The Beauty of the Cross

Beautiful Things Pt. 4 – The Beauty of the Cross

There is a difference between knowing about something and encountering it.

You can see places in movies, pictures, magazines or read about things in books – but to actually encounter, see, and experience  those things is amazing. (example – Eifle Tower in Paris, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace in London, Great Wall in China, sunset on the west coast, sunrise on the east coast, a Krispy Kreme Donut,)

It is possible to know God without actually encountering Him. If you want to encounter the power of God, you go to the cross where all powerful encounters start.

I Corinthians 1:17-18 NIV –  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Power is a word much loved by us. Who doesn’t love power? We know that those with power have influence. We seek power in our lives over circumstances and relationships. The world teaches us that power is good and weakness is bad, power is proof that you have arrived as a success in life, weakness is proof that you are a loser. The one with the power calls the shots and often determines the outcome of things. Gaining power or being affiliated with those who have it too often becomes the goal of our life.

The Cross – a symbol of power! A fashion statement around someone’s neck or as a tattoo maybe – but definitely not power! Perhaps a wonderful emblem upon the highest place in the church for us to gaze upon but who can call that power? When was the last time that you saw someone flaunting an electric chair or a hangman’s noose as a symbol of power? Well they are the equivalent today of what the cross was for many people in ages past. Death on the Cross was a most demeaning death in the past. It was reserved for the basest and worst of slaves and criminals and also for those who opposed Roman rule. To picture a dying man on the cross so torn and tattered that one could hardly recognize Him and to call that power being demonstrated seems to be a ridiculous idea. Yet Paul calls the Cross the Power of God! 

What cross is this? Many have been crucified upon a cross – some good, most bad, yet none with the power to help you or to change and transform your life as the cross of Christ. You see it wasn’t any cross but the Cross of Christ that makes all the difference.

“The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.” –Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. 

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Matthew 27:27-33 ESV 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 

Golgotha (Calvary) was so named simply because it was a place of execution, where the skulls and bones of criminals lay scattered.

•Golgotha is also the place where the love of God achieves its greatest expression. As Jesus is lynched in the name of religious truth and imperial justice he expresses the heart of God as he pleads for the pardon of his executioners.

•The cross is both hideous and glorious, simultaneously ugly and beautiful. It’s as hideous as human sin and as glorious as divine love. It is a collision of sin and grace.

•Before the cross is anything else, it is a catastrophe. It is the unjust and violent lynching of an innocent man.

Jesus died for us…not for God.

2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV – that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

•The crucifixion is not the ultimate attempt to change God’s mind about us — the cross is the ultimate attempt to change our mind about God. God is not like Caiaphas seeking a sacrifice. God is not like Pilate requiring an execution. God is like Jesus, absorbing sin and forgiving sinners.

•The cross is not about payment, the cross is about forgiveness. Good Friday is not about divine wrath, Good Friday is about divine love

I look to the cross to see God. This is who God is, this is what God is like.

Isaiah 45:22 ESV – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

•On the Cross we sinned our sins into Jesus and he forgave us

•In his crucifixion Jesus achieves solidarity with all who suffer.

•At the cross Jesus doesn’t save us from God, he reveals God

•In his crucifixion Jesus joins humanity in death that we might join him in resurrection

•I come to the cross to see God – I come to the cross to find God

•The Power of the Cross is the demonstration of God’s Love for Us

What the Cross Provides

The medieval saints used to erect a simple cross in the center of the market square of every town so that it came to be known as the market cross. This still may be seen in older towns of Europe. The simple and the beautiful idea was that the cross should dominate all the business of earthly life and that all transactions, interests and concerns should be under the shadow of the cross.

E. Stanley Jones: “At the cross God wrapped his heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the cross for our redemption.”

The Hymn At Calvary – Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary. Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.

Titus 2:14 NIV who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

A. THE CROSS PROVIDES RECONCILIATION FOR ME 

  1. Reconciliation: to make friends and bring together those who are at odds with each other or are enemies (variance or enmity)

2.  At Christ’s cross, God and the sinner can meet while Christ stands between, reaching out one pierced hand to the Father pleading, “Father, forgive them, for they know not that they are doing” and the other to sinners beseeching, “Be reconciled to God.”

Romans 5:10 NIV – For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

B. THE CROSS PROVIDES ATONEMENT FOR ME 

1. Atonement: to cover, expiate, to make at one, to pardon, to forgive and show mercy.

Romans 3:25-26 NIV God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Billy Graham said, “Two thousand years ago God invited a morally corrupt world to the foot of the cross. There God held your sins and mine to the flames until every last vestige of our guilt was consumed.” 

Exodus 12:13 NIV – The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 

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

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

C. THE CROSS PROVIDES HEALING FOR ME 

1. Our very bodies have been redeemed that we may lay our sicknesses and infirmities upon Him who bore them and that we may take His resurrection life for every physical, spiritual, and emotional need of our mortal frame.

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed.

The Cross pronounced a complete cure for the ills of mankind.

I Peter 2:24 NIV  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.

Psalm 103:2-3  – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, “God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.”

•The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

•The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.”

D. THE CROSS PROVIDES PEACE FOR ME

Through the work of the cross of Calvary we have peace with God and we can appear righteous in God’s eyes:

Colossians 1:19-22 ESV For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 

Galatians 6:14 MSG For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

Romans 5:1 NIV “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

E. THE CROSS PROVIDES ME TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD

Draw near to God’s presence with clean hearts and clean hands. Through the blood you have a right to dwell in God’s presence.

Ephesians 2:13 NIV But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 10:19 NIV  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 

Draw Me Nearer – Fanny Crosby (1875) 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, And it told Thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith And be closer drawn to Thee. 

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To the cross where Thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the power of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine. 

There are depths of love that I cannot know Till I cross the narrow sea; There are heights of joy that I may not reach Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Psalm 73:28 ESV – But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

“Once you have been to the cross, you will never be the same.” 

Isaac Watts penned the famous hymn At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

Ephesians 2:16-22 MSG – Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. 19-22 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.

Fredrick Buechner said, “And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?” 

John 3:16-17 ESV – “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

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

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God 

Colossians 2:13 – Discover the depths of our brokenness – and the heights of God’s Love for us. Even out of the dust of our lives, God can make beautiful things. 

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.

“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?”   “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”   “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.

I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God. 

To Know what God is like, look at Jesus

John 1:1-5, 14 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Incarnation – enfleshment of God. God revealing Himself in the nature and character of Jesus (Not just an event, but the whole life of Jesus) – I believe Jesus alone is perfect theology.

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

John 5:39 ESV-  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Matthew 26:59-64 NIV 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 14:9 NIV Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

God is Exactly like Jesus 

God is like Jesus – Jesus is what God has to say to the world. Jesus is the full and faithful witness to how God is to be understood. Jesus did not come to save us from God – Jesus came to reveal God as savior. He came to reveal God’s love. (John 3:16) – absorbing, forgiving and taking away the sins of the world. (Jesus the icon of the invisible God)

Hebrews 1:3 NIV – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-19 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…

Colossians 2:9 NKJV  – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

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.

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

J.I. Packer said: “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

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

I. What You Must Know about God

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

1. God is Powerful

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

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.

God is more powerful than your sickness, disease, problem, etc…(Easter series – Miracles “God’s Power to Change your Life”)

•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life – The world doesn’t need an explanation but a demonstration of the power of God.

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

Jesus is Powerful – Lazarus Come Forth, Blind Bartimaeus, Casted out 3000 plus demons out of the man and put them in pigs, woman with the issue of blood (who touched me?)

2. God is Good

Psalm 31:19 NIV – 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

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Holy  Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

Jesus went everywhere doing good to people

    1. 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.
    1. 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. Jesus said in John (10:11) referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”

3. God is Gracious and Merciful

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. 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.

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! 

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.”

Psalm 103:9-10 NIV “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 gracious and merciful

Jesus is Gracious and merciful 

John the Baptist – Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

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

Woman caught in Adultery – I don’t condemn you, Go and sin no more

Paralyzed man – Your sins are forgiven

II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM

1. To know that God loves me.

Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV – “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORDʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2. To know that God has a plan for me.

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.

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

3. To know that God will bring me through.

2 Timothy 4:18 NIV “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 1:6 NAS  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

III. My Prayer for you

Ephesians 1:17 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.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “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.

Prayer of Commitment

I’d like you to stand this morning and we’re going to pray a prayer together. This prayer originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”

Beautiful Things Pt.2 – The Beauty of Grace

Beautiful Things Pt.2 – The Beauty of Grace

Colossians 2:13 – Discover the depths of our brokenness – and the heights of God’s Love for us. Even out of the dust of our lives, God can make beautiful things. 

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, the broken, 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.

Romans 5:15-20 NIV15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (MSG: When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.)

1. Everyone is Broken

Tony Campolo’s Story – A party for Grace and Love

We fall short of our own expectations; we don’t need religion to tell us that we really aren’t all that good.

Life is filled with challenges, twists, and turns. Times of doubts, wandering, and weakness.

Psalms 38:4-8 NIV  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.

Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are stronger in the broken places

Every human being is broken. We’re all broken people. And that’s because we are all sinners because of the fall humanity took back in the Garden of Eden.

James 2:10 (NIV) – For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 

The cause of a broken life is very simple. We experience brokenness when we try to live by our terms instead of by God’s terms

• Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.

Romans 3:23-24 NIV – 23 for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Light shines best through cracks. None can boast of perfection. We are all broken. We need Jesus to shine through the cracks (my broken rib-painful)

.

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

Stop Beating yourself up – Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

At 82, John Newton (Amazing Grace) said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great savior.”

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

But God is in the healing business and wants to mend what’s broken.

Listen to what Job said, “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.” (Job 17:1 NKJV)

Now, that’s not an encouraging statement, but though the prophet Isaiah, this is what is said about Jesus’ purpose.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV)

It is this very Scripture that Jesus quoted about Himself and how God had sent Him to heal what was broken within us. (Luke 4:18)

•Thief on the Cross – “Remember Me” 

Psalm 34:18 NIV “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

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

A mosaic is a work of art made up of broken pieces.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2. Because of GRACE, God is not holding anything against anyone

Grace – God doing in and for us what we cannot do ourselves. A Gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is 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!

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

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

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

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

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! 

Nothing we have ever done could make God love us any less: not any sin, not any failures, not any guilt, not any regrets – We are the Beloved of God.

Psalms 145:8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Grace cleans up what we messed up!

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. 

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

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

God has one disposition towards us & it is revealed in Christ. Ceaseless, endless, unconditional love. He never gives up on us

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.” 

Romans 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 the same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.” 

For every person who has ever failed in their past, there is a forgiveness that forgets! Stop standing in Guilt and start standing in Grace.

It’s been said, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.” Jesus came for those who are less than perfect, those who are far from perfect, and those who are anything but perfect. God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

Conclusion

Their is a story that begins in 2 Sam.4 when the dynasty of King Saul was coming to an end. King Saul had a son named Jonathon who had a 5 yr old son named Mephbosheth. The city was under attack and the nanny for little Mephibosheth was fleeing the city when she tripped and dropped him… his legs did not heal properly from the fall and Mephibosheth was crippled for life.

Fast forward to… 

2 Samuel 9 to read an amazing story of love and grace.

The story begins as King David is reminiscing back on his life and specifically on his friendship with Jonathon (the son of King Saul). As David remembers that great friendship he asks “Is there anyone left in Saul’s family that I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Those who heard him sent for One of Saul’s servants named Ziba… Ziba… David asks… Is there someone in Jonathan’s house I can show Gods kindness to?  Ziba answered There is still a son of Jonathon; he is crippled in both feet.

David sent for him and when he arrived (v.7) David said “Don’t be afraid… I will show you kindness today because of your father Jonathon.” I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul… I will order his servants to farm the land on your behalf… and you will always eat at my table. 

(v.08) Mephibosheth says… “What did I do that you should notice a dead dog like me?… What did I do to deserve this?”

God pursued him with HIs Grace. He went from a place of Brokeness to a place of Blessing. 

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

We are a spiritually broken people , BUT God has been pursuing us with His Grace and His Grace brings complete Restoration – New Identity, Empowerment, and New Life! 

Grace is God kissing the unkissable. Not because we are good, deserving, or right, but because HE LOVES US and FORGAVE US.

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

Uncommon Families

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Uncommon Families

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but “Leave it to Beaver” has left, Mayberry is a distant memory, and the Waltons have said, “goodnight!”,  The Brady Bunch has left the building. The little house we live in no longer resembles the one on the prairie! We have moved from “Father Knows Best” to we aren’t sure daddy knows anything! and The Partridge Family ain’t singing no more.The day we live is different. The climate has changed. This modern age has impacted and shaped our families. And as we are seeing now the goal of this modern age is not really to shape but to redefine family. Unfortunately, we will never be able to go back to yesterday. Therefore, we must learn to deal with today and tomorrow. However, even though we are in the modern age I believe there are still some old truths that modern family’s need today.

What has gone wrong with America’s Family?

· Did you know that in the US, every 8 seconds of every school day a child drops out of school?

· Every 26 seconds a child runs away from home.

· Every 47 seconds a child is either abused or neglected.

· Every 7 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.

· Every 36 minutes a child is either hurt or killed by a gun.

(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms. In the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities, human dignity and human frailty.” Ronald Reagan

Condition of Today’s Family

• Distracted.

 (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.”

STAT: Average father spends 7 minutes a day with his kids. That’s 49 minutes for the week

• Divided.

 (Mark 3:25 ESV)  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand“ (NLT) A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

• Disrespectful.

(Titus 3:3 ESV) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

• Dysfunctional.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Dysfunction is Dangerous – dys means dangerous, impaired in function. A dysfunctional family is one functioning dangerously

Family is not an important thing , it’s everything!

Nehemiah 4:14 NIV After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

  1. Nehemiah faced the awesome task in the restoration of Jerusalem. But he was surrounded with: 1. Unbelief  2. Opposition
    1. He lacked resources and he was operating in hostile territory with a meager number of supporters.
    2. He had to have a plan that had enough power and energy to overcome obstacles.
    3. Nehemiah put the people on two Unshakable Foundations:
      1. The Sovereign power of God
      2. The nearly unlimited protective power that comes from men and women when they fight for their families
      3. Nehemiah’s Strategy was that he was to station the rebuilders in front of their own house (Nehemiah 3:4)

How to be an Uncommon Family

If you don’t have kids these are amazing principles for your life – If you do have kids these are principles that will help grow your child

  1. Love and Serve God

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults

If mom and dad went to church:     72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

(Joshua 24:15 NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only. A choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

•The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us IN OUR HOMES and FAMILIES.

•Is Christ is the head of this house, The unseen guest at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation.

The Most Important thing in Life

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Do you love God with all of your heart or some of your heart?

2.  Make God’s Word the standard.

•With so many “experts” running around with all of their ideas and inventions, It can sometimes be confusing to know who to listen to. The Bible specifically outlines God’s original design for the family. As long as we live according to His will, we can avoid the world’s less than perfect lifestyle and live in His perfect peace.

(1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness

•Arguments and division need to be squelched with a higher authority than opinions or out of control emotions. To be a functional family in the plan of God, we must live according to Biblical principles. What is right for this situation according to the scriptures? How can this problem be solved with a Biblical mindset?

(Psalm 119:24 NIV) Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Obeying God’s Word brings blessings to the family – Obedience is our Success

Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV – Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 12:28 NIV – Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Remember: Our instruction to our kids is never better than God’s

Proverbs 1:7 NIV – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Lead Your Family

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV – These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.” Edward, Duke of Windsor

Girl from (COYFC) comment – “I looked at my parents and family of an example of what not to be and do”.

Proverbs 22:6 ESVTrain up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Train: to initiate, dedicate, or train.

  1. Train them to manage God’s money. (Prov. 3:9-10) 2) Train them to carefully select friends. (Prov. 13:20) 3) Train them to watch their words. (Prov. 4:24) 4) Train them to be responsible. (Prov. 6:6-8) 5) Train them to guard their minds. (Prov. 23:7) 6) Train them to be generous. (Prov. 11: 25) 7) Train them to fear God. (Prov. 1:7)

Are you leading your children or are your children leading you?

4. Pray for and with your Family

Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen!

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

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide – Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

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

Remember this  – You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.

 

Ill.—little boys staying overnight in backyard in a tent. Dad listened to them talk… “my daddy knows the mayor!”/ “governor!”/then he heard the voice of his own little boy say, “that’s nothin’, my daddy knows God!” (top that!) They said, he does not! “does too!” How do you know? “I heard him talkin’ to him just this morning!” 

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,”Turn to Me first when you’ve got a problem.” Many people, when they’re in a tight situation, prayer is the last resort, not the first option. They do everything they can physically to try to correct the problem then they say, “I guess now all we can do is pray.” Like it must really be hopeless! Prayer should not be your last resort, it should be your first option.

Make God your first resort in difficulty. He says He is an ever present help a refuge in time of need. God is waiting. He commands us to turn to Him first.

Psalm. 50:15 “Call upon Me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

Some people get embarrassed and think, I don’t talk to God much when times are good and I don’t want to bother him with my problems. God says, “Bother Me. It’s no bother. I can handle your and every other person’s problems at the same time. Bring it to me. Don’t carry it all yourself.”

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

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

When we pray we give God legal invitation to bring His will to pass. His will is always accomplished through obedience in prayer.

Luke 18:1 NIV – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up

I Thessalonians 5:7 NLT – Never stop praying

Prayer is always the will of God – Don’t Give Up, Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer happens in God’s time

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

A Prayer for Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us.

Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do. Father, let no sickness, disease, harm, division, distruction, or injury come upon us, protect us, have your angels encamped around us and protect us. Stop the assignment of the enemy. We will prosper, be in health, and our souls with prosper. Bless us Lord, In your name I pray, Amen

ENDING

If we’ve failed or messed up in these areas (and most likely we all have) – we can make a fresh start today! 

Acts 3:19-20 NIV – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card

Uncommon Conflict

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Uncommon Conflict

Give you some ground rules for this Message

1. Listen for yourself – No elbows – Listen for yourself – This is for YOU

2. Your going to hear God’s standard and feel like this is too tough

Look how far I am from God’s standard – Don’t be discouraged

Let me be clear, Jesus came to make ALL things new

You get a DO OVER everybody – Don’t get discouraged

Average marriage in America lasting only 3 years

I believe God will help heal marriages that are broken, strengthen marriages that are struggling, and launch marriages that are just beginning

How we handle conflict has the potential to destroy our marriage or set it up for success

Opening:

  1. Lyndon B Johnson said, “I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she is having her way, And second, Let her have it.”
  2. A man who gives in when he’s wrong is wise. A man who gives in when he’s right is married.
  3. Red Skeleton said, I married miss right, I just didn’t know her first name was Always.
  4. After winning an argument with his wife, the wisest thing a man can do is apologize
  5. Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. he didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about how well his mother cooked.

Romans 12:2 NLT Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

A good marriage is built by two people’s capacity to adjust to bad things – Everyone Has Conflict. While we are on our way to heaven many times our marriage feels like hell.

Everyone knows marriage is no picnic. Even if it is, it sometimes rains. Sometimes good marriages bump into bad things

Having conflict in your marriage does not mean that you don’t love each other, but how you deal with the conflict shows whether or not you love each other. (I want to say this again, so important you get this)

If you’re sitting here today and you’re concerned about your marriage…

And you’ve been fighting, take a deep breath and know that conflict is completely normal

Four Causes of Conflict 

1. Poor communication.

Remember, Every time you open your mouth, your mind walks out and parades up and down the words.

Psalm 141:3 NIV Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Attack the problem (conflict) not each other – Because all of us are wired to “win”  So in the middle of dealing with conflict we always try to find the knockout punch

Proverbs 6:2 NIV – you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that

it has taken place. ~George Bernard Shaw

Matthew 12:36-37 MSG “Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” 

Conflicts arise when there is disconnection between what we say to each other and how we say it.

Example: Woman is looking into the mirror and says to her husband, “Honey I feel bad about myself. I look fat and ugly. I really need you to give me a compliment. The husband replied, “You have perfect eyesight!”

James 3:5-6 NIV “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…it sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

2. Unfulfilled expectations/needs. 

The ups and downs of life can actually strengthen your marriage if you adjust your expectations accordingly.

James 4:1-2 NIV What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Example: Each others expectations of each other

3. Despising differences. 

Mark 3:25 NIV If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 

Ephesians 2:14 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.

Differences concerning…Sex….Money…Music….Movies, etc….

4. Sin nature.

Romans 3:23 NLT For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT) There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.

Romans 8:5-6 NIV Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Four Ways to Deal with Conflict 

1. My way.

2. Your way.

3. Half way.

4. God’s way – He is the answer to conflict

Resolve the Conflict 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 NIV There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

Ephesians 2:12-14 NIV12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Conflict cannot continue without my participation. 

  1. Ask God For Help

James 4:2 NIV – 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

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

If you are not clear, Faith cannot bring you what you want, need, or desire. a mixed frequency with your asking may produce no results. Get SPECIFIC with God and ASK Him.

I 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. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

2. Act Do Not React. 

“A person who overreacts in a situation with another person values the situation more than the relationship.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. 

Refrain from having reruns of old arguments

How many times have you gotten into a small fight or conflict

But it blew up into something huge because past mistakes got brought up?

Romans 12:19-21 NIV 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,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

3. Speak Words of Life

Communication in our relationships is not a luxury its a necessity.

If you want to change your marriage, change the words you speak.

Proverbs 15:4 NIV – The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

(Honeymooners example)

Ephesians 4:29 NIV – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 12:18 NIV – The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

4. Be Quick To Forgive

Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. It is an act of our will. It cannot be earned, it can only be given.

When you forgive you open up an invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace and Joy in your relationship

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.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”  ~Anne Lamont

Unforgiveness is the breeding ground for destruction in a marriage

Ephesians 4:32 NIV – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Make love and Forgiveness your default mode. It should always be an automatic setting in your heart when you are mistreated.

A life time is a long time to live with bitterness and resentment towards your spouse or someone

If I have to say to you that I forgive you, it’s harder for me to hold on to it
A maturity in Marriage is  – 1. Giving and 2. Forgiving

1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG  (Love) doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.

Don’t Stop Loving

In the Movie Stepmom – There is a husband and his wife who get a divorce. He is out with his children for his weekend. He is trying to explain the divorce to his kids because they keep asking why he doesn’t live with them, etc…They ask him “Don’t you love mommy anymore? He said, No I guess I don’t love your Mommy anymore. They said, “Didn’t you used to love her? He said, Yes, but I guess I fell out of love.” Then the little boy looks up at his dad and says, “Dad, can a parent fall out of love with their children?”

1 John 4:8-11 MSG The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 

Never stop holding hands, Never stop Dancing, Never stop saying I love you!

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

God Can Heal YOU and your Relationship

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card

Jesus is…Your Friend

Jesus Is_Screen

Jesus Is…Your Friend

Our prayer through this series is that you grow closer to Jesus

There are a lot of opinions about Jesus

Most are based on tradition – not what the Bible says

Most really don’t know Him at all

(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.”

We’re going to look at Jesus – who He is – what He did – Let’s pray…

Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. That was the word on the street in first-century Palestine.

Matthew 11:19 ESV – 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Luke 7:34)

Remember, If your theology doesn’t lead you to love people more then you should question your theology. If you think doctrine is more important than love….you already have bad doctrine.

They called him this because it was true. He was a friend of sinners. Jesus himself said that he didn’t come for the spiritually healthy, but for the sick. “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31–32).

God doesn’t pick people like people pick people. Where people see problems, God sees potential.

Jesus didn’t have a rating system for sin. He was willing to accept anyone and love anyone.

Luke 19:1-10 ESVcHe entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And dhe was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into ea sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for fI must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and greceived him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all hgrumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods iI give to the poor. And if I have jdefrauded anyone of anything, I restore it kfourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since lhe also is a son of Abraham. 10 For mthe Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Talk about Zacchaeus – a short Gangster, Chief Tax Collector. Professional cheat, an embezzler. Tax Collectors were looked at as thieves and pimps. jews who worked for the roman govt. Hated and feared.

He encountered Jesus and was changed!

You Don’t have to be good to be Jesus’s friend. You just have top be honest

“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together.” ~@ANNELAMOTT

John 8:1-11 ESV – but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. bEarly in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and che sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now din the Law Moses commanded us eto stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said fto test him, gthat they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, h“Let him who is without sin among you ibe the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, j“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on ksin no more.” 

•Jesus is not your accuser or prosecutor – He’s your friend!

•Jesus doesn’t care about the scandal – He cares about the scandalous

He Understands

Jesus didn’t come just to teach and ultimately give His life

He came to experience every part of life

In fact – Jesus spent most of His life as a carpenter

Why did He become a carpenter?

There’s a theological reason – identification

The reason Jesus can be your best friend is He was a human

Before He ever preached, taught anything, healed, died

He lived out every part of life

(Hebrews 2:17-18 Message)  “That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced (it) = (meaning life) all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.”

– It’s hard to identify with people’s pain when you haven’t been through it.

Ultimate sympathy – when you’ve been through it

He understands your struggle on earth.

– There is absolutely nothing in life that you have gone through or you will go through that Jesus doesn’t understand.

Here’s the message – the One on the throne was a human and He understands

1. He understands relationships.

(Mark 6:3 NIV)  “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?”

He had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters

You know they got along perfectly – you have children

You know they duck taped Jesus to a chair.

No – He knows what it’s like to have a brother

He knows what it’s like to be single – and married

The bible describes him as the groom and the church as the bride of Christ.

He knows what it is like when friends betray him even at the most critical moment, Peter denied him

He had family who thought He was crazy…

(Mark 3:21 NIV)  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

2. He understands life.

Pictures are always with Him in a white robe

Jesus went into business at around 12 and did that until 30

I’d love to see jeans, t-shirt, and a tool belt

He looked that way longer than the robe

He didn’t have a nail gun and a power saw

He had calluses – blisters

He had customers – unhappy clients – people trying to cheat Him

He paid taxes – dealt with the economy slowing down

(Hebrews 4:15 NIV)  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”

3. He understands pain

(Isaiah 53:3 NIV)  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”

(I dedicate this part of the message to young people who have been picked on, bullied, rejected, and despised)

Emotional pain – illegitimate birth – ridiculed

Ridiculed by His hometown – Nazareth

Ridiculed until His last breath

(Isaiah 53:5 NIV)  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Physical pain – beaten – He bore our sickness in His body

Pain is real. But so is hope

I LOVE THAT God uses broken people to do big things

My Best Friend

All of that means this – Jesus qualifies to be your best friend

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

A lot of us have had failed relationships – Jesus is the most faithful friend you’ll ever have. So what should our response be?

1. Make Jesus your best friend.

One of my goals in this message – change your relationship Facebook styles status to BFF

A lot of people don’t think of Jesus as a friend

But that’s the way Jesus thinks about you

Jesus said…

(John 15:15 NIV)  “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.”

2. Talk to Him.

Prayer is not an event – it’s an ongoing conversation, a lifestyle

Like the way you email and text your friends

Pray without ceasing

God listens to the prayers of His children even when they are marred by human weakness. Richard Foster

What do you talk about?

If He really understands

Don’t you think it’s about time to tell Him what’s going on?

Talk to Him about your relationships, life, and pain

Here’s what you will find…

(Hebrews 4:16 NIV)  “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.”

You won’t get judgment – you’ll get someone who understands

3. Trust Him with your life.

Take it one step further – give Him control of your life

Make a commitment to Him – Let Jesus be your BFF

(John 1:12 ESV)  “But to all who did receive him, swho believed in his name, the gave the right uto become vchildren of God,”

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

Your past is just a story, and once you realize this, it has no power over you.

“Don’t freeze from a certain time in your life & condemn your future… 

Salvation Call- Jesus died for you paid the price for our sins!

“Lord Jesus I need You.  I know that I am a sinner – and I am sorry for my sins.  Forgive me – for living my life my way.  Today I invite You – to be the Lord of my life.  Take control of my life – make me the kind of person – You want me to be.  Give me the power to change.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.”

The Power of the Cross

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The Power of the Cross

There is a difference between knowing about something and encountering it.

You can see places in movies, pictures, magazines or read about things in books – but to actually encounter, see, and experience  those things is amazing. (example – Eifle Tower in Paris, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace in London, Great Wall in China, sunset on the west coast, sunrise on the east coast, a Krispy Kreme Donut,)

It is possible to know God without actually encountering Him. If you want to encounter the power of God, you go to the cross where all powerful encounters start.

I Corinthians 1:17-18 NIV –  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Power is a word much loved by us. Who doesn’t love power? We know that those with power have influence. We seek power in our lives over circumstances and relationships. The world teaches us that power is good and weakness is bad, power is proof that you have arrived as a success in life, weakness is proof that you are a loser. The one with the power calls the shots and often determines the outcome of things. Gaining power or being affiliated with those who have it too often becomes the goal of our life.

The Cross – a symbol of power! A fashion statement around someone’s neck or as a tattoo maybe – but definitely not power! Perhaps a wonderful emblem upon the highest place in the church for us to gaze upon but who can call that power? When was the last time that you saw someone flaunting an electric chair or a hangman’s noose as a symbol of power? Well they are the equivalent today of what the cross was for many people in ages past. Death on the Cross was a most demeaning death in the past. It was reserved for the basest and worst of slaves and criminals and also for those who opposed Roman rule. To picture a dying man on the cross so torn and tattered that one could hardly recognize Him and to call that power being demonstrated seems to be a ridiculous idea. Yet Paul calls the Cross the Power of God! 

What cross is this? Many have been crucified upon a cross – some good, most bad, yet none with the power to help you or to change and transform your life as the cross of Christ. You see it wasn’t any cross but the Cross of Christ that makes all the difference.

“The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.” –Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. 

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Matthew 27:27-33 ESV 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 

Golgotha (Calvary) was so named simply because it was a place of execution, where the skulls and bones of criminals lay scattered.

•Golgotha is also the place where the love of God achieves its greatest expression. As Jesus is lynched in the name of religious truth and imperial justice he expresses the heart of God as he pleads for the pardon of his executioners.

•The cross is both hideous and glorious, simultaneously ugly and beautiful. It’s as hideous as human sin and as glorious as divine love. It is a collision of sin and grace.

•Before the cross is anything else, it is a catastrophe. It is the unjust and violent lynching of an innocent man.

Jesus died for us…not for God.

2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV – that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

•The crucifixion is not the ultimate attempt to change God’s mind about us — the cross is the ultimate attempt to change our mind about God. God is not like Caiaphas seeking a sacrifice. God is not like Pilate requiring an execution. God is like Jesus, absorbing sin and forgiving sinners.

•The cross is not about payment, the cross is about forgiveness. Good Friday is not about divine wrath, Good Friday is about divine love

I look to the cross to see God. This is who God is, this is what God is like.

Isaiah 45:22 ESV – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

•On the Cross we sinned our sins into Jesus and he forgave us

•In his crucifixion Jesus achieves solidarity with all who suffer.

•At the cross Jesus doesn’t save us from God, he reveals God

•In his crucifixion Jesus joins humanity in death that we might join him in resurrection

•I come to the cross to see God – I come to the cross to find God

•The Power of the Cross is the demonstration of God’s Love for Us

What the Cross Provides

The medieval saints used to erect a simple cross in the center of the market square of every town so that it came to be known as the market cross. This still may be seen in older towns of Europe. The simple and the beautiful idea was that the cross should dominate all the business of earthly life and that all transactions, interests and concerns should be under the shadow of the cross.

E. Stanley Jones: “At the cross God wrapped his heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the cross for our redemption.”

The Hymn At Calvary – Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary. Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.

Titus 2:14 NIV who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

A. THE CROSS PROVIDES RECONCILIATION FOR ME 

  1. Reconciliation: to make friends and bring together those who are at odds with each other or are enemies (variance or enmity)

2.  At Christ’s cross, God and the sinner can meet while Christ stands between, reaching out one pierced hand to the Father pleading, “Father, forgive them, for they know not that they are doing” and the other to sinners beseeching, “Be reconciled to God.”

Romans 5:10 NIV – For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

B. THE CROSS PROVIDES ATONEMENT FOR ME 

  1. Atonement: to cover, expiate, to make at one, to pardon, to forgive and show mercy.

Jesus did not shed his blood to buy God’s forgiveness, Jesus shed his blood to embody God’s forgiveness!

Romans 3:25-26 NIV God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Billy Graham said, “Two thousand years ago God invited a morally corrupt world to the foot of the cross. There God held your sins and mine to the flames until every last vestige of our guilt was consumed.” 

Exodus 12:13 NIV – The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 

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

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

C. THE CROSS PROVIDES HEALING FOR ME 

1. Our very bodies have been redeemed that we may lay our sicknesses and infirmities upon Him who bore them and that we may take His resurrection life for every physical, spiritual, and emotional need of our mortal frame.

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed.

The Cross pronounced a complete cure for the ills of mankind.

I Peter 2:24 NIV  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.

Psalm 103:2-3  – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, “God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.”

•The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

•The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.”

D. THE CROSS PROVIDES PEACE FOR ME

Through the work of the cross of Calvary we have peace with God and we can appear righteous in God’s eyes:

Colossians 1:19-22 ESV For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 

Galatians 6:14 MSG For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

Romans 5:1 NIV “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

E. THE CROSS PROVIDES ME TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD

Draw near to God’s presence with clean hearts and clean hands. Through the blood you have a right to dwell in God’s presence.

Ephesians 2:13 NIV But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 10:19 NIV  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 

Draw Me Nearer – Fanny Crosby (1875) 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, And it told Thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith And be closer drawn to Thee. 

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To the cross where Thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the power of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine. 

There are depths of love that I cannot know Till I cross the narrow sea; There are heights of joy that I may not reach Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Psalm 73:28 ESV – But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

“Once you have been to the cross, you will never be the same.” 

Isaac Watts penned the famous hymn At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

Ephesians 2:16-22 MSG – Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. 19-22 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.

Fredrick Buechner said, “And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?” 

John 3:16-17 ESV – “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The Gospel

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The Gospel

(Jesus Christ and GraceTown is about New beginnings, It’s about messes & mistakes turning into miracles & messages, it’s about having more chances, it’s about seeing potential in everyone.)

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.

Romans 1:16 ESV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Gospel – Good News. It’s the message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which the believer is saved from sin and into life. Our broken relationship with God is restored. Salvation through grace.

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.

Enemies of the Gospel

1. Religion

Religion – Salvation through moral effort

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.

a. Religion says that if we obey God He will love us – The Gospel says that it is because God loves us we can obey

b. Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people – The gospel says the world is filled with people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

c. Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person – The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because he alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.

d. Religion is about what I have to do – The Gospel is about what I get to do.

e. Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God – The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

f. Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (Because I continually fall short of God’s commands) – The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.

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

•The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

• Dr. Jekyll comes to realize that he is an incongruous compound of good and evil.

•He comes up with a potion that can separate his two natures

•He describes his evil self using classic christian terminology

“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, 10fold more wicked,, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine…Edward Hyde’s every act and thought centered on self.”

•his name is Hyde not just because he is hideous by because he hidden. He is selfish, egotistic, self centered, and is self absorbed

•Once Jekyll realizes his capacity for evil he decides to clamp down  on this terrible self centeredness and he gets religion. He devotes himself to charity and good works for atonement for what Hyde has done.

•While siting on the bench in Regents Park, he begins to gloat and take pride in all the good he had done. He said, “as I compared myself with other men and comparing my goodwill…at that very moment of vain glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down….I was once more Edward Hyde.”

•Involuntarily, without the potion – this was the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations – Jekyll kills himself.

•Stevenson’s insight here is profound. Like so many people, Jekyll knows he’s a sinner, so he tries to desperately cover his sin with great piles of good works. Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The Gospel of Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self righteous.

2. Sin

Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.

James 4:17 ESV So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Romans 3:23 NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

Isaiah 59:2 NIV – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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

JI Packer said, “Men are opposed to God in their sin, and God is opposed to men in His holiness”

God cannot simply overlook sin. Our debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.  God’s holiness demands punishment for human stain.

Explain: (OT sacrifices,  In NT John the Baptist – Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world)

The Gospel gives us other Chances

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

The reference to Peter, on this first Easter morning, was intentional. Peter in previous hours had denied knowing and following Jesus… and now he was being included in with the close group of followers Jesus wanted to hang out with the most. (VIP list) By singling him out and calling Peters name,) Heaven was sending him a message that even though I don’t approve of what you have done….I do approve of you.” 

Heaven wants to get that message to all of us today 

Verse 7 – What a line!  It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall – and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again!  Peter your not left out! One failure doesn’t make a flop!

Jesus wanted Peter to know he was looking forward to seeing him – Aren’t you glad that God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, & loves us all without condition or exception.

(Micah 7:8 NIV) – Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

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

•The fact that you failed is proof that you are not finished!

•Failures & Mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade!

•The difference between average people & successful people is their perception and response to failure.

•Just ask Peter: You can have a another chance! 

•One minute Peter felt lower than a snakes belly and the next he was the high hog at the trough.

•Even the Angels wanted this discouraged, distraught, depressed fisherman to know it wasn’t over!

Heaven said, “Be sure to tell Peter ( the one who Sinned, failed, denied Christ, blew it, lost it, messed up BIG TIME!) that he gets to bat again.

What you were is not what you will be! 

The Gospel sets us up for more chances, not failures. Even though we fail, sin, and make plenty of mistakes:

Peter’s Painful Regret

John 13:36-38 (NIV) 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-3 (NIV)“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1. Stop beating yourself up

•The good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you.” – Martin Luther

Psalms 38:4-8 NIV  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;   I groan in anguish of heart.

I John 3:18-21 NIV – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

c. Your heart registers right and wrong

•You do good, your heart says nice

•You do bad, your heart says Yuk, u suck, sinner, liar, hypocrite, fake, bad, dirty, Quit. Don’t run from God when we fall, but rather run to Him. The Gospel cleaned up what we messed up! 

Hebrews 4:16 NIV – 16 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.

d. Your accuser says, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY but JESUS says FORGIVEN FORGIVEN FORGIVEN (If we confess our sin…)

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

There is hope! The Gospel has the hope. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for our sins.

Romans 5:8 NIV – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

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.

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’s wrath has been satisfied)

2. We can begin again a Fresh Start  

Romans 8:1-2 NIV-  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending! 

Phillippians 3:13-14 NIV –  13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

The Gospel gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.

3. God invites us to receive Salvation.

Definition: Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Harm, ruin, or loss.

Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

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

Eternal life isn’t a reward for good people; it’s God’s gift for-given people

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.”

Will You Receive the Gospel Today?

“Dear God, You know every pain Ive had in my life. you know the confusion and the doubts. You know I’ve spent a lot of my time in guilt, shame, and condemnation. I’m ready for a change. I don’t want to stay the same. I need a fresh start with You. I want to live in joy, freedom, and victory. Jesus, I will learn to trust you and love you. Come into my life lead me and guide me everyday. I will rely on your power and not my own.  Thank you for giving me a brand new fresh start and saving my life. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

A Moveable Feast

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A Moveable Feast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Luke 9 Jesus feeds the 5000

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

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

•Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus

•Luke 22 is the account of the Last Supper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus described salvation as participation in the kingdom of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today Jesus pursues the Imperfect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confession of Sin

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

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

Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

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Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

Introduction: Beware Of Terrorist Groups In Church

Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches.

They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin. Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ.The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians. and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin, is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along. Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ.

We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell groups has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

NO church is exempt, however, you can spot them if you bin lookin and bin goin!!

TEXTS:

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

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

This decision and opportunity of Spiritual formation and maturity happens over a lifetime, not overnight – We grow like oak trees, not dandelions.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain
    3. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved. He is the Ultimate example of life.
      1. Jesus came not just to teach us how to be “spiritual” but how to live as a human (purpose of the incarnation)
      2. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

2 Reasons People Don’t Become Christians

1. The’ve never met one    2. They have met one

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

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

Dear Christian: Don’t load Bible verses like bullets in your gun to fire at your theological opponents. Scripture is too sacred for that!

How Should We Live?

Matt. 11:29 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.”

1. Live With Humility 

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

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

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

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

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

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

Proverbs 16:18 ESV – Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

2. Live With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

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

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

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

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

Psalms 131:1-2 MSG – God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. 2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

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

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

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

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

3. Live With Faith

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

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

“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.” ―Oswald Chambers

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

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

“Our faith develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest.” Eugene Peterson

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

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

certain of what we do not see.” 

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

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

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

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

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

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

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

“Feelings are notorious liars, especially in matters of faith.” Eugene Peterson

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

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

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

something better…”

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

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

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

4. Live With Love

C.S. Lewis said, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”

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

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

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

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

When grace is pierced, it bleeds pardon. When grace is crucified, it doesn’t condemn.

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

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

What really happens when we are critical towards people: “Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.”

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

In Jesus parable, the rich man ends up in hell, not bc he failed to believe the right things, but bc he failed to love Lazarus. @BrianZahnd

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

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

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

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

•Encourage others continually.

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

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

•Serve people cheerfully.

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

to serve others…”

•Forgive others freely.

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

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

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” Martin Luther King

•It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing. FRODO.

Choose to be kind and compassionate rather than critical and condemning. Decide to build up instead of tear down.

I HAVE DECIDED TO LIVE AS CHRIST LIVED:

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 LB) Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my

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

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

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

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

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