Longing Pt.4 – For a White Christmas

Longing Pt.4 – For a White Christmas 

Isaiah 1:18 NLT – “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

White Christmas is THE Christmas song of the United States. It was originally recorded by Bing Crosby back in 1942, and it became so popular that he had to re-record it in 1947 because the masters became worn beyond use. Its popularity had a lot to do with the fact that America had just gone to war. Our people found themselves in a confusing and unstable world – loved ones being shipped off to the battlefront, not knowing if they would ever see their families again.

LyricsI’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write.May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white. 

I wanna talk about Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dicken’s Classics A Christmas Carol.

Dickens characters usually represent some kind of hurt. Scrooge – stinginess, Oliver Twist – neglect, tiny Tim – handicap, miss havisham- rejection, hurt, unforgiveness.

•We tend to carry out in a small way that his characters did in a big way. 

Ebenezer Scrooge bound himself up by his past when he refused to forgive those who had hurt him. harboring feelings of resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness.

Many people fail to realize that when we don’t forgive those who have hurt us, we create a prison of torment for our own soul. When we stay mad at people or hold onto a grudge against someone, we hurt ourselves more than anyone else.

When we don’t forgive, we damage our ability to have healthy relationships with people in the future. The offense that we don’t forgive becomes a lens through which we view other people in our lives. Often people have troubled relationships because of a past experience with a completely different person.

When we refuse to forgive, we create stress and anxiety in our lives mentally, emotionally, and physically.

This is one of the reasons Jesus emphasized that we make forgiving others an ongoing event in our lives.

Sources of Unforgiveness

•Betrayal •False accusation •Rejection •Abuse •Humiliation

You Can’t Have Peace and Bitterness, It’s one or the other. Your hurt and pain will tell you

•Treat them with contempt

•distance yourself from them

•Give them a cold shoulder

•teach them a lesson

•they should be punished

•When someone wrongs you or hurts you it usually affects every aspect of your life, family, career, self esteem, sense of sense worth.

We love to think about what those people did to us. We get churned up inside. We love to repeat the pain time and time again.

Until we allow the spirit of total forgiveness reign in our lives, we will have no peace. We must quit nursing the attitude of unforgiveness.

Which do you prefer – peace or bitterness? You can’t have it both ways.

We Have a Wrong Understanding of Forgiveness…It’s not…

•Minimizing the seriousness of the offense.

•Instant restoration of trust.

•Resuming the relationship without changes.

•Forgetting what Happened – Choose not to remember

“To often we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget” 

•Approval of what a person did – God never approves sin

•Excusing what they did – you can’t explain wrong behavior

•Justify what they did – evil can never be justified

Be Forgiving

“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men.” – Augustine

•Folks, When everything in you wants to hold a grudge, point of finger and remember the pain, God wants you to lay it all aside.

How to Have a White Christmas 

1. Forgive them without condition.

(Ephesians 4:31-2 NIV) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The Forgiven Forgive

Luke 23:34 NIV – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

2. Forgive them in advance.

(Luke 11: 4 NIV) “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

You can turn – Inward, Outward, or Upward!

Matthew 18:21-22 NLT – Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven

“I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge.  You know why?  While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

3. Relinquish your right to get even – Choose To Bless Them

Romans 12:17-19 NIV17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.

(1 Peter 2:23 LB) “When Jesus suffered, He did not threaten to get even; He left His case in the hands of God…”

Choose to Bless

Luke 6:27-28 NIV – But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

•Nelson Mandela  – 27 years of political incarceration. The longest serving political prisoner in the world. Emerged unscathed and told his people to forgive their oppressors and focus on the future and on building a new united nation.

•In spite of the devastating trauma of apartheid, he chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than the policy of revenge and vindictiveness

“The only revenge which is essentially Christian is that of retaliating by forgiveness.”

Scrooge changed when the 3 ghosts visited him and showed him his future if he continued being bitter. Dickens says he changed and kept Xmas in his heart everyday and loved everyone 

The ultimate proof of forgiveness is when you sincerely pray to God to let those who have hurt you off the hook

Give yourself gift this Christmas and forgive those who hurt you and experience true freedom

Forgiveness Prayer

Lord, I have not loved, but resented certain people and have unforgiveness in my heart. I ask you Lord to give me the power to release and forgive those who have hurt me. I do now forgive them and I ask yo to forgive them also. Please replace my hurt with peace and the love of Christ. And forgive me for the times I have hurt others. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS HERE ARE THREE QUESTIONS I LEAVE YOU FOR PRAYER AND DISCUSSION

  1. WHO IS IT THAT YOU HAVEN’T FORGIVEN? 
  2. WHO IS IT THAT YOU CAN PRAY FOR ?
  3. WHO IS IT THAY YOU CAN BLESS?

Be A Life Giver

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Be A Life Giver

John 16:21 NIV – A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

The pain…followed by the Joy…of being a life giver. I’m sure that every mom in this room can relate to this verse. Giving life isn’t easy but experiencing the life you labor for exceeds the pain of the process!

Life giving doesn’t stop for a mom when she gives birth…she continues to BRING LIFE day in and day out. 24-7…12 months of the year…24 hours a day!

In a similar way, Scripture refers to the church as the bride of Christ…the spiritual  mother, the life giver…the life bringer in the world today. We are all children of the church…GIVEN life to GIVE life. Loved by God to love the world. Lifted by God to lift the world. Blessed by God to bless the world.

EX: In natural life…children, the recipients of life become life givers. In a similar way, children of the church… become the church…we are given life…we now give life.

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.

The Greek word translated “life” in this verse is zoe. Zoe is the God-kind of life.

(ZOE); life in motion and in activity, life as the principle of life – in the absolute sense of being really life; hence, God’s life, the highest life, almost always with “the eternal” life.

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[a] and life.

-I pray like David…”Let the words of my mouth…”

Everything about Jesus was about being a life giver. About bringing spiritual life… When some people walk in the room it’s like they take the life out of the room… When other people walk in the room it’s like they bring life into the room…

Remember this – “You can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.”

Today, I want to encourage those of you who are life bringers…provide you with some perspective and help you be the best life giver you can be!

1) LIFE GIVERS ARE BUSY PEOPLE

You’re not going to be able to get around “the BUSY.” You’ve got people counting on you…You’re the resource…the provider…the one who makes things happen.

•YOUR JOB/BUSINESS/EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT TO YOU.

•YOUR SPOUSE/MARRIAGE/CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

•CHURCH LIFE/COMMUNITY/SMALL GROUP IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

•FRIENDSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

•HEALTH IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

>You’re not willing to negotiate your time and investment in any of these things which means you’re constantly on the go!! You’ve got people counting on you…You’re the resource…the provider…the one who makes things happen.

2) KNOW THAT BUSY ISN’T BAD

>Busy doesn’t mean you have to be stressed out!

>Some people talk about how busy they are as if it’s a bad thing.

>There are some people when you ask them how they’re doing…that’s the only way they know how to answer…”I’m busy…” (with the look of sadness and heaviness on their face).

•Remember, When you’re busy it means you’re living the dream!! You have the opportunity to receive an Education, have a Career, To be married, have kids…to have people need you…

>Don’t make any part of your blessed life the enemy…the villain…

•Your job, Your spouse, The kids, The church, The friends

When you’re tempted to…take a step back…take a deep breath remember how blessed you are!!! Busy is not bad!!

Rather than always answering… I’m busy with a sad look…answer I’M blessed OR I’m living the dream!!…with a happy look!!

But what about when I’m tired?…really tired?…

>Schedule a nap…call a time out…. But don’t go around with an “I’m so busy” mindset…don’t let yourself believe that busy is bad!!…or busy is a villain….

Keep your attitude thankful for what you have, what you’re a part of and press into work, press into love, press into church, press into the abundant life!!

3) ASSOCIATE WITH ENERGETIC, MOTIVATED PEOPLE

When you’re in your role…really busy…especially the middle years of your life…there will always be plenty of people who will tell you to take it easy, slow down…smell the roses…put guilt on you for going hard at life.

EX: If you’re familiar with the Disney movie Lion King, there are 2 characters Timone and Pumba. (fat pig and a Meer cat) who find the young lion Simba when he’s starting to feel the pressure, demands of his calling, destiny. They are fun…happy… sing a song “Hakuna Matata”…You can’t help but smile as they sing and dance.

But the problem was that they didn’t encourage him in his destiny…they led him to believe that his best life was in “Hakuna Matata”…removing himself from his responsibilities… commitments… purpose… But fortunately, he had a wake up call and after having tried to pursue an easy, trouble free life…he returns to his place, his roles, his responsibilities… as a king. Rather than listening to the Timone and Pumba, surround yourself with people who are energetic and motivated,…LIFE GIVERS…LIFE BRINGERS!

4) CONSISTENTLY DEFRAGMENT YOUR LIFE

EX: In the world of computers and hard drives there’s something called defragging. It’s short for defragment. So, what happens is that hard drives store information in “blocks” or “files”… fragmentation happens when those blocks/files get separated and are far away from each other. Rather than making the computer more efficient…the separation of information actually slows down the computer and makes it operate less efficient. So the defragmentation is the process of pulling it together…making it faster and more efficient.

>One common tendency of people is to view life that is not separate and compartmentalized as being out of control.

>We imagine our lives are more productive and easier when they are separate files and folders.

(Integrate your life…pull your nonnegotiable values together) Don’t separate them…think of them as opposing one another…enemies of each other…When you start to do that… DEFRAGMENT YOUR LIFE!!

5) PUSH FOR LIFE

We all know that when a baby is being born…the famous words to the mom are PUSH!!…GIVE IT EVERYTHING YOU GOT! PUSH FOR LIFE…PUSH TO BRING LIFE…

Colossians 3:23 NIV – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

EX: A couple of years ago Pope Francis was speaking to a group of nuns from around the world. His word to them was this: be spiritual mothers, not “old maids.” But the Pope’s remark got me to thinking a lot more broadly this week about what it means to take up the calling of motherhood.

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

Are you Life Giving or Life Grabbing?

•    Life-grabbing people guard and protect themselves. Life-giving people risk and seize opportunity.

•Life-grabbing people do the bare minimum. Life-giving people go the second mile.

•For life-grabbing people, life is scarce. For living-giving people, life is abundant.

Let’s Speak life – Let’s Stir up life – Let’s Sing life – Let’s Bring our worship – Let’s Bring the encouragement

The Power of Inclusiveness

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The Power of Inclusiveness

When we draw a circle in the sand, we become the welcoming Church God called us to be. We must move from cliques to a community

Sacred text asserts that human beings were created to live in community, not as fragmented tribes, nations and separated peoples. Jesus opened the door for us to be inclusive of everyone. On some level, all are to be welcomed into our lives—saint or sinner. But what does this inclusiveness look like, what are its boundaries, and what does it result in?

Inclusiveincluding or encompassing the stated limit or extremes in consideration or account; enclosing; embracing:

Jesus was an includer of all kinds of people

John  8:2-11 NIV  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Two issues in this story

1. Sin – Right and Wrong (The Law)

Where was the man?

Bias – Demeaning towards women

Jesus said – DO NOT JUDGE

A bias is a factor in human judgement  – some judge women and give a pass to the man. Judge other kids and not our own.

Luke 6:41-42 NLT – And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[a] when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend,[b] let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

•God did not call us to be the judge, jury, or prosecuting or defense attorney, we are called to be a Witness! That simple. Let your light shine!

2. How we treat other people that we think are different than us

•Her Issues and sin are no different than any of ours

Romans 3:23 NCV – “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” 

No adultery? Jesus said, if you lust after someone, you’ve done it in your heart. ??????

•Jesus pursues the imperfect

Luke 5:31-32 NLT – Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Luke 15 – lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son

This is what Jesus made the story about  – he did other stories

Zacchaeus, Samaritan woman, lawmakers, law breakers, rich and poor

•Jesus was drawing a circle while others were drawing lines – Circle drawing is so much better than line drawing. Jesus put them all in the circle and then got in there with them.

Church at large loves to react to things around us in the world. We are adversarial

NewsReport – The world will never think like the church – the church will always see things different. We are Christ followers.

Talking about what we are for, makes us more effective in reaching people more than what we are against! 

How to be Radically Inclusive

1. We validate people by including people

Ephesians 2:19-21 MSG  – That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

Paul was saying, You belong here

•You can approve of people even if you don’t approve what they do

Separate the behavior from the individual 

•When it comes to God’s family who included you? who are you including?

•••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!

Let’s show the world that The Family of God is not a bunch of arrogant self righteous people! They are loving, kind, and gracious

2. We should include people immediately

Jesus included her immediately. no hoops, no proving time

•She Allowed Jesus to Accept Her

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG –  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

John 10:10 NIV – “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

•She Allowed Jesus to Change Her

II Corinthians 5:17 NIV – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Busting the Myths about God

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Busting the Myths about God 

What if we have it all wrong about God? What if we’ve spent our lives seeing Him in one way when in reality, the diety we imagine is nothing like our God? Imagine leaving this world and meeting Him face to face only to discover that He isn’t at all like we’ve been told.

What if our well-intended but misguided religious education has contaminated our understanding of who God really is and has left us with a perspective about Him that hardly resembles the Father whom Jesus came to reveal?

Can you imagine such a thing? I can because it’s happening to me. I know I’ve had it wrong for a very long time, and I know I’m not alone. Our prevalent opinion about God is polluted.

(1 Timothy 1:3-4 NIV)  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith

-(These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”)

There is a contaminated concept of God that has incapacitated us in our own grace walk and hampered our sincere efforts to see other people come to know and follow Christ.

Human inquiry into the divine has produced a vast pantheon of gods — from Ares to Zeus.

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these

Myth – a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.

Greek Mythology – The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, Mt Olympus, Zeus, Hades, Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Prometheus, Atlas, The Clash of the Titans

“Truth is true even if no one believes it, and falsehood is false even if everyone believes it.” Ravi Zacharias

God is A Big God

Isaiah 40:12 NIV – Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Size of the Universe 

The Earth – the surface is 196 million square miles; one of 9 planets revolving around the sun.

The distance from the earth to the moon is 240,000 miles

The Sun – It is the closest start to the earth it is 93 million miles away. 865,000 miles across. 109 times the size of the earth. You can fit 1.3 million earth’s inside the sun. The sun is considered an average star in comparison with others in the universe.

•It takes light from the sun traveling at the speed of light approximately 8 minutes to get to earth.

•Every object in our solar system revolves around the sun. SAY WOW!

The Galaxy – Milky Way. 

•200 to 400 billion stars

•200 discovered planets outside of our solar system

•hundred of billions of other galaxies

•2,500 years to count all the stars just in our galaxy.

1 light year – 5.8 trillion miles

The distance from the sun to the nearest star  – 4.3 light years

Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

Plato said, “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards.”

Psalm 8:1-9 NIV – Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e] and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their[g] feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

The point is this: These incomparable and unfathomable wonders above tell us of a God who is quite simply…indescribable. But People have described Him in ways that is NOT Him

Augustine said, “The very order, disposition, beauty, change, and motion of the world and of all visible things silently proclaim that it could only have been made by God.” 

Common Myths about 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.”

Christianity grounded in the confession that Jesus is the icon of the invisible God. I am in full sympathy with those who find a “Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God” Christianity repellent and in need of being jettisoned. I have pitched the theologies of an angry, retributive deity back into the dark sea of paganism. The good news is that buried under centuries of misconstrued Christianity there is a beautiful gospel just waiting to be discovered.

(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.”

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you!

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!”

-God is – alpha & omega, beginning & the end, same yesterday, today & forever, never will leave us or forsake us, lo I’m with u always, david said if I make my bed in Hell (grave) u r there

(Matt 6:31-33 NIV) So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

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

The Grace of God is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self righteous. Andy Stanley

(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.” 

•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do! 

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

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

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

In fact, if you a person with high justice values….a person who wants consequences to always match violations…..you will definitely find the Grace of God OUTRAGEOUS! It’s Irrational & Incomprehensible

Busting the Myth

  1. Discover who God is.

(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.”

What if God is like Jesus? What if the personality of God is identical to the personality of the man called Jesus of Nazareth portrayed in the Gospels? You can find who God is when you look at Jesus 

(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.”

Jesus made an audacious claim:

John 14:9 ESV  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

What if that claim is true? Wouldn’t that be good news?

Jesus is the exact representation of God’s Nature

Hebrews 1:1-3 The MSG -Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!

C. S. Lewis said, “Let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

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

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…

What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior? Reject the toxic images of God in your own hearts and minds.

God is like Jesus. Jesus is the Message of God. Jesus is what God has to say. Jesus is the full and faithful witness to how God is to be understood. Jesus didn’t come to save us from God (as some deplorable theories would lead us to believe) — Jesus came to reveal God as savior. Jesus didn’t come to enable God to love us — Jesus came to reveal God as love. Jesus didn’t come to reconcile God to the world — Jesus came to reconcile the world to God.

Colossians 2:9 NLT – For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body

“Christ is the great central fact in the world’s history. To Him everything looks forward or backward. All the lines of history converge upon Him.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

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.”

Jump! (My story)

(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.”

Quote – Proverbs 3:5-6

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).

what’s holding you back?

The Love of God

the-love-of-god

The Love of God 

I John 3:1 NIV – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

3 Facts that Drive me to Communicate the Love of God

1. Everyone is Looking for Love

“Bart, with $10,000 dollars, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love.” Homer J Simpson

The quest is around us everyday in the music we hear and the movies we watch, and the books we read. The desire is woven into the fiber of our being. From the moment we came out of the womb, we have been looking for someone to feed us, hug us, care for us, affirm us, forgive us when we mess up, support us, and tell us that we matter.

No matter who we are, there is a universal need among human beings to be loved.

2. Just as there is a universal quest for love, there is a universal answer to that quest

If everyone has the same problem, there must be a universal solution. The answer is God.

3. There’s a tragic disconnection between the universal need and the universal answer.

There are 6 billion people in the world who are desperate for love and there is a God with limitless resources who wants to love them.

Defining the Love of God

God’s love is his holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love.

We can’t provoke, trick, convince, earn, or win God’s love. God doesn’t love us for who we are or what we do, but  because of who He is.

Agape – Unconditional, giving, sacrificial, and boundless 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.

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.

The Love of God is a rhapsody in red, a swirling narrative of blood and forgiveness

•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. 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.

Dimensions of God’s Love 

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

There is no instrument that can measure how much God, out of His infinite being, cares for you and wants your best!

CS Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s Love for us does not.”

Psalm 36:5 NIV– Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 

How God Thinks about YOU

1. God’s Thoughts, intentions, desires, and plans are always for your good and never for your harm. 

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

When God thinks about you, he thinks about goodness and blessings. No matter how the immediate surroundings may look, God sees the big picture and has plans for your benefit.

James 1:17 NIV – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine

2. God is kind, open, approachable, frank, and eager to be your friend 

John 13:12-15 NIV – When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

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

He is the most loyal and attentive friend you could possibly have

Romans 5:10-11 NLT – For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Joseph Scriven penned the words of that great hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

3. God emotionally identifies with your pain, joy, hopes, and dreams, and has chosen to allow your happiness to affect his own. 

John 11:33-36 NIV –  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Although he is an infinite God of the universe, our pain causes him pain, our joy gives him a life, our hopes bring excitement to his heart, and when there is tragedy he weeps with us.

This self existing God needs no one, yet he has chosen to be so emotionally identified with our ups and downs, and our dreams and hopes.

Hebrews 4:15 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.

4. He takes pleasure in you just for who you are completely apart from your performance and / or accomplishments

God is telling these rebellious people how he stands over them singing and rejoicing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV – The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“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

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV)  8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 

Psalm 103:4-5 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.

How Do We Respond to God’s Love

1. We Must Receive

John 3:16-17 NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

 “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.

2. We Must Believe

I John 4:13-16 NIV – This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

3. Saturate Your Mind with the Truth of God’s Love for us

Romans 8:38-39 NIV – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God wants us to know that nothing – not even our own junk – can separate us from his love

4. Then Give it All Away

Jesus Last instructions to his disciples

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.”

“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

The more of God’s love we give away, the more he supplies. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I John 3:16-18 NIV – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

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

I Corinthians 13:13 NIV –  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Why is love greater than faith and hope? Faith involves the present. Hope involves the future. But love transcends time. Love existed before anything existed.

Love will never need a casket because it has no funeral! Salvation is a sticky story, a messy manuscript, but it’s also a lovely one. Love is the bond that glued God to humanity.  Nothing can pry apart what God has welded together!

In 1923 Fredrick Lehman penned the words to his classic Hymn “The Love of God”

The love of God is greater far , Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure— The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.

God’s Love and Passion for YOU

For_God_So_Loved_The_World

God’s Love & Passion for You

I’m not preaching to the perfect today! But to those of us who don’t have it all together. The hurting, hopeless, and helpless. The stressed out, the successful, the prosperous & the poor. The messed up, misfits, frustrated , those of us with flaws, the imperfect, people who have had moments of indiscretion, weakness’s & failures. I’m talking about Noah who got drunk, David who murdered & commit adultery, Abraham who lied, Thomas who doubted, & Simon Peter, who denied & cursed Christ.

God’s love for us is enormous, extravagant, endless….God doesn’t love us sometimes….He loves us All the Time. He loves us unconditionally.

CS Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s Love for us does not.”

Psalm 36:5-7 NIV– Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. 7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

The Msg – God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic,His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.7-9 How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.

The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

I Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV -.Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

CS Lewis said, “God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.”

We Drastically Underestimate God’s Love for us. Why?

1. It is easy to feel Common to God

Since there is 7 billion people how can I feel special to God? Luke 15 Jesus tells 3 parables with the same theme – lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. Jesus’s point: Every single peron is a VIP to God.

2. It is easy to feel Alone

We are never out of God’s sight. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.

3. It’s easy to feel unlovable because of our failure or sin

The Answer: 

John 3:16 KJV – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

HOW TO SETTLE YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY

1. ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S GREAT PASSION

“God SO loved the world…”

1 John. 4:9-10 (NLT)  “God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love…He sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

We are the Beloved of God

1 John 3:1 (Amp)  “What an incredible quality of love the Father has shown us, that we should be permitted to be called and counted as the children of God!”

But God’s love for you all through the Bible and through Jesus’ example explains that His love is four-dimensional for you.

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

•How long is God’s love? Long enough to last forever

•It is wide enough to be everywhere. There is no place that you could go in life that God’s love is not with you.

•It’s deep enough to handle everything. No problem, no pressure, no stress, no difficulty.

You say, “I’m in the pits right now!” God’s love is there

•Then it is high enough to overlook your mistakes. God loves to forgive. He loves to help you start over.

Martin Luther said, “This is the ineffable and infinite mercy of God which the slender capacity of man’s heart cannot comprehend and much less utter – the unfathomable depth and burning zeal of God’s love toward us.”

2. APPRECIATE GOD’S GREAT PRESENT

“that He GAVE His only begotten Son…”

Rom. 3:24-25a (Mes) “Out of sheer generosity God put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ. He sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin.”

Rom. 5:6-8 (NIV) “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 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.”

2 Cor. 5:21 (LB) “God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us.”

Ephesians. 2:8 (Mes) “Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!”

3. ACCEPT GOD’S GREAT PROPOSAL

“that WHOEVER BELIEVES in Him…”

Titus 2:11 (NIV) “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.”

Col. 3:11 (LB) “One’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and He is equally available to all.”

Rom 3:22 (LB) “God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us “not guilty” – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.”

2 Cor. 6:2 (NIV) For he says,“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a] I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

4. ANTICIPATE GOD’S GREAT PROMISE.

“should not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE!”

“God so loved the world…” That’s His passion and I admit and recognize it. “…that He gave His only begotten Son…” That’s His present that He wants to give you. “…that whosoever believes in Him …” That’s the condition, that’s the proposal. “…should not perish but have ever lasting life.” That’s the promise. “Should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Did you know that you were made to last forever? One day you’re going to die. That’s going to be the end of your body. Your heart’s going to stop. But that’s not going to be the end of you.

Notice God’s promise.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

1 Peter 1:3-4 (Mes) “What a God we have! … Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven, and the future starts now!”

Ps. 34:8 (Mes) “Open your eyes and see how good God is!”

Salvation because of Love

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

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

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!

(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.”

Will You Accept God’s Love Today?

A – I’m already a Christian
B – I’m believing today
C – I’d like to consider it a bit more
D – I don’t ever intend to make that decision

“Dear God, I’m ready for a change. I don’t want to stay the same. I need a fresh start with You. Today I open my life to knowing You. Forgive me for living my life my way. Today I invite Jesus to be the Lord of my life. Jesus I want to know You. I put my faith in You. Give me the power to change. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

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.”