing Him for one minute than I can by shouting at Him all night.”- Smith Wigglesworth

4. With Charity (Love)

(I Cor. 13:1) “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.”

•The more spiritual you become, the more love you will show to others.

Matt 5:44 The Message “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Luke. 6:37 NIV“Do not judge, and you’ll not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

“Take away love and the earth is a tomb.” – Robert Browning

•Love takes no account of the evil done to it. Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead, it shows the grace and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us while we were yet sinners, even suffering the shame of the cross

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Natural human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ-like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others. True love hopes all things and lives with an expectant faith towards others.

(1 Corinthians 14:1 LB) “Make love your greatest aim…”

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

(Romans 15:7 NIV) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.” – Mother Teresa

•Encourage others continually.

(1 Corinthians 13:7 LB) “If you love someone…you will always believe

in him, and always expect the best of him…”

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

•Serve people cheerfully.

(1 Peter 4:10 NIV) “Each one should use whatever gift he has received

to serve others…”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” – Charles Dickens 

•Forgive others freely.

(Colossians 3:13 NIV) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever

grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

“When you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free… and then you find that the prisoner was you.”

5. With Priority 

Priority – Something given special attention

Luke 12:30-31 NLT These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

“If you don’t live by priorities, you’ll live by pressures. Either you determine what’s important in life or other people will determine it for you.” – Rick Warren

Matt. 10:39 The Message “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

What are your priorities? 

Relationship with God (Church, Prayer, Worship, devotions, God’s Word, telling others, giving) & Your Family (Time)

I HAVE DECIDED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Follow my example, as I follow the example of

Christ.

(1 John 2:4 TLB) Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my

way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

(Matthew 10:32-33) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Here’s what you need to know before the End of the World

1. God loves us and does not want us to perish.

John 3:16,17 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4 — [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2. All people have sinned. Sin causes separation from God.

Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

James 2:10 — For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

3. Heaven is a free gift. You cannot earn or deserve heaven.

Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.

4. We receive God’s forgiveness through faith, by trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 — But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.

Romans 10:9,10 — …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Closer: How to Worship instead of Worry

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: How To Worship Instead of Worry

Psalms 105:4 ESV – Seek the Lord and his strength(Help); seek his presence continually! (Worship)

Worship is more that just music. Worship is when we elevate God in our lives. There are several different ways we can elevate God in our lives. Every aspect of your life can be an act of worship. Worship is the first purpose of life. You were created to know and love God. That’s called worship.

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV – Do not be anxious (Worry) about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray and let God Worry – Martin Luther

The Bible says you’ve got two alternatives – worry or worship. You can decide what you’re going to do this next week. You’re going to have problems this week – I guarantee you. You’re going to have problems. You’re going to either worry or you’re going to worship. The antidote to worry is worship. The antidote to anxiety is to adore God, to ask God. The antidote to panic is prayer and praise. Worship is Asking, worship is Believing, worship is Confessing, it is Depending, it is Expressing and it is Finding.

Anxiety – Uneasiness about future uncertainties; to divide, to rip, tear, or part
Worry – To strangle or choke, suffocate, always examining what can go wrong. It’s destructive.
•Dog with a bone; “worries” on it, gnaws, bury it, dig it up, growl at you

I Peter 5:6-7 NIV –  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you

Corrie Ten Boom said; “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God”

Swedish proverb – Worry gives a small thing a big shadow

We are not designed to carry stress, anxiety, or worry. Remember this – The shadow of a dog never bit anyone

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare; All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” Joseph Scriven

Worry is rooted in suspicion, doubt, insecurity, and fear. When we choose to worry, we’re relying on ourselves to face whatever happens alone. We focus on our own limitations and lose confidence in the ability of God. No matter what the source of our worry, the Bible addresses it directly:

Worry is Unreasonable, Unnatural, Unhelpful, Unnecessary

Matthew 6:25-30 NIV – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Do not worry about your life. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. God did not design us to worry, He designed us to worship. So, how can we choose to worship instead of worry?

5 Ways Worship Will Remove Worry

2 Chronicles 20:1-2 NIV – After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites[a] came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom,[b] from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar”

Ask God for help FIRST!

Asking God for Help is Worship

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 ESV – 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Ask – to want or desire something for which you are willing to sacrifice. Asking helps us bring clarity to our direction and desire.

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV – 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE ASK

John 15:7 ESV – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Anything: any thing whatever; something, no matter what: a thing of any kind. in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all:

What is the “Anything” you are worrying about? ASK God First!

I John 5:14-15 ESV – 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

2. Believe God Can Handle Your Situation

2 Chronicles 20:5-7 ESV –  And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

When we are worried, we must focus on God’s strength thru worship

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” CS Lewis
Romans 4:16-17 ESV – 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
”Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe” –Augustine

Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (The MSG: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”)

There is no situation in your life too difficult for God to turn around. Only believe! We get what we believe for!

3. Depend on God to Help Me

When we say, “I’m depending on you, God,” God says “Good, Relax! I’ll help you!”

“Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude — an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.”- Arthur Pink
2 Chronicles 20:12-17 ESV – O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers

“Worship isn’t crawling though a small hole to some theological wonderland. It is falling back upon God and finding that He is everywhere and anywhere you can fall.”

4. I Express Thanks To God

Before the problem is solved we must start Thanking God in advance for Victory

2 Chronicles 2:21-22 ESV – And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”- Thomas Merton
Psalm 100:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!
I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”, but “in”.
Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV – “Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When you look at the whole of the Bible, you’ll discover that it’s not people-centric. It’s God-centric. Everything points back to who God is. And our reasons for being thankful begin, and ends, with God.
example: We were watching an amazing movie the other night, A Theory of Everything, about Dr. Stephen Hawking & his first wife Jane. I told the kids he is an atheist. Evan asked, “what is that?” I said he doesn’t believe in God. A few moments later I asked Tricia, “at 73 he is still alive, how can he have lived this long with ALS?” Evan responded out loud with the answer, “God”. You are brilliant son, absolutely brilliant
“It’s not happy people who are Thankful, It is thankful people who are happy”

“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness”
5. Find Blessing in the Bad
God wants to give us blessings in the battle. In every trouble and trial God has a blessing for us.
2 Chronicles 20:24-27 ESV – When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there[a] were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah,[b] for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah (Blessing) to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies.
Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings…not your past misfortunes”
No Struggle is ever Pointless
Romans 8:28 ESV –  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
God Has a Blessing for the Battle
“Stay battle ready! When things go badly, it’s not the end of the world. When things go well, it’s not the end of the battle.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

“God who foresaw your tribulation, has specifically armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain.” CS Lewis

I Peter 1:3-9 NIV – 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

Firstborn

“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 

Pastors, we must be keepers of the culture. If we are weak on our culture, others will come in and define it for us. Therefore we have the God given responsibility to set the culture.

Culture – Predominating attitudes and behaviors that characterizes the function of the organization.

GOAL – Life Giving Culture

John 10:10 NIV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.

Some of Our Culture Attitudes at GraceTown….

  1. Leadership
  2. Serving – Everyone should be serving somewhere, if not they are not on the map
  3. Excellence
  4. Passion
  5. Fun
  6. Authenticity

Churches have barriers to growth – 100, 200, 500, 800, 1000. Although each barrier is unique, there are 3 key factors that apply to every barrier we will face as a church.

1. Inspiring and consistently excellent worship services

•Our services are WELL PLANNED, but feel FLEXIBLE and UNRUSHED. They are upbeat but relaxed.

•We only have 52 Sunday’s a year and every single one needs to count!

2. Clear pathways to Connection and involvement

3. Effective and life giving Structure and administration

Don’t be afraid to lead – rid yourself of the thinking that you are inadequate or unqualified.

Leadership is Influence – John Maxwell

Our day today is an emotionally charged, overweight burden down society that needs LIFE, from life giving leadership!

What Life Giving Leadership Is:

A. Leadership is not a project, leadership is a spirit. People don’t need a position to be a leader.

B. Leadership must give encouragement and confidence

C. Joshua’s Leadership Training –

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed.”

•God was focusing on Joshua’s spirit before the task.

D. For God to get us to where he would like us to be, He needs us to realize our leadership is more about a spirit than a task. Be strong, inspired, and full of courage, life and purpose. Life Giving Leadership

•Leadership is more than information, communication, and projects. Leadership is spirit

•Remember this – “Your Leadership can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.” – Kevin Gerald

F. It should cause people to lighten up

  • When the life of God is flowing, there should be lots of smiling and laughing. (Seattle fish market – a fun place to work)

G. Life Giving leadership is positive and inspiring –

Proverbs 16:15 (message) says, “Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re life spring rain and sunshine.”

H. We will not resort to a negative, forceful, or whiney approach to motivate. This leads to immaturity.

I. To be an effective leader – STAY POSITIVE.

J. Leaders are like an elevator – you are either taking people up or taking them down. Make a decision to take people up!’

Life Giving Leaders are…

1. Life Giving leaders are always growing and reaching to improve their leadership. Take responsibility for your own failures as well as successes. If you keep learning, you will improve, and your leadership will get better.

2. Life Giving leaders are pushing the boundary lines to move beyond what is normal or usual. Leaders are pioneers. They venture into unexplored territory and guide to new and often unfamiliar destinations.

3. Life Giving leaders are risk-takers. They reject the maintenance mentality and take risks from strength, preparing thoroughly, understanding what is at stake, and marching forward with confidence. It is never too late to be what you might have become!

4. Life Giving leaders are resource finders and releasers. They have built a leadership pipeline that finds potential leaders, trains them, and releases them to greater levels of ministry.

5. Life Giving leaders are future-focused and dedicated to do whatever it takes to get there. Their faith capacity has increased to believe that God will provide all that is necessary as the need arises. Their people capacity is increased so that getting along with and caring for people is at the leader’s heart.

Our Commitment each Sunday

Remember Team – It’s a Privilege and opportunity to serve. It’s never asking too much of people to serve.

1. Each person I encounter today is loved by God & needs to feel special.

2. I need to make a personal impact through a smile, a word of kindness or an act of love.

3. I will remember what it feels like to be new.

4. My responsibility is not simply to carry out a task but to engage each person individually.

5. I am vitally important to impacting lives today.

6. I will be in a great mood on Sundays & will not let anyone or anything Hijack my great mood

7. I will be ready to meet any need that arises

8. I will have a sense of responsibility for everything that happens on Sunday

9. I will focus on People and processes

10. During service I will be alert, take notes & be an example in Worship

Closer: How Should We Worship?

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: How Should We Worship? 

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name

Luke 19:37-40 ESV37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

What is worship?

Worship means to “attribute worth to an object”. Worship is not defined in the Bible but its meaning can be determined from the terms employed and the context of the passages. In the New Testament the most common word is ‘proskuneo’ which means to revere and is from two Greek words meaning ‘kiss towards’. Another word often used – ‘sebomai’ – is derived from a word meaning fear or revere.

John 4:23-24 NIV – Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

It doesn’t say we can worship God anyway we want, but we “must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. The word “must” makes it absolute. There is no other way we can worship God and be acceptable to Him. The word “must”, according to Webster, expresses “an obligation, a requirement, a necessity, a certainty, and something that must be done”. When “must” is used it means that it is not optional.

Since God is the object of our worship, He and He alone has the right to determine how we are to worship Him.

Jeremiah 10:23 NIV , Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

We are not granted the option of directing our own ways in religion. God is the One who we look to for guidance and direction in our lives. The worship God has prescribed is the only way we can be pleasing to Him in this life

example: “You worship God your way, I will worship God my way” – There is NO my way. Only God’s Way

•Worshiping “in spirit” means that you mean it; that you’re worshiping inside out, not just going through the motions.

•Worshiping “in truth” means that you’re worshiping the true God and not some idol you’ve created. And it means you’re being truthful with your words and thoughts that you bring to worship; you’re not trying to put on a religious act to impress someone.

Throughout history, Christians have agreed that several key elements are important in worship:

1) Praise. Giving honor and glory to God with words, songs or art.

2) Confession. Worship means acknowledging who God is (holy and good) and who we are (not so holy and not so good) in relation to him. This means admitting and confessing our sin, and accepting God’s forgiveness.

3) Prayer. In worship, we speak directly to God about what’s on our minds (our needs and the needs of others) and what’s on God’s mind (his desire for love and justice and redemption in the world).

4) Hearing God’s Word. This means reading the Scripture. It also means listening for what God is saying to you through the music, the sermon and everything that happens in worship.

5) Remembering Christ’s sacrifice. This is most clearly done by taking Communion. Thinking about how God saved us from sin is at the very center of our worship.

6) Responding to God’s love. Worship doesn’t end when the service is over. Worship means we leave the service so aware of God’s greatness that we find ways to obey and honor and serve him throughout the week.

How Should We Worship?

Remember: We Must Have a Theocentric View of Worship

Worship is not about us! We are not at the center of worship with our styles, preferences, song choices, etc… It’s not about what we want and what we can get.  Worship is about GOD.

We must be careful that we do not exclude certain forms of worship simply because we are uncomfortable with them.  Rather, we should seek to understand why we are uncomfortable & make adjustments that will challenge our comfort zone

Psalm 103:1 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,  bless his holy name!

Halel – (root for Hallelujah) to rave, boast, to enjoy, celebrate. to audibly praise the Lord, to be clamorously foolish

Psalm 22:26 NIV The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!

Psalm 113:1 ESV – Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!

Yadah – means to worship with raised hands, to throw out the hands. Being active not passive

Psalm 63:4 ESV  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands

Psalm 134:2 ESV – Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

Barak – to bless by kneeling or bowing in a worshipful attitude and declare God as our total source of blessing, prosperity, power, strength, and victory. (an expectation to receive that blessing from God)

Psalm 96:5 ESV – Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

I Chronicles 29:20 ESV– Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king.

Zamar – making music to God with strings.

Psalm 92:1 NIV – “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm 33:1-2 ESV – Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

Shabach – to address in a loud tone, to shout unto the Lord. A loud vocal expression of Victory, crying out to God in a loud praise.

Psalm 35:27 ESV – Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!

Psalm 47:1 ESV – Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Tehillah – exuberant singing. Throughout scriptures we are to celebrate audibly and we can do that by singing. Whether you have a voice of an angel or a bullfrog – SING!

Psalm 34:1 NIV “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 30:4 ESV – Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name

One Result of Praise & Worship To God

1. Our Spiritual Enemies (problems) are Silenced

Psalms 8:1-2 NKJV – O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your  name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Silence – To cause to fail, to put down, to take away. When we Worship God we cause the enemy to fail!

•3 Different Armies had gathered against Judah and Jehoshaphat was faced with insurmountable odds . He receives prophetic strategy from a 14 yr old Musician / Worship Leader

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 ESV  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

God’s Mercy is in the destruction of our spiritual enemies (Problems)

Psalms 143:12 ESV – And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Your Praise To God changes your Position from being under problems to being over them

I Peter 2:1-5, 9 NIV – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Closer: What Worship is All About

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: What Worship is All About

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Galileo

Worship is a broad term. Some have said that it defies explanation.

Merriam-Webster defines worship as, “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” or “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” following up with “to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship.”

Three thesaurus entries for worship include: revere, adore and love.

Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life says, “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”

Ralph Martin states, “Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his worthiness becomes the norm and inspiration of human living.”

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name

We Must Have a Theocentric View of Worship

Worship is not about us! We are not at the center of worship with our styles, preferences, song choices, etc… It’s not about what we want and what we can get.  Worship is about GOD.

“God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me specifically into the story, and He put us in specifically with the sunsets in the rainstorms as though to say, “Enjoy your place in My story, the very beauty of it means it’s not about you, and in time that will give you comfort.” Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Psalms 115:1 NIV – Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness

Even when we don’t mean to make it about ourselves, we often do. 2 reasons:

  1. By nature, we are inwardly focused
  2. We’ve never been taught any differently. We are being impeded by the accepted thinking of our day.

Until we understand that Worship was created by God and for God, Worship is never going to make sense.

Revelation 4:11 NIV – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

When you walk into a worship service, it’s not about your entertainment. Everything we do at here is toward the singular goal of helping you get outside of yourself and focus completely on God and His Greatness.

When Boston sang “More than a feeling”, back in 1976, they weren’t talking about worship, BUT the truth applies.

We tend to make worship about us and how we feel. We are always looking for a warm fuzzy “feeling”. Of course, God does want us to sense His presence but He wants us to Trust Him more.

•If we measure our worship solely in terms of how we feel, we’ve missed the boat.

•If we approach worship with the attitude, “God, what do you have for me?” You’re always going to walk away empty.

The Revelation of Who God is

Worship is our response to who God is and what He has done!

Psalm 95:1-7 ESV – Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4  In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

1. We Worship God because He is Worthy

I Chronicles 16:24-25 ESV – For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Revelation 4:9-11 ESV – And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,11  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

2. We Worship God for What He has Done

Isaiah 25:1 NIV – Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

Psalm 107:8 ESV – Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

3. We Worship God for His Forgiveness, Healing, and Salvation

Psalm 103:1-12 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3  who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4  who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5  who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7  He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8  The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

(Micah 7:18) “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

4. We Worship God because He is Sovereign 

The Sovereignty of God simply means that God has a specific plan for this world and for your life and He is in perfect control of that plan.

Isaiah 46:10-11 ESV – declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

“Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God as He works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and His glory.”

I Chronicles 29:11 ESV Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

What Happens When We Worship?

1. We Delight in God and God Delights in Us

Psalm 27:4 ESV – One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire[a] in his temple.

Our Worship brings Joy and Delight to God’s Heart

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV – The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Result Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

2. We Draw Near to God and God Draws Near to Us

Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

When we worship God He meets with us – He ministers to us, He strengthens our faith, He intensifies His presence, He refreshes us.

“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” —Saint Augustine

James 4:8 ESV-  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

3. Worship to God Changes us

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Whatever we worship we ultimately will end up serving. The more we worship God the more our commitment increases and the more we become like Him.

Romans 12:1-2 ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

4. Our Spiritual Enemies & Circumstances Flee

3 Different Armies had gathered against Judah and Jehoshaphat was faced with insurmountable odds . He receives prophetic strategy from a 14 yr old Musician / Worship Leader

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 ESV  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

God’s Mercy is in the destruction of our spiritual enemies

Psalms 143:12 ESV – And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Ending: Worship Check Up

God’s Heart is touched by passion and commitment in Worship.

(God is talking about half hearted hypocritical Worship)

Isaiah 29:13 NIV – The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught

God doesn’t want part of you, He wants ALL of YOU

Mark 12:30 ESV – And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Worship is expressing my Affection to God

Worship is focusing my Attention on God

Worship is using my Abilities for God

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

Parenting-Full Screen

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

Psalm 127:1-5 NIV – Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves. 3  Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court

85% of parents are unsure about how to raise their children

Traits Parents Want Children to Possess

  1. 63%  – Sense of Responsibility
  2. 49% – Good Manners
  3. 45% – Meaningful Faith
  4. 29% – Independent

You’re not going to have your kids forever at home. Isn’t it amazing how quickly our kids grow up?

As parents, every one of us really wants to be good parents. We want to have strong families. But the fact is, the pace that we live and the constant pressures of our careers to always produce more often put our families at risk. Is it possible to achieve success and build a healthy family at

the same time? Is it possible to raise faithful kids in our world today?

This morning we’re going to look at six things that kids need most. I don’t care if you’re a parent or not. There are children in your life. They may be nieces or nephews or neighbor kids. I didn’t get these things from some current fad book but out of the greatest text book ever written on parenting, God’s Word — the Bible. These six things are the six things God does to you as a heavenly father. He wants you to do those six things to the people that you see in your life — not just children but the other people around you.

  1. KIDS NEED COMPASSION

More than anything else, kids need unbelievable love, unconditional love. There needs to be a place where you’re accepted — warts and all.

What is compassion? Compassion is a combination of love and understanding. Compassion is where I know everything about you and I still like you.

I John 4:7 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Love is not natural. You have to learn to love. You learn it by practicing. What better place to practice than the people you’re forced to live with all your life. If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because you don’t have to live in close contact with anybody else as much as you do your family. It’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time you don’t always get along. When you practice love in the family you’re learning to really love.

Three ways to express love. A lot of times we love our kids but we don’t express it the way they can get it. Children understand love three ways: affection, attention, affirmation.

  1. Affection. They need lots of hugs and touches and kisses. They need to feel it.

2.    Affirmation. They need to hear it. A lot of dads have a problem with this. You need to tell them — everyday, more than once a day. Affirm them and build them up with love.

3.    Attention. One of the greatest gifts you can give somebody is listen to them. When you look at a person eye, at that child on his level, you’re saying “You matter to me. You’re valuable to me. I want to hear what you have to say. You’re important to me.” You’re showing compassion, the same kind of compassion God shows you, you’re to show others.

2. KIDS NEED COUNSEL

They need direction, advice, wisdom. Study after study has shown that the number one indicator of successful children — kids who grow up to be successful adults — is a stable value system. That’s counsel. Kids who grow up knowing “This is right… This is wrong” make it in this world –

– kids who don’t flame out. It’s taught in the Bible but it’s confirmed in study after study. A stable value system — we all need a foundation. Kids need to know boundaries — this is right, this is wrong. This is what you do, this is what you don’t do.

A while back on 20-20 they did a study on the explosion of juvenile crime in America. Their conclusion was this: The rapid rising rate of sociopathic juvenile behavior is due primarily to declining moral values. The moral vacuum these children grow up in has resulted in a loss of concern for others. They’re motivated by a desire to please themselves through instant gratification, regardless of who gets hurt.

Deut. 6:6-7 ESV –  6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Four things God says:

1. “You must teach these commandments.” Circle “you” That’s not the government, the school system, social clubs. He’s talking about parents. It’s the parents’ duties to teach moral values. Today in America, we’re acting like we expect the government to teach them or the schools. We shouldn’t be surprised that the schools don’t teach them. It’s not the school’s job. It’s the parent’s job.

2. “You must …” Circle “must”. It’s not optional. If I’m not doing this, I’m not being a very good parent. I’m slacking off in my job if I’m not teaching moral values, if I’m depending on the school or the youth group or the church (however good it may be) to do my job.

3. “You must teach…” and notice where it says to teach: When you’re at home, out for a walk, bedtime, first thing in the morning — all the time. If you’re a parent you’re always teaching. You’re always teaching something. If you’re setting there watching TV you’re teaching something — you’re modeling because little eyes are watching you 24 hours a day.

4. And then it says what you teach: “You must teach these commandments” Circle “commandments”. God did not give us Ten Suggestions. He gave us Ten Commandments. It’s not a matter of “Think about these if you want to…” It’s “Do it!”

You cannot parent in your spare time. You cannot raise quality children in your spare time. If you have children, God has called you to be a parent. If you blow it in that area you have blown your major responsibility

3. KIDS NEED CORRECTION

They need correction because they make mistakes. There are no perfect children. They need discipline, accountability, training. If you love somebody you’re going to care about them enough to correct them.

Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV – My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[a]

Proverbs 13:24 NIV – Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 19:18 NIV – Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

The Bible says that you are to correct three ways: quickly, calmly, sparingly. You need to understand the difference between punishment and discipline. We are to treat our children the way God treats us. If you are a child of God, if you’ve trusted God, you’re a believer and you’ve asked Christ into your life, then when you sin, God does not punish you because all the punishment was paid for on the cross. God doesn’t have to punish you because Jesus took that punishment. God does not punish Christians for their sins.

He does discipline them. There’s a big difference. The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty. The purpose of discipline is to promote growth. The focus of punishment is toward the past — what you’ve done wrong. The focus of discipline is toward the future — what you can be. The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love. “I’m going to correct you. I’m going to help you go in the right way.” God doesn’t want you to punish your kids. He wants you to discipline them.

4. KIDS NEED CONFIDENCE

The fact is, life is tougher today on kids than it’s ever been before. You wouldn’t want to be a kid growing up today because of the pressures, the stress, the pace, the value systems, the expectations on kids — they are enormously greater than they were just a generation ago. For that

generation it was greater than the generation before. Our world is tough on kids’ self esteem.

Educators discovered through national testing and state testing that related to self esteem, 85% of all third graders have strong self esteem. In other words they felt pretty good about themselves. By junior high that figure had dropped to 65%. Only 65% of all junior highers feel good about themselves – have good self esteem. But when they tested in high school, by high school graduation the seniors only 5% registered high self esteem. The older our kids get, the worse they feel about themselves. We are living in a society that is constantly tearing everything down.

From Cornell University: “America’s families and their children are in trouble so deep and so pervasive as to threaten the future of our nation. The source of the trouble is nothing less than a national neglect of children and those primarily engaged in their care, the American parent. Our national rhetoric withstanding (all this talk about family values) the actual patterns of life in America today are such that children and families come last on our schedule.”

Colossians 3:21 ESV – Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Are you an un-pleasable parent? It’s so easy to look at the negative in your kid’s life. Is the cup half full or half empty? What do you see? If they get C’s, you want B’s. If they get B’s, you want A’s. If they get A’s, you want straight A’s. Finally, the Bible says, kids just give up. Unpleasable parents produce insecure kids.

I Corinthians 13:7 LB – If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

If you want to raise confident kids, you’ve got to build them up more than you tear them down. You’ve got to give more strokes than you give pokes. You’ve got to give more cheers than you give jeers.

Every child needs somebody in their corner, somebody who’s their cheerleader and believes in them and who says, “I know you can do it. I believe in you. I think you’re terrific. You’re the best. Go for it! I’m behind you. I know you can make it.” Kids need confidence.

5. KIDS NEED CELEBRATION

That is just a fancy word for fun. Families ought to have fun! The home should be a place to play. This is a major fault in many, many homes where the parents are basically good parents, they’re watching out for their kids, but you don’t have enough fun at home. You’re too busy. You come home with your “to do” list after work is over and all that stuff has got to be done and you just don’t have time for fun.

Do you endure your kids or do you enjoy them? Kids need celebration.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 NCV– People ought to enjoy every day of their lives, no matter how long they live. But they should also remember this: You will be dead a long time. Everything that happens then is useless

Jewish Proverb – “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul”

“When people are laughing and having fun, they’re generally not killing each other” Alan Alda

We want Church to Be Fun! Example: Bloopers in Church bulletins

•”Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”

•”Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.”

•”Thursday, there will be a meeting of the Little Mother’s Club. All wishing to become Little  Mothers, please see the minister in his study.”

•”This being Easter, we’ve asked Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.”

•”A bean supper will be held Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.”

•”At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be: What is hell? Come early and listen to the choir practice.”

•”Tuesday at four p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk, please come early.”

•”Wednesday, the ladies literary society will meet and Mrs. Johnson will sing, Put Me in My Little Bed accompanied by the Reverend.”

•”On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expenses of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet please get a piece of paper.”

•”The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the ladies will quietly start and the rest of the congregation will join in.

If you’re not having fun with your kids at home, you’re not celebrating, don’t be surprised that they don’t want to spend time at home. If you don’t have fun with your kids and really enjoy them, don’t be surprised when they grow up and move out that they don’t want to come back very often. They won’t remember it as “That’s a place to go and have fun!” You need to not just endure your kids, you need to enjoy them.

6. KIDS NEED CONSISTENCY

They need consistency from their parents, that we’re not fickle, that we’re not always changing our mind, that we don’t live in a home where a mother or father is a Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and keeps changing back and forth.

But our model of consistency of course is our heavenly Father.

Psalms 145:13 – 17 NIV- Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

As parents, we have to be faithful to our promises and fair in our decisions. If you’re not consistent — if you’re inconsistent — inconsistent parents not only produce insecure children, they produces bitter children. There is no greater source of bitterness in people’s lives than broken promises.

It’s not my goal to work up a bunch of guilt so that you realize how much you need to improve in these areas. The truth is this: There are no perfect parents. They don’t live on this planet. There are no perfect families. There are no perfect people. You were raised by imperfect parents. Your parents were raised by imperfect parents. So were theirs… There’s never been a perfect person on this earth except for the Lord Jesus Christ. God loves to use imperfect people to get His job done

Our goal should be to have a healthy family — not perfect, healthy. My kids are not perfect; they never will be. I never expect them to be. But they are healthy.

How do you build a healthy family? It takes wisdom.

Proverbs 24:3 NCV – It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong.

The good news is this: There is a place you can get wisdom for parenting that is absolute tried and true and it’s worked for generations. It’s called God’s word. If you will build your life around the principles in this word and establish a relationship with its author Jesus Christ, He will give you the strength and the wisdom to pull it off, to do the best you can — not to be perfect but to do it the best you can.

Prayer:

Would you say this prayer? “Jesus Christ, I want to be all that You want me to be. I want You to help me to influence the next generation by building these things into the lives of the children around me whether I’m a parent or not. Help me to treat other people with compassion, to build up their confidence, celebrate our differences, be consistent with others, to be what You would want me to be. Help me to treat my children and others the way You would. In Your name I pray, Amen.”

Ordinary Love

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Ordinary Love

Come Christians tend to be quite critical & judgmental of anything & everything that’s not like them.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

We can be embarrassed with some segments of christianity but we don’t have to be embarrassed about Jesus.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Bono once said, “Christians are hard to tolerate; I don’t know how Jesus does it.”

“The litmus test of our love for God is our love of our neighbor” – Brennan Manning

The Entire Old Testament in 3 verses – The New Commandment

Matthew 22:34-40 NIV –  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.” – C.S. Lewis

•The Pharisees code of morality consisted of countless minute rules and regulations. Jesus summed up all moral obligations in the word LOVE, expressed in the two fold direction of God and Neighbor.

•The quotation in verse 37 is from the Jewish Shema (Deut.6:4-5) which all Jewish people repeated twice daily. The Shema not only defines the person of God (being One) in terms of His unity, but also defines the nature of the relationship that God’s people are to have with Him and with one another.

“The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another law, but a law which transcends all law.”- Reinhold Niebuhr

God Loves us Unconditionally

Romans 5:8 ESV – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who he is.
•man bases love on performance….If you….I will
•God loves us for what He finds in Himself – LOVE.
•No matter what you do – God cannot stop loving you.

“God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, and loves us all without condition or exception.”

•When you know that God loves you unconditionally, you can love people unconditionally.

Christianity is a love affair. NOT a code of ethics, rules, or Philosophy of Life. The Cross of Christ was not to produce a nice moral people – but LOVERS OF GOD!

I John 4:7-8, 21 NIV –  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Biblical Definition of The Four Loves

Storge – Natural Love

Romans 12:10 NIV – Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

2. Phileo – Relational Love

Matthew 10:37 NIV – “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

3. Eros – Physical Love (Sexual)

4. Agape – Unconditional Love

Matthew 5:44 NIV – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:13 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

The Practice of What Ordinary Love is

I Corinthians 14:1 LB – “Make love your greatest aim.”

I Corinthians 13:1-2 NIV – If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

1. Love is a Choice

Colossians 3:14 NIV – And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

“Love either towards God or man, is an affair of the will.” CS Lewis

2. Love is Unconditional

Ephesians 4:2 NLT – Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

•Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead it shows grace and forgiveness.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” – Swedish Proverb

3. Love is Visible

I John 3:18 NIV –  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“Love is the sum of all virtue, and love disposes us to do good.” – Jonathan Edwards

4. Love is Eternal

I Corinthians 13:7-8, 13 NLT –  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

•Although human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others.

5. Love is a LifeStyle

John 13:34-35 NIV – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

•It’s new because it presents a new standard – The Love of Jesus
•The selfless love that Christ followers display toward one another witnesses to the world that they are true disciples.

Salvation because of Love

John 3:16

“Love deems this world worth rescuing.” – Philip Yancey

I John 2:2 NIV – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Titus 2:11 NIV – For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

The Power of Team Partnerships

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The Power of Team Partnership

Exodus 17:8-13 NIV The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Everybody needs Somebody. Ministry is never meant to be done alone.

All Good Things Flow From Relationship
•When God found you…he found you alone
* When He saved you…he saved you alone
* But He called you into the family of God
* 2 are better than 1

Andrew Carnegie said, “It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone.”

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

As an organization and leader we should encourage Flexibility, Change, and Innovation

One of the things that separates winning and losing teams is how the team’s good players are placed. Take a look at what I mean:

The wrong person in the wrong place = regression
The wrong person in the right place = frustration
The right person in the wrong place = confusion
The right person in the right place = progression
The right PEOPLE in the Right Place = MULTIPLICATION

The Power of Partnership

“God is look for people through whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” AW Tozer

Partnerships at GraceTown will not be a preference but a Requirement!

1. Partnership UNIFIES for Strength

•Partnership works together to support God’s leadership and win the battle – Aaron & Hur

2. Partnership IDENTIFIES opportunities

•Partnership ignores the nay sayers and claim God’s promises – Joshua & Caleb

3. Partnership INTENSIFIES commitment to one another

•Partnership commit to journey together and be spiritually linked – Ruth & Naomi

4. Partnership PURIFIES motives

•Partners trust unconditionally and take risks unreservedly – David & Jonathan

5. Partnership SOLIDIFIES new alliances

•Partnerships take on daunting tasks and refuse to stop until the work is done – Nehemiah and the wall builders

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team” John Wooden

One person can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one person cannot make a team. The team player is the one who makes things go – the one who is willing to do and sacrifice whatever it takes to make the team successful.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Romans 12:4-5 NIV –  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” Mother Teresa