Less Than 2%

image

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 1

instagram

“How To Survive the End of the World Pt.1”

Everybody wants to know about the end of the world. Some people love to make predictions about when it will happen, some people love to interpret current news and speculate how it will happen, and everyone loves to make money selling their terrifying visions to anyone willing to buy them..

The end is coming. Are we ready for the day when it all comes crashing down and nothing is left but the countdown to the end of the world? In this series we will talk about ways that we can get ready for the end and start living for the beginning of the rest of our lives.

“The Book of Eli,” “The Darkest Hour,” “Contagion,” “The Day After Tomorrow, “San Andreas”. The list of doomsday movies that Hollywood produces is incredible. Yet, they keep coming. There’s something about these end of the world stories that fascinates us, frightens us and keeps us coming back for more. The theme that inspires is survival. Against all odds, when all hope is lost, humanity grabs hold of courage, defies the enemy and turns the tide.How will you survive the end of the world?

(Matthew 24:1-6 NIV) “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

1. Don’t Be Alarmed, Don’t Be Troubled

Jesus wants us to be calm, quiet spirited, not worried, and not to be deceived.

(2 Peter 3:3-10 NIV) First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ʻcomingʼ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Writing this letter near the end of his life, Peter wanted to remind Christians that the final day is real. He calls it “the day of the Lord” and reminds his Christian readers that it is unquestionably coming.

To scoff means to speak in a scornful or mocking way. What do scoffers think about the end? In verse 4, Peter says that the false teachers mock the promise of Christ’s return and a final judgment. “Where is it?” they ask. “Ever since the days of the ancient patriarchs the world has gone on without interruption.” The scoffers claim that God has not and will not intervene in world history.

How do we know?

√ People will do their own thing. 

(Me focused, materialistic, Selfie Centered)

(Matthew 24:37-39 NIV) “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”

√ People will forget God.

(Matthew 24:12 NIV) “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

Many will turn away from the Faith, against the Faith, Twist the Faith, & Tune out the Faith. Have Misplaced Priorities.

√ People will think Heʼs not coming.

(1 Thessalonians 5:2 NIV) “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

√ People will not be ready.

(Matthew 24:40-42 NIV) “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

If the end is near…

1.I should pray.

(1 Peter 4:7 NIV) “The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

Anytime God wanted something done on the earth he calls someone to pray!

Luke 21:36 NIV –  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Real prayer is driven by relationship not need or crisis.

U can dump your junk. God gets bigger, your junk gets smaller.

Causes u to b more focused minded

a. Make it personal not formal.

(Matthew 6:7-8 NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

b. Pray with confidence.

(Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” – Martin Luther

(James 5:16 NLT) “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

2.I should focus on my relationships.

(1 Peter 4:8-9 NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Relationships are far more important than issues or disagreements. Get over those quickly.

most important – on 9/11 ppl were making last calls to loved ones

a. What relationship needs to be initiated

(Luke 6:13 NIV) “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…” 

  b.  What relationship needs to be nurtured

(Galatians 5:13-15 NIV) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” 

c. What relationship needs to be restored

(Ephesians 4:3 NIV) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 

Colossians 3:13 NIV – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

3. I should get my life right with God.

(2 Peter 3:11 NIV) “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly

lives.”

(Matthew 24:42 NIV) Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 

(Romans 10:9-10 NIV) “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

4.Share Christ with urgency

(Luke 12:16-21 NCV) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Conclusion

Just as there was a beginning, there will be an end. We will not be reincarnated. We live once, we will die once and then we will stand before God. For unbelievers, today is the day to believe in him and turn from sin. For believers, today is the day to live lives of godliness and holiness so that we are ready for that final day.

When the End looks Troubling – Look Up! Look to Christ! 

Luke 21:28 NIV – When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Moving Forward (A New Season for GraceTown)

1479038_640201119377433_1004291130_n
Moving Forward (A New Season for GraceTown)

Genesis 26:12-13 KJV –  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

One man said this…”If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always be what we’ve always been.”

If we desire to become great we must “Move Forward.”

Church’s Focus Must Always Be:

1. The Word of God.
•(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is
useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is
wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches
us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people
to do every good work.”

•God’s Word is the the primary catalyst for transformation. You will never grow up as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ on a diet of spiritual twinkies.

2. Worship.
•(Psalm 103:2-5 NIV) “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not
all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your
diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with
love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

•God is central. We celebrate the sacraments by participating in communion & water baptism

3. Prayer.
•(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT) “Never stop praying.”
•(1 John 5:14-15 NIV) “This is the confidence we have in
approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he
hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we
know that we have what we asked of him.”

4. People
•(Luke 14:23 LB) “Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to
come in, so that My house will be full.”
•Acts 5:14 NIV – Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number

•The church is the primary place where people come to faith in Christ and begin to live as Christians. Lost people matter to God & therefore ought to matter to the church.

The apostle Paul understood the principle of Moving Forward when he said…

Phil 3:13 TLB “No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,”

Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”

In this passage, God had already given Israel deliverance from the Egyptians.

And now they are headed toward the promise land after leaving Egypt.

Suddenly, they come to the Red Sea.
The enemy is behind.
They can’t go left or right.
They can’t go back.

THERE WAS ONLY ONE DIRECTION FOR THEM TO GO…FORWARD!

Moses began to cry to the Lord.

And God said… “What are you crying to me for? Tell Israel to go forward.”

But there was no apparent way to go forward.
No boats or bridges.
They couldn’t possibly swim across
But God said “Go Forward.”
And when they did, God did something He had never done before, and Israel escaped on dry land.

The unexpected happened when they began to MOVE FORWARD!
What does it take to move forward?

#1. It takes knowing and understanding that we are heading to something better.

A. Where we are now is only temporary. This is not our final destination. Don’t get Stuck.

•Isaiah 43:19 NIV – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland

•Yesterday’s excellence is today’s mediocrity & tomorrow’s failure.
•God is into moving forward and if you want to experience God in the present you can’t linger in the past!

B.Move out of your place of comfort. They were comfortable in Egypt, they were used to living as slaves, and they were used to settling for the left over. They said; “It would have been better for us to be slaves in Egypt than to die in the dessert.”

I Dream of a Church

Where People are truly loved, valued, and accepted
Where there is safety and security for people to try
Where lives are rescued, restored, and given hope
Where God’s presence flourishes in the simple and non religious
Where fun and laughter are mixed with tears & mourning, expressed with sensitivity
Where truth, honesty, and health are honored and lived out
Where people are deeply connected to God in body, mind, soul, and spirit
Where culture is met, embraced, and transformed
Where beauty, art, and creativity are valued, used, and understood as coming from being connected to the Creator
We value innovation and are willing to take risks in order to bring glory to God
Where performance is replaced by reality and truth
Where our stance is always love, and everything else is a conversation
Where judgement is left to God, who is fair, just, and true
And our place is to build, encourage, and comfort with an attitude of Grace
Where a lost and aimless people want to be, even if they are not sure why
Worship to God is full, vibrant, real, and pleasing to God
Where other churches are valued and supported
and where people’s visions and ideas of ministry come to life;
Where people are equipped for and do ministry in accordance with their gifts
I dream of a church where Jesus truly reigns as King
and His followers are dedicated to making Him the center of their lives, hopes, and dreams
Because He is our hope and the anchor of our souls, He is our security and the firm base of our lives to be built together…That’s my dream for GraceTown Church

Proverbs 3:27-28 Msg – “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now.”

What Can I Do to Move MY GraceTown Forward?
1. Pray.

(Matthew 9:37-38 NIV) “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
(Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also 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 the saints.

2. Serve.
(Ephesians 2:10 NIV) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
(Galatians 6:4 MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”

3. Give.
(Luke 18:29-30 GW) “I guarantee this. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more in this life and will receive eternal life in the next world to come.”
(Mark 8:35 LB) “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

I Am the Church Part 1

iamthechurch3
Ephesians 2:17-22 NIV He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 42-47

What does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like?

“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26

Disciple: a student (pupil)
Christian: a follower of Christ or an imitation of Christ

Our goal is to move from being a student or pupil of Christ to a fully devoted follower of Christ. From Going to Church to Being the Church!

We seek to achieve our goal by focusing on six key priorities in our lives:

A priority is something that is given our attention before competing alternatives.
1. Worshipping God weekly

Definition of Worship: Expressing love to God

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Mat. 4:10

“…the Father seeks worshippers…and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24

Worship Checkup

(Mark 12:30) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your
soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

1. Expressing my affection to God. •What do I love most?
2. Focus my attention on God •What do I think about most?
3. Use my abilities for God. •What do I do most?

2. Connecting with the church regularly

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 NIV

God has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family…1 Pet 1:3 TLB

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples – that you have love for one another. John 13:35

“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” Acts 17:2

3. Growing in maturity daily

“Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” Heb 6:1

“Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet 3:18

3 things needed for spiritual growth:
a. The Word of God (Bible study, devotion, etc.)
b. The Holy Spirit (intimate relationship in prayer)
c. Time (Spiritual growth is a process)

4. Serving other people unselfishly

“Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities…and there are different kinds of service to God (ministry)…All of you together form the one Body of Christ and each of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” 1 Cor 12:4-5, 27 (LB)

At GraceTown Church…
…every member is a minister
…every ministry is important
…every member is a “10” in some area

Definition of ministry: Using your gifts and talents without thought of reward

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. 1 Pet 4:10 TLB

5. Sharing our faith effectively

Definition of Evangelism: Sharing the Good News

“His intent was that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” Eph 3:10

“Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who can ask them to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells him?” Rom 10:13-14 (LB)

Evangelism Can Be as Natural as Conversation

The Living Bible translates 1 Corinthians 9:22, “… whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

• Be natural. Normal conversation is fluid and respectful, allows for humor and invites response.
• Be open and willing to admit your struggles and failures.
• Be respectful, look at people for what they are as well as what they can become.
• Be simple. Communication increases as simplicity does. Don’t let Christian jargon get in the way.
• Don’t forget what it was like to be a non-Christian.
• Look forward to hindsight. Unbelievers will understand some things only after looking back on them.

6. Giving our resources consistently

Giving tests the sincerity of my love for God.

Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real. 2 Cor. 8:7-8 NLT

Acts 20:35 – There is more happiness in giving than receiving

Committed believers tithe of their income to God

“A tithe of everything you produce belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Lev 26:30

It’s the End of the World and we know it

Anticipation-Article2
“It’s the End of the World and we know it”

(Matthew 24:3) “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the
disciples came to him privately. ʻTell us,ʼ they said, ʻwhen will this
happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the
age?ʼ ”

(2 Peter 3:3-10) First of all, you must understand that in the last days
scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They
will say, “Where is this ʻcomingʼ he promised? Ever since our fathers
died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But
they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed
and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters
also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same
word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for
the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget
this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his
promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not
wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the
day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a
roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and
everything in it will be laid bare.”

Writing this letter near the end of his life, Peter wanted to remind Christians that
the final day is real. He calls it “the day of the Lord” and reminds his Christian
readers that it is unquestionably coming.

To scoff means to speak in a scornful or mocking way. What do scoffers think
about the end? In verse 4, Peter says that the false teachers mock the promise of
Christ’s return and a final judgment. “Where is it?” they ask. “Ever since the days
of the ancient patriarchs the world has gone on without interruption.” The scoffers
claim that God has not and will not intervene in world history.

How do we know?
√ People will do their own thing.

(Matthew 24:37-39) “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at
the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood,
people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about
what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”

√ People will forget God.

(Matthew 24:12) “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love
of most will grow cold.”

Many will turn away from the Faith, against the Faith, Twist the Faith, & Tune out
the Faith. Then there will be those that Trust the Faith & Tell the Faith!

√ People will think Heʼs not coming.

(1 Thessalonians 5:2) “For you know very well that the day of the
Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

√ People will not be ready.

(Matthew 24:40-42) “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken
and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one
will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you
do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

If the end is near…

(1 Peter 4:7) “The end of all things is near…”

1. I should pray.

(1 Peter 4:7) “…therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so
that you can pray.”

Real prayer is driven by relationship not need or crisis.

a. Make it personal not formal.

(Matthew 6:7-8) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like
pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many
words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need
before you ask him.

b. Pray with confidence.

(Hebrews 4:15-16) For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been
tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us
then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we
may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

(James 5:16 NLT) “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has
great power and produces wonderful results.”

2. I should focus on my relationships.

(1 Peter 4:8-9) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love
covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another
without grumbling.”

a. What relationship needs to be initiated?

(Luke 6:13) “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose
twelve of them…”

b. What relationship needs to be nurtured?

(Galatians 5:13-15) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed
up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on
biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each
other.”

c. What relationship needs to be restored?

(Ephesians 4:3) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through
the bond of peace.”

d.What relationship needs to be severed?

(1 Corinthians 15:33) “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good
character.”

(Proverbs 13:20) “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion
of fools suffers harm.”

3. I should get my life right with God.

(2 Peter 3:11) “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what
kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly
lives.”

(Matthew 24:42) Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your
Lord will come.

(Romans 10:9-10) “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is
Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are
justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are
saved.”

4. Share Christ with urgency.

(Luke 12:16-21 NCV) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.
He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then
he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and
there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have
plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be
merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded
from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it
will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Conclusion
Just as there was a beginning, there will be an end. We will not be reincarnated. We
will not be given another chance. We live once, we will die once and then we will
stand before God. For unbelievers, today is the day to believe in him and turn from
sin. For believers, today is the day to live lives of godliness and holiness so that we
are ready for that final day.
Do you anticipate the coming of the Lord? Do you think much about eternity and
the day you will meet Jesus?

Renegade Part 5 – Baptism: Following in His Footsteps

168272_522893131108233_642330988_n
Renegade Part 5 – Baptism: Following in His Footsteps

STORY
A drunk stumbled along a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeded to walk down into the water and stood next to the
Preacher.

The minister turned and noticed the old drunk and said, “Mister, Are you ready to find Jesus?” The drunk looks back and says, “Yes, Preacher. I sure am.”

The minister then dunked the fellow under the water and pulled him right back up. “Have you found Jesus?” the preacher asks.

“No, I didn’t!” says the drunk.

The preacher then dunks him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up and says, “Now, brother, have you found Jesus?”

“No, I did not Preacher.”

The preacher in disgust holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time brings him out of the water and says in a harsh tone, “Friend, are you sure you haven’t found Jesus yet?”

The old drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher…”Are you sure this is where he fell in?”

•Baptism happens today not to find Jesus, but because of what Jesus said just before He went to heaven. It was already in practice, with John the Baptist and the disciples, but that wasn’t enough.

“Jesus said, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I’ve commanded you”…Matthew 28:19

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17

baptizo (bap-tid’-zo); to wash, dip, immerse, plunge under, submerge.

Baptism doesn’t make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2: 8-9
“When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. The old life has passed away and a new life begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

SPIRITUAL POWER IN BAPTISM

• YOU ARE PUBLICLY STANDING WITH CHRIST.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

“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. Matthew 10:32-33

• YOU ARE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST’S DEATH.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death… Romans 6:3-4a

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7

• YOU ARE RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
…just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4b

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 demonstrate my changed life.
(1 Peter 3:21 TLB) In baptism we show that we have been saved from death and doom by the resurrection of Christ; not because our bodies are washed clean by the water but because in being baptized we are turning to God and asking him to cleanse our hearts from sin.
Colossians 2:11
In him (Jesus Christ) you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.

Story
William P. Barker tells of a machinist at Ford Motor Company in Detroit who became a Christian. He responded to the invitation and was baptized. As the Holy Spirit began renewing this man he became convicted of his need to make restitution for some parts and tools he had stolen from the company prior to becoming a Christian. So the next morning he brought all the tools and parts back to his employer. He explained how he had just been baptized and asked for his foreman’s forgiveness.

This was such an amazing turn of events that Mr. Ford, who was visiting a plant in Europe at the time, was cabled with the details of the matter and asked his response. Mr. Ford immediately returned a cable with his decision: “Dam up the Detroit River, and baptize the entire city.”

Your words will tell others what you think. Your actions will tell them what you believe.”

WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?

•Every person who has believed in Christ.
“Those who believed and accepted His message were baptized…” Acts 2:41
“Simon himself believed and was baptized…” Acts 8:13
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the Good News…and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12

Renegade Pt 4 – God is a Good God

202329-custom

Renegade Part 4 – God is a Good God

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV) 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
 and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 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.

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.

Psalm 18:25-26 (NIV)
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

But if, for example, you believe God to be austere, stern, and harsh, you will hold back from asking for anything from Him as the man who hid his talents because he feared his master (Luke 19:21)

If you know Him as He is – – loving, kind, gentle, giving, generous, and liberal – – then you would not hesitate to ask from Him all that you need!

Matthew 7:11 NIV – 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Remember some of the powerful statements in the Scriptures about God and His goodness:

1. There is none good but God (Matthew 19:17)
2. His goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)
3. His Spirit is good (Psalm 143:10, Nehemiah 9:20)
4. Taste and see that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)
5. Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38)
6. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
7. He only does wonderful things (Psalm 72:18)

•We need to become “Believers” who BELIEVE! Our hearts need to engage. If not our desperate condition of not believing God is good will rob us of the foundation of an extraordinary life.

“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”
- A.W. Tozer

Evidence of God’s Goodness

1. God is good
a. The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
b. Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
 on those who take refuge in you
c. Psalm 34:8 – Taste and See that the Lord is GOOD…

d. God is like 100% Florida Orange Juice – He is 100% Good

2. His Nature has never changed
a. HE has no need for improvement. He can’t get any better, stronger, more loving, and kind than He already is.
b. Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
c. Malachi 3:6 tells us that the Lord does not change and that is why we are not consumed!
d. When He created the world, He saw that everything He made was “very good” (Genesis 1)
e. God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

3. God does good things for His people
a. God’s very nature is goodness.
b. Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

c. Jeremiah (31:14) prophesied that God ‘s people will be “satisfied” with His goodness. He kept on saying that God will not turn away from doing them good. (Jer. 32:40-42)
d. Psalm 103:4-5 – 4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

4. Jesus went everywhere doing good to people
a. Acts 10:38 – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
b. John 7:12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”

c. Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He had compassion on the needy and proclaimed good news to the poor.
d. Jesus said in John (10:11) referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”

5. God is a Giver and a Rewarder
a. James 1:7 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
b. Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him
c. I Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

“God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.”
- C.S. Lewis

When God gives He always exceeds our expectations

Buechner said, “God cannot be expressed but only experienced”

Who wants to experience God’s goodness today?

1. REPENT – Change your mind, thinking, turn around

Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

2. DO GOOD

“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.”
- Brennan Manning

“Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as you ever can.”
- John Wesley

III John 1:11 – Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

Romans 12:21 – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

•”When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glory of love.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

I Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people

What Good can you do to help someone else? We are at our best when we are adding value to other people. God help us Help people!

“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack.”
- A.W. Tozer

Renegade Part 3- Busting Myths

anonim2-799043

Renegade Part 3 – Busting Myths

Colossians 1:15-18 (NLT)
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ…

If Scripture teaches anything, it teaches that Jesus is supreme, pre-eminent, and central in all things. When you look at those verses in their broader context you see how strongly Paul emphasizes the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus IS Lord ( Not a liar or lunatic)

He was not a man who became God, He is God who became a man

(John 1:1-4) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

(John 1:14) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

(I Timothy 3:16 Amp) “And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [[a]God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.”

Common Myths About God

(1 Timothy 1:3-4 NLT) “…stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”

Myth 1. God is angry. / Truth: God is Merciful

(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.”

(Psalm 103:9-10) “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Myth 2. God is distant. / Truth: God is Here

(Acts 17:26-28) From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

(Luke 12:6 Message) “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head!”

(Matt 6:33 NCV) “Don’t worry saying, „What will we eat . . . or drink . . . or wear?‟ People who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you.”

Myth 3. God is Critical. / Truth: God is Gracious

(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

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

(Psalm 145:8 NIV) – “The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.”

Busting the Myth

1. You’ll need a revelation of who God is.

(2 Corinthians 4:4) “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

(Ephesians 1:17) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

2. You’ll need to take a leap of faith.

(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

(James 4:8) “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

(Luke 17:33 Message) “If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.”

3. You’ll need to give it your all.

(Jeremiah 29:13) “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego. Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction. So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

“If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” “So give yourselves completely to God” (James 4:7a NCV).

Renegade Pt.2: The Real Deal

renegade

Renegade Part 2 – The Real Deal

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message) “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did.”

Who do you say that He is?

(Mark 8:27-29 NIV) Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

 The Search for Jesus

 •Tradition

 (Matthew 15:7-9) “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

 •Intellect

 (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

 •A personal Encounter

 (John 9:17, 25) Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him?” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

 (2 Timothy 1:12) “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able…”

 (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

 •The Proof of Jesus is not in an explanation but in a changed life

 The Real Deal

 (John 1:14 CEV) “The Word (God) became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.”

 John 8:58 NIV –  “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

 He was not a man who became God, He is God who became a man

 1. “I am the bread of life.”  He offers real fulfillment.

 (John 6:35) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 “Jesus did not come to earth just to die, He came to teach us how to live”

 Matthew 4:4 NIV – “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

 John 6:63 NIV –  “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

We will never be more spiritual than we are scriptural.

John 8:31-32 – “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 We must read & build our lives upon God’s Word. It is what will transform us

Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 2. “I am the light of the world.”   He offers real forgiveness.

 (John 8:12) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 Why? Because we are all sinners! Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 The Fact of God’s Forgiveness

Micah 7:18 NIV – 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.

The extent of God’s Forgiveness

 Psalm 103:12 NIV – “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

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

 Matthew 9:1-8 NIV – Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

 • God is a greater savior than we are a sinner

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

 3. “I am the gate.”  He offers real friendship.

 (John 10:9) “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

 (Proverbs 18:24) “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

       a. Make Jesus your best friend.

(John 15:15) “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

      b. Talk to Him.

 (Hebrews 4:16) “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

      c. Trust Him with your life.

 (John 1:12 TLB) “But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.”

 Psalms 37:5 NLT) “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.”

 4. “I am the resurrection.” He offers a real future.

(John 11:25-26) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

Our Future – Heaven

 Colossians 3:2 –“Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

 “Heaven doesn’t make this life less important, it makes it more important.” 
- Billy Graham

 I John 2:15-17 NIV – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

C.S. LEWIS said, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

C.S. Lewis also said, “ If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”

Paul set his sights on heaven with enthusiastic expectation

 II Timothy 4:7-8 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing

Phil. 3:20 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 Hebrews 12:1-4 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 

 

 

 

 

Renegade Pt.1: Jesus, Who He is and What He did

INVITE_FRONT6x4 copy.25_postcard

Renegade Part 1– Jesus: Who He is and what He did

 

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message) “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did–Jesus crucified.”

 

Jesus Christ: No one is more loved and hated than Jesus Christ. Roughly 2000 years ago he was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town to young Jewish virgin girl named Mary. At the age of 30 he began his public ministry that included preaching, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, & befriending social misfits. His ministry spanned 3 short years before he was put to death for declaring himself to be God. He died a shameful crucifixion like tens of thousands of people before and after him.

 

Renegade – a person who leaves one group, religion, etc., and joins another that opposes it. Someone or something that causes trouble and cannot be controlled. Having rejected tradition : unconventional

 

 HIS CLAIMS

 

(John 1:1-4) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

 

(John 1:14) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

ü Jesus claimed to be God.

 

(Matthew 26:59-64) The chief priests…were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put Him to death. But they did not find any… Then they said, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

 

John 8:58 NIV –  “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

 

ü Jesus claimed to be the only way.


 

(John 14:6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”
- C.S. Lewis

 

üJesus is either:
(according to Thomas Aquinas)

 

1. Liar – like David Koresh, claimed to be God  & the lamb or revelation

 

2. Lunatic – guy on Myspace hopes to be God. Nuttier than a snickers

 

3. Lord – He’s not a liar or lunatic, He is Lord. According to the first two commandments, there is only one God & that God alone is to be worshiped. That one God is Jesus.

 

JESUS IS GOD

 

(Philippians 2:9-11) “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

1. Experience His power.

 

(John 9:17, 25) Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him?” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

 

•The Proof of Jesus is not in an explanation but in a changed life

 

•“The good news is not that Jesus Christ lived and died, but that He died and lives.”

 

I Corinthians 2:3-5 Message – I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.

 

2. Experience His presence.

 

(Acts 2:28 ESV – “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

1. It produces REST. It’s not a goofy expression, but it’s peace!

 

•Isa. 63:14 (NIV) – They were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.

 

2. It Produces FREEDOM. Not goofiness or a distraction.

 

•2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom.

 

3. Experience His peace.

 

(John 14:1, 27) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me./ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 

3 Sources Of Tension • Uncontrollable Circumstances • Unchangeable People

 

• Unexplainable Problems

 

 Trust God to Take Care of Things Beyond My Control

 

         •“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs . . . .  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”  Phil 4:6-7 LB

 

 4. Experience His salvation.

 

 (Romans 10:9) “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

“The Good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you” Martin Luther

 

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

 

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.

 

Andy Griffith Show – The minister was moving away. Floyd & Andy were talking about him. “He was a good man, Andy said.” Floyd said, “I knew all his sermons by heart…but we didn’t give him much to work with..There’s just not a lot of sin in this town.”

 

Isaiah 59:2 — But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you….

 

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

 

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. God wanted us to be brought back into relationship with Him.
For this reason, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when He died upon the cross.

 

Romans 5:8, 9 — But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

1 Corinthians 15:3 — For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

 

5. 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.

 

6.Repent – Turn away from sin and to Christ with a change of heart  & mind

 

             A.    Acts 3:19 – 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

 

             B.    I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

             C.    Acts 2:38 –  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 YOU CAN EXPERIENCE SALVATION RIGHT NOW!