Faith Family Church

…words from Pastor Rick and Pastor Marjie

May 20, 2014
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Compassion Series – COMPASSION ADVANTAGE

Marjie&RickCOMPASSION ADVANTAGE

 

  1. INTRO:
    1. There are rewards for helping the needy.  It’s not just about duty and obedience. Scripture tells us God will reward us for the things we do to help those for whom He has special concern:  we called them the quartet of the vulnerable.  
      1. God wants us to do this because it’s the right thing to do, in light of what He has done for us, in light of how much He cares people in these kinds of difficult circumstances.
        • We don’t do this just to get a reward. God is not a candy machine.
      2. But God also promises us rewards if show compassion for the vulnerable and needy in our world.
  1. HEART REWARD.   Inward blessedness.    (Acts 20: 35 NIV)  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
    1. We are happier giving than getting.
      1. True on an emotional level.  It can be very fulfilling to realize that you are part of helping someone in need.
        • Usually this emotion isn’t permanent.  Anyone regularly engaged in serving the needy knows this.  We need other motivations as well.  But still, most of us can relate to this feeling, even if it’s been only fleeting.
        • We you really love someone, giving to them is more satisfying than getting something from them. Giving to them is a joy and delight.  You want to do it.  It really is a more blessed activity than receiving.
      2. True on a psychological level.  People who study human emotions and reactions understand this:  a self-centered life is a psychologically unhealthy life.  The more inward we become and the more focused on ourselves, the sicker we become inside.
      3. True on a spiritual level.  We are aware that it pleases God when we act like Him.
        • When we give and serve in this way, we are most like God.  Because this is what God does for us:  He gives to those who cannot possible repay Him.  He gives without guarantee of response – causes sun to rise of the evil and the good, sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Jesus died for people who were cursing Him as He did.
        • We can be like God only by approximation.  We cannot give exactly as He gives.  We only give what we have received.  But God doesn’t need to receive anything.  He is the fountainhead of everything, or all existence.  He gives out of the overflow of His abundant existence.
        • This truth keeps us from becoming arrogant in our acts of compassion toward the needy.  We are not superior to those who we help.  We have nothing that we did not receive from God, and we give nothing except what God has already freely given us.
        • But when we give, we are most like God!
    2. A sweet way to live. Giving has its own built in reward.
  2. FINANCIAL reward 
    1. God promises to bless us in this life.    Deuteronomy 15:7,10  (NIV) 7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.  10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
      1. God addresses our concern: If I am generous with my time and attention and treasure in helping the needy and vulnerable, what will happen to me? Will I stay solvent?  Will I stay sane? Will I really be able to do this?  
      2. Listen to God’s promise
        • Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
        • Because you help the poor and vulnerable, I will help you.  If you bless them, I will bless you. If you take care of them, I will take care of you.
        • Mercy to the needy is a loan to GOD, and GOD pays back those loans in full. Proverbs 19:17 (Msg)
      3. The needy person may not respond well.
        • They may squander the opportunity God is giving them through you.
        • But this transaction is not just between you and that other person.  It’s between you and God.
        • God is the major player in this arrangement.  And however the needy person responds to your efforts and sacrifice, God sees it done for Him and toward Him.
        • And He promises to reward you. He promises to take care of you, even in this life.
    2. Helping the poor is like planting seed.  Time and effort and money given to help the vulnerable is not wasted or lost.
      1. 2 Cor. 9:9-10 (NIV)  As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
      2. Scattering freely – describes a kind of sowing, the manner in which we help the needy and vulnerable with our time and treasure.  (Use bag of seed corn)
        • We can do it in a measly way.  One at time didn’t mean good husbandry.  It meant foolishly holding back, or
        • We can do it in a liberal way.  Scattering.  It isn’t reckless.  In the agriculture of that day, it means sowing a lot of seed.
          • When you give time with Streetlights, you are scattering seed.
          • When you give money for orphans through Watoto or EOFO, you are scattering seed.
          • When you spend time with lonely shut-ins, you are scattering seed.
          • When you volunteer to help the homeless, or give time to help Mosaic save unborn children, you are scattering seed.
      3. God will supply our seed and our bread.
        • He will supply us with the capacity to help and serve and give.  And He will increase that capacity as we are faithful.
        • He will supply what we need to live, to eat, to get the rest we need to keep going in life.
      4. God will enlarge our harvest of righteousness.  What harvest is that?  The impact we can have on the lives of hurting and vulnerable people.  God increases our store of seed (our opportunities to help others) so that He can increase our impact in peoples’ lives.
    3. This is a rich way to live.  Because we experience God’s powerful provision of resources for us to pass on to those who need them.  If we live this way, we’ll see miracles of provision like we’ve never seen before.
  3. ETERNAL REWARD 
    1. Jesus promises treasures in heaven.
      1. Jesus said that if we take care of people who cannot repay us in any way, we will be blessed.  Though they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Luke 14:14 NIV
      2. There is a repayment that will happen at the resurrection.  That repayment is a treasure that will never wear out or crash in the market or be stolen.  That repayment is a treasure that will last forever.
    2. God has a lay-away plan. (Explain “lay-away”)
      1. 1 Tim. 6:17-19 NIV  17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
      2. Our attitude toward our resources.  How do we think about them?
        • Be humble.  Don’t be arrogant or think you are superior.
        • Be trusting.  Trust in God, not in money – money is inherently untrustworthy.  The phrase “financial security” is an oxymoron.
        • Be thankful.  God has provided.  Your resources are all a gift from God – money, time, abilities, intelligence, education… all these are gifts from God.
        • Be joyful.  Enjoy the gifts God has given you.
      3. Our actions with our resources.   What do we DO with them?  How do we USE them?
        • It’s OK to enjoy them.  But how does God want us to employ them?
      4. Rich in good deeds… i.e. being generous with the resources of time and energy and ability and money; being willing to share what you have with others in need.
        • By giving to help others.
        • By serving those whom no one else is serving.
        • By taking time with people no one else cares about.
          • Note to retired persons:  How are you employing the resources of time now at your disposal?  I’m glad you’re enjoying it.   God wants you to.  But how are you employing it?!
      5. In this way, you will lay up treasure.  In WHAT way?  By giving of your time, your abilities, or your money to help vulnerable people.  All of this is like a divine lay away plan.
    3. This is a wise way to live.  Even though we do get rewards in this life…
      1. The best rewards are in the next life.  That’s where the main action is.  The best in not here; the best is there.  The best is not now; the best is later.  The best is not in this world; the best is in the world to come.
      2. Jesus’ story about a dishonest manager.
        • Why did the master commend the crooked manager?  What is it that he commends?  His shrewdness, his wisdom.
        • How was he wise?  He understood that the resources in his hand had a very short shelf life.  He wasn’t going to have them too much longer.  So, instead of throwing a big party for himself, he used those resources to help others and thus secure his future when his money is gone.
        • This is the wisdom Jesus wants us to copy.  Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, you will be welcomed into eternal homes.  (Luke 16:9 NLT)
  4. APPEAL
    1. Basis of right relationship with God is faith in Jesus.  We don’t earn our way into God’s favor by helping the poor.
      1. Good works don’t cause right relationship with God.  They come as a result of right relationship with God.
    2. We are made right with God by believing in Jesus
      1. Who He is – the unique son of God, who existed with God and as God from eternity past.
      2. What He did
        • He came into our world. He took on human form.  He was made like us in every way, tempted in every way like us, yet without once ever going against God’s will.  He lived the life we should have lived, but didn’t.
        • He died on a cross, executed for crimes He didn’t commit.  Yet in that sacrificial action, He took onto Himself the consequences of all our wrong doing, so that we could be forgiven and set free.
    3. Prayer
  5. CHALLENGE:
    1. Do something.  Get involved, in some way, in giving to and helping the vulnerable.
    2. Trust God for the resources to do so.  To increase your store of seed, your capacity of give and help and bless.
    3. Expect a reward.  Both here in this life and in the next.
  1. RESOURCES
    1. Generous Justice, by Timothy Keller

May 20, 2014
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Compassion Series – BE WARMED! BE FILLED! BE GONE?

Marjie&RickBe Warmed!  Be Filled!  Be Gone?

 

James 2:14–26 (NLT)

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 

15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 

20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 

 

  1. INTRO:
    1. Be warmed.  Be filled.  Be gone.    I’m playing off the words James uses in our text (from an older translation- Go in peace.  Be warmed and be filled).  Good day.  Good luck.  Goodbye.   As one person once quipped when I asked for his help with project in my house – My thoughts and prayers will be with you… I won’t be anywhere near you, but my thoughts and prayers will be with you.  
      1. What good are words to someone who is hungry?
      2. What good are warm sentiments to someone who is cold and needs a winter coat?
      3. What good is faith that doesn’t have any corresponding action?
  2. Real faith shows in our actionsI will show you my faith by my good deeds.
    1. Salvation by works?  No!   That is not what James is saying.  Over the centuries, some have construed it that way.  They’ve thought that James contradicted Paul’s teaching.  E.g. Martin Luther called James “the epistle of straw.
    2. We are saved by grace, through faith.  This is what Paul taught.  But Paul also taught that as a result of God’s work of grace in our hearts, we will do good works.  Eph. 2:10  We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
      1. God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus.  Here is God’s grace.  He did this, not us.  It was His idea, not ours. It was His initiative, not ours.  He paid the price for this, not us.
      2. To do good works, prepared in advance for us to do.  Here is corresponding action.  There is pathway of good works prepared for us.
      3. Paul said “I preached that (people) should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.  (Acts 26:20b NIV)
    3. Faith and actions are inseparable.  They are not the same thing.  But the one will necessarily lead to the other.
  3. Real faith showS iN HELPING THE VULNERABLE.
    1. This is James topic.  All of chapter 2 is about the way Christians are treating the poor.  The “Be warmed, be filled, be gone” illustration isn’t merely hypothetical.  This was actually happening.
      1. James isn’t writing some abstract theory about faith and works.  He is addressing a real time, rubber meets the road situation.
      2. He is warning them – if they claim to believe in God and love Jesus but don’t show active compassion to the vulnerable, their claims are an illusion.
      3. When James says “Faith without works is dead, the “works” he refers to are all about helping the needy.
    2. Paul would be in complete agreement with this.
      1. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  (1 Tim. 5:8 NIV)  His instructions about providing help to widows.  The church shouldn’t help widows who have Christian family members who are able help.  If those so called Christian won’t help their own family members, their faith is an illusion.  I.e. faith without works is dead.
    3. It’s one of the proofs of the gospel, an evidence that saving faith is actually there.
      1.  (2 Cor. 9:13 NLT)  As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.  For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
      2. This offering was for the poor in Jerusalem.  Paul says that it proves their obedience to the gospel.  Clearly, helping the needy was a major part of the “good works” that are to accompany saving faith, the works God prepared in advance for us to do.  The reason Paul was so anxious to go to Jerusalem (as great personal risk) was to show the Jewish Christians this proof of genuine saving faith among the Gentiles.

 

  1. Caring for the vulnerable is how we respond to the grace of God.
    1. We care because God cares.  We imitate Him, His character.  God is this way.  God cares in this way.  And so should we.
      1. But it’s even deeper than that. We don’t just imitate some abstract quality about God.
    2. We care because God cared for US in exactly the same way.
      1. We were poor.  We were helpless.  We were vulnerable.  If not physically then certainly spiritually.
      2. Every time we see a homeless person, a person who lives in difficult or even dire circumstances, we are looking in a mirror.
      3. That was us, and God had mercy on us.
      4. That was us, and God came to us in love and care.
      5. In helping the needy, in involving ourselves (in some fashion) with the vulnerable, we imitate the very things God Himself did for us.
      6. Duet 24:17-18 NIV 17Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
        • Don’t harvest to the corners of your fields – leave some for the foreigner, fatherless, widow.
        • Don’t go back to glean all olives and grapes – leave some for the foreigner, fatherless, widow.
        • God said to them: Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.  Remember what I did for you.
    3. God says to usWhenever you see people in these kinds of circumstances, you remember what I did for you.  I.e. you remember God’s grace to YOU.
      1. Story of the unforgiving servant.  He was forgiven a billion dollar debt.  He experienced an unthinkable gift of grace.  But then he refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.  He didn’t give to others the grace he himself had received.  His master said: “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?!”  Answer – Yes, of course!  
      2. We have experienced an outpouring of God’s grace and generosity in our time of need.

 

      1. God expects us to show that same outpouring of generosity and care to people around us, especially to the vulnerable.
    1. The deeper our understanding of God’s grace for us, the larger our heart of compassion for the needy and vulnerable.   
      1. These acts of faith are not obligations we fulfill to appease God. They are not the price for an entry ticket into heaven.
      2. They are expressions of loving gratitude to the gracious God who gave everything for us.
      3. Our motivation is God’s grace
        •  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor. 8:9 NIV)
        • Paul motivates the Corinthians toward helping the poor of Jerusalem by reminding them of the amazing grace Jesus showed toward all of them.
        • They are meant to reflect on His great grace and allow their experience and ever deepening understanding of that grace to expand their heart of compassion toward their fellow believers in Jerusalem.
    2. If a Christian finds his or her heart cold and indifferent toward the needy and vulnerable, it means one of two things –
      1. Either that Christian has not really experienced God’s grace at all.  Their faith is merely a faith of words and sentiments.  It is not saving faith.
      2. Or that Christian hasn’t fully grasped the grace of God toward them.  Or they have forgotten how great it is (though they once saw it more clearly than they do now.)
        • This is James’ warning.  Don’t be that person who claims faith in Christ, but is totally indifferent to the vulnerable people around them.   James is saying to them (and to US):  Wake up!

 

  1. How do we wake up from indifference?  (APPEAL)
    1. Receive God’s grace.  If you are not yet following Jesus, if you have never committed your life to Him, I urge you to do that today.
      1. We don’t earn our way into God love by helping the needy.  This message is about a major part of Christian ethics (though not the only part).  But we don’t become right in God’s sight by our ethical behavior.
      2. We become right with as a gift from Him.  He freely forgives our sins.  He freely accepts us into His family.  He does this through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
      3. Receive Him today.  Pray this simple prayer with me.
    2. Reflect on God’s grace.  Remember what He has done for you.  Take time to think about how much He has done for you, how far He has brought, the slimy depths from which He has pulled you.
      1. Every time you take communion.
      2. Every time you pray and worship God (privately and corporately).
      3. Ask God to open your heart and mind to see His grace more deeply.
    3. Respond to God’s grace by imitating it.  MY CHALLENGE TO YOU -
      1. Take actionDO something to help someone less fortunate than you, someone who is vulnerable and has no one to stand up for them or speak for them.
      2. Here some things you could do:
        • Speak up for the unborn babies who can’t speak for themselves.  Help Mosaic Health Center help young women in crisis who are vulnerable to making a terrible choice.
        • Take time to be with kids in ESL, show them simple love and attention, be part of simple gospel lesson.  Twice a month.
        • Help organize and/or distribute food through SL food program.  Only a once a month.
        • Take time on a Sunday to visit assisted living center with our Sonshine Min.  Share some time with someone who is lonely.
        • Connect up with St. Vincent De Paul in feeding the hungry.
        • $$$ – sponsor an orphan in Kenya through EOFO, or in Uganda through Watoto.
      3. I don’t have time!  I understand we are all busy. But there is something each of us can and should do to help the needy, even if at first it’s only small thing.
        • Start with this: Include some food for another dude.  This doesn’t take a lot of extra time.  And you’re going to be in the grocery store anyway. 
  2. RESOURCES
    1. Recommended reading – Generous Justice, by Timothy Keller
    2. Ministry resource sheet.  Take it home.  Pray over it.  Discuss it with your spouse, family.  Talk about what you could do (even if just once a month, or once a year) to help someone who is under-resourced or vulnerable.

May 20, 2014
by admin
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Compassion Series – REDEFINING RIGHTEOUSNESS

Marjie&RickREDEFINING RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

  1. INTRO:  Recap – God’s Bias toward the “quartet of the vulnerable” – poor, widow, orphan and foreigner.
    1. Today’s title:  Redefining Righteousness.
        • Righteousness has two distinct but related senses in scripture.
      1. Righteousness as our status before God – forgiven, God’s children, we are clean before Him because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
        • This status of being “right with God” is a gift.  It can’t be earned.  It’s not based upon what we do.
      2. Righteousness as behavior – right status with God should lead to right behavior, as God defines it.
        • Our subject today deals with this second sense of the word “righteousness.”  Right behavior.
    2. Today’s main ideaActively helping the vulnerable is fundamental to God’s definition of righteous behavior.
      1. James 1:27 Religion (spirituality, godliness) that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
      2. James tells us what it means to be a godly person.
        • Keeping ourselves free of spiritual pollution
          • Sexual purity
          • Sobriety
          • Self-control in consumption – eating, spending, use of time.
          • Devotion to God
        • But we mustn’t limit our definition of righteous behavior to purity (what we abstain from).  Yes, God wants us to live lives of purity in this regard.  But if is the extent of our definition, it’s lopsided.
        • E.g. my journey of understanding in scripture.
      3. Righteousness includes caring for the vulnerable – widows, orphans, foreigners, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, battered women, sex trafficked women, unborn.
  2. HELPING THE VULNERABLE IS BASIC RIGHTEOUSNESS
    1. How Job defined righteousness
      1. Job 29:11–18 (NIV) 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
      2. Job sums up all these activities in helping the vulnerable with this phrase – 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.
      3. In other words, all these actions were what defined righteous and just behavior.
        • Rescuing the poor and fatherless
        • Giving care to the dying
        • Providing for the widow
        • Assisting the disabled
        • A father to the needy
        • An advocate for those who have no one to speak for them (babies at risk of abortion).
      4. Job isn’t claiming to have earned God favor through these things.  These activities are a description of the righteous behavior that characterizes people who have already received God’s free gift of grace.
        • Elsewhere in Job, other issues are included in righteous behavior – sexual purity, honesty in business, loyalty to God.
        • But most of the references to righteous behavior are about helping the “vulnerable” people around him.
    2. How Isaiah defined righteousness.
      1. Context: God’s people are complaining that God isn’t responding to their religious observances (to their fasting).  Though they are going through religious motions, their behavior isn’t being affected by their religion.
      2. Isaiah 58:5-7, 10 (NIV) 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 10 If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 
      3. God is not interested in a spirituality that leads to no action, particularly actions to help those about whom God is particularly concerned (God’s bias).
      4. Notice the list of things Isaiah considered righteous behavior.
        • Share your food with the hungry
        • Provide shelter for the homeless
        • Clothe the naked
        • Spend yourself in behalf of the hungry
        • Satisfy the needs of the oppressed
      5. In God’s eyes, this is what it means to be righteous. This is the kind of behavior that should grow out of the gift of righteousness.
    3. Helping the vulnerable is basic righteousness.
      1. It’s not extraordinary righteousness.  It’s just ordinary righteousness.  Not just for Mother Theresa.  It’s for every believer who has experience God’s grace.
      2. It’s not extracurricular righteousness (extra credit).  It’s part of God’s core curriculum.
      3. Not graduate school righteousness.  It’s kindergarten righteousness, entry level stuff.
      4. It’s not heroic righteousness, above and beyond the call of duty.  It’s a fundamental part of what we do because we have received God’s abundant grace.  Freely you have received.  Freely give. 
      5. It’s not a suggestion.  It’s a divine mandate, a Biblical imperative.
  3. IGNORING THE VULNERABLE IS A SIN 
    1. A sin of omission.   
      1. There are sins of commission – things we should NOT do (abstain from).
      2. But there are also sins of omission – things we should do, but don’t.
        • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (Jam. 4:17 NIV).
    2. Parable about sheep and goats (Tell story).  It’s all about omission.
      1. How should we interpret this parable?
        • This parable does NOT teach us that we earn our way into heaven by helping the needy.  Its focus is narrower.
        • What it DOES teach us is how seriously Jesus takes this issue of helping the vulnerable.
      2. Those who are called RIGHTEOUS in this story are described exclusively in terms on how they helped the needy.  Clearly, it teaches us that doing so is a very large part of the righteous behavior that comes as a result of His gift of righteousness.
      3. People were condemned, not for what they DID, but for what they DID NOT do; not for harming people, but for simply ignoring them, by-passing them, not noticing them.
        • Current popular ethics goes something like this:  I never hurt anyone.  So I am a morally upright person.   But this parable challenges that concept of right behavior by posing the question: But did you ever DO anything to HELP anyone?
  4. Jesus challenges our indifference.
    1. Indifference of selfishness.
    2. Indifference of prideThose people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They should show initiative, like I did.  We should recognize the many thousands of advantages we had, advantages that had nothing to do with us.
    3. Indifference of distractionI’ve just got too many things going on to get involved in helping vulnerable people around me.  My schedule is full.
      1. I understand that dilemma.  But is the answer to simply throw up our hands and do nothing?
      2. What should we tell a person to do who is struggling to get free from a habitual sin of commission?  Make determined steps to alter behavior.  Look carefully at our lives, how we live them, who we associate with, the places we frequent.
      3. What about people who are struggling with habitual sins of omission?  Perhaps the solution is to carefully review the way we use our time, decide to implement some changes to our schedule to make time to overcome sins of omission.
      4. Somewhere inside us, we feel that sins of omission aren’t as bad as overt sinful acts.  But the description of judgment in Jesus’ parable shatters that idea.
    4. Indifference of ignorance.  Ignorance is never an excuse.
      1. Increase your awareness.
      2. Increase your global awareness
        • 842 million people in the world don’t get enough food to sustain health.
        • Between 2 ½ and 3 million children die every year due to hunger related health issues.
        • Wottoto was just here, highlighting the needs of abandoned and neglected children in Uganda.
        • Our own Kyle and Victoria McCarter are leading the charge in Tharaka, Kenya, to bring nutrition and health care and education as well as the gospel to abandoned and neglected children.
      3. Increase your local awareness – some of us are ignorant because we live in communities where we are largely separated from the vulnerable (in the “sanitized suburbs”).  We don’t see that much poverty up close.  Yet just a few miles from us are people living in very difficult circumstances.
        • Get involved locally in a ministry that helps vulnerable people.  It will be an eye opening experience for you.
          • FFC – SL, Sonshine, Jewel Box
          • Partner ministries – Camp Penuel, Beacon, St. Vincent, CAC,
          • Mosaic – get a tour of mobile clinic.
      4. Increase your personal awareness – we don’t personally know anyone in these kinds of circumstances, and don’t plan to.
        • Perhaps we should take Jesus more literally when he says 13 When you give a dinner party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (Luke 14:13-14 NIV)
  5. WE ARE MOTIVATED BY GRATITUDE.  Not fear.  Not guilt.  But gratitude.
    1. God helped us when we were vulnerable.
      1. Duet 24:17-18 NIV 17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
        • God commanded Israel to take care of the foreigner and fatherless and widow, because they themselves were once vulnerable, an enslaved minority in Egypt.   And God cared about them, and did something about their situation.
      2. God tells us to care about the weak and vulnerable, because that is exactly what He did for us.
        • We were spiritually weak and vulnerable.   We were slaves to sin and Satan.  We had no one who would go to bat for us.
        • SO GOD DID IT HIMSELF.  Jesus came and rescued us from the power of darkness.  He came and purchased our freedom from death.   And He did so at immense personal cost.  Jesus (God in human form) took the hit for to forgive us from our sins.  He was bound to cross, so that we could be set free.  He took on death, so that we could live.
        • We were vulnerable.  We were helpless.  We were friendless.  We were aliens without a country, orphans without a father to protect us.
        • So God stepped in, cared for us in our vulnerability, in our poverty, in our helplessness.  He sent His son.  He came in the person of His son.
  6. APPEAL
    1. How should we respond to God’s astonishing gift of love toward us?  How should we respond to what Jesus Christ has done for us?
      1. Believe in Him.
      2. Receive Him as you savior (forgiver), as the leader of your life.
    2. Prayer
  7. CHALLENGE
    1. How should Christians respond to God’s love and mercy and care toward us?
      1. By taking steps to show the same care toward the people close to God’s heart, the vulnerable people around us:
        • the poor, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner…
        • single mom, elderly shut in, women caught in sex trafficking, unborn threatened with abortion.
    2. TAKE ACTION.  DO SOMETHING.
      1. Compassion Fair tables.
        • Talk to the reps that are there.  Ask questions.
        • Go and help them.
        • Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your calendar… and do something.
  1. RESOURCES -
    1. Recommended readingGenerous Justice by Timothy Keller.

May 20, 2014
by admin
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Compassion Series – GOD’S BIAS

Marjie&RickGOD’S BIAS

 

  1. INTRO:
    1. Texts:
      1. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (NIV)  17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 
      2. Exodus 22:22-24a  (NIV) 22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused.
      3. Psalm 68:5 (NIV)  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 
      4. Psalm 146:7, 9 (NIV)  7He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free.  9The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 
      5. (Zech. 7:9-10 NIV)  This is what the LORD Almighty says: Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.
    2. Start of our Compassion series.
      1. HftH spiritual goal – Enlarge our Compassion:  God wants our hearts to be enlarged with greater compassion for those around us who are marginalized and under-resourced  and vulnerable.
      2. “The quartet of the vulnerable”:  Zech 7:10 – widows, orphans, immigrants, the poor.  This group is mentioned again and again throughout the entire Bible, as being of special concern to Almighty God.
      3. At that time, people in this group had no social power whatever.
        • They had no means to redress injustice against themselves, no means to defend themselves, no means to provide for themselves.
        • They are vulnerable and weak – not in character, but in opportunity to influence the outcome of their lives.
    3. Today’s main idea: God shows special concern for the poor and the vulnerable, and He wants us to do the same.
      1. In our modern society, this would include the poor, kids with no parents (or no fathers in their lives), some single moms, elderly shut-in’s, some immigrants, women trapped in sex trade, unborn children who get aborted every day.

 

  1. GOD HAS A BIAS TOWARD THE VULNERABLE.
    1. Provocative phrase.
      1. Scripture tells us that He doesn’t show favoritism.   He loves everyone in the same way.  That’s true.
      2. But He has special concern (bias) for those who are vulnerable in this world, just because they ARE vulnerable.
        • Analogy:  It’s the kind of special concern the shepherd has for the one lost sheep.  The vulnerability of the lost sheep gives the shepherd special concern, and will leave the 99 on the hills to go look for it.
        • He doesn’t love one more than another.  He loves all the sheep.  But the lost sheep is in particular danger, is particularly vulnerable in a way the others aren’t.
      3. The scripture tells us that God is a Defender of the widow, the orphan and the foreigner and the poor.
        • There is one statement in the OT about safeguarding justice for the rich as well as the poor (Lev. 19:15).
        • But the great preponderance of statements about mercy and justice are directed toward this quartet of the vulnerable.  In terms of sheer number, these statements overwhelmingly tilt towards the poor and needy.  (Read through your Bible, and you’ll see it.  Every Member…)
      4. The Bible nowhere says that God is the Defender of the Rich and Powerful.  
        • Why not?  Because, they don’t need a lot defending.  Yes, it’s true that rich and powerful people can experience injustice and neglect.
        • But the vulnerable groups the Bible identifies are much more likely to face injustice and neglect, and more likely to not be able to do anything about it.
    2. This bias (special concern) is a reflection of God’s character.
      1. He describes Himself as a Defender of the fatherless, the widow, and the vulnerable.  This is part of the very nature of God.  God is saying “This is who I AM; this is what I am LIKE!”
      2. To share this concern is what it means to know God.
        • Jeremiah 22:15–16 15 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar (i.e. ever more luxurious palaces)?  Did not your father (Josiah) have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. 16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.
        • If we miss this part of God’s character, then we’ve missed him by a mile.
        • If we don’t understand the depth of God’s concern and passion and bias toward the marginalized and vulnerable, then we don’t understand God at all.  Is this not what it means to know me? 
    3. God takes personally the way we treat the poor and vulnerable.
      1. Scripture:
        • Proverbs 14:31 (NIV) Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
        • Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)  Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
      2. We can show contempt or honor toward God, depending on how we interact with the poor and vulnerable.  God takes it personally.
      3. Evil done to the poor is evil done to God.
        • A bad attitude toward them (mocking, dismissing, ignoring, deriding) shows contempt for God.
        • This includes LACK OF ACTION (indifference).   E.g. Jesus’ parable of sheep and goats.
      4. Good done to the poor is good done to God.  It honors God. 
        • When you give or serve to help the vulnerable and needy, you are giving directly to God Himself.
  2. MAKE AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT    Is there within us any prejudice against the poor and vulnerable?   Scripture tells us to guard our attitude towards those who are vulnerable.  Lest we sin against the heart of God.
    1. Guard against contempt for the poor –
      1. Proverbs 14:20–21 (NIV)  20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. 21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor (i.e. poor “neighbor”), but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
      2. Don’t shun them.  Don’t despise them, or be judgmental toward them.  It’s all too easy to stereotype the poor and vulnerable, to think that it’s their own fault they are where they are, and thus dismiss them.   But this is a far too simplistic understanding.
      3. Bible describes different causes for poverty.
        • Personal moral failure – laziness, lack of discipline, etc.  Wisdom literature (Prov., Ecc) make this point very strongly – Hard work very often leads to economic prosperity.  (Pr. 12:11; 14:23; 20:13)
        • Outside factors (that have nothing do with any person’s choice) – disabling injury, natural disaster, death of major bread winner.  Outside factors would include some people’s lack of ability to make wise decisions.  Sometimes, it’s not a character flaw.  They simply don’t have that kind of ability.  Some people are more gifted in this area than others.
        • Injustice – Pr 13:23  (NLT)  A poor person’s farm may produce much food, but injustice sweeps it all away.
      4. Poverty is usually some combination of these factors.  We can’t be arrogant or stereotype people.
        • Someone may say “Well, they should just be diligent and work hard like I did.  If they would do that, they wouldn’t need any help from me.
        • This kind of thinking ignores the many gifts you have had that enabled you to get where you are: where you were born, when you were born, what family you were born into… all of which determined the environment you grew up in, the quality of education you were privileged to receive, all the opportunities that went along with these things.
        • Yes you have worked hard and been diligent, and I honor that.  But most of the factors that enabled you to be where you are had nothing to do with you.  They were gifts.   
        • John’s story
    2. Guard against indifference toward them.
      1. Proverbs 28:27 (NIV) Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
        • Look the other way, avert their gaze.
      2. There a various sources of indifference.
        • Indifference of a hardened heart.  Those who simply don’t care.  It’s not my problem.
        • Indifference of fear.  Can’t get involved because of what it may entail, what it may cost me.
        • Indifference of busy-ness.  I’m just too busy with my own life and problems to care too much about the needy.

 

Our main idea

God shows special concern for the poor and the vulnerable, and He wants us to do the same

  1. GOD WANTS US TO BE LIKE HIM.  He calls on us to share this bias, this tilt toward the needy.   He calls on us to have the same passion and compassion toward them as He has.
    1. Because of who He is.  He is a God of compassion.  We are to be people of ever growing, ever enlarging compassion for the needy.
    2. Because of what He has done for us.  The fundamental motivation for us to have this same concern is our response to God for all that has done for us.
      1. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.   (Deut. 10:18 NIV)
      2. God reminds them of the fact that He rescued them from being enslaved because they were foreign.  He loved them so much, He brought them out of slavery.  The memory of that rescue is supposed to inform the way they treat anyone around them who is in the same challenging situation.
      3. Every one of us (rich or poor) was spiritual destitute without Jesus – cut off from God (the source of life) because of our sin – and incapable of fixing the problem ourselves.
      4. Paul says:  2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
        • Jesus was rich – He existed as God in heaven, before the world was made.
        • Jesus became poor –
          • He came to live in this world as a human being, with all its trials and temptations.  He lived this human life perfectly, never once going against God will. (The life each of us was made to live, but didn’t)
          • He died on the cross, bearing the consequences of all our sin and moral failure.
        • So that through His poverty – through His sacrificial death on the cross
        • We might become rich –

 

        • rich in a relationship with the living God that is now ours because we are forgiven and set free.
        • rich with an eternal future with God in heaven when we die.
      1. Receive Him today.
      2. Prayer.
  1. CHALLENGE:
    1. Think hard with me over the next several weeks.  Keep an open mind.  Let God speak to you.  Let Him challenge some of your long held assumptions that aren’t correct.
      1. Next week, we’re having a Ministry Fair right here, with representatives from these ministries for you to talk to and ask questions.
    2. Come next week and talk to some of reps at the Fair

May 20, 2014
by admin
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Easter Sunday – WHAT FOR…

Marjie&RickWHAT FOR…

 

  1. INTRO:
    1. What do you do when you’ve messed up so bad, that there is nothing but broken pieces all around you?  Broken pieces of your hopes and expectations, broken pieces of your life?
      1. And you wonder: Can anything good be salvaged from this pile of junk?
      2. How do we recover from catastrophic loss?  How can we be restored after our profound moral failures?
    2. I think those questions must have been going through Simon Peter’s mind.  Because Peter had messed up so badly.
      1. The night Jesus was arrested, He told his disciples – You’re all going to desert me. 
        • Peter’s response was:  No way.  Even if these guys do, I NEVER WILL.  I’m ready to die with you, Jesus.  
        • Jesus told him – tonight, before the rooster crows, you won’t just desert me, Peter.  You’ll disown me.  You’ll deny you know my name.  
      2. Peter says again – NO WAY!  
        • But then he does just that –publicly denies Jesus, not just once, but three times.
        • And the rooster crowed (just like Jesus had said).
        • And at that very moment, he made eye contact with Jesus as Jesus was led through the courtyard.
        • Peter went outside and wept bitter tears of regret.
    3. How could he recover from such profound moral failure?
      1. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, what would life with Jesus be like now?  What would become of the ministry and assignment Jesus had given him?
      2. And that’s where we pick up the story of Jesus’ 3rd appearance to Peter and the others.  It’s told in the last chapter of John’s gospel.
  2. GOING FISHING
    1. They’ve already seen alive from the dead… twice.   They are hanging out by the Sea of Galilee
      1. Peter say’s- I’m going fishing.  His friends say – We’ll go with you.
      2. This isn’t fishing for recreation or relaxation.  This is professional fishing.
      3. They are going back to their old jobs.
        • Peter doesn’t know what else to do.
        • Even after seeing Jesus alive again, he isn’t clear about what the future holds for him.
        • The implication of the resurrection hasn’t fully penetrated him.  What it means for his relationship with Jesus, what it means for his purpose.
      4. He doesn’t yet understand the resurrection’s power of reversal,
        • its power to turn things around,
        • its power to restore relationship,
        • its power take the shattered wreckage of our sins and mistakes and calamities, and make something beautiful from them.
      5. So he says – I’m going fishing.
    2. They fish all night, and don’t catch anything – maybe some boots, hub cab from an old chariot.
      1. They’re tired. They’re cold and wet.
      2. Around dawn, they see someone on the shore.  It’s Jesus, but they don’t know it.
        • He calls out – Have you caught anything?  
        • Nothing – they shout back.
        • Jesus shouts – Throw your net on the right side and you will. 
        • They think – What does this landlubber know.  But they do so, and catch such a huge haul of fish, they can’t get the net into boat.
    3. John understands immediately.
      1. This looks familiar.  This he’s seen before.
        • It’s just like the miracle catch that Jesus orchestrated when He called Peter to follow Him.
        • It’s supernatural, and John knows it.  He recognizes the Jesus touch in it.
      2. “It’s the Lord,” he says to Peter.  It’s the One rose from the dead.  It’s the kings of kings.
      3. Peter responds by jumping straight into the lake and swimming to shore.  The others follow, dragging the net behind the boat.

 

  1. MAKING BREAKFAST
    1. I’m sure they were not ready for what they found when they came ashore.
      1. A crackling fire, freshly made bread, and fish roasting on the fire.
        • The scene John describes is domestic, almost homey.
    2. Jesus has cooked breakfast for them.
      1. The risen Christ, the One who has defeated death, and then sat down at God’s right hand, the One who will come again in power and glory to judge the earth –
      2. That One MADE BREAKFAST for them, and served it to them, and shared in the meal Himself.
      3. Preparing the meal, and serving and sharing it with them points to close and intimate friendship.
    3. In preparing and serving that meal, Jesus is telling them (and us) that His resurrection restored his friendship with them.
      1. They had all deserted him.  They hadn’t acted like friends.  They had run away in fear and confusion.
      2. Peter had publicly disowned Him three times.
      3. Now He’s back, gloriously risen from the dead.
        • But where do they stand with Him?
        • What’s their relationship status with Him now?
      4. That simple homey meal answered their question.  And it answered yours.
        • By this act, Jesus is telling all of us – I want to forgive youI want to re-establish a close, intimate relationship with you.
    4. Jesus has the power to restore our shattered relationship with Him, and with God.  Shattered into pieces by our moral failure, our selfishness, our rebellion against God and His ways.
      1. There is no moral failure so great, that Jesus can’t forgive it; no damage to our friendship with Him that He cannot mend… all because of the power of the resurrection to reverse, to restore, to recover.
      2. Jesus is still inviting us to have breakfast with him – to join Him in friendship, to allow Him into our lives.
        • And so He says to all of us today – Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.   (Rev. 3:20 NLT)

 

  1. Asking questions.
    1. After breakfast, Jesus takes Simon Peter aside.  And He asks him
      1. First time– Simon, do you love me more than these guys?  A clear reference to Peter’s bombastic statement – Even if all these guys desert you, I never will.
        • Yes Lord.  You know I love you.
        • Jesus says – Feed my lambs. 
      2. Second time: Simon, do you love me.
        • Yes, Lord.  You know I love you.
        • Take care of my sheep.
      3. Third time:  Simon, do you love me.  – With the 3rd question, Peter becomes really sad.  Now he understands – he denied Jesus three times.
        • Lord you know everything.  You know I love you.
        • Feed my sheep.  
    2. What’s happening here?
      1. Jesus isn’t being cruel.  He isn’t trying to rub this in Peter’s face.
      2. Jesus is guiding Peter out of his pride and self-reliance, so that Peter can truly be the leader God has called him to be.
        • Jesus had called Peter to be LEADER of the 12, founder of the Church.  Jesus had changed his name from Simon (reed) to Peter (rock).
        • Jesus had given Peter the keys to the kingdom (before He gave them to anyone else).
        • Then Peter failed Jesus spectacularly, publicly and in grand fashion.
      3. Through these questions, Jesus guides Peter through a process of recovery and restoration.  And in that process, Peter understands on a deeper level what the resurrection was for.
        • Now Peter grasps more deeply than ever the profound power of the resurrection – its power of reversal, its power of restoration, its power to recover and reclaim what appeared to be permanently lost.
    3. Resurrection reverses things.  This is what it’s for.  Because Jesus rose from the dead
      1. He can turn things around in your life.
      2. He can rebuild what’s broken into fragments around you
      3. He can restore what has been lost.
      4. One day, He will reverse death itself, we will be raised from the dead.  The entire cosmos will be changed from one where death and decay have the final word, to a new heaven and earth, where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
    4. This reversal process can begin for you today, if you’ll let it, if you’ll allow Christ to be the leader and the center of your life.
    5. This is what the resurrection is for.
      1. Through the power of resurrection, God takes the shattered, broken pieces of our lives and uses them to build something wonderful in us.
      2. Through the power of resurrection, Jesus takes the most awful mess, and turns it around and makes something beautiful.
      3. As the prophet Isaiah said: He gives us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

 

 

May 13, 2014
by admin
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Palm Sunday – WHAT IF?

Marjie&RickPalm Sunday – What If?

 

  • Goals of this presentation – think, and so be thankful, understand, act.
  • Appreciate what Jesus did for us, and the price He paid to do it.
  • Understand what we now have in Christ
  • Commit our own lives to God in surrender to His purpose.
  • Be more ready to follow Jesus.
  • Understand how important the cross is (the suffering and death of Christ).

INTRO

Passion (Easter) week starts on Palm Sunday

Momentous entry.  Wild acclaim of His kingship.  Fierce opposition of the religious leaders.  Jesus nonpolitical yet spiritually confrontational teaching in the temple, and within Jesus, this growing ???? sense of what is coming, the real purpose for being in Jerusalem that week.

And this growing internal crisis in Jesus came to a head on the night He is betrayed as He bows in the garden of Gethsemane and wrestles with what the Father is asking Him to do.

He asks God – “Is there any other way?”

As he faces what is now the imminent prospect of the cross – with all of its humiliation and indignity, with its cruel physical suffering and I believe worst of all, the sense of being utterly abandoned, even by God himself – an abandonment that he has never experienced before in all His human life now or the existence before that.

And so He asks “Please take this cup from me.”

Today, we pose a (hypothetical) question –

What if?  What is Jesus had not said “Yes” to the Father?

What if Jesus had said “No” in the garden of gethsemane?  What if He had not suffered for us?

1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

A hypothetical scenario Paul raises to highlight the importance and power and result of the resurrection.

What if Jesus had chosen His own will over the Father’s?  What if Jesus had walked out of the garden, and simply gone on with his teaching ministry?  What if Jesus had simply bypassed the cross?  The enemy tried to get him to do this at the beginning of his ministry.

Where would that leave US?!

So much hinged on Jesus’ decision at that moment.

If he didn’t say “Yes” to the Father, there would be no answers to prayer, no reason to pray at all, prayer would cease to have any meaning, because no one in Heaven would be answering, or even listening.  It would ultimately mean the end of any communication with God.

What if Jesus said “No”?  What if He didn’t go to the cross?

No Forgiveness of sins – for anyone, ever, for anything.

Ephesians 1:7 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace

No Reconciliation with God – No relationship with Him, only separation.

Col. 1:20,22, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christs physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

Romans 5:10  10 For if, while we were Gods 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!

Ephesians 2:16  and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Eternal aloneness without the cross, we can’t ever be properly reconciled to one another.

No Rescue from darkness – darkness personified, Prince of Darkness.  Colossians 1:13 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  From the deception and manipulation and control this dark evil power has over our souls.

No Heavenly future for anyone

No sense of eternal purpose

No lasting hope for the future

Without an eternal future, there can be no real purpose.  Every human life (no matter how noble) ends in the same place – the grave.  Without an eternal future, our existence is basically futile.

Then everyone’s destiny is to become fertilizer, making graveyards green.  It’s the same destiny for everyone no matter who or what they are.  No matter what they do.  Rich or poor, good or evil, saint or slasher, filled with noble deeds or self-centered narcissists.  We all end up as FERTILIZER.  (Eccl.)

If there’s no eternal future, nothing beyond the grave, there can be no real purpose to our lives.  Then all we can be is one of two things – fertilizer or waiting to become fertilizer.

There has to be something beyond the grave for our lives to have genuine meaning and purpose, and without the cross, there is no purpose beyond the grave.  There may be existence, but without any significance – it won’t mean anything; it won’t matter to anyone.

No Escape from judgment

1 Thes. 1:10 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the deadJesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.  Jesus saves us from the coming wrath.  Only a certain expectation of judgment for our sins, there would be nothing for us but doom and damnation.

What if?  I pose this hypothetical question, not to engage in fruitless speculation of what could have been, but to make us THINK.

To make us think what it means for us that Jesus actually did say “Yes” to the Father that night in the garden.

To remind us forcibly (perhaps jarringly) that because Jesus said “Yes”

  • We really are forgiven, we really can be free of guilt and shame
  • We really have been reconciled; we actually are in a living relationship with God.
  • We really do have an eternal hope in heaven that gives true meaning and purpose to our lives.  We are not merely existing, but really living.
  • We will escape the coming judgment.

How should we RESPOND to the fact that Jesus said “Yes”?

  1. Thank him!  Worship, praise!  What selflessness.  What incomprehensible love!  How astounding this is!
  2. Believe in Him, in who we are in Christ.  That we are forgiving and reconciled, that we have been rescued from darkness and freed from aggression.
  3. Follow Him – His example of obedience and submission to God.

March 30, 2014
by admin
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All Creation Is Praising God – ARE WE?

Marjie&RickAll Creation Is Praising God

ARE WE?

INTRO:

My aim with these messages: Motivate you to be a person of praise, who worships God and always gives thanks to God, and one who EXPRESSES that praise, worship and thanks.

With that in mind, one more message about worship, praise and thanks to God.

Text:

Psalm 148 (NIV)

1Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. 

2Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 

3Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. 

4Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. 

5Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, 

6and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away. 

7Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 

8lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 

9you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 

10wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 

11kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 

12young men and women, old men and children. 

13Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. 

14And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord. 

 

a call to praise God

Insistent call – It’s repeated like a machine gun:  command is repeated 8 times in 4 verses.

Universal call – It goes out to every part of creation.

The heavens and the earth.

Angels and people – to intelligent beings who can morally respond to this call.

But also to the non-intelligent parts of God’s creation: sun, moon and stars; elemental forces of the earth (lightning and hail, winds and snow), creatures of the sea, wild and domesticated animals, birds and even bugs.

Why does God call on non-sentient and even inanimate creation to praise Him?    

For our sake, to let us know that this is what God’s creation is doing.

Creation is praising God every day.  There is a continuous chorus of praise going up to God from creation.  This is how God is interacting with what He has made.

 

Psalm 19:1–4a (NIV)

1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 

2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 

3They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 

4Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

 

What God has made brings Him glory.

Stars and galaxies bring Him glory.  The way the solar system functions brings Him glory.

The way the elemental forces of nature operate bring Him glory.

The mountains and valleys proclaim His power.

The plants and trees, the beasts and bugs glorify Him.

The wonders of biochemistry and subatomic physics all proclaim the great power and wisdom of the God who set them all in motion.

All this non intelligent creation is “praising God.”

It glorifies God simply by existing because God wants it to.  Creation glorifies God apart from our own awareness of it.  Creation is good in its own right.  God is pleased with it by itself.  He declared creation “Good” before humans were on the scene to observe.

It glorifies God pointing us to Him as the source, and drawing us into the chorus of praise.

Once we are aware of this phenomenon (creation glorifying God) it becomes a call for US to do the same.

We are to join with creation in this chorus of worship.
Creation is praising God.  What are WE doing?  

 

We praise God AS OUR CREATOR.  

Fundamental moral challenge of this psalm. Challenging us to make a CHOICE, to always be full of praise and thanks to God.

Creation is meant to motivate us to praise God.

Practical advice:  Every day we walk out the door, we are presented with a barrage of reasons to give praise to the Creator.  It’s all around us, if we’ll pay enough attention to take the hint.

The hummingbirds that come to my deck in spring and summer are hinting to me: God made me!

The gray pearly clouds that race across the winter sky on a cold day are saying:  God made me!

Every beauty of nature, every wonder of the natural world is drawing me to worship God.

Thus it can truly be said of all that God has made, from the wonders of the heavens to the wonders of the subatomic world, All your works praise you, Lord (Psa. 145:10a NIV).

All of God’s intelligent creatures in heaven (angels) and on earth (human beings) are to do the same.

Creation is supposed to draw this response from every person, everywhere.

That so many do not respond in this way is an omission for which people all over the world will one day be held accountable.

 

Romans 1:19–22, 25 (NIV)

19What may be known about God is plain to people (everywhere), because God has made it plain to them. 

20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 

25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 

 

To stand in awe of nature, and not allow your mind to go to the next level of admiration (i.e. to God) is a form of idolatry.

Creation is meant to point our minds and hearts beyond itself to the Creator – so that we lift up our praise to Him, rather than to it.

God’s creation is dependable.  (V. 6) He established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away. 

The rises and sets every day.  The seasons come and go every year.  The rains fall with sufficient regularity to feed us.

Yes, there are natural disasters – regional droughts, earthquakes, tsunami’s, hurricanes and tornados.  And these cause a lot of death and pain and sorrow.  I don’t diminish that.

But these aren’t the norm.  They don’t happen every day or every year. They are sporadic.  If there were earthquakes every day, life wouldn’t survive.  If there were tornadoes in Belleville every day, Belleville wouldn’t be here.  If there was nothing but sustained drought all over the world, the world would be dead.

The fact is, though these things happen (often with tragic and heartbreaking consequences), they aren’t a worldwide norm.

The worldwide norm is one of dependability.  God has established creation to work in certain way, and we can count on it.

It’s a picture of God’s faithfulness.

This was Paul’s point to the people of Lystra:  (God) never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.  (Acts 14:17 NLT)

Every day the sun rises once more, we can praise God for His faithfulness.  Every time the rains water the earth one more time, we can praise God for His faithfulness.  Every year the crops produce another harvest, we can praise God for His faithfulness.  Every time winter gives way to spring, we can praise God for His faithfulness.

These are all God’s good and loving gifts to all of his living creation, to every human being, whether they acknowledge Him or not.

WE PRAISE GOD AS OUR REDEEMER.  (V. 14)  And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart.  Historically, this statement refers to Israel’s restoration from exile – at last in their own land, at last restored (to some degree) to what they had lost.

Most of this psalm directs our attention to God as the Creator and sustainer of all things, including us.  We praise Him for it. We ascribe to Him the glory and honor He deserves.

But here, at the very end, we move to the second major reason we give praise to God – He is not only our Creator, but He is also our Redeemer.  He is the one who has saved us, rescued us from sin and death, purchased us out of slavery and brought us into His own family.

Christians praise God the Father who sent Jesus to save us.

We praise God because He has forgiven our sins, wiped away the immeasurable moral debt we owed Him.  We couldn’t repay through any moral effort, not in a thousand life times.  So God paid it for us by allowing His own Son to take it on Himself on the cross.

We praise God because has rescued us from the authority of darkness.  We have been set free.

We praise God because He has qualified us to share in His eternal inheritance, because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

We praise God because He loves us and has brought us into His family, because we are a people close to His heart.

APPEAL/PRAYER

CHALLENGE

Take some time today to consider the natural world around you, and let it prompt you to praise God.

Take some time this week, as you get up or before you go to bed, as you read your Bibles (every member…) to consider that you are forgiven, that you are loved by God so much that He sent Jesus to rescue you.  And let that prompt your heart to bow before Him in humble and grateful praise.

All creation is praising God.  All of God’s angels and saints in heaven are praising God.  What are YOU doing?

Closing song.

 

March 25, 2014
by admin
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GOD DESERVES OUR WORSHIP

Marjie&RickGOD DESERVES OUR WORSHIP

 

INTRO:

Scripture:  Ephesians 5:18-20  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This text tells us about:  Tools of worship.  Location of worship.  Object of worship.

 

TOOLS OF WORSHIP.

Paul’s list

Psalms – certainly included biblical psalms.  Scholars divided on whether it includes psalms written by the early church.  We can’t know this definitively, one way or the other.

Hymns – in Greek, this word means praise to a deity that is sung.  St. Augustine – hymns are always praise, always to God, always musical.

Songs from the Spirit.  Refers to songs given by the Spirit at the moment.  E.g. Janice Grice

What does this list mean for us today?  We can’t know exactly what Paul meant by these labels.  In the most general sense, it means “all kinds of songs, all kinds of music.”

Different kinds of songs, different kinds of music.

Songs that appeal to us rationally.  “Hymns” (as we now understand the word, which is different from 1st century Greek word).

They have more words and verses than other songs.

They have some kind of “story arc.”  They take us through a section of truth about the gospel.  E.g. In Christ Alone.

These are very powerful. And they reach us through thought and reflection.

Songs that appeal to us emotionally, intuitively.

These tend to be more repetitious, less wordy, though no less deep in meaning.

They use repetition to allow a smaller portion of truth about God to penetrate our hearts and minds.

They use simplicity to allow us to easily express our deep sense of love and worship for God.

Songs that are

complex, and others simple;

formal, and others informal;

boisterous with celebration where we respond with applause, others hushed in holy awe where the appropriate response is reverential silence.              E.g.  Wheaton men’s choir – Were you there…

Songs are tools by which we worship God.

Use them as such.  Whether a particular song here is your favorite (melody line, lyrical style, arrangement),

Decide to use it (as much as you’re able) as an instrument by which you will give God the praise and adoration He deserves.

 

LOCATION OF WORSHIP.  Not geographically, but spiritually.  E.g. woman at well.  Worship happens in the arena of the heart.     Sing and make melody in your heart, from your heart, with all your heart. 

In our heartsSing and making melody IN YOUR HEARTS.  

That place deep inside us where we decide things, where our deepest desires reside, where we know things on the deepest level.  In scripture, the heart is the source of our motives, source of our desires, and source of thoughts.

That place where we love things at the deepest level.  It’s the place God wants us to love Him from.  And it’s the place within us where we truly worship Him.

From our hearts.  Real worship comes from the heart.  Real worship takes place in the heart, in that arena.

 Not just with your mouth or words, not just with your beautiful music.

If worship doesn’t come from our hearts, if it’s not taking place in that arena, then it’s just music, it’s just words.

Jesus said:  These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.  Matthew 15:8-9  NIV

With all of our hearts.   God wants us to worship Him like we love Him – with all our heart, which then leads to all our soul and mind and strength.   Bless The Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  (Psa. 103:1 NASB).  Let all that I am praise The Lord  (NLT).   Worship in and from our hearts catches up our whole being in praise.  E.g. Tony Horton P90X.  Core synergistics – tip of the day: Engage!   We need to engage our whole being in worship

We engage our will – we choose to praise Him, because He is worthy whether we feel like it or not.  Be deliberate. Be determined.

We engage our mind – we focus on what we are singing and saying.   We don’t put our minds on autopilot while we sing a song we’ve sung a dozen times before.   Let every time be a new time.  Let every song be like a new song.  Engage in the words.  Think again about what they mean, what you are hearing and singing.

We engage our emotions – allow ourselves to get emotional in praise.  We can’t turn emotions on and off at will.  But we can let ourselves experience emotion.  Allow yourself to be deeply stirred.  Allow yourself to cry.  If it’s coming up inside you, let it happen E.g. first time I saw my Dad cry in church.

We engage our body – as we are able.  We stand, we kneel, we lift our hands, we dance (jumping, or simply moving).  Some of us are physically not able to stand for our entire worship set.  Then sit, but stay engaged!  Don’t let there be an “off button on your butt.”  If you sit down, don’t shut down.

God deserves nothing less than worship in our hearts and from our hearts and with all our being.

 

THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP.  I.e. WHO we are worshipping.  To the Lord (i.e. to Jesus).  Giving thanks to God the Father.   Do we understand who it is that we are singing to and about?  Do we understand who it is we are dealing with when we worship together?

We worship God the Father Almighty.  We worship the great God who made everything and at this very moment sustains everything in existence by His mighty power.

We worship God the Son, Jesus Christ.

We worship Him for who He is- the eternal Son of God.

We worship Him for what He did – He died for our sins, He rose from the dead, and He ascended to the highest place of glory and authority.

Today, if you are not following Christ, let me encourage you:  He loves you.  He made a way for you to be forgiven of all your moral failures.  He opened up a way for you to have a restored relationship with the God who made you and loves you.  If only… you will believe in Him and receive Him as the leader of your life.

Because it’s God we worship, we bring our very best to HimGreat is the Lord and greatly to be praised.  (Psa. 48:1 NASB)

Halfhearted worship doesn’t honor God.  Halfhearted, half baked, half… other things.  When we come to God in worship, we bring the very best offering we can.

Malachi 1:6a, 8  A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.   8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

In the NT, we bring a sacrifice of praise, rather than animals.   But what kind of sacrifice of praise do we bring?   Are we bringing three legged cows, one eyed chickens?

Halfhearted praise is a lame cow.  To sit in a worship service, and not fully engage (to the very best you can) is a one eyed chicken.

How does that honor God Almighty?  How is that worship worthy of Him?  It isn’t.

Bring the very best you are able.

Fully engage in worship.  We don’t always need to be exuberant, loud or emotionally intense.  Sometimes, we simply can’t do that.  Some come to church after working night shift.  Some are not well.   Some are facing physical weakness or emotional duress.  God understands this. But, bring the very best you can.

Come on time for worship.  Be here when the service starts.  I know some have work obligations, and can’t get here on time.  I know that sometimes, stuff happens as you get your family or yourself ready for church.

But to routinely wander in half way through the worship does not honor God.

To treat congregational worship like the trailers before the movie does not honor God.  (I realize some step out because of sound levels.  We continue to work on this, though our style of worship involves sound levels that may be higher than more traditional churches).

Corporate worship is holy.  Take it seriously.  It matters.

I don’t mean that we should always be somber or solemn.  We can boisterous in praise, even playful, but we are serious about our love for God, and our desire to honor Him.

When God’s people come together to worship, it is a holy thing.  When God’s people come together, God’s Holy Spirit wants to FILL US – to heal us, comfort us, strengthen us, and illuminate us.

 

APPEAL - Receive Jesus today.

 

CHALLENGE -

Come ON TIME for worship.  Repent of dishonoring God by your dismissive attitude toward worship.

Come to church READY to worship, having worshipped ahead of time.  Pray before you come, ask God to help you.

Come to church EXPECTING God to move as we praise Him.

When you worship, give it all you’ve got.  Sing the best you can, fully engage in what is happening.

Closing song:  In Christ Alone

 

RESOURCES

 

March 25, 2014
by admin
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PEOPLE OF PRAISE

Marjie&RickPEOPLE OF PRAISE

 

FFC to be and become more and more a worshipping people.

 

Ephesians 5:18-20. 

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 

19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 

20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

God’s people, the people who have His Spirit and the people whom He fills afresh with His Spirit, are a worshipping kind of people.

A people of praise, of rejoicing, or worship.

 

It’s been this way since the day God brought Israel out of Egypt – they sang a song of praise.

It was this way in David’s time, when he  inaugurated new ways of worship and praise, new songs and new instruments (new styles of music).

It was true in Jesus’ day.  When Jesus refused to silence the boisterous praise of the children in the temple.  When he led his disciples in a song of praise just before going out to the garden and betrayal.

It was true of Paul & Silas when, beaten and locked in a dungeon, they prayed and sang songs of praise – loudly.

It will be true at the end of all time – as we see in revelation:  4 living creatures and elders and saints – thousands upon thousands and 10,000 X 10,000 – all praising and worshipping God in joyful adoration of God the Creator and Savior.

God’s people have always been people of praise!

It’s within this flow of salvation history that we find Paul’s command and instruction for us in our lives right here, right now.

 

It’s in the context of praise and worship that Paul tells us to be filled with the Spirit.

 

So many gatherings in that day (even religious ones) were occasions for drunkenness.

But Paul says:  when you come together, don’t get wasted.  Get FILLED, filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Connection between worship and the the presence and fullness of the Holy Spirit.

 

Worship is a sign of Holy Spirit’s presence.

Worship (thanks, rejoicing, praise) – these are what the Holy Spirit has come

to bring to us,

develop in us,

make part of our lives.

One of the reasons the Holy Spirit is in us.

 

Philippians 3:3

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God.

GNB  for we worship God by means of his Spirit

NCV we worship God through his Spirit

 

The Holy Spirit in us prompts us to worship

He shows us how to worship.

He empowers us to worship.

 

Most fundamental form of prayer and worship we can utter is “Father”.  And it’s only through the presence of the Holy Spirit that we can say that and experience it.

 

Galatians 4:6 NLT  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba Father.”

 

Worship is a way to stay filled with the Holy Spirit

Through worship/praise/thanks, we can be filled, stay filled:

BY speaking out psalms, hymns, songs,

BY singing and making melody,

BY always giving thanks.

 

God inhabits the praise of His people

Dedicating the temple – 2 Chronicles 5:13-14  13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:

“He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

 

God comes and fills His people when they worship Him.

 

CORPORATE WORSHIP

Primary application for this text is CORPORATE!  (We certainly can apply this to our personal lives, to our prayer closets, but that would be a secondary application.)

 

Speaking to one another.  This does not refer to me speaking to myself – that is a good practice.   David did it.  But It’s not what Paul means here.  Greek words in these verses are all plural.  “To one another” probably a reference to “antiphonal singing” (i.e. back and forth between leader and congregation, plurals even groups within congregation.

 

This doesn’t mandate antiphonal singing.  But it does say that the worship and praise Paul speaks of is corporate – congregational, gathering of believers worshipping.

 

Music at FFC is all about worshipping God.  It isn’t entertainment.  Not putting on a show.  It isn’t just the warm up for the message.

 

It has deep and profound spiritual value all on its own.

Worship Ministry at FFC has 2 purposes

Glorify God.  To make opportunity, provide support for us, to equip us to glorify God through praise and worship.

Connect with God.   Help us as a congregation to connect with God’s presence in a way that heals or illuminates or strengthen us or challenges us – in a way that changes us!

 

There is a transaction that happens in worship.

We gather as a people to GIVE God the praise due Him.  We come with an offering, a sacrifice of praise.  Don’t come empty handed.  Come with something to GIVE Him – praise and worship, coming from our mouths, coming from our hearts.  Come with something to give to God.  Make an effort.  Don’t just stand there.

We gather as a people to RECEIVE from God fresh grace, renewed hope, greater understanding, new strength, a fresh infilling of the Spirit.

 

It’s a transaction.  

We don’t come to worship like we go to the Fox.  At the Fox, we are passive recipients.

We don’t come to church just to see and hear something, just to be passive recipients.   We go also come to church to GIVE SOMETHING in our worship.

Worship isn’t like going to a movie.  It’s more like a video game.  You don’t just sit in front of a video game and watch!  “This isn’t working.  Nothing is happening.”

You have to start DOING SOMETHING.  That’s the point.  It’s interactive!

Worship is an interactive deal:  We bring our praise and give it to God.  He gives to us His Spirit, His blessing, His presence.

There is a spiritual transaction that takes place.

 

This transaction happens corporately, in the people of God gathered together to worship.

 

So that the result of our gathering is that we are (all) filled with God’s spirit.  Corporately, be filled with the Spirit (ya’ll be filled).

 

This portion of our gathering is important.  And your presence and participation are vital.

 

When you are here, fully engaged in worship, focused on giving God the praise He deserves, you are not only giving something to God, you are also giving to everyone around you.

 

God’s presence comes, His spirit fills us as we worship together.

 

When a group of believers gather, and all or most have come with a determination to give praise to God (whatever their need may be) and a hunger to receive from the Holy Spirit what He has for them – they are filled with the Spirit.

They receive from Him gifts, blessings, comfort, strength, illumination – when God’s people are gathered together to worship.

 

If we skip this part of the service,

or drift into it when it’s almost over,

or if we are present but disengaged,

we not only “rob” God of the praise He deserves,

but we also rob our brothers and sisters.

 

God wants to fill us together, as a group, so that he can bless each one of us with his life-changing presence.

 

APPEAL

Let’s remember WHO we worship, and WHY

We worship Jesus who he IS – God.

We praise and thank him for what he DID for us –

He came from his perfect home in heaven, and injected himself into our fallen corrupted world.

He became human, and involved himself in my life and yours.

He lived a perfect human life without ever going against God – The life we were supposed to live but didn’t.

And he died in our place, taking all our sin and moral failure into himself, so we could be forgiven.

After that, he rose again with an entirely new kind of human life, life in relationship with God. Life with peace and love and joy. He has given this life through the Holy Spirit who now feels us.

And so, we worship Jesus.

 

We sing and worship and give thanks to the Father for loving us so much that he gave his one and only son for us.

PRAYER

CHALLENGEEngage!  (Tony Horton tip of the day).

 

When we come together to worship, let’s be determined to engage all our faculties – mental, physical and emotional.

 

And let’s come with a strong expectation that we will receive from God, and that our friends around this will receive from God.

 

Closing songI want to be close

 

March 25, 2014
by admin
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Faith 4.0 – FAITH WORSHIPS

Marjie&RickFAITH WORSHIPS

 

Psalm 100 (NIV)

1Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

2Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 

3Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his*; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 

5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 

 

INTRO:

Worship is always an act of faith.

Every time we worship a God we have not seen, and cannot see, it’s an act of faith.

Every time we worship Him for creating the world, even though we weren’t there to see it happen, it’s an act of faith.

Every time we worship Him when things are not going well in our lives, it’s an act of faith.

Three words in connection with worship.   Awe.  Thanks.  Love.

AWE.

Our worship is an expression of wonder and awe.   Wonder and awe for who God is.  Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise (Psa. 48:1 NIV).

God is great.  He is so great, that to see even a glimpse unnerves people.  When they see even the likeness of the reflection of the shadow of God, they pass out – like Ezekiel and Daniel and John.

Our culture has lost this understanding – the terrifying wonder of God’s glory and splendor.  We don’t fully appreciate the sheer immensity of God’s greatness.  <Pic Chick track God>

We have emphasized God’s friendliness at the expense of His splendor.  Theologians – his immanence (nearness and lovingness) at the expense of His transcendence (incomprehensible greatness).  He is so high above us, so much greater than us, the distance cannot be measured.

He is the Creator of everything, including us.

Our proper place as created beings is to worship and honor the Creator, to acknowledge the transcendent, Almighty God who made us.  Know that the Lord is God.  HE made us.  We didn’t make ourselves.

We worship and serve and give our lives to the Creator, not to the things He’s made.

God is greater than creation, like Steve Jobs was greater than an iPhone.  The iPhone is really amazing.  But it would be stupid to praise the phone.  Just a little reflection will lead me to admire the one who made it.  The phone isn’t a genius. Its creator is a genius.

When we look at creation, if we think for just a little bit, we’re reminded of the God who is the source of creation, and that’s where our worship is directed.  Again and again in the Bible, God is praised and worshipped as the One who made heaven and earth.

God is great – and His greatness doesn’t change with my mood.  Detach my decision to worship from my mood.

Whatever my mood may be,

God is still God,

God is still great, and

God is still worthy of praise.

What does my mood have to do with that?  He is worthy of my worship, whatever I may feel emotionally.

Application.  Before I pray, I worship.  I start saying “God, you created everything.  You are the divine source of all life.  You are the powerful sustainer of all existence.  You are great, O God.

Let’s take a moment to worship God for His greatness:

Song: The splendor of the King (How great is our God)  Key of G

 

THANKS.  God is not only great. He is also GOOD!

Our worship is an expression of thanks

that the Almighty God interacts with us.

David said:  3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3–4 (NIV)

David is astounded that God would do this.   Are we?

The more we understand the greatness of God and the more we see the gap between what we are and what He is, then the more we will thankfully worship Him for involving Himself in our lives.

4The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.  5Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, 6who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? Psalm 113:4–6 (NIV)  V.6 (Amp) – He humbles Himself to regard the heavens and the earth!

Our worship is an expression of thanks

that the God who is Holy has forgiven our sins,

and has brought us to Himself. 

God is holy.  Holiness means (among other things) God’s absolute unblemished moral purity – His utter fairness and justice, the total lack of any moral darkness in Him.

We are not.  The gap between God’s holiness and our sinfulness (fallen-ness) is so immense, that it’s unbridgeable by any moral or religious effort on our part.

Christ died for us while we were sinners, when we had made ourselves His enemies through a life of selfish, sinful choices.

7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Rom. 5:7-8 NIV)

Does this shock us?  It should!   Do we find this amazing?  We should!

The prodigal’s shock when the father runs to him, kisses him, clothes him in the best robe, throws a party for him and welcomes him back into the family.

Peter’s shock when Jesus called him to follow.  Go away from me.  I am a sinful man.  But Jesus had a way of fixing that.

Paul’s shock when Jesus appeared to him, and called him.

When’s the last time you were shocked and amazed by God’s grace and love and forgiveness?

If God’s grace becomes ordinary,

if God’s love ever becomes expected (as if we deserve it),

if we take forgiveness for granted

then worship will die out in our lives.

But if we take the time to stop and reflect on His love and forgiveness, we will find thankful worship rising up in our souls like a life giving stream.

Appeal.

Reflection – Think about the fact that God is perfectly holy, and that you aren’t.  But He loves you, not because you are good, but because He is.  He has forgiven your sins, all of them.  He has intimately involved Himself in your life, right now.

Song:   Lord I’m amazed by you (D)

LOVE.

Our worship is an expression of our love for God.

When we worship God for His greatness, in awe and wonder bow before the great Creator and Ruler of the universe…

 

when we thank Him for involving Himself in our lives and for bridging the unbridgeable gap, for paying such price for forgiving us,

when we realize that He didn’t have to do any of this, but He did it because of His great love for us…

THEN we want to love Him back.  And worship becomes an expression of our love for Him.

It’s not the only way we express love.  We also express our love for Him by obeying Him and by loving His people.

But worship in words and songs is a powerful way for us to express our love for God.   (ORU band to platform).

An expression of our longing for God.  Worship can become a place of knowing God, experiencing His presence.

David spoke of this kind of experience

Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.  (Psa. 26:8 NIV)

Psalm 27:4 (AMP) 4One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. 

Reflection – Take a moment to think about your own love for God. Try to find in yourself that longing for Him that is inside you, even if you don’t sense it right now.  What do you want to give back to God? What do you want to say to Him?

Song:  Who is Like (Your Presence) (D)

 

RESOURCES  I want to challenge you to DO SOMETHING about what you’ve heard today.  Put God’s word into practice.

Worship night tonight.  Come with a determination to participate in worship, not just to watch.  Come with a determination to give God the worship and praise He deserves, no matter what your mood.

Sunday services – come next week, ready to engage in worship with a fresh new fervency.

Worship music (download, purchase in bookstore, purchase ORU bands music).  Listen to it.

Worship at home, on your own.  Worship nights, services can be a training ground for you.